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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Starfire Angels by Melanie Nilles

Title: Starfire Angels
Author: Melanie Nilles

Publisher: Prairie Star Publishing

Publication date: August, 2009

Softcover: 188 pages

Stand Alone or Series:  Series–this is the first in a series

How I got this book: From the author

Why I chose this book:  I love to read about angels, and as soon as I heard about this book, I knew that I had to check it out!

Synopsis:

They’ve been coming here for thousands of years, using Earth as a sanctuary to escape threats from their own kind. Mankind knows them as angels, and one of them left a child upon her death to be raised as a human.

Raea is now a high school senior, and her life as a human is about to end. The crystal shard she bears is not a pretty pendant; it’s a collective of powerful entities who chose her as their Keeper, a protector of one of the four shards that power a machine capable of destroying whole worlds. Those who desire the Starfire’s power have sent an agent to find her, but she’s too busy evading a nosy reporter ready to exploit her secret and dating a hot new foreign student to notice. Nevermind learning what she really is.

Only one person on Earth can help her, the last person she ever expected. But he’s not from Earth. Life as a human would be so much easier.

Review:
I want to start off by saying that I love reading angel books.  Angels aren’t your typical
ethereal being.  They just have something extra.  (Or so I think.)  But with that brings the problem that many writers write about angels, and the plots tend to be the same.  But let me tell you, Starfire Angels showed an originality that you will not want to miss. 

Completely addicting, Stargire Angel kept me turning pages until I was at the end and satisfied.  (Or, not completely since there are more installments).  We follow Raea Dahlrich as her world is changed and her senior year isn’t quite what she expected it to be.  When you wake up one morning with wings, how normal can life be?
Humorous, original, and surprising, Starfire Angels has it all!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Book Review: Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Title: Shift
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: May 3, 2011

Hardcover: 384 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the second book in a series

How I got this book: Egalley from S&S

Why I chose this book: I had originally read Shade, and loved it, so I knew I needed to read the next installment.

Synopsis:

Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can’t deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.
 
As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart.

Review:

Well, I almost cried.  Again.  What is it with these ghost books making me weepy?  Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready was indescribable.  Really.  It was completely addicting, taking up my entire day just so I could finish the book.  It made me sad, angry, elated, and so much more.  So kudos to Jeri. 

We follow Aura as she tries to juggle life.  On the one hand there’s Zachary, the Scottish hottie that happens to care about her.  On the other is Logan, the ghost who can’t pass, and her first and only love.  In this mystery, Aura tries to find about her and her mother’s past, all the while trying to piece together clues about the shift.

And it turns out, Aura can’t catch a break.  How can she be with Logan if she can’t even touch him.  And every time her and Zach kiss, the world gets kinda funky. 

So stay tuned folks, ’cause this book will knock your socks off!

(As an afterthought)  I really do not like the cover of this book.  It looks tacky to me.  (Which surprised me, since the cover of Shade was gorgeous.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random Thought for the Day: A Snowball’s Chance

   

  When I’m doing idle things that don’t take up my brain power, I tend to think about random things.  Today I happened to be making a cake for my father’s birthday when I thought about the expression, “A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.”.  For example, you might say to someone not so bright, “You have the a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting into Harvard.” 
     But, according to Dante, the ninth level of Hell is frozen, is it not?  So I would say a snowball’s chance of lasting in Hell would be pretty good. 
    Just some fodder for thoughts…

Monday, March 28, 2011

Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Title: Ruby Red

Author: Kerstin Gier

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication date: May 10, 2011

Hardcover: 336 pages

Stand Alone or Series: This is the first in a trilogy (Which was first released in Germany!)

How I got this book: ARC from Henry Holt and Co.

Why I chose this book: First of all, the title is what really got my attention.  It just left so much to the imagination.  Ruby Red…  Next was the cover, which is brilliant, and makes it onto my list of best book covers (ever). 

Synopsis:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Review:

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier was one of the best books I’ve read this year.  The plot, which kept me turning the pages rapidly, was one of most original I’ve come across in the YA genre.  Now I know why it’s an international bestseller!  (First published in Germany, FYI).  Gwyneth Shepherd, a seemingly ordinary girl with a love for movies and a best friend with a dectective streak, was born into a family of time travelers.  While she was lead to believe that gene had skipped her, it turns out she’s the Ruby, the last time traveler in the family.  While the romance – with a handsome Gideon (Man, I LOVE that name) – doesn’t seem to grow much in this novel, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the next installment.  Although the Master of the Temple lived in another century, that doesn’t stop his torment to be tranferred onto Gwenyth.  Now Gwenyth must adapt to her new life – which includes talking to ghosts – where secrets are common and the past is the present. 

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped

Author: Megan McCafferty

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication date: April 26, 2011

Hardcover: 336 pages

How I got this book: Egalley from Netgalley

Why I got this book:  I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian lately.  Since this book fits nicely into that category, I was real excited to get a start on Bumped

Synopsis:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Review:

Bumped, a novel by Megan McCafferty, is set in a world where only teenagers can have babys.  At present, when dystopian novels are at their prime, Bumped joined the dystopian party perfectly.  I enjoyed the unique, touchy concept that only teenagers can have children.  Since in the society that we live in, it is frowned upon for teenagers to have children. 

I’m going to give this novel 3.75 stars (even though I don’t use stars, I didn’t know another way to equivelate my feelings for this book).  It was okay.  But was it enough?  I felt like I was left with a lot of questions.  It had some very good parts, but it also had parts that seemed to drone on. 

So would I reccomend this book?  Yes.  There is enough “goodness” (as in the way it was written) in this book to make it likeable.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Many Books A Series Should Include

I’ve found that while reading a series, unless it is extremely good, I’m okay with the series having 3-4 books.  When we have these series that include dozens of books, it gets exasperating and too hard to follow.  For example, the House of Night Series.  Yes, I like the series.  Enough to put up with waiting for all twelve books to come out, to go back through them so I remember what happened?  Not so sure.  Another example is the blue bloods series.  I really loved the first several.  But now, I feel as if the author is dragging out the story.  Of course, this is situational.  There are authors who can keep me interested through dozens of books, and I still wouldn’t be satisfied!  I also think part of the problem is the wait period in between.  The normal turnout rate for an author is 1 year.  So I’m waiting several years to finish a series that I keep forgetting about throughout the year.
This was my rant for today…
Happy reading!

Book Review: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Title: We’ll Always Have Summer

Author: Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication date: April 26, 2011

Hardcover: 304 pages

Stand Alone or Series:  This is the third in a trilogy.

How I got this book: E-galley from S&S

Why I chose this book: I’ve read the first two books in this trilogy and I adore them.  Probably on an unhealthy level.  Anyway, this is the final installment, and I was psyched. 

Synopsis:

Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she’s almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. Conrad has not gotten over the mistake he made when he let Belly go even as Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realizes that it’s now or never–tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good.

Belly will have to confront her feelings for Jeremiah and Conrad and face a truth she has possibly always known: she will have to break one of their hearts.

Review:

Jenny Han, you’ve done it again!  You’ve pulled on my heartstrings, and almost made me cry.  This epic final installment in the summer series was brilliant!  We’ll Always Have Summer starts off with young couple Jerimiah and Belly.  And while they may seem like the perfect couple, there’s a little trouble in paradise.  The answer?  A wedding!  As Jere and Belly prepare for the big day, Belly must face the past – and Conrad – and make sure she’s making the right choice.  I will not give away the ending, but IT WAS…  I can’t even say how brilliant.  Jenny Han ranks up with the authors who’ve changed my life, and her novels are on my five star list.  If you’ve held off on reading her books, get to the bookstore now and buy them! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds

Author: Daisy Whitney

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: November, 2010

Hardcover: 352 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone (I think).

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book: First of all, I love this cover. It’s simple, yet compelling.  I also love the saying on the top part of the book, “Hush little students, don’t say a word…”  That just really grabbed my attention.  It’s pretty eeries, and I wanted to know what it was all about.

Synopsis:

Some schools have honor codes.

Others have handbooks.

Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.
Review:

The Cover: Like I said above, the cover is five-stars, plus.  It’s truly compelling, even though it’s simple.  The kicker though is the eeries quote on the top of the cover, “Hush little students, don’t say a word…”  It’s what really made me pick this book up, so no one else could take it!

The Characters: Alex, the protagonist, is very normal.  And I loved that.  I loved that she wasn’t unbelievable in some way.  She’s a pianist, a lover of music, which really helped me connect to her since I play the piano as well.  She’s your typical teenage girl.  Her struggles, whether date-rape related or not, can be understood by many a teen. 

Martin is a-dork-able.  He’s the science-nerd, but he’s got some good looks.  Too bad he has bad timing.  He likes Alex, and their tentative relationship is a great way to seperate how a heartfelt relationship differs from a night without consent.

Carter is scum.  Like, bottom-of-your-shoe, don’t-even-bother-to-bend-over-to-scrape-it-off-scum.  I have to hand it too Whitney, that creating this character must have taken a lot.  Because I hate Carter.  He’s greasy and deceiving.  He’s one of those guys that’s all charm and schmooze out in the open, but behind closed doors he’s just corrupted.

The Plot:

Alex got drunk one night.  One of the first times she’s ever had alcohol, and she gets drunk.  The next thing she knows, she’s waking up in some guys room.  So what’s the verdict?  She can’t remember.

As Alex’s memory comes back to her in bits and pieces, Alex learns what she was dreading to know…  She was raped.  But she can’t go to the school.  At Themis Academy the teachers think the students are perfect.  They do no wrong.  Therefore, they don’t dole out punishments.  So Alex decides to go to the Mockingbirds, a “secret” school society that’s made by the students, for the students.  They’re there to serve justice.

It just so happens that on the board of the Mockingbirds is Martin, one of Alex’s best friends.  While Martin and Alex more into a slow, questioning, secret relationship, Alex is dealing with struggles of her own as she questions who she really is, and as more memories attack her randomly.

Overall: An amazing read.  I will definitely be reading anything else Whitney brings to the table.

Spare Thoughts: I don’t usually read books like this.  (I’m a romantic, what can I say?).  But I’m sooooo glad I did.  This book can relate to you in so many ways, even if you haven’t been date-raped.  It really gets to the core of your heart and make you think hard about your life.

Final: The Mockingbirds is eerie, compelling, and downright extraordinary.

Book Review: Those That Wake by Jesse Karp

Title: Those That Wake

Author: Jesse Karp

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

Publication date: March 21, 2011

Hardcover: 336 pages

How I got this book: Egalley from Netgalley.

Why I chose this book: The cover is what really caught my attention.  That and the title.  They both jump out at you and draw you in. 

Synopsis:

New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will. 
 
But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.

Review:

I have to admit, I was really exicted to read this book after reading the synopsis.  Don’t let that note get you down.  Though I was slightly disspointed by this book, it did have it’s pros.  It was complex.  Enough so to keep me involved in the story and flipping pages.  It’s a nice addition to the dystopian genre that blowing up at the moment.  However, the book takes on a very somber, the-world-is-gonna-end tone.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s not for everyone.

Guest Book Review: Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Title: Luminous

Author: Dawn Metcalf

Publisher: Dutton

Publication date: June 30, 2011

Hardcover: 304 pages

How I got this book: ARC from Dutton

Synopsis:

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.

When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela’s way home.

Review:

The Cover: Very intricate.  I love it, even though it’s pink.  My sister likes it, too.

The Characters: They’re good. I loved Tender, V was cool.  Bones/Consuela was pretty good.  Wish was annoying, but well-written, etc.  They were all well-rounded. Joseph Crow was one of my favorites.
The Story: Interesting, original idea… kind of weird. Weird is good :).  I liked it.
Overall:  I had a few problems with it.  It took about fifty pages for me to actually get interested in the story. I think some people who died didn’t have to.  Although, that’s also the mark of a good book – I care enough about the characters that I want them to live.
Spare Thoughts: None.

Final: Although it took some time for her to fall into the flow (no pun intended…) Dawn Metcalf crafted a worthy read.

Fifteen Authors Who’ve Changed My Life

It’s really hard picking favorites when it comes to authors and books.  There are just. So. Many.  But, even though it’s a challenge, I’ve come up with a list of (only) fifteen that have really touched my heart and haunted my dreams.  Here gos:

  1. Elizabeth Chandler (which is actually an alias for Mary Claire Helldorfer).  She’s written the Kissed by an Angel series, which features the recent installment, Evercrossed.  I never cry when I read (or watch movies for that matter).  But the Kissed by an Angel series had me pretty close.  She also has some other books out: the Dark Secrets series, I Do, At First Sight, and a bunch more.
  2. Beth Revis.  I feel like I shouldn’t have to say more.  Her debut, Across the Universe, was recently released, and boy! is it a mind-blower.  It’s one of those rare books that are so complex, so completely compelling, that it garners instant respect and love.  So kudos to Revis!  Watch for the sequel, A Million Suns, expected to be published in 2012 (sigh). 
  3. Daniel Waters, a blower-of-minds.  How could a zombie series touch my heart, you may ask?  Well, the emotions in this book are so palpable, so extreme… His books was definitely a roller-coaster ride.  If you don’t know what books I’m talking about, what’s wrong with you?! (Joking!)  He is the author of the Generation Dead series. 
  4. Jay Asher, emotion harbinger extraordinaire.  I’m talking about his novel, Thirteen R3asons Why.  It is impossible to put down.  Even though at the beginning of the novel we know what’s to happen at the end (much like Romeo and Juliet, methinks), I couldn’t help but wish that somehow there would be hope.  Score one for Asher. 
  5. Susane Colasanti, the master of romance.  Or mistress, I should say.  She has several novels out, but my favorites (by far) are Take Me There and When It Happens.  I’m eagerly awaiting her upcoming novel, So Much Closer, which hits stores May 3rd. 
  6. Richelle Mead is a goddess.  I don’t know where I would be without the Vampire Academy Series.  They. Are. Epic.  Need I say more?  But Richelle Mead’s epicness transcends the YA genre, with her other adult novels. 
  7. Gillian Shields broke my heart with her Immortal Series.  Sebastian!! Come back!!  Haven’t read the series?  I won’t give away any spoilers, but this is definitely one of the best series I’ve (ever) read.  It really pulls on the ol’ heartstrings.  The third installment in the series comes this August, so watch out!
  8. Stephenie Meyer.  I’m tired of the bad wrap she’s been given, so I’ll admit it.  I LOVE the Twilight Series.  It’s one of those books you either love or hate.  But that’s okay, because that’s what great writing does: it gets some kind of emotion out of you.  Her other books include: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, and The Host.
  9. Lili St. Crow is an author I’ve only recently discovered.  Her Strange Angels Series was one that I always saw on the bookshelf at the store, but always put off reading.  If you happen to be doing the same, knock it off!  This series is mind-blowing.  It puts a new spin on the paranormal genre, and you get to read about a badass protagonist.
  10. Ally Carter has many books out.  But the one I hold above all others is Heist Society.  I adore reading about thieves and gadgets and awesomeness, and Heist Society had it all.  She’s also written the Gallager Girl’s Series and some adult books as well!  The second book in the Heist Society Series, Uncommon Criminals, comes out in late June.
  11. Sara Zarr.  She’s written Story of a Girl and Once Was Lost.  But the kicker (at least for me) was Sweethearts.  It’s true torture that there isn’t a sequel to this book.  I’ve recommended it to several people, all of whom loved it completely. 
  12. Elizabeth Scott, another mistress of romance who scores for the underdogs.  My personal favorite of hers is Something, Maybe.  It’s such a sweet read that I love rereading over and over.  Her other novels are Perfect You, The Unwritten Rule, and several others.  Her upcoming novel, Between Here and Forever, hits stores May 24th. 
  13. Maggie Stiefvater forever changed the werewolf genre.  I lucked out that Shiver and Linger  happened to be some of the first werewolf novels I’ve read.  But that’s not the only fantasy she’s written about.  She’s written about faeries in her novels Lament and Ballad.  The final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Series comes out July 12th.
  14. Jessica Verday has knocked my socks off.  (Figuratively).  Her characters will haunt you.  If you haven’t read The Hollow and The Haunted, you better get to it, because the next installment in The Hollow Series comes out in September.  Look for The Hidden!
  15. Stephanie Perkins recently released her debut, Anna and the French Kiss, and it just has je ne sais pas.  It was perfect, complex, addicting!  I can’t wait for her new upcoming novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Title: Nightshade

Author: Andrea Cremer

Publisher: Philomel

Publication date: October, 2010

Hardcover: 528 pages

Stand Alone or Series: Series–this is the first in a series

How I got this book: bought

Why I chose this book: I wasn’t going to buy it.  I thought I’d had enough of the vampire/werewolf craze.  But I had a weak moment, and decided to buy it. Just… wow.  Even if you haven’t indicted yourself into the wold craze, you need to check out this book!

Synopsis:

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers.

But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Review:

Emotional, sexy, unpredictable, addicting–I could keep on going, but the point is: Nightshade has it all.  Cremer delivers in this fast-paced werewolf story about one badass she-wolf, her soon-to-be betrothed, and the mysterious boy who shakes everyone up.  But don’t let Calla’s (the protagonist) alpha-ness confuse you.  She isn’t emotionless and tough all the time.  Who will she end up with?  Ren, the male-alpha who makes her heart stutter, along with a bunch of other girls’?  Or Shay, the confused boy she risks everything – even her own life – for?  Definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a while.  Whether you’re into the werewolf craze or not, don’t leave out Nightshade.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop WINNER!

Hey all!  Thanks for all the new followers, you guys are awesome!  So, using Random.org I picked TWO winners to recieve a signed copy of In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane. 

And the winner’s are…
RachyBee
and
starryeyedjen
!!!
Congrats to the winners!  And to those who didn’t, don’t fret!  There will be another contest (very) soon!  So don’t forget to check back often!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

When it’s too much: my sympathies to Stephenie Meyer

          Recently I was reading some articles on Stephenie Meyer and the whole “Midnight Sun Debacle”.  Maybe it’s just me, but I get the sense the Stephanie Meyer is sad.  When is it too much? I asked myself.  She’s got fame and fortune, yes, but that’s not all that matters.  She had a dream once, and now she says that writing about vampires feels like a chore.  Being a writer myself, I know that no writer should ever feel this way.  Your characters are your friends; their lives whatever you want to make them.  They’re companions, someone you can hold onto forever.  But does Meyer want to hold onto Bella and Edward? 
          So my sympathies go out to Stephenie Meyer, whether she is, in fact, sad, or if she’s as happy as pie.  Life is hard, and it’s the things that we love that help us get through it.  The love of writing and words is a magnificent one, and I hope she claims the chance to rediscover it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Visit the Harry Potter World

In Spring of 2012, Warner Bros is going to unveil it’s new project.  Dum dum da dum…. the “Making of Harry Potter”! 

This is a walking tour of the actual sets of Harry Potter, a THREE HOUR tour.  You’ll get the ultimate fan access of sets, costumes, props, and so much more. 

The only sad part?  It’s all the way over in England!  Hopefully I’ll get to go see it some day (Cross my fingers!) 

Some things you’ll get to see: The Great Hall (with the actual tables from the movie).  And Dumbledore’s Office! 

Wow.  This is ah-mazing!  Harry Potter fans are gonna flip. 

Hello Harry!

Did you hear?  Well… Did Ya?  ABC Family showed some sneak peaks the other night of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Deux (that’s 2). 

Didn’t get to catch it?

Don’t worry, I have it right here!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Upcoming Books of 2011: The Master List

  1. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
  2. Abandon by Meg Cabot
  3. Fateful by Claudia Gray
  4. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
  5. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
  6. The Eternal Sea by Angie Frazia
  7. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
  8. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
  9. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  10. Wildfire by Karsten Knight
  11. Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
  12. Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
  13. Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
  14. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnick
  15. Chime by Franny Billingsley
  16. Bargains and Betrayals by Shannon Delany
  17. Moonglsas by Jessi Kirby
  18. Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
  19. The Lucky King by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
  20. Undercurrent: A Siren Novel by Tricia Rayburn
  21. After Midnight by Lynn Viehl
  22. Hereafter by Tara Hudson
  23. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
  24. Back When You Were Easier To Love by Emily Smith
  25. Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  26. Dead Rules by Randy Russell
  27. Nocturne by Christine Johnson
  28. The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
  29. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
  30. Enclave by Ann Aguirre
  31. Die For Me by Amy Plum
  32. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  33. Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
  34. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  35. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
  36. Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
  37. Possession by Elana Johnson
  38. Starcrossed by Josephone Angelini
  39. Everlasting by Alyson Noel
  40. Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
  41. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
  42. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  43. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  44. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  45. Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
  46. Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
  47. Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
  48. Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers
  49. So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
  50. Lemniscate by Jennifer Murgia
  51. The Iron Quill by Shelena Shorts
  52. The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls by Wendy Delsol
  53. Wildcat Fireflies by Amber Kizer
  54. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  55. The Hidden by Jessica Verday
  56. Crossed by Ally Condie
  57. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
  58. Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
  59. Swear by Nina Malkin
  60. Eternal by Gillian Shields
  61. Somtimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
  62. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  63. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
  64. Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
  65. Texas Gothic by Rosemarie Clement-Moore
  66. Secrets by Lauren Kunze
  67. Sweep Vol. 4 by Cate Tiernan
  68. Defiance by Lili St. Crow
  69. Passion by Lauren Kate
  70. Forever by maggie Stiefvater
  71. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
  72. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  73. Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
  74. Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready
  75. Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
  76. Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
  77. Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Phew!  That took a while, and I know I missed some!  If you know of any upcoming books not on the list, let me know in the comments!

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!

St. Patty’s Day has almost arrived which means it’s time for the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!! 
Here at The Book Heist you can win something great…
Dum dum da dum!
I have some signed copies of In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane!
Head on over to the contest page and see how you can win!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review: Van Diemen at 17 by Jeania Kimbrough

Title: Van Diemen at 17

Author: Jeania Kimbrough

Publisher: Smoke Signal Press

Publication date: December, 2010

Stand alone or series:  Stand alone

Softcover: 326 pages

How I got this book: bought

Why I chose this book:  I was really excited to read about a study abroad experience, especially in Australia, therefore I picked this book.

Synopsis:

On the edge of adulthood, idealistic Kara Jagger has high hopes for a year-long high school exchange in the land of “Aus,” where she seeks personal growth and adventure on an island over eight thousand miles from home. Everything she wants comes easily to Kara until she arrives in Tasmania, where she feels stuck in a situation that draws her down. Her exchange program assigns a counselor, Ben, to help her get back on track, but her emotions and misadventures only become more tangled as their romantic attraction ignites. Set in mid-eighties Australia, Van Diemen at 17 is a novel about dealing with the unexpected, moving forward, and bittersweet love.

Review:

I was very disappointed by Van Diemen at 17.  I had great hopes for it.  Delving into the story of Kara, a 17 year old girl studying abroad in Australia isn’t the adventure that it should be.  Kara rashly and quickly falls into an unbelievable relationship with Ben, her counselor, who tends to creep me out rather than make my heart crumble.  Though occasionally I like reading about the study abroad experience, I was still upset over this book.  I don’t have much else to say.  As harsh as it sounds, and it could be a matter of opinion, I wouldn’t bother reading this book.

Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Harlequin

Publication Date: April 19, 2011

Softcover: 304 pages

Stand alone or series: Series–this is the first in a series

How I got this book: Ebook from Netgalley

Why I chose this book: I really love Greek Mythology, and when I heard that some authors would be rewriting them for teens, I was uber excited!

Synopsis:

Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it’s Kate’s turn.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

Review:

Though I admit I was slightly disappointed by The Goddess Test, it did have it’s redeeming qualities.  While first starting out reading this retelling of the tale of Persephone and Hades, I couldn’t stop thinking about Meg Cabot’s book – also coming out in April – that is also a retelling of Persephone and Hades.  But while delving deeper into the book, there were more details that separated the two.  In The Goddess Test, there really are tests that Kate, the protagonist, has to take before she can become immortal.  While I thought the love Kate feels for Henry is rash at first, it became more sincere as the story proceeded.  I was also blown away by the surprises in the plot that took me by, well, surprise!  While The Goddess Test isn’t one of the best books I’ve ever read, I would recommend it. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Review: Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Title: Everlasting

Author : Angie Frazier

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication date: June, 2010

Stand Alone or Series:  Series–this is the first in a series

Hardcover: 336 pages

How I got this book: Bought

Why I chose this book:  It was taunting me in the bookstore.

Synopsis:

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.

Review:

Ahoy Maties!  Get on board this fast pace swashbuckling adventure.  Frazier weaves an enchanting tale that takes place on the sea, on land, and involving some beasties you could never imagine!  But don’t be mistaken.  This isn’t a pirate tale at all.  Follow the romantic strains of Camille, who has a fiancee at home, and Oscar, the first mate.  Include in the mix Ira, the saracast and witty con artist, and you’ve got quite the adventure.  All the character’s are vivid and laugh out loud.  Everlasting was fun, sweet, sad, hilarious, scary, and every other emotion you can dredge up.  I would recommend it to fans of different era, romance, and the great open sea.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review: Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

Title: Heavenly

Author: Jennifer Laurens

Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing, LLC

Publication date: November, 2010

Softcover: 292 pages

Stand alone or series: Series–this is the first in a series

How I got this book: From the author–JL

Why I chose this book: I’ve had this eye on my book for a while.  It seemed really interesting, and I’ve just been too busy to get around to it.  Now I’m glad I did.

Synopsis:

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister’s guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe’s sister darts in front of cars. Her brother’s a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don’t see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe’s autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he’s legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can’t last forever.

Review:

Heavenly took my expectations and blew them away!  I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m going to be vague and say I saw some things in this book that I’ve NEVER SEEN BEFORE.  Crazy, I know.  My emotions were on a rollercoster all throughout Heavenly, as I followed the growing relationship between Zoe and Matthias.  There are twists and surprises, there are somber moments, there are sweet nothings.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something different, or love a heart stopping romance.

In the Arms of Stone Angels Trailer

Interview with Joran Dane

So I had the chance to do an interview with author Jordan Dane.  Her YA novel, In the Arms of Stone Angels, comes out in late March, and she’s written several adult novels.  Make sure you add In the Arms of Stone Angels in your to-read pile, because it’s one you won’t want to miss!
Here goes:



Jordan Dane



Q-What kind of research did you have to do for In the Arms of Stone Angels?
A-For Stone Angels, the main research came from the Native American inspirations for the book. I wanted to highlight a tribe that not many people know about, the Euchee. And I got this tribe name from a librarian friend of mine, Susan Johnson, who is in charge of the Native American cultural resources at the Sapulpa OK library. She is a fan of my adult books and had always wanted me to write a story based in Oklahoma. And yes, I listen to my readers. But one of the coolest things about my working with Susan was the inspiration behind White Bird, my half breed outcast American Indian boy. Since I’m part Hispanic, I knew what it was like to face bigotry in all forms. Even as a kid, I recognized it for what it was. So I wanted to create a character who wasn’t full blooded, who straddled a line between cultures, not fitting on either side. And when I was describing my character to Susan, she said, “I know this boy.”

Yes, there is a real Whitebird. He’s a great kid who also graciously allowed me to use his name, because I loved the symbolism of innocence and he helped me research how to make a sweat lodge, for example. The real Whitebird was just released from the foster care system in Oklahoma and is now living on his own. We’re friends on Facebook, in fact. My story is fictional, so please don’t think this poor guy ever was in a mental hospital or was involved in a crime J, but I really admire his ability to survive the struggles in his young life with the optimism and maturity he has. He’s an inspiration in many ways. I recently blogged about him on my YA blog at: http://jordandanebooks.blogspot.com/
 



Q-What was your writing process like?

A-When you love what you do, it’s hard to call it a process. That sounds too much like real work. As an author, my mind never stops thinking about stories and characters. I can be watching a commercial and I’ll pick up on something that triggers a thought or a line of dialogue or an image I want to describe. I write every day. I take days off at times, but it always feels like I’m missing something if I don’t write, like the lives of my characters are going on without me and I’ll miss something. Writing is a strange addiction that has added so much to my quality of life. I’ve become a better listener. I prefer hearing other people tell me their stories. And I see things every day that make me want to write about it.

Generally, I write every day between the hours of 9-4, although that’s not a hard and fast rule. I take breaks and handle the business end of my job after those hours. I edit what I’ve written every night before I go to bed. I edit, edit and edit as I go along until I’m able to let go of that scene or chapter. So when I’m at the end of my book, I don’t have to go over it again and rewrite draft after draft of it. I’m ready to move on to another story. One of my favorite quotes about writing is  “A book is never done. It’s only abandoned.” I can totally see that.

I also don’t plot. I see books unfolding in my head like a movie. And I follow my instincts on how a story should be told. I believe that someone can learn the craft of writing, but it’s the story telling that separates authors and distinguishes them from each other. In my opinion, storytelling is innate and can’t really be taught. It’s instinct. I also like the idea of learning the craft of writing, but then breaking the rules when I see it fits…just for fun. I guess I’m a bit of a rebel like my character Brenna Nash.
 


Q-Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A-I LOVE to talk to aspiring authors of all ages. Write, write and write some more. For budding teen authors, I think it’s important to write anything, from poetry to your thoughts and feelings. The roots to a budding author start early and can become rooted very deeply in who you are or will become. That’s the way it was with me. I never forgot my love for writing, from my teen years. At that age, writing is more about self-expression and developing the ways you will think as an adult too. Writing can be a way of exploring who you are. And it’s the same whether you’re an adult or not.

On my adult website, I have a FOR WRITERS page that I post articles on author craft and other topics. I keep this page updated to pay back all the kindnesses other authors have shown me. It’s my way of “paying it forward.” http://www.jordandane.com/writers.php  I have my first sale story posted, plus writer tips on many subjects.

But the best advice I can give anyone is to write every day. The writing is the only thing we can control. It’s what makes us most happy. The minute I decided that I would write, whether I ever sold or not, that was the day I knew I had found a passion that would be hard to deny. I sold not soon after that, but I would still be doing it if that had never happened. I heard a motivational speaker say that he wrote his non-fiction book doing it a page a day. After I heard that, I had no more excuses. I made time for what was important to me. And that’s good advice whether you’re a writer or not. 

Q-What part(s) of In the Arms of Stone Angels did you like writing the most?

A-I loved “being in” this book the whole time. And when it came to finishing it, I stalled, not wanting to leave Brenna and White Bird. I wanted to know what would come next for them. Now that I’ve created them, they live in my mind. So the flashbacks to how Brenna fell in love with White Bird and remembered him were some of my favorite passages. People remember the past, not like a running video of their life, but they see a color or feel a chill in the air and that triggers a memory or a feeling. For Brenna, seeing a small bird might always remind her of how she met White Bird or nudge at the memory of their first kiss on the day they set the wounded bird free, for example.  Through the book I shared the past for her by those types of triggers. What triggers your best memories?

I also loved how Brenna’s perception of her mother changed from start to finish of that book without any scene actually being written from the mother’s point of view. I wanted Brenna to be the judge of her mother’s actions. And I thought it was important to stay in Brenna’s head to do that.

For more on Brenna and White Bird, readers can visit my YA website for a Q&A on them. Here is the link for that: http://www.jordandane.com/YA/jordan.php
  

Q-Will there be a sequel to In the Arms of Stone Angels? 
A-I planted seeds in this story for a sequel. They were deliberate. I wanted the story to feel like it had ended and was standalone in plot, but I wanted small meaty morsels to choose from if my publisher wanted me to write a sequel. We’ll see how this first book goes. I can certainly see a whole world built around Brenna looking for her estranged father and how her “gift” was a legacy from him and his family. And since Brenna talks at the end of the book about finding her own path/destiny to becoming a star in the night sky, I think there are stories that could help her get there. Her strong ties to White Bird and Joe Sunne, the Euchee Shaman, are not accidents. And her connection to the dead is worth exploring. I actually can see a whole series coming from this book. And I absolutely LOVED being in the heads of Brenna and White Bird. Those two have a bond that transcends this life. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out what their connection might be? 
Q-What is your upcoming book, On A Dark Wing, about? 
A-Sixteen year old Abbey Chandler cheats death and lives past her expiration date, but her lucky break comes at a price. And Death has never forgotten. Now, years later, Abbey is riddled with guilt over her mother’s death and the role she played in it. She’s become a loner and her father’s occupation hasn’t helped her DOA social life. Her father is the only mortician in a small Alaska town and he runs his business out of the house she lives in. Bodies are stored in her basement to be planted with the spring thaw in Alaska. Kids call her the ghoul next door, Zombie Queen, Citizen from Cremation Nation, and Necro Girl. She’s heard it all. But when Death comes calling, he sends his black winged messengers to find her. And when her secret crush, Nate Holden, crosses paths with the Angel of Death because of her, his soul is on the bargaining table. And Abbey is the only one who can speak up for him.

I’ll have an excerpt on my website soon for this 2012 book with Harlequin Teen. Below is a sneak peek at the early book jacket summary:

On a Dark Wing
Harlequin Teen (2012)
ISBN 978-0-373-21041-1

The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over.
I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s Ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.

Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.
 

Q-What made you decide to write for the YA genre?

A-I loved reading YA books. They are so imaginative and rich in atmosphere…and possibility. I love dark edgy YA and wanted to write stories that were grounded in the teen experience yet force my characters to deal with sometimes life of death situations. So when I was between adult projects, I had a chat with my niece, Dana, who loves dark edgy YA too. She had graduated high school and was about to enroll in college. Before she took off to school, we spent a long weekend playing “what if” games about the book idea I was hatching. We took photos of location shots for the small town. And we came up with inspirational character images and clothing ideas. And we ate a lot of sushi, brain food. In short, the book was an excuse to have fun, but we also created a foundation for the book and got to know each other better in the process. Basically, YA stretches me as a writer. The only thing that limits an author of YA is their own imagination. What’s not to love about that?
 

Q-What are some of your favorite authors and books? 
A-I have a list of my favorite reads, but this list is growing all the time. Here’s my latest list of YA books that I loved reading and my take on what they are about.

1.      THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak – The story of a young German girl during the time of the Holocaust, narrated by Death. An amazing story that the New York Times endorsed as “life changing.” (This book is on the top of my list for a reason.)
2.      CITY OF BONES, CITY OF ASHES, CITY OF GLASS by Cassandra Clare (the Immortal Instruments series) – An urban fantasy story with incredible world building and wonderful characterizations. Prepare to get sucked in.
3.      THE HUNGER GAMES, CATCHING FIRE, MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins – A futuristic tale told through the eyes of a young girl in a post-apocalyptic world where the government demands two sacrificial tributes (gladiators, one of each sex) from each of its territories, for a televised reality show fight to the death.
4.      THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher – It’s the story of a girl who had committed suicide and sent audio tapes to the 13 people who had contributed to her making that decision. (An amazing debut for this gifted author.)
5.      WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson – This novel is the gripping tale of a girl secretly suffering from an eating disorder as she plummets closer to dying, all under the watchful eye of her well-intentioned parents. (The Queen of Edgy YA)
6.      IF I STAY by Gayle Forman – After a tragic car accident, a young girl loses her entire family and is in a coma in the hospital, but she’s aware of everything that is happening and must find the will to stay with the living or die and let go.
7.      THIRTEEN DAYS TO MIDNIGHT by Patrick Carman – A creepy gut-wrenching fantasy. After a fateful car accident where he should have died, a young boy realizes his guardian had given him the powerful gift of invulnerability before he died in that same crash. He gave him the power to survive horrific accidents, and once the boy realizes this ability can be transferred to others to save their lives too, will his newfound skill become a gift or a curse?
8.      STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr – A young teen girl’s life is changed forever after she’s discovered by her father in a car having sex with a boy. (This is a simple story without a lot of bells and whistles, but it reads like a real slice of life.)

 And BTW, a book that I can hardly wait to read is from a debut YA author, Karsten Knight. His book is called Wildfire ( July 2011, Simon & Schuster)

There you have it folks!

Book Review: In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Title: In the Arms of Stone Angels

Author: Jordan Dane

Publisher: Harlequin

Publication date: March 22, 2011

Softcover: 320 pages

Stand alone or Series: Not sure yet.  I’m thinking it’s stand alone.

How I got this book: an e-galley from net galley.

Why I chose this book: It seemed interesting.  Especially the title, which made me want to read the book and see what it was about.

Synopsis:

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend–the first boy she ever loved–of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac “White Bird” Henry isn’t in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she’s pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn’t understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she’s up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she’s as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won’t turn her back on him. She’s the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret–a “gift” she’s kept hidden her whole life.

Review:

Emotions run high In the Arms of  Stone Angels.  In a blindingly amazing plot full of intrigue, Jordan Dane takes you through a breathtaking mystery with a paranormal twist like you’ve never seen before.  I don’t know how to express its complexity and general awesomeness.  It’s a story like I’ve never seen before.  A page turner that will keep you up into the wee hours of the morning dying to race to the end.  I give it two thumbs up!  Five stars!  I can’t wait to see what Dane brings to the YA genre next.  Make sure you read this book–available March 22nd!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Contest Winners!

Hey all!  I have exciting news!  The winners to my first contest ever!  Yay! (That’s too many exclamation points…)
So here they are:
The Winner of Thirst by Christopher Pike is… Eli Squared!
The Winner of Wake by Lisa McMann is… Minas!
The Winner of The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima is… Mary Ellen T!
Congrats, and if you didn’t win, best of luck next time!