Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hi all, I have been MIA because I am on vacation! I hope you are all having a wonderful break from the hum drum of life and are enjoying Christmas with your loved ones!

For those of you who don't celebrate, I hope you have a fabulous holiday break anyway!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post:: How to Perform a Soul's Curtsy, by Heather Dixon


While I was writing "Entwined," I spent a lot of time studying Victorian dances and etiquette. I remember reading one funny piece: When a well-born girl came of age, she had to present herself to Queen Victoria, do a flawless curtsy, and then back out of the room gracefully. The only problem with this was their of-age dresses had long, long trains, and it was impossible to back out without tripping over them. Girls lost sleep just thinking about it.

Reading that inspired the "Soul's Curtsy," a curtsy so deep and graceful it must be practiced several years to be perfected. Azalea, the main character in Entwined, teaches her sisters how it is done. And, as Aubrey was kind enough to let me guest post, the visitors to My Pile of Books can learn how to do it, too.

How to perform a Soul's Curtsy (with pictures):

First: Touch your right toe out in front of you, then trace it in a wide semi-circle behind yourself.

Bend your left knee so you are lowering yourself as the right leg moves.

As you are lowering yourself, tuck your left arm behind your back, and raise your right arm out in front of you.

When your right leg reaches 8 o'clock, you should be low enough to shift your weight to it and bring your left foot out in front of you. This is the trickiest part of the curtsy--you are basically folding yourself up, and it must be done gracefully.

Meanwhile, your right arm is offered up to the gentleman, your face is nearly kissing your knee, and your right leg is folded underneath you like a pretzel.

You look absolutely gorgeous!

Here's a side view of it:

Now you can try it at home! If you dare. As far as I know they don't make curtsy-shaped coffins, so proceed with care. Especially as a Soul's Curtsy, when done as gracefully as Azalea, can render a gentleman completely speechless.

**Thank you SO much Heather! I absolutely adore your illustrations and your book! I hope all of our readers are as excited for this one as I am!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: ENTWINED by Heather Dixon

by Heather Dixon
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: March 29th 2011 by Greenwillow Books
Source: ARC from Publisher

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks!

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

First of all isn't this cover AMAZING! I have total dress envy. Okay, on to the real review...

I adore this book as much as I adore it's author! Entwined is a beautiful fairy tale retelling that will grasp at your heart and send shivers down your spine. Heather Dixon has created her own take on the Twelve Dancing Princesses tale that makes you re-think the story behind the dancing.

The best thing that pulled me into the story were the characters. All twelve sisters have such unique personalities they really felt real to me, and I loved them all. Bramble is perhaps the most hilarious character. Azalea is the perfect oldest sister, all the way down to little baby Lily. I just loved these girls and wanted them to succeed in all of their endeavors.

Now since I personally have met both authors, I have to say my opinion might be a bit skewed, not just read one retelling of this amazing fairy tale (which also happends to be a favorite of mine since I was little, adding to my love of both books.) But if you HAVE read PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL by Jessica Day George, don't skip reading ENTWINED and vice versa. Each author brings their own magic, their own insight into this beautiful fairy tale, and I can honestly say- knowing them or not - that I loved each one in their own right.

The only thing about this book that I feel you should know is that the beginning can feel a bit slow. It is certainly still good reading, and very enjoyable, but my word of advice is take the time to get into the story for this one. Because once I did I could NOT put it down. The pacing of slower to faster action was perfect, and I am glad that everything that was in the book was there, because it made for a richer reading experience in the end.

So I know this book is still a long time coming, but I wanted to post about it as soon as I finished reading it. I want you all to know about this amazing book. Stay tuned on Wed. I have a guest post by Heather Dixon that is sure to be amazing, as she is also an illustrator and has included illustrations in her post! Yay! And don't worry, I will definitely be reminding you of this one closer to the release date!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ENTICE Giveaway Winner!

Thanks for all who entered! The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of ENTICE by Carrie Jones is....

Carrie Jenson!!!!!

Fitting since you share a name with the author! Congrats. I will send your info along to the publisher and they should send the book and bookmark out shortly!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is the day of birth of the ever amazing Jane Austen. I think all book lovers everywhere can appreciate her impact on the world of books. But most specifically she gave us....

So Happy Birthday Ms. Austen! 235 years ago the world was blessed with a bit of genius!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Release Day Giveaway!

Hi all! So it is the release day for ENTICE by Carrie Jones! Woot! If you aren't excited enough, check out the book trailer:

Also, Carrie is answering questions about the book throughout the day at this link below! So be sure to check that out! She is an absolute hoot. I have LOVED interviewing her before!

Okay now the part you've all been waiting for! The giveaway. You can win ENTICE and some awesome ENTICE bookmarks!

Contest open until 11:59 PM EST on Friday, Dec. 17. USA mailing addresses only, no PO boxes. (This is going to be mailed directly from the publisher). Just fill out the form below to enter!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog Tour Review: ENTICE by Carrie Jones

by Carrie Jones
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 14th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
*Yes that means it is out TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

Summary: *Spoils if you have not read the other books*
Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that’s not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he’s been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it’s taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there’s that other small problem: Zara’s been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn’t just turned… She’s Astley’s queen.

Review: *if you read the summary, this holds no spoils*
I literally just finished this book and my thoughts are swirling around my head. There is SO much to love about this book, so much that is just plain awesome sauce -- including the fact that the phrase "awesome sauce" is IN the book.

Something I absolutely love about the NEED series is Carrie's way of creating quirky and completely believable characters. I can't say there is one of the main characters that I dislike; other than the bad guys of course.

Zara in particular stands out because it is her story, and her point of view. But I think Zara's character is so relateable. She is fiercely loyal and loving to her friends and family and has a strong moral compass. But she is also a bit insecure, and questions herself and who she has become, as all teenagers do.

However my biggest issue with her is her loyalty. I am on team Astley, and much of this book is spent developing their relationship and the hardships they face as Pixie King and Queen in a warring territory -- but Zara's driving force in this book really is Nick. He is gone (for now) but not forgotten.

Carrie Jones has once again sucked me right back into Zara's world of intricate pixie and fae lore and makes me so very much want to fast forward the next year to get the fourth (and I believe final) book in the series!

For more info on this title check out these links:

*Thanks so much to Bloomsbury for including me in the blog tour! And stay tuned this week for another great giveaway!! Now, everyone go out and buy this book!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Contest Winner!

Sorry this took me so long to post...BUT without any further waiting! The randomizer has spoken and the winner of the signed copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie is...

Jenna Wood!!!

Congrats Jenna! Thanks so much to EVERYONE who entered and our followers old and new! And if you didn't win this one, keep reading this week! There might just be another chance to win something great!

In My Mailbox (25)

Well, this is KINDA from my mailbox. It is a book I got this week. This week my writer's group had a Christmas Party and we did a gift/book exchange to celebrate Christmas together!

I scored this awesome book that I have been eyeing!

by Jennifer Donnelly
Hardcover, 472 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

**Doesn't that sound awesome? I have not read A NORTHERN LIGHT, but if I love this one I may just have to!


I didn't forget about the giveaway! The winner will be announced Sunday night. ;)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Alright folks. I REALLY want to help push this movie. My husband and went and saw it last night and we were very impressed. We are fans of the other movies in this series, and I was interested to see how the film would translate from a different studio (as Disney - I think prematurely - dropped the films after trying to sell a Narnia movie as a summer blockbuster and not a holiday movie).

Here is the scoop. It was good. Really good. All the main actors played their parts even better than the first two. Lucy is adorable, yet growing up and she doesn't know who she is or wants to be. Edmund is still frustrating, but generally happier, more mature and stronger than he ever was. Caspian is well, Caspian. We'll get to him...he deserves his own paragraph. And Eustice, besides having a horrendous name and being an incredibly annoying character both physically and personality-wise, ends up winning your heart in the end.

The story does not stick completely to the book, as the book is more episodic in nature they added a plot line element to tie it all together, but it didn't detract from the main story, or the point of the book. CS Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and I LOVE these stories and the world of Narnia!

Okay, on to my main reason for pushing the film. I love Ben Barnes. He is just the most perfect eye candy in the world. So of course Caspian is my favorite character, but it isn't just that Ben plays him. I really do love Caspian's character and his personal journey in this movie is subtly played out, yet poignant in the end.

So, take some time THIS WEEKEND to go see this movie. I think it didn't have as much money in publicity as the others and is thus getting low audiences. I won't have it. If just HALF of my regular readers read this and decide to go see this movie this weekend then I will be happy!

Plus, didn't I mention that you get to look at this guy for over 2 hours? Yeah. It's worth every penny! ;) Just wish the loose pirate pants were more flattering on any of them...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis
Hardcover, 400 pages
To Be Published January 11th 2011 by Razorbill

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone--one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship--tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
Wow, what a ride!

This is one of the most unique books I've read in a long time. It's sci-fi, but also dystopian. I couldn't put it down, and can't wait for the next one. The first chapter alone is so powerful, the imagery and emotions reach out and throttle you, forcing you to keep reading.

It never lets up throughout the whole book. As you try to figure out what the deal is with "Elder" and "Eldest" and everyone else. Oh, and don't get me started on "the season." Yikes!

The whole thing is masterfully executed, with twists and turns and highs and lows that will leave you begging for more. Definitely put this one on your TBR list.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

200 Followers Giveaway!!!!!!!!

WOOT! How cool is that? I reached 200 followers! I just want to say how incredibly grateful I am for all of those who read and support our blog! I wish I had a big stack of books to giveaway for this really cool event! But I kinda cleaned house last month and gave away most of my extras.

BUT I think this giveaway is pretty darn awesome!

Just fill out the form below to win a SIGNED hardcover copy of MATCHED by Ally Condie!

The contest is open only until this Friday December 10th 11:59 pm EST so I can get it out in the mail in time for you to receive it for Christmas (if you celebrate it). Open to USA and Canada mailing addresses only.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Signing Report: Ally Condie!

On Saturday I was incredibly lucky enough to go to the launch party/book signing at a local indie bookstore, The King's English for Ally Condie author of the amazing MATCHED! If you haven't read my review yet you can see it HERE.

Ally spoke to us for a while about her journey and her books. Here are the best little tid-bits! I write down quotes as close as possible, but please know these are paraphrased and not direct quotes.

"I've had signings before that no one came to. So my family came up so I wouldn't be the only one, so I'm thrilled there are people here!"

Ally has had several books published with a small local publisher, but this is her first big national market book.

People often ask Ally how she came up with the idea of MATCHED. She said mainly it came from her husband Scott and the experiences they have had together. They used to chaperon High School dances. She said "It was always a good time to turn away the drunk kids, and be asked to danced." But she said that at a High School she worked at, a few weeks before the prom the Senior boys would make a list of the Junior girls who didn't have dates to the dance. This list would be passed around until all of those girls had a date for their Junior Prom so that they didn't have to miss that big night! How sweet is that? She said the dance was always a big event, and that always stuck in her head.

Also, with Scott, they were the house parents at a Sorority in Ithaca, NY and were always surrounded by "boys, girls, dating and kissing". That got her thinking about all of those things. And then she and her husband talked about marriage and who gets to define what it is and who can get married to whom (a very timely, political topic right now), but the idea came up what if the government controlled it all. Who you married, how many kids you have, everything. And MATCHED started to form.

She said on the release day (Nov. 30th) they were out at a store and saw the book on the shelf and said "Oh look, there it is. It's out. Who knew?" I imagine that was a very surreal moment.

In fact she wrote an AMAZING blog post about the experience and her feelings on the release day that you should all go read HERE, cause she read it to us, and I read it when she posted it, and I think it is amazing.

And a last bit from Ally, "It now belongs to you, and I hope you like it!"

Then we had a Q&A! Here are my faves.

Q: How do you pronounce your protagonists name?
A: Cash-a (spelled Cassia). I got it from the Greek name Cassius.

Q: Can you tell us more about the trilogy?
A: Well originally, it wasn't a trilogy. The first book ended as it does now, but in my head it was stand alone. Of course it was open to some more ideas, so when we sold the book we sold it with a sequel and a third book optioned but not necisarily a book in the MATCHED world. After I finished book two I knew there needed to be more. Book two's title is CROSSED and there is no title for book three. But I am 1/3 of the way through writing the third.

Q: I love the Grandfather. Where did his character come from?
A: I had a great relationship with all of my grandparents. Something that I think is rare today. So the relationship and closeness comes from a mix of all of my grandparents. But I think he looks most like my paternal grandfather.

Q: How do you get into the writing process?
A: I can't draft with music playing, but I listen to music before I write to get into the mood. Well, mostly to drown out the sound of Scott wrestling with the kids and getting them into bed. The rest is just me in a chair in a semi-cold basement and getting it done.

Q: Do you keep a notebook of ideas?
A: I keep notebooks on every level of the house, because to be honest I am too lazy to go find a notebook when an idea comes to me. I also keep one in my purse. I often get ideas when I am out running too. Something about being out in the fresh air and getting exercise brings on ideas. But I lose my ideas fast if I don't write them down. So I will have to run the idea in my head over and over and over again. I probably look strange concentrating until I can get home and write it down.

Q: How did you choose the Tennyson Poem?
A: It has been one of my favorites since I read it in Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables series) in fourth grade. Plus I loved that this poem bookended my other favorite poem used in the book as well.

Q: For book 2, you mentioned on your blog that you were trying to write poems of your own, and having a hard time of it. How did that go?
A: It was SO hard. Most of them we ended up deleting. I am not a poet but I have a character that is. I often thought "Can't you just write your own poems?"

And lastly, possibly my favorite question was:
Q: Who is hotter? Xander or Ky?
A: (After much laughing) Well I can't really say with Scott here...but, I did split up Scott's attributes among them both. So I can't really pick. If I had to choose one solely on looks I would probably pick Xander because he got my husband's blond hair and coloring.

I could not be more excited for Ally! MATCHED is a wonderful, timely book and I highly, highly suggest you all go buy it for yourself and someone else for Christmas! Congrats Ally! I can't wait to see more from you in the future!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox is hosted by the fabulous Story Siren.

This week was a little slow on the receiving end, but I am SO excited about what I got!!!

From Publishers:
by Carrie Jones
Hardcover, 288 pages
To Be Published December 14th 2010 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Summary: (Spoils!!!!!!! DON'T read if you haven't read the other two books in the series!)

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that’s not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he’s been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it’s taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there’s that other small problem: Zara’s been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn’t just turned… She’s Astley’s queen.

And of course I bought: MATCHED by Ally Condie! More on that event tomorrow!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

by Lauren Oliver
Hardcover, 440 pages
To Be Published February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I loved this book. What a powerful idea--what if love (a "disease" called "deliria" in the book) was completely eradicated?

At first, you might think it's only about romantic love, but Delirium is never so shallow as that. Love encompasses so much of our lives, things we don't even think about--until it's gone. How different is a mother's feelings towards her child without love? Or an owner's care towards a pet? Common decency, affection of any sort, so many things are destroyed by taking away the ability to love. This book will make you think, and make you grateful for everything that comes with love--the pain, yes, but without it, you can't have the joy.

I absolutely loved finding out the layers of the characters, the secrets in the past, and most of all Lena's journey. It took her longer than I thought it should have to make her choices, and figure things out--especially since she had a mom who was "uncurable" (the procedure didn't work and they made her keep doing it over and over... but I won't spoil the rest of what happened to her). But that is really my only complaint.

I'm sure it will get compared to MATCHED, because there are parts of the books that are very similar. But everyone has to remember that both authors were writing these books around the same time, and didn't know each other. It is pure coincidence that there are similarities.

Lauren's writing is beautiful, and breathtaking. This book is remarkable and I can't wait for more. The ending will just about... well, I don't want to give it away. Let's just say, you'll be dying when you realize you've hit the last page.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Release Day!

I just wanted to shout out and give a big ole HAPPY RELEASE DAY! To Ally Condie's MATCHED! Let's just look at that gorgeous cover one more time! Go out and get a copy or two for Christmas (and support your local indie stores while you're at it!).

Congrats Ally! Us here at MPB wish you and MATCHED all the best success!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well readers, today in the USA is a day of Thanksgiving. I hope all of you, near and far, take the time to stop and think about all the things we have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: MATCHED by Ally Condie

by Ally Condie
Hardcover, 366 pages
To Be Published November 30th 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
*Yes that is just ONE WEEK from today!!!!
Source: Received ARC from publisher

Placement in the Pile:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

I was lucky enough to meet Ally at a writer's conference two years ago. A conference where she was work shopping MATCHED. In the class we were only given the first chapters, but I knew. I just KNEW when I read it that this book would be published. And I am so beyond excited that it is not only being published but that it is getting so much buzz.

From that first glance, MATCHED stole my attention and didn't let go. And the ARC is even more amazing than that first copy I read! Ally's dystopic world seems so idealistic. The perfect utopia. Everything is calculated, everything is regulated -- even death. Life is even, and equal for all. This world will enchant you. It might even make you hope that you didn't have to worry about dating and finding someone to love you, about having food on your table, about having a job that you are good at and enjoy.

But soon Cassia realizes that not everything in this structured world is all it's cracked up to be. Something is not right, and sometimes it isn't fair to everyone as the Society would have you believe. What have they given up in the name of happiness? And of course there is the biggest question of all for her, who is her true match? Who is Cassia going to choose?

MATCHED is lyrical, poignant and my favorite read of the year. Fans of dystopia, romance, and mystery will certainly love MATCHED as much as I do.

So go pick up a copy of MATCHED next Tuesday and experience the world of the Society for yourself. Who would YOU choose?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: The Tales of Beelde the Bard by JK Rowling

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by JK Rowling
Hardcover, 111 pages
Published December 4th 2008 by Children's High Level Group

Placement in the Pile: Reaching New Heights

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

I read this in preparation for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie, and I have to say that I was glad I finally got to it!

It is not a long read, nor a hard read, but it was a great little insight into some of the fairy tale culture of the wizarding world. Plus it was good to see Dumbledore's thoughts on the tales. In the end only one of them (the Tale of the Three Brothers) is relevant to Harry's quest really, but they all include bits and pieces of wizarding prejudices and culture.

But I did just give this reaching new heights because I kind of wanted more. If you love the Harry Potter seires and have not read the "extra" books yet, I suggest you do. they are a great resource to have and the proceeds go to charity, how can you go wrong?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (23)

by Heather Dixon
Hardcover, 336 pages
To Be Published March 29th 2011 by Greenwillow Books

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

*Note: I have to say how incredibly excited I am about this one! I have had the luck to attend a writer's retreat with Heather and she is just amazing. I can't wait to review this for you (even though it doesn't come out for a while!)

by Heather Terrell
Paperback, 336 pages
To Be Published December 28th 2010 by HarperTeen

Summary: The first book in a dark, edgy new angel series about a girl who finds herself forced to choose sides in the battle between fallen angels, even if that means going against the boy she loves.

TEETH (Vampire Tales)
Contributions by: Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare and Holly Black and more!
Paperback, 272 pages
To Be Published April 5th 2011 by HarperCollins

Summary: Sink your teeth into these bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful—and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common? Their desire for blood....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (non-spoilery review)

I know many of you, like me saw HP7 pt. 1 last night, or are seeing it this weekend. I wanted to share some of my thoughts and impressions without giving much away.

But really, for most of you "spoilers" aren't going to be a big deal. Since the number one thing I liked about this movie over the others? It stuck to the book almost perfectly. I have to say almost because, come on, it's a movie, it is following books that have NOT explained everything and made things difficult to understand, emphasized the wrong story lines etc. But it certainly did a much better job.

Here is the thing. I do not understand people that nit-pick movies from books and get all upset about this was changed here, this moved there, this added here!!! There are not many movies made of books that can do that -- ie. the BBC 6 hour version of Pride and Prejudice... And most of those were made years and years ago. Take any movie made of a popular book in recent years and there will be changes. It's just the market we're in. So go with the flow, calm down people. Really, it isn't worth being upset about.

Now don't get me wrong when it's something that totally changes the nature of a character you love, or messes up with the importance of something that is in fact very important (ie Harry's patronus being a shield of light more than a stag) I get bugged...but I don't lose sleep over it either.

That being said there is one scene in HP7 that was added that many people have talked about. Calls to boycott the movie were spread around. I so completely disagree with this. First of all, you know my opinion on things being changed. The addition of the scene felt fluid, and made sense. Second, as far as the nudity goes -- it is much like any other PG-13 movie. Yes, you can tell that Harry is nude in a sexual situation with another character. Do you see private parts, no. Is it meant to turn you on,'s kind of meant to upset another character. Is it something that is happening in their "reality"? No. It is a hallucination. So again, don't get your panties in a bunch and just go enjoy the movie.

That being said the content of the movie, as the book, is certainly for an older audience. I mean really people, your 10 year-olds might be scared and the content is too much. But that is up for you to judge. I would just really stick to the age suggestion on the rating on this one 13 and up.

All in all it was an INCREDIBLE movie experience. And I already want to go see it again!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Author Interview: Sara B. Larson

Hi all! Today I have a special treat for you! My good friend Sara B. Larson is an upcoming author and she is doing some blog touring! Since she got her agent I was looking forward to the day when I could feature her!

I think this is a rare treat! How often do you get to hear from an up and coming author before thier book is published? Sara is so close it is inevitably happening and I am very excited (having been one of her beta readers for YEARS!).

Here is a little bit about Sara:
I have been writing since I was in second grade, and have the notebooks full of misspelled stories to prove it. Over the intervening years, my love of writing has grown even stronger, and luckily my spelling has improved as well. I almost got a “marketable degree” as a nurse at BYU, but turned back to writing when that didn’t work out. I live in Utah with my husband, two young sons, and a Maltese named Charlie. I've learned to write during naptime and the hours when most people are sleeping. When I'm not writing, getting shot with nerf guns, or tripping over soccer balls, I can be found wakeboarding at the lake, hiking in the mountains, cooking, or working out at the gym. If all else fails, you can probably find me hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish. I am represented by the fabulous Hannah Brown Gordon at Foundry Literary + Media.

And now for your enjoyment, my Q&A with her!

1) Why did you want to write books for Young Adults?

SBL: It's what I've always written--as a teen I naturally wrote about other teens. Usually ones that were older than me. When I decided to start writing again as an adult, I tried to write a "grown-up" book my mom would be proud of, something deep, and emotional, and more literary. First of all, it wasn't that great (I could have made it better with some good editing), but secondly--I started experiencing some of the scenes in my book in real life. And not the good ones. The crying in the doctor's office, having to call my husband to tell him bad news ones. I decided I was done with "deep, emotional, grown-up books." I decided to write about things that could never ACTUALLY happen in real life, and turned back to my true love--YA, with a fantastical or paranormal element or twist.

2) What is the number one mistake you made in the process of getting published that you want others to learn from?

SBL: Wow, that's a tough question. So, hmmm, my number one mistake? Not getting enough feedback/critiques done from qualified, knowledgeable people when I finished the first I book I started querying. Even with how much editing/work it needed (and trust me, it needed A LOT of work--I just didn't realize it), I got interest from my so-called "top agent." (I was so naive.) She ended up passing on it, and I'm sure that was in large part to so many beginner mistakes I'd made in my writing. The thing is though, I decided to get more help because of that rejection. I am the writer I am today because of the lessons I learned and the writing advice I got after that experience. So I can't really regret it. But yes, I would definitely say to other aspiring authors--find really good CPs and beta readers who will give you honest, accurate, and supportive critiques. No one writes a publishable book by themselves. At least no one I know.

3) What kinds of books do you write?

SBL: Well, as I said before, I write YA, usually with a fantastical or paranormal element. (Remember how it has to not be able to happen in real life!)

4) What books inspire you?

SBL: I know it's cliche, but the books that inspired me to start writing again, with the real intent of getting published were the Harry Potter books. I think Jo Rowling is a genius. As a teen, one of my favorite books was THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver. It's still one of my favorites today. Especially if you want to learn how to cultivate voice. That book has five different narrators and each one has a completely unique and believable voice. But there are so many others, I don't even know where to start. Anything that can grab my attention, and force me to keep reading is a book that inspires me. I want to write books that will do that for other people. Some of the most recent ones I've read that did that were DELIRIUM, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, PARANORMALCY, NIGHTSHADE, MATCHED, SECONDHAND CHARM, and wow, this list could just keep going and going and I know I'm forgetting some, so I'll stop.

5) What is the best thing about being an author?

SBL: Doing what I love! I have always loved writing, ever since I was a very young child. Sitting down to create something that you have complete control over, that you can make beautiful or scary or powerful or triumphant or ANYTHING YOU WANT... that is an amazing feeling. If I can ever see or hear of a reader who loved MY book, and is telling someone else about how much they loved it? That would be the most incredible feeling.

6) What is your writing routine like? Do you have a favorite snack you keep on hand when you're writing?

SBL: I have to cue up my music first and foremost, I must have music to write. I can do it without, but not as well. Music inspires me and helps me hone my emotions into my writing. Then I get cracking! I will usually start a few pages back, rereading what I've written, doing a few minor edits, to get back into the emotion of the scene I'm at and then I just go for it! I usually don't snack while I write. I know, I'm weird! I actually often forget to eat at all. My husband will have to make me stop and eat a meal. But I do LOVE Swedish fish for those times that I do want something on hand.

7) What are your goals as an author?

SBL: I kind of answered this already, but to go into more depth, my goal (and hope) is to see my books on the shelves of a bookstore. Not just because I want to have it be my career (which I do), but more importantly because I want to see someone taking it off of a shelf, and telling their friend how much they loved it. I want to hear people talking about my characters as if they're real people. I would love nothing more than to know that readers love my characters as much as I do. That they crush on my guys, and root for my protagonists, and yeah. That will make everything worth it--all the rejection, all the doubt, and hard work, and more rejection. To witness that is my ultimate goal. Is that asking too much? Maybe. We'll see!

Thank you for having me! I love your blog. :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finishing Books

Hey all,

I know I have been doing just a lot of editorial type posts lately, but I have had a lot on my mind, and not much reading under my belt... I am thinking about finishing books. I wonder, do you always finish a book when you pick it up? Or do you put them down?

I think the reason why not so much reading has been getting done (besides my crazy busy life right now, I mean really who doesn't have an insane life for the holidays?) is that I started a book, was liking it, but didn't have time to finish it, so I had to take it back to the library before I could finish.

Now I don't really want to get the same book again, but I can't seem to get myself to move on and get into something else either (even though I have a TON of books on my shelf that I have been waiting for!).

I am usually a start it and finish it type person. Usually if I stick with a book even if I find the beginning slow or uninteresting, or even just not to my liking there is at least SOMETHING I can find about the book that I like in the end, that makes me happy that I read it.

How about you? Do you finish every book you start? If you don't finish a book does it bug you? Cause that is where I am at right now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

by Cassandra Clare
Hardcover, 479 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

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

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

Wow, where to start? First, I should probably admit I haven't read the City of Bones series yet, though now I definitely want to.

Usually, I'm not big on scary, icky, gory demon stuff. But this book just grabs your attention and won't let go. Clare's writing is so well done that even despite all the gore, you don't feel too grossed out. Well, not too often anyway.

I am dying to know more about Will, and to figure out what Tessa really is, and how can they help Jem and... Phwew! The sequel can't come out fast enough for me!

This book is set about 120 or 130 years (I believe) before the Mortal Instruments series, but apparently there will be characters from this series that will make appearances in the new trilogy that takes place after the MI series. Clare has said on Twitter that you should read Infernal Devices before you read the next MI series. Her world is complex, interesting, and leaves you wanting more. I'm not sure how many of my questions about her world building I would know if I'd read MI already, or if that wouldn't really help at all. I will have to read them to find out, I suppose.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to her fans, or anyone who enjoys historical fiction with an awesome fantastical element (and of course some great romance!). Although I must say, Will had better have a good excuse for his behavior...!

Monday, November 8, 2010

What are YOU Reading?

I have hit one of those reading funks lately. Everything I try is good, I am just not in the mood for it. So I can't decide what I want to read! I can't seem to get into anything.

What are you reading right now? Do you think it would get me out of my funk and why?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Giveaway Contest on Facebook

Hi all! Many of you know how much I love the NEED series by Carrie Jones! Well Bloomsbury is doing a giveaway on the FB page of some awesome stuff here is what it says:

ENTICE is coming soon. Help us spread the word about this fan page for great prizes! If we can reach 5,000 fans by 11/28, three winners will win one of the following goodies: an advanced copy of ENTICE, signed edition of NEED or signed copy of CAPTIVATE!!! We’re at 4,600 fans right now. So send the link, tag our page or click the “share” button. Let’s tell everyone what pixies are really all about!

So just go to this link HERE and "like" the page to enter!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher

by Catherine Fisher
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published July 15th 2010 by Penguin Group

Placement: Reaching New Heights... almost Top Picks

Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons.

A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists.

But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

This book will bend your mind, and send your brain on a trip.

You are thrown into a world, somewhere in the future, that is a mixture of incredible technology and yet rooted firmly in the past. Confusing? Yeah, I was too... for quite a while. But when you read this book, don't let the confusion take you down. Keep pressing on and boy will it be worth it.

This book was quite the ride, and I can't wait to see what happens next. I love it when books can actually surprise me, and this one managed to do that a couple of times.

I love the characters and can't wait to find out more about them in SAPPHIQUE. The only thing that kept me from giving it the top rating was how confused I was at first. If I were a less determined reader, I may have actually put it down, because I had so many other books I was trying to get to, and didn't really want to have to think that hard. However, it was so worth it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

I really still have not decided whether or not I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo this month. I want to get back into the writing thing, and doing something like NaNo is the perfect chance. It makes it a habit and gives you a goal. But then, if I focus on my writing for NaNo, you'll get even less reviews from me this month than you did in Oct.

I know many of my readers are writing types, so what do you think? Should I NaNo?

(If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is it's National Novel Writing Month, where you spend the month cranking out a novel the goal is to write 50,000 words (last year I think I made it to about 30,000 before the holidays caught up with me and I didn't have time to finish).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Question for You!

I want to read if you have any Halloween traditions that are related to books?

For me, I like to buy my 2-year old daughter a holiday themed book each holiday. I like to go to my local bookstore and peruse their titles. So many of them I know and love from my childhood, or there are great new ones that she would love!

I also like trying to read a Halloweeny book myself, but I haven't had a chance to do that this year. I have been SO busy!

So now on to you, what is your favorite book to read this time of year? Or what have you read lately that would be a good Halloween read?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: THE DUFF

by Kody Kelpinger
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Little Brown/Poppy

Placement: Reaching New Heights (but be warned about content)

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
I've heard a lot of buzz about this book, written by a teenager (Kody Keplinger). I couldn't wait to read it based on what I'd heard.

I wasn't disappointed.

This is a rough book in many ways, the content it pretty up there and usually this would turn me off to the book. There is hard language, sex, you name it. However, despite all that, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was honest, the subject matter was interesting and you really grew to care about these flawed characters. Kody's characters aren't shiny and nearly perfect. They are deeply messed up from the get go, but you root for them and yearn with them and grow with them.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed THE DUFF, but again, be warned about the content. That was really the only thing that kept me from giving it our top rating.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting IMM each week! Did you know you can go over there and click on all of the links to see everyone's IMM posts? It's a great way to know what books are out there and up and coming!

It has been a while since I have posted, so some of these were aquired over the last few weeks.

From Publisher

Hardcover, 440 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen

Summary: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Books I Bought

I didn't think these needed much info since I have reviewed them all here on the blog (except one, that I think you all know about anyway)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Signing: Julie Berry and Jessica Day George!

I had the FABULOUS opportunity to go to a book signing with not just ONE great author but TWO last night! Julie Berry - author of SECONDHAND CHARM, SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS series, and THE AMARANTH ENCHANTMENT! And the wonderful Jessica Day George! Author of THE DRAGON SLIPPERS series, SUN MOON ICE and SNOW, and her princess books PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL and PRINCESS OF GLASS!

First Jessica was up to talk about her books and journey becoming an author. I have seen Jessica at MANY events, so I am sure you have all heard about her books and journey from me before. But some of the stuff she said was just great! So here is the list of paraphrased info!

How do I come up with ideas? I ask myself a question. Something that I am wondering about. And since I can't find the answers anywhere else I write a book about it. Ex. What if you met a dragon and they didn't want to eat you, what then? Wouldn't your feet hurt REALLY badly if you were forced to dance all night long until your shoes wore out? Wouldn't it really hurt to dance in glass slippers?

For the dragon series, one of the themes in it is that dragons collect things. If you were hundreds of years old, what would you do for fun? What would you collect. One of them collects shoes. So you could say she has a shoe fetish - since most of her books involve shoes.

And lastly she said: I write books because I felt like there were no fun books when I was a kid. Our options were Narnia, Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. Narnia was great but you can only read that so many times. And I hate babysitting. So I never liked any books that were preachy about being responsible and babysitting to earn money.

Jessica is always a hoot and so fun to chat with!

Then it was Julie's turn, and to be honest I was VERY VERY VERY excited to see her! I just love this lady! We had only met once before but we have kept in touch. She is possibly the MOST genuine person I have ever met in my entire life. Massachusetts is VERY lucky to have her!

Julie just had several books come out that I have reviewed on the blog recently: SPLURCH ACADEMY FOR DISRUPTIVE BOYS series (the first two books were released together) and SECONDHAND CHARM her second YA fairy-tale-esque story that was just beautifully written and so so good!

Here are some of my favorite Julie moments.

As Jessica has a shoe fetish, I seem to have a jewelry fetish in my writing.

I was thinking about good luck charms, and what would happen if someone had some innate ability that if they put on a charm and everything went out of hand, that it was super potent in their hands. Like a luck charm and all of a sudden your chicken was laying golden eggs, etc. Then I thought what about a love charm? What about a young lady that seemingly has been fairly ignored by the boys in her village suddenly got a love charm that was very powerful, and everyone was noticing her!

Julie said she also gave her character a goal that had nothing to do with the romantic aspects of the book. She wants girls to know that their entire lives aren't just boys. (Which might I add, I love about her characters they are strong women, but still willing to love. I think sometimes it is one or the other and with Julie you get both!)

Then these two lovely red heads took questions together. (Notice Jessica is knitting! I have never seen her at any event without something to knit!)

Q: What are you working on now?

Julie: I have two new ideas. One is sort of a Dickensian London story, and the other is set in the future in space.

Jessica: So a really great crossover idea.

Julie: Deffinitely.

Jessica: I am working on a new books series called TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE probably for even younger readers than Dragon Slippers (which by the way I wrote Dragon Slippers for me, and then when they said it was for ages 10 and up I thought "I'm not 10!"). In this new book the Castle Glower is alive - if it likes you you get great things like a nice room and a garden to walk through, if it doesn't like you you might get thrown down a trap door into the dung heap. They should be out next September.

(*note: I think these all sound awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on them!)

(another side note: a great reason to go to indie bookstore signings is you often good refreshments!)

Q: How did you meet? Why did you decide to sign together?

Jessica: Red heads are in a secret club.

Julie: That and we have the same publisher, so they got us together over the internet to review each other's books and we have been e-mailing ever since.

Jessica: We actually just met for the first time 2 hours ago at the Starbucks next door.

Q: When you're working do you collabroate with others?

Julie: No, I don't like other people.

Jessica: Agreed.

(Which I might add was so so funny. Because these two ladies are SO much fun to be around. Obviously they were talking about their creative process being more individual than say, and author who has a writing group.)

A young girl in the audience asked a question that made me laugh, but these ladies handled it very well!

Q: How old were you when you started writing your books?

Jessica: I decided to be a writer when I was 11. I wrote my first short story when I was 14 and got an A++ on it. For years I was a short story author and won lots of contests and things in school. I wrote short stories exclusively until I was bout 21. Then I decided I would write my opus, my novel and it would be the best thing ever. Of course 188 rejections and several novels later I realized it would be work. But it is very rewarding!

Julie: I was late in the game. I didn't start writing seriously until I was 31 or 32. My whole life I wrote in a journal, and I always wanted to write fiction. I was really scared to write fiction because I really wanted to be good at it. I knew everything I had tried to do was rubbish, so I just didn't try anymore. I was scared to try.

Then I was lucky enough to get a job writing a humor column in a local newspaper and the great responses I got really gave me the confidence to try writing fiction, to go for my dream.

Then after the signing and everything my friends and I went to Cheesecake Factory with Julie and had a WONDERFUL time catching up. Talking books, writing, life. Here is me, upcoming author Sara Larson, and our good friend Jena with Julie of course.

I had so much fun catching up with Julie again! And Jessica as always was so fun as well. She had to get home to her kids, can you believe it! :) It was such a wonderful, wonderful night! I will never forget it and I am SO grateful that I can call Julie my friend.

Please check out these two amazing women and their books the next time you are at your local bookstore or searching books online! I know there is SOMEONE in your life that would love their books!