Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Pages: 304
Series: no
Acquisition: received an ARC for review

Summary:
Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
A refreshing read for me. I'm not much of a contemporary fiction gal but I seem to be enjoying this genre more and more lately :)

One of the things that stuck with me about Instructions for a Broken Heart was the fact that every character, every action and reaction felt real and tangible.  High school love? It's pretty messy - no matter how it turns out. Kim did a great job of portraying this.

What stuck me the most was the supporting characters. I mean, Jessa's best friend? She isn't even really in the book, and I fell in love with her. She very much reminded me of my best friend in high school (except for the boy drama ;)
It was supper easy to warm up to Jessa and some of the things she did? Pure awesome! She doesn't always make the best choices but she really grows as a person as the book progresses. I liked that.

Oh, and the setting? Kim Culbertson had to have toured around Italy before writing this book! I felt I was there! Great word building and that little movie that runs through my head while reading? It wasn't lacking in the scenery department.

There were a few things I didn't love - like Sean, Jessa ex. What he did wasn't cool - no matter how Jessa might have treated him. There were a few times when I had the feeling I was suppose to feel sorry for him...that wasn’t going to happen. Oh, and there was this weird thing with one of Jessa's teachers….wasn't really feeling that vibe.

Final verdict:
All in all, everything worked for the story. I didn't agree with it all but it worked. A contemporary, stand alone young adult novel about breaking and mending hearts. With the little contemp fiction I read, Kim Culbertson is always on my radar as she has yet to disappoint :)

Overall Rating:
3.5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Sourcebooks
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tidbits: Book Trailer!

Monday, May 30, 2011

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

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Pages: 320
Series: no
Acquisition: NetGalley

Summary:
Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend--the first boy she ever loved--of being a killer.
Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac "White Bird" Henry isn't in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she's pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn't understand.
Feeling isolated and alone, she's up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she's as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won't turn her back on him. She's the only one who can free them both.
Even if she has to expose her secret--a "gift" she's kept hidden her whole life. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I didn't really know what to expect when I started this book. Was it a paranormal mystery? A coming of age teen story? A romance? Well turns out, it was a little bit of all of these...and much more!

At times, the pure injustice of the story was really hard for me to read. The fact that no one seems to care about White Bird or what happens to him. The fact that Brenna and her mother are seen the  town pariahs and the sheriff made up his mind about them a long time ago. These things got to me. I wanted to yell and scream! People jump to conclusions and a few horrific things happen to the characters and as a reader, there was nothing I could do. I wanted to help! That's how invested I was!

But, with all this injustice, AND the horrible things that happened to Brenna, her mother and White Bird...the way it's all resolved? I have to say, it was weak. A few words and half hearted actions and poof! Everything is right with the world. I mean, really? Even the good but extremely bigoted 'bad' guy came out clean in the end. And the bullies? The ones who traumatized Brenna? "Oops! We hated her for all the right reasons - it's all good now though, right?" For me? No, no it's not.  More complex then that of course but I don't want to give too much away.

For the first half of the book I was mad at the injustice thrown at Brenna and White Bird and for the last part of the book I was mad at Brenna and White Bird for not seeking out more justice for themselves.

So, not a perfect read for me. I had some anger issues and Brenna's 'gift' seamed a little out of place to me - like it didn't really need to be there. But, the friendship / relationship that Brenna and White Bird have - it was so sweet and it felt very natural and I fell in love with them both! Even if they pissed me off a little.

AND! The fact that this book made me so mad - made me want to reach through the pages and either slap or hug a character (maybe both at the same time) -- THAT’S what made this book awesome!

Overall Rating:
4 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Harlequin
Author's Website
Goodreads

Friday, May 27, 2011

How you doing?

In a word? BEA was awesomesauce.

My favorite part? Spending time with so many great bloggers, meeting so many wonderful authors and publishers and immersing myself in book love euphoria!

I got so many great books but I might have to wait to share them with you as my brain as not yet recovered from the exhausting (and exciting and thrilling and amazing) experiences of this week - and, I'm still technically on vacation ;)

I've been a little tuned out of the blogosphere this week so I ask - How you doing? How was your week?

I'll be back to regularly posting soon :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What a wonderful way to start my vacation :)

This might be the only post I manage to write this week, I'm on vacation and attending BEA (see 'sticky note' above :)

BUT!

Today I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet with 6 members of the Class of 2K11 and I just need to share.

Thank you so much, Gae Polisner, Amy Fellner Dominy, Christina Mandelski, Geoff Herbach, Bettina Restrepo, and Alissa Grosso for a wonderful event!

I especially loved hearing each author read a few pages from their debut books. Their characters now have a voice in my head which is awesome!

The Huntington Public Library, where the event was held, was a beautiful place and the authors filled the room to the brim.

I was too busy going fangirl gaga to take any pictures so I'll leave you with all their pretty books :)

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
May 10, 2011 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him.
Characters you’ll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story. (from Goodreads)

OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
May 10, 2011 from Walker & Company
Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.
Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?
Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself. (from Goodreads)

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
May 10, 2011 from EgmontUSA
In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.
But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.
Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients. (from Goodreads)

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
June 1, 2011 from Sourcebooks
Fifteen-year-old Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but in his sophomore year he starts growing...and growing.
During gym one day he smokes the football jocks in a 600-yard race. Felton has never been interested in sports, but there's no doubt-he is "stupid fast." As he juggles his newfound athletic prowess, his mom's sudden depression, an annoying little brother, and his first love, he discovers a shocking secret about his past which explains why he's turning out the way he is. (from Goodreads)


Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
March 8, 2011 from Katherine Tegan Books
A promise.
Quinceañera.
A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday . . .
Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.
Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience. (from Goodreads)

Popular by Alissa Grosso
May 8, 2011 from Llewellyn
Meet the clique that rules Fidelity High: Olivia, Zelda, Nordica, and Shelly, each one handpicked by über-popular Hamilton Best. You know you're "in" when you make the guest list for one of Hamilton's parties. And in the thralls of senior year, everyone wants to get noticed by Hamilton.
But Hamilton's elite entourage is coming apart at the seams. Olivia fantasizes about finally having a boyfriend, Zelda dreams of ditching high school, Nordica wants to be alone with her photography, and Shelly's plotting to dethrone Hamilton. Lies and secrets are ripping away the careful ties that have kept them together for years. But Hamilton has the biggest secret of all, one that only her boyfriend Alex knows. If the truth got out, it would shock everyone and destroy Hamilton's fragile world—and she'll do anything to protect her secret and keep her clique together. (from Goodreads)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Contest! Win Cinderella: Ninja Warrior and Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior
In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she's a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read! (from Goodreads)
My Review

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer
In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read! (from Goodreads)
My Review

CONTEST DETAILS:
*Open the US AND Canadian residents (no PO Boxes) 13 years or older
*Books will be shipped by the publisher
*Ends June 3, 2011 at 11:59am EST
*Fill out the form below to enter :)

The Onyx Talisman by Brenda Pandos Cover Reveal

It's here!
The Onyx Talisman (Talisman #3) by Brenda Pandos
Tentative Release Date: October 16, 2011 from Obsidian Mountain Publishing

Highlight the text for synopsis - SPOILER WARNING!
All was perfect in Julia’s life until Nicholas had his vampire blood-lust activated by his mother Alora, her immortal enemy, turning him evil and bent on revenge. Heartbroken and out of choices, Phil and Julia ran away in the middle of the night, with Scarlett on foot, to Orange County to warn and plead Nicholas’ Godfather for help. Once arriving at Harry’s though, the local coven accosted them and they narrowly escaped. 
After they returned home, there was a huge showdown between Phil, Nicholas, Scarlett, Alora, Katie and Julia. Alora almost got what she wanted—Julia’s vampire warding talisman—but Preston, Nicholas’ father, and Harry came to the rescue. They escorted Nicholas and Alora back to Beverly Hills, pledging to return Nicholas free from his blood-lust. But all Julia’s received in the past four months is a letter stating Nicholas missed her along with some song lyrics and promise of a quick return. That was a month ago.
Now Julia awaits Nicholas’ return with the Fab Five Coven: Phil and Katie—the sober vampires, Scarlett—the half-vamp/shape-shifter, and Tyler and Julia—the inducted humans. She’s stuck in Scotts Valley with Phil as her self-appointed chaperon and no way to return to Los Angeles to check on Nicholas. Only Scarlett and Julia know her fate ultimately involves the demise of all vampires, possibly including the ones she loves. When the time comes, will she even have a choice?

Isn't it beautiful?

I like the lighter tones - different from the dark black of books 1 and 2.

Not familiar with the series?
*CLICK HERE for my review of Book 1, The Emerald Talisman
*Read an excerpt HERE
*Watch the trailer:





Places to stalk visit Brenda :)



Thank you so much Brenda for the reveal!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

BEA: All you need to know + more Part 2!


Last week Eleni and I shared with you some of our BEA tips and invited you to ask your own questions.
We have answers! 

Jenn asked: 
Q: About the bag. I've read you should either bring a bag or have a box down in the bottom floor. If it's about the same to bring the extra bag home or ship it, I'd prefer to ship. Any suggestions or knowledge as to what airlines charge for those hefty suitcases with books?
A: Neither of us flew or shipped our books last year. You should check with your specific airline about baggage prices. For shipping options, there is an on site FedEx Office location inside the Jacob Javits Center. You can check their website for rates.

Sara asked:
QHow long do the lines get for author signings? Particularly the more popular but not ticketed authors?  Should I be ready to camp out for some?
A: Each signing only lasts a set amount of time you will never wait that long. There is a fair amount of 'camping out' but you'll be surrounded by people, hopefully making new friends and you won't even notice how long you're waiting.

Erica asked:
Q: I really want to go to BEA. I live right next to New York. But the problem is I really have no relation with books other than reading them. Is it possible for a person who just loves reading books to get into BEA?
A: As far as we know, no. BEA is not open to the general public. 

Amelia asked:
Q: Hey Eleni/Emily - just watched a vlog talking about grouping up and stuff....how important is it to be in a group at BEA? 
A: It's as important as you would like it to be. If you're a solitary person and want to be alone - that's fine.
If you like being with others, meeting up with and hanging out with fellow bloggers is something that could happen as well. I (Emily) went last year with a few phone numbers of fellow bloggers but with never actually having met anyone in person before. I quickly made new friends and spend a ton of time with them walking the exhibit hall and waiting in line for signings. I also spent a lot of time walking around by myself, introducing myself to publisher reps and enjoying the atmosphere. 

Jamie asked:
Q: Do people bring their own books for authors to sign? Or is that a faux pas? I know that they're mainly there to promote their upcoming titles and will be signing ARCs, but is it rude to bring a personal copy for them to sign?
A: Not rude but not really ok either. I'm not sure if it's an official rule or anything but I would not bring my own books. Authors will be signing MANY books in a very short amount of time and won't really have the time (and might flat out refuse) to sign other copies. 

Alexia asked:
Q: Should bloggers have an introduction post for new blog visitors since we'll be handing out so many business cards? Or not do anything special for BEA?
A: Up to you! I (Emily again), didn't have time to schedule posts during BEA last week so I had a, hey, I'm at BEA this week post up all week as well as a sticky note at the top of my blog saying "Hi" to anyone new. I'll probably do the same thing this year.

Still have questions? 
Fill out OUR FORM and one of us will try to get back to you via email :)

And now for a little something extra!
May 23rd is not only the start of BEA it is also the first day of New York Book Week.
There are TONS of events happening in the city and if you have extra time, it's worth it to check some of them out. It would be virtually impossible to attend every single event so no worries! Make the best with the time you have an above all - enjoy the books and enjoy the company of your fellow book lovers!

To highlight a few events in particular.
Why in particular? Because you might see one or both of us there ;)

338 Main Street, Huntington, Long Island, NY
Sunday May 22 at 3pm
Meet seven authors from the Class of 2K11 as they talk about their road to publication

Mulberry Street Library, 10 Jersey Street , NYC
Monday May 23rd 4pm-7pm
A session of panels with a ton of authors - talking about writing and their books, usually followed by a Q&A. The website is lacking information but a list of authors attending can be found here and here.
Last year there was also a signing with a bookstore on site to make purchases.

18 West 18th Street, NYC
Wednesday May 25th 6pm-8pm
Another gathering of some 2K11 debut authors.

Jacob Javits Center
Thursday May 26th 3pm-5pm
A meet and greet for authors and bloggers - open to everyone free of charge (last year there was a fee).

For information on even more events, check out BookExpo America's New York Book Week page

Happy BEA week everyone! Hope to see you there!

Book Review: Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Pages: 320
Series: sort of :)
Acquisition: received copy for review

Summary:
In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is an entirely new type of fairy tale–one that will keep today's kids guessing and offer them hours of magical fun. (From Goodreads)

My thoughts:
A mixed bag of good and bad for me on this one. I love mashups in general and the story of Sleeping Beauty (at least what I knew of it) always seemed a little lacking so it was fun is get some back story. Also, vampires are cool if done right and while the vampires in this story aren't the blood thirsty ruthless killers that vampires are suppose to be :) they are still pretty darn cool.

But the romance….maybe I need to stay away from YA romance for a while? Or all romance in general? Maybe I'm too critical? I don't really know. What I do know is that I didn't enjoy the romance in Sleeping Beauty. Lucette was such a strong character and I felt like the romance dropped her down a few notches. All fluttery and weak whenever her 'love' was near. AND said 'love'? Didn't care for him at all.

As with book 1, book 2 could be read in 8 different ways -- here is what I've said previously:
"Depending on choices you make along the way. At 3 points in the story, you have to choose what you think our heroin should do. You then skip ahead to that section and read on. This, was pretty cool. I felt like I had some control over the plot AND I can't imagine the organizing skills it takes as a writer to pull this off. The only issue for me though was the fact that the ending is the same for every choice you make. So, while the action plays out differently, in the end there is no choice."

For some reason, this 'all choices lead to the same ending' didn't bother me with Cinderella but with Sleeping Beauty, it did. I think it has to do with the fact that I liked Cinderella as a character more then I liked Sleeping Beauty.

All in all though? I really enjoyed reading this classic tale told in a very original new way. Maureen's writing style really drew me into the story and it was interesting to see how she handled so many elements at once. I would for sure read more Twisted Tales in the future.

Overall Rating:
3.5 / 5 Stars

Books in the Twisted Tales Series:
1. Cinderella Ninja Warrior
2. Sleeping Beauty Vampire Slayer
**they do not need to be read in order as each is it's own tale**

Linkage Love:
Silver Dolphin
Author's Website
Goodreads

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Pages: 320
Series: sort of :)
Acquisition: received copy for review

Summary:
In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she's a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read! (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I have always loved Cinderella as a character. Forced into servitude by her tyrannical stepmother, she is little more then a slave to the wishes and whims of her evil stepsisters. Now, take that classic tale and turn said stepmother into a powerful evil magician, turn Cinderella into a kick ass ninja and replace the glass slipper and ball with more excitement (think actual true love and a magic completion). Win!

I very much enjoyed this book. Cinderella is a strong and determined girl. Never failing and never wavering. She doesn't need a man to hold her up but love will make her powerful.

So many elements added to the original tale and I loved every one of them!  Oh - and no love triangles :) I'm thinking I should start adding this to more reviews - NLTI (no love triangles included ;)

There as always been a magical element to the story of Cinderella but Maureen McGowan has taken it to a whole new level and I think I just might like her version of things even better!

A great mashup with the added bonus of being a choose your own adventure tale. Depending on choices you make along the way. At 3 points in the story, you have to choose what you think our heroin should do. You then skip ahead to that section and read on. This, was pretty cool. I felt like I had some control over the plot AND I can't imagine the organizing skills it takes as a writer to pull this off. The only issue for me though was the fact that the ending is the same for every choice you make. So, while the action plays out differently, in the end there is no choice. But, I was ok with that.

I'm a fan of this mashup and if Maureen has any more Twisted Tales up her sleeves, I'll be sure to read them.

Overall Rating:
4 / 5 Stars

Books in the Twisted Tales Series:
1. Cinderella Ninja Warrior
2. Sleeping Beauty Vampire Slayer
 **they do not need to be read in order as each is it's own tale**

Linkage Love:
Silver Dolphin
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Contest! Win an ARC of Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

2011 Debut Author!
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Bloombury, May 10 2011
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance. (from Goodreads)

CONTEST DETAILS:
*Open to US residents (no PO boxes) 13 years or older
*ARC will be shipped by the publisher
*Ends June 7, 2011 at 11:59am EST
*Fill out the form below to enter :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

***2011 Debut Author***

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Pages: 352
Series: no?
Acquisition: received ARC for review

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

My thoughts:
It's been a little hard for me to write this review. Mostly because I know this book just wasn't for me. Tempest Rising is not, by any means, a badly written book and the story is actually very interesting. In the end, there were just too many elements that rubbed me the wrong way.

First off - there is a love triangle. I don't like them - and that's just my opinion. You might be the type that  enjoy this type of 'love' in your readings. I also have to put 'love' in quotes because really? Everyone in this story seemed pretty selfish to me. Especially Tempest. She says she cares for her family and her friends and her boyfriend but really? I didn't see it. Even when she was trying to help everything was still all about her.  I never warmed up to her and I didn't like the choices she made.

Also, and again, this is just a pet peeve of mine. A 200+ year old paranormal / magical being 'loving' and hooking up with a 17 year old? Even if that 17 year old is also not quite human? It grosses me out. It's the main reason I couldn't stomach the Twilight Saga. A 200 year age difference - no matter how young someone looks or acts is very unappealing to me.  So, there was that.

Otherwise? I actually really enjoyed the storyline. The fact that Tempest knew about her mother's past and knew what she herself was from the very start of the book was refreshing. The underwater world that Tempest's mother comes from was fascinating to read about.

But in the end, the love triangle and outrageous age difference between the complete stranger Tempest finds herself draw to for no reason did it for me.

Final verdict:
I've been reading other reviews of Tempest Rising so I know I'm in the minority as most people loved this book. You might too. If you like mermaids, you'll like it. If you like what has (to me at least) become the norm for YA romance plots, you'll like it. If you're looking for refreshing newish paranormal elements, you'll like it.

As for me? I'm filing this one in the 'not for me but probably for you' file :)

Overall Rating:
2.5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Bloomsbury
Author's Website
Goodreads

Tidbits:
*Tracy Deebs is a pseudonym of Romance novelist Tracy Wolff. Tempest Rising is her YA debut.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

***2011 Debut Author***

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Pages: 435
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: NetGalley

Summary:
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I love angel stories. Don't know why but they have always been a draw for me. So, when I first found out about Unearthly I was thrilled. And maybe that's why I was disappointed when I finally read it.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good story. A really good story. And the writing is pretty awesome. Not awkward or unrealistic. And even with the unanswered questions, the plot was pretty solid.

But. The romance. The romance just did me in. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again but I really dislike love triangles. I love a good love story, but I would much rather see no romance then a triangle. Or in the case of Unearthly, a half formed, messy shaped thing of unlikableness.

Ok, that didn't make much sense but I hope you get what I'm trying to say.

And it's so hard for me to say I didn't enjoy the romance in Unearthly because I very much enjoyed the characters - most of them at least. AND the romance actually played a huge part in the storyline. BUT...well...it just didn't do it for me.

I'm one of the few. Many, MANY people absolutely love this book and you would probably be one of them. The issues I take with Unearthly are just that, my issues.

Gotta say, the mystery was pretty cool - but not complete. It's the first in a series though so, yeah, to be expected. A lot more of this story to tell but for me at least, I don't know if I'll continue the journey. I can almost see the weirdly shaped love shaped thing getting even messier and the overall story getting bogged down by it and I would hate to read that because I very much would love to see what happens to these characters. But, we'll see. No synopsis for book 2 yet so I can't really say for sure.

Final verdict:
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. If you're a fan of paranormal YA romance, you'll probably really enjoy Unearthly. Like I said, the writing is solid and the plot is unique and engaging, It's just sadly, wasn't a book for me. Cynthia Hand is a debut author and while I might not pick up the next installment of the Unearthly series, I would defiantly read more by this author.

Overall Rating:
2.5 / 5 Stars

Books in the Unearthly Series:
1. Unearthly
2. Hallowed (2012)

Linkage Love:
HarperTeen
Author's Website
Goodreads

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox - May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

Vlog 4 in which I am very distracted and ramble on about BEA :)




Awesomeness mentioned:
BEA! Have you seen the post I did about BEA with Eleni? Why not? :)

Books Bought - links are to Goodreads:
The Raven (Skeleton Creek #4) by Patrick Carman
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3) by Julie Kagawa
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the Graphic Novel by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, Tony Lee and Cliff Richards

Not gonna post an IMM next week but I'll be back in two weeks with some lovely BEA books :)
Are you going to BEA? Let me know!

Hope you guys are having a great weekend!

What's in your mailbox?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BEA: All you need to know + more!


Are you going to Book Expo America this year?
I am and I'm so excited!
Last year was my first time attending and it was one of the best experiences of my life. The books were awesome, the authors were marvelous and the atmosphere was amazing. Thousands of people in the same place joined together by a mutual love of books? Fan-freaken-tastic!

One of the fabulous girls I met last year is Eleni from La Femme Readers. We've teamed up to (maybe?) help some of you out with a few BEA Qs and As. Some things I wish I had known before going last year.

And, in case we missed something you are wondering about, at the bottom is a form to ask your own question. Eleni and I will post again with more answers if need be and also with some supper links to other happenings in New York that week.

And if you're going and want to meet up, let me know! I'll be in NY all week.

On with the questions!
_____________________

BEA Q and A with Emily and Eleni:

Q: What should I bring to BEA?

Emily: Quick answer - as little as possible. By the end of the day you will have a lot of books to carry home (or back to your hotel). I brought way too much with me last year. Really all you need are the basics - cell phone, wallet / ID, some cash, BEA schedule (which you will get when you check in), pen, and maybe a snack.

Eleni: I agree with Emily on that one. I did a big mistake last year by bringing my pocket book. This time around, a little wristlet or even a cross body bag would work. I tend to carry my life with me, but the necessities really only matter during BEA. You won't care about your make-up, you'll be too busy drooling over all the YA goodies and almost fainting from meeting all your favorite authors.

Q: What should I wear?

Emily: Comfortable shoes are a must! It's function over fashion for me! Comfortable but respectable clothes. Don't over think it.

Eleni: Amen on the comfy shoes! Even my flats were hurting my feet, that's how long you are on your feet. Sneakers would be the smartest decision, but will I take my advice? Probably not! :) I tend to wear leggings and a top, that usually equals comfy and cute.

Q: What should I NOT do?

Emily: Worry too much. Lots of talk last year about rude bloggers. Well, yeah - bloggers are people and some people can be rude! You are going to run into all kinds of different folks and if someone rubs you the wrong way? Shake it off. You are there to meet great people and find great books. The actions of others should in no way mar your experience. For every 1 person you see acting in a way that may be shameful, you'll meet 3 people who are absolutely wonderful!

Eleni: Take your time! Don't rush around like a mad woman. I did that last year and I felt like a crazed kid in a candy store. Yes, they'll be so many things going on at once you'll want to attend everything, but remember it's going to be a long day so try to save up your energy and strategize. And don't skip out on lunch, I didn't even eat much last year because I felt like I was going to miss out on something. Also, to touch on Emily's response, yeah rude people in general do exist. After all, you're breathing New York air so the stereotype of rude New Yorkers might just rub off on them hehe. Ignore them and have fun!

Q: How much should I plan?

Emily: For me, it's more about being aware of what's going on then actually planning every minute of my day. I'm already stalking the Search It, Find It BEA page for info on what authors will be signing and I've made a list of who I would like to see. I've also looked up info on a few book related events going on that week that I would like to attend. BUT will I see all these authors and attend all these events? Maybe, maybe not. I plan on gathering up as much info as I can before I get there but I'm going to be flexible on what I actually do.

Eleni: I'm a big list maker. It definitely helped me last year for sure! On BEA's site it shows you all the authors and events going on: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com:80/en/Show-Info/Exhibitor-List-and-Floorplan/

Q: What about food?

Emily: Don't plan on eating :) Ok - don't plan on eating much! The food at the JJC is expensive and not that great but it's there if you need it. Hot dog stand out front is cheap but maybe NYC hot dogs aren't your thing :) Honestly, last year, I wasn't even hungry until the end of the day. A good breakfast, a quick snack and a good dinner and I was fine. Set aside extra money for the expensive stuff - like the $3 bottle of Snapple - after a few hours on your feet carrying books around - it will be well worth it.

Eleni: Yes, JJC food is expensive! I mean come on $3.00 for a water bottle? Really? You're better off bringing one from your house or hotel. Like Emily said the hot dog stand outside is affordable and well at the end of the day if you're desperately hungry or thirsty, JJC is there to provide you with whatever you need.

Q: What about money?

Emily: Make sure you have cash. For the snacks in the JJC, for the hot dogs out front, for the author signing donation boxes and for the random cab ride you might not be able to avoid.

Eleni: Cash for sure! Last year, I believe I carried $100 with me, that way I had extra cash if it was necessary. It comes in handy when you want to go eat out with your blogger friends or even use the Fedex facility in JJC to ship your books back home!

Q: Do I really need to bring a suitcase with me each day?

Emily: Yes! There should be a section set aside for bag checking. $3 a day (last year's price) and you can visit your bag as many times as you want to fill with books. Everyone will have them and you shouldn't feel silly bringing one. Remember though - no rolling bags on the Exhibit floor.

Eleni: Hell yes! I remember Emily and I made numerous trips to our suitcase to unload books. It's a huge advantage, especially with all the ARC's that will be available to you. Plus, on the floor you are allowed to hold tote bags that a few publisher's and JJC will provide. After a while your shoulder will feel like it will fall off, so when it's time to go back to your suitcase you'll feel great knowing it's there. No need to worry though it's securely protected by a lady so nobody will steal your belongings. This picture above is similar to the one I used, it's simple and has wheels on it for better traveling. Overstock is selling them around $25-27, so it's not too late to grab an affordable bag!



Want to visit the Strand bookstore?

Eleni: Trust me you want too! It's such a HUGE bookstore with an exceptional variety of YA and adult books. Plus, there is even a section for YA ARC's -- super cool right?
Emily: I still dream about the Strand sometimes :) It's such an awesome place and yes, if you can, you should go!

Strand's address is:
828 Broadway (between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
Some of you might be taking taxi's, which I believe costs around $10 from JJC, depending on traffic. For those of you using the subway, here is a website that will give you the exact train details you need to reach any destination: www.hopstop.com -- I use this site for all my train rides! It's easy and very helpful.


Do you have a BEA question? Ask below...



That's it for now. Stay tuned for the '+ more' part where we'll share some awesome links and NY tips.
Eleni has posted with same form so you only need to ask us once :)

Contest! Win an ARC of OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

2011 Debut Author!
OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
Bloombury, May 10, 2011
Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.
Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?
Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself. (from Goodreads)

CONTEST DETAILS:
*Open to US residents (no PO boxes) 13 years or older
*ARC will be shipped by the publisher
*Ends June 1, 2011 at 11:59am EST
*Fill out the form below to enter :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

NetGalley April - Totals and WINNERS!


It's time to pick some winners!

I didn't ask for contact info when everyone signed up SO! If I can't find a way to get in touch with you, it's up to you to get back to me! I'm sure I'll be able to tack you 3 down BUT if I can't I'll have to pick new winners :(

Ok - onto the WINNERS!
A BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Stella  from Ex Libris


Lisa from Baffled Books

You have each won $15 worth of books from The Book Depository!
If you see this post before I find you, please email me at WilowRaven[at]yahoo[dot]com with your book choices and shipping address.

I had originally stated that 1 winner would be receiving a few books from ReaganStar who generously offered to donate to the prize pile but do to a mix up by me, I've changed the third prize to be another $15 to the BD. Thank you again ReganStar and so so sorry for my lack of organization!

********************************************************************
NetGalley April Reading Stats

A total of 68 people signed up to participate (67 plus me - duh ;) and I heard back from 37 of you with your lists of books read.

I had so much fun tallying everything up :)

TOP 4 MOST READ BOOKS FOR NETGALLY APRIL
With 4 readers: Sleeping Beauty Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan
With 5 readers: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
With 6 readers: Die For Me by Amy Plum
AND WITH 10 readers: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The following titles were each read by 3 people:
The Vespertine, The Restorer, The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, Rage, In The Arms of Stone Angels, Hereafter

The following titles were each read by 2 people:
Those That Wake, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, The Lipstick Laws, The Girl In The Steel Corset, Starcrossed, Savannah Grey, Photographs and Phantoms, Mercy, Invisible Inkling, Hotel Angeline, Here Lies Bridget, Cinderella Ninja Warrior, Bite Me  Try Me Fang Me, Between Two Ends, This Girl is Different

The following titles were each read by 1 person:
A Marriage of Inconvenience, A Tale of Two Castles, Abbot Awaits, Aliens on Vacation, Angel Burn, Angelfire, Ascension, Ashfall, Blood of the Maple, Born of Shadows, Camera Obscura, Casketball Capers, Clean, Dead is Not an Option, Deep Trouble, Evangeline, Forever Vampire, Friendly Fire, Frost Moon, Girl Wonder, Growing Up Amish, Hunting Human, Jane Austen: A Life Revealed, Kiss of Darkness, Lost in the River of Grass, Mermaid Mysteries, My One and Only, No More Mr Nice Guy, Of Dukes and Deceptions, One Night is Never Enough, Paradise Lust, Plan B, Putting Makeup on Dead People, Shine, South of Salem, Steam and Sorcery, The Betrayal of Maggie Blair, The Cellar, The Coffins of Little Hope. The Complete Guide to Walt Disney World, The Dark Enquiry, The Debutante's Dilemma, The Diva Doctrine, The Fallen Blade, The Gray Wolf Throne, The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter, The Internet is a Playground, The Magnolia League, The Misadventures of a Teenage Rockstar, The Mis-Adventures of Phillip Isaac Penn, The Perilous Prophecy of Guards and Goddess, The Vampire Dimitri, The Vampire Voss, Theories of Flight, Ultraviolet, Unearthly, What I Did for a Duke, When You Dare, Where She Went, Wherever You Go, Wolf Camp

So! If I did my math right that gives us grand totals of:
134 copies of 86 NetGalley books read!

You guys - THAT IS AWESOME!!
And remember, I didn't hear back from everyone who signed up so I'm sure the actual numbers are much higher!

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. And no worries, if you weren't able to participate or if you did but fell short of your goals, I'll be hosting another NetGalley reading month in July!

Thanks again everyone! Happy Reading to all!

Book Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Reading Level: Middle Grade / Young Adult
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Pages: 256
Series: no
Acquisition: received an ARC for review

Summary:
Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.
Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?
Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
A cute, heartwarming story about growing up, facing prejudice and accepting who you are. Ellie was such a wonderful character to read. She's young and not yet full of teenage angst, which was refreshing. She's also very determined and very sure of herself. At least, she always thought she was.

I love her reactions to what happens to her. They felt very genuine and they made sense.  She has always known what it was she wanted but when faced with a situation she never thought she would encounter, she falters - and rightfully so.  She is only a kid and no one deserves to be treated the way she was. Of course it affected her. The prejudice she encounters is harsh but the strength of her character really shines though.

In the end, she does the right thing and she doesn’t change who she is. I was really impressed with Ellie as a character and I think she makes for an excellent role model for young girls.

And I loved her family. Her Zeydeh (grandfather) was a riot! Although I'm not Jewish, he very much reminded me of some of my older relatives. Loved him!

Overall, a really great read for me. A refreshing contemporary young adult book that, I think, speaks to readers of all ages.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Bloomsbury
Author's Website
Goodreads

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness - Wanna see my RAK? + Wishlist :)


Isalys and Vanessa from Book Soulmates have started something I think it pretty awesome. It's called Random Acts of Kindness or R.A.K. -- an awesome (did I say that already?) -- an AWESOME way to brighten a fellow book lovers day with a surprise gift.

In April I sent out 3 books and received 3 books.
Big big thank yous to Nikki, Orchid and Monique!!!

As Isalys and Vanessa have said "There's nothing like the feeling you get when doing something thoughtful for another person without expecting something in return." I couldn't agree with them more!

Here are the rules:
• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
{Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes :)

Check out their blog for more information
Thanks Isalys and Vanessa for coming up with such a terrific idea!

For those participating in R.A.K. here is
MY R.A.K. WISHLIST
In no particular order :)
(last updated: 5/8/11)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I Am J by Cris Beam
Errant by Diana Peterfreund
Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Secondhand Charm by Julie Berry
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Vesper by Jeff Sampson
666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce
The Line by Teri Hall
Away by Teri Hall
Secrets and Shadows (13 to Life #2) by Shannon Delany
Mieradome by Kate O'Hegarty
So Shelly by Ty Roth
Matched by Ally Condie
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
Haven by Kristi Cook
Legacy by Cayla Kluver
Ghost Huntress #3 by Marley Gibson
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
Deadly Little Games (Touch #3) by Laurie Stolarz Faria
Challenge (Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales #2) by Melissa Marr
Sea by Heidi Kling
So Many Boys (The Naughty List #2) by Suzanne Young
Crossing Over by Anna Kendall
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike
The House of Dead Maids by Clare Dunkle
The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon by Sara Beitia
One Hundred Candles (Past Midnight #2) by Mara Purnhagen
Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia
Defiance (Strange Angels #4) by Lilith Saintcrow
Island Sting by Bonnie Doerr
Stakeout by Bonnie Doerr
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Betrayed by Ednah Walters
Fire by Kristin Cashore

More books are listed on my Goodreads Wishlist :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In My Mailbox - May 7, 2011

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren :)

Vlog #3 in which I admit to crimes committed and declare my excitement over everything




Awenessness mentioned: 

(links are to Goodreads)
Won:
Head Games charm from Keri Mikulski
{Big Thanks to Keri and Julie from My 5 Monkeys}

RAK
{Big Thanks to Monique}

'Bought'
{Big Thanks to Bookperk + HarperCollins}

So, what's in your mailbox?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NetGalley April - My Reads

I've been asking all of you to Wrap It Up and share with us your NetGalley reads from April and now it's my turn to share!

I didn't set any limits or goals for myself and I think it worked out really well. I wasn't disappointed in the number of books I read and I didn't feel constrained to a set list. I was even able to get a few reviews out :)

So, here is my wrap up for NetGalley April along with some quick thoughts on each.
Links are to Goodreads


Loved! Historical fiction with a touch of the paranormal. Click HERE for my full review.

Very strange and weird and then more strange. A mixed bag for me. Click HERE for my full review.

I found it very hard to get past the love triangle in this one. I liked some parts but others fell flat. (review to post soon)

I liked this one so much I already bought my own copy :) Raw feelings and very believable characters made this one a great read for me. (review to come soon)

Twisted Tales Book 1. Pretty much loved the added magic and stealth that Maureen pumped into this mashup. (Review to come May 18th)

Twisted Tales Book 2. I didn't enjoy this one as much as book 1 but it was still fun to read. Hope Maureen has more Twisted Tales planned! (Review to come May 19th)

6 books! Not bad!
I almost think that if I had planned to read 6 I wouldn't have gotten to them all some how ;)

I'm having a blast collecting all your reads from April so if you haven't already commented on my end of month post - DO IT NOW :)

Next week I'll announce prize winners and tally up stats on what everyone read.

Thanks again to everyone who joined and if you weren't able to participate in April, there is always NetGalley July :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FREE e-Book Alerts

Digital words aren't for everyone and I don't think they will EVER take the place of printed books but for those of you, like me, who have grown to love them here are my latest finds!

The links below are for complete books (not chapter samples or previews).  Some might be available for only a short time and some are only available on certain platforms so make sure to read all the fine print : )

The Strange Case of Finley Jane (Steampunk Chronicles 0.5) by Kady Cross
A prequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset

*currently available from Sony for $2.99
*as of today, no listing in iBooks

********************************************************

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson
Available for FREE download from May 3 - May 9 thanks to Sourcebooks

Also available from iBooks for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
*currently available from Amazon at full price