Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Gray Wolfe Throne - Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date - September 20, 2011
Publisher - Hyperion
Age Group - 12 and up
Pages - 517
Series - Seven Realms 
Rating - 4.5/5

Summary - Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisaana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. 

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough. 

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

Review - (This one is coming from my brother. You may or may not remember, but he also reviewed the first novel in this series. You can find that here.
As I have read this series, I have come to love the characters. Cinda does an amazing job portraying the emotions and struggles, pulling in your attention, and holding it to the very end. 


This book was a great culmination of the events taking place in the queendom of Fellsmarch. As the Princess Heir, Raisa ana' Marianna deals with love and general teenage issues, she must also deal with the repercussions of her previous actions in the queendom, and events unfolding before her, on top of avoiding various attempts on her life.


The other main character, Han Alister, also must deal with struggles and hardships. Anything from his deep feelings for the princess, to the untraveled territory of political matters, keeps him in a whirlwind of uncertainty and trouble.


This book did a great job at balancing the two sides of the story, moving back and forth between the two, but never too frequently to be confusing, but never too far apart as to be a bore. As events began to unfold, the story does a great job at drawing you in, and keeping you there to the very end. From the intrigue of romance, to the suspense of assassination attempts. The book was thoroughly enjoyable. 


As this chapter in the series came to a close, the events began to slow, and became fairly predictable. Without a significant twist, or event, the ending came up a little short on satisfaction, but the remainder has the potential to make you want more. 


Cover - 5


Plot - 4


Characters - 5


Writing - 5


Ending - 3

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

Release Date - August 2, 2011
Publisher - Hyperion
Age Group - 12 to 18
Pages - 288
Rating 5/5

Summary - The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Review - The Near Witch was, to simply put it, AMAZING! From the first moment I picked this book up I didn't want to put it down. At first I didn't know why. I remember thinking, "why am I  so into this? Nothing has even happened."
I'll tell you what happened, Ms. Victoria Schwab has made one amazing novel that everyone should read.

Let me start off by talking about the cover. Its not a pop out, look at me cover, but it is very pretty and does tie into the story.

On to the plot. It was original, for me. I can say I have never read a book like this one. As I said before I was hooked from page one and it kept me there through out the remainder. I don't think I once had a boring moment. Once it really got going, I had to know what was gonna happen next.

I definitely enjoyed all of the characters. they all had their own unique personality and made the story what it was. Without those I think the story wouldn't have been as enjoyable. The main character, Lexi, was amazing. I loved her kick- ass, heroine personality. But I did enjoy seeing her vulnerable side too. 

Victoria's writing.... The best thing I can say is I can't wait for whatever she has in store for us next. Her first novel was amazing and I am sure I will also enjoy anything else that she decides to write. 
Amazing book and I can't wait for more from Victoria. 

Cover - 5

Plot - 5

Characters - 5

Writing - 5

Ending - 5

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tempest Rising - Tracey Deebs

Release Date - May 10, 2011
Publisher - Walker Books for Young Readers
Age Group - Teen
Pages - 288
Rating - 5/5

Summary - Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.


Review - I don't even know how to begin this one, other than if you have it on your shelves get up and start reading it.  If you don't, go out and get a copy because it was amazing. This book made me feel things I never thought I would feel about it. 


The main character, Tempest, is forced to make a huge decision and I was shocked with the one that she made. I cried, I held my mouth and I didn't want to put this book down. I didn't want it to end! I don't think there was ever a part in this novel that I was bored with. 


There were parts along the plot that were slightly predictable, but in a good way. I loved how it slowly grew to its climax, peaked high and dropped. But it didn't stay down for long. Those last two pages shot it way back up, making the ending of this story great! It left me wanting to know more, but if there isn't another book, I would be okay with that too. 


I loved each and every character in this book. Especially Moku. He always made me smile. I was a little confused with how relationships formed and ended but by the end I didn't care. I wanted them to be where they were. 


As I was reading I didn't think I would read this book again, but after finishing and sitting here writing my review, I know I would. Tempest Rising has become one of my favorites that I think everyone needs to go out and read!


Cover - 4


Plot - 5


Characters - 5


Writing - 5


Ending - 10/5

Friday, June 10, 2011

Demonglass - Rachel Hawkins

Release Date - March 1, 2011 
Publisher - Hyperion Books
Age Group - 12 & up
Pages - 359
Rating - 5/5


Summary - Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Review -  I am completely speechless and quite irritated at the moment! How can it just end like that? I HATE cliffhangers! Ha kidding I cannot wait for the next book!!!


Ok so let me break it all down. The cover of Demonglass is gorgeous! Im not entirely sure how her outfits and the cat tie in but non-the-less I still love it.


Plot, Plot, where do I even begin? The plot thickens. LIke from chowder to stew! Bad simile, metaphore :) I was totally shocked with where Demonglass went! I was shocked from the very beginning. I gasped throughout the book and laughed so many times. So much happened and so much changed and I loved almost every second, GAH!! I cannot stress enough how much I cant wait for book three. 


We were introduced to some new characters and got to reunite with some old. Old relationships spark back up and then we get to see some new ones form. Where they are headed I dont know but I definitely cant wait to see. Especially after the way that Demonglass ended. 


If you have read Hex Hall and havent gotten to Demonglass, get out from in front of the screen and go find yourselves a copy. If you havent read Hex Hall, well then the things I am thinking cannot be repeated. Just kidding but really you all need to get out and get yoursleves a copy of these books. In my opinion they should be on everyones "MUST READ IN YOUR LIFETIME" list. 


Cover - 5
Plot - 5
Characters - 5
Writing - 5
Ending - 5

The A Circuit - Georgina Bloomberg & Catherine Hapka

Release Date - May 24, 2011 
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Age Group - 12 & up
Pages - 272
Rating - 

Summary - The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse shows. It's a world with its own rules and superprivileged lifestyles. Teens travel the circuit all year, showing horses that cost as much as some homes.
Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student—every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. She's used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barn's resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then there's Zara. She's the wild child of a famous rockstar, but she's ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?
Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

Review - I just want to start off by saying I was not able to finish this novel. I believe the only reason is because this novel talks a lot about horses specifically and I know absolutely nothing about them. Its hard for me to understand what I am reading and therefore I was not enjoying it.

If you know about horses then this is the book for you but if you dont know anything, like me, then there is a chance that you wont enjoy it either. But give it a try and see for yourself. You may be able to read around all the details.

Author Interview : Amalie Howard

Amalie Howard

Website | Twitter

Books
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Tell us about your debut novel, Bloodspell, and what readers can expect.

Readers can expect a multi-layered urban fantasy story, one that will transport them to different cities, and introduce them to a completely different world. When you're working in this type of genre, you have to have very interesting characters—ones that will stand out from the hundreds of other books of this ilk in the market today.
In Bloodspell, I think there's something for everyone in any of my characters. There's vulnerability, there's charm, there's arrogance, there's smarts, there's anger, there's humor.
My characters face a bunch of conflicts, similar to ones teens face today, like fitting in and being true to who you are, like love, like loss, and like fighting for what you believe in. This novel has a lot of very relevant messages for today's teenagers, and ones that aren't "in-your-face" messages. Readers will identify with most of the themes, and of course, they're all disguised within an engaging story. I think even a paranormal novel has to have some depth, and has to offer something for readers to chew on, leave them with something meaningful. I'd hope that Bloodspell does that.

You have traveled and lived all across the world, and you based a lot of the surroundings in your book on your college town in Maine. What made Waterville the perfect backdrop for the book?

 Maine is a very beautiful state, with so much open space, green forests and beautiful lakes. I love the fact that it's also so remote. From a supernatural perspective, it's cool because you can have any number of things happening right in your own backyard, and no one would be the wiser. Obviously I chose Waterville because it's where I spent four years of college, so I know the layout, and I wanted that kind of small town feel for the setting of Windsor Academy. I also didn't want a town that was too small, where if you were a vampire, most likely all your neighbors were definitely doing to know about it. ;)
The college I went to is on some very beautiful property, and a lot of those red-brick buildings and open green quads have stuck with me over the years. The locations  (Maine, New York, France) in Bloodspell all seemed to fit together really well. And you know what they say, “write what you know.” So I did.





You're a sucker for witches and vampires. Who do you think would win in a battle?

 Honestly as much as I love vampires with their super strength and speed (and hotness), I think a witch would win hands down … especially if they're Victoria. I mean, she's got the power of the magical world at her fingertips. As Victoria said so eloquently in the book, "I already fear for my life just because of who I am, you think adding a little inconsequential vampire to the equation will change any of that?” Yeah, she's feisty! A single word from her—and a vampire would be dust. Still, let's be realistic and talk about "normal" witches or warlocks. With any spell, it has to be directed at something/someone, so theoretically if a vampire can move quickly—like Christian—then he can certainly out-maneuver a magical opponent and turn the odds in his favor (i.e., the fight between Christian and Gabriel). So I guess my answer would be – Victoria, hands down. Any other witch/warlock against a vampire, you’ve got pretty even odds (give or take vampire age, etc.)


Your protaganist, Victoria Warrick, is strong, smart and undoubtedly different from her peers. How did you shape her character?

Victoria doesn't come across immediately as strong or smart. She's fragile, like most any teenage girls (especially with peer pressure and being different), but it takes a lot of strength to hide that fragility. It's like a bravado, a shell to keep from letting anyone in or getting hurt. Still, she's not easily cowed even though you can guess that she's endured years of pure high-school hell. Already different, she becomes even more so when she discovers what she is. She finds her true inner strength when she starts to come into her own. Not only does she have to deal with normal social pressures, she's also a witch whose blood can consume her in one second of doubt, one iota of weakness. So she has to deal with that, while trying to make friends and have a life. Let's not even consider the fact that the boy she likes is a vampire who has his own set of issues. So normal for her is like a pipe dream, but she still wants it, just like every other teen out there.
In Victoria's type of scenario, there are two ways you can go—give up and say, “I can't handle being this different,” or embrace who you are and rock it. Victoria is NOT giving up … she's not losing the life she's built for herself or her friends and family. I think that's a great message for anyone, teens especially. She takes the bull by the horns and doesn't let go. Is she scared? Of course. But facing her fear is part of finding that strength and courage that makes her take hold of who she is and say, “This is who I am, for better or for worse.”
I'm a pretty avid reader of books, young adult books especially, and I wanted her character to be strong but relatable, because her growth in the novel has to be believable. As a reader, you have to connect with her and be willing to be a part of her journey. It has to be something that any reader/teen can accomplish themselves, even if they're not the most powerful witch in the world.
Victoria is every-girl and no-girl at the same time. She's likeable, she's funny, she's smart, she has a lot of empathy, but she also makes mistakes and does stupid things sometimes. She's a normal person who evolves into someone extraordinary.


You suffered for years from anorexia and bulimia after losing your best friend and today talk to teens and parents about image issues. How did you overcome it? Did writing have anything to do with that?

I've talked to many teens and parents over the years in informal settings about eating disorders and image problems, especially after having come through it myself. In my case, I had already been suffering with image issues because I started attending a predominantly white college in a completely different country. It was a big culture shock; I wasn't blond or blue-eyed, I wasn't tall, and I certainly wasn't thin. I felt unattractive and helpless that I didn't fit in. And then I gained the requisite "freshman fifteen" my freshman year, and felt even less attractive. I began to diet, something I had never done.
When my friend died in a car accident one day before I left to spend my junior year in France, it felt like I had no control over anything in my life (like this very tiny person lost in a huge stormy ocean), so I clamped down on the one thing I could – food. Losing weight became cathartic for me. The skinnier I became, the stronger I felt. It was so consuming that I even became a vegan (no meat, no dairy). Obviously, it was unhealthy, but I felt like I was winning. I did write a lot of poetry during that time—a lot of angry and raw poetry that my French professor there advised me to burn—but writing wasn't the answer. Getting help, was. My turning point came when a doctor in France told me that I would have to be hospitalized. It was a wake-up call. When I returned to the States, I checked myself in for voluntary counseling. I was scared to go, scared to reveal my secrets and to unsheathe the horror that my life had become. But I went. My psychologist was amazing. She helped me to find answers on dealing with loss, and separated those from weight/image.
During that time, I really found myself. I found an inner strength I didn't know I had. I celebrated the things that made me different, and I used that fledgling confidence to build the foundation of the person I am today. This experience has given me a lot to talk—and write—about. My protagonist, Victoria, is faced with a huge "disorder," one that can consume her just as mine almost did, but she decides her own fate. She doesn't just sit back and let things take over—she fights for the person she must be, even in the face of overwhelming odds.


How was writing a novel different than, and similar to, writing for newspapers?

 Holy cow, it's way different. I wrote a story once, and my newspaper editor said, “OK, now we need to take the tone from you writing-for-readers-who-know-you to more of a journalistic voice.” She's a great editor, and the piece was perfect in the end. Writing a journalistic piece is a bit like homework. You take notes about something and you write an article. Writing a novel is much larger in scope and depth. You not only have to have a story with a plot, progression, and character development, but it also has to be something that your audience is going to want to read, and love. Plus a newspaper article is like around 500 hundred words, and a novel is 200 times that length!
Writing my novel got kick started when I went to the bookstore one day looking for a book. When I couldn’t find something that I hadn’t already read, I decided to write my own. I wasn’t daunted because I’d written enough short stories (especially about Christian in some form or another) to know that I had a book somewhere inside me.
So I got out my laptop and I just started writing until everything was out on the page, completely raw. I didn’t have an outline. I just had this image of a girl with this amazing power who is thrust into this scary supernatural world, and I ran with it. And here we are.

Out of the 18 countries you have visited – and eaten in – which has the best food, in your opinion?
 I've visited 141 cities in 18 countries, so it's hard to just pick one. If I had to choose, I'll probably get crushed for it because it's a little predictable, but I'd have to say France. I love, love, love French food. Some of it can be rich, but it's so perfectly proportioned with so many different complex tastes. Sweet or savory, it's heavenly. And I'm talking about something as simple as a baguette with jam to chicken in a savory white wine sauce. And let's not even get into desserts! A close second is Italy. I literally ate my way through Tuscany. Anyone who says pasta is a simple food really has no idea until they go there. Now you're getting me started, because I have to give a shout out to my Caribbean roots; the food is like an explosion of color and texture in your mouth, pretty much like the range of people who migrated from other parts of the world to live there. Eating Caribbean food is an experience in itself, because a lot of it isn't about the food, it's about the revelry that surrounds food. On a side note, I just came back from a month-long trip to Australia, and enjoyed a piece of steak at a restaurant that literally melted in my mouth. I was in taste-bud heaven. I know, I'm easy. I just love good food. It's like art appreciation – creative, beautifully presented, and consumed with gusto.

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The spell was simple …
Cruentus Protectum. Defend the Blood.
But what do you do if your blood is your enemy?
Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds—much less one that reveals she’s a witch with unimaginable power.
What’s more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own …
Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood’s deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: OyMG - Amy Fellner Dominy

Release Date - May 10, 2011
Publisher - Walker Books
Age Group - 12 & up
Pages - 256
Rating - 4/5

Summary - Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. After all, she’s been arguing with her Zeydeh (that’s grandfather in Yiddish) since she could talk. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she’s sure she can win the final tournament and a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot—literally. His name is Devon and whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she’s up for the challenge—until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship’s benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity be worth a shot at her dream?

Review - Let me just start off by saying OyMG was nothing like I thought it would be. I went into it not expecting to enjoy it but I did. It made me laugh so many times! And I found myself really enjoying Ellie, the main character. Just looking at the cover I made judgements that were really wrong. I felt this novel had a really strong message.

By the end of OyMG I was very very happy with Ellie and what she finally decided. And Devon. I loved everything about this book and Im finding it hard to put into words. I think I found myself skeptical in the beginning because I myself am not really a religious person but I loved how the main point behind the story was their religion.

One thing that was slightly off to me was the fact that ellie was only 114, but the was she acted and spoke came across as much older. Say 19 or 20, which was easier for me to relate to. Amy's writing made it hard for me to imagine her as my little sister, who is 14.

Overall I thouroughly enjoyed the novek and all its characters. Especially Zeydeh!!

I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a light quick read and someone with an open mind.

Cover - 4
Plot - 4
Characters - 5
Writing - 5
Ending - 5

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Post: Cara Chow

Today I have the honor of having Cara Chow, author or Bitter Melon, stopping by and talking about her most challenging experiences as a writer.


Website | Bitter Melon





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One of the most challenging and interesting experiences for me as awriter has been hearing others’ reactions to my work. 

I wish I could say that I have a thick skin, but I’ve never beena good liar.  One of my earliest memories of receiving criticism ismailing a rough draft of a story to my best friend when I was a teenager. I expected her to read it and tell me how great it was.  Instead, she sentback my manuscript riddled with line edits.  My friend is a very nice,very smart, and very generous person.  She was trying to help me, not hurtmy feelings.  But instead of reading her comments, I tossed the manuscriptinto the trash. 

Over twenty years later, I look back on this moment and wonder why Idid that. 

I must have had this notion that a writer, like any artist, had to be agenius in order to be good.  As a teen, one of my favorite movies was Amadeus.  In the movie, Salieri waspathologically envious of Mozart because Mozart was a genius, whereas Salieriwas just mediocre.  When Mozart composed his music, the notes just pouredonto the page perfectly the first time around.  There was no need forrevision.  I believed that I should write the way Mozart composed. Therefore, if someone told me that I needed to revise my manuscript, then Imust not be a genius like Mozart.  I must be like Salieri, hopelesslymediocre and destined for the insane asylum.

No wonder I got depressed a lot during the early drafts of my book.

Another reason I was resistant to hearing feedback was because I haddifficulty separating myself from my work.  This was especially the casewith Bitter Melon because thefictional story was inspired by something that happened in my life.  (Iwrite more about this in my guest blog post on Galleysmith.com.)  WheneverI was told that I had an overly complicated plot, I dismissed that person ashaving too short an attention span to follow complex work.  If someonesaid that my antagonist needed to be portrayed in a more sympathetic manner, Iwould accuse him or her of not appreciating edgy characters. 

If I had clung to these beliefs, I don’t think I would be apublished author today.  So what helped me to change? 

Well, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have aproblem.  After a particularly harsh (or so it seemed at the time)critique in a writing workshop, I emailed my teacher to inform her that I wasthinking about leaving the class.  Within minutes of my hitting the“send” button, my teacher called me.  Instead of ridiculing mefor being over-sensitive, she admitted that she too got her feelings hurt fromtime to time during critiques.  My writing teacher is an accomplished poet,fiction writer, essayist, and performer.  She is also a gifted teacher anda wise person.  If even she was susceptible to getting her feelings hurt,then maybe I could forgive myself for being so sensitive.  Once I overcamethe shame of being thin-skinned, I was able to forgive my classmates and moveon.

I also learned to separate myself from my work.  As I made peacewith my own past, I no longer needed to process it through my writing, so myprotagonist was able to become her own person with a story that was separatefrom mine.  As I became less identified with my book, I was able to hearothers’ feedback for what it was, feedback on my work, not criticism ofme.  Because many students in my writing workshop were writing memoirs, mywriting teacher facilitated this process by encouraging us to use terms like“your protagonist” instead of “you” when discussingothers’ work. 

I also benefited from the process of having to give as well as receivefeedback.  Many times I was blind to a flaw in my own work until I saw itin someone else’s.  As I read my classmates’ revisions, Istarted to learn about how their lives informed their writing, what theirstrengths and weaknesses were, where they were at in terms of skill level andcompletion of the work, what motivated or discouraged them, and how they triedto integrate feedback into their revisions.  The more I learned aboutothers’ processes, the more I understood my own. 

As the years passed and as my drafts accumulated, I also learned how tofilter the feedback I received.  I figured out who “got” mybook and who didn’t, so I no longer got bent out of shape if someone madean unhelpful comment.  If many readers made the same kind of comment, Iknew to pay attention, especially if they had different sensibilities. Finally, I learned how to reconcile conflicting advice.  I used to getfrustrated by this, until I learned to understand not only what people weresaying but why they were saying it.  A lot of times, they were reacting tothe same issue or problem but were framing it differently.  Once Iunderstood this, the problems in my book became easier to fix.

The more I revised, the more I learned to respect revision.  Ibegan to shed the Mozart Myth.  When I was a high school student, I oftengot labeled as smart.  This annoyed me.  I didn’t think I wasthat smart.  In fact, I viewed myself as rather slow, so I compensated byworking harder.  The net result was that I tended to do well.  Ilearned to view myself this way in terms of my writing.  I didn’thave to be a genius.  I  just needed to show up and not quit.  Ialso gave up viewing myself as a Writerand instead began viewing myself as a mother/wife/daughter/friend/Pilatesteacher/cook/traveler/gardener who happened to write.  For me, thisidentity was healthier because I was diversifying my ego portfolio instead ofinvesting my whole ego into just one form of success.  As I became lessinvested in becoming a successful writer, I became more patient.  So whenmy agent read my eighth draft and asked me if I was interested in doing anotherrevision, I said, “Sure, why not?  I’ve been working on thisfor nine years.  What’s another year?”  My newfoundpatience stayed with me as I wrote the ninth and tenth drafts for my agent, andagain when I wrote the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth drafts for my editorat Egmont USA.

My thicker skin served me well when I was querying agents, especiallywhen one agent sent me a form letter that read “This isn’t forme,” not on a sheet of paper but a skinny strip of paper cut with scissorsfrom a page.  (Was he being green or cheap?)  It continued to serveme as my book went to auction, when my agent forwarded to me editors’comments, which ranged from positive to negative, tactful to blunt. 

Now that my book has been published, I continue to get interestingfeedback, though it is now quite different in nature.  So far, no one tomy knowledge has criticized the quality of the writing, but I have receivedsome interesting reactions to the subject matter.  Many readers love thebook because they identify with Frances, either because of the mother-daughtertheme and/or the theme of success and failure.  Ironically, a few havefound the book hard to like for the very same reason, that is, it cut too closeto home and made them feel uncomfortable.  One reviewer complained thatthe book was too stereotypical because my Asian American protagonist is astellar student and has a Tiger mother.  (As we all know, such a story hasno basis in reality!)  Also ironic, many of the readers who identify with Francesare not of Asian descent.  To this, I can only say,“Hurrah!”  That is exactly what I intended.

When people ask me how long it took to finish my book, I don’tknow whether to feel embarrassed or proud.  To my surprise, the unanimousreaction I get is always one of respect.

Review: Haven - Kristi Cook

Release Date - February 22, 2011
Publisher - Simon Pulse
Age Group - 14 & up
Pages - 416
Rating - 4/5

Summary - One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

Review -  Haven was a really good debut novel for Mrs. Cook. It had everything you could want in a paranormal romance. Of course it had its paranormal facter, as the description tells you, a school full of kids with psychic gifts, and it had its romance. And along with that came mystery and the main character finally finding herself and people she feels she belongs with. That was probably my favorite aspect about the novel. Violet, the main character, finally having what she wanted and needed.

I really enjoyed all aspects of this novel. In the middle I found myself a little bored but I cannot pinpoint why. I enjoyed all of the characters and the plot. It always kept me guessing and at the end it threw me a curve ball I never saw coming.

I can say that I had no complaints about Kristi's writing. I actually enjoyed it a lot. One thing I didnt like was the cover. Its pretty but I didnt feel it tied in with the book too well.

I would recommend this to any paranormal lover. It is now pretty close to the top of my favorite list.

Cover - 4
Plot - 4
Characters - 4
Writing - 4
Ending - 4

Review: Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton

Release Date - February 22, 2011
Publisher - Simon Pulse
Age Group - 14 & Up
Pages - 288
Rating - 4/5

Summary -
Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.
She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.
Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Review -  When I first pulled this off my shelf I was so excited to start it because of all the hype I had been hearing. I have to say the book definitely lived up to the hype. It had just about everything that I enjoy in a novel.

I like the cover, it has kind of a gothic feel to it, which goes well with the book, but I didn't quite find a connection with the cover and the book which could just be me. Although I still like it and after seeing the hardback cover in the store it is quite gorgeous.

The plot, I LOVED the plot. Everything about it. Darkness Becomes Her had a lot of Greek mythology intertwined in it. I have always been interested in Greek mythology but I don;t know much about it. When I started reading I had no idea that the story was gonna take the twisted path that it did. Twisted meaning the ups and downs and turns, not crazy twisted.

And the characters. I liked all of the characters. Ari was definitely my favorite. I loved her attitude. There were many times she was unsure and then she turned it all around with here "you can stick it" attitude.

I loved Ms. Keatons writing. She put enough details into it without overdoing it. My biggest thing I look for in an authors writing is if they can give me a picture without overloading and she did it! There was some profanity that could offend some, although it didnt bother me.

And she did a great job ending this novel. The ending made me gasp and left me wanting to know more. I had to know what was gonna happen next and I cant wait to read the next novel in this series.

This is a novel that I would reccomend to anyone who loved paranoral, mystery, romance and Greek mythology.

Cover - 3
Plot - 5
Characters - 5
Writing - 5
Ending - 5

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I have not been taken captive!!


Hey guys  i just wanted to let everyone know that i have not vanished from the face of the earth!! I have several things that need to get posted just havent been able to get to the library. It really sucks not having a computer at home and internet. Its really hard to do everything from my phone. So keep an eye out cause somethings will be posted in the next week and im really looking in about that computer! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Author Interview : Suzanne Selfors

Suzanne Selfors

Website

Teen Titles

Mad Love | Coffee House Angel | Saving Juliet

________________________

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Selfors about her writing and about her recent novel that I reviewed, Mad Love, which I recommend you guys get out and read. Here is what she had to say!



1. If you had to describe Mad Love in three words, what would you use?

Girl meets Cupid

2. Why choose Cupid? What initially made you want to write thew story?

I love Greek and Roman mythology. In my book, Coffeehouse Angel, I reimagined Hermes, the messenger for the gods. I knew that I wanted to do something with Cupid. And so I turned him into an eternal teen who may or may not be facing the end of his existence. And he's got a love story to tell.

3. What essentials did you need for writing Mad Love?

Not sure I understand this question. If you mean, what elements are part of my writing routine, I'd say that I almost always write in a coffeehouse, I usually drink a latte while writing, and I write directly onto my laptop, rarely do I write longhand.

4. What was the hardest part about writing Mad Love? Or was there one?

Revision is always the hardest part. I got rid of a couple of characters. I got rid of some time-traveling stuff I had in the first draft. It can be a rough process.

5. What can we expect from you next? Or do you know right now?
I'm working on my next teen novel, which will publish in 2012. I'm not going to reveal the plot just yet but it's a fairy tale complete with a prince, a farmboy and a peasant girl. It's very romantic.



Well there you have it guys. Not a lot but I thought it was very interesting to know a little behind the book and the process. And from the tid bit she gave us about whats next and from what I now know of her writing, I am very excited.

Review: Mad Love - Suzanne Selfors

Release Date - January 4, 2011
Publisher - Walker Books for Young Readers
Age Group - Young Adult
Hardcover - 336 pages
Rating - 4/5

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Review - Let me just start off by saying I have not read any of Suzanne's other novels, although I have wanted to. And now after finishing Mad Love, I can say I really want to read her others.

Im usually not into the chick-lit kind of book but something about this one had me hooked! When I started I thought I wasnt going to like it and it was pretty slow. But do not let that fool you. This nocel gets SO much better!

So your introduced to Alice, daughter of "The Queen of Romance" novels.  But her life isnt perdect, in fact it is far from perfect. Her mother is mentally ill and she is left to take care of things at home. One of those cases is being, going to her mothers book signing. The event that changes everything for Alice.

Enter, Errol, aka Cupid. He wants his story to be wrote and he wants Alice to do it , but she is refusing. Errol takes Alice on a life changing adventure. But along the way it is not only her life that is being changed.

Along the way Alice has to deal with pain in the butt Realm, who wants to prove herself but goes about it in the wrong manner.

I love this book and everything about it. The plot was AMAZING! It made me laugh, it made my heart ache, it made me wanna cry. The characters, at times I  loved them all, at others I wanted to slap a few into reality! Ms. Selfors' writing kept me hooked until the very end. I didnt want to put it down! For ANYTHING! And the ending was very well written to wrap everything up. It was everything that I wanted it to be.

I think I can say Suzanne Selfors is now one of my favorite authors and I would and will recommend this novel to many people!

Amazing, enthralling, and a MUST - READ!!

Cover - 4 stars

Plot - 5 stars

Characters - 5 stars

Writing - 5 stars

Ending - 5 stars

 Other places to find Suzanne

Website

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review - Captivate by Carrie Jones

Release Date - January 5, 2010
Publisher - Bloombsbury
Age Group - Young Adult
Pages - 288 pages
Rating - 3/5

Summary - Zara and her friends thought they had solved their pixie problems… but it turns out that their problems are just starting. Now that the previous pixie king is no longer in power, other pixies are moving in to the area, looking to claim his territory and his followers. Zara and her friends are the only ones that can stop them, but they’re also means they’re in the most danger. And when Zara meets a pixie who starts to convince her that the fae might not all be as evil as she thinks, she’s going to have to come to terms with what she’s done, and who she is… and who she’s becoming.




Review - As much as I wanted to love this book, I am sad to say I didn't. Now I am not saying that I hated it cause I didn't but it wasn't a favorite.

First off I felt like there was too much going on in the plot line in
too little time. The book took place over a few days and it was all
crammed in there. I do like where the series is headed but I feel like
it could have been put into one book instead of three.

Moving onto the characters. Loved Zara. Zara and Nick on the other
hand annoyed me. I cannot pin point why but I didn't like their
relationship. I didn't feel like there was much there. They loved each
other... just because. I do however, like the other characters and the
progression they have made.

As far as Carrie's writing, I do not have any issues with other than
too much crammed in too little time and spread out in too many books.
If that makes any sense. I do like some of the detailing she puts into
her writing. It makes my visual that much better.

And the Ending. I was left wanting to know more and wish it would have kept going. Also love the new character twist thrown in. Never saw it coming but loved it! I do plan on reading and reviewing Enticed so keep your eyes peeled.

Cover - 4 stars

Plot - 3 stars

Characters - 3 stars

Writing - 4 stars

Ending - 3 stars

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Madame Tussaud - Michelle Moran Giveaway

Have you read Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran? How bout The Heretic Queen or Nefertiti??? Did you love them? Well her newest novel, Madame Tussaud, is out February 15 and I have a chance for you to win your own copy!

The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse √Člisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and caf√©s across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom


But your not just your own copy, one lucky person, anywhere in the WORLD, is getting a signed copy along with a pair of these adorable Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings. 



All you guys have to do is fill out this form! The Contest ends February 22!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia & Haunted - Joy Preble

Hey guys I have something amazing to share!!! Have you heard about the upcoming sequel to Dreaming Anastasia??? If not here is a look at it.


(From Goodreads)Anne Michaelson’s world turned upside down last fall when a handsome, blue-eyed and temporarily immortal Russian named Ethan informed her that she had a destiny to save the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, held captive for decades by the witch Baba Yaga. But Anastasia had her own thoughts about destiny. And Anne and Ethan discovered that some things aren’t so easily undone. Now, six months later, the craziness in Anne’s world hasn’t gone away. Neither have her feelings for Ethan. Anne still has powers she doesn’t fully understand. She’s still dreaming about Baba Yaga’s forest. And she’s got a new boyfriend – very normal and very sweet lifeguard, Ben Logan. As for Ethan, well, he hasn’t quite gotten over the events of last fall, either. And he definitely hasn’t gotten over Anne. In short, everyone’s haunted by something – or someone.

Enter the rusalka – a Russian folklore mermaid with a malevolent streak - and a particular interest in Anne. When Ethan suddenly returns from Europe, Anne’s world collides with the paranormal once again. Her heart torn between Ben and Ethan, Anne’s search for the rusalka’s identity reveals deep and startling secrets - including the true source of Anne’s powers.

Like Dreaming Anastasia,
Haunted is a wild adventure of a tale, a genre blend of fantasy, folklore and romanc

Now doesnt that sound like a really good read??? But you havent read the first one. Well in celebration of Haunted's release Sourcebooks is making it available for free - where ever e-books are sold - from February 1st to February 7th!!!! How awesome is that?? So I think if you haven't read it you should get out there and get your copy so that you will be ready for Haunted, when it is out. 


Also if you guys come back in a few days I will have a review of Haunted up so you guys can see what I thought about it.
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