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Monday, May 31, 2010

Cover of the Week (9)

Vixen (The Flappers Book #1) by Lila Fine
Delacorte BFYR/12.14.10
Description (GoodReads):
Set in Jazz Age Chicago, the first book, Vixen, follows 17-year-old socialite Gloria Carmody, who longs to be a flapper and is caught between her conservative fiancé and a sexy jazz musician.

I absolutely adore this cover. If it were in poster form, it would definitely be going up on my wall. In fact, I might still try to find a way to make that happen. VIXEN is a December 2010 release, so there's a chance that this cover isn't final, but I hope it isn't changed too dramatically, as I'm already completely in love with this one! The most exciting thing about it? VIXEN is only the first book, so there will be more of these lovely covers!

And this has nothing to do with the cover... did you read that description? THERE IS A LOVE TRIANGLE.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review: Jump by Elisa Carbone

Title: Jump
Author: Elisa Carbone
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pub. Date: 5.13.10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Rock climbing, Runaways, Relationships, Love, Insanity
Pages: 272
Description (from GoodReads):
Jump. That is what P.K. has done. A totally wild, crazy jump from a restrictive life with her family into a life of total adventure—rock-climbing out west with a guy she barely knows. At first, everything’s amazing. Not only are they climbing in awesomely beautiful national parks like Yosemite but they seem awesomely made for one another. P.K. is in heaven. And then the cops show up . . . with an arrest warrant. And P.K. has to decide who to believe: this amazing guy whom she trusts with her life—or the cops, who want her to believe that he may take her life.

I picked up JUMP on a whim... I had never heard of it and had nothing more to recommend it than the description on the back and the interesting cover. After reading, I have absolutely no idea why no one is discussing this novel.

I'll admit that I was a bit worried about the climbing jargon when I first started reading. I have absolutely no experience with rock climbing or rock climbing lingo, but Carbone writes with ample detail and I had no difficulty deciphering and filling in the blanks. I'm actually thankful that she did include the jargon, even though she could have told the story without, because it made the characters much more real.

JUMP is told from alternating point-of-view by P.K. and the mysterious boy she runs away with, Critter. I may have questioned P.K.'s sanity a bit more if I didn't have the opportunity to see Critter's POV. After all, running away to perform a dangerous activity with a boy (named Critter!) that you've only known for a half hour (at the most) is most definitely insane. Usually, when a novel is told by two or more characters, I favor one voice over the other(s), but this wasn't the case with JUMP. I especially enjoyed Critter and P.K.'s budding romance, as the reader gets to experience it through both characters.

Generally, I have no problem figuring how how a story will end, but Carbone kept me on my toes. I loved that! There are a few heart pounding passages where I honestly had no clue what was going to happen next!

JUMP is rife with action, romance, and humor - the trifecta! I'm not sure how this novel slipped under my radar for so long, but I'm infinitely glad I stumbled upon it!

Grade: A

Cover Notes:
I'm definitely a fan of the cover, especially since I probably would have passed over it if it weren't so bold and unique. I love the placement of the title and the fact that both Critter and P.K. are represented.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Faithful by Janet Fox

Title: Faithful
Author: Janet Fox
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: 5.13.10
Genre: YA (Historical)
Keywords: Mothers & Daughters, Love, Family, Loss, Social status
Pages: 336
Description (from GoodReads):
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.

I'm sorry to report that I didn't enjoy this book as much I had expected to. I still think that the cover is unbelievably gorgeous - I couldn't stop myself from picking it up and admiring it in the bookstore - but I found the pages within sadly lacking.

First off, I will say that Janet Fox appears to be a competent writer with a wonderful imagination - that was not my issue with the novel. My main two complaints stemmed from the main character and the pace of the novel.

Maggie is one of the whiniest characters I've ever read. I'll admit that her situation isn't desireable and I would be miserable as well, but after chapters upon chapters of her bemoaning her lot, I started to lose interest. I wanted her to take charge of her life and go after what she wanted, instead of merely talking about it! Part of her behavior (and lack of initiative) may be due the time period in which the novel takes place. If this is the case, I feel confident saying that my annoyance at this aspect of the novel may have been merely personal perference, rather than the fault of the character.

Usually, if a book has a strong plot and characters that I feel a connection to, I don't mind - and appreciate - a slower plot. Unfortunately, since I wasn't particularly attached to any character, the slow pace of Faithful made it difficult to for me to stay focused on the story. The only character that I truly enjoyed was Tom.

That said, I wasn't particularly impressed by Maggie and Tom's relationship. Maggie acted like a spoiled little girl most the time, so it was refreshing to see Tom confront her when she said particularly rude and narrow things. I really did like Tom's character, though he did come off as preachy in a couple passages.

Faithful did improve toward the end of the novel, so I will probably look into the next book, Forgiven. Readers who generally enjoy Historical YA should still take the time to read this novel, especially since it was released in paperback and can be obtained at a reasonable price.

Grade: C

Cover Notes:
I adore this cover! I've always wanted to go out west and this cover makes me daydream about Yellowstone! Plus, it totally made me pick up this book, even though it's something I might not usually read.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Playing Favorites with Natalie Standiford!

It has been said that playing favorites isn't nice, but sometimes it's impossible not to! Join me weekly at The Hiding Spot as I share a favorite author... and the author shares a few favorite things of their own.

Natalie Standiford

Genre: Contemporary YA
How to Say Goodbye in Robot (2009) Review
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters (September 2010)
The Dating Game (Book 1-6)

Why I Love Her Writing?
Natalie Standiford writes about the misfit, broken-hearted robot that we all are. Or have been. Or will be.


Novel: How to Say Goodbye in Robot
I'm ridiculously excited about Standiford's upcoming novel, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters, but I'll always love How to Say Goodbye in Robot! Every time I see that bright pink cover I think about Jonah, Bea, and all the other unique and unforgettable characters from the novel. Robot may be the only novel that I completely adore that doesn't have a romantic plot line, which says something about Standiford's writing and her ability to form deep connections between characters. It's particularly impressive that said connection is between a girl and a boy... Often, in YA, even the most platonic relationship will veer into romance.

Character: Jonas
Jonas is one of my all-time favorite characters... so much so that, for me, he nearly stole the show from Bea. I loved Bea - she was wonderful narrator - but I found myself counting the pages until Jonas reappeared. I've always had a soft spot for characters that tug at your heartstrings, and Jonas was yanking incredibly hard.

Quote: "I felt like you could open a door in my hollow, tin chest--just flip it open, easy--and see my heart throbbing, raw and bloody and sore. You could even reach in and squish it if you wanted to. I didn't want anyone getting close enough to open that door and see that mess." - Pg 251 of How to Say Goodbye in Robot
Do you even need me to explain why this quote is amazing? Who doesn't feel this way at one time or another during their life?


Color: Blue
I'm the kind of person who finds it hard to choose favorites, but when it comes to color I've known for sure since babyhood and never wavered: blue. I had a blue blanket which I was very attached to, and I'm sure that had a big influence on me. Also, I have blue eyes, and blue looks good on me. My favorite element is water and I love the evening sky. So blue it is.

Food: Crabmeat.
Jumbo lump crab from Chesapeake blue crabs. (Blue again!) I know it's a cliche that Marylanders love crabmeat but what can I say? It's just so delicious. And cliches have to come from somewhere.

Candy: Chuckles.
 Most people I know think I'm crazy. They do not like Chuckles. But I find them not only delicious but soothing. To me they're like medicine. They make my stomach feel good. And the name is delightfully awful.

Movie: Annie Hall
I first saw ANNIE HALL when I was 14 and I decided then and there that I wanted to move to New York and live in Woody Allen's world of intellectual neurotics. That world was mostly gone by the time I got here but it's still a great movie. Why doesn't anyone make poignant romantic comedies anymore?

Word: This constantly changes, but for the moment, for today, my favorite word is "Superb."
I find it funny the way that b sneaks onto the end, and it's fun to say. It makes your lips feel rubbery (as does the word "rubbery"). Superb! Runner-up: Smackdown. Sounds like what it is.

For more information about Natalie and her novels
check out the links below:

Natalie's upcoming novel, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters will be available in September 2010! I can't wait to read her next offering, which sounds intriguing and has a wonderful cover.
Description (GoodReads):
The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.
And so the confessions begin....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of The Tension of Opposites!

Kristina McBride is kindly offering readers of The Hiding Spot a chance to win a signed copy of her novel, The Tension of Opposites and some other fun swag! Be sure to check out my review of this unforgettable novel and my interview with Kristina!

Grand Prize: 1 signed hc of The Tension of Opposites, a framed photograph of sunflowers (taken during the filming of the trailer!), and bookmarks.
(2) Winners: 1 journal (with note from the author) and bookmarks.

^^^ Grand Prize ^^^

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of The Tension of Opposites or the interview with Kristina McBride. (Only one comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on at least one of the posts or fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.

Extra Entries:
Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+5 entries - Comment on my review or interview (whichever you did not comment on for your original entry)
+5 entries - The Tension of Opposites is one of my all time favorite reads because it had so many of my favorite elements. Comment on this contest post w/novel or author that fits you perfectly as a reader.
+4 entries - Old Follower/Subscriber (Thank you!)
+2 entries - New Follower/Subscriber (Welcome! You will gain 4 entries in the next contest you enter at The Hiding Spot as an Old Follower/Subscriber!)
+2 Follow me on Twitter (@thehidingspot) Leave your @name for verification.
+2 Follow Kristina McBride on Twitter (@McBrideKristina) Leave your @name for verification.
+3 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+3 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

Contest will close June 17th 2010. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers! 

Good luck!

Interview: Kristina McBride (Author of The Tension of Opposites!)

Kristina McBride, after only one novel, is one of my favorite authors. Her debut, THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES, is fantastic and, even with months left to go in 2010, has landed on my Best of 2010 shortlist! After months of waiting, TENSION hits bookstore shelves today! Check out my interview with Kristina and then run out to your local bookstore and pick up your own copy of TENSION... you don't want to miss this one!

A Brief Bio
Kristina McBride has dreamed of being a published author since she was a child and lived across the street from a library. After graduating with a bachelor’s in English Education, Kristina taught high school English for eight years. After having her first child and completing her Master’s in Education, Kristina decided to quit teaching and take a crack at her dream. Kristina lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children, stealing as many moments as she can to write, write, write.

Give a short statement describing THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES.
THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is the story of Tessa McMullen, whose best friend, Noelle, was kidnapped two years ago. At the beginning of the book, Tessa learns that Noelle has been found alive, and is coming home. The book centers around Tessa’s struggle to reconnect with Noelle, who has returned a very distant and self-destructive version of her old self, and to reconnect with her life, as Tessa spent the two years her friend was missing avoiding everything (friends, boys, fun) due to the guilt over Noelle’s abduction.

I think that many readers are familiar with novels in which the narrator is the subject of kidnapping or rape, but your novel offers an interesting twist. Why did you decide to write the novel from the point-of-view of the victim’s best friend?
 This might make me sound like an inexperienced or out of control writer, but I have to be honest, right? I tried to write this from the perspective of the kidnapped girl. I brainstormed chapters and spent some time trying to get to know her through journaling, because I felt that this should be Noelle’s story. But she was silent. Like, totally. I didn’t even get one chapter in. The character who kept speaking up was Tessa, the best friend. She had SO much to say, so I finally gave her a chance. In the end I learned I don’t have as much control over things as I’d like to think, and if I just go with the flow, it’ll be easier for me.

From the description of the novel, I assumed that it would be an extremely dark and emotional read and was surprised to find that you found a way to balance the dark with lighter, fun elements. Did you find it difficult to do this… to find the light in such a dark tale?
It was really difficult! I revised several drafts of this story, and six months into revisions with my agent, scrapped all but five chapters and started over (which is painful to even think about!). I wanted to balance the scenes with the kidnapped girl and the love interest, because the struggle for Tessa to reconnect (with her life and her friend) was two-fold. The hardest part was finding the right balance between these two very different relationships in Tessa’s life. I’m so glad to hear you think it works!

The romantic plot line between Tessa and Max is one of my all-time favorites! How did Max form as a character? His relationship with Tessa?
Thank you! Max was easy. He just kind of popped into my head fully formed and started speaking to me. I loved him right away, and knew that he would be the perfect person to help pull Tessa out of the hiding spot she had created for herself in her friend’s absence.

Is there a particular reason why you chose photography as Tessa’s passion?
 I am a former high school English teacher and yearbook advisor. I love photography myself, and thought it would be a good way to show how Tessa has isolated herself, watching the world from behind the lens of her camera. I also figured the visual images would be really cool to write into the story, as the setting of the novel is such a beautiful place. (Little secret: Originally, the photography thread centered around a yearbook plotline. Long story, but it had to go.)

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
I signed a two book deal with Egmont USA, so I’m working on the next book right now. The fun thing is that I’m really excited to write these chapters, which are basically outlined on notecards that I shuffle through and carry around on a daily basis, writing lines of dialogue when I’m hit with inspiration. That’s about all I can say for now.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
I have an answer for all three, if that’s okay. Who: My husband. He is wonderful – my home. What: Books and TV – I love to be transported through my imagination. Where: The Three Sisters (three 550-year-old oak trees) at Sugarcreek Nature Reserve is my all time favorite hiding spot. It’s a major setting in my novel, and actually exsists near my home. Hiking through the woods is one of my favorite things to do. We filmed the trailer on location at the Three Sisters, and if you’ve seen the footage, you might wonder where the third sister is. Unfortunately, the middle sister fell a few months after I completed the first draft of this novel. She was damaged by a fire years ago, and came down after a very long life.

For more information about Kristina and her novel, check out her website!

Review: The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

Title: The Tension of Opposites
Author: Kristina McBride
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: 5.25.10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Kidnapping, Friendship, Photography, Love, Relationships
Pages: 288
Description (from GoodReads):
It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?
And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.
A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

The Tension of Opposites is one of those novels that pulls you in from the first lines and refuses to let you go until you've read every last word. Devour is almost too tame a word to describe how quickly I read this novel... inhale might be a better fit. It's always a magical experience when a reader finds an author whose writing style fits perfectly with his or her preferences - and I'm happy to say that I experienced that magic with Tension.

I feel that I should mention that the the description of Tension only conveys the darker elements of the plot, despite the fact that there is plenty of lighter material in the novel as well. Not only are both light and dark elements present, they are perfectly balanced. With a novel that addresses such a heavy topic, attempts at lighter material may be awkward and disrupt the flow of the novel, but this isn't so with Tension: it plunged into the inky dark depths of emotion and managed an amazing love story. The fact that the story is told from the point-of-view of the victim's best friend offered a unique perspective and, I think, ultimately allowed McBride to write such a balanced story. I would have been frustrated if the entire story was dark, since Tessa is the narrator and I wanted her to move past the traumatizing event and find happiness, despite the horrors that Noelle suffered. It will never be something that she will forget, but she can't postpone her life indefinitely, no matter how much she loves Tessa. In ways, I thought the fact that Noelle lost so many things provided even more reasons that Tessa shouldn't. Noelle had those things taken... Tessa shouldn never just give them up.

Tessa and Noelle's relationship was painful and heartbreaking. I felt for Tessa... She waited so long to regain her best friend, guilty and afraid to live her own life after Noelle's had been cruelly shattered. When Noelle returns home, Tessa knows that things won't be the same, but nothing can prepare her for the new Noelle... Elle, who doesn't seem to have even a glimmer of Noelle left in her. At the same time, I understand why Noelle had to adopt this new persona: Noelle, Tessa's best friend, is dead. I think McBride accurately conveyed Tessa's POV, which is different than most other YA novels dealing with the same topic, as they usually told from the victim's POV.

One of the brightest elements of the novel is the romance between Tessa and Max, the boy who finds a way past Tessa's carefully constucted walls and into her heart. Max and Tessa's relationship is one of my absolute favorites... and I read a lot of good love stories. I think the realistic quality of their story is what really won me over... I believed in their story. That and the fact that there is the definite possiblity that it might not work out between them and I desperately believed that they should be together! Tessa's ready to do anything to help Noelle, including giving up her own happiness... and Max.

Grade: A+

Cover Notes:
When I first saw the cover I wasn't really a fan, but after reading the novel I think it's a peferct fit!

Trailer: This is definitely the my all-time favorite book trailer. It captures the emotion of the novel (and succeeded in making me cry)!

Watch it on YouTube.

Check out my INTERVIEW with Kristina and go HERE for a chance to win a signed copy of the novel and fun swag!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cover of the Week (8)

Cover of the Week is a weekly feature at The Hiding Spot, in which I share a cover that gives me that swoony feeling.

Edges by Lena Roy
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux/12.7.10
Description (from GoodReads):
It is a story of love and grief, addiction and redemption, set in both NYC’s Upper West Side and in the red rock desert of Moab, Utah.

Seventeen-year-old Luke lives and works at the Moonflower Motel in Moab, having fled New York City where his father Frank drowns his sorrows after the death of Luke’s mother. Back in New York, eighteen-year-old Ava meets Frank at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. When these lost souls converge in Moab, what happens transforms them all.

I absolutely adore this cover! Where to even start??
The font is eye-catching and different than anything I've ever seen on a cover. I love how large the title is!
The image itself deserves a nod as well. I have a slight obsession with trees and the tree on the cover is so interesting.
The only thing that would make this cover better is if it has a unique texture to go along with the worn look. Even if it doesn't, I'll still love it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (20)

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received an interesting mix of books this week... Some are ones that I'm super excited about, but others will be an experiement. Gigged is outside of my normal "type" of book, even though I'm pretty eclectic, so I'm curious to see how I feel about it. I hope everyone else got great stuff in their mailbox this week as well!

Girl Parts by John M. Cusick (Candlewick, 8.10.10) GoodReads
"Hello, David. My name is Rose. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We are now entering minute two of our friendship. According to my Intimacy Clock, a handshake is now appropriate…"

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot to encourage healthy bonds and treat "dissociative disorder," he can’t get enough of luscious red-headed Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Severed from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal "companion" is about to become her own best friend.
In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uber-connected world.
I had a hard time not diving right into this one. It looks AMAZING!

The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon by Sara Beitia (Flux, 10.1.10) GoodReads
Lily Odilon—local wild child from a small Idaho town—has vanished after spending the night with her sometimes boyfriend, new kid Albert Morales. Suspected in her disappearance, Albert sets out to discover what happened to her. Kidnapped? Runaway? Murder victim?

Joining Albert is Lily's prickly younger sister, Olivia. Their distress is mirrored in a fast-paced narrative that jumps through three time-lines. Each thread adds a new level to the mystery and reveals clues that paint a startling picture of all three teens. Their intertwined destinies come to a head in an unconventional climax.

Firelight by Sophie Jordan (HarperTeen, 9.7.10) GoodReads
With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.
This copy is from Suse at Wastepaper Prose and will be going on an arc tour through Traveling Arc Tours! I've already read it... and it's as amazing as it sounds!

Gigged by Heath Gibson (Flux, out now) GoodReads
A junior ROTC cadet at North Covington High, J.T. is at war—with himself, his enemies, and his past. But no matter how hard he throws himself into the intense demands of the military program, J.T. is unable to escape the traumas of his life. His father died in Desert Storm. His mother was killed in a car accident that J.T. may have caused. After she died, J.T. was placed in an abusive foster home.

Haunted by self-doubt, J.T. focuses on his latest assignment at school: whip a new group of raw recruits into shape so his commanding officer, Sergeant Maddox, will be proud. The rigors of training, combined with his unresolved issues from the past, wreak havoc on J.T.'s mind. He has to be the best cadet in Covington County so he can win a scholarship to the Citadel. His grip on reality slipping, J.T.'s last hope may be his new foster dad, who has his own violent past to contend with.

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody (Farrar, Strous, & Giroux, out now) GoodReads

Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. It’s that mysterious, powerful force that brings harmony to the universe. You know—do good things and you will be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what’s coming to you. A sort of cosmic balancing act.
But when Mason Brooks, Maddy’s boyfriend of two years, gets caught tongue-wrestling with Miss Perfect Body Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them—except that they wind up the hot new couple of Colonial High School, it seems like Karma has officially left Maddy in the lurch. That’s why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start the Karma Club—a secret, members-only organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind. Whether they’re modifying Heather Campbell’s acne cream as part of “Operation Butterface,” or righting a few wrongs when it comes to Angie and Jade’s own slimy exes, they know they’re just doing what Karma should have done in the first place. They’re taking care of one another.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t wise to meddle with the universe. Because it turns out, when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, even as everything around her seems to be toppling to the ground.

Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler (out now) GoodReads
Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn't quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new "friend," Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.
It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever rub the genie's lamp.
This is a contest win from Cindy Pon! Thanks!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Harmonic Feedback!

Tara Kelly has generously donated a copy of Harmonic Feedback and HF related swag for readers at The Hiding Spot! Be sure to check out my review of the novel and interview with Tara!

Grand Prize: 1 signed hc of Harmonic Feedback, a signed bookmark, and a guitar pick
(2) Winners: 1 signed Harmonic Feedback cover flat and signed swag
(3) Winners: Signed Harmonic Feedback swag

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on either the review of Harmonic Feedback or the interview with Tara Kelly. (Only one comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on at least one of the posts or fill out the form, you are not entered to win.

Extra Entries:
Not required. Extra entries are detailed on the entry form as well.
+5 entries - Comment on my review or interview (whichever you did not comment on for your original entry)
+5 entries - Comment on this contest post w/your favorite band, musician, or genre of music.
+4 entries - Old Follower/Subscriber (Thank you!)
+2 entries - New Follower/Subscriber (Welcome! You will gain 4 entries in the next contest you enter at The Hiding Spot as an Old Follower/Subscriber!)
+2 Follow me on Twitter (@thehidingspot) Leave your @name for verification.
+2 Follow Tara Kelly on Twitter (@AuthorTaraKelly) Leave your @name for verification.
+3 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+3 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

Contest will close June 15th 2010. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers! I'll be hosting another International contest soon and I have two open now, HERE and HERE.

Good luck!

Interview: Tara Kelly (Author of Harmonic Feedback)

Tara Kelly's debut novel is a realistic portrayal of a girl navigating her way through the confusing maze of adolescence... who just happens to have Asperger's. Today at The Hiding Spot, Tara shares her thoughts on raising awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders through literature, music's role in her writing process, and writing the romantic element of her novel!

A Brief Bio

Tara Kelly is a Jill of all trades--a YA author, one-girl band, web/graphic designer, video editor and photographer. She lives in Broomfield, Colorado with her ten guitars, supercool bf, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

The Interview

Give a short statement describing HARMONIC FEEDBACK.
Eek-I’m terrible at summaries! Harmonic Feedback isn’t a book about Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s about a girl who is trying to figure out what normal really means—and if normal is something she really wants to be.

The number of people I know that have autism or a similar syndrome is remarkably high and it seems like more and more people are being diagnosed, so I was intrigued by the fact that Drea has a “touch of Asperger’s.” Why did you decide to write a main character with Asperger’s and do you think it is important to raise awareness about this syndrome?
For one, my little brother was diagnosed with mild autism/Asperger’s (they switched his diagnosis back and forth). This was in the 90s when autism wasn’t quite the household name it is now. And I myself had social problems growing up. So I’ve always wanted to write about a character who sees the world differently than most. I also think—despite all the media attention autism has received recently—the majority of people have a skewed view of what autism is and what autistic people are like. Many don’t realize how very different two people on the spectrum can be. Nobody fits a box of symptoms perfectly. So, yes, I do think it’s important to raise awareness with variety. A variety of stories featuring characters all over the spectrum who each have their own distinct personality—the latest crop of YA and MG fiction featuring autistic characters is a GREAT example of this. And I’m so glad to be part of it!

Music is a huge part of your life; does it play any part in your writing process?
Definitely! I can’t write without music and I can’t make music without a story to tell. I design playlists for each character so I can get into their head (sometimes this means listening to music I hate). When I write songs, I often write about the characters in my stories—they are far more fascinating than I am.

I love Justin’s character! He opens Drea’s eyes to a whole new world and a whole new sense of self. Was their romance easy to write or was it stubborn, like Drea?
Romance is my favorite thing to write, hands down. And the romance between Drea and Justin actually flowed really well for me—despite Drea’s protests. I had a blast writing their scenes together, especially the awkward moments. Although, I admit…there were times where I kept thinking…just kiss her already! I had to be patient and wait for the right time, though.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel?
My next book, C-Side Tales, comes out next year, and I'm very excited about it. Harmonic Feedback deals with music, obviously, but C-Side focuses solely on what it's like to be a band in today's music world--which has changed significantly in the last ten years. To steal my agent's summary--the story revolves around a 17-year-old girl who has to battle wicked stage fright (and a crush on the superhot bass player) to convince the members of her new band that she can hack it as their lead guitarist.

I read on your website that you hate balloons and it stuck in my head. Why the aversion to balloons?
Ha—this stems from a childhood fear. When I was a tot, I had a huge aversion to the sound of popping balloons. Whenever someone was around with balloons, I’d cover my ears and squeeze my eyes shut, anticipating the loud ‘bang’. And honestly? I still cringe whenever I hear the squeaky rubber…I might still cover my ears.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Books, for sure! Especially YA. No matter how old I get, I love getting lost in a book about first time experiences and adventures. But, also, my acoustic guitar. There’s nothing more calming to me than sitting outside and strumming my guitar, making up a song.


Thanks for stopping by, Tara!
Be sure to check out my review of HARMONIC FEEDBACK as well!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Title: Harmonic Feedback
Author: Tara Kelly
Publisher: Henry Holt BFYR
Pub. Date: 5/25/10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Asperger's Syndrome, Music, Friendship, Romance
Pages: 278
Description (from GoodReads):
Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on a touch of Asperger’s.”

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.
It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

By simply reading the description of Harmonic Feedback, you'll discover that the main character has Asperger's Syndrome. Asperger's is characterized by social awkwardness and repetitve behaviors, which, understandably, sets Drea apart from other main characters in the genre. Unfortunately, some people may see Kelly's debut novel on the shelf, and, like Drea's peers, be unable to see past the Asperger's. This aspect of the novel is well written and allows it to stand out on crowded YA shelves, but that isn't the only thing that makes it shine.

As indicated by the title, Drea is heavily influenced by music. Whether the reader is familiar with the bands or types of music in the novel is irrelevant; it's Drea's passion that resonates. Often, a main character will dabble in hobbies and activities, but readers rarely see the protagonist so completely dedicated to something, other than a boy. Drea's ability to both lose and find herself in music reminded me of how I feel about reading. I think many readers will feel this connection to Drea, no matter what their individual passion. It's the fact that the reader can identify with Drea that makes her unforgettable.

It's impossible for me to discuss Harmonic Feedback without mentioning Justin, the boy who unexpectedly walks into Drea's life and turns it completely upsidedown. Not only does Justin challenge Drea's ideas about her music, he challenges her ideas about herself. In ways, Justin is Drea's knight in shining armor. He awakens her to a whole new world that I fear she never would sought out on her own. Kelly wrote Justin as both a supportive friend and a boy falling head over heels for a girl, which is exactly what Drea needs.

I can't say enough good things about Harmonic Feedback and, even then, I don't know if I could do it justice. Tara Kelly has written a powerful novel that both inspires and entertains and I urge you to read it!

Grade: A

Cover Comments:
I love the cover, especially because the cover model could be me, you, or you.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Playing Favorites with Courtney Summers

It has been said that playing favorites isn't nice, but sometimes it's impossible not to! Join me weekly at The Hiding Spot as I share a favorite author... and the author shares a few favorite things of their own.


Genre: Contemporary YA

Cracked Up to Be (2008)
Some Girls Are (2010) Review

Mean girls and emotionally charged novels are Courtney Summers' specialty. Filled with main characters you hate to love, brutal emotion, and dark themes, both of Summers' novels are must reads for teens and adults.


Novel: Some Girls Are
It was hard to choose a favorite between Summers' two amazing novels! Perhaps it's simply because I read SGA more recently, but it came out slightly ahead.

Character: Regina
Regina is absolutely, perfectly horrible. She's the epitome of the mean girl in all of us... and the fact that some part of me identifies with her creates a bond that has me forgiving her transgressions and cheering her on. Well, cheering on the good decisions anyway.

Quote: "I elbow my way through the mass of people to get to my locker because there's something immensely satisfying about the toughest part of my arm connecting with the softest part of everyone else."
This quote, from page 3 of Cracked Up to Be, sets the tone for both of Summers' novels.


Author: Robert Cormier.
Everything he writes is incredible and difficult in the best of ways.

Quote: "I have always believed in the principle that immediate survival is more important than long-term survival." - Jack McClelland
I just love this quote and revisit it a lot.

Song: Toto's Africa!
Do I even have to explain this one? I run away screaming from people who do not love this song.

Animal: Birds!
I love any and all types of birds. I've had quite a few as pets growing up. They're wonderful.

Word: Fisticuffs.
Just say it out loud! Have you said it yet? See what I mean? Typing it is also fun. That is why it is my most favourite word ever.

For more information about Courtney and her novels
check out the links below:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review: She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Title: She's So Dead to Us
Author: Kieran Scott
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Pub. Date: 5.25.10
Genre: YA
Keywords: Family, Love, Friendship, Class, Drama
Pages: 288
Description (from arc):
Ally Ryan would rather be in Maryland. She would rather be anywhere, in fact, than Orchard Hill, site of her downfall. Well, not hers exactly, but when your father's hedge fund goes south and all of your friends lose their trust funds, things don't look so sunny for you. So her mother moved them away to flee the shame. But now they're  moving back. Back to the country club, new car every year, family came over on the Mayflower lifestyle that Ally has outgrown. But there are bright sides. Like gorgeous Jake Graydon. Ally and Jake instantly like each other, but it won't be easy for them to be together - not if his friends (her former friends) have anything to say about it. Is Ally ready to get thrown back into the drama of the life she left behind?

This book, even with its familiar plot, was completely addicting. When I started it, I only planned on reading a couple chapters, but I just couldn't set it aside.

From the start, the reader knows what's going to happen, but the characters are so engaging that it doesn't seem to matter. The novel is told in alternating chapters by Ally and Jake. I liked Ally right from the start; the reader can see that she's a good person, regardless of  her questionable past. Jake, on the other hand, did not immediately gain my favor. Ally might worry about the opinions of her abandoned friends, but Jake is completely ruled by them. He has absolutely no desire to go against the grain, which is monumentally frustrating throughout most of the novel. Despite this horrible trait, Jake managed to win me over. I can only attribute this to the realism of his character; many teenage boys would rather follow mutely than rock the boat and, in the end, Jake does do the right thing.  He is by no means perfect, but he has grown, which I can appreciate.

My favorite aspect of the novel was Ally and Jake's relationship. The emotions and little details of their romance were vibrantly written. Kieran Scott perfectly captured the emotions of an all-consuming crush; the kind of crush that leaves you incessantly daydreaming, prone to love struck gazing, and completely frustrated. The fact that their relationship is taboo added to the intensity.

She's So Dead to Us isn't deep and it doesn't impart any great wisdom to the reader, but it is fun and gave me that fluttery feeling that's only caused when two characters have undeniable chemistry.

Grade: A

Cover Comments:
I think the cover is extremely cute and fits the novel well. The snapped strand of pearls is an apt representation of Ally's fall from the "It" crowd.