July 26, 2010

Contest Winner!

Congrats to Kjovus who won the ARC of "Perchance to Dream".
An e-mail was sent out moments before this post, so be on the lookout!
Thanks to everyone who entered. I will be having another contest very soon, so there is more to come!

July 25, 2010

Contesting Ending in 3 Hours!

I just wanted to remind everyone that the "Perchance to Dream" ARC contest is ending in about 3 hours! I hope no one misses out! Click here to enter.

July 22, 2010

Review "Pretty Little Liars"

"Pretty Little Liars"
By Sara Shepard


Pub. Date: August 8, 2008
Pages: 304


Everyone has something to hide—especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna.

Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. And Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.

But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.

How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were and the naughty girls they are now. And guess what? I'm telling.

Working in a bookstore I had always seen this book on the shelf but was never interested in picking it up. I have to admit that the biggest hook for me was actually the theme song for the show, hearing it on the commercials just made me HAVE to read this book. I feel like these books are guilty pleasures. The characters do all these extreme things from stealing, hooking up with an older man, stealing boyfriends, and more (I don't want to give too much away). I don't know if those things were spoilers, but seriously they are nothing in compared to the rest of the secrets that Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are hiding. I am dying to know what happened to Ally, who A is, and the secret that would ruin all the girls' lives! I am so glad that the characters are so different, I feel like there is at least one character that most girls can relate to. I feel like now I am an Aria, but in high school I was probably more of an Emily; I don't think I had any secrets nearly as juicy.

Part of me feels that I am way too old to be reading these books, but I seriously could not put down the first book! I am so glad I took a chance on this series and read something that I never thought I would enjoy. I am pretty bummed that I don't get home from work early enough to watch the show on TV. I'll have to see if any episodes are available online... I might just have to splurge and buy them on iTunes.

I don't really know what else to say about "Pretty Little Liars" because it would be so easy to give away some of the plot. If you want to learn more about the series or just want to see a cool website then check out http://www.prettylittleliars.com/. You can make your own character, see hints about some of the secrets in each book, or just learn about the series.
This is the "Pretty Little Liar" doll I made! I think it is time to end this review.

July 17, 2010

Review of "A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend"

"A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend"
By Emily Horner


Pub. Date: June 6, 2010
Pages: 272

Synopsis: For months, Cass has heard her best friend, Julia, whisper about a secret project. When Julia dies in a car accident, her drama friends decide to bring the project--a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad--to fruition. But Cass isn't a drama person. She can't take a summer of painting sets, and she won't spend long hours with Heather, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school and has somehow landed the leading role. So Cass takes off. In alternating chapters, she spends the first part of summer on a cross-country bike trip and the rest swallowing her pride, making props, and--of all things--falling for Heather. This is a story of the breadth of love. Of the depth of friendship. And of the most hilarious musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

I was very impressed by Emily Horner's debut book; it had a lot of depth making it a great coming of age story. It deals with many classic topics such as sexuality, teasing, first love, friendship and grieving. Cass goes on her own journey to escape the past while searching for her identity. Many readers will be able to relate to Cass's feeling and may have gone through similar experiences. I really liked Heather's character and thought Horner did a great job at making her likable even with her treatment of Cass in the past. Even though Julia was dead, she still had a presence in the book and I felt like I knew her.

This book covers a lot of serious topics, but is able to stay upbeat and funny at the same time. Cass has a great cast of friends even if she doesn't realize it at the beginning. They can be goofy while still being good friends when it matters most. The play adds another level of humor, but is also what brings about many of the conflicts. Cass's bicycling trip is just one step that helps her move on with her life having both it's quirky, memorable and scary, "what will happen next" moments.

I am so glad I signed up for the Debut Author Challenge because I may not have picked up this book otherwise. I am attracted to this cover, but I am so far behind on my reading I don't know if I would have picked it up. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen or John Green. I think this would make a great Summer Reading book or book club selection.

July 14, 2010

Review of "Broken Birds, the Story of My Momila"

"Broken Birds, the Story of My Momila"
Jeannette Katzir


Pub. Date:
April 2, 2009
Pages: 378
Reading Level: Adult

Synopsis: World War II has long since ended,and yet Jacyln and her siblings grow up learning to survive it. Having lived through the Holocaust on the principle of constant distrust, their mother, Channa, dutifully teaches her children to cling to one another while casting a suspicious eye to the outside world. When Channa dies the contents of her will will force her children to fight . . each other.

When I was first asked to read this book I wasn't exactly sure what the book was about. The descriptions about the book were pretty vague and I didn't want to read other reviews. I have always found The Holocaust and other genocides interesting to study (yes I know this is a bit twisted), so I just had to accept this offer. I really enjoyed this book, it was very different from the other books that I have read about The Holocaust; it covered two stories of survival, as well as how their experiences effected the characters and their families.

I found it very interesting how the mother and father fears about the past lead to them instilling different ideals into their children that followed them into adulthood. Some of these fears developed into unhealthy behaviors that tore the family apart. I found it heartbreaking that Channa felt that it was her responsibility to bare as many children as possibly to make up for her family lost in The Holocaust and that her fears manifested into an unhealthy paranoia which put severe stress on the family. I'm not saying that her paranoia wasn't understandable, she went through a lot at a young age and it is bound to affect her for the rest of her life, but it was just sad how she had trouble living her life after she got it back.

I really enjoyed "Broken Bird, the Story of My Momila", but towards the end it seemed to move a little slowly. I think some of the family struggles could have been cut out, I understand why they were added, but I'm not sure if they were all necessary.

I know this book isn't a YA book, but Channa and Nathan are in that age group going through The Holocaust, Jeannette also talks about how different things were for her growing up because of her parent's experiences. If that isn't enough, then reading about someone else's dysfunctional family is always interesting. If you want to learn more about Katzir's book there was a great article in "The Huffington Post" about it.

July 10, 2010

Contest for ARC of "Perchance to Dream" by Lisa Mantchev

This is a super simple contest! All you have to do is reply to this post with your e-mail. This contest is only open to U.S. residents and you must be at least 13 to enter. This contest is running through July 25th (11:59 Eastern Standard Time). Check out my contest policies for more information, but I think this is all super straight forward. If anything is unclear just e-mail me and I will get back to you ASAP. I have read this ARC, but it is still in great condition.

July 7, 2010

Review of "Perchance to Dream"

"Perchance To Dream"
Lisa Mantchev


Pub. Date: May 25th, 2010
Pages: 352

Synopsis: From the critically acclaimed author of Eyes Like Stars

We are such stuff as dreams are made on.

Act Two, Scene One

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between—

Nate: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

Ariel: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. She and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief, who has in his possession something most valuable, and meet The Mysterious Stranger, Bertie’s father—and the creator of the scrimshaw medallion. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

I was so excited to read this book and I can't believe that it took me so long to get to it! I really enjoyed this second installment of "The Theatre Illuminata" Series, I wasn't as in love with it as the first book, but Lisa Mantchev was able to create another magical book. I love how the series blends reality with the stage, blurring the lines, forcing the reader to go with whatever happens next. I really liked how the book was used in this book allowing for interesting scene changes and drama lots of drama.

I was happy to see that the fairies came out in full force again in this book and that the new characters were unique. Bertie continued to be the strong and stubborn female heroin I adored in the first book. Even though it might have been best for her to ask for help in some instances, I can't help but admire her self sufficient attitude. Even though Ariel's fury was subdued for much of the book, he did get a chance to show off in other ways and was an interesting character to follow through the story. I had my doubts about how I would feel about his role in "Perchance to Dream", but he definitely won me over. Lucky for you that I won't say more about the rest of the characters in the book because 1- I would probably go all fan girl and 2- I might accidentally let a spoiler slip.

I can't wait to see what Mantchev has in store in the next book; I have trouble imagining what new scenes she will create. Check out the series website for excerpts and the trailer of “Perchance to Dream”.

July 5, 2010

Author Interview with Alan Tucker

Author Alan Tucker just released his first book "A Measure of Disorder" and is currently working on his second book. "A Cure for Chaos", the sequel in the "Mother-Earth" series, should be available early 2011. I really enjoyed Alan's book and was excited that he took the time to answer some of my questions. Here is my review of "A Measure of Disorder" and a link to the books website where you can find an excerpt from the book.

Synopsis: High school will be a breeze for Jenni Kershaw - if she lives long enough to enroll, that is. Jenni's ordinary, eighth grade life becomes a thing of the past when her science class goes on a field trip. Armed with only their notebooks, MP3 players, and wits, Jenni and her classmates are unknowingly transported to another world. There they encounter amazing creatures, some of which think a kid shish kebab would be a tasty treat. But they soon find the greatest dangers they face may come from themselves ... Follow Jenni and her class on their extraordinary adventures in their fight to discover who - and what - they really are.

1) Why did you decide to write a book?

My "day job", if you will, is graphic design and advertising, so I've actually been writing fiction for some time ; ) — okay, okay, advertising isn't really fiction, or at least it shouldn't be! But I majored in English Literature in college and have always had the writing bug in the back of my mind at the very least. I wrote some poetry and short stories with some success in and after college, then moved on to other creative ventures. I've started several novels through the years, but never seemed to have the whole package until this project. I'd either have a great beginning with nowhere to go, or I'd have a terrific ending with no way to start. I found myself some time last summer when my younger daughter was away visiting relatives and decided to give this project a go. It flowed quite steady with only a couple of hiccups along the way.

2) Did you know that this would be a series when you first started?

I had several ideas for where I wanted the story to go and pretty quickly realized it would take more than one book to tell the stories I wanted. The biggest challenge was fashioning an "ending" for the first book, because I don't like reading series books that don't really have some resolution of their own. Of course there will be untied threads to lead into the next installment, but the reader should leave the story with satisfaction, not frustration in waiting for the next book.

3) Where did you get the idea of the characters finding their true identity in another world?

I came at that from a couple of different directions. One theme in the book(s) is that many myths in our world may have kernels of truth to them. Why do so many cultures have stories about fairies, goblins and dragons? Maybe the common elements came from somewhere in "fact". Then secondly, I wanted to explore issues that affect teens universally. One of those is puberty and the process of becoming an adult. What if that process involved physical changes on a massive level? Also, the themes of fitting in, class and gender roles, and genetics vs. environment play a large part in the story. Crank develops many of these from the "other side" so to speak.

4) Do any of your characters reflect people in your life?

Each of the characters probably reflect amalgams of people in my life rather than any one in particular. I think every writer forms characters in a similar way. Writing is based on your experiences as a person, so the characters naturally have a basis in that experience. I can recall a couple of teachers with qualities like those of Ms. Pap and Mr. Kain. Likewise, the kids have aspects of people I grew up with, along with kids my daughters have known through the years. Most of all, I wanted to make them all identifiable and relatable.

5) What was the hardest part of the writing process for you?

Interview questions! Definitely! ; ) — Getting started with something is always tough. I tend to mold and massage things in my mind too long. My family will tell you that I'm famous for over-analyzing, so forcing myself to just sit down and peck away at the keyboard is probably the hardest thing. I do a lot of writing and rewriting in my head and many times try to hard to have it perfect before I put finger to keyboard.

6) What were your favorite books growing up?

When I was little I loved Encyclopedia Brown. I always wanted to figure out the case before he did. My teen years were filled largely with the Flinx and Pip books by Alan Dean Foster. I fancied myself to be Flinx, all I needed was a mini-drag ; ) I had the red hair and smart-alec attitude already! Foster always wrote fun and intriguing stories and he has been amazingly prolific over the years.

7) Can you give us any hints about what is in store for the next installment in the “Mother- Earth” series?

The next book will be called "A Cure for Chaos" and the first chapter is included in the back of "A Measure of Disorder" It takes place about six months after the end of "Measure" and starts off quickly with Jenni getting into trouble, Crank finding his way in a new world and a new form, and many of the others gaining control and confidence in their abilities.

8) Is there any question that you never get asked that you want to answer?

Big Time Movie Producer: "Will you sign here, please?" My answer would most certainly be, "Yes!"