Feb 29, 2012

Review - Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
March 1st, 2012 from G.P. Putnam's Sons

Freshman year will be the start of something new for Kelsey Finklestein. She is determined to make her mark and get herself noticed. Try out for the school musical, grab a starting spot on the soccer team, nail down the cutest boy in her class, whatever it takes...Kelsey is going for it! Within just a few days into the new school year, Kelsey has gotten some attention, all right. Only, not in a good way! She is the target of a scary (and quite large) soccer team captain and gets a lot of neg publicity from the school newspaper. Why is her picture always plastered on the front page when she is looking her worst? She decides to take the bull by the horns and find out who keeps snapping bad photos of her. Just as soon as she tracks down The Crush and gets fitted with a fat suit and beard? Wait, what?

Cover Reveal - Black City by Elizabeth Richards (+Giveaway & First Chapter)

Black City by Elizabeth Richards
November 13th, 2012 from Penguin Books For Young Readers

A dark and tender postapocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection, that causes Ash’s long dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

Feb 28, 2012

Review - Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
February 2nd, 2012 by Razorbill

You've seen this book around and I'm sure you've read plenty of reviews. I'll say the same thing, and a bit more, as everyone else. By the look of this cover, you know this is a love story between two young people. If you want to analyze the cover art a little further, you may get a "rich girl vs wrong side of the tracks" vibe. You would be somewhat correct.

This book is totally different than anything you have ever read. The story starts out when Glory goes missing. It is easy to assume that by that adorable cover these two love birds have flown the coop. Don't jump to conclusions so fast (like I did). Glory's life is her music, and only her music, until Frank moves in next door. We take a peek into their budding relationship through a series of photos, instant messages, letters, postcards, and music playlists. As they fall deeper in love, Glory's music begins to suffer. She is unable to complete a single piano concert without playing Chopsticks. Everything begins to unravel, and Glory's music career isn't the only thing falling apart.

Feb 26, 2012

In My Mailbox

IMM is a meme brought to us from The Story Siren. Basically, it's a good way to add books to your TBR pile, get a head's up on what is coming soon, and to totally covet books. All cover photos will take you to the Goodreads page.

For Review:
Arise by Tara Hudson
One For the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
Purity by Jackson Pearce
The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney
The Immortal Rules by Julia Kagawa

Feb 23, 2012

Review - Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks (+Giveaway)

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
February 28th, 212 from First Second Books

After being homeschooled her entire life by her now estranged mother, Maggie starts her first day of 9th grade at a public high school. As she walks through the cemetery on the way to school, she meets up with an old acquaintance...a ghost. Maggie has been followed by this curly haired woman in a long, white gown for years, but lately she has been following Maggie home. At school, she befriends a quirky girl, Lucy, with half a shaved head and piercings and her quiet mohawked older brother, Alistair. Eventually, Maggie confides in Lucy and Alistair about her otherwordly follower and they devise a plan to help the ghost settle her "unfinished business" and send her on her merry way. Everything comes to a head when the plan goes horribly wrong. Words are said, punches are thrown, and the cops are called.

Feb 22, 2012

Guest Post: 5 YA Books That Have Impacted Me As a Reader with Joy Preble

I am so happy to have Texas author Joy Preble at the blog today! She is such a sweetheart and is supportive and very generous with us Texas bloggers and readers. Haunted (Dreaming Anastasia #2) hit the shelves February 1st - check it out!

Help me welcome Joy Preble!

5 YA Books That Have Impacted Me As a Reader

I find it impossible to choose just five, but if I must...

1. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
This book let me see how powerful first person, present tense could be. It taught me that one could combine genres, write a story that had historical elements, romance, and fantasy and strong female characters who grew and evolved. Amazing storytelling. Fabulous series arc.

Feb 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Hidden (Firelight #3) by Sophie Jordan

Hidden by Sophie Jordan
September 11, 2012 from HarperTeen

Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory. 

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning.... 

Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in the explosive conclusion to Sophie Jordan's Firelight trilogy.

My pick is in support of a fabulous series and an awesome Texas author! I have a long standing opinion that dragon books aren't for me. Well, draki are a whole different story! I have read and reviewed both Firelight and Vanish and will eagerly await Hidden's release. Boo to the no ARC on 3rd book rule! Who made that decision, anyway?

What are you waiting on?

Add to Goodreads
You can find Jordan at her website

I'm Featured: Texas Bloggers Are Rockstars

My literary PIC, Stephanie Pellegrin, and I were featured on Texas extraordinaire and uber awesome author, Joy Preble's blog a few weeks ago and wanted to share it here. We chat about books and our crazy experience with Suzanne Collins! 

Here is it in its entirety:
Jen, Joy, and Stephanie @ ALAmw12

Today I’m chatting with two of my favorite Austin folks: writer/blogger Stephanie Pellegrin and librarian/blogger Jen Bigheart. And yes, that’s her real name! I first met Stephanie at TLA in San Antonio in 2010. Dreaming Anastasia had been doing well, and Sourcebooks had asked me to come sign at TLA, which was awesome. So I’m sitting at the Follett booth, which is right near the main entrance to the exhibit floor, getting ready to sign. The doors open for the morning. And this horde of librarians thunders wildly toward me, hundreds of librarians full steam ahead, flailing muppet arms and swinging book sacks… and then thunders past me to get tickets for Suzanne Collins. Think of this story when you read Stephanie and Jen’s answers to favorite author stories below. I met her that very same day, by the way! My signing line was also very long. But no one thundered. As for Jen, we’ve been running into each other for a couple years now, introduced by Maria Cari Soto. Jen is smart and funny and awesome! And does amazing things like support literacy causes and arrange a happy hour at ALAMW for like 100 people!

On with the interview, and JB is me!

Feb 20, 2012

Audio Review - Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
September 13th 2011 by St. Martin's Griffin

Waverly and Kieran are aboard The Empyrean when the ship is attacked by their sister ship, The New Horizon. Told through dual perspectives, Waverly and Kieran are separated and try to fight their way back to each other and family. Waverly and all of the other children are whisked away to The New Horizon where they are all told The Empryean was destroyed and there are no survivors. Kieran, who is Captain-to-be, is left aboard the injured The Empyrean with other young men trying to help the injured and find the young girls and children that were taken. Kieran has his own battles to fight when other boys aboard the ship challenge his authority and leadership.

Glow had a really quick start with a good story making elements. All in all, I would have preferred to stick with Waverly's story. I found myself bored with Kieran and his struggle to gain control over the other boys. Waverly's story line was much more interesting and the characters aboard The New Horizon were much more intriguing than the testosterone fueled boys on The Empyrean. The New Horizon is ruled by a soft spoken, bible-wielding lady named Pastor Anne Mather. Now, I liked her a lot! She is mysterious, devious, and Waverly's interactions with her were entertaining. Total power struggle!

Feb 16, 2012

Review - A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle & 50th Anniversary Celebration

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
January 31st, 2012 (first edition, 1962) from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Okay, I admit it. I've had this book sitting on my office shelf for years. When I worked in a middle school library, this book was checked out constantly and kids were always placed on a wait list to read it. I knew it was popular because of the big Newbery Medal  winner sticker on the jacket. When I was asked to read for the very first time, I knew I had to finally give this one a try. I hope you do too!

Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin defy their personal beliefs of space and time when they magically travel through a "wrinkle" to save Meg and Charles Wallace's father from a dark and mysterious force called "The Dark Thing." With the help of three otherworldly old women,  Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, they journey to other planets and meet mystical creatures who are all in a war against this evil force. When Charles Wallace is overtaken by It, the Dark Thing leader, Meg must gather all of her strength and brave the creature on her own. Even if that means losing her own life or not seeing her family or Calvin again.

Feb 14, 2012

Review - The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
February 14th, 2012 from Egmont

Penelope (Lo) throws herself into solving the murder of a stripper she didn't know named Sapphire after she learns that she narrowly escaped the bullet that killed her. She becomes obsessed with finding Sapphire's killer when she stumbles upon some of her personal belongings, a jeweled butterfly, at flea market she frequents. Lo frequents Neverland, the place of the shooting and no place for an innocent teenaged-girl to be, and before long, she befriends a boy, Flynt, who decides to help Lo find the killer. Lo ignores all of the warnings (dead cat on front porch, anyone?) to stop searching for clues, but Lo doesn't stop. Instead, she risks everything - school, her relationship with her parents, and even her own life - to solve the crime.

I appreciate that Lo isn't a perfect character. For me, she is the best part of this book. To say that she has issues would be an understatement. Lo suffers from OCD, is a hoarder, and her anxiety is at an all time high if she does not perform certain rituals - tapping, turning, saying certain words in a certain sequence, stealing, etc. Lo is beyond quirky, she is a sick girl. Ever since her brothers death the year prior, Lo's condition has worsened. Too bad no one in her family notices. Her mother is in a constant daze from popping pills, her own coping mechanism, and her father has immersed himself in his work to escape. Lo is literally all alone and the only way she knows how to get by is to tap tap tap, banana. Literally.

Feb 13, 2012

Review - Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
February 7th, 2012 from Putnam Juvenile

Three sisters, all witches, and all hiding the truth of who and what they are from everyone else. In alternate New England in the 1890's, these three sisters are all they have. Their mother is dead and their father is always away on business. Their secret abilities aren't something to be desired - they are something that will get them killed or sent away to an asylum.  Cate is the oldest and has only a handful of months to declare her intent to marry or to go live with the Sisters. Not her blood sisters, but the group of women who serve the Brotherhood. Cate must protect her sisters and their secret from the Brotherhood, Sisters, and even their father. How can she do that while taking care of another man and his house or off learning prayers and devoting her life to a bunch of priests?

I am happy to say that this is not just a pretty cover kind of book! I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the fictional setting of a high society town in New England who is under the religious thumb of hypocritical do-gooders. Cate was a wonderful character to get to know. She is hellbent on keeping their witchy background a secret, but she quickly learns that she is pushing her two younger sisters away. She is like the mother that doesn't want her children to grow up and she thinks she is protecting them when in reality, she is smothering. Watching her walk that fine line of parent and sister was captivating and heart warming.

Feb 7, 2012

Book Trailer Debut - Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

I am so excited to be able to share Elisa Ludwig's awesome book trailer for her even more awesome book, Pretty Crooked. You've seen that cute little purple cover and you have even wondered what was in that bag besides money. I know you have...
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
March 13th, 2011 from Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins

Things couldn't be better for 15-year-old Willa Fox: Her mom has just moved them to beautiful Paradise Valley, playground for the rich and powerful. Already Willa's been welcomed into the inner circle of her school's most exclusive clique and she's attracted the attentions of the superfine Aidan Murphy. But when Willa finds out that her new best friends are actually bullies, she decides she has to take a stand—even if it means taking the law into her own hands.

The cover reveal for Pretty Crooked was way back in early July last summer. I was immediately drawn to it and asked Elisa for an interview about the art and design. To read that interview, jump HERE.  
And here we go!

Doesn't this look and sound like a movie or something from ABC Family? Love the Robin Hood*ish premise where a girl gives back to the poor. I think it will be interesting to see how she can balance being friends (maybe?) and then stealing from them. I think I can picture the final showdown now... This one shot to the top of my TBR list!

Add to Goodreads
You can find Elisa Ludwig at her website.

Feb 6, 2012

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

Welcome to another Hop! This one is brought to us from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Rachael Renee Anderson. I'll keep this short and sweet so you enter all of the hops. There are over 300 blogs that are particapating this time around. Cover photo will take you to the Goodreads page. US only, please!

For a full list of blogs and thier prizes, go HERE. This is what I have for you this time...

Giveaway #1
Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
May 1st, 2012 from Simon and Schuster

Growing up in Africa and Latin America as the children of missionaries, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Did Zach take his own life? Was it London’s fault?

Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself—and ultimately redemption—in this authentic and affecting novel from award-winning novelist Carol Lynch Williams.

Giveaway #2

In His Eyes
February 14th 2012 

The Indelibles bring you a one-of-a-kind young adult anthology! Sixteen original short stories, all from the point of view of our favorite male characters - some are old flames from our novels and some were dreamed up especially for this anthology.

Let these imminently crushable, swoon-worthy guys show you what romance looks like – in his eyes.

Fill out the fancy doo-hickey below to be officially entered. Must be a follower, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 5, 2012


As I write this post, I am heading up a volcano for a 12hr waterfall hike. Where am I? Hawaii, baby! My daughter turned 16 on Saturday and we took this time for a family vacation.

We have seen several humpback whales and while we were snorkeling in Kona, dolphins decided to join us. It was unbelievable!

I'll be back next week!


Feb 3, 2012

One Word Reviews: Fire, Shatter Me, and Wonderstruck

One Word Reviews are back! I have fully reviewed all of these titles and the links to those reviews are linked with the photos. One Word Reviews is simply just a tease to get you thinking about a book. Maybe it is a title that you have skipped over or haven't seen before. Regardless, here you are:

Feb 1, 2012

The Knife and the Butterfly - Guest Post From Author Ashley Hope Perez About Diversity

How The Knife and the Butterfly was inspired by the students I never got to teach
Ashley Hope Perez

I’ve talked a lot about how I wrote my first novel, What Can’t Wait, because my high school students in Houston challenged me to write about their experiences, to show how hard it could be to meet their obligations at home and follow their dreams. By contrast, The Knife and the Butterfly is mostly about the experiences of the teens I never got to meet, the ones who slipped through the cracks in the system or dropped out of school like the protagonist, Azael.

This is not just a hypothetical situation. In Houston schools, the de facto dropout rate is an astonishing 50%. These dropouts get classified in lots of creative ways, but the reality is, out of a starting freshman class of about 1550 at the high school where I taught—which was typical—only around 800 graduated. Since I always taught seniors, this means that there were tons of kids who disappeared from school before they got to my class.

So I still drew on my experiences, but school actually plays a very small part in Azael and Lexi’s lives. In The Knife and the Butterfly, I had a different set of issues to contend with that pushed me well beyond the world I knew. The biggest instance of this was researching MS-13 in Houston. I wanted to show the complex role it played in Azael’s life without glorifying gangs—or implying that every gang member is a ruthless animal.