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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (26)

WoW is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine!

By Midnight: A Ravenwood Mystery by Mia James
Publisher: Gollancz
Pub. Date: July 15, 2010
Plot (from GoodReads):
April Dunne is not impressed. She's had to move from Edinburgh to Highgate, London, with her parents. She's left her friends - and her entire life - behind. She has to start at a new school and, worst of all, now she's stuck in a creepy old dump of a house which doesn't even have proper mobile phone reception. Ravenwood, her new school, is a prestigious academy for gifted (financially or academically) students - and the only place her parents could find her a place, in the middle of term, in the middle of London, on incredibly short notice. So she's stuck with the super-rich, and the super-smart . . . and trying to fit in is when the rest of the students seem to be more glamorous, smarter, or more talented than she is, is more than tough. It's intimidating and isolating, even when she finds a friend in the conspiracy-theorist Caro Jackson - and perhaps finds something more than friendship in the gorgeous, mysterious Gabriel Swift. But there's more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye. Practical jokes on new students are normal, but when Gabriel saves her from . . . something . . . . in the Highgate Cemetery, and then she discovers that a murder took place, just yards away from where she had been standing, April has to wonder if something more sinister is going on. . . . and whether or not she's going to live through it . . .

BY MIDNIGHT sounds like it has all of my favorite things! I'm especially excited about the mentions of romance and mystery! Plus, I really like the cover art!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Brightly Woven
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: 3/23/2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Fantasy, Wizard, Love, Opposites Attract, Good vs. Evil
Pages: 368
Plot (from GoodReads):
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.

Generally, I am not a fan of YA fantasy novels. I appreciate the attempt to write a great YA fantasy, but I personally feel that YA often does not allow enough pages to fully develop the characters and plot. When it comes to fantasy, I often want almost too much detail. My favorite fantasy novels are often at least 3 times the length of an average YA book and have 5 or more volumes. I know the worlds within those pages inside and out. It seems, however, that Alexandra Bracken has disproved my theory about fantasy and YA  and, for once, I was happy to be wrong.

I was relieved to see that Bracken delved into the magical elements of her story. Many times the details of that aspect are glazed over to focus on the bigger picture, but I really enjoy the background information - it makes the story more realistic to me. The wizardry in BRIGHTLY WOVEN has some unique twists that set it apart from other similar novels which is always commendable.

BRIGHTLY WOVEN has been marketed with a strong emphasis on the romantic plot line, but I didn't really love that part of the story. I'm definitely glad it was included, but it moved a little bit quick for my tastes. I think it could have been written a little more smoothly or portrayed a bit differently. I don't really know how to explain it... I was bothered by how angry Sydelle was at Wayland in the beginning of the novel. Some of the actions and motivations didn't add up as neatly as a I would have liked. I will admit that I their relationship had grown on my by the end of the novel.

Grade: B

Cover Comments:
I really like the colors used in the cover and the detailing along the bottom of the cover. The cover model looks gorgeous... except for the hair. That's the only part of the cover that I'm a little iffy on. I haven't seen it yet in person though, so it might look a little different.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Character Connection (1)

Character Connection is a new meme hosted by Jennifer of The Introverted Reader. The idea is simple, but fun: share your favorite characters! There really aren't any rules, except to be careful not to give away any major plot twists. And be sure to mention the title and author, of course! Be as creative as you like! For more information, visit here!


One of my all time favorite characters is John After from Jennifer Echols' GOING TOO FAR, who from here on out will be referred to as Johnafter, as he is in the novel. If you've ever read one of my reviews, it's obvious that I'm a big romantic. I love all types of books, but if they don't have at least a small romance, it probably will not be an all-time favorite. Since I purposely look for books with love stories, I'm consider myself a bit of romance expert... and let me tell you, GOING TOO FAR takes the cake.

As ridiculous as it sounds, my boyfriend might have reason to be jealous of Johnafter. Well, if he were real. There is just something so mesmerizing about this character. I pretty much fell in love with him as Meg, the main character, did. He is so flawed and so - yes, I'm going to say it - sexy. I've never been one of those girls who swoons at a guy in uniform, but Johnafter may be my exception. Add to that that he is artistic and funny and I'm gone.

But honestly, I think the hottest thing about Johnafter is how absolutely perfect he is for Meg. That is really what makes me fall for a character. I'm a sucker for stories where opposites attract to find that they actually fit together as perfectly as puzzle pieces. And he loves her - despite how horrible she acts and how hard she tries to push him away. There relationship is not perfect... it's painful and terrifying and full of so much emotion it might burst at any moment. I was enthralled.

Some Johnafter related quotes from GOING TOO FAR:

"Vat have you been up to, Governor?" Skip asked with an Arnold Swarzenegger accent.
"The relentless pursuit of crime," John said. He pronounced crime with a long southern drawl and a wink. Then he burst into laugher with the rest of them.
Seeing him jogging at the park had cracked a window so I could peek into his soul. Seeing him with his friends threw the window wide open.
He was so nineteen.

His dark eyes challenged me. They were weapons that could hurt me. Here was the worst thing about them: I could tell that if Johnafter loved you, his dark eyes would be beautiful and friendly and warm. So every time he cut me down with a look that was cold and unfriendly and ugly, it was a double insult, a reminder of what I could never have. I found myself avoiding his dark eyes when I could.

I have an absolute favorite quote from GOING TOO FAR, but I don't want to share it here because I want you to read it yourself! :) For those of you who have already experienced the awesomeness that is GOING TOO FAR, flip to page 182 and read the last 3 paragraphs. Everyone else: go out and get yourself a copy!

Review: Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

Title: Kiss Me Kill Me
Author: Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte
Pub. Date: 1/8/08
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Murder, Mystery, Love, Boarding School
When 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield transfers from St. Tabby’s to Wakefield Hall Collegiate, she is relieved that no one knows her dark, haunting secret. A few months ago, Scarlett was invited to an elite party with a guest list full of the hottest names in British society, including Dan McAndrew. Before the party, Scarlett had only imagined what it would be like to have her first kiss with Dan, but on the penthouse terrace, Dan leaned in close and she no longer had to wonder. Their kiss was beautiful and perfect and magical, and then . . . Dan McAndrew took his last breath as she held him in her arms. No one knows how or why Dan died, and everyone at St. Tabby’s believes Scarlett had something to do with it. But now that she’s safely hidden away at Wakefield Hall, Scarlett would rather forget that it ever happened. Only she can’t. Especially when she receives an anonymous note that will set her on the path to clearing her name and finding out what really happened to the first and last boy she kissed.

I've been picking up the Scarlett Wakefield books since KISS ME KILL ME was released at the very beginning of 2008, but it took me until now to actually take one home and read it. The novel has a plot line similar to Kate Brian's PRIVATE, but they are far from the same book, in both positive and negative ways. I actually like Scarlett and I'm not all that fond of Reed, the lead character of Brian's books. Scarlett has flaws, which are apparent right from the start of the novel, but she is also a rather good amateur sleuth and her background in gymnastics enables her to do some pretty intense moves. Reed is primarily concerned with being liked and popular and often lacks the smarts that I admire in a protagonist. Plus, Scarlett is much better at solving mysteries - always a plus in a mystery novel. I will admit, however, that the PRIVATE books pulled me in to the story right from the beginning and KMKM was much slower and lacking in action. I'm confident that the next book will make up for that though.

As I mentioned, the first volume of Scarlett's story was a bit slow, at least in the beginning. By the end the story had picked up momentum and catapulted me toward the next book - leaving me grateful that I waited to read KMKM because I don't particularly like the waiting part of series. Most of KMKM is just laying out the groundwork for the next book, KISSES AND LIES, so Henderson should be able to jump right into the story.

The mystery aspect of the novel was well written, but readers only really get a taste of a conclusion. The bulk of the book was introductions to characters and theories. The ending left me wholly unsatisfied since nothing was really solved - so readers who read KMKM back in 2008 and had to wait for the next book must have gone crazy.

Most of the book was from Scarlett's POV, but there were anonymous journal entries interspersed that really added to the novel. At the beginning that really intrigued me, though I think that Scarlett solved that little mystery a little too easily.

Overall, KMKM was a good novel and I have high hopes for the rest of the Scarlett Wakefield novels. They are quick and easy reads with just a dash of romance!

Grade: B

Cover Comments:
I love the cover art for KMKM. It is simple and definitely caught my eye in the bookstore. I'm glad that Delacorte kept the same general concept for the next two books as well.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interview & Contest: Erica S. Perl (Author of Vintage Veronica!)

I'm thrilled to have Erica Perl, author of the newly released YA novel Vintage Veronica, here at The Hiding Spot today! Erica has kindly answered some questions about VV, a novel that swept me off my feet and left me anxious for her future novels!

The Interview:

Give a short description or statement about VINTAGE VERONICA that will lure in readers.

Veronica Walsh’s summer job at a vintage clothing store is a dream come true because she can spend her days separating the one-of-a-kind gem garments from the Dollar-a-Pound duds without having to deal with people. But when two outrageous salesgirls urge her to spy on a mysterious and awkward stock boy, Veronica’s summer takes a turn for the weird. She may have to come out of hiding and follow something even riskier for the first time: her heart.

What inspired Veronica’s story?
A vintage clothing store called The Garment District was my inspiration, and some of the details of The Clothing Bonanza, where Veronica works, definitely came from that. The story I wanted to tell, about feeling insecure and vulnerable and trying to hide from having to deal with other people, seemed particularly compelling in an unusual setting like this. I like the juxtaposition of trash-and-treasures clothing with the story of Veronica trying to figure out who and what to value, including herself.

Veronica is not a trusting person and, at the beginning of the novel, she has a difficult time letting people in. It is almost as if she doesn’t want to be noticed. At the same time, she has an outrageous fashion sense that most definitely turns heads. What do these opposing actions reveal about Veronica?
Ooo, good question! I think Veronica has this desire to reject people before they have a chance to reject her. So she dresses kind of in-your-face for two reasons: 1) she loves what she wears, so she stubbornly wears it even though she knows some people may laugh at her; and 2) being laughed at gives her an excuse to put up her guard and avoid real relationships. I applaud the first reason, but feel sad for the second one.

Veronica refers to the “awkward stock boy” where she works as “the Nail,” which was inspired by a song. How did you come to decide on this nickname for Len?
It was actually inspired by a song, just like Veronica says. But in my mind, “the nail” became the term for a person who lets other people walk all over them. So it fit Len really well. Although I think the reason Veronica hates to see Len act this way is because she knows she’s actually a lot like him.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novels/projects?
I’m currently working on another novel, and I’m very excited about it, but I should probably leave it at that.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. What place, person, or activity is your personal hiding spot?
Definitely books. I think they are the best places to lose oneself! !

Go HERE to read my review of VINTAGE VERONICA.

And, if VV sounds like you're kind of novel, be sure to go HERE and enter for a chance to win your very own copy! The contest will run until April 15th and is only open to those will US and Canada mailing addresses.

Thank you, Erica, for taking the time to answer my questions and for donating a copy of the novel for one lucky winner! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl

Title: Vintage Veronica
Author: Erica S. Perl
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: 3/9/2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Vintage shops, Weight issues, First impressions, Second Chances
Pages: 272
Plot (from GoodReads):
Veronica Walsh is 15, fashion-minded, fat, and friendless. Her summer job in the Consignment Corner section (Employees Only!) of a vintage clothing store is a dream come true. There Veronica can spend her days separating the one-of-a-kind gem garments from the Dollar-a-Pound duds, without having to deal with people. But when two outrageous yet charismatic salesgirls befriend her and urge her to spy on and follow the mysterious and awkward stock boy Veronica has nicknamed the Nail, Veronica’s summer takes a turn for the weird. Suddenly, what began as a prank turns into something else entirely. Which means Veronica may have to come out of hiding and follow something even riskier for the first time: her heart.

When I first read the plot summary for VINTAGE VERONICA, I classified it as a cute and didn't really expect it to have any depth, but that first impression was entirely off! Erica Perl has written a novel full of quirky characters that captured my heart and has managed to tell a story that the Veronica in all of us can relate to.

The setting and characters of VV were colorful and utterly unforgettable. The only way that I can really describe the feel of the book as is off beat. The easiest way I can describe the novel is by referencing Ellen Page films, like JUNO and WHIP IT. The characters in those films are quirky and seem to stick in your mind as if  held there by superglue.  Veronica is the star of the novel, but I was most drawn to Len, the mysterious and awkward stock boy. He is so much more than what he seems when the reader is briefly introduced to him at the beginning of the novel. I loved discovering the magic of Len as Veronica spends more time with him. I really liked that he isn't the normal heartthrob character or the tortured bad boy; he's just Len - and that's all he needs to be.

Given that I adore Len, it is understandable that I'm a fan of the romance between him and Veronica. However, it wasn't simply my feelings about Len's character that pulled me into their love story, it was the truthfulness. Len and Veronica's relationship is not perfect, but it is awkward, painful, and so, so tender. There are some romances that take you by storm and you are so totally enraptured in one another that there really isn't very much awkwardness. This is not the case in VV, partly because Veronica tries so hard to keep a cool head about the whole situation and doesn't allow herself to be overwhelmed by her feelings, in the beginning at least. And when one overanalyzes as much as Veronica, there is always going to be some uncomfortable moments. I think that in real life, people generally fit into that second category, so I found this love story particularly touching.

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

Cover Comments: I do think that the cover of VINTAGE VERONICA is cute, but I'm not sure how eye-catching it is. It caught my eye, obviously, but I like scrapbooking, which the cover is reminscent of. I don't think I can make a totally informed opinion about this one, since I haven't seen it in bookstore yet. I'm curious to see if the cover will eventually change though, as they sometimes do.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In My Mailbox (17)

IMM is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren!

First off, I'm so sorry that my blog has been, for lack of a better word, scatterbrained. It seems that I'll be on a role for a few days, then school and work will get crazy and I get behind, then I'm back on track, and then... I think you get the picture. But I AM still here... and I AM still reading... just having a hard time getting reviews typed up. They are even written! They just haven't made it from my notebook to my laptop! :) Maybe I should just try scanning them and posting them as a picture? And letting everyone muddle through my scrawl? Maybe not... While you're waiting on those reviews, you might as well check out what I've gotten in my mailbox lately, since I haven't been doing IMM the past few weeks. I'll do names this week, with a few pictures, instead of all cover images and plot summaries. It would take waaay too long I think... :) Sorry for the iffy pictures... I can't find my camera cord, so I had to use my webcam!

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner
Folly by Marthe Jocelyn
The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin
She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
Slicker by Lucy Jackson
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Tagged by Mara Purnhagen
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs
13 to Life by Shannon Delany
A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene
Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone
My So-Called Death by Stacey Jay
White Cat by Holly Black
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (signed, hc)
Winter's End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat
Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley
The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
Silent Echoes by Carla Jablonski
Sun and Moon, Ice and Sow by Jessica Day George
Soulstice (The Devouring Bk 2) by Henry Holt
Devoured by Amanda Marrone
Wish by Alexandra Bullen
Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Season by  Sarah MacLean
Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder
King's Dragon by Kate Elliot
Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Oh. My. Gods by Tera Lynn Childs
Beautiful by Amy Reed
If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by Melissa Kantor
Sorcery Rising by Jude Fisher
The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don't Mind by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters
The Other Girl by Sarah Miller
Hate List by Jennifer Brown

That's most of them. I know I missed a couple, but that list will suffice, I think! :) AND...

I just have to say that I read RAISED BY WOLVES by Jennifer Lynn Barnes the other day and ... gasp! ... loved it! I'm usually not a very big fan of werewolf books. Weres are just so... hairy. :( But RAISED BY WOLVES may be luring me to the hairy side! If you aren't excited about this book, you totally should be!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview: Amy Brecount White (Author of Forget-Her-Nots!)

Please welcome Amy Brecount White, the author of the newly released FORGET-HER-NOTS, to The Hiding Spot! After watching the novel's book trailer and reading my quick interview with Amy, be sure to collect your virtual flower! For more information about the SPREAD THE FLOWER LOVE Tour and Amy's stops, see here!

Give a short statement about FORGET-HER-NOTS that will lure in readers.

Are you attracted by the scent or sight of flowers? Have you ever felt a rush of specialness when someone gave you a bloom? Experience the fun and joy of first love, as Laurel discovers and tries – not always successfully -- to master her mysterious flower powers.

[But remember, it’s not a fantasy novel, more like magic realism.]

Your main character’s name is Laurel… is there any particular reason you chose that name?
Definitely. It’s part of the flower lore of Laurel’s life. Her mom, Lily, chose that name as a clue to her powers. In the language of flowers, laurel means “glory” and mountain laurel means “ambition.” Lily had high hopes for her daughter’s floral abilities.

If you were putting together a bouquet that represented yourself, which flowers would you use?
Great question!
-Rosemary for remembrance, because I’d like to be a memorable part of my friends, family, and readers’ lives.
-Mountain laurel for ambition, because I do want to be the best writer I can be.
-Blue violet for faithfulness because I am a loyal friend
-Poppy for fantastic extravagance, because it’s on my cover, and I love to have fun.
-Hyacinth for sport, games, play. I coach my daughter’s soccer team and love to be outside, preferably on a bike or rollerblades.
-White bellflower, because I’m grateful to God, my family, and all my readers for their support of me and my dream!!

Can you give us any details about your next novel(s)?
Yes! I’m writing a contemporary novel called STRING THEORIES. It’s about the physics of relationships, love and lust, and getting even. After that I’d love to write a companion novel to FHN in which the characters are older and get involved with the intrigue of orchids.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. What, where, or who is your hiding spot?
I’m going to be unoriginal and say books are mine, too! We moved all over the country when I was younger, so books have always been a source of stability and refuge for me. I read before bed – often staying up way too late! – but I need that escape into another world. I love experiencing other countries, times, people and places – all through a book!

For more information about Amy or to say hi, visit her website or look her up on Twitter!

And last, but not least, be sure to collect your virtual flower!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Trailer: Vintage Veronica

Today VINTAGE VERONICA by Erica S. Perl hits shelves everywhere! I've already read this amazing YA debut and can say with confidence that VINTAGE VERONICA should be on your to-be-read list! You can look forward to my review and some other fun stuff later this week, but for now, check out this cute teaser trailer!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

Angela Morrison is giving away one copy of her new novel SING ME TO SLEEP here at The Hiding Spot!
SING is a wonderful novel and a must-read for anyone that loved her debut novel, TAKEN BY STORM. Though the story is very different in SING than in STORM, Morrison still mananged to reach out and touch my heart. The novel left me emotional and a bit drippy, but I'm glad I read it and I look forward to more from Morrison in the years to come!

Now, on to the contest!!

To be eligible to win, you must fill out the FORM !

As always, there are extra entries available. All extra entries are detailed on the form, but a few are mentioned below as well!

+5 Share the SING ME TO SLEEP book trailer. You can post this virtually anywhere to gain 5 extra entries, just be sure to leave me a link. (The book trailer can be found at the bottom of this post!)
+4 Comment on the guest post Angela Morrison wrote for The Hiding Spot, HERE!
+3 Link this contest in a tweet. Be sure to include @thehidingspot in tweet and leave me your @name!
+3 Spread the word about this contest! Be sure to leave link.
+3 Follow The Hiding Spot! Thank you!! :)

This contest will close March 30, 2010! Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only! (Sorry!)

Good luck and have fun!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guest Post: Angela Morrison and the Amabile Festival!

Today Angela Morrison is at The Hiding Spot, celebrating the release of her new novel, SING ME TO SLEEP! Angela is currently in London, Ontario at the Amabile Festival - a place and event that had a huge impact on the novel.

To celebrate SING ME TO SLEEP's debut, I decided to return to London, Ontario where the people who inspired me are. I flew up to Detroit Friday evening--and drove through a snowstorm to get here. The highway was even closed. It took me five hours, instead of three, but I made it! Phew!!

Saturday I spent the whole day at the Amabile Festival practice signing the very first copies of SING ME TO SLEEP to be sold to the public. I signed over 100 books! Books sales in London all this week will benefit the Amabile 25th Anniversary Fund in the name of the Matt Quaife Leadership Award.

It was so much fun to have the girls and guys stop buy and say, "Hello," when they got breaks. They were preparing an beautiful mass accompanied by a full orchestra and featuring a guest tenor and soprano. Gosh it was beautiful. And a lot of hard work. Even the youngest choristers in the training choirs had parts. Joyce, Matt's mom, came--and it was so great to give her a long-delayed hug.

We got to sit in on some of the practice, and when the older choirs were massed, Carol Beynon, who has been conducting the male side of Amabile--four choirs that span from 8 years old to adults--introduced me and let me speak to them. I confessed I was pretty foolish to think I could capture the miracle of the Amabile choral family in the pages of a book. I think I got slivers. But even slivers, are enough to light my work in an incredible way. I also thanked them for letting me share their tenderest moments with the world.

And then they practiced "Beth's Song," and I got to meet petite and lovely Shayna Follington from the Amabile Youth Singers who sings the solo. I can't really describe how amazing it was to hear those lyrics, that are so pivotal to the story, performed so beautifully, while I sat by Matt's mom. I managed not to fall apart emotionally.

Sunday evening was the main event. The choristers were in their gowns and concert black. Canada won the hockey gold about an hour before the concert started. Promptly at 7:30 PM all the choristers filed on stage--350 singers! One of the tallest guys in back brought in a big Canadian flag on a pole and started waving it. The crowd of over 1200 went wild. And then the guest conductor and the pianist came out wearing hockey jerseys (the guys all have Canada red and white jerseys with musical notes built into a Maple leaf) and led the entire audience in, "Oh Canada!" It was so much fun to see Canadians get patriotic!

Then the concert began, and we were all mesmerized. The Mayor of London read a citation, a representative from the province also had praise, and Amabile was even inducted into the London Musical Hall of Fame. Carol Beynon told a beautiful story about Matt and then introduced SING ME TO SLEEP and me. I said a few words--mostly thanking the choirs for letting me fill the holes in my art with the joy of theirs, and Joyce for graciously accepting this tribute to her beautiful boy, Matt.

Then I took my seat and, "Beth's Song" had its live debut. Shayna had on her long cream-colored satin AYS gown and the guys were all in black tuxes. It was beautiful.

The scene at the book signing table during intermission was WILD!! The line went out the door. I couldn't sign books fast enough. But I got to see so many old friends and new ones who helped me get the launch ready.

I got back to my seat just as the mass was starting. Oh, it was exquisite. Those pure children's voices blended with mature and maturing sounds of the older youth and adult choristers and the orchestra was mesmerizing. So peaceful. And such a huge achievement for the choristers and conductors.

Crazy book signing again after the concert. And then it was all over. A night I will always be grateful for and forever remember.

This week I've got a packed schedule of London area schools to visit. I even get to visit Matt's high school and grade school. And meet the teacher who introduced him to Amabile.

 Plus a local TV interview on Thursday. More unforgettable moments.

I'll stop by this evening and give you an update!

All best, Angela

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

WoW is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine!

Grace by Elizabeth Scott
Dutton, 9/16/2010
A fable of a terrifying near future by critically acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott.

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.
Told in spare, powerful prose, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.

I'm not sure there are words to describe my excitement about this book. Scott's books never fail to impress me AND I absolutely love dystopian novels. Could there possibly be a better combination? I think not!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver!

Lauren Oliver has is generously offering one finished copy of BEFORE I FALL to a lucky reader of The Hiding Spot! BEFORE I FALL is not only one of my favorite books of 2010, it is one of my favorite books ever. Trust me when I say that this is a book that you need to get your hands on!

To be eligible to win you must fill out this FORM.

There are multiple ways to earn extra entries as well!
*Note: Be sure comments say more than "great review/interview"... show me that you actually read the post!
** The book trailer can be found at the bottom of contest post.
  • +3 Comment on my review of BEFORE I FALL, here.
  • +3 Comment on my interview with Lauren Oliver, here.
  • +4 Post the book trailer for BEFORE I FALL on your blog, Facebook, LJ, etc.
  • +2 Tweet this contest (be sure to include @thehidingspot)
  • +2 Link this contest to sidebar or in contest post
  • +3 Follow The Hiding Spot (blog)
  • +2 Follow @thehidingspot AND @OliverBooks

Contest ends: March 23, 2010! Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses.

Good luck and have fun!

The Trailer:

Interview: Lauren Oliver (Author of BEFORE I FALL!)

I'm extremely excited to welcome Lauren Oliver, the debut author of the amazing BEFORE I FALL, to The Hiding Spot! Lauren's novel is one of my absolute favorites! To find out more about BEFORE I FALL and Lauren, check out the interview below!

Give a short description or statement about BEFORE I FALL that will lure in readers.

Samantha Kingston has everything a girl could want. She’s pretty, popular, and has one of the hottest boyfriends in school. But on February 12th, on her way home from a party with her best friends, Samantha dies.
The catch is that she still wakes up the next day—again, on February 12th. She relives her last day for a full week, each time trying to piece together the mystery surrounding her death and trying to alter its outcome.

Are you anything like your main character, Samantha?
Yeah, sure. I like to think I’m a lot nicer than Samantha (although I had my moments in high school), but I definitely can relate to some of her confusion around issues of identity and relationships and romance. Like Sam, in high school I thought I had everything figured out, but really I was pretty lost. I was unhappy and didn’t know it; I wasn’t really sure what made life meaningful, and I concealed a lot of insecurity behind an attitude of nonchalance and detachment.

BEFORE I FALL has a premise that many readers have seen before, but it has unique twists. What would you say makes it unique and worth a second look.
I think a lot of stories and themes get repeated time and time again. Forbidden romance has been done a million times, but Romeo and Juliet is a very different book from Twilight. There might be relatively few stories in the world, but they can be told an infinity of different ways, just like the same finite notes on a piano can create a nearly endless quantity of arrangements of music.

Did you know the ending before you began writing or did it take you time to decide how to conclude the novel? (I only ask because it totally broke my heart…)
I’m so sorry it broke your heart! But yes, I did know the ending beforehand. I wrote the prologue and the epilogue first, actually; the whole rest of the writing process was then the struggle to get from Point A to Point Z.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing BEFORE I FALL?
Oof. The hardest part of writing for me is always just actually sitting down to do it every single day. It’s always a struggle, no matter how often I do it. Today, for example—it’s 2 p.m. and I haven’t even started my writing! And I’ll be totally stressed out until I do.

Did you always want to be a novelist?
Well, I didn’t want to be a novelist in the sense that I intended it to be a career, necessarily; writing isn’t always the most practical job choice. But I always, always wrote. I’ve been writing pretty much every day since I was, like, five. In sixth grade, when my best friend Jackie liked a boy, I would write her romance stories in which she would end up with him in the end. She still has a box somewhere full of all of that writing. (Terrible stuff, by the way. I should probably ask her to burn it.)

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
I worked as an editorial assistant, and then assistant editor, at Penguin Young Readers—and yeah, I definitely think that helped me out, for sure. I read so many teen books during that time and learned so much about plot and pacing. I also worked in nightclubs and bars for five years. That was incredibly helpful to me as a writer; much of the job is just talking to people, so you really get to know people’s stories, and you get a vast sense both of different people’s voices, and of the struggles and anxieties and problems that are common to us all.

When and where do you usually write?
Oh, man. It’s totally random. I like to write on my Macbook air, and when I’m at home in Brooklyn I write at my kitchen table (for easy access to the coffee machine). But when I’m stuck I write by hand, and when I’m rushing around all day I sometimes write on my Blackberry when I’m in the subway and then email the material to myself. Right now I’m writing at my friend’s kitchen table in Venice Beach, California.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
Coffee so that my brain can function. Otherwise, nope!

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
It’s really impossible to say. Different books and writers have been hugely influential to me at different points in time, from Roald Dahl to JK Rowling to F Scott Fitzgerald and Gabrial Garcia Marquez…

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
Sure. My second book will be released in the first part of 2011. It’s called DELIRIUM, and it’s kind of a dystopian Romeo and Juliet story (but told my own way—see Question #3!). I am not going to say any more for now, but I am so, so excited about it.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
What a beautiful question. Yes. Writing is my hiding spot.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Thanks so much for having me! And please go out and get a copy of Before I Fall! You won’t regret it! (And if you do, you can yell at me over twitter at @OliverBooks.)

Read my rave review of BEFORE I FALL here!

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: March 2, 2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Death, Choices, Moving on, Romance, Friendship, Family
Plot (from GoodReads):
"What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined."

Lauren Oliver’s debut novel left me speechless. Well, I suppose I did a fair amount of babbling, but it wasn’t exactly coherent – I was in awe. I never expected that I’d be up all night because I simply could not put BEFORE I FALL down!

The plot of BEFORE I FALL is not one that is new to readers, but it is classic. Samantha dies unexpectedly, but does not “pass on.” Instead she relives her last day repeatedly, until she figures out the key to escaping the limbo-like state. Oliver’s take on the premise added twists that made BEFORE I FALL truly unique.

Oliver characterized her main character, Samantha, perfectly. She had so many layers and even as she did horrid, mean-girl things, she pulled me in and made me understand her. I can honestly say I identified with Samantha. She is now one of my favorite narrators!

Samantha’s growth throughout the novel progressed perfectly. She does not immediately change her self-centered ways, she must make an effort to change. She must slow down and notice all the small details in her everyday life and how even her smallest actions make ripples and affect others. I am so glad that BEFORE I FALL was so lengthy, partially because I didn’t want it to end, but also because it allowed for the plot to unfold at just the right pace.

There is a romantic plot line… and it was so, so good… but it was also so very painful. This aspect of the novel cemented my love for this novel. I adored the entire plot and novel, but his seemly doomed story was just so utterly romantic. I am a romance junkie and BEFORE I FALL totally fed my obsession. It made me cry, but was still satisfying.

BEFORE I FALL is a must-read. And, I think, a must-buy! Oliver’s novels will all have a spot on my bookshelf… I’m already anxiously awaiting her next novel!

Monday, March 1, 2010


SEA by Heidi R. Kling--Available Bookstores everywhere June 10, 2010! And pre-order now!

Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother's accidental disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen year old California girl Sienna "Sea" Jones reluctantly travels with her father's volunteer team to six months post-tsunami Indonesia. During her stay at the orphanage, she meets scarred and soulful Deni who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can't be together, so why can't she stay away from him? And what about her old-best-friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why is her psychiatrist father so secretive about her mother's plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to the truth. And Sea's real adventure begins.

Advance Praise for SEA!
SEA is a richly woven story as turbulent and beautiful as the sea itself, plunging us headlong into the depths of loss, devastation, compassion, and hope. A touching and romantic debut about the redemptive power of altruism and the heart's capacity for love." Sarah Ockler, author of TWENTY BOY SUMMER

"From the first page of SEA, the reader is plunged into a world of love, loss, and hope. The heat between Sienna and Deni is mirrored in the steamy exotic setting of Indonesia. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down. Sienna is conflicted and compassionate... I truly loved this book and can't wait to recommend it to all the teenagers I know!" -- L.K. Madigan, William C. Morris Award winning author of FLASH BURNOUT

"Heidi R Kling left no room for doubts or anything with the strong connection Sea and Deni had. It was so intense and beautiful, you were simply drawn to it. Their relationship was so involved, and blew you away. When you are reading Sea, you would by no means guess that it is a debut novel. The story leaps off the page and speaks to you. It's a journey of the heart and emotions. Once I started reading, I had troubles putting it down. Sea is a book for all types of people, it is one you don't want to miss." --Erica, The Book Cellar

Can't wait to read SEA? Be sure to add the SEA Countdown Clock to your blog or facebook, which can be found on my left sidebar!

THEN hurry over to Heidi Kling's LiveJournal for you chance to win one of TWO signed arc copies of the novel! The contest can be found HERE!

Cover of the Week (3)

Every time is see this cover, I get excited about it all over again. The main character is only eleven, so it is technically what I would classify as more of  a middle grade novel, which I don't usually pick up, but this one just sounds amazing! Honestly, I've always had a thing for owls, so that really influenced my favor of the cover art! You can find more information about THE OWL KEEPER and a book trailer below!

Title: The Owl Keeper
Author: Christine Brodien-Jones
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Pub. Date: April 13th, 2010
Maxwell Unger has always loved the night. He used to do brave things like go tramping through the forest with his gran after dark. He loved the stories she told him about the world before the Destruction—about nature, and books, and the silver owls. His favorite story, though, was about the Owl Keeper.

According to Max’s gran, in times of darkness the Owl Keeper would appear to unite owls and sages against the powers of the dark. Gran is gone now, and so are her stories of how the world used to be. Max is no longer brave. The forest is dangerous, the books Gran had saved have been destroyed, and the silver owls are extinct. At least that’s what the High Echelon says. But Max knows better.
Maxwell Unger has a secret. And when a mysterious girl comes to town, he might just have to start being brave again.
The time of the Owl Keeper, Gran would say, is coming soon.