Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: BLOODY VALENTINE by Melissa de la Cruz

by Melissa de la Cruz
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Hyperion Book CH

Placement in the Pile: Middle of the Stack

Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control. In Bloody Valentine, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz offers readers a new story about the love lives of their favorite vamps - the passion and heartache, the hope and devastation, the lust and longing. Combined with all the glitz, glamour, and mystery fans have come to expect, this is sure to be another huge hit in the Blue Bloods series.

Fans of the Blue Bloods series will enjoy this fast read that gives a deeper glimpse into the characters that they love.

This book is a compilation of three short stories that are sweet, romantic, and perfect for a valentine's read. My favorite was the third story where we get to see Jack and Schuyler's bonding ceremony.

I wish there was more to be said about this one. So my review is short and sweet, it is a good, fast read. Oh and the cover is GORGEOUS! Love it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When Writing is Hard: Guest Blog by Melissa de la Cruz

When Writing is Hard

Rick Riordan, the mega-selling author of the Percy Jackson series, has a fantastic post about the myths of writing. Go read it.

I wish I had written that post. Rick says everything every writer feels. He speaks for us all.

I love being a writer, and I love that I get paid from telling stories, that I spend my days playing. When I'm writing, I'm in the world of the story, my books are an escape for me as well, and it's the best feeling in the world.

For the most part, writing is not work—until it is—oh god, the grind that settles once the wheels are turning and you have to make the book work!—In fact in my household, when I was writing Witches of East End—I thought it would never end, as the book did not have an ending—for such a long time. I had an ending in mind, but it did not fit the story and so I had to keep digging to figure out what the true ending was. A month after I finished, my family is still suffering from Post-Traumatic-Writing-Disorder, my husband cannot look at that book without wincing, knowing how much we all suffered to make it happen. I lived under constant stress, I had headaches, I yelled at everyone, my eye twitched like crazy. Books demand their pound of flesh. They demand that you pay attention to them, that you neglect the ones you love, that you push everything to the very limit—your health, your sanity, until they get done and the story is told correctly.

While I was writing Witches, when I wasn't in front of the computer writing, I was walking around wild-eyed, my hair a fright, my fingernails ragged, because certain parts of the book kept eluding me, kept bothering me, kept nagging at me—and I lived in terror and fear that this time, with this book, I would not be able to fix it.

When I was not writing the book, I was breaking down the plot with my husband, I talked about the book CONSTANTLY. I kept talking and talking, explaining why this was working and why this was not, until I finally reached the EUREKA! Moment. The Eureka Moment happens when you grab hold of an idea that fixes the book and makes the story work. It's the kernel of the story—the discovery of the story you are actually writing, and then everything falls into place from there. That one great idea saves your butt, I mean, your book.

Writing is hard. The creative process is a mystery. Writing is a puzzle and an exercise, it takes over your life, it takes your family hostage, and as for a social life, forget about it. If only it was something that could be taught in school, but it is not. You can teach grammar, you can teach structure, you can teach formula. But you can't teach EUREKA! You can only experience it for yourself. I wish you all the grit to get to the place where you have struck gold in your story, because what's on the other side is better than a rainbow. It's a happy editor and a finished book. Good luck!

*Thank you SO SO much Melissa. We have loved reading and featuring your books on the blog, and love the writing advice! It is particularly helpful for me right now! Readers, be sure to check in tomorrow for my review of Melissa's new collection of short stories in the Blue Bloods world, BLOODY VALENTINE!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lost Saint Giveaway!

Okay, I am horrible...I have had a SIGNED copy of TLS to give away since I went to Bree Despain's book signing, it has been a very busy few weeks, so I just haven't had time to put the post together!

Anyway, all you have to do is fill out the form below between now and Monday January 31st, 11:59 PM EST, and you are entered to win! Just for fun, I also have a bottle of TLS nail polish, TDD nail polish, and some bookmarks going to the winner as well! USA and CANADA addresses only.

Good luck!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Have I Been MIA?

Thanks to my friend Carolyn for posting this on FB! Do you ever feel this way? My problem is being a full time mom, most of the time, I DO get interrupted and it takes me way longer to get through books than it should! Some awesome posts, and HOPEFULLY reviews will be coming this week! So stay tuned, meanwhile...I'm reading a book!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!


I am very excited and grateful to my awesome writer and blogger friend Ali for this award! Thanks Ali!

The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award. (check!)
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers. (Except, as I am breaking this rule, I give you my permission to break it too...)
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Okay, seven things about me...

1. I have 33 nieces and nephews! And some of the families are just getting started!

2. Disneyland is one of my favorite places in the entire world. I know lots of ins and outs and secrets about it and love going on a regular basis.

3. I hate doing laundry. It is the bane of my existence. After I get it washed I have issues getting it folded. After it is folded I have issues getting it put away. Laundry sucks.

4. I hate socks. HATE them. The ONLY reason to wear them is so that your feet don't get sweaty and stinky in shoes. If you are not wearing shoes, you should not be wearing socks.

5. I cannot stand my hands being dry, or any other skin for that matter, feet, arms, lips. I am constantly using lotion and chapstick. I think this is why I don't like socks.

6. I am a really slow reader. I love to blog about what I read, but I don't read as much as many of my friends who don't blog, simply because I can't read that fast.

7. The cat on my header is designed after my cat Mocha. She is the softest, sleekest cat in the entire world, but she is very picky who she lets touch her. (Okay that one's not really about me, but I couldn't think of anything else!)

So that's a little about me! I hope you enjoyed reading it! And I also hope you take time to check out the bloggers below that I am awarding!

1. Natasha at MAW Books
2. Katie at Call Me Crazy
3. Claire at YA Bookie Monster
4. Inspired Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
5. Amy J at My Overstuffed Bookshelf

Monday, January 17, 2011

Win a Book, Support an Author

Hey all! I wanted to let you know about this awesome contest. The 2009 Debs authors are giving away FORTY books by L.K. Madigan! She just recently revealed on her blog that she has been diagnosed and is dying of cancer. It is a very very sad story, and very personal for the YA world!

Please check out her post HERE.

And go over to the Deb's website and see details to enter to win HERE.

I know all of my readers and the YA community are amazing and will want to show this author some love!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Question for You!

Do you ever read more than one thing at a time? Have two different books in progress? Maybe one is for a book club, and one is a book you've been wanting to read for a long time.

Or maybe you started something, and then a book you were waiting for came out so you started that right away?

Right now I am reading an historical fiction novel, and doing some research for a new novel idea of my own. Switching back and forth between the French Revolution and Greek Mythology has been interesting. And then I just participated in a 30 minute writing prompt on Michelle Zink's website set in Regency England. My brain is going a little nuts with the history tonight.

How about you? What sorts of things do you read simultaneously, and how does it affect your view of those books?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review: CRESCENDO by Becca Fitzpatrick

by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hardcover, 427 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but atleast she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever and even worse, he's started spending time with Nora's arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperatly searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.

Becca writes a riveting second book to her series. Usually middle books often fall a little bit short, their entire plot is to set up another book, but this one certainly holds its own.

I literally sat down to read this after slowly reading the first few chapters, and then read the bulk of it (like chapter 3 to the end) in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down.

The best part was Becca kept me guessing and second guessing myself the whole time. Too often in YA (even in YA novels I love) it is too easy to predict what is going to happen, even though I still enjoy how it plays out. But with Becca she really made me question the characters I love and the ones I don't.

I have to admit how much I love this series. It seems like with other reviewers it's a love/hate thing with the book, mainly because the main male protagonist, Patch, is a bad boy. I have to admit I love Patch, and although I spent a long time in this book being mad at him, I still liked him and had hope for him the whole time.

Lastly, one thing you MUST be aware of is the ending is a HUGE cliffhanger. Things finally start to settle down the climax is resolved and you feel a sigh of relief SO briefly you don't even have time to enjoy it before BAM!!!!!! Cliffhanger and the end. I literally screamed out loud. The thing that drove me nuts about it the most was that it left me with too many questions. Of course, that is the point. But...if that type of ending bothers you, I would suggest waiting to read this one until TEMPEST comes out in October 2011.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Signing Report: Bree Despain!

I was SO happy that Bree decided to have another local signing, as I wasn't in town for her book launch party at another local indie bookstore. So I got to go to my local B&N to see her and get my copy of THE LOST SAINT signed!

I really loved one of the things read in her bio intro (the whole thing can be found on her website HERE):

"As a kid, Bree would staple folded papers to make her own "novels." As a teen, she wrote stories in notebooks while her friends waited for the next page to be finished. Her teachers told her she should be a writer. But Bree thought only special people could be writers, so as the years past, she settled into the idea of becoming a lawyer or something else just as ordinary."

I just wanted to tell Bree something. You are VERY special Bree! You are one of the most genuine people I have met, and I am so glad that I have. Your determination and talent inspires me.

Then Bree spoke a little about her journey to creating Grace and Daniel and how THE LOST SAINT came about. Here is where I will use bullets -- please note none of these are direct direct quotes as I was writing as fast as I could, but they are pretty close!

  • I thought THE DARK DIVINE was a tradgedy and a stand alone book. It wasn't until a mentor of mine pulled me aside and said, "You can't leave it like that, there is more!" Then I figured out TDD was a romance, and re-wrote the ending.
  • When I sold TDD I sold that and one other book that was to be one would tell me what that book was supposed to be until finally they said "We need a sequel and we need it in 4 months"
  • I freaked. I was paralyzed. It took me 4 years to write TDD.

  • Writing THE LOST SAINT was really hard. I started it over and over again.
  • So I went to a class and the teacher asked such a simple question "What does your character want?" Well I knew what Grace wanted in the first book, and I thought she got it. But I realized that she only got half of what she wanted, there is still something she desperately wanted, and then she started talking to me again.
  • I sound like a crazy person when I talk about my characters talking to me...but they do

  • When I started TLS was when lots of reviews were starting to come out for TDD and they were so positive. A lot of people would just be happy with that, but for me it was pressure. Pressure to live up to their expectations, to write that second book that is just as good if not better.
  • Sara Zarr, a local author friend understood when I said this. Then she gave me this advice (again this is me paraphrasing) "There are lots of kinds of authors out there. There are those that write one book and go away. There are authors that work for it, keep going, and write more. The trick is to write that second book."

  • Bree decided she could do it. She wrote a good book once, she could do it again, and TLS came into being!
  • Then she went on to Grace more, and how developing her character was different in this book. She said: "Grace is grace. She always has been. But in the first book, grace was forgiveness and mercy. In the second book grace is help -- she wants to help people, to be a hero with her new developing superpowers.
  • The frustrations I felt while writing TLS really bled into Grace's reactions and conversations, some of them are word for word almost conversations that I had with people while I was venting my frustrations about writing the book.
  • My frustration was because I knew I had the potential to write a good book, but it wasn't happening fast enough. Grace's frustrations were that she has the potential to be a hero but the abilities aren't coming fast enough.

Then Bree read us a bit from the book, and signed books and I had a chance to talk to her a little more. She said she is working on TDD3, no title approved yet. In fact she is working on finishing that AND moving at the same time. She is seriously super woman.

So everyone go out and check out this amazing author's books if you haven't yet! She is just great!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Should have blogged today, instead I sat on my couch with my nose stuck in a book...a fun post will be up tomorrow!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Review: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

by Stephanie Perkins
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published December 2nd 2010 by Dutton
Placement in the Pile: Top Picks

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

I LOVE this book. I had heard so many awesome reviews for it, I knew it had to be good. But there's always some trepidation going into a book with that much good buzz. I've been disappointed in the past, because my expectations got too high. Not this time. I was immediately sucked in to Anna's world, I adored Etienne St. Clair (even though she kept making such a big deal out of how short he was, and being a tall girl, that doesn't really help me think a guy is attractive. So I pretended he was taller, and we were all good). ;) Stephanie did an amazing job making you feel like you are there in Paris (and also, making you WANT to go to Paris, oh man the food sounded heavenly). The characters are layered, complex, and all have their own troubles and triumphs. This is a book with depth, it isn't just a light chick-lit read--though it has those fun, exciting, light-hearted elements too, at times. Anna is definitely a fast read (mostly because I couldn't put it down), but you will want to savor this one. Also? Wow, does Stephanie know how to build romantic tension. Yes, indeed.

Just be warned for all of our readers that like to know, this is an upper YA book. There is some pretty intense language at times, and mature content. In this case it didn't bother me, but we always like to let our readers know what to expect.

This is one that I'm glad I bought! (I nabbed the last one at my local bookstore, but hopefully they'll keep getting more in.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Me the Slacker, and a Friend Who is Not I'm the slacker. Sorry! We have all been a bit sick over here to start the new year, and still trying to get life in order, so very little reading has been going on. I know Guinevere has been doing some, so maybe she can review some stuff for us soon...

In the meantime, I wanted to post about a friend of mine whose book is coming out soon! It is more self-help/non-fiction than my usual reading, but I know Julie is going to be great at this, so here's the info!

Don't Throw Rocks at His Window: Real Advice to Mend a Broken Heart
by Julie Donaldson
To Be Published February 2011 by Deseret Book

Summary: Don't do it. I know you want to. I know you want to pick up that jagged rock and just chuck it through his window. After all, he broke your heart. Worse, he threw it to the ground, danced on it, and then kicked it aside. But you don’t have to resort to criminal activity. There are better ways to get over your broken heart.

Using humor, common sense, and honest, heart-to-heart advice, author Julie C. Donaldson lays out four simple rules that will help you mend your broken heart (including Rule #1: Don’t be pathetic).

Don’t Throw Rocks at His Window is filled with practical remedies and fun, interactive ideas that will help you strengthen your heart, keep your perspective on what matters most, and find comfort.

It is possible to survive a broken heart. What’s more, it’s possible to love again with a heart that is strong and sure and whole. So drop the rock, toss the tissue, and take the journey from hurt to healing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well I hope you are enjoying your new year! It is a time for goal setting so here are some of mine.

I want to be a better blogger, but I also want to keep my life in balance.

I want to have more awesome giveaways and get you all as excited about books as I am.

And I want all of my readers to be able to take something good away from my blog and our reviews!

Happy New Year everyone! Back to life, and back to reading!