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Saturday, October 30, 2010

{Teaser} Second Skin by Judith Graves (Under My Skin sequel!)

Below is an excerpt from Judith Graves' upcoming novel SECOND SKIN, the sequel to UNDER MY SKIN. Like what you've read? Be sure to fill out the entry form at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

Description from GoodReads!

Eryn struggles to resist the beast clawing at her soul as darkness settles over her like a second skin. She's made a deal, and she can’t let a dead man down. Not unless she wants her friends and family to relocate – six feet under.

When Eryn and her crew each face their own demons, loyalties are tested and temptations abound. Can she share a future with the brooding, noble, human Alec – the hunter after her heart? Or will she succumb to her enemy’s son, Wade, a seductive predator as bloodthirsty as she is?

What happens when you’re both the beauty and the beast?


The cool night air ghosted my breath as I tore through the trees, dodging their heavy, snow-covered branches. I leapt over the randomly placed tombstones scattered throughout Crimson Cemetery like a pro whipping through a round of mini-golf. It sucked that I was becoming familiar enough with the cemetery’s terrain to charge forward on automatic. That I was doing so for the third night that week was just plain irksome.

The hair on the back of my neck trembled. Not a good sign. I inhaled sharply, the pungent scent of hungry, drooling werewolf drifted on the breeze. I was heading right into its path.

It seemed I was always running straight toward the stuff any normal person would be running from, screaming their heads off. But then I wasn’t normal. I wasn’t really a person either if you wanted to get picky about the details. I shot a look up at the starry sky, tracking the dark form that dipped and swooped over the graveyard like some ginormous half-baked prehistoric bat. In her dark sprite form, my best friend’s wings sliced through the trees, causing mini-snowstorms to dump down on me with each impact.

My thighs worked harder as I bolted up hill, keen to take the advantage of the higher ground. Brit was closer now. Reachable. Physically at least. I knew she was hurting, no one doubted that. She wore her feelings like a shroud, blocking us out. She wouldn’t even talk about it to Matt, her boyfriend. But going all clammy wasn’t the extent of the problem.

On a nightly basis, Brit drowned her sorrows in her mother’s liquor cabinet. She was out of control, self-destructing.

Unfortunately, a lot of her pain came down to choices I made.

“We don’t have to do this tonight,” I called as I sprang into the air, swiping at the jean-clad legs hovering five feet above me. “Let’s just rent a tear-jerker and bawl our eyes out. We’ll both feel better.”

“Leave me ’lone!” Brit glared down at me, though her eyes were slightly unfocused. Her long black hair whipped around her, twitching like the tails of hundreds of angry cats. “I’m just goin’ for a walk.”

Still running at top speed while Brit flew above me, I had to laugh at her interpretation of walk.

“I hate to shatter the illusion,” I told her, “but this ain’t your average evening constitutional.” I leapt up again. Once. Twice.

“Stop that!” Brit’s expression changed from rage to shock. “What are you doing?”

“Friends don’t let friend fly drunk,” I shouted. I gripped a hand around her calf and hung on for dear life. Brit dipped at the change in weight, then surged upward and banked hard all at the same time, pin-wheeling us in space.

I looked down.

I shouldn’t have.

We’d cleared the hill and were now soaring twenty feet over the graveyard. My stomach rolled. Werewolves, vampires, and other beasties I could handle, but heights? Not so much.

Copyrighted by Judith Graves

Don't forget to enter for a chance to win your own copy of Graves' debut, UNDER MY SKIN, the first Skinned novel! For more information about this novel, fill out the form here! The contest is open to those with US and Canadian mailing addresses and will end November 16th!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guest Post: Kersten Hamilton (Author of Tyger, Tyger)

Guts and Gaps: Creating Male Characters
By Kersten Hamilton

I am a huge fan of the male gender. I have spent a lifetime studying guys – brothers, fathers, friends, a lover, and two sons. Like a field anthropologist, I have lived among them. After much up-close and personal study, I think that in our literary YA culture, we do not always give guys enough credit for what they are: male.

Sometimes, we write them as if they were large women with body hair issues. Or worse, accessories — pretty things with rock-hard abs to hang on the arm of a kick-butt heroine. Or, worse still, creatures who are smarter and stronger than the dumb, weak heroines they have fallen in love with.

Out of respect and admiration for the guys I love, I try to write honest-to-testosterone guys into my books. To be able to do that with integrity, I not only study guys in the field, I study books and movies by guys about guys.

Like Rocky, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. Stallone understood exactly how to create a male protagonist with a compelling and honest love relationship. Give them guts and gaps:

Paulie: [talking about Adrian] You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What's the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno... she fills gaps.
Paulie: What's 'gaps'?
Rocky: I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.

In Tyger Tyger there are three very different guys, all with as many guts and gaps as I could manage to write into them:

Mr. Wylltson, gentle, literary man, who loves his wife Aileen, a wild Irish girl. Finn, a scrappy street fighter who has no words to wrap around his feelings for Teagan. And Aiden, who is only five, but is trying very hard to grow into a man.

Each one of them is as absolutely male as I can make them, and therefore completely loveable.

I must admit that the kind of book that I like best has a romance between two strong characters, equally matched but delightfully different from one another.

Characters who have gaps. Who need each other.

Tyger Tyger is that kind of book.

I loved each and every one of Hamilton's male characters, so it was great to hear her thoughts and feelings behind writing them!

Be sure to check out my review of TYGER TYGER here!

ALSO, to celebrate the novel's release, Kersten is giving away a Kindle e-reader! Check out the details here on the Teen Book Scene site and don't forget to collect the letter R from this post... you'll need it to enter!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Title: Tyger Tyger (Goblin Wars, #1)
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub. Date: 11.15.2010
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Keywords: Mythology, Goblins, Love, Ireland, Family
Pages: 322
Description (from GoodReads):
Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right.
The goblins are coming.

TYGER TYGER has renewed my love affair with all things Irish. The mythology, the culture, the boys... Kersten Hamilton's first Goblin Wars novel showcases all three.

I loved the mythology incorporated into this novel. One of the reasons I often find YA fantasy lacking, is that the world building leaves something to be desired. When utilizing mythology, the world is already built, yet their are so many different ways to interpret and things to explore. I appreciate a world built from scratch, but, when done right, using a preconceived world and characters can be just as compelling. I think Hamilton did this successfully.

At the novel's start, I wasn't sure I'd connect with Teagan. In fact, I don't really think I connected with some parts of her personality at all - I didn't really enjoy the passages where she is working with animals at her internship - but I did like her character overall. She is relatively level-headed and definitely driven, yet she was willing to believe in this fantastical world of myth and legend. Also encouraging, I actually thought she was a great match for the romantic lead... which is important when I really like the guy!

I can easily identify Finn as my favorite character. He's Irish, he's a hero, he's in love. I can't think of anything that would have made him more appealing.

I can't wait to read Hamilton's next Goblin Wars installment! I wouldn't mind rereading TYGER TYGER and I might even seek out the original stories that inspired Hamilton.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

Title: Fall for Anything
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub. Date: December 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Grief, Suicide, Love, Lies, Secrets
Pages: 240
Description (from arc):
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, 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.

Courtney Summers is the Queen of Mean; she holds hold court over characters that readers love to hate... and just plain love. Readers are well aware that Summers can write a compelling mean girl, but, with FALL FOR ANYTHING, she shows us that she can write vulnerable and broken with just as much skill.

I quickly realized that Eddie wasn't anything like Summers' previous two main characters, Parker and Regina. Eddie has never dated the most popular guy in school, she doesn't bully, and, most notably, she doesn't  hide her pain and vulnerability behind a mean exterior. She's had one best friend, Milo, for years, and, except for the occasional girlfriend, it's them against the world. That is, until her father commits suicide, Milo refuses to talk about what happened that fateful night, and Eddie meets Culler Evans.

Eddie's quest to find the reason for father's sudden death is painfully sad and incredibly moving. The novel begins "My hands are dying" and this line stayed with me throughout the novel. Since the night her father died, of which she only has a hazy, incomplete memory, Eddie does not feel alive. She constantly analyzes her father's actions, his words, his life, looking for the reason behind his departure. And when Culler Evans, her father's student whom she's never met, reaches out to her, she holds on for dear life because he's the only person who makes her feels alive. For the first time, something and someone has come between Eddie and Milo, despite the fact that Eddie might need Milo now more than ever.

I'll openly admit that I love everything I've read by Summers, so maybe my opinion regarding this novel is biased... or maybe, my love for her previous novels, CRACKED UP TO BE and SOME GIRLS ARE, and newfound adoration for FALL FOR ANYTHING, offers proof of just how wonderful her stories and characters are and will convince you to pick up these titles for your own collection.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Dark Song by Gail Giles

I have one slightly used arc of DARK SONG for a lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

(1) arc of DARK SONG

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.
+5 Comment on my review of DARK SONG.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+1 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated!

Contest will close November 22nd, 2010. Open Internationally!

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Character Interview: Rosetta from Freefall by Mindi Scott!

I think it's clear that I'm a huge supporter or Mindi Scott and her debut novel, FREEFALL, so I'm very excited to share an interview with one of the main characters, Rosetta.

Rosetta is, arguably, my favorite character. From her first appearance in the novel I was intrigued... As the novel progresses we learn quite a bit about her past, especially how it intertwines with Seth's life and past, but I liked her so much that I almost wished she had her own novel.

The Interview

Describe yourself in 5 words or less.
Neurotic, quirky golf girl.

Your first actual conversation with Seth left much to be desired. Your next encounter consisted of him almost running you over. With a car. What made you give him a third chance?
Ha! Well, not giving him a chance wasn’t a true option since we got stuck working together. I realized, though, that while he probably deserved for me to dislike him for the things he’d said and done, the main reason I was upset was simply that he wasn’t quite who I’d imagined him to be. I was comparing the real Seth McCoy with someone who didn’t exist. And that wasn’t fair at all.

You grow closer to Seth while in Interpersonal Communications together. Seth takes the class for an easy A, but why did you choose the subject?
Honestly, the guidance counselor chose it for me. She told me it was going to look SO great on my transcripts. About five minutes into the class I figured out that she’d really just wanted to put me into a situation where I’d have to talk to people. She’s a tricky one, that Ms. Naylor!

Seth spends quite a bit of time with Kendall, who used to live next door and dated his late best friend, Isaac. What’s your stance on Kendall… and Kendall and Seth’s relationship?
Kendall is a very in-your-face kind of girl and we don’t have much in common. And Seth and Kendall? Well, that’s another example of my expectations and reality not matching up. Kendall is a lot to have to get used to . . .

On more than one occasion, when Seth is trying to find you, he discovers you at the club playing solitary golf. What draws you to golf?
As the story goes, I was swinging toy golf clubs before I could walk. So that’s why I first got into it—because it’s always been a huge thing for my family. It’s a really great sport, though! It’s an awesome challenge, you can play alone or with someone—whatever you feel like—and it all happens outdoors with beautiful surroundings. What could be better than that?

Be sure to check out my review of FREEFALL here and my interview with Mindi Scott here. Sounds like something you'd like to read? You can enter to win a copy here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Dark Song by Gail Giles

Title: Dark Song
Author: Gail Giles
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Pub. Date: 9.7.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Manipulation, Family, Relationships, Lies, Secrets
Pages: 304
Description (from GoodReads):
Mark said he heard the dark song when he creeped houses. The song the predator's heart sings when it hears the heart of the prey. I heard it now. Mark said it had always been in me. Lurking. Waiting for me to hear.

Ames is not the person she was a few months ago. Her father lost his job, and her family is crumbling apart. Now, all she has is Marc. Marc, who loves her more than anything. Marc, who owns a gun collection. And he'll stop at nothing--even using his guns--to get what he wants. Ames feels her parents have betrayed her with their lies and self-absorption, but is she prepared to make the ultimate betrayal against them?

Gail Giles' DARK SONG is not a horror novel, but it is one of the scariest novels I've ever read. It wasn't ghosts or ghouls that kept my eyes from closing, it was the idea of a girl being so easily manipulated by such a creepy, sinister man.

I had a difficult time with the main character. Ames' is in turmoil... her parents, who she blindly trusted, have been keeping some huge secrets and she lashes out in response. I understand this to a point, but I felt like she just took it too far. As far as I could tell, her biggest loss was her lifestyle, which would be a shock, but not impossible to adapt to. I expected more from her, not only because she's a young adult, but because she's an older sister. She felt deeply betrayed, I get that,  but, in my mind, it doesn't excuse her reckless, immature behavior, especially when it put her sister at risk.

I think it's natural - and important - that I didn't like Ames, but it worries me that I still lacked any positive regard for her by the end of the novel. Perhaps this was due, in part, to my unwillingness to believe that a girl could be so easily played. The realist within knows that this scenario has happened in real life, but it's a terrifying thought. Ames is, in part, a victim, but I cannot bring myself to sympathize.

Marc's character was remarkably well written. His manipulation of Ames is clear to the reader, but Ames is completely oblivious. It was horrifying to watch the story unfold... to see just how close Ames comes to giving into his twisted idea of right and wrong. I wanted to believe she'd break free of his control, but I wasn't sure she would have the strength. 

It was Marc, and his ability to make my skin crawl, that made DARK SONG memorable. It isn't something I'd reread - I'm not sure I can actually bring myself to witness the story again - but I don't regret reading it and I'd be willing to read more by Giles in the future.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cover of the Week (25)

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

Clean by Amy Reed
August 2011
Description (from GoodReads):
Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.

Pretty, pretty cover. I love the simplicity and the bright yellow used for the title. The model's expression is both sad and defeated... which is fitting, judging by the description.

And, honestly, besides the gorgeous cover, I added this book to my tbr pile because it's on Courtney Summers' tbr pile and she has great taste in books.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

Rosemary Graham and Penguin are offering one finished copy of STALKER GIRL to a lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

(1) finished copy of STALKER GIRL

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of STALKER GIRL or the interview with Rosemary. (One 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.
+2 Comment on the other post (either review or interview).
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
+1 Link this contest on your sidebar, in a post, or on FB. (Leave a link.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated!

Contest will close November 17th, 2010. Open to the US addresses only!

Good luck!

Interview: Rosemary Graham (Author of Stalker Girl!)

Rosemary Graham's STALKER GIRL is one of my favorite 2010 Contemporary YAs, so I was very excited to ask her a few questions about the novel. In addition to the interview, be sure to check out my review of the novel, here.

A Brief Bio

Rosemary Graham is the author of Stalker Girl, as well as Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and My Not-So-Terrible Time at the Hippie Hotel. Her books have been among the International Reading Association “Young Adults’ Choices,” the Chicago Public Library’s “Best of the Best,” and the New York Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age.” Her essays and commentaries have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Santa Monica Review, and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” She teaches English and Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California and lives in Berkeley with her husband, the writer Kevin Griffin, and their daughter.

The Interview

Give a short statement describing STALKER GIRL.
Broken-hearted girl learns that her ex—her first and only love--has found someone new just a few short weeks after they’ve broken up. Who wouldn’t be curious?

Carly’s still hoping that Brian will come back to her when she hears—directly from him—that there’s a new girl in his life. The first thing Carly does after hearing this news is look up the new girl—Taylor—on line. But Carly’s curiosity is only made worse by the information she picks up from Facebook and other Internet sources. She decides she needs to see the new girl live and in-person. Then—she tells herself—she’ll put it all behind her. Each step Carly takes to satisfy her curiosity only makes things worse. Soon, she’s behaving in ways that lead a popular blogger to dub her “Little Miss Psycho.”

Was there a particular story or idea that influenced the writing of STALKER GIRL?
I “saw” Carly before I knew what her story would be. I imagined her sitting in a cafĂ©, watching another girl her age wondering what it would be like to be that other girl, wishing she could be that other girl. I wanted to explore the way human beings are always comparing ourselves to others, thinking we come up short. One of my favorite reviews of STALKER GIRL (from Caught in the Carousel) says it’s a “story about how we always seem to be chasing the parts of ourselves that we think are missing.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

I was surprised at how easily I could identify with Carly; was it a challenge to see the situation from Carly’s point-of-view?
No, it wasn’t hard at all. A line printed on the back cover of STALKER GIRL goes, “There’s a little stalker in all of us.” A high school student said this to me when I visited her school to talk about the book. That statement led to a debate—girls versus boys—about who was more likely to behave stalkerishly (not a word, people, don’t use it in your book reports!). The boys said girls, the girls said the boys. But I think we’re all capable of stepping over that line between interest and obsession.

Notice how I keep speaking in generalities about all of humanity? Thereby avoiding the opportunity to incriminate or humiliate myself? 

Carly is not a crazy person. I felt like her obsession and subsequent behavior would have been kept in check if she would have had someone to confide in and a few other details had been changed. Do you think there are aspects of an individual’s life and personality that can amplify a similar situation that might otherwise be prevented?
Absolutely. I start the second part of the novel with the words “She wasn’t always like this” in order to get readers thinking about how Carly’s circumstances have contributed to her actions. This is why she’s so obsessed with Brian’s new girlfriend, Taylor. From the outside at least, Taylor appears to have everything Carly doesn’t: the boy, the cool mom, the great house, money and just enough fame. Carly is a fairly happy person, but she’s experienced a lot of loss and so when she loses the best thing that’s happened to her in a long time—Brian—she goes a little nuts. But she is not a crazy person. She is doing crazy things, but she’s not mentally ill.

As you wrote, did you have a specific message in mind, regardless of the message readers ultimately end up taking from the novel?
I love the title of Peter Cameron’s novel, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You. I had a message something like this in mind. Carly wasn’t always like this and she won’t always be like this. While it would have been great if Carly had confided in someone about what was really going on in her life, if she had, I wouldn’t have a novel here. But more than that, I do think that there will come a point in Carly’s life when she will look back on her actions and be able to understand them far better than she can currently. And she won’t be ashamed of her actions. She’ll have empathy for the girl she was.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Ah. Well. I love reading, too. But I kind of do it for a living. (My day job is English Professor) so I don’t think it counts.

I guess my hiding spot is UNDER WATER. Three, four or five days a week, I start my day with a one-mile swim. (After coffee!) Things don’t seem to bother me as much when I’m propelling myself through water. Luckily, I can swim outdoors all year round here in Northern California. I love to swim in the rain.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review: The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Title: The Ivy
Author(s): Lauren Kunze & Rina Onur
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pub. Date: 8.31.2010
Genre: Contemporary
Keywords: Ivy League, Frienship, Love, Relationships, Reinvention
Pages: 320
Description (from GoodReads):
Freshman year at Harvard--glamorous parties, blossoming friendships, steamy romances, and scandalous secrets. Skip the campus tour and get right to the good stuff: classes are for scoping guys (and their Facebook profiles), not taking notes. The library is for study dates (the medieval history stacks get a lot of action), not studying. And success is a 4.0 GPA... plus getting into the most exclusive parties. How will Callie--a California girl with brains, beauty, and big dreams--and her three roommates survive?

Get admitted to The Ivy, the first book in a provocative new series about the world of the Ivy League.

THE IVY may not be the most accurate portrayal of freshman year at University, but that's besides the point: Rina Onur and Lauren Kunze fully succeeded in writing a fun, dramatic, boy-filled novel that I kept me distracted for hours.

While THE IVY exaggerated some aspects of college life, there were definitely situations that happen on campuses across the country. For me, this novel was a perfect balance of reality and fiction - too much reality would be horribly boring, too much fiction and I wouldn't have related to the characters. Every time I stumbled across a phrase or situation I recognized, like moving into the dorms or Thirsty Thursday, a little lightbulb popped on and I was pulled just a bit deeper into the story.

I honestly can't discuss this book without mentioning that there are many, many boys within its pages. Good looking boys, I might add. This fact may not pull in those male readers, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to seeing quite a few of those boys in book two. *daydreams*

Speaking of boys, this book definitely has a romantic plot line... or two... or three. The main character is apparently a boy magnet and is never without at least one admirer. Best of all, being such a boy magnet allows for different types of romance... there's a tension-charged relationship and a sweet relationship. Something for everyone!

THE IVY may not be a new or revolutionary concept for a novel, but Onur and Kunze did a phenomenal job with this familiar plot and I, for one, will be reading any subsequent novels. THE IVY is relateable, despite some of the far-fetched material, and extremely amusing!

Grade: A

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cover of the Week (24)

Cover of the Week is a weekly feature at The Hiding Spot, in which I share a cover that gives me that swoony feeling.
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Description (from GoodReads):
Seventeen-year-old Willemina Hammond thinks it'll be simple to assume a new identity far away in Indian Territory. Anything would be better than laboring on her mother's failing farm in Tennessee. "Borrowing" the credentials of a local schoolteacher, she secures a position at the Cherokee Female Seminary and eagerly sets out toward an easier life in the summer of 1896.

But the Seminary is not what Willie expected. It's more like a castle than a school, and it houses refined young ladies who couldn't be less like the rustic natives she imagined. Divided by prejudice, the school community still reels from the recent murder of a mixed-blood student by a spurned full-blood suitor. Spooky noises, cold spots, and violent accidents have convinced the students that the dead girl haunts them. All this makes for an uphill battle as Willie struggles to establish control over her high-strung pupils.

To make matters worse, the ghost seems to be reaching out to her, and its communications are growing more frequent and intense. Willie determines to learn more about the girl's death, thinking it the only way to quiet the angry spirit. But the more she learns, the more difficult it is to maintain her secret identity. And the closer she gets to unraveling the secrets behind the murder, the closer she is to becoming a victim herself.

I like that the cover model is nearly transparent... I'm assuming she the ghost referred to in the description of THE REVENANT. I also like the bright blue used for the title and the author's name.

THE REVENENANT sounds like a spooky, traditional ghost story. I'm sure there's a unique twist in there somewhere, but I'm liking that the description makes it sound like one of the ghost stories I used to read in elementary school.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Hunger (Horseman of the Apocalypse #1)
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher: Harcourt Graphia
Pub. Date: 10.18.2010
Genre: Realistic YA
Keywords: Famine, Eating Disorders, Apocalypse
Pages: 180
Description (from GoodReads):
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

Wow. I'm impressed by Jackie Morse Kessler's HUNGER. I expected a dark novel, but, while the subject matter is definitely intense, Kessler successfully wove humor and lighter elements into the story.

I was most taken by Kessler's characterization of Death, Famine, War, and the other Horseman. Not only are Kessler's depictions a welcome change from the stereotypical descriptions, I was surprised at how quickly my imagination adopted the unique characters... I actually find it comforting. Death dons "old-fashioned Converse high tops, untied" and has long blonde hair and a sexy scruff. I'd much rather imagine Death as a philosophical rockstar in Chucks than a scary figure cloaked in black.

HUNGER follows Lisabeth Lewis as she assumes the role of Famine and defies the laws of time and space to travel the world and witness the horrifying effects of hunger. Lisa struggles with an eating disorder, which is, of course, apparent to the reader and Lisa's friends and family while she's in complete denial. Despite the fantastical aspect of HUNGER, I found Kessler's portrayal of a young girl struggling with anorexia to ring true. The Author's Note mentions Kessler's experience with her own eating disorder as well as a close friend's, and her intimate knowledge of the subject matter is apparent in Lisabeth's actions and thoughts.

I'll definitely be reading the next three Horseman novels - Rage and Loss are the aptly named second and third installments - and I may even find myself looking into Kessler's adult titles.

Grade: A

Friday, October 8, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Where the Truth Lies!

Bloomsbury is offering one finished copy of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES to one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

(1) finished copy of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (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.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated!

Contest will close November 10th, 2010. Open to the US addresses only!

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

Title: Where the Truth Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 9.28.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Family, Secrets, Lies, Boarding School, Love, Relationships
Pages: 320
Description (from arc):
Between the past and the future... Between pain and forgiveness... Between the ones you know and the ones you love... Is where the truth lies.
On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is headmaster. But below the surface, Emily is suffering from devastating nightmares about either fire or water, and nobody knows why.
When the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, Emily is immediately swept away - but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren't quite what they seem in Emily's life. And as the lies she's been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmares; a journey that will lead her to question everything she once thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past. This companion novel to Warman's critically acclaimed Breathless proves that sometimes the biggest lies you tell are for the ones you love the most.

Lately I've been reading a lot of books that are good, but not great. All that changed with WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. Jessica Warman had me totally and completely engrossed in Emily's story. I even spent dinner explaining to a patient friend what was happening in Emily's life - how compelling, yet shady I found the curiously named Del Sugar, my hypotheses about the secrets the various characters were hiding, and my fears regarding how the novel would end. I was, in short, consumed.

Poor Emily... she just can't get a break. There were very few times when I could confidently say that I knew what was going to happen next... and half of those times I still wasn't right. The more I read, the less I'm surprised by novels. That is, I feel that I've become more adept at noticing small details and interpreting foreshadowing, which means that I usually have a basic idea of how the novel will end. With WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, I honestly thought I knew where the clues were leading, but I hadn't even started to imagine all the lies and twists that were so intricately knotted around Emily and her past.

It almost seems like it'd be easy to judge Emily... for the reader to shake her head and think sadly, she was warned. But I felt as though I was there with Emily... and I was thinking, right along with her, but.... But they don't know him. But they don't know me. They just don't know. I know. And I understood her choices... her fears. Life is not simple and that fact is abundantly clear as Emily's story progresses.

Relationships are an important part of this novel. What makes a family? A best friend? A boyfriend? A true love? A mother? Yet none of these ideas are defined. Instead they are given a vague sort of shape, that can shift to fit to even the most unexpected individual... or the person you should have expected all along.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is a companion novel, but it isn't necessary to have read BREATHLESS before delving into this story. But I can assure you that you will want to have both novels on hand. You won't want to leave behind Warman's gorgeous writing... and, regardless, her characters will refuse to let you go.

Grade: A+

Cover Comments:
An absolutely perfect fit! Gorgeous.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cover of the Week (23)

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

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Simon Pulse, 1.4.2011
Description (from GoodReads):
Happiness is a bloody knife.

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities....

I love that this cover is almost cute, until you notice the blood. Pastel colors and little teacups, then the rickety, sinister title font.

BLEEDING VIOLET was one of my favorite 2010 novels and I fully expect SLICE OF CHERRY to make the 2011 list. Dia Reeves' debut novel was incredibly twisted and, based on the description, this next novel has the potential to be as well - maybe even more so. I'm a fan of Showtime's DEXTER, and was just pondering how I'm able to find myself relating to a serial killer... I'm curious to see whether the two sisters in SLICE OF CHERRY inspire the same response... or something else entirely.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Contest: Win a copy of Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin!

Bloomsbury is offering one finished copy of LOW RED MOON to one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

(1) finished copy of LOW RED MOON

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of LOW RED MOON (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.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated!

Contest will close November 5th, 2010. Open to the US addresses only!

Good luck!

Review: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Title: Low Red Moon
Author: Ivy Devlin
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 9.14.2010
Genre: Paranormal YA
Keywords: Grief, Murder, Love, Family, Loss, Werewolves
Pages: 256
Description (from arc):
Her parents are dead. She can't remember what happened. And now she's in love with the most dangerous creature in the forest.

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver - deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together.

Then Avery meets the new boy in school - Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. Ben is a werewolf, but Avery trusts him - at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.

Oddly, LOW RED MOON was both more and less than I had expected.

I started the novel thinking that the paranormal aspects would be the focus, but quickly found that this was not the case. From early on in the novel the reader knows that Ben is a werewolf. To be honest, the reader actually knows as soon as they read the description. I assumed, since this fact is clearly pointed out, it would be a much bigger focus. Instead, this element is almost unnecessary. This novel could have had the same ending without anything paranormal occurring. I would have appreciated more backstory and lore regarding this aspect of the novel.

I was much more impressed by the rest of LOW RED MOON. In my opinion, Avery's grief ended up being the main focus. Sometimes I felt like it was almost too much of a focus... I sometimes find it frustrating when reading novels with strong themes of loss and grief. I understand why Avery would spend so much time grieving - her parents were just brutally murdered - but I felt that it made much of the novel repetitive, especially when she was trying to recall what happened that night. She never really moved past having seen "a flash of silver" that was "inhuman." I felt like that element could have been further developed...

I found the romance to be surprisingly intense. Most of the novel seemed to move at a slow pace, but not when it came to Ben and Avery. Those passages are what kept my interest when it occassionally flagged. I wish the relationship and why they felt so strongly for one another would have been explained in more detail. I felt like I was missing some key information.

Overall, LOW RED MOON was a good mystery with a passionate romance and a dash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Not the best, but it could've been. I'd definitely read more from Ivy Devlin, but, in her next novel, I hope to see greater exploration of the paranormal elements!

Grade: B-

For a chance to win your own copy of LOW RED MOON, go here.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Title Unveiling: The Sequel to Sophie Jordan's FIRELIGHT is...

I loved Sophie Jordan's YA debut, FIRELIGHT, and I found the title to be a perfect fit. Naturally, I've been wondering what the second installment will be titled... and whether it will fit as well as the first.


IT DOES! I'm happy to announce that the title of FIRELIGHT's highly anticipated sequel will be:

VANISH: A Firelight Novel

And this is what Sophie had to say about VANISH ... (and the origins of the title):

"This title is actually inspired from a line I wrote in the second Firelight novel. My editors kindly pointed it out to me and suggested it. "Vanish" is just one of those words I found myself typing more than once as I wrote the book. Those of you who've read FIRELIGHT and recall the ending might also have an idea what motivated the title choice. The title speaks to Jacinda's state, both physically and emotionally, through many points of the second Firelight novel ... and it also hints at a major twist you'll learn upon reading the very beginning VANISH.

Be prepared for more romance, suspense and adventure as Jacinda's story continues in VANISH!"

Thoughts? Comments?

Those who comment on this post will be entered
 to win some fun FIRELIGHT related swag - some signed!

Those of you who spread the word about VANISH and this post
will get an extra entry... just leave me a link to
your tweet, post, or FB status!

Now we just have to wait for the cover unveiling!! I've got high hopes for that as well!

Contest: Win a copy of Freefall!

I have a finished, signed copy of FREEFALL for one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

(1) finished, signed copy of FREEFALL

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on either my review of FREEFALL or interview with Mindi. (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.)
+1 Follow Mindi on Twitter (@mindi_scott)

Contest will close October 31st, 2010. Open Internationally!

Good luck!