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Saturday, October 31, 2009

In My Mailbox (12)

IMM is hosted by Kristi, aka The Story Siren!
This week I received quite a few awesome arcs that I cannot wait to dive into! I also received a couple of contest wins and borrowed some audiobook from the library for my trip home and to listen to while working out. This is my first time trying audiobooks, so I'm interested to see how I'll like them! :)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown, 12/22/09)
There were no surprises in Gatlin County

We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey (EgmontUSA, out now)
“I want that soul sack,” he said suddenly.

“What?” the witch asked around the scrap of meat she was chewing.
“I want it so no one I love will ever, ever, ever have to go inside again.”
“It’s not for mortal hands to have.” The witch spat out a bit of bone.
“You know magic. Give me the power to steal the sack.”
When fire steals his family from him, Kipp is left with only his little sister to protect as best he can, and he’s determined that death will not come to her–or to the girl he loves but can never approach.
But who would dare to master death? As Kipp finds out, it’s complicated, and possession of the soul sack is no guarantee of success. Dragon’s Keep author Janet Lee Carey has crafted a stirring and original fantasy set in a harsh and beautiful desert landscape, in which a young man who has lost everything finds the strength within himself to care for those he loves–and to allow those he cannot keep close to him to take a path he cannot follow.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (Henry Holt, 5/25/10)
Doctors have pinned 16-year-old Drea with everything from ADHD to Asperger’s Syndrome. She has an obsession with sound design, a tendency to blurt out whatever she’s thinking, and a problem making friends, but likes to think of this as following her own rhythm in a confusing world.

Drea is hesitant to befriend purple-haired Naomi, her teenage neighbor with a kamikaze personality. But Naomi is the first person to treat her like she isn’t a world class dork. Then there’s Justin, the sexy and persistent boy in her film class. If she’s learned anything from her mom, it’s that boys are trouble.
When Drea discovers Naomi’s love for drums and Justin’s piano prodigy status, the three form a trip-hop band and a friendship that will challenge everything Drea thought she knew about herself and the world around her.

Fat Cat by Robin Brande (audiobook) (Knopf, out now)
You are what you eat. . . .

Cat smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.
As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .
This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (Bloomsbury, 2/1/10)
Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (Walker, out now)
When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . . .

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey (Atheneum, out now)
Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A "magician" stole her family's few valuables and left Sadima's mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima's joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin's irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision.

Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate -- and the first academic requirement is survival.
Sadima's and Hahp's worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey's dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (audiobook)
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washed up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl.

Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart (audiobook)
"Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father's ""Bunny Rabbit."" A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
Frankie Laundau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take ""no"" for an answer. Especially when ""no"" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew is lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way."

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (audiobook)
Once upon a time I was a little girl who disappeared.

Once upon a time my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time I didn't know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbelestier (audiobook)
Welcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all—especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenza (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy. The question is: will Charlie herself survive the fairy ditching experiment? From the author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, this is a delightful story of fairies, friendships, and figuring out how to make your own magic.

I won some CINDERELLA SOCIETY swag from Kay Cassidy on Facebook! All was signed and so cute! I will keep some for myself, but I'll also give some away at some point!

Tara Kelly sent me some signed HARMONIC FEEDBACK bookmarks with my arc... So excited to read the book and I'm already using the bookmark! :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Minichallenge Hosted by Princess Bookie!

This post is my entry to Option B of Princess Bookie's Minichallenge, found here.

The prompt:
Write A Blog Post Explaining if you were to write a book about your life, what would the title be? What would the main plot be? Would it be a horror story, a love story, etc. Would there be a man involved? Crazy parents? Be creative. Just pretend you were writing a book based on your life!!

If I were writing a book about my life, I think I'd have a hard time devoting attention to every stage of my life up to this point. I think I'd have fun writing about my early years and my elementary years, but I'd want to skip over junior high... and part of high school.

There would definitely be boys throughout my story - I have a soft spot for romance in books, but it all started in real life. I've always been one of those girls who has a crush on someone... sometimes multiple someones. :) And I'd have to write pages and pages about my boyfriend (of four years now!) and how our relationship has evolved.

I'd also write a lot about work and work-related stories - as I was bit of a workaholic before I went away to university. These stories could easily work as a transition into my current jobless state - and what it is like living as a ridiculously poor college student. I'm down to change at this point.

I don't think I'd write about crazy parents, but I'd tell of the ups and downs I've gone through with my parents and how we've grown together, then apart, and now slowly back together.

I think I could write multiple chapters on my relationship with my siblings, all of which are younger. There has been a lot of rivalry and love between us and there are so many stories to tell - some sad, some happy, some freaking hilarious.

Lastly, I'd tell about my love affair with books. How it all started and what the stories that I find within a book's covers mean so much to me. This would be the hardest part to write - I find it hard to find the words to express how much I love reading. I suppose that is kind of ironic in a way.

I think if I had to write my life story right now it'd be pretty shallow. It would be easy to relate to, but, even though sometimes things seem like the end of the world, I really don't have all that much to complain about. I'm just an average American kid that loves to read, sometimes laughs, sometimes cries.

I have a feeling my book wouldn't really make the bestseller list! :)

Friday Finds (7)

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading!

Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma (Thomas Nelson, 11/3/09)
Truth's Found When Beauty's Lost.

Since childhood, seventeen-year-old Ellie Summerfield has fought to overcome her grandfather's painful words that push her to be driven, determined, and successful to the detriment of those around her. She always strives to do more, be more, help more. But when a tragedy stops her world short, Ellie is confronted with her deepest fears and this question: what is her life really worth?
Experience one girl's journey to rebuild herself into someone who is truly beautiful.

Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings (HarperTeen, 2/4/10)
"I've seen a ghost," said Emily. "Well, not seen one exactly. Heard one. At least, I think I have!" Everything has a rational explanation. Unless it doesn't. Welcome to Weirdsville...Woodsville is not like other towns. Night falls a little earlier there, the shadows are darker and denser, and everyone knows it's a place where strange things happen. Even if they won't admit it. Bethan would prefer to be anywhere but here. Jay has his theories, but isn't ready to share. Hashim sees more than he'll say, while Kelly's demons are all too flesh and blood. But Emily's freak-out brings them out of denial and face to face with the supernatural. Anywhere else, Friday night would be date night. But not in Weirdsville!

The Spectacular Now by Tim Sharp (Knopf, out now)
SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review: Possessions by Nancy Holder

Title: Possessions
Author: Nancy Holder
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Spirits, Popularity, Hauntings, Possessions, Friendship, Love
Pages: 295
Plot (from back cover):
possessions: me
one standard-issue map of the creepy Marlwood campus
one army jacket that screams "I so don't belong here."
a ton of Qs - like what's up with Mandy and her twisted pranks?

possessions: them
everything (personal chauffeurs, ponies, Greek Island villas, the list goes on)
Troy. the guy who saved us at the Operating Theater the other night. gorgeous. untouchable. He belongs to Mandy
countless stories about some ghost in the lake. haha, guys. very funny.

New girl Lindsay can't figure out what's oing on with popular Mandy and her followers. And what Lindsay doesn't know can hurt her. Long ago, someone at Marlwood made a grave mistake - and girls died because of it. Now spirits who were silent for two hundred years have waken up. These spirits need to take possession. And they must have their revenge.

Possessions was a quick, creepy read that I liked overall, but I felt lacked depth in some aspects.

I thought that Nancy Holder did a great job of building tension and mystery around the evil elements of the plot line. Lindsay's past mixed with the boarding schools mysterious and deadly history mixed well. I liked not knowing if something sinister was really happening or if Lindsay was imagining everything. I really didn't know what the truth would be until I finished the book.

My one major complaint is about the characters and their friendships. Lindsay names her roommate as her best friend, but I didn't feel that the relationship was very believeable. After all, these two girls had just met and really didn't seem to have much in common. I could see Lindsay being protective, as she is older, but the sudden closeness wasn't believable.

I also didn't really think it was necessary to paint the popular girls as rich. The back cover notes this fact, but it was kind of irrelevant information. The girls were creepy and controlling - their socioeconomic status wasn't really that important. It wasn't something that really mattered in the grand scheme of things, I just felt like that could have been edited out.

I did like the romance, even though it was only a minor part of the plot line. Holder didn't focus on Lindsay's romantic interest all that much, but I thought it was a cute side story.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 9
Characters: 8
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 9
Total: 46/50 (A-)

I'll definitely read more of Nancy Holder's books. I'm not sure if there is a sequel to Possessions, but I would love to see what happens to Lindsay next.

TBR Thursday (5): Nothing But Ghosts

TBR Thursday is a meme hosted by Drea. (Inspired by Waiting on Wednesday/Breaking the Spine.)

TBR Thursday highlights all those books that are already out (whether you own them or not) that you’re dying to read, but haven’t had the chance to yet. There can be some old books, some new books, and some that are in between, but they have to be books that you want/hope to read and review!

This week's pick is:

Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart
Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing But Ghosts, symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story-- the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.

I really want to read this one, yet it still sits on my shelf! Hopefully I'll get to it in November!

Head over to Drea's blog, Book Blather, to share you TBR Thursday pick!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Title: Blood Promise
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Vampires, Dhampir, Supernatural, Love, Family, Friendship
Pages: 502
Plot (from book jacket):
"Bound by love, but sworn to kill...
The world thought Dimitri was dead. And to a certain extent, he was. But I hadn't been able to forget about a conversation he and I had once had. We'd both agreed that we'd rather be dead - truly dead - than walk the world as a Strigoi. It was time to honor our words.
Guardian Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by the Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck; a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count
But only one victim matters... Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa - her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess - or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved?
Now, with everything at stake - and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend - can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?"

Blood Promise left me wanting, needing, more! Some people are over vampires, but I still absolutely love Richelle Mead's books! Blood Promise was an amazing continuation of the Vampire Academy books!

I always find it difficult to write reviews for books that are part of a series because I have a hard time writing around spoilers. That said, you can't fully appreciate Blood Promise unless you've read the first three Vampire Academy books. For that reason, this won't really be a review, but more of a recommendation to read the VA books!

I read the Vampire Academy last year shortly before the third book was released. I absolutely devoured it and rushed out to immediately buy the next two books (thankfully the third one was out at that point). I really hadn't expected to love these books as much as I do, but Richelle Mead's take on vampires is so refreshing and wonderfully imagined. The most notable aspect of these novels is that the main character isn't a vampire, she is dhampir, or a vampire guardian. I liked all the history that is involved in VA and how all the different characters and pieces of the story fit together.

My favorite part of the novels is the romance. I am a romance junkie and Vampire Academy is jam packed with sexual tension and tender moments. In many ways, I'd say that the VA books are more romance novels than vampire novels.

 I love those strong male leads and bad boys, but Rose, even though she falls head-over-feet, still holds her own: she doesn't need a guy to define her!

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50

The Vampire Academy novels are not to be missed! If you've read the first three novels and haven't gotten to Blood Promise yet, move it up on your to-be-read pile! I can't wait for the next novel, Spirit Bound, which will be out next year!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (17)

WoW is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine!

I'm hearing great things about both of this week's WoW books! Julie Kagawa's The Iron King looks amazing, especially with that great cover! Lauren Kate's Fallen has taken blogs by storm in the last couple weeks - the more I hear about it, the more excited I get! :)

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen, 2/1/10)
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

Fallen by Lauren Kate (Delacorte, 12/8/09)
There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.
Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

Interview: Lise Haines (author of Girl in the Arena!)

Lise Haines was kind enough to answer a few questions about her novel and writing!

A Brief Introduction:
LISE HAINES is the author of three novels, Girl in the Arena, published in the US and the UK (Bloomsbury) and in Turkey (Alfa-Artemis Yayınevi); Small Acts of Sex and Electricity (Unbridled Books), a Book Sense Pick in 2006 and one of ten “Best Book Picks for 2006” by the NPR station in San Diego ; and In My Sister’s Country, (Penguin/Putnam), a finalist for the 2003 Paterson Fiction Prize. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and she was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award.

Haines is Writer in Residence at Emerson College. She has been Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and her other teaching credits include UCLA, UCSB, and Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She grew up in Chicago, lived in Southern California for many years, and now resides in the Boston area. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

The Interview:
First off, tell us a little bit about your novel, GIRL IN THE ARENA.
Lyn, my narrator, is 18 years old and lives in Cambridge, Mass. Her world is more or less as we know it except that our society now has gladiator competitions where combatants live and die in the arena. Lyn’s mother has married one neo-gladiator after another, and as a Glad daughter, Lyn is expected to follow a set of tyrannical rules. When she loses her seventh father in the arena, she finds herself having to make some really tough choices.

What inspired you to write GIRL IN THE ARENA?
In part, I was reflecting on the level of violence that young women experience in our world, and how little we talk about that. But when you write a book, so many things are streaming through your mind. I was fascinated by my daughter’s avatars, and that type of virtual reality warrior. And then…I just wanted to tell an engaging story, and immerse myself in Lyn’s world.

Are you anything like your main character?
Wow, I’ve never been asked this question. My immediate answer is: not really. But I can relate to her desire to do things on her own terms, and how arbitrary or unfair rules just drive me crazy. She also has a fighting spirit and any single mom, as I am, has to have a fighting spirit if she and her kids are going to make it in this world. You know, JK Rowling has that spirit, Toni Morrison…

Did you do any research while writing GIRL IN THE ARENA? If yes, please explain.
I had a teaching post at Harvard one year and that made it possible for me to get to Rome. There are quite a number of parallels to Ancient Roman culture and the neo-gladiator society of Girl in the Arena. And I was surprised to learn that there were female gladiators in Ancient Rome. I have other interesting facts on my website:

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this novel?
Finding time is the tough part. I teach full time and I have a teenage daughter. To make it all work means cutting down on sleep. The writing itself was a dream. I love writing. It’s hard to describe the pleasure I have when I drop into another world that way.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, always. There were moments when I considered other things to support myself. To be a good writer, I think you have to have an understanding of human psychology. So I might have made a good therapist or maybe a photographer—I’m a very visual writer. My mother and father were journalists, so I was always around writers. In high school, I used to stay up half the night writing.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
Oh, I had some funny jobs like motel maid, waitress for a day, inventory controller, bank teller, administrative assistant, bookkeeper. Most of those jobs were pretty mind-numbing and paid poorly. Many of my female college students don’t like the term feminist (an often confusing and mixed up term), but women really got the raw end of the career stick—and even now we make less on the dollar. You try and get a short story or two out of those lousy jobs and you hope you move on quickly.

When and where do you usually write?
I’m so bad, I write a lot in bed. My desk is often crowded with papers. Sometimes I work at a large table or go out to a coffee shop.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
I don’t think of myself as fussy in that way. But loud drilling, jack hammers, wood chipping machines…they make it tough.

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I love so many books it’s hard to narrow the list down. I recall reading Once and Future King by T.H. White, about King Arthur, and going crazy for the particular way he depicted fantasy. Alice in Wonderland always rocked my world—still does.

What are currently reading?
Mostly I’m reading nonfiction books, reflecting on the next novel I’m writing.

What book are you anxiously awaiting?
What I’m looking forward to is time to really dive into the stack by my bed. I’ll probably read Lorrie Moore’s new novel next. And Leviathan looks good.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
I’m working on something but I’m in that superstitious stage where I have to hold off talking about it for a while. If Girl in the Arena really takes off, I’m thinking about writing a sequel.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
I guess that would be writing. And putting my feet up and watching a movie with my daughter. Any chance to get out in nature is something I relish as well.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I have this whacky book trailer I hope everyone checks out: I crack up each time I see it.

Thanks so much for all of your good energy around GIRL IN THE ARENA!!

Thank you, Lise, for taking the time to answer these questions!
To read my review of GIRL IN THE ARENA, go here!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Contest News and Updates

Hello everyone!
I'd just like to remind everyone about a couple of contests that are running at The Hiding Spot right now:

Go here to win an ARC of LITTLE BLACK LIES by Tish Cohen!

Go here to be one of 5 to win signed RAMPANT bookmarks!

When I reach 250 followers I'm planning on holding a big-ish contest for books and swag. This may be delayed until a bit after 250 depending on school and work, but it will happen!

I've gotten quite a few blog awards lately and I'd like to thank everyone that has given them to me! I love getting them, though I usually don't pass them on. If I have some extra time though, I'll try to! Thanks!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue

Title: Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue
Author: Hugh Howey
Publisher: NorLights Press
Pub. Date: September 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Space travel, Romance, Family, Mystery, Action, Futuristic
Plot (from back of ARC):
"When Molly gets kicked out of the Naval Academy, she loses more than just another home, she loses the two things that truly matter: flying in space and her training partner, Cole. A dull future seems to await, until a marvelous discovery changes everything.
Her father's old starship, missing for a decade, turns up halfway across the galaxy. Its retrieval launches Molly and Cole on an adventure of a lifetime, one that will have lasting consequences for themselves and billion of others.
What starts off as a simple quest to reconnect with her past, ends up forging a new future.And the forgotten family she hoped to uncover becomes one she never foresaw: a band of alien misfits and runaways - the crew of the starship Parsona."

Unfortuntately, I don't think Molly Fyde is a book that I would have picked up on my own. When I was contacted about reviewing this book, I debated whether or not to say yes. After all, I hadn't heard of the title, the author, or the publisher. In the end, I decided to accept because I love YA and science fiction and this book did have a plot that sounded interesting. I am so ridiculously glad that I did: Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue is most definitely one of the best YA science fiction novels that I've read the entire year.

I am always wary when picking up a new science fiction novel. Some scifi books focus too much on the technical (science) side of the plot, which I sometimes find boring or too complex. I read the first chapter of the novel and was starting to see these tendencies, but that really only lasted throughout the first chapter and their was a good reason for it. Once I got through that beginning chapter, I was hooked!

I was thrilled to discover that there was a love story within Molly Fyde, which will appeal to many YA readers. Cole, Molly's romantic interest, was a great match for her and I loved their dialogue. This aspect of the plot was wonderful.

This novel takes place many years in the future, when space travel is common and there are many planets with life, both alien and human. It was so interesting to read about the different planets Howey has imagined and sent Molly and Cole to. Along the way, Cole and Molly are met not only with adventure and clues to unraveling the mystery of Molly's past, but with new ideas and cultures.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A!)

I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait until the next installment, Molly Fyde and the Land of Light, is released. The story leaves readers with a cliffhanger that left me anxious for more! Don't let this novel pass you by! Whether you are a scifi fan or simply a fan of adventure and love stories, this novel shouldn't be missed!

In My Mailbox (12)

IMM is hosted by Kristi, a.k.a. The Story Siren!

This was a great book week! :) I got a couple review books, I received a couple books that I on, and got a book from a friend. Also, I got quite a few books from the library. Most of those are for challenges and themed weeks, like Fairy Tale Week and the YA Dystopian Challenge.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (Simon Pulse, 1/5/10)
Sixteen-year-old Hanna Järvinen is an unusual girl with a head full of hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet full of frilly, violet dresses. Everything a girl needs--except love. But that's what mothers are for, and Hanna is sure she can reconcile with hers, even though she was abandoned as a baby.
Unfortunately, her mother lives in Portero, an odd East Texas town with doors that lead out of the world, flesh-eating creatures, and parasitical spirits--not an ideal environment for winning a mother's love.
Hanna, however, refuses to let a few monsters interfere with her plans. If she has to flirt a little, lie a little, kill a little, or even bleed a little, she'll do it. Hanna can live with monsters and mayhem, but she would rather die than live without love.

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows.

But to truly free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life—and their love…

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, out now)
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background . . .

But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway . . .

Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
Matisse Osgood is a New York City girl through and through. She buys her clothes at Andy's Cheapies, watches indie films at the Angelika, and wouldn't be caught dead on a hayride. But when her father gets sick and Matisse's parents decide to leave Man-hattan for a small town in upstate New York, her perfect world crumbles. As Matisse trudges through life in Prague, she dreams of waking up in her apartment on West 78th Street with a father who's well enough to walk with her in Central Park and a mother who doesn't pretend that everything is okay. When rumors surround Matisse at school and her father's symptoms worsen, Matisse realizes that the friends she's making in Prague are the kind you can count on. They help Matisse find the strength to reach out to her father, who may not be as far from her as she thought. And one particular farm boy shows Matisse that country living is a lot more magical than she ever imagined.

Feathered by Laura Kasischke
Afterward, Terri will tell everyone that, from the beginning, she knew something terrible was going to happen on spring break.

Something bad was going to happen.
She knew.
It was supposed to be the perfect vacation: hot guys, impeccable tans, and no parents. But for two high school seniors, an innocent car ride will drive them into the heart of their worst nightmare.
Feathered is a provocative and eerie tale that flies readers from safe, predictable suburbia to the sun-kissed beaches of Cancún, Mexico, and into mysterious Mayan ruins, where ancient myths flirt dangerously with present realities.

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman
A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th century Southern France. As crusaders sweep through the country, destroying all those who do not follow their religion, Bertrand risks his life to warn others of the invasion. As a troubadour, Bertrand can travel without suspicion from castle to castle, passing word about the coming danger. In the meantime Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertrand, leaves her comfortable home and family and becomes a troubadour herself. Danger encircles them both, as the rising tide of bloodshed threatens the fabric of the society in which they live.

Ophelia by Lisa Klein
Ophelia is young, vivacious, and falling in love with a prince who cannot return her affections without arousing suspicion. And so they meet in secret—embracing in stairwells and castle turrets, reaching passionately for each other under the cover of darkness. His name is Hamlet; her name is Ophelia. And if you think you know this story, think again. Because when bloody deeds turn the court of Elsinore into a place of treachery and madness, Ophelia alone will find the means to escape, with nothing more than the clothes on her back…and one very dangerous secret.

Soulstice by Simon Holt
The terrifying, nail-biting, and grossly intriguing sequel toThe Devouring.

It's been six months since Reggie first discovered and fought against the Vours, malicious and demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on the eve of the Winter Solstice.
The Vours still haunt Reggie, but only in her dreams-until one night, when an unexpected visitor turns her nightmares into reality.

Hunger by Michael Grant
It's been three months since everyone under the age of fourteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ. Things have only gotten worse. Food is running out, and each day more kids are developing supernatural abilities. Soon tension rises between those with powers and those without, and when an unspeakable tragedy occurs, chaos erupts. It's the normals against the mutants, and the battle promises to turn bloody.

But something more dangerous lurks. A sinister creature known as the Darkness has begun to call to the survivors in the FAYZ. It needs their powers to sustain its own. When the Darkness calls, someone will answer -- with deadly results.

Among the Hidden by Margaret  Peterson Haddix
Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.

Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.
Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?

Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe
Jasmine had everything a girl could want.1

So it wasn't her idea of SuperFun to move halfway around the world to Venice, Italy, leaving her fab pals and hot new boyfriend back in Los Angeles.2 But Venice isn't so bad . . .
Until Jasmine's Evil Hench cousin, Alyson, and her Best Fiend Veronique arrive,3 Jasmine's secret plan to jet to California is foiled, 4 her boyfriend starts hanging with someone named Candy, 5 and her only friend in Venice turns out to be in deadly peril.6
Faster than you can say "gelato," Jasmine is caught up in a catastrophic caper featuring a runaway heiress, a smoldering gondolier, 142 kinds of pizza, and a bothersome kitty. But before she can face off against a dangerous adversary, she has to face herself.
While wearing white leather pants.7

1 Rock star boyfriend, homicidal hair, fabulous pals, iNsAnO father . . .
2 No, this was the work of Dadzilla, smiter of life's happiness.
3 They ask to be called by their faerie names, Sapphyre and Tiger's*Eye. No, I am not joking. What? I'm supposed to keep the scary stuff inside the book?
4 Hello Dadzilla!
5 Who may or may not have perfect hair and boobs and be able to communicate with dolphins.
6 Not that anyone believes it. Until— What? That is for inside the book too? Okay, fine.
7 Only part of the time. The rest of the time I have to wear . . . oh, right. ScArY stuff inside.

Tory High by Shana Norris
Homer’s Iliad, the classic tale of love and revenge, is shrewdly retold for teens in Troy High.

Narrated by Cassie, a shy outsider who fears that an epic high school rivalry is about to go up in flames, the story follows the Trojans and Spartans as they declare war on the football field. After the beautiful Elena—who used to be the captain of the Spartan cheerleaders—transfers to Troy High and falls madly in love with Cassie’s brother Perry, the Spartans vow that the annual homecoming game will never be forgotten.
The Trojans and Spartans pull wicked pranks on each other as homecoming approaches. And the Spartans’ wildcard football star, Ackley, promises to take down the Trojans’ offensive line. But the stakes are raised when Cassie is forced to choose between the boy she loves (a Spartan) and loyalty to her family and school. Troy High will seduce readers with its incendiary cast of mythic proportions.

Exodus by Julie Bertagna
Less than a hundred years from now, the world as we know it no longer exists. Cities have disappeared beneath the sea, technology no longer functions, and human civilization has reverted to a much more primitive state

On an isolated northern island, the people of Wing are trying to hold onto their way of life—even as the sea continues to claim precious acres and threatens to claim their very lives
Only fifteen-year-old Mara has the vision and the will to lead her people in search of a new beginning in this harsh, unfamiliar world.
This compelling and powerful story set in the near future will hit home with teens, especially those who are ever more aware of the increasingly controversial climate crisis we face in our world today.

Before Midnight: A Retelling of "Cinderella" by Cameron Dokey
Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants' care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon's father, and her arrival changes their lives.
When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon's new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny -- a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguie
In a quiet fishing village seventeen years ago, one lone fisherman rescued a child from the sea. He and his wife raised the girl, Pearl, as their own daughter, never allowing themselves to wonder long about where she came from -- or notice her silver hair, usually pale skin, and wide, dark blue eyes.

Pearl grows from a mysterious child into an unusual young woman, not always welcomed in the village. As all the other girls her age find husbands, she has only one friend to ease her loneliness. One very special, secret companion: Prince James.
But their friendship is shaken when trouble erupts in the kingdom -- a conspiracy against the royal family combines with an evil enchantment from beneath the sea. Now, just when Pearl and James need each other most, bewitching magic and hints about Pearl's past threaten to tear them apart...forever.

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. And for Elspeth Gordie, it is also dangerous. That's because Elspeth has a secret: she is a Misfit, born with mysterious mental abilities that she must keep hidden under threat of death. And her worries only multiply when she is exiled to the mountain compound known as Obernewtyn, where—for all her talents—Elspeth may finally and truly be out of her depth. Then she learns she’s not the only one concealing secrets at Obernewtyn.