Jan 31, 2013

Event: Montgomery County Book Festival

HUGE event coming our way with tons of amazing authors - THIS SATURDAY! I am super happy to be moderating the "Things That Go Bump In the Night" panel with Mary Lindsay, Victoria Scott, Joy Preble, Kendare Blake, and Lisa McMann! I am a lucky, lucky girl....

The festival is FREE and for all ages! Doors open at 9am with the Keynote, Jonathan Maberry, starting at 10am. There is literally something there for everyone - check out the list:

Jan 29, 2013

Cover Reveal: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

Stained by Cheryl Rainfield
November 19th, 2013 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

Jan 28, 2013

Review: Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand

Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand
January 22nd, 2013 from HarperTeen

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

Clara tried to have a normal life at Stanford, but the three Triplare's - Claire, Christian, and Angela - have visions that all tie together and that eventually bring them to the fight of their life - in a not so cheery place. There are more Black Wings than you can shake a stick at, and poor Claire basically has to fend for herself. The final installment has Christian and Clara on the run from the most dangerous fallen angels and this time they are wielding weapons. Blood is shed and hearts are broken - a lot hearts, and even lives are lost.

Jan 25, 2013

Review: Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
January 22nd, 2013 from EgmontUSA

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

I love the synopsis of this story! Part science fiction, mystery, and adventure. The fact we are talking about people who basically go undetected throughout their lives and kill others, who doesn't love that?! I thoroughly enjoyed the opening chapters of this book. We meet Claire who is repeatedly ignored or not heard. Nobody, not even her parents, care where she is or what she does. She is less than a fly on the wall, less than the wallpaper itself. You can't help but feel sorry for a girl whose own parents have a sign on the back door reminding them of their daughter's existence because they have left her behind so many times. When she meets Nix, a boy sent to kill her, she finally gets herself a life.

Jan 24, 2013

Guest Post & Deleted Scene: Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand

I am thrilled to have Cynthia Hand back at the blog today with a deleted scene!! Check out the rest of the tour HERE for giveaways, reviews, and more behind the scenes to the Unearthly series. Let's get to reading...

Note from Cynthia:
Okay, I know I promised a deleted scene with Christian and Clara on a bicycle, but I have scoured my computer for two days now and CANNOT FIND IT—ACK!  Here, instead, is another deleted / alternate scene between Christian and Clara. This scene was cut but some of the dialogue made it into a later scene in the book. I had to cut it off where it ends here because back then Clara was having a different vision that is quite spoilery to the way BOUNDLESS plays out now. I hope you like! (I’ll keep looking for the bike scene. It was swoony.)

This is not a date. Christian and I are simply sitting together on a blanket in Old Union Courtyard, a few minutes after midnight on our first Saturday night at Stanford, waiting for them to start playing The Hangover II on the giant screen they’ve set up at the edge of the grass. This is not, I repeat, a date. He asked me if I wanted to hang out tonight, and I said yes since the alternative is the poetry slam that Angela’s going to with all the artistic-type freshman.
Here’s what I said when she tried to convince me to go with her:
There once was a girl named Clara
Whose poems were oh-so-unbeara (ble)
Her poems were so bad
They caused puking in scads.
Now her nickname is Clara the terrible.

Jan 16, 2013

Guest Post: All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen

All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen
December 11th, 2012 from Entangled Teen

Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.

Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

Lucky me to have Cindi on the blog today! Welcome, Cindi!

Announcement: WriteOnCon Pitch Fest

We here at WriteOnCon have decided that we sleep too much. To rectify that, we're organizing a mid-winter "Luck 'O the Irish" pitch-fest, where agents, book bloggers, and authors will team up to read and vote for the best pitches of 2013.

You read that right! A pitch-fest! At WriteOnCon!

But you won't need a pot 'o gold--or a lucky leprechaun--to participate, because our goal is to make sure you're well prepared. After all, we have bonafide literary agents coming to this thing! Yes, they will be reading the pitches, and yes, they are looking to sign clients. It could be you!

Not a writer? WE STILL NEED YOU! We're recruiting book bloggers and readers to spread the word and to vote for their favorites. Advocate for the books you want to see published--contact us at writeoncon@gmail.com to become an official WOC 2013 Pitch-Fest Blogger. You'll even get a special button. Ooooo. Shiny buttons.

Jan 15, 2013

Review: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
January 15th, 2013 from Razorbill

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

Here we are at book three, and it's do or die for Amy and Elder - literally. They need to make a life for themselves and the residents of Godspeed on this strange planet full of "monsters" or basically give themselves to the stars. At 360+ pages, you know their life on Centauri-Earth isn't going to be so easy. With the introduction of a new planet - plenty happens in this story! New plant life, animals, terrain, Revis paints an almost terrifyingly beautiful planet full of extraordinary things. We want to touch them (but not smell - inside joke) and get an up close look at this planet with two suns.

Jan 14, 2013

Audio Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
April 1st, 2012 from Scholastic

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

Sometimes a book comes along and you kick yourself for not reading it sooner. This, my friends, is a fine example. Orphan boys all playing against each other in a "be the Prince or die" game is pretty entertaining to read about. I absolutely loved Sage and, of course, rooted for him to win the crown the entire time. His determination, wit, and street smarts are without a doubt one of the best parts of this book. He doesn't have much of a choice to play along with Conner's evil plan to take over the kingdom, but Sage certainty makes life difficult for Conner and his cronies  He manipulates others and pulls off some pretty sweet cons of his own. Young readers will love Sage's will to stay alive and his ability to turn things around to his favor on a dime. Dare I say he is the fantasy version of a young James Bond? (minus the high tech gadgets, of course) The supporting cast, two other boys who are all competing to become the false prince, a servant girl, and the confidant are all amazing characters as well. They each bring something original to the table and in the end your feelings go back and forth about them. Good guys, bad guys? At times the lines are blurred.

Jan 9, 2013

Review: One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (+Giveaway)

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
January 8th, 2013 by Knopf Books

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha's blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

What a remarkable story about a young girl with a determination to find out what really happened to her missing sister. Thirteen-old Georgie refuses to believe that her older sister Agatha has been returned to them dead. Yes, she is wearing that beautiful dress her mother made, but Agatha can't be gone - forever. I was excited for Georgie as she set out to find out the truth behind why her sister ran off and if she really is dead. While I was excited to read about her nights under the stars, I was afraid for her and what may be in store as she goes from one small town to another. Although she wasn't alone - traveling with her sisters ex beau - I just knew her journey wouldn't be easy. There were many tense moments and there were times when I didn't know how Georgie kept a cool head about her. Thank gosh her adoring grandfather taught that girl how to shoot straight!

Jan 8, 2013

Interview: One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
January 8th, 2013 by Knopf Books

I am happy to have Amy Timberlake on the blog today! You might know her from her picture book The Dirty Cowboy or That Girl Lucy Moon. 

What came first? Plot, character, or setting? 
Setting. Wait! That isn't completely true. What is true is that setting seems to be my impetus for putting butt-in-chair and writing a particular story. In the case of One Came Home, being infuriated by the sisters in “Taming of the Shrew” was probably the true beginning. See, about a year before I started writing the book, I saw a fine production of Shakespeare’s play and became downright agitated over Kate and Bianca’s relationship. Ranting? Yes, lots. I believe I even told my husband I was going to write a novel that would “fix it.” (I know, I know… fix Shakespeare? Yeah. . . .) But did I at least start writing? Nope.

Nothing truly transpired until I read about a passenger pigeon nesting that occurred in my home state of Wisconsin in 1871. This nesting was the largest ever recorded—a historian estimated its size as 850 square miles. Whoa—that’s a lot of nesting, and a lot of birds. Why I hadn't I heard of this? I should have heard—I grew up in Wisconsin!

Jan 7, 2013

Excerpt & Scavenger Hunt: Doomed by Tracy Deebs (+Giveaway)

Welcome to the Doomed Scavenger Hunt! Over the next eight days, Tracy Deebs and Mundie Moms are sending you on a scavenger hunt through eight different blogs. In Doomed, the three main characters embark on a scavenger hunt that winds itself through a video game and the real world in order to stop a countdown to nuclear annihilation.

Our scavenger hunt is nowhere near as complicated-- or as scary-- as what Pandora and her friends have to go on. Instead, all you have to do is visit the eight sites, read the excerpts and find the hidden number in each of the entries. At the end of the eight days, add up all eight of the numbers and include them in the Rafflecopter entry spot for the Scavenger Hunt to earn 10 extra entry points for $75 gift card to your choice of Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple. There are also prizes to be won at every stop, so make sure to get your entries in and be sure to comment on each of the blogs to be entered to win. Happy hunting!

Jan 4, 2013

YAK Fest (The Young Adult Keller Book Festival)

I am thrilled to be a very teeny tiny part of YAK Fest this year! My awesome friend Stacy from Girls in the Stacks kindly asked if I would moderate the Vampire Smackdown panel! Here is all the information you need so head on up to the Dallas area in a few weeks and join us!

WHEN: Saturday, January 19, 9am – 5pm
OPEN DOOR: Come when you can and stay for as long as you like, of course we want you there all day!
WHERE: Keller High School, 601 N. Pate Orr Rd. Keller, TX 76248
SOCIAL MEDIA: twitter / facebook / blog
https://twitter.com/YAK_Fest (#YAKFest13)
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Simone Elkeles, BAM. That’s what we’re talking about.

Jan 3, 2013

Audio Review: Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie (+Giveaway)

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
September 11th, 2012 from Candlewick Press

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life.

Ahhh, the power of Twitter! I ask for a rec on a good audio book and several people recommended this book within minutes. They were SO right - I loved the story, the struggle, and Matt's own personal journey.  The opening scenes show Matt's explosive behavior and his lack of coping with the death of his brother in the Iraq war. We soon learn that his brother's death isn't the only loss he has suffered. We jump back in time when his house was a home filled with laughter. Those days are long gone. Matt relives his mothers death and our heart breaks a little right along with him. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love when books show positive sibling relationships. Matt and T.J. had a friendship along with their obligatory brother relationship. I enjoyed Matt's reflections about the time the two spent camping and just talking under the camp fire. They admired and respected each other. They made plans to go on great adventures and get out from under their dads watchful eye. When Matt discovers letters in his brothers returned belongings, he reels with the fact that T.J. kept secrets from him. Not just a small secrets, but a secret life. Friends he never talked about, and most importantly love that was never spoken of.

Jan 2, 2013

Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
February 14th, 2012 from Knopf Books For Young Readers

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

I've heard a lot of buzz about this book from librarians and book lovers. Some even say that it will be on a lot of awards lists, and lo and behold, it's starting to look that way. Your heart just leaks love for Auggie. He was born with a deformity and you know his life isn't peaches and ice cream. It's easy to cheer him on as he braves school for the first time as a 5th grader. Predictably, Auggie meets some not so nice kids and while you want to wring their necks for the things they say, you hope that there will be some sort of learning experience in all this. Luckily, not all of Auggie's new classmates are meanies. There are a few bright gems and the whole time I was thinking that I hope to gosh that my kids would like them. They didn't fall in line with the others when they would pretend Auggie had "the plague." It was sad to read when the kids were mean to Auggie, but when the parents jumped on board...I was livid! I think it's important for kids to know that grown ups make mistakes too, but some of those scenes filled with hate were difficult to read.

Jan 1, 2013

Happy New Year - Texas Book Events

Wowzers, it's 2013! October through December really flew by and I took a big break in blogging. Library work has kept me crazy busy and I have been reading a lot. I hope to put up some new reviews of some of my favorite reads over the last few months. I didn't even post Austin Teen Book Festival or Texas Book Festival pictures. Dern-it! 

I did, however, have time to work on the 2013 Texas book event calendar! You can always find this under the Texas Bloggers & Events tab on my homepage or on Facebook at Literary Lonestars. I'll link HERE to save you some time. Know of a yalit or kidlit event not on the calendar? Let me know! Are you a Texas blogger and not on "the list?" Let me know! 

Take care, and blog on!