Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taking A Break...

It's been pretty quiet around here lately. Not because I want it to be; life has just been kind of crazy. Family stuff is going on and my work schedule changed. So, there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging. Or rather, the time I would normally have for blogging is getting eaten up by other things.

I want to be blogging and I feel guilty about not posting. Mainly because I've been reading some terrific books and I want to talk about them, sing their praises. I miss posting reviews and reading reviews and posting comments and just discussing books. Every day I think, "Today's the day, I'm going to sit and finish that review." But, more often than not, something else takes precedence.

So, rather than feel guilty about not posting, I'm going to take a break, a smallish one, through the end of the year. Once the holidays are over, I'm hoping (and praying) that things calm down.

I'll be back the first week of January (January 3rd to be exact) with renewed enthusiasm and some reviews and book discussions.

So until then...I wish all of you Happy Holidays and lots of bookish gifts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - For Darkness Shows The Stars

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

For Darkness Shows the Stars
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
To Be Published On: June 12, 2012

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it. (summary from Goodreads.)

I really enjoyed both Rampant and Ascendant - who doesn't enjoy reading about killer unicorns occasionally? So, I was happy to hear that there would be even more books by Diana Peterfreund out in the world (in addition to the also wonderful Secret Society Girls series). After reading the summary, especially that sentence that says it is inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, I'm even more excited to read For Darkness Shows The Stars.

What book are you eager waiting for?

Review - Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Source: From publisher through NetGalley

I went into reading Every Other Day expecting one type of paranormal read, but got so much more. Every Other Day was action packed from the first page to the last, it kept me guessing and wanting to read to the end. And when the end came, I wanted there to be more words.

Every other day Kali isn't human: she's something else, something indestructible, something more. Because of this she tries to stay out of the spotlight. Kali's a master at blending in and being invisible on days that she is human. Kali is also has to deal with high school, she's content to sail through, but then she's approached by Skylar, who, while she may or may not be psychic, is definitely a target for the popular crowd. By lunchtime people are noticing Kali, the last thing she wants to happen. Then she notices a strange mark on one of the popular girls. A mark that means almost certain death, if Kali can't figure out a way to save her. Over the course of the next few days, Kali's life changes in more ways than even she thought possible.

Kali was a strong main character, she was pretty kickass, but she was so much more - snarky, lonely, guarded, reluctant hero are all words and phrases that could be used to describe her. Her development as a character was fully tied into the action and plot, so that as the story progressed the reader learned more about Kali. I've seen other reviews that compared her to Buffy (a completely understandable comparison, Kali does have some Buffyesque qualities), but I think Kali was her own type of heroine. Sure, on every other day Kali feels the need to hunt and kill supernatural creatures like chupacabras, zombies and hellhounds, but she has no idea why or what she is on those days. Her human days were spent being invisible and just trying to get through the day, until Skylar approached her.

My favorite character was Skylar, with her "I'm just a little psychic" routine and the way she kept her brothers in order by which one was her favorite. Skylar knew a lot more than she let on, especially about Kali and what she would eventually learn about herself. She was Kali's biggest believer and the most courageous character - what more could you ask for in a friend?

The last of the main characters was Bethany - the popular girl Kali noticed the strange mark on. Bethany proved to be much more than the pretty Queen Bee. Her back story was heartbreaking and added so much to her character. After meeting her parents, it was easy to see what she acted the way she did. In her own way, she kept people at a distance, only showing them what she wanted them to see. In this, Bethany and Kali were very much alike. It was a lot of fun watching Bethany and Kali's friendship evolve throughout the course of the novel.

The action starts from the first page, with Kali in full hunter mode, and lasts pretty much through to the end. There were a few spots were the breakneck pace did slow down, but these passages were welcome because it gave me the opportunity to process everything that had happened up until then. The mystery surrounding Kali's hunter days was brilliantly executed. A few times I thought I knew where this plot thread was going, only to be led in a completely different direction. Ms. Barnes leaves little hints and clues throughout the narrative, but they came together in a slightly unexpected way that made go back and reread whole passages so that I could see how they all came together.

There are so many other things I want to talk about in regards to Every Other Day, but I don't want to spoil any of the details. Definitely read Every Other Day if you want a different take on paranormal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Slide

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
To Be Published On:  March 27, 2012
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. 

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. 

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. 

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again. ( Summary from author's website)

Slide sounds like it will be a great mix of mystery and paranormal (maybe that's not the correct word - but what Vee can do isn't normal). I love a good mystery, so I'm excited about Slide. Plus, Jill Hathaway is a 2012 debut author - yay!

What book are you eagerly waiting for?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview with Kiki Hamilton

I'm really excited to have Kiki Hamilton on the blog today. I love The Faerie Ring ... the setting (Victorian London), the characters (Tiki, Reiker, the princes...), the twisty plot...time for me to stop so you can read what Ms. Hamilton has to say...

The cover of The Faerie Ring is gorgeous.  Thank you so much!  I love it too! J What was the cover design process like? Did you have any input in the final design?
 I was very fortunate that my awesome editor, Susan Chang, did ask for my input at the very beginning of the design process, because I know most of the time, authors don’t get to give any input.  I gave her a list of things that I thought were important and some examples of covers I loved and did a few (very poor) mockups of my own.  Then she and the very talented Tor art director, Seth Lerner, took it from there.  And then I had to WAIT six months!!  I was SO THRILLED when I saw the cover because I think it is absolute perfection for the story.  And I’m happy to say that they included everything I asked for, down to the smallest detail! Thank you Susan and Seth!! J

Why Victorian London as the setting? How did you research the Victorian Era for The Faerie Ring?

I loved writing about Victorian London. It is one of my favorite time periods  - such a mix of technological change while at the same time belief in mysticism and the Otherworld was very strong.  I also love the idea of stories from the past slipping through the cracks, the untold story, if you will – the kind that if we all knew  - everything would change.  I did a lot of research online, but I’ve also found some great resource books that talk about life in that specific time period in London and give lots of great details.

I found the shifts in point of view interesting, how did you decide which characters' points of view to write from?
I like reading from two different perspectives and it’s always fun to figure out whose point of view to juxtapose from that of the main character.  It couldn’t have been any of Tiki’s family, as their perspective wouldn’t add any new information, for the most part.  Rieker needed to remain a mystery, so I didn’t want to write it from his POV. Prince Leopold, on the other hand, had a vested interest in the stolen ring and a completely different perspective on the event as well as his view on life and London, so he was a natural pick to share his thoughts.

How do you choose names for your characters?
To be honest, there isn’t a scientific process – it’s more of a gut thing. I knew Tiki’s nickname before I knew her real name. Though I have been known to change names, they usually come easily to me and are one of the first things I know about my characters.

I love hearing about books authors are looking forward to reading. What are 3 or 4 books from your to be read list that you just can't wait to read?
Ohmigosh…the towering TBR pile….I’m starting Amber Argyle’s WITCH SONG next, then Josie Bloss’ FAKING FAITH. I’m also very excited to read Kendare Blake’s ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD  - I’ve heard lots of great things about that one!!

A big thank you to Kiki Hamilton and Tor! For more information on Ms. Hamilton and her books visit her website www.kikihamilton.com

Review - The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Received copy from publisher for review

The Victorian era is one of my favorite settings for books. Mix in a strong heroine; a twisty plot that keeps you on your toes, and a slow simmering romance and the book is sure to be one that I will want to reread over and over. Kiki Hamilton’s The Faerie Ring is one of those books.

Tiki and her “family” have been living in a small abandoned shop by Charing Cross Station picking pockets on the streets of London, stealing just enough money for food and coal. One cold day, Tiki finds herself in the Queen’s palace where she steals a ring. Her plan is to return the ring for reward money. But, when it’s revealed that the ring is more important than Tiki thought- it’s part of a treaty between the Queen and the fey- she realizes that it must be returned to the palace, but how? Soon after, Tiki notices that Rieker, a fellow thief, is following her. He claims to know about the fey and the ring, but can Tiki trust him enough to let him help her with the ring?

Kiki Hamilton transports the reader to 1871 London with her writing. It was easy to slip into Tiki’s world and it felt like I was right there with Tiki throughout all of her adventures. The shop by Charing Cross Station, the bookshop at the train station, the streets of London, and the palace ballroom were all equally vivid and easy to picture as I was reading. The story drew me in and I couldn’t put the book down until I got to the end.

Off all the characters, Rieker was my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I found Tiki to be quite likeable; she was strong, independent and caring. Right from the first scene, I cared about what happened to her. Her main concern was her family – Clare, Toots, Shamus and Fiona and getting enough money for them to be fed and warm. Even after she stole the ring and became a target of the fey, they were still her first priority. How can you not like someone who cares more for others than herself?

But, Rieker, he was a mystery and that made him interesting. Tiki knew he was a thief, but there was something more to him than that. I liked how his story was revealed as the book went on, how little details here and there made me wonder about his past and who he really was. And the scenes where he tells Tiki about his past, even though they were quite sad, were some of my favorites in the book.

 Another thing that I really enjoyed about The Faerie Ring was the romance. It was like a slow burn. Even though Tiki and Rieker have known each other for some time, it took awhile for the romance between them to start.
The plot had enough twists to keep me on my toes. The action moved along at a good pace and I found myself wanting to keep reading even though there were other things I probably should have been doing. The fey element was quite interesting; Ms. Hamilton’s fey are definitely not your garden variety faeries. They were vindictive, very focused on their ultimate goals, and a bit evil. I found myself wanting more of the fey in the book!
Overall, I really enjoyed The Faerie Ring. Like I said at the start, this is a book that I will definitely reread. I can safely say that this will end up in my top ten of 2011. Plus, I learned that is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to find out more about Tiki, her family and her past in the upcoming books.
A mix of historical, paranormal, romance and adventure, The Faerie Ring has a little something for every reader.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quick Review - Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 2008 (hardcover), May 2009 (paperback)

I know one thing for sure: I would not want to live in the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). Michael Grant does a great job of showing what could happen when all the adults vanish, everyone over the age of fifteen, and the kids have to fend for themselves. Power struggles, mutations (both animal and human), and survival all increase the tension as the book goes on. It's more than just good versus bad in the FAYZ, it's also the powerful vs. the powerless and the threat of turning 15, because that's when you "poof.". If you had Power, how would you use it?

I can understand why this series is so popular. Grant gives the reader a very likable hero in Sam, very unlikable adversaries in Caine and Drake, and a cast of characters that are fleshed out. There was plenty of action to sustain my interest, despite the long length. My only grumble is the ending, I would have like a little more resolution, but with 5 more books in the series, it's easy to see why this book ended the way it did. I feel comfortable recommending Gone to readers who are looking for a dystopian/science fiction books

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review - The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: January 2010

Pepper Roux, Pepper Roux…what an odd child…

On the day of his birth, Paul Roux’s Aunt Mireille had a dream that he would die on his fourteenth birthday. Coddled and protected as a child, Paul, nicknamed Pepper by classmates, grew up sheltered, knowing more about last rites and funeral masses than fairy tales or sports. When his fourteenth birthday finally arrives and with it the realization that his family is waiting for his death, Pepper decides to go out and meet his fate head on. Instead, Pepper finds himself involved in an odd string of events, each more strange than the last.

After hearing quite a bit about The Death-Defying Pepper Roux I knew I had to read it. The cover lead me to believe that Pepper would possibly go on many adventures, most of them involving a ship. He is after all climbing towards what might be the ship's crow's nest. But as the story progressed, I had to reevaluate, several times, what Pepper’s journey was really about. Plus, I feel that this cover captures the feel of the novel better:

2009 Oxford University Press
It gives more hints about what may or may not happen to Pepper as he makes his way through France

Um, that's right; The Death-Defying Pepper Roux takes place in France, at the early part of the 1900s. There are certain details that place the action in the 1920s or 1930s - for example the fact that Pepper takes a taxi at one point, but I could be completely wrong. I felt that the setting and possible time period really added to the odd nature of Pepper's adventures and even lent them an air of mystery. 

The Death-Defying Pepper Roux is a strange book, but one that makes you think. A recurring line is “People see what they expect or do they see what they choose?” To me this was the central question, because how else would a fourteen year-old be able to fool so many people into believing he was a ship captain, a telegram messenger, or someone's thought to be dead husband?  Also, I think it took some suspension of belief and a "let's just see where this takes us" attitude for me to really enjoy Pepper's story. But in the end, I did like it. Plus, the language is terrific. It may scare off some readers, but if they stick with  it they will find a fun story that asks some interesting questions. 

I feel that The Death-Defying Pepper Roux skewed a bit young, so even though Pepper himself was 14, I would feel comfortable recommending it to intrepid readers as young as 9 or 10. However, older readers could enjoy Pepper's adventures as well, especially if they like quirky stories.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

And the winner of the Deadly Cool Trading Cards is...

The WINNER of the Deadly Cool trading cards is:

Ashley S. !!

(She has been contacted and has 48 hours to respond.)

A big THANKS to everyone who entered the giveaway :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Character Interview - Hartley from Deadly Cool (+ Giveaway)

Today,  Hartley from Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday is joining us today.  Make sure to check out the giveaway after reading the interview.

1. Hi Hartley! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us
today. What five words would your best friend, Sam, use to describe you?

Hi!  Thanks for having me here!  Okay, five words Sam would use to describe me…
1. loyal
2. caring
3.clever (Okay, maybe I'm putting words in her mouth here, but we did eventually track down a killer all by ourselves, so I'm gonna take a couple clever points.)
4. fun
5. tenacious

2. What first attracted you to Josh DuPont?

Dude, what wasn't attractive about him?  Like, every girl in school wanted to be with him.  He's got the total classic hot guy looks and totally great smile that could charm the pants off any girl.  Unfortunately, it has charmed the pants off a few girls.  Which is why I am no longer, officially, as of now, attracted to him.  (Much.) 
3. Good ol' Ben & Jerry pop up a few times while you were trying to clear
Josh's name. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Hands down, Cherry Garcia.  The blend of rich chocolate and light cherries is beyond awesome.

4. If you were forced to choose (pretend everyone had to be one or the
other), would you be a cheerleader or join the Color Guard?

Ohmigod, nightmare alert!  I'd sooner throw myself off the top of the parking structure at the mall than do either.  But, if I had to pick one… cheerleader.  At least they wear their skankiness right out there where you can see it.  The Color Guard girls are more closet skanks.  (Or in the case of Courtney Cline, the Color Guard leader, a dead skank in a closet.)

5. So Chase was just full of surprises! What was the most surprising thing
you learned about him?

I'll admit, I totally had him pegged wrong.  When I first met him, I thought total Bad Boy.  I mean, not that he doesn’t really kinda act like the proverbial Bad Boy at times, but as we investigated Courtney's death together, I found out that there is a lot more to him than that.  I guess the thing I was most surprised to find out about him is that he has a soft side.  (And soft lips, too, but that's a whole other story…)

6. Okay, one last thing before you go; You did a great job with helping to
find the real murderer, would you ever consider becoming a private
investigator ala Veronica Mars?

You know, the best thing about figuring out who actually killed Courtney was the satisfaction of fitting all the right puzzle pieces into the right slots and seeing it actually bring a killer to justice.  The worst part, though, was having my life in danger.  More than once.  I'm not totally a fan of that, so I'm not sure I have the guts it takes to be a real PI. For now, I'm going to stick to working on the school paper and investigating thing like what really goes into the school cafeteria's Monday Mystery Meat.  At least until another big story comes along…  

Now that we know a little more about Hartley, it's time for you to win something. As part of the blog tour Gemma Halliday is giving away several packs of Deadly Cool trading cards! To enter, fill out the form below (comments won't count as entries).

* This giveaway is international
* It will run through October 7th
* The winner will be posted in the am of October 8th

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Character Tweets - Characters from Frost

Twitter - such a fun way to keep up to date on what's going on in the blogging world and a great way to connect with bloggers, librarians and authors. Plus, it's a fun way to talk about books. But what about the characters? Have you ever wondered what it would be like if some of your favorite characters were on Twitter? What types of things would they tweet about, who would they be twitter friends with?

Marianna Baer, the author of  Frost, has provided the following Twitter conversations between Leena, Abby, Viv, David and Celeste. (spoiler free, of course, but if you haven't read Frost yet, what are you waiting for?)

Leenabobeena: Last coat of stain on new bookshelf! Bags packed! Can it be Sat already???

AbbyOhDear: @Leenabobeena So organized! Can't even find my bags. But moms baking up a storm. Be hungry!

VivParkerWhite: @Leenabobeena @AbbyOhDear In the Athens airport. Horoscope says good day for journey. Phew.

AbbyOhDear: @VivParkerWhite @Leenabobeena Yes, phew! I was all aflutter, waiting to hear.

Leenabobeena: @VivParkerWhite @AbbyOhDear You check with Orin, Viv? Horoscope might not be accurate enough. ;)

VivParkerWhite: @Leenabobeena @AbbyOhDear Ha. Ha. Speaking of Orin, can’t wait to show our you-know-whats!!!

AbbyOhDear: @VivParkerWhite @Leenabobeena Dear god, please tell me you didn’t get a tatt of your astrologer’s face.

Leenabobeena: @VivParkerWhite @AbbyOhDear SHHHHH!!!!! No discussion!!!!!!

VivParkerWhite: @AbbyOhDear You’ll have to wait and see! :P

AbbyOhDear: @Leenabobeena @VivParkerWhite You guys remember if there's a fridge in the common room? Or is Frost House too old to even have electricity?

Leenabobeena: @VivParkerWhite @AbbyOhDear Very funny. Yes there's a fridge. And microwave. And even indoor plumbing!

AbbyOhDear: @Leenabobeena @VivParkerWhite Shocking! I guess we might survive living there.

Leenabobeena: @VivParkerWhite @AbbyOhDear Can't believe we finally have singles. Halleluja!

KatetheGreat: @Leenabobeena HEY!!! I can hear you, Leena Thomas! You saying you don't want me back??

Leenabobeena: @KatetheGreat No!! Of course not. Will be terribly lonely til you return! Will hate having single! :)

KatetheGreat: @Leenabobeena Sure, sure. I won't let the door hit me on the way out.

Leenabobeena: @KatetheGreat Don’t worry! We won’t have fun without you, K. Viv, Ab and I will be waiting in Frost when you return! Promise.


ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing Hey, you’re online? You okay? Why aren’t you answering phone/texts?

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Because I’m dead and they only have wifi, not cell service, in heaven.

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing Heaven? Really? I’d always thought…

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Good point.

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing Sooo…..?

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Phone is out of charge. Charger at home. Nurse brought be laptop to use.

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing I’ll bring charger today. You got a delivery. Big box from someplace called Re-evolution?

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Great. Pigeon skeletons I ordered. Can you put with stuff to go to school?

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing And Barcroft called. You’re living with someone named Leena Thomas in a dorm called Frost House.

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Leena? Huh. Never heard of Frost. Weird.

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing You know her? This a problem?

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Living with anyone is a problem. You’ll like Leena. She’s hot.

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing Not my main concern with your roommate. You okay living with her?

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar We were lab partners last year and both survived. I guess we’ll make it through this.

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Strange I’ve never heard of dorm. Frost? You’re sure?

ThisDavidLazar: @Celestialbeing Yup. Frost. On Highland St.

Celestialbeing: @ThisDavidLazar Still don’t know. Whatever. How bad could it be?

A big thanks to Marianna Baer and her cast of characters!

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review - Frost by Marianna Baer

Frost by Marianna Baer
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Source: borrowed from Midnyte Reader

Frost is definitely a keep all the lights on and possibly have some sort of background noise playing while reading type of book. 

Leena Thomas is starting her senior year at Bancroft Academy. Thanks to some persuasion and a little luck, Leena and her best friends are going to live in Frost House - a cozy, four person dorm on the edge of campus. But before they can settle in, Leena learns that eccentric, antagonistic Celeste Lazar will be living with them during the fall semester. Within days, strange things start happening at the dorm. Small things at first, things that Celeste blames on Leena and her friends, sure that they want her to leave. Leena attempts to keep the peace between the residents of Frost House, but soon stranger things start to happen and Celeste insists that she feels someone is watching her, wants to hurt her. As more odd things happen and Celeste becomes more insistent that the house itself is causing them, Leena finds that she doesn't feel as safe or at home as she once did at Bancroft, except for when she's at Frost House. Can Leena work out where the threat is coming from before it's too late?

Before, I read Frost, I had heard (read) that creepy was the perfect description for this book. After reading, I will add my voice to those who have called Frost creepy. It's creepy in the same way you might feel when you repeatedly look over your shoulder because you are convinced that someone is looking at you even though no one is there. Mixed in with the creepy, there was an interesting mystery and the slow realization that the narrator might not be as reliable as you initially thought.

Leena seems like she is a pretty together girl. She started a peer-counseling program at Bancroft, she has a close group of friends, likes design and do it yourself projects. As things start to happen at Frost, her reactions had me worrying about her. Then there were the pills, the self-medication, which made me question just how much of the story the reader was really seeing. How skewed was Leena's version of what happened?

Marianna Baer does a great job of keeping the reader guessing. It isn't very clear who or what was behind the goings on at Frost House and getting the answer to this mystery kept me turning the pages. Even after the ending a good number of questions remain, but I'm okay with that. I look at Frost as a book that makes the reader question if they believe in ghosts (or some type of supernatural entity) and/or haunted houses.

One thing that did bother me was the adults. The house counselor, Ms. Martin pretty much states that she expects the girls to look after themselves and to only go to her for emergencies, which seems a bit extreme. Yes, the girls are seniors, so theoretically they could have been mature enough to handle a lot, but at the same time they are still teenagers. It makes me wonder if Ms. Martin had been more available, would Celeste have felt comfortable telling her about her concerns. And then there was the Dean of Students, who at first seemed almost like a parental figure to Leena, but as the book goes on becomes more and more disappointed with her actions and appears to distance herself. But, again since the reader sees everything from Leena's point of view, exactly how involved was Dean Shepherd in Leena's life?

Overall, Frost is a wonderful addition to the psychological/mystery/supernatural category. I would recommend Frost to those who like their scary stories on the creepy side.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This is extremely late, but I wanted to announce the winners of the "It's My Party" giveaway.

The winner of Imaginary Girls is

Sarah W

The Winner of The Near Witch is


The Winner of Misfit is

Dazzling Mage

Congrats to all the winners!

Review - A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 21, 2011

Charlotte has always felt the need to help people; people she didn't know. It started out as an occasional thing, but now it's a daily occurrence. The pull, the compulsion, knocks the air out of her and forces Charlotte to find the person she is supposed to help. Charlotte tells her boyfriend, Harlin, and best friend Sarah, that she is having asthma attacks. But, Sarah thinks she's psychic and Harlin can't stand the lying, he thinks Chelsea is cheating on him. Charlotte's not sure what they would think if the learned the truth. The she learns what is really causing what she calls "The Need" and what will happen to her. Now, Charlotte must decide of she is going to fight to stay with her friends and family or let everything play out as it's supposed to, no matter how hard it is. 

A Need So Beautiful
is one of those books where you just have to know what comes next, what's in store for the characters and how they deal with what happens. It is very much a character driven book and Ms Young has written all of the characters in such a way that I could see them and hear them as I read. The characters were also very realistic. There were no perfect characters, even Chelsea had her flaws, but that made me like her even more.

Another thing that I really liked was that even though Chelsea and Harlin are in a relationship (and how great is it that they are already together when the book starts?), the majority of love in this book isn't romantic love but love of friends and family. Okay, yes, we do get to see Chelsea and Harlin together and understand what they see in each other, but I liked that Chelsea had friends and a family, albeit a foster family, that cared about her and were present in her life.

Ultimately, A Need So Beautiful is about sacrifice. Would you be willing to sacrifice everything in your life for the greater good? This is Chelsea’s dilemma: does she give into the Need and her fate or does she stay with Harlin and her family? And at the same time, there is discussion about faith, not in an in your face way, but it was definitely there. It made me think long and hard about what I would be willing to give up in my life, how my faith colors my choices.

A Need So Beautiful offers a different take on paranormal because it felt more like a contemporary story with paranormal details. At heart it is about a girl trying to figure out who she is, so it read very much like a contemporary novel to me. I'm not sure that this review conveys exactly how much I loved this book. I read it in one sitting and was just amazed by it. It made me cry and think and stayed with me long after I read the last page. And that ending! It raised so many questions, while giving Chelsea's story in this book a definitive ending. I, personally, can not wait to read A Want So Wicked.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Post - Scott Tracey's Teen Reading Collection

Today, Scott Tracey, author of the fabulous Witch Eyesis here to tell us about some of his favorite books and the types of books we would find in his teen library.

My teen reading collection was seriously eclectic.  I read a little bit of everything.  For about a year when I was a freshman, I was really into crime novels.  The Kay Scarpetta novels, by Patricia Cornwell (POSTMORTEM, BODY OF EVIDENCE, etc), were some of my first.  I also read the Sue Grafton alphabet novels (starting with A IS FOR ALIBI)  and the James Patterson novels (ALONG CAME A SPIDER, etc).  This was the period where I decided I was going to go to Duke for college, major in psychology, and work for the FBI as a forensic psychologist.  Then I realized that was a lot of work...and writers get to wear pajamas if they want.  Sold. 

I started reading epic fantasy around this time - starting with the behemoth that was the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan that started with EYE OF THE WORLD.  Which, honestly, I should have put off.  I counsel everyone to put off big series like that.  Because they're good, but the wait between books is....indescribable.  And it's worse, because I'm one of those people who has to reread the entire series before a new book.  Not so bad, when it's George R.R. Martin, and it's only every 5 years, but Jordan was pumping them out every other year for awhile there.  That's a LOT of rereading (each book is somewhere in the 200-300K word range).

I also read a lot of nonfiction - I was interested in secret societies, crystal skulls, and the history of ceremonial magic. Basically anything New Age I could get my hands on, along with religions like Buddhism, shamanistic traditions, Greek and Roman mythology, and anything that had a different perspective of what was out there in the world.   A lot of that's helped with writing, thankfully, so it was time well spent.  I also read a lot of travel books, which was equal parts as a way to plot escape from Ohio, and because I was fascinated by other places.

I also read one of my absolutely favorite authors, Wally Lamb.  He wrote I Know This Much Is True, and She's Come Undone (my favorite of the two).  I remember thinking that all I could ever want, as a writer, was to bring characters to life half as well as Wally Lamb did in those novels.

So there you go, some of my teen reading.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The Way We Fall

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
Publisher: Disney*Hyperion
Publication Date: January 24, 2012

It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.

And then you're dead.

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Megan Crewe crafts a powerful and gripping exploration of self-preservation, first love, and hope. Poignant and dizzying, this heart-wrenching story of one girl’s bravery and unbeatable spirit will leave readers fervently awaiting the next book in this standout new series. (Summary from Goodreads)

The first book in a new series - the last thing I need is to get involved with another series. But, the thing is, the summary just sounds so interesting. It makes me wonder what type of virus it is and is it only on the one island or are other places affected too?

Plus, Megan Crewe has an excerpt and an unofficial soundtrack on her website.

What book are you eagerly waiting for?

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Into The Past With Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil is joining us today to talk about some of her favorite books at different stages of  her life.

Some information about Gretchen:
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown.  Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debut with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011.  Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – is tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2012 release. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk (http://www.cirqueberzerk.com ). Gretchen is also a founding member of the vlog group YARebels (http://www.youtube.com/yarebels) where she can be seen as "Monday."

Welcome Gretchen!

AGE FIVE – There’s a Monster at the End of This Book

How is this not the best book ever?  An interactive picture book starring Grover from Sesame Street, desperately and futilely trying to keep the reader – in this case, a precocious five year old – from turning the pages of the book.  Brilliant!  Golden!

I positively delighted in thwarting Grover’s attempts – breaking the ropes, toppling the brick wall, busting through a web of two-by-fours.  I must have read that book a hundred times and giggled like a loon every time.  Er, I may or may not still own a copy.  And I may or may not still giggle when I read it.

AGE TWELVE – Anne of Green Gables

Let’s face it, I was Anne Shirley.  I was too smart for my own good.  I was an only child with a penchant for huge flights of fancy.  I was constantly getting into trouble.  I talked too much (I think I still hold my junior high school’s record for being sent to the Principal’s office for talking out of turn…)  I couldn’t back down from a dare.  I was fiercely proud.

I remember watching the PBS adaptation of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, hanging on every scene.  It was like my life!  I ran to the library and zipped through the entire series in the course of a summer.  Anne spoke to me.  And gave me hope that a spastic little kid like myself could grow up to be someone…awesome.

AGE SIXTEEN – Wuthering Heights

Oh, this was the end of hope for any kind of normal teenage love life.  Heathcliff, the possibly psychotic, severely damaged anti-hero was like crack cocaine for teenaged me.  Brooding, obsessive, dark and complex.  He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend – yeah, I know – and thus started my love affair with “bad boys.”

Thankfully, I got over that.  Eventually.

AGE TWENTY – The Secret Adversary

I discovered Agatha Christie when I was in college.  Don’t know how I’d missed getting addicted to her books when I was in high school, but by my junior year at UCLA I was utterly hooked.  I used to wait for my boyfriend to get off work, sitting under a tree whipping through her novels.  The woman was truly a genius.  Her knack for characterization is astounding: you always knows exactly who her characters are in just a few lines.  Amazing.  Inspiring. 

THE SECRET ADVERSARY is one of my favorites.  Set just after WWI, it’s about two young people trying to make their way in an England that’s economically devastated.  On a whim, they create a young adventurers company, and place an ad in the paper for their services.  Immediately, they are thrust into a world of intrigue, spies, missing secret war plans, and mistaken identities.  I literally could not put this book down, and I think I’ve probably read it a dozen times since.  It’s like a comfort book for me, whenever I need a good, rollicking adventure.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review - Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: June 30, 2011

I found Luminous to have a confusing premise. I freely admit to peeking at the ending when I was only about one third of the way through reading. I needed to make sure that my hunch about the Flow was correct and once that happened, I was able to settle into the story.

Consuela is shopping for jeans when she collapses. At home she feels an odd bump on the back of her neck and upon further examination realizes that she can take off her skin. As a skeleton, Consuela, or Bones as she is soon known, travels to the Flow. The Flow is a world that exists next to, or is layered over, our world. Consuela learns that she can make new skins for herself, made from water, air, fire, feathers, anything that is near her. She meets some of the other inhabitants of the Flow and gathers that they help people on Earth, people who have given up on life. But the Flow and its residents are being threatened and Consuela must help stop the killer. But what if he's the only one who can help Consuela get home?

The Flow itself was a confusing place. Each of the characters Consuela meets in the Flow gives more details about what it is and what it might look like. Although, it seems like the Flow would be different for different people. Each character has their own place (maybe base of operations is a better way to put it), that is unique to them - Sissy's office, Consuela's bedroom, and lawn outside a high school where Wish can be found are examples. Despite all of the details and explanation, I still wasn't sure what to think of the Flow.

Maybe, because I found the Flow to be a confusing place, I wasn't as invested in the story as I wanted to be. I cared about what happened to only some of the characters - Sissy, Consuela and V in particular. Consuela and Sissy's budding friendship was the highlight of the book. Other characters weren't really around long enough to get attached to. And then there was Tender, who scared me and made me cry, but I still didn't like him. Not even after Consuela learned his biggest secret: Did I understand him better, yes, like him, no.

I did really like that different religions and belief systems had a place in the Flow. Each of the characters used their different beliefs to help them with the main task of helping people on the other side of the Flow. I found the Day of the Dead imagery to be very interesting and liked how Ms. Metcalf wove it through Consuela's story. I wish there were more young adult books that touched upon different belief systems.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about Luminous. Please don't that discourage you from picking it up, especially if you're looking for a book that is different from a lot of other paranormal books.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Torn

Torn by Cat Clarke
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: January 2012

Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares…

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down.>

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...

A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning love. (summary from Goodreads)

Why am I waiting on Torn?

I loved Cat Clarke's debut Entangled, it was such an awesome, twisty read that evoked lots of emotions while I was reading. Plus, it's a contemporary novel and I need more of those on my to-be-read list (which is more of a notebook now)

What book are you eagerly waiting for?

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review - Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Possess by Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Source: BEA

Sweet cartwheeling Jesus! Gretchen McNeil’s debut novel, Possess, was a great mix of scary and sweet grounded in current day San Francisco.

Bridget Liu is still dealing with her father’s death. She’d rather be left alone than have to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary with her mom or anyone else, especially not with the voices only she can hear. These voices, Bridget learns, are demons and she has the ability to send them back to wherever they came from. Afraid to tell anyone about what she hears and can do, Bridget ends up working with the Monsignor at her high school and soon a priest from the Vatican joins them. Then, the demons pass along a message that has Bridget not sure who she can trust. As she tries to figure out the demons’ plan, Bridget worries that someone close to her will fall victim to the demons.

To be honest, at first, I thought “Demons and Catholic school, haven’t I read this before and recently too?” So, I was a little skeptical as I started to read. But, Bridget’s voice was so genuine and the third person narration was so spot on that it grabbed me from the start. Within a few chapters I found myself wanting Bridget to embrace her talent and find a way to balance exorcizing demons with her everyday life.

Ms. McNeil does a great job of showing the different parts of Bridget’s life: How Bridget essentially starts by trying to keep school and home completely separate from her work with Monsignor Renault. (A small aside here: it took me a long time to place the name Renault; it kept bothering me that I knew this name from another book, another book also set at a Catholic high school. When it finally hit me: Jerry Renault from The Chocolate War. End of totally random aside) She worries what her friends (Hector, Brad and Peter) would think if they found out about the demons. I was hoping that she would be more willing to confide in them, especially Hector, who I found to be funny and sympathetic. But, as the two parts of her life start to blend together, Bridget became an even stronger character. Being willing to confide what was going on with her, allowed her to share the burden a bit, as well as allowing her to be little more vulnerable, which I felt made her more relatable as a character.

Despite the overall darkness, there were enough moments of lightness and sweet that made Possess different from what I was expecting. I would put Bridget’s relationship with Matt Quinn, son of her father’s best friend, in the sweet category. It was more than insta-love, which was refreshing. Actually, it took a long while for them to become friends and then even longer for anything to really start between them and it went slowly, which felt very realistic. Yay for realistic teen relationships! 

If I had to give Possess a genre label, I would label it as horror. And I’m not one to watch scary movies - I’m a complete wimp when it comes to horror, but as I was reading Possess, I didn’t get as scared as I initially thought. Although, there is one particular scene that takes place in a doll shop that made me put the book down, take a deep breath and then start reading again. And I will never look at dolls quite the same way again, but overall, there was enough of the not scary that it creates a good balance. Given all of that, I still wouldn’t read Possess late at night.

I would highly recommend Possess to readers who enjoy both horror and paranormal books, especially if you like your scary with a little not so scary.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Character Interview - Dagon from Misfit

A huge welcome to Dagon from Misfit by Jon Skovron. Despite his gruesome appearance, Dagon quickly became my favorite character. Because who doesn't love an uncle who can teach you to wield your newly found powers and bake a mean loaf of bread?

1. What 5 words would use to describe yourself?

Handsome, charming, elegant, witty, and a genius in the kitchen. Just kidding. More like big, smelly and creepy-looking. But I really am a genius in the kitchen. I'm also a lot more gentle than I look.

2. If they made a movie of your life story, who would they cast to play you?

That would be a long movie... Uh, George Clooney for the first half. And...a hell of a lot of CGI for the rest.

3. How would you describe your niece, Jael?

She's painfully stubborn like her father and highly temperamental like her mother. On the up side, she's also unwaveringly loyal like her father and deeply empathetic like her mother. But she's more than just the sum of her father and mother. She sees to the heart of things more clearly than anyone else I've ever met. And I've met a lot of people. In the end, that will be her salvation. Or her destruction. Jury's still out on which.

4. Currently, you don’t really have a high-profile job, although I am quite fond of baking in general. If you could choose any job, what line of work would you go into?

I really liked godding. All the worship, the free place to stay, the free booze...just show up, say something inspirational, make a few miracles, and they loved you. Great gig. But I don't think that would fly these days.

You know, maybe I could be a spokesperson for Greenpeace or some environmental group. My catch phrase could be "Recycle or I'll carve out your pancreas." Something catchy like that.

5. What is one piece of advice you would give to other halfbreeds who might be reading this?

They're afraid of you because they don't understand you. That fear makes them lash out in anger, because nobody likes to be afraid. You've got a choice. You can hate them for their fear. Or you can pity them for it.

A little more about Misfit:
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2011

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.


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