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Monday, August 30, 2010

Cover of the Week (21)

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Press/12.21.2010
Description (from GoodReads):
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered.

Ohmygoodness! I've loved each and every one of Courtney's covers, but this one... WOW. Just 3 more months!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review: Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

Title: Stalker Girl
Author: Rosemary Graham
Publisher: Viking
Pub. Date: 8.5.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Stalking, Breakups, Relationships, Secrets
Pages: 208
Description (from GoodReads):
How do you know when you’ve crossed the line between curiosity and obsession?

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian’s new girlfriend — all of the sadness she feels about her mom’s recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife’s new baby. When Carly’s stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

I almost passed on Rosemary Graham’s STALKER GIRL. I couldn’t help but think it might be just a bit too creepy.. a bit too weird... for my tastes. When I browse contemporary YA titles, I generally look for topics and characters I can identify with, and, when I think of words to describe myself, stalker typically doesn’t come to mind. Then I stumbled upon the book trailer and it somehow lodged itself in my mind; I decided to give STALKER GIRL a try. It took only a handful of pages to completely draw me in and I was shocked at what I found.

It turned out that I identified with Carly more than I ever could have imagined. In an interview with the author, I read that STALKER GIRL was originally titled SHE WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS. While I love the straightforward final title and its ability to lure potential readers into browsing the description, I prefer this first incarnation. Like STALKER GIRL, it draws me in, but it also transforms Carly into a more relatable character right from the start. Yes, the main character is a stalker, but she wasn’t always like this. Of course, the reader discovers this as the novel progresses, but, at least in my case, I think I would have been more apt to pick it up right from the start with this title… I would have wanted to know why she had changed.

Understandably, there’s a stigma surrounding the word “stalker.” For me, stalkers just are. There is no before or reason to their creepy, unacceptable behavior. In some cases, like Carly’s, there is a before. And it’s a before that I feel many can relate to. It begins as innocent curiosity. Your serious relationship has ended, perhaps abruptly, and that person you’ve shared so much with has moved on. What does she have that’s so appealing? Why her and not you? Maybe you’ll just look at her Facebook page and glance through her pictures… it’s harmless. Right? But you can’t stop thinking about him. About her. Maybe if you just saw her, you’d understand. So you snoop a bit more and find out that she’s made plans to be here at this time. You’re just going to go for a glimpse… But you still can’t stop.

Of course, most of us wouldn’t take it this far. We’d have friends who would tell us he’s not worth it, that she isn’t even very cute, and that there are plenty of fish in the sea. But if you’re alone, if those thoughts keep bouncing around in your head… multiplying… intensifying - would you be able to hold yourself back? Or would you find that things have twisted in your mind and you now somehow think it might be alright to watch just a little more…?

If Graham had only shown Carly after the breakup, I might not have identified so strongly with this story. But Graham handled this intense material with skill. The novel is divided into three sections: after the breakup, leading up to and during the relationship, and the consequences of Carly's obsession. It was the middle section, which comprises the bulk of the volume, that made Carly three-dimensional and a character with traits I could identify with. I drew parallels between Carly’s personality and mine, but was cognizant of our differences as well. I appeared to share a number of personality traits with Carly: jealousy, a tendency towards almost obsessive attention to certain subjects or objects (like books). I found myself analyzing why I’d never wound up in Carly’s position… After all, she’s not crazy, at least, not in the traditional sense. She’s been through a lot, her mind is completely overwhelmed, and things just … start to go a bit haywire.

What I mean to say, is that I understand Carly. I found myself wanting to reach out and help her, guide her, let her know she wasn’t alone. I thought I’d feel protective of the new girlfriend, the stalked, but, in the end, I didn’t. Yes, I understood her feelings as well, but it was still Carly that I felt the connection to. Perhaps it was simply Graham’s phenomenal writing that cast a spell and pulled me into Carly madness… or perhaps it was the fact that we all have that small, dark part of ourselves that threatens this crazed behavior... and Carly’s fate.

Grade: A+

Be sure to check out the book trailer... it won me over!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of The Education of Bet!

I have an arc of THE EDUCATION OF BET for one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!
Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.


How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of THE EDUCATION OF BET. (Comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on the post 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.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+1 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

Contest will close September 30, 2010. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers!

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (38)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!
**The above image is a placeholder... no cover yet!**

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Griffin/12.21.10
Description (from GoodReads):
When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. He seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on… but some questions should be left unanswered.

I like WoW picks that have cover images (hey, they're shiny and eyecatching!), but I just couldn't wait until FALL FOR ANYTHING to be cover-ized. After weeks of checking the GoodReads page (and Courtney's website) with no luck, I decided to give in and feature it for WoW... because I am so waiting on Summers' upcoming release. Even before the description was released I was daydreaming about it... I have no doubts that I'll love this book. None.
Summers' books have all been released in December/January, which is great because they make fabulous holiday (and birthday *cough*December 16th*cough*) gifts.

Review: Winter Longing by Tricia Mills

Title: Winter Longing
Author: Tricia Mills
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 8.19.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Loss, First Love, Grief, Death, Moving On
Pages: 256
Description (from GoodReads):
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?

I had high expectations as I cracked open WINTER LONGING. Based on the description, I expected an intense, emotional novel in which a girl finds the strength to move on and, in the process, finds love... again.

I suppose that is what happens in WINTER LONGING, but... it just didn't wow me. I was most disappointed by Winter. For me, she was one-dimensional and vaguely annoying. I felt bad that she'd lost Spencer - he was not only her first love, but also her best friend. She must have felt like she was losing him twice... and it couldn't have been easy to deal with that grief alone.

I thought my opinion of the novel would change as Winter grew closer to her neighbor, Jesse, but this, unfortunately, didn't prove true. Instead, I found Jesse to be rather cliche and too perfect. It was sweet that he is so patient with Winter, but I just didn't buy the devotion. I couldn't figure out why he liked Winter so much.

I think WINTER LONGING will find fans, but it simply wasn't for me. I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. Those who can find a connection with Winter, or even Jesse, will be more apt to experience the emotional aspects of the novel, which, I think, will result in a more favorable opinion.

Grade: C

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cover of the Week (20)

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

Wildcat Fireflies (Fenestra Bk 2)by Amber Kizer
Random House/2011

I prefer the cover of MERIDIAN more than WILDCAT FIREFLIES, but I still think this one's gorgeous! The only part of this cover that I don't love is the girl's mouth... there's something awkward about it... But I'm loving the green and black. Plus, I could say the title all day!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Ondine by Ebony McKenna!

Ebony McKenna has provided finished copies of ONDINE: THE SUMMER OF SHAMBLES for 2 lucky winners at The Hiding Spot!

(2) paperback copies of ONDINE

How to Enter:
You MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to 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.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+1 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)

There will be 2 winners. Contest will close September 22, 2010. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers!

Good luck!

Interview: Ebony McKenna (Author of Ondine!)

Author Ebony McKenna is at The Hiding Spot today to answer a few questions regarding her novel ONDINE. The novel isn't out in the US yet, but it is available from BookDepository!

From Author's Website

Ebony McKenna lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and young son.

She has worked as an award winning journalist, market researcher, waitress, website contributor, accounts manager and company director.

In high school McKenna excelled in English and Literature, earning herself a place in the journalism course at Melbourne's RMIT University.

In the 1990s she worked as a journalist on many leading Melbourne newspapers. She won many awards - including scooping first and second place in the one night for best news report. By day she wrote other people's stories, but by night she plotted epic adventures.

Now she writes novels for a living.


Give a short statement describing ONDINE.
  ONDINE is about a teenage girl whose pet ferret, Shambles, starts talking with a Scottish accent. Mayhem ensues. She lives in the Eastern European country of Brugel, where everyday life with her family is crazy. Ondine discovers Shambles is really a man trapped in a witch’s spell - she’ll do whatever she can to break that spell to see the real man inside.

Was there a specific source of inspiration behind ONDINE?
I had written six novels prior to ONDINE, some were fantasy/science fiction, others were romantic comedies. The world can be so mean and cruel sometimes, comedies give us a break from all that. So I wrote the books I loved to read. But this inspiration was a whole new level of crazy for me. The setting - in a family pub - came naturally because I spent my childhood and teen years working for my mum and step-dad in our family restaurant. Lots and lots of work. A fair bit of stress. Everyone pitching in and helping. But it also gave me a love of food and an understanding that if you want something badly enough, and you work hard enough, you just might get the result you want. *lightbulb moment* I think this is why I have turned out the way I have. Thanks mum. (And at the time I thought you were just using me for slave labor, LOL!)
My family are a huge inspiration to me. There are a great many books featuring orphans or missing parents. When the ideas for Ondine first popped into my head, she was an orphan as well. But honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted her to have a family and have all that support and a bit of suffocation-love. Her life is different to mine for sure (none of my pets talked, except the cockatoos) but her feelings are very similar. As a teenager, I craved privacy but I needed my family. I also felt like grown-ups treated me like a child but also expected me to behave like an adult. All the tumult and emotional upheaval is there, even if the story is very different.

Why did you choose to have cast the romantic interest as a cursed boy turned ferret? (Instead of some other animal or creature…)
The first time I had the idea of the bewitched creature, he was a rat. But a few seconds later he became a ferret. I’ve never had a pet ferret, so I didn’t know much about them. But, I had seen a tv show a few weeks earlier featuring ferrets and the people who are crazy about them. They seemed perfect for comedy. Racing down drainpipes, scampering about, sleeping in a tangled knot. I thought about how they could make great spies. Once I imagined the scene of Ondine informing the Duke about a treat to his life - with the ferret wrapped around her pretending to be a scarf - it cemented the idea of Shambles being a ferret.
Ferrets have such vibrant personalities. And, while the ideas were percolating in my head, I did have the vague sense that rats had been done, whereas a ferret could be very different. They are so cute, but they’re also primed for mischief. It seemed such a good fit to have someone trapped in a ferret’s body as a form of punishment.
Also - I wanted a truly sexy hero. He had to be funny, a bit rude and full of adventure. So he pretty much had to be Scottish because they are the funniest and rudest people on earth (and I hope they can forgive me for taking so many liberties with their language!) And some of them are very sexy. *cough* David Tennant.

How did you choose name for your characters? Do you find it difficult to pick names?
I wanted names that gave a sense of something old-fashioned yet modern. Ondine was there right from the start. Many years ago I used to get my nails done (what a luxury!) and the woman who did my nails was called Ondi. I’d always loved her name. It sounded so exotic and other worldly. So maybe I was just waiting for the right book to come along to name after her? I grew up with a friend called Cybelle, so her name was perfect for the clever and very private middle sister. I needed a movie-star name for the eldest, because she’s the showy one, the singer. One of my favourite movies of all time (aside from The Princess Bride) is The Scarlett Pimpernell. The heroine in that is Marguerite. Such a gorgeous name, and very European, to my mind. The name Shambles turned up pretty quickly in the process as well. I often say ‘this place is a shambles’ so it was a name ready to leap out of my mind and onto the page. Once I had his name, his personality really grew to the point where he could get away with so much! Cheeky imp!

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
These are such awesome questions. Love it!
Books are my escape too - they’re a pressure-valve to let off a bit of steam. They help me forget all about everything else for a while. I lose myself in books. Perhaps that’s why I put so much comedy into my writing - because there’s enough bad news out there I want to give people a good laugh and a diversion from the pressures of the real world.
As a kid, I used to hide in wardrobes looking for Narnia! After-school playtimes with friends were the classic, ‘Mum’s here, quick, hide!’ But she’d always find me in a wardrobe! I never did find Narnia.
Now I’m older, I’m supposed to grow up, but I still love hiding away in small spaces. Luckily my young son does too. So we hide in wardrobes together. In a year or so, I’ll let him read my Narnia books.

Thank you so much for the great questions and for being part of the blog tour. I’m having a fantastic time.

Thanks, Ebony!

You can find my review of ONDINE: THE SUMMER OF SHAMBLES here. Be on the lookout for the sequel, ONDINE: THE AUTUMN PALACE, which will be released February 2011 from Egmont Books Ltd!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: Ondine by Ebony McKenna

Title: Ondine
Author: Ebony McKenna
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
Pub. Date: 4.5.2010
Genre: Middle Grade
Keywords: Enchantment, Love, Family, Ferrets
Pages: 336
Description (from GoodReads):
This is a brilliantly witty story with a furry tail ending. One girl. One boy. One spell to be broken. Ondine de Groot is a normal fifteen-year-old who lives with her family in the European country of Brugel. She has a pet ferret called Shambles. But Shambles is no ordinary ferret...He's Hamish McPhee, a boy cursed by a witch. A witch who happens to be related to Ondine. When Shambles turns back into Hamish temporarily, Ondine knows that she has to help him break the spell. He is the most gorgeous boy she has ever met and her one true love! He just can't remain a ferret forever. Can he?

I'd like to preface this review by saying that I usually don't read Middle Grade; It simply isn't my niche. That said, I was drawn to ONDINE. McKenna's novel received many positive reviews on GoodReads praising its humor and wit, which caught my attention.

For me, it was the footnotes that inspired the most laughter. In the text, Ondine mentions a BeDazzle and, in the footnotes, she defines it as a "completely unnecessary yet strangely compelling device to attach sparkly plastic jewels to your clothes." I couldn't have said it better myself! I admit it: if I owned a BeDazzle I'd probably use it. Secretly.

The romance between Ondine and her ferret, which sounds a lot weirder than it actually is, was cute. Though it was ridiculously far fetched, I went with it, taking into account that ONDINE is middle grade and a light hearted read. It helped that, though he was in ferret form, Shambles/Hamish never really acted like a ferret. He talked and thought like a teenaged boy, so I sometimes forgot that he wasn't in human form... until he did something weasley.

My main complaint is due to the fact that none of the characters seemed fully formed. There was no real development and their relationships felt disjointed. Part of me thinks that I wouldn't have noticed these inconsistencies when I was in elementary school and junior high, but the other part of me wants to give my younger self (and kids in general) more credit than that.

Overall, ONDINE is a cute read that will bring a smile to your face, but I think it's better suited to younger readers.

Grade: C+

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Title: Enthusiasm
Author: Polly Shulman
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub. Date: 2.16.2006
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Jane Austen, hobbies, love, friendship, secrets
Pages: 212
Description (from GoodReads):
 "There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast." Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine's quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys' prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh's isn't so bad after all. . . .

I read ENTHUSIASM shortly after its release in 2006 and, when I went searching for audiobooks for a recent roadtrip, I felt compelled to bring it along. Before I'd even finished the first disc, I remembered just how much I adore Polly Shulman's debut. I was so engrossed that I compeletely missed one of my exits and continued onward for about half an hour before I noticed. In fact, when I realized my error, I didn't even mind... it meant my trip was extended and I would have an entire extra hour before I'd have to give up ENTHUSIASM!

 Enthusiasts like Ashleigh are high spirited, stubborn, and, sometimes, crazed. When Ashleigh zeros in on the one thing Julie is actually passionate about, in her quiet, reverent way, she knows there's no use trying to dissuade her. Ashleigh plans on finding love. No, not just love, but true love, like Elizabeth Bennett finds in the scowling Mr. Darcy.

I didn't have a friend like Ashleigh in high school, but I imagine my attitude would have been similar to Julie's. Though Julie often complains about Ashleigh's shenanigans, it's clear to the reader that she's fiercely loyal and loves Ashleigh despite her eccentricities. ENTHUSIAM celebrates a healthly relationships between best friends. Hurrah! I definitely don't take issue with the books that showcase dysfuntional friendships, but they do seem to crop up more often than than the former, so I'm always excited to find a relationship like Julie and Ashleigh's.

It's difficult to discuss the romance in ENTHUSIASM with out spoilers, so I'll keep it brief. Swoon. To be back in high school experiencing my first kiss... This aspect of the novel was absolutely adorable.

Julie's enthusiastic adventures are sure to keep readers (or listeners!) of all ages entertained.
Grade: A

A note on audiobooks (and listening to ENTHUSIASM, rather than reading):

When selecting audiobooks I prefer contemporary YA with laugh-out-loud humor... and, of course, romance. That way, as I'm driving down the highway, I look insane...

In all seriousness, I need a book that will keep me wide-eyed and engaged for hours at time, so I must choose carefully. Sometimes, I'll be so wrapped up in a story that, even after I've reached my destination, I'll sit in the driveway listening... ENTHUSIASM had me sneaking back out to the car when no one was paying attention, just to hear a few more chapters.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Contemps Challege!

Take The Contemps Challenge!

I love challenges, but I don't think I've ever found one that was a better fit for me than The Contemps Challenge!

It's hosted by the authors over at The Contemps, a hot new website from a great group of Contemporary YA authors. To participate, check out the site HERE.

Out of the 21 books listed below, participants must read 18 before August 15, 2011.

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Freefall by Mindi Scott
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Trapped by Michael Northrop
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Family by Micol Ostow
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
Pearl by Jo Knowles
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracey
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
Description (from GoodReads):
Natalie, a seventeen-year-old former drama club member who now writes a relationship column for her school newspaper, decides to go undercover as a student at an all-boys boarding school so that she can figure out what guys are really like.

I was excited to see a new offering from Gehrman when it popped up on GoodReads, even though there was no description or cover art. But holy mackeral. Now that those two crucial elements have been supplied I'm completely ecstatic. I hoping that this book will brighten up the dreary days of February when it's released!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Aces Up
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Delacorte BFYR
Pub. Date: 8.10.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Gambling, Collusion, Secrets, Lies, Family, Love, Friendship
Pages: 288
Description (from GoodReads):
Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.

When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?

ACES UP was my introduction to Lauren Barnholdt and her writing, and I must say, it was a great first impression.

Despite the fact that I know nearly nothing about poker and the colorful world of gambling, I found it remarkably easy to identify with Shannon. It wasn't so much the fast, faintly sinister world she found herself in that I found intriguing, but the reason she felt she needed to venture there.

Shannon's family has fallen on hard economic times and they've had to give up many extraneous expenses. The one thing Shannon refuses to give up is her dream to attend her Wellesley after she completes her senior year. Shannon must decide is the money and the guarantee of being able to afford Wellesley worth the risk. And the risk is huge.

It isn't hard to put myself in Shannon's shoes... I think the majority of college and college bound students will empathize with her fear and stress. It's insanely difficult to pay for school today. Students are often told that if they work hard, get good grades, etc, etc, everything will be fine. Shannon's story is very true to life: sometimes, everything isn't fine.

The novel primarily focuses on Shannon, but she also has a sister who is also struggling to pay for college as well. The difference between the two, is that her sister doesn't attempt any get rich quick schemes, illegal or otherwise, but instead, continues to work hard and remains positive. I liked that the reader was able to compare the vastly different paths each sister chose.

The one element of the novel that I wasn't completely sold on was the romantic bits. I felt more of a connection to the boy Shannon wasn't supposed to fall for than the one she did, which made for a lackluster response.

The story's resolution may have been idealized. Shannon does, of course, learn her lesson and the story ends, more or less, happily. But many are or will be facing a similar situation and I think that ACES UP will guide them. Yes, we are all free to make our own decisions, but there is comfort in picking up a novel where the main character is in a similar situation. Even if the reader's situation isn't identical to Shannon's, it still serves as a reminder that no matter how good that "bad" choice may seem, it's in one's best interest to veer toward the "good."

Grade: B+

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cover of the Week (20)

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

It's driving me crazy that this gorgeous cover is without a description, but it also drives home the fact that a great cover can lure in readers just as well as a phenomenal synopsis!

I'm really hope that the red outlining and swirls are embossed on the final copies! I'm extremely curious to see how it looks in person!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon {Starting Line}

This weekend Read-A-Thon technically started yesterday, but I wasn't really able to start until today... I'm really aiming to getting any of the books on my towering TBR pile read, but below are the ones that I'm trying to focus on.

  1. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  2. Girl Parts by John Cusick
  3. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
  4. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick
  5. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
  6. Mistwood by Leah Cypress
  7. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas
  8. Sea by Heidi Kling

Friday, August 13, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of The Eternal Ones!

I have an arc of THE ETERNAL ONES for one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!
Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.


How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of THE ETERNAL ONES. (Comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on the post 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 - THE ETERNAL ONES is the first of the Penguin 5 to be released. Comment on this post telling me which of the 5 you're most excited about (The Eternal Ones, Nightshade, Sapphique, Matched, The Replacement).
+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)
+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 August 31, 2010. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. Sorry International readers!

Good luck!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon

From August 13th to the 16th, I'm participating in the Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon hosted by Monica at The Bibliophilic Book Blog!

I'm currently on vacation from work and my last summer class ended earlier this week (*phew*) and I have tons of reading that has been neglected up to this point, so I was pumped to see that there was a read-a-thon scheduled for this weekend!

If anyone has time, head over to Monica's blog to signup and participate!

I'm planning on working my way through review books and a few rereads as I gear up for sequels and series continuations coming this fall and winter. Like, oh, I don't know, MOCKINGJAY. :))

Review: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Title: The Eternal Ones
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 8.10.2010
Genre: Paranormal YA
Keywords: Reincarnation, Destiny, Love, Mystery
Pages: 416
Description (from GoodReads):
What if love refused to die?

Haven Moore can’t control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother’s house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel! Since there was so much hype surrounding it, I feared I'd crack open the cover to find a stereotypical tortured love story with the only unique element being reincarnation. That was definitely not the case.

My favorite aspect of Miller's novel was the well-rounded and believable characters. With Haven, she struck a perfect balance of lovesick, confused, and smart. In my mind, those characteristics conflict, making it difficult to incorporate them all into one character, but Miller was successful.

There seems to be a trend towards unsupportive and rather annoying best friends in YA literature, but THE ETERNAL ONES seems to have left out that unfortunate element. Haven's best friend, Beau, ended up being one of my favorite characters, even beating out her love interest. He's was so unique and confident - loved it!

It was, however, the fact that Miller keeps her readers guessing that really made this novel memorable. I can honestly say that I never once felt sure about who the villain in the novel would end up being. I caught a weird vibe from the entire cast of characters, but could never pinpoint which was most malevolent.

To some, the epic romance of reincarnation will be the main draw of THE ETERNAL ONES, but, for me, it was the mystery and amazing characters. I love that this book has the ability to appeal to fans of either focus!

Grade: A

Review copy provided by publisher.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Description (from GoodReads):
Eighteen year old Lexi Wentworth is cursed. For as long as she can remember, she’s spent every night swimming. If she doesn’t, she’ll regret it—simply walking will be agony, as if she’s stepping on shattered glass. Her body craves the water, demands the water, until she can’t say no.

But it's not the swimming that troubles Lexi. It’s the singing that goes with it.When she turned sixteen, her siren song killed the only boy she's ever loved. Now, she avoids the popular shores of the Pacific in favor of a long forgotten lake up in the mountains, where she can swim and sing in peace, far from the population of her oceanside home.

Until, that is, Troy Mills discovers her lake. He’s new to Lincoln City High, and he doesn’t know about Lexi’s reputation as an ice queen—a reputation she’s carefully cultivated to keep everyone around her safe. He pushes her, talks to her, forces her to dream of what life could be like if she weren’t a siren.

Lexi can’t stop herself from warming to him, from falling for him. Soon, he’s demanding answers, following her to the lake, unknowingly risking his life. How can she keep him safe when the one thing she wants most--to hold him close-- will endanger his life?

I enjoyed Mandy Hubbard's PRADA AND PREJUDICE, which was extremely cute, and I'm curious about RIPPLE. It seems a bit darker than her previous novels, so I'm interested to see how this story compares to P&P and YOU WISH.

I'll be watching for it in 2011!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Title: The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June
Author: Robin Benway
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 10.3.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Sisters, Love, Family, Powers
Pages: 282
Description (from GoodReads):
Three sisters share a magical, unshakable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.

Robin Benway set the bar incredibly high with her debut novel AUDREY, WAIT!, but, as expected, THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE doesn't disappoint.

Having two sisters myself, I can attest to the realistic portrayal of April, May, and June's interactions and individual voices. I couldn't help but compare them to my own family and imagine how my sisters or I would react to discovering that we had special powers, as the sisters in the novel discover. I've come to the conclusion that our reaction would be much the same, which prompts me to give Benway kudos! Her ability to write sisters so convincingly, given the fact that she doesn't have any sisters herself, only further demonstrates her talent.

Each sister has a dominant trait that manifests as a special power, which is an extremely interesting concept. I most closely related to April, the eldest sister and worrier graced with precognition. Likewise, I also saw many similarities between the middle sister in my family and May. I found myself wondering if certain traits are dominant in relation to birth order? Would the majority of eldest sisters have similar special powers? Middle? Youngest? Benway's sophmore novel inspired a bout of deep thinking regarding sibling roles... and some light hearted thinking about special powers.

I was expecting a romantic plot line when I began the novel and was pleased to find not one, but two! The two eldest sisters embark on romantic (mis)adventures, both having unique experiences with boys they never thought they'd fall for! Well, I suppose April, with her ability to see the future, knew what was coming, but she definitely didn't want to admit it!

One of the reasons I count Benway as a favorite author is the genuine dialogue and humor present in her novels. To me, her writing is almost like a friend recounting a story - comfortable and filled with laughter. As a reader, it's unbelievabely easy to find commonalities with her characters, and, for the duration of the novel, they almost feel like friends.

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cover of the Week (19)

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

Clarity by Kim Harrington
Scholastic Point/3.1.11
Description (from GoodReads):
Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch an object and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother — who has supernatural gifts of his own — becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

Usually picking my Cover of the Week is difficult... there are just so many amazing ones to choose from... but this week, it was extremely easy. I knew CLARITY would be my next pick the moment it popped up on my computer screen! I am so in love with this cover. Seriously.

Plus, CLARITY is Harrington's debut and it sounds so, so good!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fragment Friday (1) feat. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

This Friday I'm trying something a little bit different. It's called a vlog. Some may call it terrifying. Oh, wait... That's just me.

Erica (from the fabulous blog The Book Cellar) convinced me it was time to make a vlog. So you can blame (or thank) her.

Fragment Friday is hosted by James at Book Chic Club!

You can find my post in which I gush about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS - and try to convince you to read it - here. Stephanie Perkins' super fun website is here.

READ THIS BOOK. You know you want to.

To vlog or not to vlog... Should I do it again? I'll let you decide. Leave a comment with some feedback!

As you can see, there are some issues with video quality. For example, the fact that, in the sceond half of the video, my lips and the sound don't match. I'm not very tech savvy, so I welcome any tips regarding vlogging and things of that nature.

Excerpt taken from an Uncopyedited Sales Galley.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

YA Character Battle

Something is going down. Something big.

How would you like to see Edward duke it out against Hermione? Or Katniss and Katsa? Well, guess what? You can, in the first ever YA Fantasy Showdown. In celebration of Suzanne Collin’s final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, a group of bloggers are pitting some of the best-known characters in YA in the ultimate showdown. And you get to pick the winner.

That’s right. You read the battles, evaluate the characters, and vote for who has the honor of moving on to the next round. It’s a tournament like you’ve never seen before (because there’s more). The authors have been asked to participate and advocate their character in writing their own version of the battle. It’s going to be truly epic. Or at least a good way to pass the time until Mockingjay comes out. It all goes down August 10th.

Find out more about this epic awesomeness here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

The Locket by Stacey Jay
Description (from GoodReads):
What if you got a second chance to fix your worst mistake?

What if you found out miracles could happen?

What if you found out that sometimes, miracles are curses in disguise...

One girl, two boys, and one very scary piece of jewelry.

The description doesn't really tell much about THE LOCKET, but I'm not worried because Stacey Jay has never let me down before! It doesn't look like there will be any zombies in this book, which will be a first for Jay! Very interesting... I'm waffling on the cover though. One minute I like it, the next I'm not so sure. I'm not really a fan of the font used for the title.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Title: The Education of Bet
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin BFC
Pub. Date: 7.12.2010
Genre: Historical YA
Keywords: Identity Swap, Secrets, Gender Roles, Family, Romance
Pages: 192
Description (from GoodReads):
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.
THE EDUCATION OF BET took me completely by surprise! Before this novel, I'd never read anything by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, but I was intrigued by the description.
I found the lengths Bet and Will go to in order to disguise Bet as a boy entertaining. I was skeptical that Baratz-Logsted would be able to make this aspect of the novel believable, but I actually found it very convincing. I especially loved that there were adults at the school aiding Bet in her quest for an education.
It was inspiring to see Bet fight so hard for something she wanted... something other than a boy. Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance, but it was refreshing to see the main character so passionate about something else. It definitely reminded me how lucky I am to have the opportunity to go to school... with all the stress, homework, and insane costs, it's easy to forget that.
But wait! There's romance too! Which, honestly, I should have anticipated, but I really hadn't. It was interesting an interesting and memorable romance, since, during the development of the romance, Bet is still disguised as Will. Understandably, this leads to some awkward moments, but Baratz-Logsted did a wonderful job making their story believable.
Grade: A
Review copy provided by publisher.