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.