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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Interview: Maurissa Guibord (Author of Warped)!

Today author Melissa Guibord visits The Hiding Spot to chat about her debut novel, WARPED! Stay tuned for my review and a chance to win a copy of this fantastic novel!

Give a short statement describing WARPED. 
Warped is the story of a modern-day girl from Maine who discovers the secret woven within an ancient unicorn tapestry. When Tessa pulls a dangling silver thread from the tapestry she begins to unravel a dangerous mystery, hidden for five hundred years. Along the way she meets Will de Chaucy, a handsome (though sometimes irritating) young nobleman from the sixteenth century, an evil sorceress and oh yeah, a vicious hell-hound or two.

Was there a particular story or idea that inspired the writing of WARPED? 
Warped was inspired by the beauty, mystery and lore of the famous unicorn tapestries that are housed in the Cloisters Museum in New York City. The tapestries date back to the early sixteenth century and depict various stages in the hunt for a unicorn. According to legend, a unicorn can only be lured to capture by a young maiden, a virgin. Unicorns are also said to have the mythic quality of immortality. All these elements- the physical nature of weaving, magic, and the capture of a beautiful wild creature came together, nagged at me, and suggested a story.

As you wrote, did you have a specific message in mind, regardless of the message readers ultimately end up taking from the novel? 
 The theme of fate or destiny runs throughout the story. In particular- are we in control of our own? This is a question that my main character is confronted with in a very scary way. Tessa likes to believe (as we all probably do) that she’s in control of her life- that she’s in charge of her future. But soon things start to happen that she has no control over-and she learns in fact, that someone else is pulling the strings.

What are you currently working on? 
I’m working on a story about a girl who comes to an island off the coast of Maine called Trespass Island. On the surface it seems like a quiet, private community but she soon learns that nothing is as it seems. The island is in fact, home to two communities. One is human, the other…not.

Name a novel that had a distinctly influenced you (your life, your writing, your attitudes, or something of that nature) and explain.
I loved the books of Mary Stewart when I was a teen. The combination of romance and gothic mystery was irresistible. I loved in particular This Rough Magic. I think her style definitely influenced me- I was always able to picture the atmosphere and scenery of her settings so distinctly. It made me feel like I had traveled to those exotic places myself. The books also have very witty dialogue.

My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 
I love rereading old favorite books from the classics as an escape. It’s like hearing the voice of an old friend. Agatha Christie is particularly comforting to me, as is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen. I enjoy the work of many living writers of course- but I would have to say these great ones of the past are my hiding spot.

Thanks for inviting me Sara!

Thanks, Maurissa! I'm eagerly awaiting that next novel...! :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 2.8.2011
Genre: YA
Keywords: Mystery, OCD, Relationships, Grief, Secrets, Murder
Pages: 233
Description (from Goodreads): 
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

I adored Lisa McMann's first three novels, WAKE, FADE, and GONE, but had no idea what to expect of CRYER'S CROSS. The verse is absent, but there is still a certain cadence to the writing that identifies it as a McMann novel... It's entirely different from her first three, but no less impressive. 

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this novel is the main character's OCD and the role it plays. To my knowledge, there aren't very many YA books that deal with OCD and there definitely aren't any that handle it this particular way. Kendall's disorder is both a blessing and a curse and McMann sends this message in an entirely new, brilliant way.

CRYER'S CROSS has a sinister feel, but it's not so scary that it'll keep you up at night. Instead, it's more of a slow, steady buildup to the revelations at the end of the novel... When I reached that point, all I could say was 'Wow.' For me, the novel reached it's most intense near the very end, but it wouldn't have packed the same punch if not for the slow journey to that point.

I'll admit that I still favor McMann's trilogy over CRYER'S CROSS, but this novel proves that she's fully capable of doing something completely different and still blow readers away. I'll definitely be reading McMann's next novel, THE UNWANTEDS... I'm curious to see what she'll show readers next!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Win a copy of CLARITY by Kim Harrington!

Kim Harrington's CLARITY is a mysterious, fast paced debut novel... and a must read! Luckily, I have a finished copies of the novel for two lucky winners at The Hiding Spot!

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

(1) hardcover copy of CLARITY for 2 winners

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 Comment on my review of CLARITY.
+1 Tweet this contest. (Leave a link.)
Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it's always appreciated!

Contest will close April 1st, 2011. Open to the US & Canada only! You must be age 13 or older to enter.

Good luck!

Friday, March 11, 2011

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins!

Many of who read The Hiding Spot are aware that I'm totally and completely in love with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS... I adored it so much that I'm unable to review it, but I still encourage everyone I know to have a copy at home with them. Stephanie Perkins' debut is kind of like one of those essentials that everyone needs in their house... like water... and food... and things like that. Yup. Water, food, and ANNA. I think that's all you really need.

Stephanie recently released the cover for her next novel LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR - and I loooves it so much!


For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.
When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


That pretty much sums up my feelings at the moment.

For more info, check out Steph's blog!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington

Title: Clarity
Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic/Point
Pub. Date: 3.1.2011
Genre: Paranormal YA
Keywords: Psychic Powers, Murder, Mystery, Family, Romance
Pages: 242
Description (from Goodreads):

When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?
This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.
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 a certain 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?

CLARITY starts with a bang - literally. Kim Harrington doesn't waste any time with introductions, instead she starts at the end, with Clare in a sticky situation involving a gun and someone who's definitely not afraid to use it. From there, Harrington takes the reader back to the beginning, slowing things down and introducing a colorful cast of characters, but by the that point the reader is hooked and they uncover how Clare finds herself in this rather unfortunate situation.

I really liked the pacing of CLARITY. It clipped along at a fairly rapid pace, but I never felt like I was missing anything or like I was being pushed towards a conclusion. At less than 250 pages, Harrington successfully packs in romance, mystery, and action, which doesn't leave a lot of down time for Clare... or the reader. The only negative is that I didn't particularly want to devour this novel as quickly as I did... it makes the wait for book two seem even longer.

I thought the mystery element was well executed. It was fairly obvious that the main suspect wasn't the actual killer, but I took me quite some time to figure out who actually did the deed. I definitely knew who I didn't want the killer to be... 

Apparently boys aren't dissuaded by Clare's unique abilities because they're all over her. Each of them have something different to offer Clare in terms of personality, but they all seem to have one common trait: good looks. I know who I think Clare should choose - I love "smoldering detectives" - and I'm really hoping she'll see things my way in the next installment, PERCEPTION.

CLARITY is a action packed debut and has landed Harrington's upcoming novels, including the sequel, PERCEPTION, on my list of must reads. Don't miss this action packed first installment to what could easily shape up to be a new paranormal series favorite for many YA readers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Books That Are Too Good To Review

Maybe it's just me, but occasionally I read a book that has such a profound effect on me that I simply cannot find the words to review it properly. I can babble incoherently. I can point out a passage and say "SEE!? LOOK AT THIS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY I CAN ONLY TALK IN CAPS RIGHT NOW??" I can hand it to strangers in the bookstore and say "You need to read this. What? No, we don't know each other... Um. Yeah." I can sit in a comatose state at dinner until my friends ask me what's wrong and I'll launch into a long drawn out story about this book and how it's taken over my brain and I can't stop thinking about it. 

But I can't review it.

Which is really a shame because it's these books that leave me speechless that I want others to read the most. I'm going to try to actually review these books... somehow... but, in the meantime, I'll share a few of them here. I might not be able to find the words to explain why you should read these books, but I'm asking you to trust me when I say that you should. You really, really should.

1. JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
Each time I read this book, I vow that I'll review it. It still hasn't happened. Usually books don't make me cry, but this one makes me sob so freaking hard. It's been my favorite book since the first time I read it.

2. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson
I literally clapped my hands when I finished reading this book. I thought to myself THIS is a book. THIS is why I read. I then ran across the hall to my best friend's room and forced her to read it. Right then. She thought I was crazy, but agreed it was absolutely brilliant.

3. BROKEN SOUP by Jenny Valentine
I actually did review this one once. Horribly. I love the whole idea of this book, the characters, the ending, the title... Gorgeous novel.

4. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
I've read this book multiple times... I'm pretty sure I was the first blogger to actually read it, long before the blogger mailings occurred... but I STILL haven't reviewed it. I just can't. There are a bajillion things to say about it, but I can't find the right words... none of them are good enough. This is another book I forced upon my best friend... she adored it and I has taken copy on deployment to Afghanistan to keep her company.

5. STAY by Deb Caletti
This is the newest addition to the list. I finished it today and I'm already trying to figure out what I would say in my review... I've got time to figure it out, since it doesn't release until April, but I fear it will be relegated to the "Too Good to Review" pile... I don't want this to happen, so I've bookmarked pages and passages to help focus my thoughts. I'm not sure it's working. This novel was so powerful, so absolutely beautiful...

Has anyone else had issues with review books they love? How do you focus your thoughts into something coherent? Tips and advice are always appreciated! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Wishful Thinking by Alexandra Bullen

Title: Wishful Thinking
Author: Alexandra Bullen
Publisher: Scholastic/Point
Pub. Date: 1.1.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Wishes, Magic, Time Travel, Romance, Family
Pages: 336
Description (from Goodreads):

If you could wish for a different life, would you? What if that life changed everything you thought was real?
Adopted as a baby, Hazel Snow has always been alone. She's never belonged anywhere--and has always yearned to know the truth about where she comes from. So when she receives three stunning, enchanted dresses--each with the power to grant one wish--Hazel wishes to know her mother. Transported to a time and place she couldn't have imagined, Hazel finds herself living an alternate life--a life with the mother she never knew.
Over the course of one amazing, miraculous summer, Hazel finds her home, falls in love, and forms an unexpected friendship. But will her search to uncover her past forever alter her future?

I started WISHFUL THINKING with no expectations, except for the hope that it would be a relatively light and quick read, as I wasn't in the mood for something that would require deep thinking or tear my heart to pieces. Thankfully, Bullen's sophomore offering did neither.

Even though I wasn't expecting to not like it, I was still surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was an exceptionally fast read, but I didn't feel like the story was missing anything and the characters were all well developed.

Unfortunately, WISHFUL THINKING was a bit predictable, but that didn't ruin the novel for me. Even though I knew what was going to happen, watching Hazel uncover these truths was still engaging. She was so set on her magical experience turning out a certain way that I couldn't help but be curious about how she would handle things when she realized that what you want, isn't always what you get... and, most of the time, you're better off with the latter.

And there is a rather adorable romantic element to the story as well... And there's has a twist, which keeps things interesting.

I'll be picking up WISH, Bullen's debut, at some point to see how the dresses came to land in Hazel's deserving arms. And, please note, that I had no problem following the story line having not read WISH prior to WISHFUL THINKING.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Top Ten Books I Just HAD to Buy... But Are Still Sitting on My Bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the blog The Broke and the Bookish. To participate in the meme, go here.

1. THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova
I bought this in hc 5 years ago... but still haven't read it.

2. FORTUNE AND FATE by Sharon Shinn


4. THE IRON KING by Julie Kagawa

5. LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld

6. TITHE by Holly Black

7. SHADE'S CHILDREN by Garth Nix

9. STORM GLASS by Maria V. Snyder

10. THE BOYFRIEND LIST by E. Lockhart