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Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Finds (8)

Friday Finds highlights the books that you added to your TBR pile throughout the week. FF is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading!

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury, 7/20/10)
A lush, epic historical novel by bestseller Celia Rees, with an added Shakespearean twist

Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.
This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 5/25/10)

The engrossing companion novel to Princess of the Midnight Ball, with a wicked twist on Cinderella.

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other’s countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It’s got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Houghton Mifflin, 7/12/10)
Bet is sixteen, very intelligent, but only knows as much as her limited education will allow. In Victorian England, girls aren't allowed to go to school.

Will is also 16, and though not related by blood, he and Bet act like brother and sister. In fact, they even look like brother and sister. And though they're both raised under the same roof, by the same kind uncle, Will has one big advantage over Bet: He's a boy, and being a boy means he isn't stuck in the grand house they call home. He gets to go out into the world--to school.
But that's not what Will wishes. He wants to join the military and learn about real life, not what's written in books.
So one night, Bet comes up with a plan. She'll go to school as Will. Will can join the military. And though it seems impossible, they actually manage to pull it off.
But once Bet gets to the school, she begins to realize the education she's going to get isn't exactly the one she was expecting.

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler (Flux, 5/1/10)

Terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future, sixteen-year-old Aura struggles with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay.

As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations.
Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process.

Faithful by Janet Fox (Speak, 5/13/10)
Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared, and is presumed dead. The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana. Torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her friends, from society, and verging on no prospects, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself. And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture Maggie’s heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.

Tagged by Mara Purnhagen (Harlequin, 3/1/10)

Kate Morgan is just as confused as the rest of her classmates when she arrives at Cleary High to find six life-size gorillas spray painted on the side of a building. Could the culprit be one of her friends or classmates? And is the kind-of-amazing creation really vandalism, or a work of art? She's tempted to stay out of it, mostly because, as the police chief’s daughter, she's always accused of being a snitch. But when gorillas start appearing throughout the state, her investigative instincts kick in.

Now Eli, Kate’s favorite co-worker at the local coffee shop, is MIA. With her best friend, Lan, preoccupied with her own boy troubles, Kate needs to figure out some things on her own. Like why she can’t stop thinking about Eli. And what she will do when all clues about the graffiti point to someone she knows...

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills (Razorbill 8/10)
A plane crash in Alaska takes Winter’s first love away forever . . . When Winter’s boyfriend is killed in a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, she’s robbed of the future she’d only just allowed herself to believe might be hers. Winter and Spencer had been destined for one
another. And after his death, Spencer’s presence continues to haunt her.
But when her next-door neighbor becomes an unlikely friend, Winter begins to accept all that
she can’t change. Can she open herself to a new future . . . and a possible new love?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Contest: Win a copy of Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison! CLOSED

Angela Morrison has kindly donated a signed copy of TAKEN BY STORM for one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

You can read my review of TAKEN BY STORM, here, and check out my interview with Angela, here!

To enter the contest, fill out this handy form!
If you cannot access the form or have any other difficulties, be sure to leave me a message and your email address in the comments and I will contact you and manually enter your name to win!

This contest is open to those with US and Canada mailing addresses.


Good luck!

Interview: Angela Morrison (Author of Taken by Storm!)

Today, dear Hiding Spot readers, I'm excited to share an interview with the talented Angela Morrison!

What inspired you to write TAKEN BY STORM?
My husband and I were scuba diving in Cozumel. A storm rolled in, and one of the guys were dove with pointed south and told us we were catching the edge of a hurricane that hit Belize the night before. He went on to say the hurricane had capsized a boat full of divers and drowned them all. I didn’t believe him. Divers don’t drown. But when I got home and started researching it online, I discovered he was right. I followed the story—read the memorial on the club’s website. Couldn’t get it out of my head. The “what if” questions started churning. What if a teen guy was on that boat with his parents and friends? What if he was the only survivor? Where would he go? How would he feel? Who would love him?

Are you anything like your main character, Leesie?
At first, I saddled poor Leesie with way too much me. She lives in the house I grew up in, goes to my school, and shares my faith. When I started loading her up with all the worst experiences from my high school journals, she suffocated. A wise advisor made me revise. I gave her a leather jacket that my son’s coolest friend wore, my sister’s gorgeous long hair, and my other sister’s mad driving skills. And then I started listening to her. As I let her grow outside of my shadow, she became her own self. Every character an author writes comes out of her heart and brain, so—in a sense—they are all me. BUT too much me in any one character, and I have to call 911.

Did you do any research while writing STORM? If yes, please explain.
I researched everything from Grand Coulee Dam and the Native Americans who still live in its shadow to grief to Belize scuba diving to tropical Caribbean reef fish. I knew the Tekoa setting and the Florida setting well, and I’m a NAUI Advanced, Nitrox certified scuba diver –so I pulled pieces out of all that experience to weave my story.
The most unique research I did was a free dive course. My wonderful husband agreed to take a day out of a dive trip to Grand Cayman to certify as a free diver with me. I learned all about the breathing techniques in that course. That had a huge impact on how I portrayed Michael. He turns to that breathing all the time. It saves him—over and over again. I was hideous at the actual free diving. My legs collapsed under the weight of those giant fins. BUT my husband rocked. He did a fifty-five foot free dive on his first try. Scared me to death. His lips were blue when he surfaced. Free diving, like scuba diving, is something you can’t do unless you are trained. Dangerous, but amazing and safe if you keep the rules.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing STORM?
The hardest thing was getting Leesie’s voice right. I even wrote a couple of drafts for an interested editor completely from Michael’s point of view. But that didn’t work, either. At that point, the novel was broken. I had Michael’s dive logs and knew they worked. I pulled out the chats that I had used like dialogue and let them speak for themselves. And then I started letting the poet in Leesie out. That’s what she wanted all along.

I found STORM to be rather “steamy” – even with the lack of actual sex in the book. Did you find it difficult to convey that?
That was probably the second hardest thing. I have some guidelines for myself as an author and one of them is I won’t write explicit material. Our world drips with soft porn everywhere we turn, and I don’t want to add to that. If a reader wants explicit sex scenes, they can find it other books. But it isn’t as easy to find, honest—even steamy—romance that doesn’t bombard the reader with explicit scenes.
But it isn’t easy to do. I rewrote those scenes tons—even prayed about them. Michael, though, saved me. He has got to be the most romantic kisser in the universe. Very creative. Even when he had to deal with all of Leesie’s rules. I turned those scenes over to him as much as possible.

Did you receive any negative or positive comments about the fact that one of STORM’s major themes is the Mormon faith?
I wrote this when I was studying at Vermont College and got amazing support from all of my advisors and critique groups. It surprised me. I don’t think I would have finished the first draft without that. It’s so hard to write about your own faith, though. It’s so easy to turn your art into propaganda. That ruins it, though. I actually wrote my critical thesis on lessons I learned from how Katherine Paterson does it. I worked hard to keep Leesie as authentic a Mormon girl as I could make her without getting preachy.
Selling STORM was another story. No editor or agent came out and said, “Are you crazy? This is about a faithful Mormon girl,” but I garnered an inch thick file of rejections.
My editor was upfront about it. When she requested the whole manuscript, she said, “We’re not sure about the Mormon angle.” But, after they read it, they decided the Mormon angle was hot. (Thank you, Stephanie Meyers!)

Did you always want to be a novelist?
When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a veterinarian and have ten kids and a hundred cats. Then I went to first grade and learned how to write. I thought I wanted to write for a younger audience, but when I started my master’s degree and had to produce, the stories for younger readers got pushed aside, and teen voices emerged. I had a bunch of teen kids at home and had taught teens at church for years. They kidnapped my subconscious. Now I adore writing YA. I love exploring the coming of age journey.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
I was a full-time mom for decades. I wrote when I could, but I’m an all or nothing person. I get a absorbed in my kids, directing plays, researching the history of my family. When my youngest went to school full-time, I got absorbed in writing. I got my MFA, and I’ve been writing full-time ever since. My experience with my own teens and volunteer work at church enriched the well of my own experience. I’m in debt to my sons for the guy voices, and to my daughter for the whole premise of my next book, SING ME TO SLEEP.

When and where do you usually write?
I write first drafts in my bed, propped on feather pillows. I have a cool bean-shaped lap desk and love to write on pale pink paper with a black padded gel pen. Mornings are usually best for first drafts. The part of my brain that creates works best drowsy. Some days, when the story is emerging pell mell, I’ll write all day and into the night. Other days, I have to give myself free write assignments and trick myself into getting through another scene or chapter.
Once I get a scene drafted, I type it up—fleshing out the details as I go. I do that all day.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
I’m lost without my Zebra black gel pens. I hate to write on paper with lines.

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I’ve studied and taught The Bible and The Book of Mormon all my life. They form my inner truth. But I think of them as holy writ, not a “book!”
My journey to become a writer was shaped by many influences. Katherine Paterson’s Of Nightingales that Weep made a big impact. My romantic story telling was shaped by Mary Stewart’s early romantic suspense novels. My favorite is My Brother, Michael. I’m a Jane Austen-ite and love Tolstoy. Lately, when my prose needs a tune-up, I read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief again. The guy is a genius with words.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
My next YA novel, Sing me to Sleep, launches March 4, 2010. My daughter sang in a competitive girls choir when we lived in London, Ontario—the Junior Amabile Singers. I always wanted to set a novel in that world, but I didn’t have a story. Then a quiet tragedy that occurred in the Amabile family of choirs gave me a heartbreaking story to tell. When Razorbill asked me to wait to write the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM, UNBROKEN CONNECTION, I pitched them this story. My editor and I batted the idea back and forth, came up with a good synopsis, and then she convinced her boss to go with it. Phew! When I started writing, the story poured out of me. It was an amazing experience. Sometimes I look at that book and wonder why I was blessed to get to write it. It’s a story that is precious to me, and a beautiful group of people who let me borrow parts of their reality to shape my fiction. That is how fiction is supposed to work, but it is startling when it does.
This fall I went ahead and wrote STORM’s sequel, UNBROKEN CONNECTION. I don’t know if Razorbill will sign it yet. Watch ChatSpot on my website for updates.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
I’m with you. Books are my favorite place to hide, my favorite treat, my favorite get-away. I’ve scuba dived all over the world, traveled from the Alps to the jungles of Vietnam, and researched my way through coal mines in Scotland, Canada and the U.S., but nothing comes close to the joy and satisfaction I get curling up in the corner with a favorite book or a shiny new volume. I have to ration myself or I won’t get anything else done. Including writing my own!

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I’ve started a blog for writers on my website called liv2writ—in honor of Michael’s screen name, liv2div. I’m building and adding to it more and more. Right now I’m working on a post about cutting, and I’m going to share some TAKEN BY STORM out takes. Anyone who has read TAKEN BY STORM will enjoy checking it out.
We’re working on a trailer for SING ME TO SLEEP. It should be available January 15th. TAKEN BY STORM comes out in paperback February 4, 2010.

You can find out more about Angela and her books here!
Read my review of TAKEN BY STORM, here!
Enter to win a copy of TAKEN BY STORM, here!

Review: Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Title: Taken by Storm
Author: Angela Morrison
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Grief, Religion (Mormon), Customs, Love, Deep diving
Pages: 291
Plot (from book jacket):
"Sometimes only love can save you...
Seventeen-year-old Leesie Hunt has rules: no making out. No sex. And definitely no falling for a non-Mormon. She pours all of her passion into poetry, thoughts of escaping her tiny town and getting into her dream school, BYU.
The Michael Walden arrives in Tekoa and everything changes. He is a free diver, which means he can hold his breath for minutes at a time. This is how he survived the storm that took his parents' lives, and the world as he knew it.
Leesie and Michael couldn't be more different: his dreams are tied to the depths of the ocean and hers to salvation above: Yet they are drawn to each other, even when jealousy, unbearable rules, and haunting memories threaten to tear them apart.
Every time Michael goes diving, Leesie is afraid he'll never come back up. He is drowning in tragedy and she knows it's up to her to save him. Somehow.
But when temptation becomes too strong to resist, who is going to save her?"

I can honestly say that I didn't expect to love Taken by Storm as much as I did, which is why I read it so long after it was released. I had heard mixed reviews and never found time to read it. When I saw that Morrison had a new book, Sing Me to Sleep, scheduled to be released in 2010 that I thought looked interesting, I remembered her 2009 debut. When I was lucky enough to get a chance to read Sing Me to Sleep and ended up really enjoying it, I ran out to get Taken by Storm! It took me forever to finally read it, but I am SO glad I did because it is an amazing novel!

One of the reason that I was hesitant to read Taken by Storm was the fact that one of the main characters, Leesie, is Mormon and a main focus is a romance between Leesie and the other main character, Michael. I wasn't really sure that I would like that combination... it isn't that I didn't think it would be "hot" enough or that their romance wouldn't be engaging necessarily, I just wasn't sure how in depth the religious aspect of the book would be and if I would find that to be a distraction. These factors all came together though to make great story with interesting and original details. The Mormon faith played in intersting role in Leesie's actions and motivations, without being overwhelming or overbearing. It helped that Michael was not at all chaste or religious: it created an interesting dynamic between the couple.

I'm a fan of tension between characters who are romantically involved and Morrison definitely delivers! I think that the romance between Leesie and Michael was way sexier than in novels that contain actual sex scenes. Morrison definitely delivered when it came to the romantic plot line of Taken by Storm!

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

Taken by Storm was an amazing novel from an extremely talented YA author! Having read both Taken by Storm and Morrison upcoming novel, Sing Me to Sleep, I feel confident when I say that Morrison is an author to watch. For those of you intersting in Taken by Storm or who have read the book, I've been told that there will be another novel continuing Leesie and Michael's story!! I was super excited to hear this! :)

Check out my interview with the author, Angela Morrison, here!
Enter to win a copy of TAKEN BY STORM, here!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cover Alert: Everlasting by Angie Frazier!

I've been waiting for this cover FOREVER! Seriously, I've been waiting for months!

Everlasting by Angie Frazier (Scholastic, June 2010)
Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.
Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.

I'm so excited for EVERLASTING. I think the cover is gorgeous! The couple in the boat is perfect and simple and the lettering has a romantic feel. Bravo!

For more information about EVERLASTING and Angie Frazier, go here!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Contest: Win a copy of Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart! CLOSED

Beth Kephart has generously donated a copy of NOTHING BUT GHOSTS to be won by one lucky reader at The Hiding Spot!

This contest is open to those with mailing addresses in the US and Canada. The contest will close CLOSED!

My review of Nothing But Ghosts can be found here!
An interview with Beth Kephart can be found here!

To enter, use this entry form:

If this form isn't working, please leave me a message in the comments, this is my first attempt at using a form! Hopefully it will make entering contests faster and easier and cut down on spam from leaving email addresses in the comments. :)

EDIT: You should be able to scroll down the form to hit submit. For those of you still having issues, feel free to leave your entries in the comments, I'll be sure to add them in to my spreadsheet.

RKCharron, yes that is perfect! Those of you who did not put +2, +3, etc. are still okay, I can figure it out! :)

Interview: Beth Kephart (Author of Nothing but Ghosts!)

I'm excited to welcome Beth Kephart, the extremely talented author of ten books, including the stunning Nothing but Ghosts.
A Brief Biography:
Beth Kephart is the author of ten books, including the National Book Award finalist, A Slant of Sun; the BookSense pick, Ghosts in the Garden; the autobiography of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, Flow; and the critically acclaimed novels for young adults, Undercover, House of Dance, and Nothing but Ghosts. A fourth young adult novel, The Heart is Not a Size, will be released by HarperTeen in March 2010 and a fifth, Dangerous Neighbors, is slated for a fall 2010 release from Egmont. Beth Kephart’s short story, “The Longest Distance,” appears in the May 2009 HarperTeen anthology, No Such Thing as the Real World. She is a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized and she has judged numerous competitions. Kephart teaches nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania and is the current readergirlz author in residence. Kephart has conducted writing workshops at Chanticleer Garden, Radnor Senior High School, Agnes Irwin High School, The San Francisco School, University of Pennsylvania, Loyola University, Villanova University, Rutgers University, St. Joseph’s University, Blue Sky Arts, and elsewhere.

The Interview:
First off, tell us a little bit about your novel, NOTHING BUT GHOSTS.

GHOSTS is the story of a rising high school senior named Katie who is trying to come to terms with the sudden loss of her mother to cancer. She’s got an eccentric dad who restores paintings for a living. She’s got a job at a nearby estate. A mystery emerges concerning a recluse. In trying to solve the mystery, Katie is also solving the bigger mysteries of life and love.

What inspired you to write GHOSTS?
In the wake of my own mother’s passing, I began to notice all these signs — finches at my window, lines of music, fox encounters — that in some ways returned her to me. Katie grew out of my own relationship to the larger world during a long period of mourning. It also grew out of my passion for a particular garden named Chanticleer, which I fictionalized for the purposes of the novel.

Are you anything like your main character, Katie?
All of my characters have some aspects of me laced within. Katie is watchful. She is protective. She loves her dad and worries about him being alone. All of that is very much a part of me.

GHOSTS has an variety of minor characters, including a teenage boy, a mysterious old woman, a glamorous librarian, a frazzled father… and an inquisitive little boy. What is Sammy’s role, as part of the bigger, underlying message of the story?
Sammy is the little boy who lives across the street from Katie and her dad. He seems like a terror on wheels at first, an interference, but in fact he is pivotal to Katie and her dad as they each try to reconstruct the idea of family.

Did you do any research while writing GHOSTS? If yes, please explain.
Well, the book takes place in a town very much like my own hometown. I was taking a lot of photographs throughout the writing of this book and studying them carefully. I was also researching the potential life story and details of the mysterious recluse—trying to shape her life based on facts I would find in historic documents and old newspapers.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing GHOSTS?
The mystery! I wrote it several times, several ways. It’s not that the plotting was hard. It was that it had to mean a certain thing.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Since childhood I’ve loved words and written poems. But I was also a tomboy and an ice skater. So I combine these two things in my life—the very cerebral and the very physical. I don’t think I could ever live without one or the other.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
This is a great question! I started working when I was a teen—in gift shops, at life insurance companies, in libraries, etc. By the time I was 25 I had my own business, doing the marketing and writing for a dozen area architecture and engineering firms. I now run a boutique communications firm that has its roots in that early business, and I also teach. I think it’s important, always, to know things, to be around people, to hear how they talk. The business has always placed me in the center of others’ dreams. The teaching does that, too.

When and where do you usually write?
Lately I write with pen and paper on a couch. Typically at 3 or 4 in the morning. I type what I’ve drafted in between business calls and during other quiet hours. But it starts with paper and pen and moves into many drafts before it’s anything I’d share with another.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
I like really good apples, chocolate, and cheese. I try not to eat too much of them when I am writing!

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I fell in love with Michael Ondaatje, his huge capacity for a gorgeous sentence and for deep feeling.

What are currently reading?
My students’ papers and my friends’ manuscripts, to be honest. But I’ve also been reading a lot of research for a novel I’ve been writing for adults.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
THE HEART IS NOT A SIZE is due out next March, and I’m very excited about it. It concerns a goodwill trip that a number of students take to Anapra, a squatters’ village in Juarez, Mexico. It also concerns a best friendship between two girls hoarding dangerous secrets. After that, in September 2010, I am releasing, with Egmont USA, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, an historical novel that takes place in Centennial Philadelphia. It’s about two twin sisters, a devastating accident, and a terrifying fire. It’s about loss and love and guilt. I loved writing it.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
Wow. Love that question. I hide inside the world of dance (it seems public, but I’m very much in my own quiet, floating space when dancing). I hide in gardens. I hide during long walks. Hiding is a talent of mine.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
These were perfect questions, and I thank you for them.

Read my review of NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, here!
Win your own copy of NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, here!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Title: Nothing but Ghosts
Author: Beth Kephart
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Grief, Loss, Family, Love, Mystery
Pages: 278
Plot (from book cover):
"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, ans surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is love story - the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts."

Nothing But Ghosts was absolutely beautiful. There was something so calming about this novel - I can't say that it was exciting necessarily; it is better described as engrossing.

The story unfolds so perfectly; I found the story to be compelling and engaging. There are two main plot lines in Ghosts: Katie's and that of the mysterious old woman Katie works for. Beth Kephart wove the two stories together perfectly to create just the right balance of past, present, and future.

I have never lost a parent, thank goodness, but I know many people my age that have. The closest experience that I can relate to losing a parent is losing my grandparents. Still, I could empathize with Katie's grief and confusion over the death of her mother; the disbelief that someone can be vibrant and full of life and then be gone forever. Even though my grandfather passed away a few months ago, I still forget that he is gone sometimes and when I remember and it hits me, I feel the pain of his loss all over again. I can only imagine that Katie, living in the house that she once shared with her mother, surrounded by her things, her room untouched, exactly the same as it was when she was living, and feeling distanced from her father, must feel. Kephart wrote this aspect of the novel particularly well.

I loved the mystery in this novel! Katie's quest to uncover the truth about the old woman who was a socialite in her youth, but has grown to be a recluse, was one of my favorite aspects of Nothing but Ghosts. I was amazed by the Kephart's skill as all the pieces of the puzzle slowly came together. I loved that I didn't figure out the secret until near the end of the novel, it is a bit anticlimatic when it is too easy to figure out the mystery. I love the fact that the mystery brings so many of the minor characters out of the background as well.

There is also a love story within Nothing but Ghosts. This aspect of the novel isn't really a main plot line, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. When I started the novel, I wasn't really sure that there would be a romantic plot line, so I was pleasantly surprised when one developed.

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

Nothing but Ghosts is an amazing novel and I will definitely be reading Kephart's other novels! Ghosts is a novel that I need  to have a copy of on my bookshelf!

Check out my interview with the author, Beth Kephart, here!
Go here to win your own copy of NOTHING BUT GHOSTS!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In My Mailbox (12)

IMM is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren!

I received some wonderful books this week that I am super excited to read! Thank you to authors and publishers who sent books for review and to those of you who hosted contests!!

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 5/2010)
Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad.

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard (Viking, 1/2010)
Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic, out now)
Daughters of the Sea tells the story of 3 mermaid sisters who are separated at birth by a storm and go on to lead three very different lives. Book 1 is about Hannah, who spent her early days in an orphanage and is now a scullery maid in the house of rich, powerful family. She is irresistibly drawn to the sea and through a series of accidents and encounters discovers her true identity. Hannah realizes that she must keep the truth a secret but she also knows that soon she will have to make the choice - to be a creature of the land or the sea.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (Crown, out now)
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.
Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Tirissa and the Necklace of Nulidor by Willow (Outskirts Press, out now)
One day twelve-year-old Tirissa discovers that everyone in her village is under a spell. Everyone but her! Then she sees a mysterious stranger change into a huge bird, a bird with a beak like a sword. Did he cast the spell? Desperate to find someone who can break it, she flees, leaving her village behind. An old herbwoman tells her to seek help from a wizard who lives far away, and her journey takes her across the Three Kingdoms. Along the way she's joined by a kindly troll and a short, fat palace guard. They are pursued by the twin princes of Kellayne, the best hunters in the Blue River Kingdom, as well as by the huge, dangerous bird. Meanwhile, an evil wizard watches Tirissa and her friends in his magic mirror and plans a second spell that will kill everyone in the Three Kingdoms.

2010: 100+ Reading Challenge

This coming year I'll be participating in J.Kaye's 100+ Reading Challenge - for the first time! To stay on track with my blog and reading next year, I am going to be joining quite a few challenges. I'm hoping that this will keep me motivated!

Details about the challenge and signups can be found here!

  1. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (1/2)
  2. Captivate by Carrie Jones (1/4)
  3. Siren by Tricia Rayburn (1/6)
  4. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell (1/6)
  5. The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride (1/6)
  6. Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder (1/7)
  7. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken (1/8)
  8. The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (1/14)
  9. Swoon At Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter (1/16)
  10. The Mark by Jen Nadol (1/17)
  11. Undead Much? by Stacey Jay (1/21)
  12. Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus(1/??)
  13. The Line by Teri Hall (1/30)
  14. A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker (2/1)
  15. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
  16. Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
  17. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  18. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  19. The Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
  20. Mona Lisa Awakening by Sunny
  21. Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
  22. Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
  23. The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
  24. Everlasting by Angie Frazier
  25. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  26. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
  27. Tagged by Mara Purnhagen
  28. Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl
  29. Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner
  30. A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
  31. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
  32. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
  33. Forget You by Jennifer Echols
  34. Jump by Elisa Carbone
  35. Folly by Marthe Jocelyn
  36. She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
  37. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway
  38. Illyria by Elizabeth Hand
  39. Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
  40. Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
  41. Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  42. Faithful by Janet Fox
  43. Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
  44. Freefall by Mindi Scott
  45. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  46. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
  47. Deception by Lee Nichols
  48. The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
  49. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  50. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  51. The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
  52. Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham
  53. The Eternal Ones by Kristin Miller
  54. Winter Longing by Tricia Mills
  55. Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt
  56. The Karma Club by Jessica Brody
  57. Angelfire by CA Moulton
  58. Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan
  59. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
  60. Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala
  61. The View from the Top by Hillary Frank
  62. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  63. Other by Karen Kincy
  64. A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
  65. A Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee
  66. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
  67. Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
  68. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
  69. A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
  70. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
  71. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
  72. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick
  73. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
  74. The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
  75. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
  76. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  77. Personal Demons by Lisa Derochers
  78. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
  79. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
  80. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
  81. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
  82. Dark Song by Gail Giles
  83. Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
  84. Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman
  85. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
  86. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
  87. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
  88. Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
  89. Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
  90. Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson
  91. Matched by Ally Condie
  92. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
  93. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
  94. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
  95. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  96. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
  97. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
  98. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
  99. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
  100. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
  101. Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King
  102. Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
  103. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  104. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review: Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe

Title: Kitty Kitty
Author: Michele Jaffe
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 2008
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Mystery, Murder, Italy, Family, Love, Friendship
Pages: 307
Plot (from Booklist):
Poor Jas. “Dadzilla” has whisked her to Venice (Italy), where she’ll spend her senior year without her California pals. Her solution: be Model Daughter, so Dad will let her go home. Unfortunately, Jas can’t stay away from a mystery. This time it’s the death of a girl in her Italian class. Police rule suicide; Jas disagrees. When her friends pay a visit (surprise!), the mystery gains momentum, and Jas finds herself running around in a squirrel costume trying to catch a killer. Readers unacquainted with the first book will need time to get used to the high-octane characters and frenetic patter, which occasionally spins out of control; and except for a few appearances, forget cats. What works best is the over-the-top, laugh-out-loud silliness between Jas and her protective entourage, and Jas’ own wildly colorful personality, which, along with her insatiable curiosity, suffers from the usual teen insecurities about clothes, parents, and boys.

Michele Jaffe's books totally rock my socks off! I don't know how she comes up with such great plot lines and hilarious dialogue, I just hope she never stops!

Kitty Kitty is the the continuation of Jas' story that began in Jaffe's first YA novel, Bad Kitty. While readers will most likely be able to follow Jas' story if they begin with Kitty Kitty, I recommend reading Bad Kitty first. Not only will you have a better idea of who the characters are and how they came to be in Venice, you'll also laugh your head off.

One of my favorite things about reading Jaffe's YA novels is the fact that when I'm reading, I constantly feel the need to find someone to read passages aloud to! These books are so funny that I must share them!

There isn't a lot of YA mystery out there - which is another reason to pick up Jaffe's books. She is a seasoned mystery author, as she writes adult romantic mysteries as well. I've read her adult novels and was pleasantly surprised to see that she wrote YA as well. The YA novels are completely different than the adult novels, but just as good: Jaffe's diverse writing talent astounds me!

Those of you who have read Bad Kitty will be happy to see all your favorite characters return for Kitty Kitty. Those of you who haven't read Bad Kitty... hurry up and read it: there are some characters you need to meet!

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

I can't imagine someone not laughing while reading Bad Kitty and Kitty Kitty - so if you need a laugh and are in the mood for a good book, be sure to check out Michele Jaffe's YA novels!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pub. Date: 12/1/09 (but can be found in some stores now)
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Curses, Love, Destiny/Fate, Supernatural
Pages: 576
Plot (from back of arc):
"In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
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."

I was first drawn to Beautiful Creatures because of the wonderfully sinister cover art, but it was the amazing positive reviews that persuaded me to read Garcia and Stohl's debut novel. While I do think that BC is a solid first novel, it wasn't my favorite and my attention wavered at a few points in the book.

I really enjoyed the fact that BC is a supernatural love story told from the male perspective. I liked that the female lead, Lena, was the mysterious one. I'm so used to "bad boys," it was interesting to see somewhat of a female equivalent.

When I realized just how lengthy BC was, I was excited! I love long novels - especially ones that keep me engaged and I find myself hoping never end. Unfortunately, I found BC's length to be a bit too long. I thought that the story dragged a bit in points and I found myself drifting away from the story or disinterested. The story always picked back up, but those slow parts had a negative effect on the impact of the book.

I was also a bit disappointed by the climax of the story. I thought it would be a bit more shocking. This was probably the aspect of the story that bothered me the most.

My last complaint, and the one that is based solely of my personal preference, was the romantic plot line. I liked Lena and Ethan together, but there was hardly any chase or build up to their relationship. I like when there is some tension, otherwise I find the romance a bit blah. Their relationship grew on me, but it didn't jump of the page.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 8
Characters: 8
Writing: 10
Romance: 8
Originality: 10
Total: 44/50 (B+)

I thought that Beatiful Creatures was a pretty good read and I'll definitely be checking out Garcia and Stohl's next offering, but this isn't a novel that I'll be buying in hardcover. However, if I love the second novel, I would want both to be sitting on my bookshelf!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 9/2008
Genre: YA/Adult
Main Themes: Kidnapping, Rape, Pedophilia
Pages: 170
Plot (from GoodReads):
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.

I'm not sure that there are words to describe just how heartwrenching and horrifying Living Dead Girl is. Elizabeth Scott has written an absolutely breathtaking novel about a sickening topic, bringing light to a scenario that happens all too often and that few of us want to face.

I listened to this book on audiobook while driving to a book signing. I wasn't sure it was a good idea - I had a feeling that it would make me cry and crying is, generally, not recommended for freeway driving. I didn't cry though - I think I may have been in a bit of state of shock.

Living Dead Girl is written perfectly to portray the horror of the story it contains. I imagine that writing about child abductions, rape, and murder are not easy subject to write about in any circumstances - but telling the story from the point-of-view of the victim while she's the victim - you can't get much more personal or emotional than that.

Scott wrote a compelling story with a believable narrator. She touched on many subjects and attempted (and, I think, succeeded) in answering many questions that I know I have thought to myself on more than one occasion... Like, why didn't she/he fight back? Why didn't she/he try to escape?

This book is a bit graphic at points and I found myself needing to take a moment to pull myself together. While it is YA, I'm not sure all younger readers would be ready for this book. Not that they couldn't handle it, but they may want to prep a bit before reading... especially if they are naive about sex and rape.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 40/40 (A)

While Living Dead Girl is a quick read, it is not in any way a light read. If you are searching for a novel that will make you think and pull visciously at your heartstrings - this is it.

In My Mailbox (12)

IMM is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren!
This was a slower week than the past ones have been, but that's okay because I really have to catch up on reading the books I already have! The ones I got this week look great though!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowen
As if trying to fit in at a new school isn't stressful enough, sixteen-year-old Nikki Donovan just found out that her long-lost father is, in fact, the demon king of the Shadowlands—the world that separates and protects us from the Underworld. When she is brought there by the mysterious—and surprisingly cute—messenger Michael, she learns that her father is dying, and he wants her to assume the throne. To complicate matters, a war is brewing between the Shadowlands and the Underworld, her half-demon qualities are manifesting, and her gowing feelings for Michael are completely forbidden. Ruling a kingdom, navigating a secret crush, and still making it home by curfew—what's a teenage demon princess to do?

Pastworld by Ian Beck
What if all of London were really an amusement park—a whole city returned to Victorian times to entertain visitors from the twenty-first century? That's the wildly original premise of Ian Beck's Pastworld, a high-stakes mystery set in a simulated past.

Eve is a lifelong resident of Pastworld who doesn’t know she’s living in a theme park until a mysterious threat forces her to leave home. Caleb is a visiting tourist who finds the lawlessness of the past thrilling—until he suddenly becomes a fugitive from an antiquated justice system. And in the midst of it all, in the thick London fog a dark and deadly figure prowls, claiming victim after victim. He’s the Fantom, a creature both of the past and of the present, in whose dark purpose Caleb and Eve will find their destinies combined.
Page-turning, complex, and haunting, Pastworld masterfully exposes the human experience of the past, of violence, of technology, and of entertainment.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder
Student glass magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal a magician's powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan's lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man now her prisoner has switched souls with Ulrick.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain....

Once a Witch by Carolyn McCullough
Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and she was supposed to be one of the most Talented among them. But Tamsin's magic never showed up. Now seventeen, Tamsin attends boarding school in Manhattan, far from her family. But when a handsome young professor mistakes her for her very Talented sister, Tamsin agrees to find a lost family heirloom for him. The search—and the stranger—will prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the sins of her family, and unleash a power so vengeful that it could destroy them all. This is a spellbinding display of storytelling that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Finds (7)

Friday Finds is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading!

I added so many books to my TBR pile this week - it is reaching epic proportions! Here are three that look particularly good ... and have interesting cover art!

Albatross by Josie Bloss (Flux, 2/1/10)
What's so cool about nice guys?

Everyone at Tess's new school warns her that Micah is bad news—a heartbreaker. But she can't ignore her attraction to this brooding, brilliant, friendless emo hottie who can turn on the charm—or heart-shredding scorn—at a moment's notice. Starting over in a new town after her parents' split isn't easy for Tess, and Micah feels like her first real connection. But what happens when their bond suddenly feels like shackles? And Micah starts to remind Tess of her freakishly controlling father?
With Albatross, Josie Bloss takes her storytelling in a new direction by exploring the dark side of relationships.

Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene (Simon Pulse, 3/10/10)
Alva Jane has never questioned her parents, never questioned her faith, never questioned her future. She is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-eight siblings. This is the only world Alva has ever known, and she has never thought to challenge it.
But everything changes when Alva is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss. Beaten, scorned, and now facing a forced marriage to a violent, fifty-year old man, Alva suddenly realizes how much she has to lose--and how impossible it will be to escape.

A Little Song of Wanting by Cath Crowley (Knopf, 6/8/10)
A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . . .
CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.
ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.
Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cover Alert: Other by Karen Kincy!

Other by Karen Kincy (Flux, 7/1/10)
Seventeen-year-old Gwen hides a dangerous secret: she’s Other. Half-pooka, to be exact, thanks to the father she never met. Most Americans don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Others, especially not the small-town folks of Klikamuks, Washington. As if this isn’t bad enough, Gwen’s on the brink of revealing her true identity to her long-time boyfriend, Zack, but she’s scared he’ll lump her with the likes of bloodthirsty vampires and feral werewolves.

When a pack of werewolves chooses the national forest behind Gwen’s home as their new territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate-into murder. It soon becomes clear a serial killer is methodically slaying Others. The police turn a blind eye, leaving Gwen to find the killer before the killer finds her. As she hunts for clues, she uncovers more Others living nearby than she ever expected. Like Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to embrace her Otherness. Gwen must struggle with her own conflicted identity, learn who she can trust, and-most importantly-stay alive.

This cover is absolutely amazing! It fits the description wonderfully - I love that the girl in the image is starting to transform at her shoulder. Can't wait for this book!