Aug 31, 2011

Back To the Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Buried in Books. A hop is where you briefly stop by a blog and enter to win greatness. I'll make my stop easy peasy, just a few rules - you DO have to be a follower. Please be aware that if you don't put the correct info in the form or add wrong, then you don't get an entry. That's right! Hopefully you make it and can count to four correctly- good luck! All of the blogs hosting giveaways can be found at the bottom. This is what I have up for grabs:

An ARC of Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison  
October 2011 from EgmontUSA

While you are here, sign up for the Banned Books Week Hop. The hop runs from 9/24-10/1 and is all about celebrating the freedom to read! All info is right over ----->

*giveaway closed*

Paradise Swag Winners!

Congrats goes to....

Meredith B.

Michelle O.

Monica T.


Lisa R.

You have each won signed Paradise swag and book plate from the Book People release party for Jill S. Alexander! Emails have been sent.

Review - Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
September 12th, 2011 from Harcourt Children's Books

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.

Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.

You have to admit, the premise for this story is pretty intriguing. Willa's mother left their small Texas town when she was four to escape Willa's abusive father. Now that Willa is 16, she has adjusted to her new life in the burbs. Two stepsisters and a loving stepfather living in a big house seems to be a picture-perfect life. Of course, we know better. Not everything is as it seems, and Willa's picturesque home life is no exception. She has taken to cutting herself to relieve the ongoing stress of making her family happy and keeping up the facade. After her estranged father goes on a murderous rampage, Willa's life starts crumbling, and so do the paper thin walls that are keeping her family together. 

The cutting issue with Willa came as a big surprise to me. It is introduced early on and I really didn't see it coming. It isn't very gruesome and details are short. Willa sees cutting as a relief, something she can control. The book doesn't focus on the act, and Willa tries to control the urges often. This book is all about family dynamics - the give and take that everyone has to go through to make a family work - happy. Unfortunately, Willa always gives(up) and is content to sit on the sidelines and take sloppy seconds from her stepsisters. I was frustrated for Willa. I wanted her to want something, to stand up for herself. Instead, for awhile anyway, we watch her placate everyone and become a wallflower.

Things start to get interesting when we learn that Willa's lunatic father has gone on a murdering spree, killing his second family. I thought Willa and her family were going to go on the run and into hiding, but that didn't happen. The climatic hunt for her father ends early on in the book and very soon - too soon for me. When his rampage is over, Willa makes a decision to go back to Texas and starts to be an active participant in her own life. She finally makes her own choices based on what she thinks is best. This turns the house upside-down and everyone starts to question everything and their role in the family. This is where it gets good and those little skeletons just start tumbling out of the closet!

Willa heads to Texas and lo and behold, more skeletons (and a crotchety grandmother and older half brother). We really start to learn about who Willa really is and what is important to her when she is away from her mother and step-father. We also learn more about her mother, what she left behind, and the impact it had on her parents when she fled with Willa all those years ago.

While Willa is away...all hell breaks loose back home. Finally! I must admit, I wanted something not so great to happen to those step-sisters. It was hard to watch them be lavished with vacations and gifts while poor Willa gets nothing. My dream didn't exactly come true, but we do get to see a more complex side to the step-sisters as time goes on. Even though Willa was mousy and a fraction of what she could be, it was great to see her break through that shell and start using that pretty little head of hers. Many of us will be able to identify with someone in this book, and we can learn a few things from watching this complex family unravel and slowly weave its way back again.

4 Stars

Add to Goodreads

I have my review copy up for grabs! Follow the rules (like, for real!) and good luck!

*giveaway closed*

Waiting on Wednesday - Irises by Francisco X. Stork

Irises by Francisco X. Stork
January 2012 from Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic)

Two sisters discover what's truly worth living for in the new novel by the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.

TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. -- if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.

THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate's boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own.

ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it's Mama's life that might divide them for good -- the question of *if* she lives, and what's worth living for.

Anyone read Marcello in the Real World? This is the same author. I admit it, the cover lured me in for a longer look. The sister bond of this story sounds so interesting - they truly are on their own. Mix in a few guys and who knows will happen! I'll give it a try!

What's your pick this week?

Add to Goodreads

Aug 30, 2011

1500 Blog Followers Winners!

Congratulations goes to...

Asenath - winner of Fury


Stratchic - winner of The Unwanteds

I appreciate everyone who entered the giveaway - there were a lot of you! Winners have been emailed.

Aug 25, 2011

Review - Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
September 13th, 2011 from Knopf Books For Young Readers

In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

I honestly don't think I've ever read another book like EYEM. There were many unique aspects of this book that set itself away from the contemp YA pack. In a nutshell, Evan is struggling with the loss of his friend Ariel, and to be honest, Ariel was more than a friend. Wasn't she? And to be even more honest, it took me a long time to figure out what the level of loss was. Is Ariel dead? Did she run away? What I do know is that Evan is is consumed with grief. I could use words like depression and despair to describe Evan's sorrow, but it almost isn't enough. Evan is literally lost and hopeless without Ariel.    

You will notice something different when you read this book. Well two things really.... One, there are pictures that coincide with the story. Evan finds photos that he thinks are left for him by someone who is/was close to Ariel. These pictures tease Evan - make him feel like maybe Ariel might have been hiding something from him. Evan thought that he knew everything about Ariel, but the pictures of Ariel in strange places suggest otherwise. Lucky for us, we get to see those pictures (my ARC was in black and white, but finished copy will be in full color). Two, a good portion of the writing is crossed out. These passages were almost the inner thoughts of Evan, the whispers in his head. I think this scratched-out writing may be a little confusing to those teens who are not fantastic readers. It took me a few pages to get into the grove of ignoring the superscript and to keep reading. Regardless, I don't think the book would have been the same heart wrenching story without the lines through text. By the end of the first chapter, I thought I was spying on Evan and getting to know parts of him that maybe I shouldn't. Parts that were meant to be left out, but only I was privy to reading.

We follow Evan as he continues on the mysterious picture trail and even further into depression as he alienates himself from everyone. As you can tell, this isn't a light and fluffy read. Levithan paints a vivid picture of grief, and just when you think Evan can't take anymore....hope and redemption peeks its head around the corner and we finally learn of what happened to Evan's beloved Ariel.

EYEM is a heartfelt story about what it's like to loose a friend and yourself in the process. Fans will recognize Levithan's unique voice and appreciate the novel structure of this poignant story.  

4 Stars

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You can find Levithan on his website, and Facebook

Aug 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Forgetting Curve (Memento Nora #2) by Angie Smibert

The Forgetting Curve (Memento Nora #2) by Angie Smibert
April 2012 from Marshall Cavendish

Aiden Nomura likes to open doors—especially using his skills as a hacker—to see what’s hidden inside. He believes everything is part of a greater system: the universe. The universe shows him the doors, and he keeps pulling until one cracks open. Aiden exposes the flaw, and the universe—or someone else—will fix it. It’s like a game.

Until it isn’t.

When a TFC opens in Bern, Switzerland, where Aiden is attending boarding school, he knows things are changing. Shortly after, bombs go off within quiet, safe Bern. Then Aiden learns that his cousin Winter, back in the States, has had a mental breakdown. He returns to the US immediately.

But when he arrives home in Hamilton, Winter’s mental state isn’t the only thing that’s different. The city is becoming even stricter, and an underground movement is growing.

Along with Winter’s friend, Velvet, Aiden slowly cracks open doors in this new world. But behind those doors are things Aiden doesn’t want to see—things about his society, his city, even his own family. And this time Aiden may be the only one who can fix things . . . before someone else gets hurt.

I was happy to see this on Angie's Facebook page yesterday. I really enjoyed Memento Nora - fast, fun dystopian - and was happy that the second would be out soon. Looks like we will have new characters and a bit of a new location. Awesome! Not sure what Winter's "mental breakdown" is all about. She seemed so strong and confident in MN. Regardless, I'm in! 

Add to Goodreads
My review of Memento Nora
My interview with Angie Smibert

Aug 23, 2011

Book Release - Paradise by Jill S. Alexander (+Giveaway)

I was so happy to celebrate the release of Jill S. Alexander's book, Paradise this past weekend at Book People in Austin! I read Jill's first book, The Sweetheart of Prosper County, last year and thought it was adorable. When Paradise came around, I jumped to put it on tour. Now, here we are celebrating the release all of these months later.

We snacked on the most adorable cookies from Quack's Bakery and drank Dublin Dr. Pepper. Everything fit into the rock n roll theme from Paradise. Look how cute!

Steph & Jennifer D rockin' out!

As if that wasn't fun enough, we played BINGO! Who the H doesn't love Bingo? I do! Every time Jill would draw a card, she told us a little bit about her books and writing process. I learned so much and heard some really funny stories about growing up in a small town. 

Jennifer won a gift certificate to Book People

Jill gave away books from local authors (who were in attendance) as prizes to those who asked good questions. She was full of great ideas! Overall, it was a super fun afternoon and everyone laughed a lot. Did you know the original title of Prosper County was "A Hood Ornament In the No Jesus Parade?" Hilarious!!

 Jill and Jen

Jill was so sweet to sign some postcards and bookplates for me to giveaway! There are some cute bracelets for you too. So, there will be FIVE winners! Each will win one of each item. 

*giveaway closed*

Aug 22, 2011

Review - The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
August 30th, 2012 from Henry Holt

Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox.

The Fox Inheritance is a sequel/compilation novel to the fanny pack-tastic book, Adoration of Jenna Fox. I read Jenna years ago when it was a 2008 Lonestar Reading List AND Tayshas High School Reading list recommendation. Simply put, I was blow away! When this little beauty showed up at a library conference this year, I ran for it! So glad I did....

The story picks up 260 years after we first meet Jenna Fox when she *thought* she destroyed Locke and Kara's hard drives (minds) after a terrible car accident. This time, we journey with Locke as he realizes how much time has passed, and what he has lost. Locke and Kara's information - think black box - was "rescued" out of the pond and after a few tweeks, upgrades, and modifications...viola! Locke and Kara have beautiful bodies thanks to BioPerfect. Soon, Locke and Kara realize that their ultra perfect life in a mansion with the scientist who basically manufactured them is synonymous with life in prison. In a panicked moment, Locke and Kara escape with the help of a few surprising cohorts and they find themselves on the run. Where are they headed? Why Jenna's house, of course! 

My heart went out to Locke almost from the get-go. He misses Jenna and wants to know where she has been all of these years and most of all, why she didn't rescue him and Kara. Kara wants more than just to know where Jenna has been, she wants revenge. Kara is manipulative and at times, I wanted someone to knock her upside the head or at least tell her to stop being a brat. Locke is so set on appeasing Kara and telling her that he loves her more than Jenna that he doesn't see her faults - and some are alarming. He is busy being the sweet and ever caring boy that he is (and always ways), and things start to go south. This tension comes to an all-time high when we get Locke, Kara, and Jenna in the same room. Trust, you have to wait for it, but it comes. 

I love the side character of Dot. Without giving too much away, she is a robot with more human qualities than some people I know. I simply loved her and her dedication to helping Locke. The only tear I shed was over her. We meet other new characters and lucky for us, a few have ties to the very beginning of this story. 

The story takes us over quite a few parts of what we know as the United States, and it is while Locke and Kara are on the run we learn about all of the changes to the country. I love the science-fiction aspects of this story and I found them more in the on-the-run scenes than in the explanations of how Locke and Kara came to be. I loved Mary's use of imagination as she describes the futuristic cars driven by Bots and the grids on which they drive. I wanted more!

The mysteries and surprises are plentiful and a tad predictable, but in the end I am more than satisfied where the story took me (and where it will go next). Jenna fans will devour this book. I highly recommend this story for ages 11+!

4 Stars!

Add to Goodreads
You can find Mary at her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter

Aug 21, 2011

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme brought to us from The Story Siren. Basically, it's a good way to add books on to your TBR pile, get a head's up on what is coming soon, and to totally brag. Let's get real... ;)

For review:
Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci (thx, Houghton Mifflin for all three!)

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (from Heather R. for signing)
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (from Jen D.)
Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink (from Bailey at I Be Book Blogging - love this series!)
Passion by Lauren Kate (from Lisa at Fic Talk for daughter)
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan (from Kira for signing)

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander (from her book launch - giveaway this week!)
Mockingjay tee from Teefury

Currently reading:
Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer (look for giveaway soon)

Coming soon:
Review of The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
Paradise giveaway from Jill. S. Alexander
Review of Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I have BOOKS TO TRADE and created a page under my banner. Stop by and see if you need anything. ;) This page will change often so check back.

The Banned Books Hop is now open to link up! The hop starts September 24th and ends October 1st. You can find all of the info HERE

My 1500 Follower Giveaway ENDS 8/24! Win Fury by Elizabeth Miles or The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Have a great week everyone!

Aug 19, 2011

Review - Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White
July 26th, 2011 from HarperTeen

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

I really liked Paranormalcy and was SO looking forward to reading the second installment. Evie is such a likable character. She's funny, smart, adventurous, and has the kind of charm that can't be ignored. She really is fun to get to know and a very likable character. The story picks up a few months after all hell breaks loose at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, and Evie and Lend are all kissy kissy. That's okay, Evie deserves one minute of normalcy.... happiness. Things start out okay until other worldly things start attacking and trying to kill Evie. She's isn't too sure if all of these near misses are linked - she's kinda busy smoochin' and steering clear of Lend. (need more Lend, please)

I was a little frustrated with Evie's choices in this story. Lying and keeping things from your ever understanding boyfriend is never a good thing, and although Evie is a teenage girl, I was hoping she wouldn't go in that direction. Ah, no matter. There is a new bloke, Jack, who can walk the faerie paths. He. Was. Wacko. My emotions for Jack were all over the place! He was funny, dumb, obnoxious, manipulative, and obnoxious. Oh, I said that already.... Jack and his "antics" add a playful feel to the story even though...his actions raise red flags. You know something is up with this dude, but you just can't put your finger on it. Well, ya do. In the end.

Without a doubt the best part of Supernaturally is the personal growth of Evie. She really comes into her own in this story. Evie learns about her beginnings and starts to take charge of her own life (SO heartbreaking), and decides how she wants to live the rest of her life. I was honestly proud of that girl by the last page. #dabseyes

Overall, fun and quick read full of more twists and turns than those creepy faerie paths. Keep me out of those!

4 Stars

Add to Goodreads
You can find Kiersten at her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter

Aug 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
February 14th 2012, from Tor Teen

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police — instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior — instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don’t usually come back.

17-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. That life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Another dystopian to add to the ever growing list. I'm not gonna lie, I'm okay with this trend (as long as everything is not compared to The Hunger Games). You may recognize this picture from the Tor catalog. Um, this is awesome!

ARC are in so get with your TOR rep and start begging for this one - I will!

Add to Goodreads
You can find Kristen on her website, blog, The Apocalypsies, YA Fusion, and Facebook

Aug 16, 2011

1500 Blog Followers Giveaway!

Such a great feeling waking up and being over the 1500 mark this past weekend! I honestly appreciate you all reading reviews and everything else I yak about here. To celebrate the occasion, I have two ARCS up for grabs.

These August 2011 releases have gotten a lot of love and they can be yours! Follow the simple rules below and fill out the form. There will be two winners. First name that pops up....will have the choice of the two.

*giveaway closed*

Aug 14, 2011

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme brought to us from The Story Siren. Basically, it's a good way to add books on to your TBR pile, get a head's up on what is coming soon, and to totally brag. Let's get real... ;)

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Where Things Come Back by Corey Whaley
Dreams Of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia
We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Hann

I went to a conference for my job, Literacy Texas, and one of my favorite local authors, Cynthia Leitich- Smith was co-hosting a workshop. I was lucky to get a signed copy of Jingle Dancer!

Currently reading:
The Fox Inheritance by Mary Pearson (she will be at Austin Teen Book Festival in October!)

I have BOOKS TO TRADE and created a page under my banner. Stop by and see if you need anything. ;) This page will change often so check back.

The Banned Books Hop is now open to link up! The hop starts September 24th and ends October 1st. You can find all of the info HERE

Over the weekend, I went over the 1500 blog follower mark. Keep an eye out tomorrow for a giveaway! 

Aug 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
January 3rd, 2011 by Simon Pulse

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

This one sounds paranormal*ish with a psychological twist. Not too sure, but I'm interested! The title and cover make me think that is just a coming of age contemporary. What do you guys think?

Add to Goodreads

Lucky us, we get to read the first chapter HERE, on Eileen's website. 

(ARC) Tour - The Veil by Cory Putnam Oaks

The Veil by Cory Putman Oakes
November 1st, 2011 by Octane Press

Seventeen-year-old Addison Russell is in for a shock when she discovers that she can see the invisible world of the Annorasi. Suddenly, nothing is as it appears to be—the house she lives in, the woman who raised her, even the most beautiful boy in town all turn out to be more than what they seem. And when this strange new world forces Addy to answer for a crime that was committed long ago, by parents she has never known, she has no choice but to trust Luc, the mysterious Annorasi who has been sent to protect her. Or so he says . . .

Please be sure to start here if you want to participate.

Comment below with your name and state
to be considered for this tour.

1. Savannah (TX)
2. Brittany (TX)
3. Amy (TX)
4. Christen (FL)
5. Amanda (PA)
6. Lisa (WI)
7. Ashlyn (CA)
8. Penelope (UT)
9. Colleen (OK)

Please put the link to your REVIEW within 2 weeks of reading

Aug 7, 2011

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme brought to us from The Story Siren. Basically, it's a good way to add books on to your TBR pile, get a head's up on what is coming soon, and to totally brag. Let's get real... ;)

For review:
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
Wintertown by Stephen Edmonds (thx, Little Brown)
The Rivals by Daisy Whitney (thx, Little Brown)

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (thx, School Library Journal)

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (for signing)
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han (for signing)

Currently Reading:
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
Fire by Kristin Cashore (audio)
The Veil by Cory Putnam Oaks

Pretty good week this week! How 'bout you?

I have BOOKS TO TRADE and created a page under my banner. Stop by and see if you need anything. ;) This page will change often so check back.

The Banned Books Hop is now open to link up! The hop starts September 24th and ends October 1st. You can find all of the info HERE