Thursday, July 14, 2011

In 9 hours, my childhood ends.

Some people are going to roll their eyes and scoff at this post. I feel sorry for the ones that do because they are clearly missing out on something truly amazing.

In less than 12 hours, my childhood will officially be over. Sure, I'm almost 17 so many would say it's been over for a long time but in 12 hours, the series that I grew up with, the series that got me through so many things, will end. Forever. No more books. No more movies. Yes, there's Pottermore but that's not the same.

Almost all of the characters I've loved for the past ten years will die. The rest will end their adventures I've followed so slowly.

Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life since the time I was in kindergarten. I was 6 years old and had 2 best friends. My one friend introduced the other two of us to Harry Potter. Every recess throughout the entire year we'd run around yelling random spells, using sticks as our wands. I was always Ron because my one friend refused to be a guy. I still remember how much trouble the two of us had pronouncing names like "Dumbledore" and "Hermione". Our school teachers even began referring to us as "The Trio".

I bought the first 3 books because my cousin from Florida said they were cool and I wanted to be just like him. It took me a while but once I got into them, I devoured them. Again. And again.I threw Order of the Phoenix at the wall and bawled when Sirius died. I wrote Remus and Tonks fanfiction as I waited for years as I waited for the final book to release. I forced my mom to take me to Kmart at midnight to buy the last book and put up with cranky salesclerks going "Harry Potter is so stupid" and "I'd never let my kid watch it!"

When I was 7, my cousin came over to spend the night. She was a few years older than me and therefore, everything she did was cool. She brought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, on VHS (yeah, that long ago), and put it in. I remember being captivated to stay up, even after she fell asleep, and periodically waking her up to go "Is this part scary?! I'm scared!" until she finally gave up and shut it off for the night.

I've watched Prisoner of Azkaban, my all-time favorite movie, so many times that I can recite the lines. My friends and I, the original three of us, have attempted to watch all of them in a row more times than I can count. I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 in the theaters multiple times, something I've never done for any other movie.

At one point, my life was covered in pictures of the cast. I ran a (very bad) fansite. I wrote fanfiction. I read fanfiction. I had dreams about the characters.

And now, in just 9 mere hours, it's all over. Sure, I can reread the books, watch the movies again, but it's never going to be the same.

All of those years, my childhood, it's officially ending.

And I'm not really sure how I feel about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Title: Tempest Rising

Author: Tracy Deebs

Publisher: Bloomsbury


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

My Thoughts:

Tempest Rising is a fantastic and original addition to the paranormal market. Deebs created a world and story that is believable and magical at the same time.

I was expecting a semi-cliche mermaid romance but Tempest Rising is far from that. It was nice to read about a character that KNOWS about mermaids, rather than spending half of a novel waiting for her to figure it out. Because of that, more of the novel was spent on developing the world and I loved that. The setting was easily my favorite thing about the novel. Deebs did so well at describing everything clearly without overdescribing and I really felt transported into the world.

I also loved that there was a love triangle where both of the guys were decent. There was no tall, dark, and broody boy in this story, which was a nice change. The romance doesn't overtake the story but it adds nicely to it.

Deebs took this story to places that I did not expect it to go. There were a few moments where I went "No, that won't actually be real" but then it WAS. I love when novels surprise me like that!

Overall, I really enjoyed Tempest Rising and I highly recommend it. I am hoping for a sequel sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The A Circuit by Catherine Hapka and Georgina Bloomberg

Title: The A Circuit

Author: Catherine Hapka and Georgina Bloomberg

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The A Circuit is the top of the top when it comes to horse shows. It's a world with its own rules and superprivileged lifestyles. Teens travel the circuit all year, showing horses that cost as much as some homes.

Tommi, Kate, and Zara are all elite competitors on the circuit, but they come from totally different backgrounds. Tommi is a billionaire heiress trying to prove she has real talent (not just deep bank accounts). Kate puts the working in working student-every win has been paid for with hours of cleaning stalls. She's used to the grueling schedule, but Fitz, the barn's resident hot guy, is about to become a major distraction. And then there's Zara. She's the wild child of a famous rockstar, but she's ready to take riding seriously. Can a party girl really change her ways?

Readers who enjoy peeking into the elite world of Gossip Girl or The A-List will feel right at home in this new series with its friendships, drama, and privilege set against the backdrop of competitive horseback riding.

My Thoughts: They were right in comparing The A Circuit to Gossip Girl and The A-List. The A Circuit is full of rich girl drama and not a whole lot of substance, while still pulling the reader in.

The A Circuit is the perfect book for a quick read, especially if you love horses. It's very easy to get sucked into the world of horses and between the three main characters, there is someone for everyone to relate to. Even though I prefer barrel-racing and pole-bending to jumping and hunters, I still loved reading about the competition and the shows. Since Georgina Bloomberg is (or was, maybe) a competitor herself, everything is well-described and accurate, which makes it easy for those who don't know much about horses to still follow the story.

However, while I did honestly enjoy the story, there were a few things I had issues with. First off all, I read somewhere that this was for readers "beginning to grow out of the Canterwood Crest series" and while I do think that this series will appear to Canterwood Crest fans, I also feel like that is not necessarily for the younger fans. There is some drug usage and drinking that don't really serve a purpose and while I do realize that those things happen, I felt like it was just there to make the story more hip. Aside from that, there was some dialogue that made me roll my eyes because no one talks like that, ever.

Overall, though, I definitely enjoyed the A Circuit. It's not meant to be some in-depth and lifechanging book and it's not. It is a quick read and perfect for reluctant readers (especially horse lovers) or just the reader looking for something that's not heavy and dark. I definitely recommend it to other horselovers and will be looking forward to the next book in

Monday, June 20, 2011

Flawless Ruins by Kieryn Nicolas

Title: Flawless Ruins

Author: Kieryn Nicolas

Publisher: Echelon Press


In 2238 life in America is finally perfect. The Wars are over and the CommWall is in place, blocking communication with what remains of other continents. The women are content to have great education, choice careers, and glamorous hair. Best of all, when every girl turns seventeen she's given her Like; an adorable, perfect spouse tailor-made just for her. Everyone looks forward to the day she gets her Like, and Morgan Waters is no exception—until she accidentally stays out past curfew and stumbles across someone who appears to be a Like but claims to be a man. Morgan's perfect world crumbles around her in the midst of a forbidden romance, forcing her to deal with the realization that her life may not be so flawless after all.

My Thoughts: Flawless Ruins is just...flawless! I may be a little biased, as I was given the opportunity to critique a draft of it and help Kieryn make it so amazing but even previous versions were addicting.

There's other novels out there following a similar idea but Kieryn's version is exceptional. Her characters are unique and well-developed and the plot is fast paced and constantly leaving you at the edge of your seat. There were multiple times when I thought I had things figured out but the novel took me by surprise. The world that Kieryn built is so foreign yet realistic at the same time that it was almost scary. What if this is how our world ends up?

The characters were, by far, my favorite thing in the novel. I was extremely impressed by the emotion exposed by the characters, as well as their ability to change and grow with the novel. Plus, there was a certain boy I may have been crushing on. Morgan is one of my favorite female lead characters and I loved watching her grow with the story.

Overall, Flawless Ruins is probably one of the best novels I've read in a while. I highly recommend picking up a copy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Suzanne Young Guest Blog!

Today, as part of the A Need So Beautiful Tour, Suzanne Young has stopped by to talk about the difference between writing A Need So Beautiful and The Naughty List Series!


My first series, THE NAUGHTY LIST, was a ton of fun to write. My family and I would sometimes call out funny phrases like Great Caesar’s Ghost! for my character to say while we were at the dinner table. And although TNL had some sad moments, it was overall a very enjoyable experience.

A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL was very different in that I held on to the idea for a while, twisting it in my head, writing random scenes here and there and then telling my husband about it. It was a very personal story to me, the idea of a stranger being there to help you through a crisis, leaving you wondering if it was real at all. I loved the idea of this girl having the choice to give up everything or fight for her life. aNsB was definitely not dinner conversation. I wrote it very alone, very peacefully—sometimes crying.

But both experiences of writing stayed true to the mood I was conveying with the stories. Maybe I’m a method writer?

See the post below this for my review of A Need so Beautiful, out this month! Also be sure to check out this trailer:

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Title: A Need So Beautiful
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be forgotten.

Charlotte's best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she's cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what's really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become—her mark on this earth, her very existence—is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny—no matter how dark the consequences?

My Thoughts:

A Need So Beautiful is a very unique and very thoughtful novel. While it was not quite as gripping and emotional I was expecting based on the reviews I saw, it has left me thinking, even hours after finishing it, which is definite sign it was a good book.

Before I get to the things I loved, I just want to mention the things I didn't. First of all, I never really connected with the story - for most of the book, I couldn't feel the emotion, like many other readers said they did. I also never connected with the characters - I didn't feel like her best friend or Harlin were developed enough and I feel like Harlin especially could have added much more to the story.

That said, this was definitely one of the most thoughtful books I've read in a long time. It's a bit of a "quiet" book. There's a little action in it but it mostly focuses on internal changes and emotion and just gives the reader quite a bit to think about. I love the idea behind the Forgotten, even though it's horribly sad.

Even though I never attached to the book, there is just something drawing my mind back to it, making me think about it, and I love that. It's really hard to explain but there is just something really beautiful about this book. (Besides the cover, I mean!)

This is definitely a big change change from The Naughty List series but I loved it and I can't wait to read more of Suzanne Young's books!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington

Title: Clarity

Author: Kim Harrington

Publisher: Point


Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My Thoughts: Clarity took me by surprise. I figured "Oh, this will be a nice short book" and what I got was something I could NOT put down. (Seriously, I was reading this in the ER while I got blood drawn & such.)

Clarity is a short novel but it's very well-rounded. There's a paranormal element but it's a realistic one (aka no vampires or witches or werewolves), there's a romantic subplot but it's not overpowering, there's a lot of focus on family relationships, particularly between Clare and her brother, which is something I LOVE to see in novels, and there's the mystery/suspense aspect of the novel. Basically, Clarity has everything.

It was so refreshing to read a novel that didn't need a hundred pages of backstory and just jumped right into the plot.

My favorite thing about Clarity was the fact it kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. I felt like I was solving the mystery right along with Clare and I really connected to her and her emotions, whether she was trying to catch a murdered or figure out her boy situation. The emotional pull to Clare really kept me intrigued in the novel.

Overall, I definitely recommend Clarity. I was ecstatic to find out there's going to be a Book 2 and I can't wait to read it! Fans of The Body Finder will definitely love this one as well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest post from Ramona Wray

Ramona has been kind enough to stop by with a lovely guest post about her novel, Hex: A Witch and Angel Tale.


Hi guys. As some of you might know, I was born and raised in Romania. Now, my country has a rich folklore when it comes to things that can go bump in the night. But I chose to write about witches, as opposed to vampires, faeries, strigoi, and so on. So why witches? Well, for starters, I wanted to write about someone alive. Someone whom I could put in the middle of an ordinary setting. Give her a life, a family, friends. Make her likable. (So I would've struggled to write a vampire that could fit this particular bill). On the other hand, in Romania, witches are quite notorious characters. People fear them. People seek their services. Counsel. Advice (and yes, they pay for it). Witches walk in both worlds - they're human, but they have extraordinary powers. They can bring on or get rid of sickness. They can make or break a couple. They can tell fortunes. And they can cast the most horrific curses that live on for generations. Personally, I never met one of these illustrious women (because they're always women), but I grew up listening to these stories and, of course, I was always fascinated. A witch was like Wonder Woman-meets The Halliwell sisters-meets Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil. Amazingly powerful. Cunning. Unstoppable. So, as a little girl (a very dorky little girl), I spent my fair share of time thinking about witches.

Then, a couple of years ago, I was watching Bewitched and it just occurred to me: I should write about a witch. And so, I did. Hope you like my Lily :-) Happy reading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray

Title: Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale
Author: Ramona Wray
Publisher: CreateSpace
Like most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life. So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed.

My Thoughts: Hex is a novel that's hard to write a review of because, on one hand, there were quite a few things I had problems with and yet, on the other hand, it kept me fully captivated, despite being sick in bed with pneumonia, which is not an easy feat.

My main issue with the novel was that a lot of it felt very cliché. Even the summary is very similiar to a variety of other novels out there - the guy a girl's been crushing on finally takes an interest in her and suddenly another boy shows up too and chaos errupts. However, I decided to look past that because 1.) I felt like the witch aspect of the novel would make it a little more interesting and I wanted to know what kind of secrets were being kept. Many of the clichés I was worried about did show up, like the relationship between Ryder and Lily. There were also many times I wanted to slap Lily for being so ridiculous.

Another thing that bothered me was that there were a few sexual scenes that were just very awkward. I felt like they didn't quite fit in with the novel and they definitely took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting them and the way they fit into the Lily/Ryder relationship just made me want to slap one of them.

However, these things aside, I really found myself enjoying Hex. There were quite a few things that kept me intrigued and guessing, especially when I thought I'd figured everything out. I love when novels do that. Ryder and Lucian are both much more complex than they seem to be and I didn't figure out who was good and who was bad until the very last page, which still took me by surprise.

I think that fans of Fallen by Lauren Kate will definitely enjoy this one. It's not for someone looking for a completely original paranormal but if you want a fun but captivating read, definitely give Hex a try. Personally, I'll be looking for future novels by Ms. Wray - I think there's room for nothing but improvement in her writing and I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm Home!

This is kind of a belated post but I'm back from Guatemala! For those that didn't know I was gone (I had so much to do before I left, I never got around to putting a post up), I was in Guatemala from March 25-April 3 on a school trip. It was quite honestly the BEST thing I've ever done. Ever. Words can't even describe how amazing it was. But, I thought maybe some pictures could do it better than I could.

When we got to the school, an assembly type thing was held. Most of the classes performed difference dances for us that depicted the traditional Guatemalan lifestyle. The Bilingual Secretary students, pictured above, welcomed us first in English, then in Spanish, and then in Quiché, which is the language of the native local Indians, which was extremely cool. We spent a lot of our time working with their class and helping them with their English.

The above is just a shot of the school from the second level. The center is where the students have their gym class, recess, and free time. The school is a work in progress - they're working on adding another level and a few other buildings to it.
The night we arrived in the town we'd be staying at, there was a Quinceañera, a girl's 15th birthday which is a HUGE deal in their culture, at the hotel we were staying at. It was an honor for us to be invited and even though it was really long and involved a lot of people speaking things I didn't understand, it was also REALLY cool. The cake in the picture was made by the girl's MOM.

We also took a detour to the ancient Mayan ruins, which made the history geek in me fangirl. The top photo is where they used to sacrifice to virgins, the second picture is the view BEFORE we hiked way up HIGHER, and the bottom is me standing where they used to play their ancient sports. Our host is an anthropologist (I think that's what they're called, anywhere) so he knew TONS. It was awesome.
At the end of our week, we took a trip to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, which is THE most gorgeous place I've seen in my entire life. The photo above was taken from along the road. You can see the volcano in the background with the steam coming out of it. SO beautiful.

Before we left the school, we went around to say our goodbyes to all of the classroom. This is me with either the second or third grade class. All of the kids were so great - we couldn't walk through the halls without a bunch of them running out of class and clinging to us. The teachers were great about it, too.
We had our own personal cook, whose house we went to every night for dinner. One night, she made tomales (sp?) for dinner. They're a traditional food and take FOREVER to make and are usually saved for special occasions. They're also possibly the best thing I've ever tasted.
After the students left each day, we spent the afternoon painting their classrooms. We put different designs in each of them, along with Bible verses above their boards.

So that's a glimpse in to my trip! It was absolutely the most amazing 10 days of my lives and I did NOT want to come back to the States. I'm still craving the perfect weather and the people and the amazing things that we did every day. I'm most definitely planning on going back, hopefully to teach English someday.

I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who helped me make it on that trip, whether it was through the T-shirt promotion, blog promotion, or just a general donation. There is absolutely no way I could've gotten there without that support! So thank you so much!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Some Awesome Giveaways!

As many of you know, Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert, is my all-time favorite book. It's the book that changed my life and I love it so much.

My friend, Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag, also adores the book and is doing her fair share to promote it, including some AWESOME contests.

You can win some great things so go HERE to check it out!

Ordinary Beauty Cover!

One of my favorite authors, Laura Wiess revealed the cover of her upcoming novel, Ordinary Beauty last week. I don't know a lot about this book but I have to say, the cover is absolutely BREATHTAKING. It's probably one of my favorite covers this year.

Gorgeous, right? I absolutely cannot wait to read this one. I've adored all of Laura's previous books and I have no doubt that this one will be absolutely haunting and breathtaking. For more info about Laura and her books, check out her website.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recently In the Mail...

I've received some fantastic-looking books in the mail recently but with work and my trip, it's likely that I won't get to them very soon. They all look awesome, though, and I wanted to tell everyone about them.

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson. This one releases in May and I am so excited to read it! It sounds both hilarious and heartfelt AND it takes place in Italy...does it get much better than that?!

Divergent by Veronica Roth. This one showed up unexpectedly and even though I'd heard others talking about it, I hadn't paid much attention to the hype. But after reading the back cover, I am officially psyched to read this!

Haunted by Joy Preble. I accepted this from the publisher because it looks fantastic. The cover is so haunting and pretty. I haven't read the first novel, Dreaming Anastasia, but I plan to before I read this.

Love, Love, Love. This is comprised of two novels, Language of Love and Cupidity, both Simon Romantic Comedies, which I love. I can't wait to read these, especially Language of Love, which is Deborah's first novel.

Sean Griswold's Head and The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt. Both of these came from their publisher's and I'm super-excited for both. Sean Griswold's Head is Lindsey's first YA novel and The Royal Treatment is the sequel to Princess for Hire. I absolutely adore Lindsey's writing so I can't wait to read these two!

Has anyone read any of these? Or have you received any books you're super excited for?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Suzanne Selfors Interview!

Your newest novel, Mad Love, deals with a variety of subjects, from writing a book to mythology to mental illness to just being a teenage girl. What inspired you to combine everything in one novel? Was there any one part that was harder or easier to write than the rest?

When I step back and think about it, yes, I did cram a lot into this book. But that wasn't planned. I didn't decide that this was going to be my "issues" book or anything like that. The story grew as I got to know my main character. She has a very complicated life. And I liked the complexity of her situation. There wasn't an easy part to the writing but I will say that Errol, the Cupid character, was the hardest part to write. He wanted to take over the book. I had to keep reminding myself that this was Alice's story. I think I may give Errol his own book one of these days.

As I mentioned, Cupid and mythology play a role in the novel. Is mythology something that's always intrigued you? Do you have a favorite myth?I love mythology. It was my favorite class in high school. It always seeps into my novels. In Coffeehouse Angel, I re-imagined the messenger god, Hermes. In my first adult novel, Daughters of Crete, which was published overseas, I re-imagined the myth of Ariadne and Theseus. And now, in Mad Love, I'm playing with Cupid.

My favorite myth would have to be Daedalus and his winged escape from the labyrinth.

In the novel, Alice's mother is a best-selling romance author and Alice attempts to write her own romance novel. Was it ever difficult or weird to write about writing as a major plot point?
I had fun with that. You see, I know some romance writers and we often talk about how much the genre is made fun of. How people think it's easy to write romance because it's just a formula, etc. I even used to think some of those things. But the truth is, writing is hard, period. Whether you're writing sci fi, kids' novels, mysteries, romances, whatever. It's hard to take a story from beginning to end with 300 pages in between. In Mad Love, I poke fun at the false notions about romance writing, and I try to shed some light on the truth.

You write for both middle grade and teen readers. Do you have a favorite? What has been the main difference in writing for the two age groups?

They are completely different worlds. I love middle grade because those books are all about adventure. I can do anything! And I do. With the teen novels, there has to be some sort of romantic tension. That's trickier for me to write.

What are you working on now? What can readers expect from you next?

Next up is Smells Like Treasure, my sequel to kids' book Smells Like Dog, in May this year. And I'm currently writing my next teen novel, out in 2012. It's a fairy tale.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)


Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My Thoughts: I expected to absolutely ADORE Clockwork Angel - afterall, I did a little dance when I snagged a copy (and there are various authors that were witness to this) - and I did. It was so different from what I was expecting but oh so good at the same time.

A good part of the first half of the novel involves a lot of world-building and setting up the plot. This doesn't mean that nothing happens because a lot does, but once you reach the middle of the book, you hit Clare's writing at its finest. I dare you to put the book down once you hit page 300!

The plot...whoa. So different from what I was expecting and yet, I also felt like it was perfect. There were so many plot twists that I did not see coming and I was on the edge of my seat for the last quarter of the book. The ending completely shocked me and the very ending left me begging for Book 2.

Character-wise, I think I love this cast of characters even better than those in Mortal Instruments, which is saying a lot because I LOVE Jace. But oh, the cast of characters in Clockwork Angel is just so unique and they all contrast each other so well. Even the minor characters have distinct personalities and I LOVE that. Each character is so complex and I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with them and learning more about them. Then, there's Jem and Will...honestly, I adore both of them. At this point, I think it's impossible to choose between them and I love their relationship with each other and how they contrast each other so well. I'm particularly intrigued by Will - I can't wait to find out his secrets!

One of the great things about Clockwork Angel is that you can enjoy it without having read the Mortal Instruments but if you have read the Mortal Instruments, it's almost like you're an insider to some secrets within the book. For example, the character Magnus Bane makes an appearance in Clockwork Angel and he's an important minor character in Mortal Instruments, so it's really interesting to see his character years before that takes place.

Overall, Clockwork Angel did nothing but impress me. It's landed a spot in my all-time favorite books and I can't wait for Book 2. Obviously if you enjoyed Clare's previous books, you'll love this. But, even if you haven't read the Mortal Instruments, definitely give this one a shot! It's worth every penny!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are Mermaids Real? Guest blog by Hélène Boudreau

Today, I have author Hélène Boudreau here to talk about whether or not mermaids exist. For more info about her novel, Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings, check out my review.

Are Mermaids Real?

That is the question, isn’t it? Or, at least the question I hope to answer in this blog post. Well…the scientist in me is pretty sure that there aren’t pods of pesco-sapiens floating around the seven seas but the ‘kid’s writer’ side of my brain isn’t so sure. So, for the sake of argument, and purely for my entertainment (and hopefully yours), let’s review the evidence from all angles.

Pros: what evidence is there that mer-people actually DO exist?

1. A popular theory of evolution involves the idea that all life forms originated from a watery stew called the Primordial Soup. (Mmm…sounds tasty.) Apparently, a bunch of molecules swam around in a liquid suspension, bumped into each other randomly and somehow organized themselves in such a way to support life. So, if humans got their watery beginning this way, what’s to say that there wasn’t a stray branch on the evolutionary tree? Hm?
2. Humans cry salty tears and sweat salty sweat—just like ocean water. Co-inky-dink? I think not.
3. Apparently, humans are the only land animals that can consciously hold their breath. We have a descended larynx like walruses and sea lions, making it easier to block water from flooding our lungs. The evidence does not lie! I read it on the interwebz, after all.

Cons: what evidence is there that mer-people DO NOT exist?

1. Because Youtube says so:

However, IF mer-people actually ARE real, I have a couple of questions for them:

1. What is your preferred mode of communication? Shellphones? (just kidding…) But seriously, do you squeak high-pitched squeals like dolphins or do you use hand gestures? Oh! Can you teach me how to swear in Mermish?
2. There are millions of hits for ‘mermaids’ on Google so why don’t you have a book deal by now? Want me to hook you up with my agent?
3. Boxers or briefs?

So, what about you? Do you have any theories for or against the existence of Real Mermaids? Feel free to share!


Hélène Boudreau is the author of REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS. She’s never spotted a real mermaid in the wild but the writer in her thinks they are just as plausible as seahorses, flying fish and electric eels.

In a fun promotion, Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky is offering signed Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings bookplates with proof of purchase. More info HERE.

*You can find Hélène on Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors + CONTEST

Title: Mad Love

Author: Suzanne Selfors

Publisher: Walker Books


When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother-and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth-that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

My Thoughts: Mad Love was...everything I wasn't expecting, which is both good and bad.

Mad Love is much more than a fun Valentine's Day story. With the exception of Cupid playing a major role, it's not exactly a very Valentine's Day-y read. In fact, it's not a very light read at all.​ However, that's not necessarily a bad thing because Mad Love weaves together some very important topics and brings a mythological tale to life as a subplot, all while keeping the book realistic.

One thing I loved about Mad Love is that it tackled the issue of mental illness and another disease without becoming an "issue" book or a depressing read. Both were weaved into the story in a way that did not hog the plot while also bringing attention to the matter. That's something that is not usually done well in YA and I think that Selfors did a fantastic job of it.

I also loved the role that writing played in the novel. Alice, who has never written anything in her life, has to attempt to write the next greatest romance novel. As a writer, it was entertaining to watch someone attempt to write a book based on how they think it's done and all of the attempts she made.

The range of characters in the story was great - I don't think there was a single stereotypical character in there. Some characters provided comic relief, others propelled the angst and some did both.

However, the downside to a novel with so many original characters and subplots is that sometimes, I really wanted more and felt like they weren't all fully developed. Since the over-all novel was so well-written, it didn't take too much away from the story, though.

If you're looking for a unique and captivating novel, check out Mad Love!​

The publisher has generously offered not only a hardcover of Mad Love but also a paperback of Suzanne's previous novel, COFFEEHOUSE ANGEL. (Which I loved!)

To Enter:
-Must have a US address
-Must be 13 or older.

-Leave a comment on this post either commenting on my review or letting me know why you want to win.

Ends: February 28th

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Title: Bitter Melon

Author: Cara Chow

Publisher: Egmont USA


Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school. But is being a doctor what she wants? It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent. Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her? Set in the 1980s.

My Thoughts: It's a bit of an understatement to say I liked Bitter Melon. I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. It made me think and gave me insight to something that I'd never really thought about, which is something I really love in a book.

To be honest, I'd never given much thought to Chinese-American students and how smart they tend to be. In my tiny little town, I don't think there's a single Chinese-American student at my school so it was just something that never came on to my radar. This book, however, put things into total perspective. It tackled an issue that seems to be very prominent in society without being preachy or whiny.

Bitter Melon is a truly dynamic book - it does not just focus on academics or the mother-daughter relationship or any other particular thing. Instead, it weaves in the high standards Frances is expected to meet and maintain with things that your every day teen faces, like relationships with boy and self-esteem. Each subplot is fully developed and woven together to create a story that's hard to put down.

Frances is a character that everyone is going to be able to relate to and a character that I really admire. Her determination really struck a chord with me and while I don't want to give anything away, I was really proud of her by the end of the novel. Obviously the Chinese culture plays a part in this and honestly, the culture difference shocked me. I'd never really given any thought to how different nationalities within the US live and the little things were However, that insight to Chinese culture also added insight to the characters of Frances' mom and their family friends and why they did the things they did. As I said, Bitter Melon is dynamic and everything works together.

Overall, I highly recommend this one. I had trouble putting it down and it's perfect for when you don't want to read a dark issue book but need something more than a fluff read. It's a book that I'm sure is definitely going to mean something to Chinese-Americans but will also relate to all other teens as well. So if you see a copy in the store, be sure to pick it up!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Title: Shift

Author: Jeri Smith Ready

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


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.

My Thoughts: Shade was my favorite paranormal of 2010 and I basically idolize Jeri Smith Ready (seriously, if you love paranormal and music, read her adult books!), so I had huge expectations for Shift. So huge, in fact, that once I actually had a copy of the book, I was afraid to read it for fear of being disappointed.

But, of course, Jeri is a genius and I had no reason to worry because well, Shift ROCKS. Hard. I read it when I was sick and wanted to do nothing but sleep and yet it still managed to make me never, ever want to put it down.

Okay, fangirling aside now. (Maybe)

Shift picks up a little bit after Shade leaves off, with Aura still caught between her feelings for Logan and Zachary and Logan basically stuck between shade and ghost. Logan wants to be with Aura, even though he can't touch her, Aura's trying to move on, and Zachary is gorgeous, er, I mean, wants Aura for himself. However, unlike in Shade, there's a few unseen twists that makes this love triangle into more of a love...pentagon, which sounds kind of ridiculous but actually brings out a lot of emotion and lets the reader see other sides of the story.

Aside from the romantic twists, Shift is full of all different kinds of plot twists. Sometimes the reader is expecting them or at least something similar, sometimes the reader isn't. Either way, it pretty much guarantees the book isn't going to be put down. I don't want to say anything else about that because I don't want to spoil it.

One of my favorite things about Shift is that even though it's the second book in a series, it doesn't feel like the second book in a series. What I mean by that is a lot of the time, Book 2 just feels like an extension of Book 1 and is just carrying the characters along to Book 3 with no real plot, no real ending. But Shift is fully developed and the ending is wrapped up nicely while still leaving the reader with enough questions to make them want the next book RIGHT NOW.

I also love how we get to see the different sides of various characters in the story, especially Logan's brothers. And Zachary's accent. And I love reading about the music and the stars and everything else that filters into making Shift stand out from all of the other paranormal books out there. And I love Zachary.

And...I could go on all day. The point is, I LOVE THIS BOOK.

If there's one book you pre-order all year, it should be SHIFT. It's truly refreshing and is definitely going to surpass everyone's expectations. If you haven't read Shade, then you're truly missing out and need to order it ASAP!

Teen Chick Lit

I just wrote a post over at the YA Lit Six that I think many of my readers here will enjoy! Check it out!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guatemala Update #2

(For new followers of my blog, you can view this post, which explains my Guatemala trip and the various fundraisers I was/am doing.)

It's official! My passport came in the mail today and our plane tickets have been purchased! In 6 weeks and 5 days, I will be boarding a plane to head to Joyabaj, Guatemala. I'm starting to get really excited and nervous too!

Unfortunately, I still have a lot to do before then, like raise another $800. I'm applying for a few jobs, so cross your fingers that I'll get one(!), but that still won't be enough.

I am also still offering all of the opportunities from my first post.

-Advertising on my blog is still $5 for two weeks.
-Critiques are $10-$15, depending on the novel length. (I can provide references for this as well.)
-There is still some room left on the shirts but I am designing them TODAY. This is a great promo opportunity for your book but if you're interested, please contact me TODAY.
-Finally, if you aren't interested in any of these options but would still like to help me meet my goal, there is still a Paypal button in the corner of my blog.

I also want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that has helped me so far. I wouldn't have made it this far without your support. Every little bit does make a difference and I really believe that we'll be making a HUGE difference in the lives of the people we're going to meet. We're basically the first American students to EVER visit this school and we're going to be doing all sorts of community service projects. We're also taking over laptops and other supplies for the students, things that they'd normally never have. I think this is going to be a life-changing experience for everyone involved.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris

T​itle: Will Work for Prom Dress

Author: Aimee Ferris

Publisher: Egmont USA


Quigley Johnson has, reluctantly, given up the rest of her last year of high school to take part in her best friend Ann's Betterment Plan, which will turn them into the best-dressed, most sought-after, most admired girls at their senior formal. Because - hey - who doesn't want the perfect prom, complete with a dream dress and a devastatingly handsome date?

But the prom costs money - lots of money - and even though the girls could easily have Ann's mom design their dresses (she's only Victoria Parisi, one of the most famous designers in the world), Ann insists that they pay their own way. And that's how Quigley gets stuck making artistic topping masterpieces on frozen pizzas canvases, before becoming a live model for Ms. Parisi's fashion design class, where she meets Zander.

He's cute, and cool, and funny, with a killer design sensibility (even if he can't sketch). But is he too good to be true? And what about David, the hot, talented artist at school, who's also kind of a jerk, but won't leave Quigley alone? And Ann - she started the Betterment Plan to improve Quigley and herself, but it seems like it's ripping their friendship to shreds.

This road to the prom dream may just end in disaster.

My Thoughts: I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by Will Work for Prom Dress. I was expecting some light, fluffy prom-themed novel and while Will Work for Prom Dress is fun, there is so much more to it than that.

Now, I don't want to give too many of the subplots away here but I thought they all worked perfectly and quite honestly, I was shocked by some of them. Particularly the one involving Zander. I love how there was fun subplots, like Dave's, but also more serious ones, like Zander's and Ann's relationship. It all balanced out to create a book that was fun but still had depth.

Character-wise...Well, I love Zander. He was sweet and flawed. Dave was also an interesting character, as was Ann's boyfriend, T-shirt. Each of them had their own quirks and flaws. Ann and Quigley both had distinct personalities and contrasted each other nicely. ​The situations they got themselves into were usually rather amusing.
In fact, a lot of the novel was amusing - I found myself cracking up more than once.

The ending was unexpected but cute, which I liked.

Overall, Will Work for Prom Dress is more than a typical fluff novel but is still perfect for that Valentine's Day or pre-prom read. It's entertaining and will most likely bring a smile to your face. Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

3rd Blogoversary!

Wow. Yesterday was my 3rd blogoversary and I nearly forgot about it in the middle of midterm madness.

I cannot believe it's been THREE years.

That, to me, is amazing.

So much has changed since I started blogging...everything is different now and I'm glad I began when I did.

Usually, I go all out to celebrate my blogoversary but this year, it's just not possible. I did want to take the time to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone that reads this blogger, to every author or publicist who has ever sent me a book, and to all of the friends I've made since blogging. It's been a great experience.

Next year, I promise, I'll go all out!

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau

Title: Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings

Author: Helene Boudreau

Publisher: Sourcebooks


Freak of nature takes on a whole new meaning...

If she hadn't been so clueless, she might have seen it coming. But really, who expects to get into a relaxing bathtub after a stressful day of shopping for tankinis and come out with scales and a tail?

Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.

Jade soon discovers she inherited her mermaid tendencies from her mom. But if Mom was a mermaid, how did she drown?

Jade is determined to find out. So how does a plus-size, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that exactly? And how will Jade ever be able to explain her secret to her best friend, Cori, and to her crush, Luke?

This summer is about to get a lot more interesting...

My Thoughts: Oh, how I love this book! It's most definitely something I would have ate up in a heartbeat as a tween. It's cute, spunky, and original and there's mermaids...what more could a girl ask for?

From the first page, I was hooked. Jade's narrative was captivating from the beginning. She tells things as it is and the situations she gets herself into, like getting her first period in a dressing room, will make readers laugh and sympathize with her. One thing I loved about Jade is that she wasn't depicted as being the perfect skinny girl - she has some issues with her weight and while it's not made into a huge part of the novel, I know it will allow some younger readers to see more of themselves in her.

One of the things I love about middle grade is that because middle graders are more...flexible...then YA readers, things don't need to be quite as developed. If this had been a YA, it would have been expected that the romance and friendships and the whole mermaid thing was more developed and realistic. But, it's MG and because of that, it works. The romance is kept light, the friendships are realistic, and the mermaid thing is done in a way that it's realistic enough.

I also love how deeper issues, such as her mom's drowning, were mixed in to balance out the fluff. Everything worked out nicely, making this a perfect quick reader.

Overall, I highly recommend Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings. It's a great MG book and will appeal to some YA readers as well. ​