Sorry for my out-of-the-blue absence these past few days! Friday afternoon a really strong storm blew through, leaving my entire town without electricity. While this generally sucked, it did make for lots of reading time. I only just got power back, so it'll be awhile before I'm caught up. Since I haven't posted since Thursday, that just means even more posts this week (including two weeks worth of Feed Your Ears Friday and In My Mailbox). I'm also going to try to get a few reviews up this week, so stay tuned!


YA Book Carnival: Secret Society

Now for my final contest that's part of Shooting Star Mag's YA Book Carnival. This one is a follower appreciation contest, because I love you guys and really appreciate having readers. Anyway, for the details:

I am giving away an ARC of Tom Dolby's Secret Society, to be released September 29th. So, if you would like to enter, you must be a follower. If you were a follower before this post, let me know and you'll get an extra entry.

To enter: Just comment below :) Include your email address so that I can contact you if you win. And sorry, but U.S. addresses only.

For extra entries:
+1 if you were a follower before this post
+1 if you suggest a book for me feature in a Feed Your Ears Friday post
+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)
+4 if you comment on and/or link to my review of Secret Society

So... GO! This contest will end July 10th.

Update: This contest will now end July 18th.

Secret Society

In the first installment of The Secret Society Chronicles, new girl Phoebe Dowling doesn’t care about fitting in at the Chadwick school. As an artist, she just wants to experience the city (New York City that is). Phoebe never expected that a single night at a party, one of Nick Bell’s notorious parties, of course, would make all the difference. First, socialite Lauren Mortimer takes Phoebe under her wings (who wouldn’t? Phoebe’s silver ballet flats were too cute). Then Phoebe receives a mysterious text message, along with Lauren and Nick, and wakes up the next morning as an initiate of the Society. Having been promised success thanks to the network of Society members, the three don’t bother questioning the unusual meetings and secrecy. Things seem to be going well, until a dead body is found in Central Park with only a tiny ankh-shaped tattoo as identification.

At its surface, Secret Society by Tom Dolby has a stunning cover. The cover’s sleek, seductive look only makes the book more intriguing. Secret Society complete sucks you in, drawing you into the lives of the elite networks of secret societies in NYC. Tom Dolby’s book is absolutely entrancing and the danger is exciting. The reader is drawn into the secrets and all the complications, in a way that’s almost disturbing, but is approached so thoughtfully that the reader can hardly look away. Secret Society is full of complexities, and this certainly does not exclude the characters. By rotating through Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch, this book expertly offers multiple perceptions of NYC, the Society, and more, each one uniquely contributing to the development of the novel.

Tom Dolby’s B.A. in the history of art definitely shows, particularly with the symbolism of the ankh, but really through all of the art and history that is brought into the story. As a whole, Secret Society is a captivating novel, full of mystery and romance. With today’s fascination surrounding boarding schools (think Gossip Girl, Private, etc.) and secret societies, this book is sure to draw attention. Plus, compared to these, Secret Society isn’t wholly predictable or superficial, but rather complex and thrilling. With its cliffhanger ending, I simply cannot wait for a sequel. 9 out of 10.

P.S. Check out Tom Dolby’s blog.


Waiting on Wednesday: June 24

Title: The Hollow
Author: Jessica Verday
Series: first in the trilogy
US Release date: September 1, 2009

Summary (from Amazon.com): 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.

Why I'm interested: I'm an English nerd. I mean that because I'm majoring/concentrating in English, but not even "cool" 21st century literature. No, instead I'm apparently a rare student as I LOVE early American lit. Naturally, I've spent plenty of time reading Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hallow," which (though I've been told loosely) sets the backdrop for this book. So for me, Jessica Verday's The Hollow combines the type of literature I love to study with YA lit, the type of literature I love to read for pleasure. Plus, after reading the first chapter, I just wanted to have the entire book in my hands so I could go right on reading (at least it's only about a two month wait).

So, what are you looking forward to this Wednesday?

P.S. Find interesting tidbits related to The Hollow over here.


YA Book Carnival: Mixed Giveaway

Since I couldn't decide which of the following books to giveaway (and unfortunately couldn't hold a contest for them all thanks to that stupid thing called shipping), I'm giving YOU a choice of two of the following books. That's right, if you win, you can pick which two of these five books end up in your mailbox.

So, on to the selection:
-Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent (ARC)
-Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (HC)
-The One (Chloe Gamble) by Ed Decter (PB)
-Cruel Summer by Alyson Noel (PB)
-Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka (PB)

To enter:
Just comment with which two books you'd like to win! Sorry, US addresses only. Include your email address so that I can contact you if you win.

For extra entries (so many ways!):
+1 if you become a follower
+2 if you already are a follower
+1 if you enter my contest for Hunted
+2 if you blog about/link to/twitter about this contest (up to 3 times for +6)
+3 if you comment on any of my reviews, just tell me which one(s)

Contest ends July 18th, winner (hopefully) announced July 19th.

For more contests and to support other bloggers, check out Shooting Star Mag's YA Book Carnival. Also check back Thursday for my final YA Book Carnival contest - a chance to win Tom Dolby's Secret Society.

Teaser Tuesday: Week 3

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 Tuesday is...

"Even as I was falling in love - full throttle, intense,
can't-erase-that-goofy-smile love - I didn't really register what was happening.
When I was with Adam, at least after those first few awkward weeks, I felt so
good that I didn't bother thinking about what was going on with me, with us."

--page 166, If I Stay by Gayle Forman

What's you teaser?


In My Mailbox: Week 3 and More

First, thanks to Kristi, The Story Siren, for this meme. Here's what I've found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, and at the library this week. Summaries are taken from Amazon and B&N.

^These Susane Colasanti books were won from a contest held by Amanda at A Patchwork of Books and I won The September Sisters from Kelly Parra at YA Fresh. Thanks both of you!!

Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti (ARC) - At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents' unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa's ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school's ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she?

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti (ARC) - In one short week . . . three lives change. Rhiannon is devastated after the breakup with her boyfriend and wants him back. Nicole's ex is still in the picture, but she can't help having a new crush. James and Rhiannon are just friends, though he may try to take it to the next level. Will their desire to take a mean girl down a notch bring these three friends what they want . . . and more? Set during one life-altering week and told in three realistic perspectives, this engaging, witty novel by the author of When It Happens shows the ups and downs of love, friendship—and karma.

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor - Abigail Reed and her younger sister, Becky, are always at each other's throats. Their mother calls them the September Sisters, because their birthdays are only a day apart, and pretends that they're best friends. But really, they delight in making each other miserable. Then Becky disappears in the middle of the night, and a torn gold chain with a sapphire heart charm is the only clue to the mystery of her kidnapping. Abby struggles to cope with her own feelings of guilt and loss as she tries to keep her family together. When her world is at its bleakest, Abby meets a new neighbor, Tommy, who is dealing with his own loss, and the two of them discover that love can bloom, even when it's surrounded by thorns.

Pure by Terra Elan McVoy - Tabitha and her four best friends all wear purity rings, symbols of the virginity-until-marriage pledge they made years ago. Now Tab is fifteen, and her ring has come to mean so much more. It's a symbol of who she is and what she believes — a reminder of her promises to herself, and her bond to her friends. But when Tab meets a boy whose kisses make her knees go weak, everything suddenly seems a lot more complicated. Tab's best friend, Morgan, is far from supportive, and for the first time, Tabitha is forced to keep secrets from the one person with whom she's always shared everything. When one of those secrets breaks to the surface, Tab finds herself at the center of an unthinkable betrayal that splits her friends apart. As Tab's entire world comes crashing down around her, she's forced to re-examine her friendships, her faith, and what exactly it means to be pure.

Ash by Malinda Lo - Cinderella retold. In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted. The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
^I've already written a review for this one (SO GOOD), so check it out.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen - It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their
friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn - Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.
I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . .The good news: My parents will freak!
Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers - Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott - When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over. Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

So those were the books that made their way into my room this week. What did you find in your mailbox?

Also, here are a few contests on other blogs going on this June and early July.

To start with, of course: YA Book Carnival hosted by Shooting Stars Mag with TONS of contests (including my own for Hunted, plus two more coming up to keep an eye out for). This is also a great way to support and discover other bloggers, so head on over.

Ending June 22nd at Read This Book! is a contest for a signed copy of Julie Kraut's Slept Away. There's also a great interview with Julie Kraut about writing, camp, and superpowers ;) Check out the interview and enter for a signed copy over here.

There's another BC Book contest going on for Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog. Head over here for a chance to win the ARC (the book comes out this coming Tuesday), plus lots of awesome swag if you enter by June 26th.

Harmony Book Reviews is holding a "summer is contest time" giveaway. If you like surprises, this contest is for you. Enter for a chance to pick a few books of your choice off a list that will be e-mailed to you. Cool, huh? Enter here by June 31st - entries are unlimited.

The Book Blogger is giving away some great fantasy-type books over here. Enter by July 1st and you'll have a chance to win a hardcover of one of the following: Wings by Aprilynne Pike, The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong, or Stargazer by Claudia Gray.

This next one isn't really YA, but I'd consider it a crossover as her books can certainly appeal to a YA audience (I mean, I started reading her Kushiel series years ago). So, The Book Butterfly is giving away Jacqueline Carey's latest, Santa Olivia, right over here if you enter by July 1st.

GreenBeanTeenQueen is celebrating her birthday with us in a nice big giveaway of summer reads and romances! The giveaway includes Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker, The Wedding Planner's Daughter by Coleen Murtagh Paratore, and Slept Away by Julie Kraut. Enter here by July 1st for your chance to win these books.

Bloody Bookaholic is currently holding not one, but two contests! First, you can enter for a chance to win Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev here. Enter by July 1st for a chance to win this Theatre Illuminta book. Bloody Bookaholic is also hosting a contest for the YA Book Carnival so check out that contest here. To mix things up a bit, this contest is giving away The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge as well as a suprise book (which you won't know until you pick it). Sounds like fun to me! So, enter to win either book by June 27th.

P.S. Sorry this post was SO long!

YA Book Carnival: Hunted Contest

The YA Book Carnival starts today, hosted by Shooting Stars Mag. To get the full scoop on the carnival and to find other giveaways, head over here.

To start with, I'll be giving away the fifth installment of the House of the Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast: Hunted along with a mix CD to go with the book.

To enter:

Just comment on this post with your favorite summer song (you know I love music, and I'm putting together a playlist for when I read by the pool/at the beach).

Include your e-mail address so that I can get in touch if you win. Also, U.S. addresses only (sorry - I can't afford international shipping).

For extra entries:

+1 if you become a follower
+2 if you already are a follower
+1 if you suggest a book for me feature in a Feed Your Ears Friday post
+2 if you blog about/link to this contest (up to 3 times for +6)

Contest ends July 4th and I'll try to post the winner July 5th.

P.S. Keep an eye out for the other two contests I'll be hosting this week (one for a selection of YA books, another for followers for Tom Dolby's Secret Society)



Malinda Lo’s debut novel, Ash, introduces Aisling, better known as Ash, who loses her mother and father at a young age. Forced into servitude by her stepmother to repay her father’s debts, Ash struggles to overcome her grief while trying to understand her woodland heritage through the land’s fairy tales. While trying to come to terms with her mother’s death, Ash finds herself drawn to the Wood and the cunning fairy Sidhean who promises to grant her desires though she does not know the cost. In the same woods, Ash meets the King’s Huntress, Kaisa, who becomes a mentor and friend while the reader watches their relationship delicately evolve into more.

Ash is standout debut from Malinda Lo. Of all of the retellings of Cinderella that I have read (and as a fan of fairy tales, I assure you I have read many), this one is a truly unique adaptation. To begin with, the cover is absolutely breathtaking. Ash has one of those covers that will immediately draw your eye in a bookstore and then leave you staring for several minutes before you finally reach out to pick it up. Malinda Lo’s descriptions are luscious and the imagery vivid. Beyond this, her words flow wonderfully, drawing the reader in so that you just have to read the entire book in one sitting.

While Ash in a sentence has been condensed to “a lesbian retelling of Cinderella,” I believe that reducing this debut to such oversimplifies and underestimates this beautiful tale. This rendition of Cinderella is rooted in folklore, especially as it layers multiple tales within the whole tale itself, and introduces the element of fantasy through fairies. Furthermore, while the GLBT theme is clearly key to the novel’s development, I did not find it to be popping at the surface of the story, but rather subtly woven throughout the text. Instead of pushing an agenda, Ash teaches that love and friendship can take you by surprise, are sometimes out of your control, and that both can be found in unexpected places. I also appreciated Ash’s strong will and that Malinda Lo did not stick to traditional concepts of good and evil (for example, Ash finding a sympathetic stepsister in Clara). Overall, Ash brilliantly recreates the story of Cinderella in an elaborate world where nothing is simply predictable. This is a 2009 debut that you will not want to miss. 10 out of 10.

P.S. Check out the British cover at Malinda Lo’s site here. It’s so much different than the US cover! Though I like the British one, I don’t think it really compares to the US one.


Feed Your Ears VI: Old Magic

This week, I've decided to go with Marianne Curley's Old Magic (I love Marianne Curley's stories, full of time travel and romance, and I couldn't pick which of the Guardians of Time book to go with, so I just chose this instead).
  1. 1. Stormy Weather - Etta James
  2. 2. Timeless to Me from Hairspray
  3. 3. Magic in the Air - Badly Drawn Boy
  4. 4. I Can't Fight This Feeling - Chicago
  5. 5. Time - Hootie and the Blowfish
  6. Bonus/6. Heart and Soul (you know, the one song other than Chopsticks that everyone knows how to play on piano)
P.S. See the original Feed Your Ears post right here.

Flashback of the Month III: Swollen

For a short explanation and the first Flashback of the Month post, go here. This month, I dug out an old review I did for BookDivas on Melissa Lion's Swollen (so if the writing style is a little different than my recent reviews, that should explain it).

Swollen by Melissa Lion tells a story about true love and discovering yourself told from the viewpoint of Samantha (Sam) Pallas. Sam is accustomed to running from everything. She even ran from her school’s golden boy right before his death. Then Farouk arrives and no longer is Sam running away, but towards someone. With Farouk, she can escape the problems and pressures of her family, friends, and running. Sam knows she can just be herself when she’s with him and she trusts him with almost all of her secrets while still exercising caution to an extent as she doesn’t want to be hurt from getting too close. Still, some things just can’t be helped.

Swollen is an incredible story about first love. There are so many books available to teens/young adults about love and sex, but this one stands out amongst them. Many of us can relate to Sam’s story, each in completely different ways, and it’s still enjoyable. Honestly, some parts of the story were a little creepy and made me shudder, but these made the book feel more realistic. The part of the story about Owen was probably my favorite as it tied another issue into an already complex novel. The ending will surprise you some, especially because at that point you’re so into the book, the emotions you feel double those of Sam. I would recommend Swollen to anyone because you can learn a lot about yourself through Sam’s strong story. 8 out of 10.


Fragile Eternity

Melissa Marr’s Fragile Eternity is the third (or second, depending on how you look at Ink Exchange) in a series about faeries that started with Wicked Lovely. If you haven’t read Wicked Lovely yet, all I can say is that you really should. I never wrote a review for it myself, Briana at The Book Pixie recently did, and (though I am a fantasy-lover at heart) I agree with most of her thoughts on the book. So, you should check out her review over here.

Fragile Eternity returns to Seth and Aislinn, centering on the challenge of their love. Aislinn is adjusting to her role as Summer Queen, learning how to rule a faerie court while protecting Seth and trying to understand exactly what she feels for her King. Seth in the meanwhile grows frustrated with his position as the Summer Queen’s mortal love and his own fragility. Searching for a way to give Aislinn eternal love and secure her love in return, Seth discovers that there are more worlds beyond Huntsdale than he ever imagined. All the while, a war is on the horizon for the faerie courts. Seth’s search and its consequences, as well as his protection under multiple faerie courts despite being a simple mortal, draws attention and brings the courts that much closer to fighting.

Fragile Eternity is just as good as, if not better than, Wicked Lovely. Like Melissa Marr’s other books, the cover is gorgeous and entrancing. I love how the butterfly and is sharp while the rest of the cover is out of focus, and the hues of blue and purple are beautiful. Then of course, the worlds Melissa Marr creates are so elaborate and well thought-out that the reader can’t help but be sucked in, wishing to believe in faeries.

I like how Seth came into himself in this novel. Melissa Marr showed that, like any human, he has his flaws, but is not without redemption. Seth became bolder and more independent than before, though I was sometimes bothered by how stubborn he could be. This is absolutely gripping to read, especially as Melissa Marr brilliantly blurs the distinction between good and evil and plays around with alliances while the potential for war looms ahead. If you've read Melissa Marr’s other works, you really must check out this sequel, Fragile Eternity, and if you haven't read Wicked Lovely, you should really get on that. 9 out of 10.

P.S. Check out deleted sequences on Melissa Marr’s blog. You can find her first post here and the second one here. Enjoy!


Waiting on Wednesday: June 17

Title: Betraying Season
Author: Marissa Doyle
Series: Leland Sisters, book 2
US Release date: September 29, 2009 (unfortunately bumped - originally it was supposed to be released this past May)

Summary (from Marissa Doyle's website): Penelope Leland has come to Ireland to study magic and prove to herself that she is as good a witch as her twin sister Persy. But when Niall Keating begins to pay her court, she can’t help being distracted from her studies. Especially when she learns that the handsome young nobleman is reputedly an illegitimate cousin of the new young Queen Victoria, her friend and idol, whom her sister saved from an ambitious wizard’s control spell the year before. Niall Keating has strict orders from his sorceress mother Lady Keating: to make young Miss Leland fall in love with him so that she can be convinced to use her magical powers to help reconcile him to his true father, the Duke of Cumberland, Queen Victoria’s uncle. Niall is delighted to comply until he discovers his mother’s true aim: to assassinate Queen Victoria by magic and put Niall’s father on the throne of England. Penelope is thrilled when Lady Keating reveals her powers and offers to tutor her in magic. But Niall has fallen deeply in love with the lovely young woman. Even if he halts his mother’s evil plans, will Penelope be able to forgive him for trying to seduce her into a plot against her beloved queen?

Why I'm interested: After reading Bewitching Season, I couldn't wait to see what would come for the Leland sisters. I love how Marissa Doyle mixes a bit of historical fact with fantasy as it's great to see my two favorite genres come together in one work. Plus, a bit of romance never hurts, and isn't the cover gorgeous?
P.S. Check out a note from Marissa about the history behind this book here.


YA Book Carnival

Sorry I didn't have a chance to get a review up today! I promise to get a couple up over the next few days, so you can look forward to that. And here's something just as cool as book reviews (okay, correction: even cooler):

Shooting Stars Mag is hosting a YA Book Carnival coming up next week, from June 21st to June 27th. During this week, a ton of YA bloggers will be hosting contests for books and book-related things. It should be a blast, so check out full details over here. I have decided to host three or four contests during the YA Book Carnival (books and accompanying mix CDs), so keep an eye out this coming week.

Teaser Tuesday: Week 2 and Contests

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 Tuesday is...

"When she emerged from the Wood, she looked toward the grave and knew with a sense of rising dread that something was wrong. She took the last few steps, her legs shaking, and saw that there was a gaping hole where there should have been earth and grass."

--page 118, Ash by Malinda Lo

What's your teaser this week?

Also, here are some more contests going on at other blogs, in more or less chronological order:

First, though I have no idea when this one ends (all the more reason to rush over there now), Reviewer X is giving away Lisa Mantchev's debut (that's been getting a lot of attention), Eyes Like Stars over here. Review X also did a great pub story with Lisa Mantchev that you can read here. I love how acting and reading (and dreams) seem so interconnected.

Ending June 17, as one of their Contest Mondays, The Brain Lair is giving away a SIGNED ARC of The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong here. You know, the sequel to The Summoning. I haven't read this one, but the first was entrancing, so I'm sure this one isn't to be missed. And I did mention that it's SIGNED, right?

Now a big hit: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. You know you've been dying to get your hands on a copy of this one, and now you can. Head over to Connie's blog LitMuse by June 19th for a chance to win a copy. It's right over here.

For those of you who have read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind (and even for those who haven't), Zafon's next book just came out (today!) and Reading and Ruminations is giving you the chance to win an ARC of this book, The Angel's Game (along with The Shadow of the Wind if you haven't read it or a gift card to a bookstore). So, head over here by June 20th to sign up for the giveaway.

Next, Fantastic Book Review is hosting a contest called Magicians, Demons & Selkies – Oh My! (I know, I love the contest title, too). If you enter by June 20th, you have the chance to win a copy of either The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan or Sea Change by Aimee Friedman.

And now, here's a chance to win an updated (and very unique) retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast - Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Head over to The Story Siren for a shot to win this adaptation as long as you enter by June 26th.

In Bed With Books has a pretty massive contest going on that you can check out right here. If you post why you're life could be a good reality TV show, you could win: the complete Elite series (The Elite, In Too Deep, and the soon-to-be-released Simply Irresistible) by Jennifer Banash, Don't You Forget About Me (Gossip Girl #11) by Cecily Von Ziegesar, Envy (Lux #3) by Anna Godbersen, and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

And the last one for today, Jessica at Eat Sleep Dance Read is having her first contest (yay!) celebrating the beginning of summer over here. She's giving away Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and you can enter until June 30th.

P.S. Upcoming reviews include Fragile Eternity, Ash, and Storm Glass. I'll try to have them all up by the end of the weekend.


Wild Orchid

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey, an installment in the “Once upon a Time” series, retells “The Ballad of Mulan.” With a mother who died in childbirth and a father who hadn’t returned from the army since her death, Mulan grows up parentless and as a tomboy. Mulan’s neighbor and only close friend, Li Po, helps her balance her required work of sewing and embroidery with her desire to ride a horse, use a sword, learn archery, and write. The war with the Huns ends, and after a long absence, Mulan’s father returns home, surprised by the young woman who is his daughter. Just as Mulan is adjusting to this new life (along with a stepmother), another army is called to fight for China, and Mulan realizes she must fight in order to protect her new family even though this means she must leave home and disguise herself as a man. From there, Mulan is forced to rely on her ability as an archer, her friendship with Li Po, and the kindness of her handsome commander, Prince Jian, to save China and discover herself.

I loved Wild Orchid, yet was a bit disappointed. Having read all of the other books in the “Once upon a Time” series, I was glad that Dokey chose to write an adaptation of a non-European tale, thus broadening our horizons a bit. Still, the novel itself disappointed. The first half presented Mulan before she joined the army, developing her background in terms of interest, education, friends (well, really friend), and family history. I really appreciated this depth, but it was lost in the second half. Based on the summary and my prior familiarity with Mulan’s story (I promise it’s not just from the Disney movie!), I would have expected her time training and fighting the Huns would have been more significant to the tale. Instead, this portion of Mulan’s story was rushed.

Furthermore, the romance between Mulan and Prince Jian was not developed enough and thus not particularly satisfying to the reader. They have few interactions, let alone meaningful ones. As compared to other books in the “Once upon a Time” series, the romance in Wild Orchid just was not fleshed out enough (though if you’re not reading the book for the romance plot, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything). Nevertheless, Wild Orchid is a nice addition to the “Once upon a Time” collection and a great read for the beach or bedtime. I really enjoyed what was there; I only wish Dokey had expanded the second half of the story, particularly Mulan and Prince Jian’s relationship. 7 out of 10.

P.S. For a bit of background on Hua Mulan, check out this Wikipedia article.
P.P.S. Which cover do you like better? The first (the illustrated one) is the original, the second the reprint. I have to go with the first.


In My Mailbox: Week 2

First, thanks to Kristi, The Story Siren, for this meme.

Here's what I've found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, at the library, and in gift bags (yay birthday gifts) this week. Summaries are taken from Amazon and B&N.

^These three all come from one of Elizabeth Scott's contests. Thank you so much Elizabeth!!

Something, Maybe (signed) by Elizabeth Scott - Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar...and that's just how she likes it. Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents make Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants -- only what she wants may not be what she needs....

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (signed) by Ally Carter - When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them. As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe? Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth.

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd (ARC) edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Acclaimed authors Holly Black (Ironside)and Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof) have united in geekdom to edit short stories from some of the best selling and most promising geeks in young adult literature: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr. With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley, Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!

Wings by Aprilynne Pike - Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker -

Austin Music Fest -- Yay, summer in Austin!
Good food, good times. Fun for everyone! -- Okay, living with my sorority-brainwashed cousin, who willingly goes by "Party Penny," is not exactly what I had in mind.
All your favorite bands -- But the cute musicians I've met totally make up for it . . . like Sebastian. Swoon.
All ages welcome -- So why can't I stop thinking about Penny's friend All-American Russ and his Texas twang??
Saturday & Sunday, from noon to midnight -- Don't wait up!

Evermore (The Immortals series #1) by Alyson Noel - Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste… Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

The Paris Enigma by Pablo De Santis - It is 1889, and the entire world breathlessly anticipates the Paris World's Fair and the opening of Monsieur Eiffel's iconic tower. The Twelve Detectives—a society of the twelve most famous, compelling, and dazzling detectives from around the world—have been asked to discuss the secrets of their trade as part of the fair's lineup of events. The Twelve travel to Paris to convene as a single body for the first time, but also, if some whispers are to be believed, to debate the very philosophy that underlies their pursuit of the world's most wanted criminals. But one detective is conspicuously absent: the legendary founding member of The Twelve, Renato Craig, will not attend. In his place he sends his novice assistant, Sigmundo Salvatrio—son of a shoemaker, a lifelong detective-arts devotee, and the only remaining student of Craig's famed Academy for Detectives in Buenos Aires. Salvatrio arrives in Paris, carrying a secret message meant only for Craig's best friend and cofounder of The Twelve, the brilliant, brooding, and fiercely competitive Viktor Arzaky. When a member of The Twelve is discovered dead at the foot of the gleaming Eiffel Tower, the first in what turns into a series of grisly murders, Arzaky and Salvatrio find themselves in a race against time around glorious fin de siècle Paris, encountering all manner of secret societies, solving philosophical puzzles, while also trying to save a dangerously beautiful woman. The pair soon realizes that the stakes involved are unimaginably high; they must not only catch the stalking murderer but also alter the fate of their precious brotherhood.

The September Society by Charles Finch - In the small hours of the morning one fall day in 1866, a frantic widow visits detective Charles Lenox. Lady Annabelle’s problem is simple: her beloved son, George, has vanished from his room at Oxford. When Lenox visits his alma mater to investigate he discovers a series of bizarre clues, including a murdered cat and a card cryptically referring to “The September Society.” Then, just as Lenox realizes that the case may be deeper than it appears, a student dies, the victim of foul play. What could the September Society have to do with it? What specter, returned from the past, is haunting gentle Oxford? Lenox, with the support of his devoted friends in London’s upper crust, must race to discover the truth before it comes searching for him, and dangerously close to home.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner - One of history's most enigmatic women tells the haunting, passionate story of her tumultuous life. Juana of Castile is just thirteen when she witnesses the fall of Moorish Granada and uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent and beautiful, proud of her heritage, Juana rebels against her fate when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir - until she arrives in Flanders and comes face-to-face with the prince known as Philip the Fair, a man who will bring her the greatest of passions, and the darkest despair. One by one, tragedy decimates Juana's family in Spain. Suddenly, she finds herself heiress to Castile - a realm on the verge of chaos, prey to avaricious nobles and scheming lords bent on thwarting her rule. Juana vows to win her throne, until the betrayal of those she loves plunges her into a ruthless battle of wills - a struggle of corruption, perfidy, and heart-shattering deceit that could cost her the crown, her freedom, and her very life. From the somber majesty of Renaissance Spain to the glittering courts of Flanders, France and Tudor England, Juana of Castile reveals her life and secrets in this captivating historical novel of romance, grandeur, power and treachery.

So those were the books that made their way into my room this week. What did you find in your mailbox?



Set on the Carolina shore, Breathing by Cheryl Renée Herbsman focuses on Savannah (ironically named for Savannah, Georgia) the summer she meets Jackson Channing. When Savannah was young, her father left the family, and since then Savannah has been faced with severe asthma attacks that occur more frequently than she would like to admit, especially to the handsome Jackson. His presence not only captures the attention of her heart, but allows her to breathe a little more easily. When Jackson has to return to his mother, Savannah must learn how to make a relationship work long-distance and how to breathe without anyone else’s help.

I know that this book has been receiving a lot of attention for months now, but the truth is, I didn’t like it that much and don’t know if I understand all of the fuss. I thought the premise was brilliant and unique, and hoped that it would be enough to carry the book (plus I adored the cover, so I admit that I did set my hopes high before even opening to the first page). My main problem with Breathing was the Southern dialect (so much so that I had to put the book down several times and almost didn’t finish it). Maybe it is just because I’m a northerner, but the accent seemed forced and overdone to the point where it interrupted the flow of the novel.

Beyond this, Savannah wasn’t a particularly amiable protagonist due to her immaturity and irresponsibility. While I understand that Breathing is trying to capture teenage love, her behavior often made me doubt her age and mistake her for a 13-year-old. This made it harder for me to buy that what Savannah and Jackson are sharing is true love, as she is not understanding of his situation and solves this by whining more than anything else. Also, what frustrated me the most was Savannah’s complete dependence on Jackson. Even at the end of the novel, Savannah does not demonstrate any real initiative or control over her life. The story is supposed to be one of Savannah coming into her own, but rather she loses herself when she meets Jackson (safe to say I wouldn’t recommend this to strong feminists). So, at its heart, Breathing is a good love story if you aren’t easily irritated and can overlook the dialect. 5 out of 10.

P.S. There's bonus material for Breathing at Cheryl Renée Herbsman's website, including character sketches, which you can check out.


Feed Your Ears V: Before Midnight and More

I've been in a fairy tale-ish mood lately so I've decided to go with this twist on the classic Cinderella.

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

1. Once Upon a Time from The Princess Bride

2. Glass Slipper - The Dresden Dolls

3. Cinderella Story - Plain White T's

4. Prince Charming - The Flash Girls

5. Impossible/It's Possible from Cinderella

Also, on the topic of music, I encourage you all to check out the summer playlist of songs loved by bloggers and authors that Mya from Dissecting Perfection put together over here (complete with youtube links to the songs). I especially like number 9 - Sarah Ockler of Twenty Boy Summer selected Wilco's California Stars (one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands; the acoustic version is the best, though).

So, on the subject of the rest of the blogosphere, today is the last day to enter the Beautiful Creatures/BC Book Club Contest: Eyes Like Stars and Swag Giveaway (well, really the BC Book Club/FB Fan page/Castor Girls blog/Kami Garcia/Margaret Stohl contest). There isn't a whole lot of time left, so head over there for your chance to win a pretty awesome ARC AND awesome swag that might even be more awesome, if that's possible (I mean, we're talking earrings, hair dye, lip gloss, stickers and more).

Also, if you're a Sarah Dessen fan as I am, check out Just Your Typical Book Blog's Sarah Dessen Extravaganza. Every Monday of June (and some other times too), they'll be giving away a copy of one of Sarah Dessen's novels so that by the time the end of the month rolls around they'll have give away a copy of EVERY book. Sweet, right? Right now the giveaways are for This Lullaby (admittedly my favorite, deadline June 14th) and Along For The Ride (deadline June 15th). So, check it out!


Challenge: A Shakespearean Summer

I've decided to take on another challenge (an official one this time - not just personal like my goal to read 100 books this summer - and a long term one, unlike the 48 Hour Book Challenge) and I'm really excited about it (the English lit major that I am). Sponsored by Liv's Book Reviews and Lisa Mantchev, it's called A Shakespearean Summer. You can get full details here but the challenge is to read three Shakespeare plays and blog about them by August 31. Having read all of his popular ones by now, I'm trying to decide whether I'd like to reread some or go for plays I haven't read yet. Any suggestions?
I'm also hoping to include in my posts a movie aspect since I took a course that was all about comparing the original plays to modern visual adaptations of Shakespeare, and I would love to bring in some of that while I blog (though I admit I don't know how I plan on doing that yet). Anyway, I encourage you all to join in as well. If you complete the challenge, you'll be entered for some incredible prizes from Lisa Mantchev, plus reading Shakespeare is ALWAYS a good thing.
P.S. I know I keep saying this, but I promise I'll have my review of Breathing up soon (hopefully tomorrow, but definitely by this weekend).


Waiting on Wednesday: June 10

Title: The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson: A Most Improper Magick
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Series: The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson will be a trilogy and this is book one
US Release date: February 9, 2010

Summary (from GoodReads):

Her mother was a scandalous witch, her brother has gambled the whole family into debt, and her Step-Mama is determined to sell her oldest sister into a positively Gothic marriage to pay it off--so what can twelve-year-old Kat Stephenson do but take matters directly into her own hands? If only her older sisters hadn’t thwarted her plan to run away to London dressed as a boy and earn a fortune! When Kat makes a midnight foray into her mother’s cabinet of secrets, though, she finds out something she never expected. Her mother wasn’t just a witch, she was a Guardian, a member of a secret Order with staggering magical powers--and Kat is her heir.

Of course, there’s no chance of Kat choosing to join the Order that forbade her parents’ marriage...but Mama’s magical mirror doesn’t seem to understand that. It keeps following her wherever she goes, even when the family travels to Grantham Abbey to meet the sinister Sir Neville, her oldest sister’s chosen fiancé. And what with Sir Neville showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s untapped powers, her mother’s old tutor insisting that she take up her mother’s position as a Guardian, and her sister Angeline refusing to listen to her about anything, *as usual*...well, it’s a good thing Kat kept her boy’s clothing, because she may well have to use it--especially if the rumors of a highwayman are true.

You can also find out more at Stephanie Burgis's site.

Why I'm interested: I admit I first noticed this book because I was looking at the Tenners and loved that Stephanie Burgis spelled magick with a k. Then reading the summary, I got hooked on the cabinet of secrets (I just spent a semester studying old cabinets of curiosities so can you blame me?) and the Regency setting. In general, it seemed to remind me a bit of Libba Bray and Marissa Doyle, and I'm always interested in reading books by debut authors, so I only wish next year would come sooner.

P.S. I couldn't find any cover images for this one yet, as I doubt the cover is anywhere close to being finalized, but let me know if you discover anything!


Teaser Tuesday: Week 1

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!

Easy peasy, right?

Seeing as the other Teaser Tuesday posts I've read seem to interpret seem to have a wide interpretation of two, I'm hoping this'll be alright:

"But it's not his complete gorgeousness that has me so transfixed. It has nothing to do with that. It's mainly the way the entire area surrounding his body, starting from his glorious head and going all the way down to the square-cut toes of his black motorcycle boots, consists of nothing but blank empty space."

--page 14 of Evermore by Alyson Noel


In My Mailbox: Week 1

I meant to post this yesterday, but oh well. There was so much going on with the 48 Hour Challenege that I'm going to say it doesn't matter.

Anyway, this meme comes from Kristi at The Story Siren.

Here's what I've found in my mailbox, at the bookstore and at the library this past week (several were read over the weekend):

Summaries are taken from Amazon.com or the book's flap copy:

Going Bovine by Libba Bray (ARC) - All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Secret Society by Tom Dolby (ARC) - An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York’s wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about. They didn’t ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything. Even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown, and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they’re forced to get on the nape of their necks. Once they’re part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It’s all perfect—until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo. Tom Dolby makes his teen fiction debut with this riveting novel about a dangerous Society so secret that once you get in, you can never get out.

Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin - In Rifkin's dazzling debut, Manhattanite media pro Tori Miller shares a posh Hamptons summerhouse with five upwardly mobile 30-somethings. Wanting out of the depressing slide her life takes after being dumped by her first love and losing her dream job, Tori starts MillerWorks, her own TV production company. Still, Tori's depressed, bringing about an intervention staged by her loyal employees, Jerry and Jimmy, her best friend Alice and the Transformation Trio—three make-over experts who use Tori as the pilot subject for their new reality TV show. Tori flirts with a glamming lifestyle, and her fling with George, a rich playboy with a publicist, while she's also secretly canoodling with a housemate, banker Andrew Kane, is a recipe for disaster. Tori must think fast on her borrowed Manolos, especially when Cassie Dearborn, her new friend and housemate, needs help with her own disastrous Hampton hijinxs. Hotter than a sand dune in August, cooler than a mojito in South Beach (or Southhampton), this book will appeal to Sex and the City fans and summer beach readers alike.

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey - Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call. But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

Storm Glass by Maria Snyder - Untrained. Untested. Unleashed. With her unique magical abilities, Opal has always felt unsure of her place at Sitia's magic academy. But when the Stormdancer clan needs help, Opal's knowledge makes her the perfect choice - until the mission goes awry. Pulling her powers in unfamiliar directions, Opal finds herself tapping into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. Now Opal must deal with plotters out to destroy the Stormdancer clan, as well as a traitor in their midst. With danger and deception rising around her, will Opal's untested abilities destroy her - or save them all?


Now what?

Wow. I have this sort-of empty feeling now that the challenge is over. Once I published that last entry I just didn't know what to do with myself (so, of course, I went back to reading and finished up Storm Glass).

Anyway, there are two reasons for this post:

1) To let you know that I enjoyed putting more time into my blog so much that I made a resolution to post every day this summer (well, every day I have access to a computer, so I guess every day this summer minus a week and a few scattered days). Hopefully this will be made easier as I plan to partake in the weekly memes In My Mailbox (on Sunday), Teaser Tuesday, and Waiting on Wednesday, plus I have my usual Feed Your Ears post on Friday. And of course, this weekend put me ahead on reading, so getting reviews up shouldn't be too difficult for the next couple of weeks.

2) To let you know about some great contests going on with deadlines coming up soon.

First contest: If you missed out on winning a copy of Waiting for You during Susane Colasanti's blog tour, here's another chance for you. Hosted by Amanda at her blog A Patchwork of Books, you not only have a chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Waiting for You, but also an ARC of one of Susane Colasanti's earlier works, Take Me There (not to mention that the second place prize also includes both, just without the autograph). Sweet deal, right? You just have to head over there by the end of the night, so get on it!

Second contest: Kidlit has a huge giveaway contest going on here where you have the chance to win one of these three hot books (just one, so you've got to think and pick carefully!): Catching Fire, Shiver, and Along for the Ride. All quite sought after (especially Catching Fire, it seems), so you'll want to check that out. This contest seems to require a bit more effort, but I'd say it's surely worth it.

Third contest: Lauren (of Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf) is holding a contest to win an ARC of A Sweet Disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov. Check out the contest over here since who doesn't like some good historical fiction (plus, the cover looks great)?

48 Hour Book Challenge: Finish Line

With 10 minutes left until 1:00PM, I'm going to try to wrap everything up.

1:00-2:30AM: Reading Storm Glass
Then sleeeeeeeeeeep, shower and breakfast.
10:30AM-12:50PM: Reading Storm Glass - got to page 317
12:50-1:00PM: Final update

Finalized totals:

Time: 25 hours 03 minutes
Books: 6 and 3/5: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor, Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey, The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham, Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr, Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin, and three-fifths of Storm Glass by Maria Snyder
Pages: 1985 (ahh - so close to 2,000 - maybe I'll set that as my goal next year)

I must say I'm glad I participated in this. It was a great way for me to get through a nice chunk of the stack of books that's been taking over my desk (and make progress on my summer challenge). Plus, I had fun, filled out my blog a bit, and found some new blogs to follow. Over the next week or two, I'll try to get a bunch of complete reviews up for the books I read these past 48 hours. Anyway, thanks goes out to MotherReader for hosting this and best of luck to anyone else participating who hasn't finished up yet!

48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 6

Ahhh! Less than 12 hours left!

Here's how I've been doing:

5:00-7:20PM: Reading Lovehampton
7:20-7:40PM: Dinner
7:40-8:40PM: Reading Lovehampton
8:40-11:20PM: Dragged to see Star Trek (OK, so I wasn't taken completely against my will, plus it was really good, but still! so much time lost!)
11:20PM-12:45AM: Reading Lovehampton - FINISHED
12:45-1:00AM: This here blog update

So now for the new totals:
Time: 21 hours 3 minutes - YESSSSSSSSSS! I hit 20 hours! I'm hoping for 24 hours in the end, so I think I'll be able to make it.
Books: 6: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor, Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey, The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham, Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr, Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin
Pages: 1668

To read or not to read... Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin
This was a great debut novel (2008, I believe) - chick lit with MORALS (I know, who would've thunk?). It was a great escape to read during the summer, at home or on vacation. Tori Miller is a strong protagonist, and the sea of characters around her just add to the fun (and, of course, drama). I admit that Rifkin takes advantage of a few stock characters (for example, the gay-but-oh-so-fashionable Transformation Trio), but in the best of ways. All in all, very cute and enjoyable if you're looking for something that will transport your mind to the beach for a little bit of fluff with a happy ending and a good lesson about being yourself stuck in. 8 out of 10.
Next I'm going for one I kept telling myself I'd save for later, but I'm just getting too anxious: Storm Glass by Maria Snyder.


48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 5

I've passed the 24-hour mark and am doing well :)

Here's what I've been up to:
2:02AM-2:37AM: Reading Fragile Eternity
Then - sleep, breakfast, shower, cleaning, lunch, an e-mail check (and I'm so glad I did - I won Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover and Geektastic from Elizabeth Scott!)
12:30PM-4:07PM: Reading Fragile Eternity - FINISHED
4:07-5:00PM: Updating my blog, then I'm off to see how everyone else is doing

New totals:

Time: 16 hours 3 minutes
Books: 5: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor, Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey, The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham, Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Pages: 1358

A few words on Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (another one I'll be writing a full review for later):

I think I liked Fragile Eternity even more than Wicked Lovely. To start with, the cover again is gorgeous and entrancing. Then Marr creates such elaborate worlds of faeries that you can't help but be sucked in, and does so through beautiful writing. I like how Seth became bolder and more independent, though I was sometimes bothered by how stubborn he could be. This is absolutely gripping to read, especially as Marr brilliantly blurs the distinction between good and evil and plays around with alliances while the potential for war looms ahead. Anyway, if you've read Wicked Lovely you really must check out this sequel, and if you haven't read Wicked Lovely you should really get on that. 9 out of 10.
Anywho... as I said, I'm off to see how other book challenge participants are doing, then back to reading. I think I'll pick up Lovehampton.

48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 4

One last update for the night...

10:30-10:45PM: Snack/social break
10:45PM-1:42AM: Reading The Gatecrasher - FINISHED
1:42-2:02AM: Updating here :)

New totals:

Time: 10 hours 58 minutes
Books: 4: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor, Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey, The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham
Pages: 969

A few words about The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham (AKA Sophie Kinsella):

As this probably isn't as popular as the other books I've read, I'll just sum the premise up as a story about Fleur, a woman who crashes memorial services and funerals in order to find vulnerable men she can take advantage of for their wealth. This time, though, the man she's found herself involved with seems to have a more complicated past, plus a more complicated present family life. This book is what I'd call chick lit with a bit of meat. It's sweet and funny, but there's underlying social commentary so you don't have to feel guilty about reading it. Fleur certainly isn't the most sympathetic protagonist (at times she'll get on your nerves), but she certainly appealed to me more than Becky from the Shopaholic series. Also, I appreciate how Wickham didn't go for a fairy tale ending, considering the subject, though the ending did seem a bit abrupt. 7 out of 10.

I think I'm going to read Fragile Eternity for a bit. And by that I mean until I pass out (I have to admit, I've been yawning constantly so I'm probably fairly close to that point). So, goodnight! Best of luck to everyone else who is participating in the challenge!


48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 3

What I've been up to:

8:35-10:15PM: Reading Wild Orchid
10:15-10:30: Blog/mini-review

Updated totals:

Time: 7 hours 41 minutes
Books: 3: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor, Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey
Pages: 667

My thoughts on Wild Orchid (I'm going to do a full review of this later as I feel like it needs to sit with me a little longer):

I loved Wild Orchid, yet was a bit disappointed. The first half of the novel presented Mulan pre-army, developing her background in terms of interest, education, friends (well, really friend), and family history. I really appreciated this depth, except it was partially lost in the second half. Based on the summary and my prior familiarity with Mulan’s story (I promise it’s not just from the Disney movie!), I would have expected her time training and fighting the Huns would have been more significant to the tale. However, Dokey neglected to develop this part of Mulan’s story and more or less rushed through it. Furthermore, the romance between Mulan and Prince Jian seems underdeveloped as they have few interactions throughout the story, and only two are meaningful, so this relationship wasn’t particularly satisfying. Nevertheless, a nice addition to the “Once Upon a Time” collection and a great read for the beach or bedtime. I really enjoyed what was there; I only wish Dokey had expanded the second half of the story. 7 out of 10.

And now, moving along to Madeleine Wickham's The Gatecrasher.

48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 2

6-6:15PM: Caught up on e-mail
6:15-7PM: Dinner
7-7:23PM: Reading Hatter M
7:23-7:27: Helped sister with math problem
7:27-8:15 Reading Hatter M - FINISHED
8:15-8:35: Blogging and mini-review

New totals:
Time: 5 hours 46 minutes
Books: 2: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Hatter M by Frank Beddor
Pages: 468

Mini-review of Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Volume One by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier:

All-in-all, this was a pretty decent graphic novel. I appreciated Beddor's dark take on Alice in Wonderland, but don't think the story or characters were particularly well-developed (just not flushed out, as opposed to his full-length novels). Perhaps it's because of the length (only 145 pages), but I felt like more could have happened over over the course of the book. While the graphics were absolutely gorgeous, I felt as if something was missing there, too. And by something, I'm thinking diversity of images and panelling and such. Still, Hatter M really sucks the reader in and, because of the total cliffhanger ending, leaves you hooked and ready for the next volume. I'd say 6 out of 10.

Next up: Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey

48 Hour Book Challenge: Update 1

My first update:

1PM-3:45PM: Reading Hunted
3:45PM-4:30PM: Break to teach violin lesson
4:30PM-5:30PM: Reading Hunted - FINISHED
5:30-6:00: Blogging here with update and review

Time: 4.25 hours
Books: 1: Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Pages: 323

My thoughts on Hunted, a mini-review of sorts:

I have to say I'm addicted to the House of Night series. I want the next one NOW. Number five is certainly worth the extra money for a hardcover (plus the jacket is awesome as BOTH sides are printed). I love the role poetry plays in this installment and really like seeing the characters develop, such as seeing a softer side to Aphrodite. My only complaint is that there are TOO MANY GUYS for Zoey. I mean, Erik, Heath, AND Stark? I can't even decide who I want her to end up with because it's gotten to the point where they're just overwhelming, especially since Zoey has shown absolutely progress in making up her mind. I'm hoping that number six takes care of this a bit (and as I like all of the guys, I hope it does so in a Person X-finds-another-love sort of way rather than a Zoey-breaks-their-heart sort of way). 8 out of 10.

On to reading! I'm going with Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Volume 1 by Frank Beddor next (I'm not sure if I'm super excited, but it has been sitting in a pile on my floor with a nice little note from the publisher for a while, so I figure I might as well try it now).

Ready, Set, GO!

OK, folks. It's 1:01 P.M. and I am beginning MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge. My goal is to read at least 20 hours over the next two days. I'm going to try to update this every time I finish a novel and hopefully get a few reviews in.

So, first up (I admit I changed my list around a bit):

Hunted by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Wish me luck!

Feed Your Ears IV: The Juliet Club

I’m starting the 48 Hour Book Challenge REALLY soon, so I wanted to make sure to get my Friday Feed Your Ears post in before starting. Because of this, I'm keeping it to three songs (sorry!).

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

1. Romeo and Juliet - Dire Straits
2. Postcards from Italy - Beirut
3. Brush Up Your Shakespeare from Kiss Me Kate

I'm Crazy, or, How Late Nights End Up With Me Doing Things Like Signing Up For A 48 Hour Book Challenge

So, on a complete whim, I have decided to participate in MotherReader's Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge (for full info, check here). To be honest, I've never participated in something like this before and am not sure I entirely get what I'm supposed to be doing, but I figure that I'll just read and blog as much as I can and keep track of the time I spend and that should be good enough.

Here's my to-be-read list (let's see how far I get!):
-The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
-Hunted by P.C. and Kristin Cast
-Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin
-Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey
-The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham
-Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

I'm also hoping to write a review up for Breathing, Perfect Fifths, and maybe even Heartbreak River and a few of the books I read during this challenge. Who knows? But I admit I'll probably put more time into reading, so don't get your hopes up.

Anyway, I'm going to try to get a ton of sleep now and then start the challenge Friday at 1:00 P.M. (finishing Sunday at 1). Wish me luck!


Waiting on Wednesday: June 3

So, I finally decided to join in and participate in Waiting on Wednesday. So to start with...

Title: Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?
Author: Louise Rennison
Series: Georgia Nicolson, #10
US Release date: October 6, 2009

Summary (thanks Amazon!): Ohmygiddygodspyjamas! The tenth marvy book in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson is here! Get ready to laugh like a loon on loon tablets. It's the FINAL instalment of Georgia's fab and hilarious diary! Does Georgia escape the cakeshop of luuurve? Can there be more heartbreaknosity in store? Will the Sex God pop up again unexpectedly (oo-er)! And what about the supreme accidental snogmaster Dave the Laugh? Will she FINALLY choose her only one and only? So many boys, so little time!

Why I'm interested: Let's face it, most of us have been following the Georgia Nicolson series since Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging was released forever ago and we STILL don't know who Georgia's going to end up with. I'm still crossing my fingers for Dave the Laugh, and am looking foward to the conclusion of the series so I can finally be satisfied in knowing what happens.

(note: I couldn't find any images of a US cover, so here's the UK one for now as it's being released this month there)


Terribly Twisted Tales

Approaching famous fairy tales from a different direction, the eighteen stories in Terribly Twisted Tales will challenge the reader’s preconceived notion of a fairy tale. This anthology edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg includes stories by Dennis L. McKiernan, Annie Jones, Chris Pierson, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Mary Louis Eklund, Robert E. Vardeman, Kathleen Watness, Jody Lynn Nye, Jim C. Hines, Steven D. Sullivan, Brendan DuBois, Paul Genesse, Ramsey Lundock, Skip & Penny Williams, Elizabeth A. Vaughn, Janet Deaver-Pack, Kelly Swails, and Michael A. Stackpole.

From Grimm to Andersen, classic fairy tales are taken from new angles and sometimes transformed so much that the reader can hardly recognize the original. These stories range from funny to heartbreaking to slightly disturbing, each one distinct from the stories preceding and following it. Some of the best stories include the tale of Snow White’s falling out with the seven dwarfs, another of Rumpelstiltskin as the victim, and of Red-Riding Hood challenging a suffocating religious force.

Anthologies in general are often hit or miss. Terribly Twisted Tales falls somewhere in between, with quite a few absolutely fascinating stories that are scattered among mediocre tales along with a couple that are so complex they aren’t at all enjoyable. Nevertheless, it is worth picking up this anthology just for those great twists on your everyday fairy tales. In particular, McKiernan’s “Waifs,” Pierson’s “Once They Were Seven,” and Swails’ “Three Wishes” are not to be missed as they are very well-developed despite being short stories and are absolutely captivating. Also, fans of Jim C. Hines’ The Stepsister Scheme will appreciate a glimpse of Red who will be central to the third installment of this Princess series. Terribly Twisted Tales is a great read for those who only have short increments of time to read as the varying lengths of the stories and their independence makes the book one that is easy to pick up and put down. 7 out of 10.