Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's here! Join up!

It's here guys! The Beach Reads Summer Challenge is here!

For those of you on the East Coast, it's already officially started. For everyone else, it's deliciously close! So here is a teaser of what is to come. Tomorrow I'll post exactly what the big delicious prize at the end of each month is too, so keep an eye out!

If you haven't already joined up, visit this post.

Participating Authors:
Susan Bigelow
Isabel Kunkle
Sandra Brannan
Jason Ancona
Lisa Polisar 
Julie Smith
Joan Holub
AJ Scudiere
Amalie Howard
Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Joseph Lunievicz
Sheenah Freitas
Lauren Hammond
AM Tuomala
Suzanne Young

Isn't that just a delicious list?

There will be mini games that couple with each guest post. Each one will have it's own separate prize, and this means you have 15 chances to win, not including the big prizes at the ends of July and August!

So what are you waiting for? You already read books, why not win some stuff while you read them?

To see how to play along, and officially sign up, GO HERE.

See you tomorrow!

Talking books with Angela Carlie!

Please welcome Angela Carlie to the blog! She is the author of Land of Corn Chips, which I will be reviewing this Friday. A huge thanks to her for coming by! She'll be sharing with us some of the books we might find on her shelves, which honestly I'm smitten about. I love seeing other people's bookshelves!

Hi Jessica! I’m so happy to be guest posting on your blog to discuss some of the books in my library.

I’m very fortunate to have many books in my library (electronic and paper) that I absolutely adore. Lately, I only seem to have time to read young-adult books. One of my favorite books is “Marbury Lens” by Andrew Smith. Some of my other favorite YA authors are Maggie Stiefvater, Mindi Scott, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Megg Jensen, Karly Kirkpatrick, and G.P. Ching. I recently read a novel called “Shine” by Lauren Myracle and fell in love with her writing. She’s an author I’m definitely going to read more of in the future. Another author, Addison Moore, has a good novel out called “Ethereal” that I really enjoyed, too. The list can go on and on, but I’m sure we don’t want to publish a book on all the books I have recently fell in love with.

Since I was a teenager Anne Rice has been my all time favorite author. I own every book she’s published under this name and love them all.

My son, who is now twelve, doesn’t read much fiction (except for Land of Corn Chips), but loves historical non-fiction. Our shelves are graced by many books of this nature. He recently had to read a fiction novel in school, though, and he enjoyed it. “Wolf Brother” by Michelle Paver.

So, there you go. A little peek into what we’ve been reading in my house. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! J

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: Graveminder

Media Type: Book
Title: Graveminder
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Pages: Hardcover; 324
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group:

Paranormal Fiction

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Melissa Mar is known to young adult readers as the author of the popular faery series Wicked Lovely. Her debut leap into adult fiction lands her in the small community of Claysville, a town where the dead walk free unless there their graves are not properly tended. Into this eerie maelstrom, Rebekkah Barrow descends as she returns to a place that she once believed she knew. Kelley Armstrong justly described Graveminder as "a deliciously creepy tale that is as skillfully wrought as it is spellbindingly imagined." A new genre author to watch.

I'd like to say that I've read everything by Melissa Marr. I'd like to say that. However the truth is that until Graveminder showed up at my door, and drew me in with it's Southern Gothic cover and blurb, I hadn't realized Melissa Marr's books were out there. Shame on me, I know. Let's just say that I've remedied that now, and if Graveminder is any indication of Marr's shining talent, then I'm 100% in. Call me a fangirl. 

Graveminder is deep, gritty and filled with the type of tension that you only see in really good, old, horror movies. You know, the ones where the town seems peaceful and quiet at first glance, but deep down you know there's something brewing under the surface. The small town feel allows the reader to watch characters interact who know one another so intimately that it is captivating. I believe it's on the front cover that Charlaine Harris mentions Melissa Marr's stunning world building abilities. I second that, third it, and go back to read this book another time through. Claysville is not only a town populated by some of the most intriguing characters I've ever met. It's not just a town that buries secrets. No, Claysville literally breathes. It's alive.

If the town itself is alive, the characters are even more so. Their lives bleed off the page, intermingling into a group of people you might just meet some day. I fell in step with Rebekkah and Byron almost instantly, watching as their paths widened, met, and finally tangled into a messy heap. Each of them was believable, and I enjoyed that Marr didn't try make them perfect. Rebekkah and Byron each have their own demons that they are fighting, even as they are trying to keep one another from drowning. The tension between them, both in terms of anger and sexual interest, is palpable. I couldn't get over the fact that they were thrown together so unceremoniously. Following them as they tried to sort things out, and learned to rely on one another, was definitely a big part of what kept me reading on.

There's not really too much I can share with you in terms of the story line, without spoiling things. I am enamored with how little the synopsis gives the reader in terms of back story. To be honest, the less you know going in the more you'll be open to falling in love with the concept.  This isn't your typical zombie book my friends. I'm honestly not even sure it should be compared to that. What Marr has created in Graveminder is something new, fresh and beautifully original. Her characters, her setting, the gorgeously woven story, it all comes together to create one heck of a book. Grab a copy and dive into Claysville. You might find that you just can't leave.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Book Review: The Detention Club

Media Type: Book
Title: The Detention Club
Author: David Yoo
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: July 1, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening:

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Sixth-grader Peter Lee, in a desperate attempt to regain the popularity he had in elementary school, discovers that serving detention can win him important friends, much to the dismay of his over-achieving eighth-grade sister, Sunny.

Kudos, first of all, to David Yoo for perfectly capturing the world of middle school. I found myself giggling out loud as Peter and Drew navigated the perils of this new school experience. From their voices, to the snark, right down to the bullies, everything was there in perfect color. I'm not kidding. It took me back to my middle school experience and, although I wasn't in the same position as Peter, I had not a single problem falling into step with these wonderful characters.

The chemistry between these two characters is amazing! Peter is the brains of the operation, and it's no surprise that he might just sometimes be a little bit of a liar. After all, schemers generally are. Sweet Drew is his loyal friend, who is also the voice of reason in the friendship. Whenever Peter comes up with a particularly odd plan, it's Drew who has to remind him it just might  not be for the best. I was giggling out loud at the way the two of them interacted. I admit that Drew was a bit of a pushover, but charismatic Peter is a tough character to follow. They compliment one another perfectly. 

What I most enjoyed about The Detention Club was the message underneath everything. Buried under the funny parts, and the banter, is a story that all middle school kids will be able to connect with. All Peter and Drew want to do is fit in. They want to be popular enough that they have other friends, and don't feel like losers. However as the book goes on, Peter realizes that Drew isn't always going to be completely on board with his crazy schemes. We all grow up sometime don't we? He also uncovers that people might not always be what they seem on the outside. Most of all, he realizes that no matter who we are, just being ourselves is perfection. Who wants friends that make you change for them anyway? 

It might all sound a little cliche, like the lectures our parents give us when we're young, but now that I'm older don't I know it's the truth. David Yoo has perfectly masked these very important lessons under a story that is quick-paced, funny, and filled with things that younger readers will connect with. Honestly, I'm so happy I was given the opportunity to review this book! I fully intend to take it to the 5th grade class at the school I work with and let them read it. Maybe it will give them some good early pointers for what's to come!

Recommended most definitely! If you have a younger reader, I can't deny they'll fall in love with Peter, Drew and their crazy cohorts. Just be ready for the sounds of giggling from the other room.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Meet Jennifer Brown!

This lovely lady right here is Jennifer Brown! She's the author of many books, including Hate List and Bitter End. Today Jennifer is here to share with us a little bit about herself in an author interview! I tried to ask her some fun questions so you could all get to know the quirky parts about her!

1) Hi Jennifer and welcome! Let's start with something fun! I loved the fact that in your recent online book launch party you shared a craft and a recipe to go with your characters :). Are you a crafty person or a chef at heart? If so, what is your favorite recipe/craft? (Or both!)

Oh, goodness, no. I wish I was a crafty person! I love crafts, but I have no patience. Which is funny, because I can work on a single paragraph for hours on end, but when it comes to gluing stuff together or making things with beads, I just can’t do it. As much as I’d like to. I’m afraid the craftiest I get is to put a ribbon through my bookmarks, but even then I lose patience about ten bookmarks in and enlist my kids to finish.

I do, however, enjoy cooking, which is good because I do it pretty much every day. As a stay-at-home mom of 11 years, I can’t even begin to imagine how many meals I’ve prepared over the years. But here’s the thing. When I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18, I had no idea how to cook anything. So I vowed to myself that eventually not only would I learn how to cook, but I’d learn how to cook without recipes. And that’s exactly how I cook now. I very rarely follow a recipe, hardly ever measure anything, and just go by the feel method. My best “recipe” is probably my chicken noodle soup (made with homemade noodles, of course), but I have no actual recipe that I follow. It’s a little of this, a little of that…

2) Next question, I know we all have one, so what is your guilty pleasure?

Disney. All things Disney. I even just love to spend hours online, gazing at the Disney website, planning fabulous Disney vacations that we may or may not ever take, listening to Disney music. I even have a Disney tattoo.

3) What is one thing that you'd like to try that you haven't gotten around to yet? Food, activity or otherwise, it's all fair game!

I’d love to learn to sing opera. It’ll never happen. I took art classes in school after my 7th grade choir instructor told me my posture was too bad for singing. But if I had guts and time and youth on my side again…oh, yeah. Opera all the way, baby.

4) Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are standing in the same room. You only have time to go and get an autograph from one because they're both leaving! Which one do you choose?

Johnny Depp, of course, especially if he’s in his Captain Jack Sparrow garb (see? Disney fuh-reak!)!

5) Finally, and thanks for playing along with my randomness, we'll end with a more serious question. What is it about writing that just keeps you coming back?

Nature. I’ve been entertaining myself by telling stories since as far back as I can remember. I wrote my first short story when I was 8-years old, and even in times when my life was in crisis or unpredictable, I always wrote to make myself feel better. I couldn’t stop coming back if I tried. I would be losing a piece of myself if I did.

Disney freak! Love it!

See what we learn about authors when we just delve a little deeper? I'm smitten :). Thanks Jennifer for stopping by and all of you need to go check out her books! They are amazing!

You can read my review for Hate List here, and I'll have my review for Bitter End up very soon!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A song from a movie anyone? Chatting with Julie Halpern!

Julie Halpern is the author of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, Get Well Soon, and now Don't Stop Now. (Loved this book, you can read my review here.) She's here to today to share with us her favorite soundtracks from movies in a top tens list. Ever wondered what Julie Halpern loves listening to? Well here's your answer.

I had trouble choosing specific songs, so I am making this my favorite soundtracks.  They are favorites because I love them both within and without the movies they are from.

  1. The Breakfast Club
  2. Pretty in Pink
  3. Some Kind of Wonderful – See a pattern here?  I grew up north of Chicago when John Hughes’ movies were in theaters.  I worshipped him, and the music on his soundtracks was the soundtrack to my youth. 
  4. Simple Men – I have trouble listening to much of it, though, because it makes me cry.
  5. Valley Girl– Sweetest montage ever to “Melt with You.” 
  6. Rushmore – Wes Anderson is very clever with his soundtracks.
  7. Beauty and the Beast – I didn’t realize until recently how many beautiful, funny, soaring songs were in this.  My favorite Disney soundtrack.  And princess, if you ask.
  8. Can’t Hardly Wait – This movie is quite perfect.  It came after “my time,” although most of the actors are probably my age or older.
  9. Go – I am not a car chase person (well, maybe sometimes), but this movie has the best car chase scene ever, thanks in part to the music.  I watch this movie regularly while I’m on the treadmill, and it makes me run faster.
  10. Popeye – This movie was absolutely my favorite when I was four.  And I loved the soundtrack.  It made me feel cool.  I haven’t listened to it in at least 25 years, but it was probably the first soundtrack that had that kind of impact on me.  So I included it.
  The Muppet Movie – I know this is 11, but since the first three are John Hughes, I thought I could add one.  The movie begins and ends on the most touching notes.  I get the chills every time I watch or listen.  Henson + Oz = Genius

All completely fantastic choices! Thanks for sharing Julie!
I'm going to have to fully agree on the top 3. Those are all movie soundtracks I could listen to for eons, and never get tired of them.

What's your favorite soundtrack/song from a movie?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Wildefire

Media Type: Book
Title: Wildefire
Author: Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Hardcover; 400
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Source: Publisher
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild language; Violence

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Oh, how do I describe this book without giving anything away? The first thing that pops into my mind is the word epic. That's truly what this book is. As soon as I opened Wildefire and started to read, I remembered why I love books so much. Karsten Knight has written a gem. It will draw you in, and dig its claws into you until the very end. Best part? You'll love every minute of it.

Ashline and her sister Eve are the best example of sisters at odds that I have ever seen. There is so much depth to their characters. The reader is treated to seeing the delicate balance that lies between these two. Ashline's love for her sister is truly apparent, as is Eve's, however they also ooze tension in their interactions. The inner battle between these two feelings is palpable and delicious. Can feelings be delicious? I think so. When you can drink them off the page because they are so strong, yes, I'd say so. Mixed in with all of this are the petty, and violent moods of goddesses. This I appreciated so much! Ah, to be a god.

Lest you think that this whole book revolves around these two (which I would completely be okay with) I'll assure you that you will also be treated to other reincarnated gods as well! From the typical surfer boy character, down to the tall, dark and handsome character, each one of Ashline's entourage has a vivid and unique personality! I fell in love with every single one of them. Each of these characters brings something unique to the table, and Ashline flourishes with their friendship. I'm going to have to admit that she kind of stole the show for me though. Ashline is amazing!

Story wise, Wildefire is executed perfectly. The book is written in third-person, which I usually tend to shy away from. However being in Ashline's head was never once uncomfortable or awkward. Quite the opposite actually! I enjoyed seeing her inner thoughts and memories so much that I honestly didn't notice the third-person aspect for most of the book. It was as though once I was in her head, nothing else mattered. All that my own mind was concentrated on was what Ashline would do next. This girl is damaged to be sure, but her ability to take that and turn it into perseverance and fantastically witty sarcasm made me bond with her.

The ending is a killer cliffhanger. I'll warn you now. Most of the overall story is wrapped up and I honestly didn't see the very end coming at all. When I got to the last page, my jaw dropped open and I seriously momentarily debated on throwing the book against the wall. Not because I didn't love it! Rather I am now completely frustrated that I will now have to wait to see what happens next. Knight has my heart as a reader. It's true!

I'll end here because if I gush anymore you might all drown in my love for this book. Fresh, fun and unique, Wildefire is an epic ride! If you haven't yet added this to your reading list you need to do it now. Seriously. Once again I'll state that this book reminded me why I love reading in the first place. A great storyline, vivid characters, and so many twists that your draw will drop. That's what you'll find in Wildefire. I want more.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Book Recs from Kristen Tracy

This lovely, smiling author is Kristen Tracy! The author of many books, her newest one is on tour with The {Teen} Book Scene and is called Sharks & Boys. How could you go wrong? Man eating predators and boys? Hmm...sounds kind of one in the same.

Anyhow Kristen is here today to share books she would recommend to her past self! I loved these.

I would have told my five-year-old self that all the Disney books I was reading were actually based on other stories. So don’t expect Goofy to appear in later retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk.

I would have told my eleven-year-old self not to overinvest emotionally in books about the solar system. Because one day Pluto isn’t even going to be a planet. So take everything you’re reading with a grain of salt. Telescopes become much more powerful in the future.

I would tell my sixteen-year-old self to read books that explore the settings of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Vermont, Michigan, and San Francisco. Because you are going to live in all of these places soon and you should know more about what they have to offer before you arrive.

At twenty I would have told myself to read more poetry by Muriel Rukeyser, Robert Hass, Wislawa Szymborksa, Louise Gluck, and Anna Ahkmatova. And, I would tell myself that it’s okay that you like Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Sharon Olds. They are great poets and you should like them.

Thanks for sharing! 
I giggled at the part about Pluto. Ain't it the truth?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: A Need So Beautiful

Media Type: Book
Title: A Need So Beautiful
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: Hardcover; 272
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Source: Publisher/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild language

HDB Rating:
5 Keys to My Heart

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.

Wow. Just....yeah, wow. I've been trying to write this review for days, and I can't seem to find the right words to share with you how gorgeous A Need So Beautiful really is. See, it's unlike anything I've ever read in so many ways. Suzanne Young has written a story that entranced me, broke my heart, and made me believe in hope all at the same time. I'm being truly honest when I say that this book needs to go on your wish list.

Charlotte is an amazingly multifaceted character. On the surface she is a normal teenage girl. Hanging out with her best friend, sneaking out sometimes, and spending ample hours in the arms of her (extremely hot and swoon worthy) boyfriend Harlin. Just on this level alone I already connected with Charlotte. She was so easygoing, and sweet. However what really made her so fascinating was the heavenly duty with which she had been assigned. This is a girl who, while balancing everything a normal teenager must, has a heavenly duty. She doesn't like it, but it's there.

The Need is what really brought this story to life. Charlotte's sacrifices show the reader how deep of a person she really is. It isn't as though she can run away from it when the Need pulls her. Oh, she's tried. Still, watching Charlotte give up so many things that she really wanted, pulling away from people she loved just to fulfill this Need, is what really got me. I know that being a teenager is tough, and at times egocentric. I've been there. Watching Charlotte battle the two sides of herself was utterly engrossing. Would you be able to give up what was comfortable and easy to fulfill your destiny? I'm not sure I would.

In case you're still stuck up there at the name Harlin, yes there is a romance in this story. A Need So Beautiful provides one heck of a love story. If you aren't sobbing by the end, I'll be truly surprised. Harlin is such an amazing character. He's sweet, funny, and so in love with Charlotte that it's crazy. Rough on the outside and soft on the inside, the perfect boy. Even when everyone around her starts to fade away, it's Harlin that is always there in the foreground. The chemistry between these two made me swoon, and to anyone who says it isn't believable, does it matter? I really wish we all had love like these two do. I really do.

Yes, I'm rambling and I know it. It seems that the more I completely fall in love with a book, the harder it is for me to write a coherent review. The raw emotions that this book evoked for me are hard to explain, but I can say that it's one I won't forget. Plain and simple, you need to read A Need So Beautiful. A heartbreaking story of sacrifice, love, and hope, it's just too fantastic for words. My hope is that you fall in love with as much as I did. Make sure to grab a box of tissues before you read the ending, you'll need it.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 Beach Reads Summer Challenge!

It's that time of year again....SUMMER! The time in which we all worship the sun god, and read copious amounts of books, hopefully at the beach.

This means it's also time for the 2011 Beach Reads Summer Challenge!

I hosted this last year with a few other awesome bloggers. They were busy this year, so it's all me. However I have been working hard and I'm hoping that you'll enjoy the lineup of games, prizes and awesome guest posts I have scheduled for the next two months!


Now, down to the details.

The challenge will run from July 1st - August 31st. Calendars will be put up weekly so show what is coming up in terms of games, guest posts and giveaways. It's important to note that all posts related to this event will feature the banner you see above.

How to sign up:
Create a post for this challenge on your own blog, sharing what level you're choosing to shoot for and what books you may read. These aren't set it stone! Link it in the Mr. Linky below to start playing along! You can start playing at any time. Please don't worry about starting right at the beginning!

Remember swim classes? Thus the reading challenge levels!

* Tadpole - Read 4 books in this challenge.
* Minnow - Read 8 books in this challenge.
* Dolphin - Read 12 books in this challenge.
* Shark - Read 16+ books in this challenge!


Excited? I hope so!

This is just the intro post. On the first official day of the reading challenge (July 1st) I'll post the official calendar, along with the mouth watering and tempting final prizes!

If you are participating, please spread the word by taking the button below and putting it in your sidebar. Thanks a ton all and happy summer!

(To change the size of the button, click HTML in your editor and look for the "height" and "width" values. Change them to whatever you'd like!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Aurora Undefined

Media Type: Book
Title: Aurora Undefined
Author: Kate Hinderer
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 211
Release Date: March 10, 2011
Source: Author/TBS
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing of note.

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

Aurora is entering her senior year and everything around her seems to be falling apart. Her best friend has joined the cool crowd and she struggles to grapple with the loss. But when tragedy strikes, Aurora realizes what loss is really all about and how moving on becomes a fight of the will, mind and heart.

Aurora Undefined was a sweet read, although it took me a few chapters to really get into. Aurora's whole existence is uncertain as the new school year approaches, because her best friend has left her for the popular crowd. It's almost as though the last three years of friendship between them never existed. In this respect, I was a little peeved with Aurora because she was such a smart girl! However I stepped back, remembered that this book is meant for younger readers than I, and thought about how I would feel if my best friend suddenly vanished from my life in my Senior year of high school. Yup, I'd probably be just like Aurora.

I really fell in love with her character though as soon as things started to progress. As she grew, and learned, and came into her own. I don't want to ruin anything for people who are interested in this book, but there is a huge event that happens in Aurora's life. Something so big, that she doesn't deal with it very well. It is this event that teaches her what it really means to be a friend, and also what it really means to know what you want. The message here was great. Being popular may sound good, but it is such a fleeting thing. Aurora learns to focus more on herself and move everyone else along with her.

The romance aspect in Aurora Undefined is minimal but really cute. I loved Hudson with all my heart. He's the type of best guy friend that we all wish we had. Funny, sweet, and downright stern when it's necessary for him to be. He was always setting Aurora on the right path again, and just being there for her when she needed it. The chemistry and easy banter between the two of them was adorable, and it added a nice extra layer to Aurora's personality.

I'm not sure what else I can say without giving anything away! I can say that this is a sweet read that is definitely worth your time. My suggestion would be to grab a copy of Aurora Undefined and take it to the beach with you, or even perhaps to your vacation destination! It's available on the Kindle, so it's easy to transport to. Win/win my friends. Enjoy!

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Interviewing Majesty from Kings & Queens

Courtney Vail, author of Kings & Queens, is here today to share a little bit of her characters with us. Majesty is the main character in the story, and she's quite troubled. You can see that further in her interview, but I'll let her tell you her story.

1. If you had to describe yourself in one word, which would you choose?

One word? Really? One? What kind of interview is this? Weren’t you told I’m a talker? One word. Please. Shut me up now. Um, I guess, runner? Yeah, that’s me. In every sense of the word. Yeah, run with that.

2. What is it about Derek that keeps you coming back?

Wow, you mean besides his blue-diamond dazzlers that make me melt into utter stupidity? Just kidding. To a point. It is his eyes, and not the color really, although it’s gorgeous, but rather, the storms they hold. I mean, he’s got it so easy. He lives in a mansion, has a sweet ride and a room the size of Montana, gets great grades, crushes the inside pitches. His dad’s a senator. Everyone likes him. So, why the storms? I mean, my dad recently died and storms are so out for me. I don’t do storms. I don’t do GRIEF. So, what’s up with him? It’s a mystery. One I’ll probably never know the answer to because he’s so freakin’ clammed up. Derek’s an enigma, that’s for sure, and that dazzles me. He’s honest, biting, fascinating, commanding…fleetingly sweet. Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to catch the sweet, as well as his smile. He has an amazing smile, when he’s compelled to flash it. And yet, those eyes again. I don’t know. I’m tugged to those deep but roped-off pools like to a Siren’s song. Wouldn’t you be?

3. Is there anything about yourself you wish you could change?

I’d like to be gutsier. I wish, um, that I could just, ya know, leap and take a chance when it really counts…and not merely when I know I’ll win. I win a lot, so I may look like a risk-taker, in essence, but I’m really a chicken. I’m totally terrified of being broken apart, so I do everything I can to avoid any heart and soul demolishers that might dare to try it.

4. You are given a trip to anywhere in the world you choose. Where do you go?

Man, are you tryna kill me? Should’ve known this would cut deep. Couldn’t you have asked me about my favorite bands, ice cream, sports teams, anything?

Honestly, the only destination I ache for is yesterday, and there isn’t a plane ticket on earth that can take me there. I spat the rudest words to my dad and slammed the door in his face, hours before he died, and no beach or mountaintop, not even Fenway Park, calls to me like that one impossibility. Sucks.

5. What would you like readers to know before they read your story?

That I didn’t have anything to do with the baby pig in the locker room!

 You can find more about Courtney at:


Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's shaping up to be a SYNC summer!

In case you missed it last year, SYNC is back and it's an awesome program!

Each week during the summer, between July 1st and September 1st, popular audio book companies offer up FREE titles for you to listen to!

The best part? Newer YA books are paired up with Classic texts so that you can enjoy both together and see how they parallel. This year I'm particularly excited about the titles being offered:

SYNC Titles
Summer 2011

6/23/11 - 6/29/11
Shiver By Maggie Stiefvater
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
The Trial by Franz Kafka

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Beowulf by Francis B. Gummere [Trans.]

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
Rescue: Stories of Survival From Land and Sea by Dorcas S. Miller [Ed.] 

Immortal by Gillian Shields
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Storm Runners by Roland Smith
The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Now if you are participating in an audio book challenge like I am (maybe over at Bewitched Bookworms or Teresa's Reading Corner) this is a great chance to do some listening for free!

To participate, just head over to the SYNC headquarters and download your first pair of books. You can also text syncya to 25827 to receive text message alerts that let you know when new books are up. Not to worry, I did this last year and they don't send you spam :).

Enjoy, and happy summer reading/listening!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Life Undecided Giveaway!

Well, as you all know, I fell completely in love with Jessica Brody's My Life Undecided. It was funny, sweet, and down right enjoyable to read! If you haven't read my review yet, you can find it here.

Anyhow, I loved it so much that I was given an opportunity by Macmillan to give a copy away! A huge thank you to them!

How cool is that?

Up for grabs is one gorgeous copy of My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody!

Same as always, to enter, FILL OUT THIS FORM.

Only difference is that this time I am providing you a few more opportunities for extra entries, to get this awesome book more into the spotlight! Take advantage! I will make sure you get your due.

Open to U.S./Canada Only.

Giveaway ends June 29, 2011.

Thanks all, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chatting with Zoe from Flying Blind & a giveaway!

Please welcome to the blog today, Deborah Cooke! She is the author of Flying Blind, which I recently reviewed, and is here to share with us a little more about her main character. Zoe is a spitfire and I loved her! I was able to interview her and get a little more insight into her life. 

1) Hi Zoe! Welcome to the blog! If you had to describe yourself in just one word, which one would you choose?

I'd say creative. I think my dad would say stubborn.

2) What are your thoughts on being the next Wyvern? 

I really hope I can do it! It would be helpful if there was someone to ask for advice, but there isn't. That leaves me just feeling my way, and guessing. That would be one thing if I didn't think someone - or something - was targeting the dragon shifters.

3) Share with us a little bit about your smoldering sidekick, Jared. Anything you'd like us to know?

He has the greenest eyes in the world. He makes me feel edgey, but not in a bad way. Excited and provoked too. It's annoying that he seems to know more about the Wyvern job than I do - even more annoying that he won't share much. He says I should trust my intuition. Is that true? Or just his way of leading me on?

4) Do you have a favorite part about being a Pyr?

Well, before everything started for me, there was just the eye candy. I really liked how my pals - Nick, Garrett and Liam - look in dragon form, too, although it's been a bit of a drag that I couldn't shift, too. The power is amazing, but again, it's been a bite that I didn't have it. My favourite thing as a kid was when my dad would fly us someplace on his own Dragon Air. Now, I want to be able to do that myself.

5) What is one thing that you are looking forward to most?


But that's just the dragon bit. In terms of the Wyvern, I'd love to be mysterious. The ability to dispatch dreams is pretty high on my wish list there. (Do you think Jared would find me more interesting if I was enigmatic? Or is he just a dragon fan?)

6) Finally, is there anything that you'd like to share with readers before they start along your epic adventure?

Hmm. Maybe you shouldn't underestimate anyone. You never know what secret powers someone around you might have!

Thank you for sharing Zoe! 
And a huge thank you to Deborah Cooke for stopping by today, and bringing along....a GIVEAWAY!

Up for grabs is one SHINY finished copy of Flying Blind!

You must be a U.S. resident to win.

Although I love comments, they won't be counted as entries (but they will make me smile).

Giveaway ends June 28, 2011.


Celebrating A Need So Beautiful with Random Acts of Kindness!

In case you've been living under a rock and don't know, this gorgeous lady right here is Suzanne Young. One of the nicest, and most talented writers that I have ever had the pleasure to deal with!

And you know what? She has also written one of the most breathtaking books I've read this year. Oh yes, my friends. If you haven't yet heard of A Need So Beautiful then you are missing out. Lucky for you, it's release day! Furthermore, we're giving you a chance to win it because we love it so much. Yup. That's love.

In honor of the release of A Need So Beautiful myself and numerous other bloggers and authors are getting together to share a little bit about someone who touched our lives. In the book, Charlotte touches the lives of many people she doesn't even know. Isn't that how it starts? That one smile, that one touch, can make someones day or week that much better. Here's my story.

Growing up I used to listen to tons of stories from my grandpa. Sure, they were normal grandpa stories about growing up, his life experiences, and people he had met, but they were mine because they were his. My favorite stories were always about what my grandpa called "the balance". Now that I'm older I see that what he was talking about was karma, but for him it was always about keeping the balance between good things that are done for you, and good things that you do for someone else. He always told us, "Nothing is more important than giving of yourself, and lucky for you there's always plenty to go around."

Fast forward 10 years. I'm standing in line with my mom at the grocery store and the elderly man in front of us is fretting over how to pay for his meager groceries. He counts and recounts his money, but there's just not enough there to pay for everything he chose. With a defeated sigh, he asks the cashier to return a rather small cut of nice meat to the counter so he can afford everything else. Sad, right? Well here's what really brought tears to my eyes, and made me love my family so much more. My mom caught the cashier's eye and just nodded at her purse, indicating that she'd pay for it. A small, but meaningful, nod that spoke volumes. The cashier eyed the total and told the man that she had made a mistake in ringing things up, and of course he had plenty of money to pay for everything. His broke my heart in half and glued it back together stronger than ever.

Now, even when I'm down to the last two dollars in my pocket, I'll give what I have. Another thing my grandpa always said was that "If you have two dollars, you can still afford to give one", and I still truly believe in that. It's the small things that make the biggest difference, and if my time, or my money, or even a smile, can make someones life better for even one day, then I've done my job.

Truly my friends, even 8 years later I still remember that moment. It's kept me going for a long time, and I'll tell my kids about it when I have them. See what I mean about small things? Well that's exactly what we're doing here. Each of us is doing a small part to make sure that A Need So Beautiful and Suzanne Young get the adoration that they deserve!

So, if you're still with me, you've earned some giveaway info. Ready?

Each of the participating blogs has decided to give away something that is a part of themselves, or something they love, as a prize! Up for grabs are the following items:

* First 3 chapters critique from Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic
* YA Lit Swag Bag from Sara at Novel Novice
* Finished copy of Hourglass by Myra McEntire from Corrine at Lost for Words
* Random Books from Jessi at The Elliott Review
* 2 Header/Button Packs from Jessica at Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
* First 3 Chapters Critique from Cindy at Books Complete Me
* First 15 pages Critique from Kari at A Good Addiction
* Signed ARC of Hereafter from Kari at A Good Addiction
* Query Letter Critique from Shannon Messenger
* Signed copy of Invincible Summer (US/CAN) from Hannah Moskowitz
* First Chapter Critique and a Skype Chat from Keri Mikulski
* Signed copy of Tell Me a Secret with signed TMAS art print (US) from Holly Cupala
* Signed copy of Chasing Brooklyn (US) from  Lisa Schroeder
* The Pledge Swag Pack including ARC from Kimberly Derting

Pretty amazing right? There will also be 3 winners who will receive a copy of A Need So Beautiful on top of their chosen prize. 

In addition, the awesome Daisy Whitney will be giving away 5 copies of A Need So Beautiful right on her blog as well!

Now, you've been reading and reading and thinking WHEN IS SHE GOING TO TELL US HOW TO WIN?


The easy answer is, fill out this form.

But don't do it yet!

In the spirit of giving back, and making a difference, there are a number of ways to get extra entries into this epic contest. You'll find them below. Please make sure you are ready to input all of your entries at the same time, so you don't enter more than once. Entering more than once will disqualify you from winning.

Earn one extra entry for each of the following:
Take a picture of an author's book in the wild and tweet it to us and the author
Post a positive Amazon review for a book you loved
Donate a book to a library or classroom
Tweet a good deed you plan to do this week, using the #ANeedSoBeautiful hashtag

Earn 10 extra entries for each of the following:
Take a picture of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL in the wild and tweet it to us and Suzanne Young
Post an Amazon review for A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL
Donate a copy of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL to a library or classroom

So get those entries ready and enter to win! You don't need to enter on the other blogs, since all the links are the same, but please make sure to visit and read their stories as well.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Places to visit, with Leah Cypess!

Please welcome the lovely Leah Cypess! She's here to promote her newest book, Nightspell, which I completely loved. The best part? We get to see more into Leah's thought process with a special list. I asked her to share with us the top 5 places that she'd like to visit before she ends her time on this earth. Truth be told? She picked some amazing options!

The top sites on my list of “places to visit before you die” are all trips I’ve planned but never got to go on:

[1] Istanbul
I’m working on a book that takes place partly in sixteenth-century Constantinople, so I’ve always wanted to go. Unfortunately, I have a cousin who went and regaled my mother with stories about the unwanted attentions she got as an unaccompanied woman, thus placing Istanbul on my mother’s list of Places I Will Freak Out If You Go To.
When I was in college, I spent a midwinter break in Israel and arranged for a four-day tour of Istanbul with an Israeli tour agent. It sounded fantastic: a short flight, and then Topkaki Palace! The Golden Horn! The Bosphorus! Being on a tour, I wouldn’t exactly be unaccompanied, but I decided not to tell my mother anyhow.
Then the travel agent, not being informed of this complication, called my home one day and left a message with my mother about “the Istanbul trip.”
… very long story short: I didn’t go to Istanbul. (I went to Rhodes, which was also kind of cool, but not the same thing.)

[2] Japan
            After taking the bar exam and beginning a 16-hour workday at a law firm, many law students go on an extended trip somewhere. I really wanted to go to Japan; I had a tour guide of Japan all marked up, and even read a textbook called Japanese Culture. Then the SARS outbreak happened, and I decided I should probably go elsewhere.
            On the plus side… my reading of Japanese Culture led me to read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonago, and then The World of the Shining Prince, and then to collect a long list of other Japan-related books I wanted to read. My reading ambitions were cut off by that 16-hour workday, but I’m fairly sure I’m going to write a fantasy book inspired by Japanese history someday. Hopefully I’ll get to write some of it in Japan.

[3] Scandinavia
            This was next on my list of possible post-bar trips. It was a close call, but we ended up going to Alaska instead. Alaska was incredible, and I have no regrets… but still, someday…

[4] Southeastern Alaska
            You’ll be shocked to hear that my mother still had an opinion about where I should go. Instead of doing the interior of Alaska on our own, she said, what about a cruise? There was a kosher cruise to southeast Alaska just when I was planning to go! So safe, so scenic, so full of eligible Jewish guys. I resisted successfully, but I did look at some of the brochures, and I have to admit they were tempting. So again, someday…

[5] Nova Scotia
            I planned a week-long to Nova Scotia once, mostly to see the Bay of Fundy and watch a tidal bore, but the more I looked into it, the more interesting sights I found. This was when I was married and living in Boston, so it seemed we could take our car on a ferry and do the whole trip pretty cheap. We were waiting for an opportunity for my husband to take off a week… and while we were waiting, I got pregnant, at which point my ambitions switched to getting from my bed to the bathroom and back. We still haven’t managed to take that trip, but I have the itinerary written out and ready to go.

Thank you so much Leah for sharing!
Leave her a comment and let her know what trip you've just been dying to take!

A Fairy Tale Giveaway!

Guess what I get to give away today? Can you tell I'm excited? I've been drooling over this book/asking people to buy it for me for my birthday for the last month. If the cover of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, isn't enough to make you want to read it, wait until you read the synopsis.

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.  With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

I am so in love.
Here's the adorable trailer for you as well. The art rather reminds me of Alice In Wonderland to be honest.

Now, if you aren't already sold I haven't done my job properly. However I hope that you will enter this giveaway and give this book lots of love!

To enter, fill out THIS FORM.

Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.

Giveaway ends July 27, 2011.

A look into Torn by Erica O'Rourke

Today I have Erika O'Rourke, author of Torn, here to give us a look into the book. She's given us a little extra excerpt from the book's main character, Mo. 

Mo is quite a fiery and loyal friend. I truly loved her. Take a look at her inner thoughts as she battles with what has just happened.


This was supposed to be our best year ever. Verity and me, seniors, our last hurrah before we escaped to New York and started fresh. No more whispers about my family. No more pitying looks. Verity and me, with the world at our feet.

Then she was murdered.

I’ve never liked the spotlight, but now everyone’s watching me: the Chicago Mob, the police, and especially Colin, my new bodyguard. But I’m watching Luc, the guy I just met, who says he knows the truth about what happened to Verity. He’s not talking now, but he will. Because I’m going to find out who killed my best friend, and I’m going to make them pay, no matter what it costs.


Everyone has secrets.
Even best friends.

Swirling black descends like ravens, large enough to block the glow of the streetlights. A dull roar starts like a train on the ‘L’, a far-away rumbling that grows louder as it pulls closer, until it’s directly overhead and you feel it in your chest, except this doesn’t pass you by. Verity, white-faced and eyes blazing, shouts through the din, "Run, Mo!”

Mo Fitzgerald knows about secrets. But when she witnesses her best friend’s murder, she discovers Verity was hiding things she never could have guessed. To find the answers she needs and the vengeance she craves, Mo-quiet, ordinary, unmagical Mo-will have to enter a world of raw magic and shifting alliances. And she’ll have to choose between two very different, equally dangerous guys-protective, duty-bound Colin and brash, mysterious Luc. One wants to save her, one wants to claim her. Which would you choose?


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