Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan gets into the mind of fifteen-year-old Blake who is struggling to balance his perfect girlfriend Shannon and his photo partner and friend Marissa who happens to be a girl. After taking a photo of a worn-down, drug addict on the street for his photography class (Blake always sticks to gritty photos), he discovers more about Marissa – that woman was her missing mother. As Blake learns more about Marissa, their relationship changes, and Blake begins to realize that though love and romance are confusing, friendship isn’t necessarily any clearer. While he works to perfect his photography, he realizes it takes just as much work to balance the two most important females in his life that couldn’t be more different.

L.K. Madigan blends comedy with more serious matters perfectly in Flash Burnout. Blake’s dilemmas feel real to the reader, and I must say I laughed at some point during nearly every chapter is this novel. L.K. Madigan does a superb job getting into the mind of a teenage boy – a task many young adult authors have tried without as much success – as Blake’s thoughts feel authentic. This book is fast-paced and, despite its length, easy to read in one sitting because it’s so hard to put down. The references to the craft of photography, especially the tips found at the beginning of each chapter and in the title itself, add to the parallels in Blake’s life and enrich the reader’s experience. The only time I was let down was the very ending of this novel which felt rather abrupt. I wish Flash Burnout had gone further in time and not ended so suddenly, so that the reader could feel more closure with the characters. 8 out of 10.



All I can say is FAIL. I am SO sorry I feel so behind this semester. I thought I'd be able to keep up during school, but that only lasted for about a month and then I was too overwhelmed to update. So sad.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

Anyway, I have a bunch of reviews to get up and a whole slew of books in my room to read, and I've decided the best way to get myself going again is to participate in a challenge. So, with that in mind, I'm participating in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge. It started yesterday, but so what. Between now and January 3rd, 2010 (a new decade!), I am going to (hopefully) read 15 books. I'm starting now with a book I just got for the 1 ARC Tours - Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe. aannnnnnnnnnnddddd... GO!


Waiting on Wednesday: October 14

Title: The Dark Divine

Author: Bree Despain

US Release date: December 22, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?” Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away. As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Why I'm interested: Even beyond the gorgeous cover, this book looks so intriguing! An ancient evil, dark secrets, sacrificing one's soul? Wow. The Dark Divine looks like it will have a lot of weight to it and won't be a book you want to put down. This synopsis leaves so much to think about, I cannot wait for this to be released in December.

What's your choice this Wednesday?


Secret Society Teen Ambassador Contest

So sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth. I didn't realize quite how demanding this year would be academically, and while it's sad I've had to choose homework and classes over updating this blog :(

Anyway, this is a really awesome contest to promote Tom Dolby's Secret Society. Enter by the 19th and YOU could win an Ambassador Initiation Kit!

The Teen Ambassador Initiation Kit includes:

• “The Initiates were given what looked like tattoos at the nape of their necks.” A set of 15 temporary ankh tattoos for you and 14 Initiates. Give them out wisely!

• “Anastasia took a sip of her martini, leaving a dark red lipstick print on her glass.” Your ticket to gorgeous lips and cheeks, TheBalm’s Stainiac Beauty Queen tinted gel blush (”a hint of tint for
the lips and cheeks”)! A $15 value! (TheBalm is a fabulous makeup brand launched by my friend Marissa Shipman and sold nationwide at Sephora.)

• “A card was included with the package that simply read, ‘With compliments.’” A one-of-a-kind vintage New York postcard signed by Tom — use it as a bookmark!

• “Patch and Nick used to play this game in class, where they would pass notes.” One beautiful, retro-styled Field Notes mini-notebook, perfect for writing down secrets! At the Bradford Trust, we’re crazy about these little notebooks. Normally, three are $10!

• “Lauren started to open it, but Emily stopped her.” Last, but not least: a secret initiation tool — here’s a hint: it’s sealed with an ankh!


Waiting on Wednesday: October 7

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: first in a series of Hex Hall books
US Release date: March 2, 2010

Summary (from Amazon.com): Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why I'm interested: Hex Hall (as in the school) sounds really interesting. I love how Rachel Hawkins is combining all these supernatural beings - witches, faeries, and more. Then, she adds in a secret society and lots of mystery. Sounds sweet to me.

What's your pick this Wednesday?


Waiting on Wednesday: September 30

Title: Magic Under Glass

Author: Jackie/Jaclyn Dolamore

US Release date: February 1, 2010

Summary (from GoodReads): Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

Why I'm interested: Sort of like last week, I love that there's a fairy realm, along with sorcerers and ghosts -- all these supernatural elements coming together is fascinating. And of course, I'm such a sucker for a romance that's fighting against the odds. I'm already sighing.

What are you looking forward to right now?


Waiting on Wednesday: September 23

Title: Dragonfly
Author: Julia Golding
US Release date: October 20, 2009

Summary (from Amazon): Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal in order to unite their lands. And he's not too pleased, either. They hate each other on sight. So, when Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape - from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure help them or betray them to the enemy?

Why I'm interested: I'll admit that the cover is what really caught my attention, because it looks so simple, except it's really not. After reading the summary, I'm really curious, as titles are always deliberate: what does "dragonfly" have to do with anything? Plus, this looks like it will be full of adventure and romance. :)
What are you looking forward to this week?


Feed Your Ears XVIII: Shiver

Sorry I haven't been posting as much :( Adjusting to school has been a little stressful, but I should be able to keep up with a few posts a week again now that my schedule is settled and I'm back into a routine.

SO... while I wasn't able to get an interview in with this wonderful author, she said I could steal a playlist she's made and share it with everyone. I don't want to keep you wondering any longer, so let's just say this author is Maggie Stiefvater and the playlist is the one she came up with for Shiver.

1. "The Ocean" - The Bravery (the general thematic song)
2. "Sundrenched World" - Joshua Radin
3. "Run" - Snow Patrol
4. "Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay (hunt scene)
5. "Make This Go On Forever" - Snow Patrol
6. "Matroshka" - Dredg
7. "Underwater" - Vertical Horizon
8. "Star Mile" - Joshua Radin (making quiche)
9. "Set the Fire to the Third Bar" - Snow Patrol
10. "Jeremiah" - Starsailor
11. "Bug Eyes" - Dredg
12. "Everything'll Be Alright" - Joshua Radin (bookstore scene)
13. "Hide and Seek" - Imogen Heap (car scene near end)
14. "A Clock is Ticking" - Snow Patrol (Jack scene near end)
15. "Peter Returns" - James Newton Howard (last scene)
16. "Wake Up, Open the Door, & Escape to the Sea" - Blaqk Audio (ultimate nookie scene)

Such an awesome playlist! And mega thanks to Maggie for letting me use this for Feed Your Ears this week. Her original post of this playlist is over at her blog, where you can also find an audio version of most of these great songs. So go check it out!


Waiting on Wednesday: September 16

Title: The Indigo Notebook
Author: Laura Resau
Series: 1st in The Notebook series
US Release date: October 13, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): Zeeta's life with her free-spirited mother, Layla, is anything but normal. Every year Layla picks another country she wants to live in. This summer they’re in Ecuador, and Zeeta is determined to convince her mother to settle down. Zeeta makes friends with vendors at the town market and begs them to think of upstanding, “normal” men to set up with Layla. There, Zeeta meets Wendell. She learns that he was born nearby, but adopted by an American family. His one wish is to find his birth parents, and Zeeta agrees to help him. But when Wendell’s biological father turns out to be involved in something very dangerous, Zeeta wonders whether she’ll ever get the chance to tell her mom how she really feels—or to enjoy her deepening feelings for Wendell.

Why I'm interested: First, I absolutely loved Laura Resau's writing in Red Glass. While the plot is entirely different, this book looks like it will have many of the same themes, which would be great. I also love to travel, so I really like Zeeta's background.


In My Mailbox: Week 14

:( No books this week... hopefully better luck next week!

What about you all?


Feed Your Ears XVII: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

To read about the origins of Feed Your Ears, check out my first post.

So this week I'm going with something a little different again. Obviously, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is FULL of music. On the book's webiste, Rachel Cohn has put together three great playlists.

The first playlist is a compilation of many of the songs and artists that appear in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. This playlist includes Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City," Rancid's "Ruby Soho," Belle & Sebastian's "Wrapped Up In Books" and more.

There's another playlist Rachel Cohn calls the (T)rainy/Dreamy Playlist. This one was inspired by Norah's desire to make a mix for Nick with "rain" and "train" in the title, with songs like The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men," and Anita O'Day's "Take the 'A' Train."

The last playlist on the book's site is one Rachel Cohn put together of songs she could imagine Norah listening to. This playlist has got some great hits such as Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me" and Elvis Costello's "You Belong to Me."


Catching Fire contest winner

Sorry it took me a few days to get all the entries together and thanks for waiting while I did so, as now it is time to announce the winner of my Catching Fire contest. Without further ado, the winner of an ARC of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is...

Congrats Shal! I'll be getting in touch soon to get your mailing address so I can send the book out. Thanks to everyone who entered! I was thrilled to have a ton of entries, and will try to get another contest going before the month ends.


Waiting on Wednesday: September 9

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
US Release date: December 1, 2009

Summary (from Amazon.com): Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Why I'm interested: Well, I've spent a fair amount of time reading Kami Garcia's and Maragert Stohl's blogs, and I can say that if Beautiful Creatures is even half as interesting as they appear to be, it'll be pretty darn interesting. And as I've mentioned with a few other of my Waiting on Wednesday picks, I adore old houses and history and a bit of mystery, so this looks great. Plus I cannot wait to know what the powerful secret is.
What's your selection this week?


Teaser Tuesday: Week 12

Teaser Tuesdays is sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading. Teaser Tuesdays go like this:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week:
"She leafed through a few more pages of my file. I had no idea what observation Dr. Hendrickson had immortalized there, and I didn't want to wait around long enough to find out."

--page 147-8, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

What's your teaser this Tuesday?

Interview with Carolyn MacCullough

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Carolyn MacCullough, author of Falling Through Darkness, Stealing Henry, Drawing the Ocean, and most recently, Once a Witch (read my review). Born in Connecticut, she has now moved on to a more exciting life reading, writing, and teaching in New York (not I’m jealous, of course).


KB: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
CM: Probably in 3rd grade. I won a short story contest for my story about a princess and a dragon and thought hey, this writing thing is fun. It took me awhile though (like 18 years) to stop writing about princesses and dragons!

KB: Why did you decide to write for young adults?
CM: I never consciously set out to write for young adults. I just wrote my first book, Falling Through Darkness, from the perspective of a 17 year old because that was the character in my head. That said, however, I've discovered that teens/young adults happen to be one of the most rewarding and inspirational audiences to write for.
KB: What inspired you to write Once a Witch?
CM: Oh, who doesn't dream of having a special talent or power that sets you apart from the rest of the world? Then I started thinking about a character who was an outcast in her own family since they were all extremely Talented while she was not. Or so she thinks at the beginning of the book...
KB: What sort of research went into your writing?
CM: Lots of time spent on Google! Actually, the most fun sort of research was just to walk around Washington Square Park in New York (where some of the book is set) studying the beautiful architectural details of all those 19th century townhouses. I spent a lot of time imagining what the insides of those places looked like and all the parties that must have gone on.
KB: Do you identify with any of your characters?
CM: Definitely with Tamsin. I think a lot of people feel like a bit of an outsider at certain points in their lives. Tamsin also has a habit of comparing herself (unfavorably) to her beautiful and perfect older sister, Rowena,--I have two older sisters so I definitely did some of that while growing up.

KB: What Talent do you wish you possessed?
CM: Oh, good question! I would like to be able to rewind time--just for a few seconds or a few hours or even a day in case I need to redo something. Then again, interfering with time has disastrous results in the book for Tamsin, so maybe that's too dangerous of a Talent to pick.

KB: Can we expect another book about Tamsin? (I’m crossing my fingers here!)
CM: Yes! I'm working on the sequel right now. It's tentatively titled, Always a Witch and features more time travel, spywork, Talents, and of course, some romance!
KB: *does happy dance*

KB: If you had to pick one song (or maybe two) to associate with Once a Witch, what song would it be?
CM: I love Marco Polo by Loreena McKennitt and also Teardrop by Massive Attack. I listened to those on repeat a lot!

KB: And to finish this up, what was your favorite book as a teen?
CM: Such a hard question! If I had to pick one--The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I still reread it every few years.


Thanks so much for joining us!

Carolyn MacCullough’s latest novel, Once a Witch, goes on sale September 14th. Catch my review here, and make sure to visit the book’s awesome website (with lots of bonus material such as quizzes and the truth about witches) over here.


Once a Witch

Once a Witch tells the story of Tamsin Green, a member of very Talented witch family. At the time of her birth, Tamsin is predicted to be the most Talented of them all. Now that Tamsin is a teenager, it seems unusual that her abilities never developed, leaving her as the black sheep of the family. When a mysterious stranger shows up at her grandmother’s store asking for help retrieving a valuable heirloom, Tamsin agrees, hoping to prove her self-worth despite a lack of Talent. The same day, Aunt Lydia (a family friend, not really her aunt) and her son, Gabriel, return from California. Gabriel winds up joining Tasmin on her search, and along the way Tasmin gets reacquainted with the childhood friend she didn’t write to for years, realizing that he’s done a lot of growing up during their time apart. Together, Tasmin and Gabriel travel through time uncovering secrets of the Green family’s history and growing closer.

Carolyn MacCullough creates an exciting urban fantasy in Once a Witch. A complex story full of intrigue, romance, power, and conflict, this novel will utterly absorb the reader. I was impressed by the way Carolyn MacCullough cleverly plays with time, weaving an intricate web of clues and adventures for Tamsin and Gabriel. Not a single character in this story is there for padding – even the minor ones are important. Rather than being a classic novel of good-versus-evil, the Green’s shady history leads Tamsin, and with her the reader, to question otherwise accepted truths and individuals’ motivations. Above all, this is a story about discovering one’s identity and protected those you care for. Once a Witch is a thrilling race through time with an enchanting love story that leaves the reader desperate for a sequel. 8 out of 10.

P.S. Once a Witch has a really awesome website including quizzes, a family tree, and information about witches.


In My Mailbox: Week 13

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi from The Story Siren. Here's what I found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, and at the library these last two weeks. Summaries are taken from Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads.

Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne (for review) - Kayla is the nature lover, the all-American beauty who can't understand why she's so drawn to distant, brooding Lucas. Adopted as a young child, she has no way of knowing that she's inherited a terrifying—and thrilling—gene that will change her life forever. Lucas is dangerous, gorgeous . . . and a werewolf. As leader of the Dark Guardians, shape-shifters who gather deep within the state park, he has sworn to protect his pack. But when Lucas finds his true soul mate, his love could put them all in harm's way. As Lucas and Kayla struggle with their feelings for each other, a greater danger lurks: Humans have discovered the Dark Guardians and are planning their destruction. Kayla must choose between the life she knows and the love she feels certain is her destiny.

The Hollow by Jessica Verday - When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special. Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.

And such is my mailbox for the week... what about your's?


Interview with Malinda Lo

So, this is an exciting week, because I get to share with you not one, but TWO interviews. Now I have the honor of introducing one of the ’09 debs, Malinda Lo. Malinda Lo’s novel, Ash, in the most simple of terms is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. I read and reviewed this one awhile ago, so to hear more about Ash see my review.


KB: First, can you tell us a little about your road to publishing?
ML: It's been about seven and a half years between first inspiration and my book hitting the shelves, so it's definitely been a long road! To briefly summarize, I wrote three or four drafts of Ash before I even submitted it to agents in 2007. My agent offered to represent me in December 2007; I did another revision for her by January 2008; and we got our first offers in February 2008. Since then, things have been moving at lightning speed, but I still did three revisions along the way. A lot of revising goes into publishing!

KB: Why did you decide to write fiction for young adults?
ML: I actually didn't make a conscious decision to write YA fiction. I simply wrote Ash the way I wanted to write it, and when I was finally ready to submit it to agents, I saw that it fit best within the YA genre. It's actually not so surprising because I was so inspired by other YA fairy tale retellings I read when I was a teen.

KB: The cover of Ash is gorgeous! What role did you play in its cover design?
ML: Pretty much none! I just wrote the book, and the talented Alison Impey took what she read and translated it perfectly into an image. I am so happy with the cover!

KB: Why did you choose the tale of Cinderella?
ML: Cinderella was always my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid. I've also long been a fan of Robin McKinley's fairy tale retellings, and I always wished she would write a retelling of Cinderella. Since she didn't (or hasn't so far), I decided to write the story I've always wanted to read.

KB: How did you decide to make Cinderella a lesbian? Did this make the Cinderella story more difficult to rework?
ML: Well, in the first draft, Ash (the Cinderella character) fell in love with the prince. But then I sent that draft to a friend to read, and she told me she felt that the prince was kinda boring, but this other woman (the huntress) was much more intriguing. I looked closely at the draft and realized that Ash was falling in love with this woman, not the prince. That's when I decided to rewrite it as a "lesbian Cinderella." It didn't make retelling the story any more difficult; in fact, I think it made it easier, because this was the story that was trying to get out of my subconscious.

KB: What was the most challenging part about writing Ash? What about the most rewarding?
ML: Honestly, the most challenging part about the actual writing of Ash was writing the romantic scenes. Writing romance doesn't come easily to me, and I have to spend a lot of time thinking about words and how to spin them into a romantic feeling without becoming overly sweet. Partly as a result of this, I think some of the most rewarding parts are when I finish those scenes and reread them. When they evoke the effect in me that I was aiming for -- that's when it's wonderful.

KB: Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on now?
ML: I am working on a companion novel to Ash. It's set in the same world, but several hundred years earlier, so there are no crossover characters. Or are there? (evil laugh)

KB: What do you do when writer’s block hits?
ML: Well, I usually encounter writer's block when I haven't given enough time to thinking about what I want to happen. Not what I want to write, specifically, but which direction the story should go in. Unfortunately, if I'm on a deadline, I just have to power through it -- I kind of force myself through the trouble spots, writing basically anything, and then go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. This is what I learned from being a reporter. Once there's something on the page, I can go back and work things out and improve it.
If I have a little more time, or if my deadline is a little farther ahead and I encounter writer's block, I'll take a break from it. I'll actually leave my desk and go for a walk in the woods or something. Being away from the computer is very helpful, actually -- sometimes I'll solve the block just by going to sit on the couch and writing longhand for a while. It's mostly about changing the physical situation I'm in, which seems to break through the mental block.

KB: If you had to pick one (or maybe two) song(s) to associate with Ash, what would you pick?
ML: KT Tunstall's "Universe & U" -- I listened to this song repeatedly when writing one scene in Ash. And "Bonfire" by Lamb -- this song makes me think of the character of Sidhean. Kind of creepy and weird. :) And I've created an Ash playlist; you can see it here.
KB: Thank you so much for joining us! I love that playlist for Ash and highlighted it yesterday in my Feed Your Ears post :)


Malinda Lo’s debut release, Ash, was released this past Tuesday, September 1st, so get it NOW in stores. Also, she keeps a really awesome author blog, which you can find here.


Feed Your Ears XVI: Ash

To read about the origins of Feed Your Ears, check out my first post.

This week's selection is Malinda Lo's debut, Ash. About a month ago, Malinda Lo posted a playlist of some of the songs she listened to while writing Ash. Today's Feed Your Ears post is going to be a sample from this really great playlist.

1. Moved Through the Fair” by Loreena McKennitt

2. “Far Away” by Martha Wainwright

3. “Lust” by Tori Amos

4. “The Unforgettable Fire” by U2

5. “Universe & U” by KT Tunstall

And to think... there are 14 songs on Malinda Lo's playlist. That means you should head to her blog to check out the Ash playlist in its entirety.

P.S. Check back tomorrow for my interview with Malinda Lo!


Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

To start off this month full of author interviews, I had the pleasure of introducing Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author (from Connecticut!) of many books for children, teens, and young adults. Her most recent young adult novel is Crazy Beautiful, a modern adaptation of Beauty & the Beast (I posted my review yesterday). For more about Lauren Baratz-Logsted and her writing, check out her website.


Me: As an accomplished author, can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?
LBL: A little bit? I'd need to write a whole book to tell that story! Short version? I left my day job in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer. It took me nearly eight years and seven books written before I sold the sixth, an adult novel called THE THIN PINK LINE. I've since sold a total of 20 books to various publishers in various genres and for various age groups.

Me: How did you decide to retell the story of Beauty and the Beast?
LBL: I'd just seen the stage version on Broadway and I got to thinking about how out of all the Disney-fied fairy tales, it makes for the most successful stage and screen adaptations. I started wondering why that would be and decided it's the only one where the male is more than just window dressing for the female. And then I got to thinking how much fun it would be to do a contemporary version where, like the Beast, the male's otherness is a result of his own tragic mistakes and then find a way for him to redeem himself.

Me: Have you considered writing a modern adaptation of any other fairy tales?
LBL: Finally! A question I can give a short answer to! Yes.

Me: Yay! I can’t wait. So, names are important to any story. How did you decide on Lucius for the Beast and Aurora for Beauty?
LBL: Lucius Wolfe - both elements of his name are variations on wolf. Aurora Belle - Aurora is the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology and Belle of course is beautiful.

Me: The cover of Crazy Beautiful certainly catches the eye. What role did you play in its design?
LBL: Zero! I had absolutely no say in the cover although I did mention I'd like to see something resembling a hook on it. I absolutely love the cover that the artistic design team at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt came up with.

Me: What is the most exciting part of the writing process for you?
LBL: I love it all, but I guess if I had to pick the most exciting it'd be the moment an idea comes and I realize the idea is so big and fresh, at least to me, it can fill a whole book. Wait. Can I pick two most exciting parts? If so, the other would be when I complete the book and realize I've gone the distance in telling the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it.

Me: As you write books for all ages, how is writing for teenagers/young adults different than writing for children or adults?
LBL: Teens these days have more demands on their time and distractions than any teens in recent memory. As a result, an author needs to really be on her best game in terms of holding the reader's interest. You need to write tighter. The other big difference I find is the sense of responsibility. I give my readers credit for being intelligent but I still am very careful not to send the wrong messages through my work. I'd hate it if anyone ever jumped off a bridge just because they thought I told them to.

Me: Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
LBL: I'm always working on something! I have two more YA novels scheduled for 2010. THE EDUCATION OF BET, due out in spring 2010, is about a 16-year-old girl in Victorian England who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education. THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER, also set in Victorian England and due out in fall 2010, is about a teen whose life is changed forever when she discovers her wealthy mother has an identical twin who grew up in the poorhouse. Oh, and 2010 will also see the publication of Books 5 and 6 in THE SISTERS 8, the series for young readers that I've created with my YA novelist husband Greg Logsted - http://www.greglogsted.com/ - and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. Phew!

Me: Now for a couple of random questions. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, can you tell us a few songs that show up on your playlist most frequently?
LBL: I almost never listen to music when I'm writing although I do listen to "General Hospital" on television every afternoon from three to four. The one exception to the no-music-while-writing rule would be the adult novel VERTIGO which I wrote while repeatedly listening to the sountrack from The Piano.

Me: Now one that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how DO you pronounce your last name?
LBL: HA! Baratz is like Barrett would sound if you made it plural and Logsted is exactly as it looks although for some reason people are always trying to insert the letter 'a' into it. Thanks for having me!

Me: Thanks for joining us!


Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful will be released September 7th. Don't miss out!

Waiting on Wednesday: September 2

Title: Almost Perfect
Author: Brian Katcher
US Release Date: October 13, 2009

Summary (from Amazon): Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.

Why I'm interested: Books about relationships from a male perspective seem to be rare, which is really a shame, so I'm looking forward to this one. I also think it should be interesting to see how Brian Katcher deals with gender identities and phobias.


Teaser Tuesday: Week 11

Teaser Tuesdays is sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading. Teaser Tuesdays go like this:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week:
"I couldn't keep my thoughts together.... The vision of him shaking in the woods right before I realized what was happening to him replayed over and over in my head."

--page 143, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

What's your teaser this Tuesday?

Crazy Beautiful

In Crazy Beautiful, Lauren Baratz-Logsted revisits Beauty and the Beast, adapting this tale of love and transformation to a present-day setting. First meet the Beast, Lucius, who lost his hands in an explosion of his own doing. As an act of self-punishment and to keep others at a distance, Lucius chooses to live with hooks rather than prosthetic hands. Now meet Aurora, absolutely radiant, not to mention talented, but unhappy after losing her mother. Both new kids at school, they go in different directions: Lucius becomes a brooding loner while Aurora’s beauty and clothing instantly attract the popular crowd. Nevertheless, small waves and smiles exchanged between the two quickly add up as Lucius realizes that not even his hooks will scare Aurora away. Together, they learn how to forgive, accept, and love.

To start, the cover of Crazy Beautiful is to die for. The stark contrast of the black and white, the unique font, and the smoke give the cover an edgy look that will instantly attract young adults. This fairy tale retelling is fast-paced, with short, to-the-point chapters. Unlike the original tale, the weight of the story is told from Lucius’s point of view. Still, the chapters alternate perspectives, providing the reader with insight from both sides of various situations. Crazy Beautiful is full of raw emotion, as both narrators reveal their fears and insecurities, just like those any teenager tries to hide. Lauren Baratz-Logsted adds a nice touch by complicating the story with the high school’s production Grease and Jessup’s role as a parallel to Gaston. Though I couldn’t pull myself away from this book, I found that the climax resolved itself too quickly. As a result, the end conflict was rather anticlimactic and difficult to believe. Overall, Crazy Beautiful is a well-done modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast that will captivate its readers. 8 of 10.


SURPRISE! It's officially September. Well, I suppose that's not much of a surprise, eh? BUT I've decided to try to make September special. And that's kind of a surprise, right? So, I've generally found that September is always a sort of weird time of year, since September means time to return to school. This is good because you get to see friends on a regular basis again, but not so great because homework sucks away lots of time. In order to make the entirety of September a time to look forward to, over the summer I interviewed a bunch of authors with September and October releases (and reviewed those releases for you) so EVERY WEEK you can look forward to an author interview or guest post! To kick off the month, you can expect my interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted on Wednesday and Malinda Lo on Saturday. Enjoy!


Flashback of the Month V: The Pursuit of Happiness

For a short explanation and the first Flashback of the Month post, go here. And, yes, I'm getting this in just in time - August is just about over.

After long battle with cancer, Betsy loses her mother and is left feeling lost in Tara Altebrando’s The Pursuit of Happiness. After the funeral, Betsy’s boyfriend dumps her and her best friend disappears from her life. As if things aren’t miserable enough, her summer plans include dressing like an early American to work at a colonial village (all her father’s fault, of course) along with the class freak, Liza. What begins as work soon turns into an escape for Betsy – from her judgmental classmates, from her breakup, from her mother’s death, and from her uncomfortably quiet home. With the help of her co-workers Liza and James, Betsy learns to work her way through the stages of grief and discover hope for normalcy in the future. While she is taught many colonial crafts and means of cooking, it seems that cutting silhouettes out of paper combined with a certain surfer’s woodcarvings are the perfect recipe for beginning to mend a broken heart.

Though sometimes it’s hard to look past the MTV logo, The Pursuit of Happiness is hardly a fluff novel. So, looking past the cover (and the corny “Declare your independence.”), Tara Altebrando’s novel will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, and Susane Colasanti. This is certainly one of the best young adult novels I’ve read that deals with overcoming grief. Betsy is easy to connect to as a reader (and respect, as she turns into a more proactive character), and Tara Altebrando truly succeeds in writing dialogue that sounds like it actually came out of a few teenagers’ mouths. I also love the setting, having always been fascinated by historical villages, and enjoyed this peak into what it could be like working at one. 9 out of 10.

A Shakespearean Summer: Much Ado About Nothing

Synopsis: Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies. With the encouragement of Don Pedro, a prince from Aragon, Claudio decides to romance Hero, and at a masquerade ball she accepts his hand in marriage. Don Pedro, impatient to wait the week for their wedding, sets forth as a matchmaker with the help of this couple, trying to set up Benedick and Beatrice (who constantly fight with each other). During this time, Don Pedro’s illegitimate half brother, Don John, works to deceive Claudio and trick him into believing Hero was unfaithful.

My thoughts: Though it’s an overused phrase, I think this is a play where lots of characters and situations are thrown together and “hilarity ensues.” Much Ado About Nothing is full of deception, plays on language (pay particular attention to names), and, of course, double entendres. This play was loads of fun to read, and I only wish I could see it performed sometime. At first it was a little difficult to keep all of the characters straight, but a few notes on a post-it took care of that. This is also a great play to read if you want to read one of the first examples (I believe) of the classic boy-and-girl-fight-a-lot then boy-and-girl-realize-they-have-feelings-for-one-another plot line.


After taking a course all about Shakespeare in the modern day, I’ve become absolutely intrigued by adaptations of Shakespeare’s works and references to Shakespeare in pop culture. So, for these Shakespearean Summer posts, I’ve decided to include other ways to take in Much Ado About Nothing. Here are a few of them:

Béatrice et Bénédict – A nineteenth-century opera by Berlioz that’s loosely based on Much Ado About Nothing. As you might guess by the title, this really focuses on the budding romance between Beatrice/ Béatrice and Benedick/ Bénédict, so the Hero’s supposed infidelity part doesn’t play a role in this opera. The overture is pretty well known :D

ShakespeaRe-Told – Recently discovered this series (thanks Jazz!). The Much Ado About Nothing episode is retold with anchors at a news station. The plot/big ideas seemed more or less consistent until the end.

The Boys Are Coming Home – A musical! Written a few years ago, I think (with admittedly mediocre music). This one’s a modern adaptation, moving the play to 1945 with soldiers returning from after World War II.


In My Mailbox: Week 12

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi from The Story Siren. Here's what I found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, and at the library these last two weeks. Summaries are taken from Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads.

Slow week this week, but these are great ones that I'm super excited about. :D

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder - Student glass magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal a magician's powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan's lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man—now her prisoner—has switched souls with Ulrick. In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain….

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner. Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed—a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

That's it for me. What did you get this week?

A Shakespearean Summer: Othello

Synopsis: Othello tells the tale of the Moor and general in the Venetian army, Othello. He loves Desdemona and they arrange a secret marriage. In the meanwhile, Iago, a soldier who is under Othello’s command, is jealous, having proposed to Desdemona previously. Combine this jealousy with Iago’s anger over Othello’s choice to promote Cassio over himself, and Iago’s left with a desire for revenge. Iago slowly begins to deceive and twist Othello’s mind so that he begins to destroy his own life.

My thoughts: Unlike my last selection, The Taming of the Shrew, this play isn’t one to enjoy for its humor and witty remarks. Though this play is still full of wit, it is shrewd wit rather than comedic. Iago is probably my favorite character from any of Shakespeare’s plays, not because I like him, but because I’m always impressed by the way he manipulates others. I think that Othello is gripping, and each scene just builds in intensity. Plus, this is really interesting to read in terms of race (if you’re in the mood for a bit of tough thinking and analysis, that is).


After taking a course all about Shakespeare in the modern day, I’ve become absolutely intrigued by adaptations of Shakespeare’s works and references to Shakespeare in pop culture. So, for these Shakespearean Summer posts, I’ve decided to include other ways to find Othello. Here are some of the more unique ones:

Omkara – Othello meets Bollywood. Enough said.

O – Set in a modern-day high school, where Othello is Odin, the star of the high school basketball team and the only African American at his school. Desdemona is Desi, the dean’s daughter, and Iago is Hugo, the basketball coach’s son. Pretty good film that’s quite intense (especially considering relatively reason school shootings).

All Night Long – A black and white 60’s movie set in London with lots of jazz music. A pretty loose adaptation, but there’s great music.


Feed Your Ears XV: If I Stay

To read about the origins of Feed Your Ears, check out my first post.

This week my selection is If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I had a blast with this one since I love classical music so much.

1. Cello Concerto in E Minor Op. 85: I. Adagio moderato - Elgar

2. Whole Lotta Love - James Taylor Quartet

3. God Bless the Child - Eva Cassidy

4. Libertango Suite - performed by Yo-Yo Ma

5. Schubert's String Quartet No. 14 minor, D. 810 "Death and the Maiden" : I. Allegro - performed by the Emerson String Quartet


Magic Under Glass Contest

As you may guess, I am SUPER excited about tenner Jackie Dolamore's Magic Under Glass. So, I was thrilled to find out that she's giving away an ARC of the copy with sketches of the characters, so it's totally unique.

Here's more on Magic Under Glass along with a link to the contest:

Coming 12/22/09 from Bloomsbury...

Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. In Parry's world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it's not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that's at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world.

Want to win an ARC with original sketches from the author inside? See http://fabulousfrock.livejournal.com for details!

Waiting on Wednesday: August 26

Title: Sphinx's Princess
Author: Esther Friesner
US Release Date: September 22, 2009

Summary (from Amazon): Nefertiti may be the dutiful daughter of a commoner, but her inquisitive mind often gets her into situations that are far from ordinary, like receiving secret lessons from a scribe. And she’s the kind of girl who acts first, and apologizes later whenever she witnesses injustice or cruelty. But she is also extraordinarily beautiful. And news of her striking beauty and impulsive behavior attracts the attention of her aunt, the manipulative Queen Tiye, who sees Nefertiti as an ideal pawn in her desire for power. Even though Nefertiti is taken from her beloved family and forced into a life filled with courtly intrigue and danger, her spirit and mind will not rest. She continues to challenge herself and the boundaries of ancient Egyptian society.

Why I'm interested: I love the Nobody's series by her, and I am huge historical fiction fan to begin with. I think her take on Nefertiti should be really interesting.


So many awards, so little time

Didn't y'all love that show, So Little Time? You know, with the Olsen twins? Uh, but yeah... anyway, to the point of this post:

I've been nominated for two blog awards. Yay!

The Zombie Chicken Award!

From Briana at The Book Pixie and Rachel at The Obsessive Reader. Thank you both! You're so awesome.

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...

So, now for my nominees:
J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog
Khy at Frenetic Reader
Lauren at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
Yan at Books By Their Cover

And then I was also nominated for the Lemonade Award a second time by Rachel of The Obsessive Reader. Thank you Rachel!!

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude. Here are the rules for accepting this award:
•Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
•Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
•Link your nominees within your post.
•Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
•Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

And my Lemonade Award nominees are:
Allison at Read Into This
Alyssa at The Shady Glade
Ashley at Books Obsession
Casey at A Passion for Books
Faye at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Laina at Laina Has Too Much Spare Time
Lee Verday at Lee A Verday's Book/Writing Blog
Rebecca at Everything To Do With Books
Rebecca at Rebecca's Book Blog
Taschima at Bloody Bookaholic

All of the blogs mentioned in this post are totally awesome, so you should check them out, comment on some posts, that sort of thing. :)

Teaser Tuesday: Week 10

Teaser Tuesdays is sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading. Teaser Tuesdays go like this:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week:

"It was my nemesis Prince Siegfried, of the house of Hohenzollen-Sigmaringen, whom everyone expected me to marry.... I'd been whisked back to Scotland not to solve any crime but to be thrust together with the man I so vehemently avoided."

--page 87, Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen

What was your teaser this Tuesday?


In My Mailbox: Week 11

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi from The Story Siren. Here's what I found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, and at the library these last two weeks. Summaries are taken from Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads.

I seem to be having an issue uploading photos on Blogger, so no pictures this week. Sorry!

My Name is Will by Jess Winfield (won in a contest by A Journey of Books) - A Tale of two Shakespeares... Struggling UC Santa Cruz grad student Willie Shakespeare Greenberg is trying to write his thesis about the Bard. Kind of... Cut off by his father for laziness, and desperate for dough, Willie agrees to deliver a single giant, psychedelic mushroom to a mysterious collector, making himself an unwitting target in Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs. Meanwhile, would-be playwright (and oppressed Catholic) William Shakespeare is eighteen years old and stuck teaching Latin in the boondocks of Stratford-upon-Avon. The future Bard's life is turned upside down when a stranger entrusts him with a sacred relic from Rome... This, at a time when adherents of the "Old Faith" are being hanged, drawn, and quartered as traitors. Seemingly separated in time and place, the lives of Willie and William begin to intersect in curious ways, from harrowing encounters with the law (and a few ex-girlfriends) to dubious experiments with mind-altering substances. Their misadventures could be dismissed as youthful folly. But wise or foolish, the bold choices they make will shape not only the 'Shakespeare' each is destined to come... but the very course of history itself.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (ARC from 1 ARC Tours) - For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (ARC for review) - For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (ARC for review) - Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon (ARC) - Lil is an old woman who spends her days shelving rare books in a tiny Manhattan bookstore and lonely nights at home in her apartment. But Lil has an intriguing secret. Tucked and bound behind her back are white feathery wings–the only key to who she once was: the fairy godmother responsible for getting Cinderella to the ball to unite with her Prince Charming. But on that fateful night, something went terribly and beautifully wrong. Lil allowed herself the unthinkable: to feel the emotions of human beings and fall in love with the prince herself, going to the ball in place of Cinderella in her exquisitely gorgeous human guise. For her unforgivable mistake, she was banished to live among humans, far from her fairy sisters and their magical underwater world. But then one day she meets Veronica–a young, fair-skinned, flame-haired East Village beauty with a love of all things vintage and a penchant for falling in love with the wrong men–and suddenly it becomes clear to Lil that she’s been given a chance at redemption. If she can find a soul mate for Veronica, she may right her wrong and return to the fairy world she so deeply longs for. . . .

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella - Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they? When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie–a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance–mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she’s just been dumped by the “perfect” man. Sadie, however, could care less. Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way.

That's my mailbox! What did you find in your's this week?


Back again...

and it looks like I have a ton to catch up on. My flight got in really late last night (curse those stupid storms) so I spent most of today sleeping late and then unpacking. Anyway, thanks for continuing to visit while I was gone! I was thrilled to come home to a bunch of books to review, lots of comments, and two blog awards. Sooooo... I'll get to that all tomorrow (yeah, I know, I'm lazy right now). Keep reading! :D


GUEST POST BY LISA MANTCHEV: Feed Your Ears XIV: Eyes Like Stars

Today's Feed Your Ears post is super special :) That's because Lisa Mantchev is visiting! Her novel, Eyes Like Stars, was released this July, and I'm thrilled that she was willing to put a playlist together for us to go with the book.


Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars playlist with her commentary:

1. "Eyes Like Stars" - Faulter - Darling Buds of May

I found this song only after we retitled the novel... I think it speaks for itself (and is especially shiny, given that "Darling buds of May" is a Shakespearean reference.)

2. "The Chairman's Waltz" - John Williams - Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack

This is the music that would accompany Bertie and the fairies moving past the velvet curtains, around the half-lit backstage area, in the places only they really know about at the Théâtre.

3. "Moonlight Serenade" - Klaus Badelt - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack

Nate's entrance song.

4 and 5. "The Wedding Samba" - Edmundo Ros & His Rumba Band and "Je Chante" - Charles Trenet - A Good Year soundtrack

Two numbers I'm pretty sure Mr. Hastings would play on the Victrola in the Properties Department.

6. "Koop Island Blues" - Koop, featuring Ane Brun - Koop Islands

Very "By The Sea"-esque (you know your Sweeney Todd, yes?) and something I can hear playing in the background as Bertie and the fairies frolic in old-fashioned flannel bathing costumes at the seaside set.

7. "Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova - Once soundtrack

Bertie and Nate, summed up in a song.

8. "The Assassins' Tango" - John Powell - Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack

Bertie and Ariel's Tango Music

9. "The Only One"/"Call Me When You're Sober" - Evanescence - The Open Door

The sort of music Bertie probably would have listened to when mad at either one of the boys, had she an iPod.

10. "Prendersi per mano" - Cirque Du Soleil - Corteo soundtrack

Almost ALL the Cirque music instantly transports me to the stage... it's very theatrical and evocative... this soundtrack and the other Cirque music comes even more into play for Perchance To Dream


So, I think this is one AWESOME playlist. Thank you so much Lisa! Plus, Lisa put together this awesome playlist so you can listen to most of the songs:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

If you haven't already, check out Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars, already on shelves, and the Theatre Illuminata website.


Eyes Like Stars

All Beatrice (Bertie) Shakespeare Smith knows is the Théâtre Illuminata. At the Théâtre, players are born to fill their particular role, bound to the building itself by The Book. Bertie has no idea who her parents are; just that she was left at the Théâtre to be taken care of. Despite not being a player, at the Théâtre she feels like she belongs. Living with the stage as her bedroom and the four fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as her closest companions, Bertie grows up to love the written word, action, and chaos (well, maybe she doesn’t love chaos but she can’t seem to help but create it). Unfortunately, it’s this attraction to disaster that constantly gets Bertie in trouble. When it finally goes too far, Bertie needs to find out what makes her indispensible before she loses her home and her family.

Lisa Mantchev’s Eyes Like Stars is a truly unique new fantasy. Though the beginning of the novel was a bit confusing, it didn’t take very long to become engrossed in Bertie’s story. Eyes Like Stars weaves script with narrative, so that Bertie’s story can’t be told without both. Along these lines, I love how Lisa Mantchev emphasizes the power of words and blurs the distinction between what is written and what is real. Plays that are likely familiar to the reader (such as Hamlet) come to life, and even with such liberty, Lisa Mantchev manages to stay true to the nature of each character. Though sometimes irksome, the four fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream increase the hilarity of the story so that the reader can’t help but laugh. As the scenes unfold, the charismatic yet dangerous Ariel (from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) enters the story, as does the modest and kind pirate Nate (from The Little Mermaid). It is particularly interesting to read how they play off of each other as they vie for Bertie’s attention. Overall, Eyes Like Stars is a really enjoyable read once you get past the very beginning. The characters are wonderful, and the imagination that went into this story is incredible. As the first installment in a trilogy, I was pleased to say that the end of Eyes Like Stars felt resolved enough to leave the reader satisfied while leaving plenty of storylines hanging in order to build anticipation for Act II. 8 out of 10.

P.S. Check back tomorrow for Lisa Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars playlist!


Waiting on Wednesday: August 19

Title: Winter's Child
Author: Cameron Dokey
Series: Once Upon a Time
US Release date: September 8, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): Kai and Grace are best friends who live in adjoining homes. But when Kai declares his love for Grace, everything changes. Grace years for freedom and pushes away Kai - and their friendship. Dejected Kai dreams of a dazzling Snow Queen, who entices him to leave home and wander to faraway lands. When Grace discovers Kai is gone, she learns how much she has lost - and sets out on a mystical journey to find him...and discover herself.

Why I'm interested: I've read every book in the Once Upon a Time series that's been released so far. Cameron Dokey's are some of my favorites. I like that this is a retelling of "The Snow Queen" because it's a fairy tale I know but am not too well familiar with.


Interview with Amy Efaw

Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you all my first author interview :) So without further ado, I welcome Amy Efaw, author of Battle Dress and After. A mother of five, I’m impressed that she has any time to write, let alone do a ton of radio interviews (read more about those on her blog) and even respond to me :D. Amy Efaw’s most recent novel for young adults, After, does a fantastic job dealing with the “Dumpster baby” phenomenon (see my review from yesterday for more on the book).


KB: What was your inspiration for After?
AE: I first got the idea for AFTER while living in Philadelphia with my law student husband and then 3 little kids, all under the age of 5. One cold winter day, the big news story in Philly was of an off-duty police officer and his pit bull. During their early morning walk, they stumbled across a live baby in a trash bag that was left at the curb. That incident got me thinking about the issue – how could someone do something like that? And why? Then a couple of years later, I had just published my first book for teens, BATTLE DRESS, and I was trying to figure out the topic of my next novel. We were living in Washington State, I was pregnant with my fifth child, and my Army prosecutor husband got his own “Dumpster baby” case to try! At that point, I just knew that I had to write a novel involving the “Dumpster baby” phenomenon.

KB: How did you choose the title?
AE: Actually, the working title I used while I was writing the book was AFTER BIRTH (which I thought was perfect – gritty and graphic, but also clever because of its double meaning). But my publisher thought it was just too icky (“afterbirth” – one word – is another term for “placenta,” and my publisher felt that too many people would’ve been grossed out by that title). So, we tossed around many different ideas, which just weren’t working for one reason or another. And then one day, my amazing editor Joy Peskin and some of the other “decision-makers” at Viking were meeting around some conference room table (at least, that’s how I imagine it happened), and they came up with the simple, but intriguing, title AFTER. And I really liked it, too!
In fact, Joy emailed me about their choice right after the meeting, hoping I’d like it. She wrote, “And, hey “After” is half of your original title :)!”

KB: When did you start writing?
AE: When did I start writing, period? Well, one day in junior high, my 7th grade English teacher called me up after class. She told me she was so impressed with one of the creative writing stories I had turned in to her, that she wanted to submit it for publication. That was the first seed – a teacher telling me I wrote well. A couple of years later in high school, I started writing a novel, but I never finished it. Over the years, I’d write poetry just for myself. But I seriously considered trying to become a writer when I became a mom. I’d sit around in the children’s section of this really cool Borders Bookstore in Philadelphia and read picture books to my kids, and I thought, “Hey! I can do this!” So, I got to work.
I wrote a couple of picture book manuscripts first and sent them off to publishers. But I didn’t have much luck besides collecting rejection letters. But I didn’t give up. Then I attended a weeklong children’s writer’s conference in Chautauqua, New York (I had won a full-ride scholarship to it), and when I returned home all inspired, I started a novel, based on my experience as a female cadet at West Point. It sold before I had even finished it! That was my first book for teens, BATTLE DRESS.

KB: Why did you choose to write for teens?
AE: I might get into trouble for saying this, but I’m going to do it anyway – I think in many ways you have to be a better writer to hold a teen’s attention than an adult’s. We young adult authors have a lot of competition – video games and MySpace and TV and iPods and text messaging, etc. If we don’t grab our audience right away, our book will be tossed, relegated to some corner in a closet or under the bed, never to be cracked again. Adults tend to be more patient when they read; they’ll give a book more time to draw them in.
Also, I believe that teens tend to be more open to new ideas than adults tend to be. Not that I write with an agenda in mind, but as an author, I think it’s a powerful thing to possibly affect the way people look at a particular issue or expose them to a new concept.

KB: What do you hope readers will get out of reading After?
AE: Of course I’d like to bring more awareness to the “Dumpster baby” issue. But even more than that, I’d hope AFTER encourages readers to get involved in other people’s lives. Don’t sit by when your friends withdraw into themselves or change. Take a risk, step up, and ask, “What’s going on with you?” OR “I’m worried about you.” And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Life can be tough; we need to help each other get through it when we can.

KB: Are you working on anything right now?
AE: Yep, I’ve started working on my next novel for teens. It’ll be another psychological, “get into the head” type story. The going is kind of slow at the moment since AFTER is just coming out, and I’ve been bombarded with tons of radio and blog interview requests, so I’ve been funneling my time in that direction lately. I get distracted very easily, unfortunately! And having five busy kids, my writing often gets shoved onto the back burner.

KB: Thanks, now for a few random questions. Since it’s August, what’s your favorite summer food?
AE: I really love a good burger, grilled out. Lots of ketchup. And ice cream – anything with chocolate. I have a couple of really cool ice cream shops within walking distance of my house in North Denver, so that’s been my vice this summer – taking a walk in the evenings with my husband, Andy, and stopping to grab a scoop!

KB: What song is playing in your head the most right now?
AE: “Paper Planes” by M.I.A.

KB: What question do you wish you were asked more often?
AE: “So, when is that next book coming out?” Because I could always use that extra kick in the butt to stay on task!
KB: Haha, I’m sure we’ll all have to keep that in mind ;) Thanks so much for visiting and best of luck to you.


After was released just last week - August 11th - so that means you don’t even have to wait to get a copy. And for even more about Amy Efaw, visit her website and check out this website for After.


Catching Fire contest

Since I reached 100 blog posts and 75 followers and I'm super excited, I've decided it's time to celebrate. So, one of you lucky readers will be receiving my copy of... Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

To enter, just leave a comment below including your email address so that I can get in touch if you win. I'm a poor college kid, so unfortunately I have to say that I can only mail to U.S. addresses.

For extra entries (lots of 'em):
+1 if you tell me the best book you've read this summer
+2 if you become a follower
+3 if you already were a follower
+2 if you add me to your blog roll
+2 for each time you blog about/link to/twitter about this contest (unlimited amount of times)
+3 if you comment on one of my reviews or interview
+2 if you comment on a Feed Your Ears playlist

So... Ready, set, GO! This contest will end September 5th.


First, I just HAVE to share the captivating book trailer that Penguin released:

After tells the story of Devon, a girl who was once a completely normal teenager. Scratch that – Devon was never just normal. She was a hardworking straight-A student with an undeniable talent for soccer who as a high school student acted as mature as a college grad. Then one day a newborn baby appears abandoned in a dumpster – the same day that Devon is home sick. It’s not long before the connection is made, identifying the baby as Devon’s and leaving her with multiple criminal charges, the most serious of which being attempted homicide.

I’ve always been horrified and almost disgusted by the concept of dumpster babies, so After really opened my mind. I was incredibly impressed by Amy Efaw’s ability to make Devon a sympathetic character, especially considering that After isn’t even narrated directly by Devon. Amy Efaw creates a likeable though desperate protagonist who is not yet sixteen to make the issue far more complex than today’s media generally makes it out to be. Especially due to the emphasis put on intent, the courtroom scenes were fascinating, and as a reader it felt like you were there in the courtroom with Devon and Dom.

After makes great use of flashbacks to slowly reveal the entire story behind Devon’s pregnancy and her baby’s birth. These flashbacks truly contribute to the novel’s intensity without confusing the reader. Amy Efaw’s characters, especially Devon and her mother, felt very realistic, even when, in the case of Devon’s mother, they weren’t always likeable. I was really moved by the ending and impressed by Devon’s maturity, something you can hardly say about many the protagonists in many young adult novels. Though I only finished reading After a few hours before writing this review, I can say honestly say that I haven’t been able to get my mind off of the book since finishing it. The questions posed by After are incredibly thought provoking, and I expect to continue thinking it over for some time to come. I should warn you, though. After is a gritty novel about a sensitive subject and some of the excerpts are graphic. I believe readers need to approach After knowing you’re in for a serious read in order to really appreciate it. I give it a 9 out of 10.

P.S. Check back tomorrow for an interview with Amy Efaw!!
P.P.S. Don’t you love the cover? The subtlety of the girl’s reflection is ingenious.