Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Great Contest

Looking for an opportunity to win not one but THREE books? The Story Siren is hosting a wonderful blog party and is giving away a set of Maria V. Snyder's books; Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. For your chance to win, just visit her blog and leave a comment or email her. You must enter the contest by midnight on March 1. So hurry over to her blog now and enter. Also check out her great blog for an interview of the author, a review of all three books, and some other great tidbits of info about the books. Enjoy!!

Interview with Esther Friesner

So I got the awesome opportunity to have some of my burning questions answered by the very talented Esther Friesner. She is the author of Nobody's Princess and the soon-to-be-released Nobody's Prize, as well as many other novels. If you would like to see a review of Nobody's Princess click here. I was incredibly excited to do this interview and I was very intrigued by her answers.

So read on and enjoy!!

Where does your love of Greek Mythology come from? Have you always loved it?

I've always loved Greek mythology because I've always loved stories. My parents read to me a lot and in addition, my mom always told me stories. I don't remember if my first experience with Greek myth came from the stories I was told, the stories read to me, or the stories I read for myself as soon as I was able. I'm just glad of it.

Is Helen your favorite Greek mythology character?
I don't think I have a favorite Greek mythology character but I will say that I've been extremely fascinated by Helen lately. Besides NOBODY'S PRINCESS and NOBODY'S PRIZE I wrote a number of stories about her. One of these, in the Random House YA anthology YOUNG WARRIORS, is what got NOBODY'S PRINCESS/PRIZE published.

Who’s your favorite God/Goddess? Why?
My favorite Greek god/goddess has changed over the years. When I was very young, I really liked Aphrodite. When I had kids, I understood Demeter and her quest for her lost daughter Persephone much better and sympathized with her. Now I think more attention should be paid to the "neglected" deities like Hebe, cupbearer of the gods. It's fun imagining her story--getting to overhear all of the gossip on Olympus -and- married to Herakles

Will you continue Helen’s story until it reaches the same time period as the Iliad?
NOBODY'S PRINCESS and NOBODY'S PRIZE are YA books, so I will not be continuing Helen's story until the time of the events in the ILIAD since by then she would be too old to be a YA protagonist

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Most of my research for the Helen books was purely historical. I read many books on the Minoan-Mykenaean civilization. I was lucky enough to find a number of heavily illustrated booklets about contemporary costumes and weapons. I find it having well-illustrated research materials really helps me visualize the world my characters will inhabit. Since I happen to enjoy museums and ancient history even when I don't have a book to research, this was a great combination of business and pleasure.

What made you become an author? Have you always wanted to be one?

I always wanted to become an author because I always loved stories (See above, #1). I always wanted more. At first I thought the only way to get all the stories I could handle was to learn how to read. Then I realized that the REAL way to get all the stories I could ever want was to write some of them myself. I'm not the only person who discovered this. I once read a very good article with advice to aspiring writers that said if you can't enjoy reading a certain kind of book; you shouldn't try to write it.

What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer?

One of the hardest parts of being a writer is waiting to hear about whether or not a book or story has been bought by a publisher. I deal with this by starting work on a new story or book as soon as possible.

What are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on a YA historical for Penguin called BURNING ROSES, about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. I am also working on two more YA historical novels for Random House, in the spirit of NOBODY'S PRINCESS and NOBODY'S PRIZE. These will be about Nefertiti! I'm very excited to be writing about her.

What’s one crazy fact about yourself that you want to share?

I raise money for charity by telling fortunes with (toy) hamsters. It's called Cheeblemancy and I have a lot of fun doing it. This year I am raising money for the REVLON RUN/WALK FOR WOMEN (to fight women's cancers) and the AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION WALL STREET HEARTWALK (fighting heart disease and stroke). I think you can find some photos of the hamsters and me on my webpage.

Are there any questions you had wished I had asked?

I can't think of any questions I wish you'd asked, but I'm never very good at coming up with questions. I hope I've been all right coming up with answers, though.

Thanks again to Esther Friesner for agreeing to do this interview with me. I learned so much her and had such a great time coming up with questions to ask her. If you want to learn more about Mrs. Friesner click here to go to her website.

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher

Alice thinks she is invisible. The only person that seems to know her is her best friend in the whole entire world, Jewel. They are the perfect pair. They both enjoy coffee and art, and life couldn't be better. That is until the blood bath dance rolls around. Alice wants desperately to go with the star football player Simon Murphy and never thinks it could happen in a million years. Then the impossible happens. Simon Murphy kisses Alice - the same day Jewel kisses Alice. Alice is overwhelmed. Overcome by emotions Alice goes with the perfect guy, Simon Murphy. They quickly bond, and Simon soon asks Alice to go to the Blood Bath dance. This sends her friendship with Jewel over the edge and it seems like they are no longer best friends. Alice and Simon's relationship gets serious pretty fast, but Simon's a good guy and leaves all the decisions up to Alice. All Alice wants is a friend to confide in. She realizes that Jewel is the only person that has ever been her friend. She soon comes to see that it's o.k. to branch out and that in all reality she is not the slightest bit invisible, if only she puts a little effort in.

I loved this book. I want Alice to be my best friend! She is a thoughtful character who I see so much of myself in. Liz Gallagher created an extremely vivid setting of Seattle, WA. I felt like I was walking the same streets as Alice and I could almost feel the rain dripping on my forehead. The other characters besides Alice also had great depth. Sometimes I feel like authors only put their effort into creating the main character, but not in this case. Each character had their own personality and set of quirks, which made me feel like I really knew them. All in all I highly recommend this fabulous book, and I look forward to seeing what Liz Gallagher has in store for readers next!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Arnold Spirit, better known as Junior, was born with water on his brain. This caused a disorder that made his head disproportional to his body, and made his whole brain very fragile. Having such a big head caused Junior much hassle on his reservation. When he’s 14 Junior realizes that people can’t hate him much more and decides to transfer to the all white school, Reardan. Here he feels like he will excel not only academically, but socially as well. Junior is pleasantly surprised when he is socially accepted and is doing well in school. He is even able to snag the amazingly beautiful Penelope as a pseudo girlfriend. Junior also makes the varsity basketball team as a freshman. Life is looking up for Junior. There seems to be only two things that bother him. One is his sister ran off and got married to a man she hardly knew, and is now living in Montana. Second is that his former best friend Rowdy won't even talk to him. All starts to go down hill when Junior's grandmother is killed by a drunk driver. Junior sets himself into a depression and swears to himself that he will never drink. When he finally gets over his grandmother's death he is burdened with two more deaths within the coming months and it seems to be all too much for him and his family. All of these deaths could have been prevented had there been no alcohol. These events set the idea of not drinking in Junior's mind forever. Although it is tough Junior recovers with the help of his new friends and his drawings in his diary.

I thought this book was O.K. Not fabulous, not bad, just O.K. Yes, the story was good, but I'm not sure I would have selected it to win an award (It won 2007's National Book Award for Young Adults). The story was original and I love how authentic Junior's voice was. I also loved the drawings, they were my favorite part of the whole story. I did think though that the message of how much harm drinking can do was great. People need to be constantly reminded that drinking doesn't solve problems it just creates them. One thing I didn't like was the story wasn't very exciting. There was no suspense and no questions were buzzing through my brain as I was reading it. I also didn't really like how the author made Junior feel sorry for himself just because he was an Indian and he had a medical condition. I think I would have had more respect for the character, and the book for that matter, if Junior wasn't constantly pitying himself. As I think the book was geared more towards teen boys than girls, I think boys may get a lot more out of the book than I did.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Mena knows that her first day of school will be horrendous, but she doesn't think it will ever get as bad as it does. All her old friends hate her, she got kicked out of church, and it seems that her parents don't understand the meaning of unconditional love. All of this because Mena did the right thing. One good thing did happen on the first day of school - Mena got paired up with Casey Conner as a lab partner in Ms. Shephard's Biology class. Casey doesn't know anything about Mena, which she thinks is a great thing. Soon Mena and Casey have forged a friendship and Mena is starting to see that she has missed an awful lot because of the sheltered life her parents created for her. Casey convinces Mena that they must immediately start working on a project that hasn't even been assigned to them. Mena is skeptical at first and even has to lie to her parents that Casey is a girl, but it is all worth it. Mena realizes that the project Casey has planned has to do with puppies. Soon she is not only attached to the puppies but the Conner familyas well. At school life is still not great. Her old friends are still hip-checking her into the wall and they've started to turn their backs on Ms. Shephard when she says the word "evolution." Much controversy arises when Ms. Shephard starts her unit on evolution and many hateful words are shared. It seems many people believe that the school should teach evolution based on the Bible instead of Darwin's theory. Mena becomes wrapped up with Casey and his sister Kayla, in a fight to defend Ms. Shephard. As the conflict continues Mena realizes that both parties could be right. Will Mena find that happy medium where religion and science can live peacefully?

This was a great book. I loved how Robin Brande took such a controversial issue and turned it into a fun story. I also loved how Mena discovered who she was and who she wanted to be. In today's society people are partially shaped by what other people think. I thought that Mena did a really good job breaking free of all of this drama. The little bit of a romance going on between Mena and Casey made the book even more fun. Robin Brande did a great job creating strong characters that I felt like cheering on. This is a great first novel and I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Brande.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George

When a simple woodcutter Jarl and his wife Frida have their ninth child, Frida is displeased that it is another girl. In fact she is so displeased that she doesn't even give the child a name. The child is simply called "pika" (Norwegian for girl) or "lass." One day her brother Askeladen comes running in with news that the fabled white reindeer has been spotted. Whoever catches this creature will be granted a wish of anything they want. When the lass finds the reindeer trapped in brambles, she isn't overcome with greed, instead she is overcome with compassion and frees the reindeer. When asked what her wish will be the lass picks one of the simplest wishes out there, a name. The reindeer whispers to her the most beautiful name and also bestows upon her the gift of speaking to animals. She loves her gift of speaking with animals, but never shares her beautiful name with anyone, not even her favorite brother Hans Peter. Then, during one of the worst snow storms ever, an isbjorn (a great white bear) tumbles into the lass's cottage and asks her to come stay with him in a palace for a year and a day. The lass is leery, but the bear promises her family great riches in return for her company. Not wanting to disappoint her family the lass agrees and sets of on a journey with the isbjorn and her faithful pet wolf Rollo. When the lass reaches the palace she is amazed. The palace is made of ice and she can tell it holds many secrets. The biggest secret is the identity of the man that comes and lays in bed with her every night. One night the lass is overcome by curiosity and looks at the mysterious sleeper. Little does she know this cost her the loss of her loved one. Determined to find her true love she travels east of the sun and west of the moon until she finds him. Will she get her love back, or will her efforts be in vain?

This was an amazing fairy tale. The book was very well written and the story line was awesome. I have never read the Norwegian fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, that this book is based on, but nonetheless this was an amazing re-creation. I loved how the lass was such a simple character, yet she was so special. There were many mysteries intertwined into the book, which made it even more entrancing. If you can just imagine The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe mixed with The Princess Academy you've pretty much got Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I highly recommend this magical book to anyone looking for a great read. Bravo to Jessica Day George on a book very well written and a hard to forget story!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Violet On the Runway by Melissa Walker

Violet likes to think of herself as a wallflower. She's a senior who's never had a boyfriend and has a grand total of two friends. She just feels plain and ordinary. Nothing about her stands out, except for the fact that she is freakishly tall. So when a representitive from Tryst modeling agency asks her to fly up to New York for a consultation, she agrees. Little does she know that this decision will change her in so many ways. Violet's first trip to New York is a hit, in fact she booked for four shows during Fashion Week! She is overjoyed and is finally seeing herself as just a little bit out-of-the-ordinary. Fashion Week is a hit. Violet can't contain herself and when she walks down the runway she flashes a huge smile, which soon becomes her trademark. She does such a great job that she pushes her nemesis, Veronica, out of the prized closing slot of the show. As Fashion Week draws to an end, Violet rises to stardom. She's finally found a friend, and maybe even a boyfriend. Once Fashion Week finishes she relunctantly comes home to good, old Chapel Hill High School where she is profusely greeted, not just by her 2 best friends, but by the ever so popular BK (bees knees) girls. Violet is loving all the attention, but she let's what's really important slide. Thinking her modeling career has slowed down, Violet is shocked to hear that she is still hot in New York, and Tryst wants her to come live up in New York. After much persuasion her parents agree and Violet graduates high school early and packs her bags for the Big Apple. Busy schedules and sharing a one-bedroom apartment with four other girls, including Veronica, excites Violet at first, but will the spark soon die off.

This was an exceptionally good book. Violet is one of the most down-to-earth characters I've met. Yes, being a model can sometimes make her full of herself, but she seems like such a friendly and honest person. This story makes me realize that we all have our doubts. Whether it be if were good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. I think Melissa Walker does a great job sharing the message that we all have our talents, and faults. Also that it is important for us to be nice to everyone, because we don't know their circumstances. I also loved all the fashion in the book. I myself am not a fashion-junkie, but I think it's fun to learn something new about pop culture. All the fashion lingo was fun to read and also I was allowed a sneak peak into the world of modelling. This a great book for any teen girl, especially one who has ever thought she was not good enough, but turns out to be superior!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Airman by Eoin Colfer

Conor Broekhart was born in a hot air-ballon thousands of feet up in the air. That is why his parents believe that he is so fascinated with the sky. It is Conor's life-long dream to fly. Being the son of King Nicholas' most trusted captain, Declan Broekhart, Conor becomes best of friends with Princess Isabella. One day while they are playing on the roof, the king's apartment goes up in flames. Seeing no way down, Conor jumps off the roof with Isabella, using the flag as a parachute. After the incident, Conor becomes one the king's most trusted friends. Once recovered from the accident Conor meets Victor Vigny, an acclaimed aeronaut. Victor is to be his teacher. Together they explore the science of flight, fencing, and many other useful subjects. All is wonderful in Conor's life, until he witnesses the murder of the king and his beloved teacher. The man behind the murder was Marshall Hugo Bonvilain, one of the most treacherous men to live. Bonvilain catches Conor "spying" on him and immediately disguises Conor as a soldier and throws him in jail, blaming him for the murder. Conor is sent to the Little Saltee islands to work in the diamond mines as a slave, with the thought in his mind that everyone he ever loved hates him. In reality everyone thinks that Conor is dead, which is the story that Bonvilain shared with them. Conor soon becomes one of the most powerful inmates on the island and soon realizes the only way to escape the island is to fly. Will Conor get out of Little Saltee alive? Will his dream of flying become a reality?

I had very, very high expectations for this book coming in and for the most part the book met all of them. The first half of the book was confusing to me because the book switches points of view quickly between paragraphs, and I had to take a couple double takes to fully understand who was talking. Once I got used to this though the book was really good. The story was like nothing I've read before and Eoin Colfer did an outstanding job creating the character of Conor. I really felt all of Conor's hardships and was rooting for him to succeed. This is a great rainy-day, curl up under the covers kind of book. I loved how Conor was the main character, but there was the theme of royalty in the background. Eoin Colfer created a great novel that I highly reccomend.
This is another book I decided to use for the Royalty Rules challenge!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

Helen is the beautiful princess of Sparta, yet even as a young girl she never acts like your typical princess. While Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, she questions the authenticity of the gods. She would much rather learn the art of the sword with her older brothers than learn how to sew with her twin sister Clytemnestra. Instead of day dreaming about marriage, Helen's mind wanders to dreams of being a hero and fighting till the death. She understands that one day she is to be the Queen of Sparta, but has no interest in it at the present. Finally Helen gets the opportunity to go on a journey, not your typical heroic journey but a journey none the less. She and her brothers are to accompany Clytemnestra to Mykenae for her betrothal to Prince Tantalus. After the wedding feasts she is expected to go home, but then word comes that her mother's sister's kingdom, Calydon, is suffering from a menacing wild boar running around the kingdom. Her brothers know they must go help and Helen convinces them to take her with them - after all she hasn't seen her Aunt in a long while. While in Calydon Helen meets Atalanta, a girl determined to be a hero just like her. The only difference is Atalanta has a lot more experience and everyone knows of her dream of heroism, unlike Helen's whom no one except her brothers and mother know about. After a wild visit in Calydon, Helen's adventures take her to Delphi where she meets the Pythia who prophesizes about the future. What will her future behold? Will she go back to Sparta, or will she be able to realize her dreams?

What a wonderful book! Don't you just love the cover? Esther Friesner did an amazing job combining myth, history, and fiction into one awesome book. Helen is such strong character and knows what she wants. She won't be put down just because she is a girl, which is a characteristic that is phenomenal. Reading about Helen made me realize no matter who we are we can achieve what ever we want as long as we are persistent and believe in ourselves. I have always been a sucker for Greek mythology. Nobody's Princess not only takes the story of Helen, but also ties in tidbits from other myths like Jason and the Argonauts. I liked how these little tidbits were folded in and became part of the story. All in all this was a great book and would recommend it to any girl, or guy, but especially girls because of the feministic message. The sequel Nobody's Prize comes out in April and I am anxious to hear the adventures that Helen will go on next!

This is the first book I've read for the Royalty Rules challenge!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

I read this book on Valentine's Day, which was the absolutely perfect day to read it. I actually bought the book right when it first came out, but had tucked it away until yesterday (on purpose!). It really shows the true meaning of love and is definitely not your typical romance book. Plus the cover looks irresistibly yummy....just like the book!

Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick are best of friends. Not the best friend that lasts one year of elementary school, but life long best friends. They are both social outcasts in elementary school and have no one except each other. Jennifer's father is long gone and her mom is always either at work or at nursing school. Cameron's parents don't seem to be in the picture at all. In a nutshell Cameron and Jennifer are in love. That is until Cameron disappears out of the blue and is not seen again. Jennifer is distraught and assumes that Cameron is dead.

The summer between 8th and 9th grade Jennifer re-invents herself. First her mother gets married to the perfect guy. This allows Jennifer to change her name and be gone with Jennifer Harris forever. She is now Jenna Vaughn and ready to make new friends. She's lost 25 pound, has great clothes, and has even snagged herself one of the most lust after boys in school. She is everything that she wished she could be and more. Her life is perfect up until Cameron makes a reappearance in her life.

When Cameron comes back he makes Jenna open all the doors she swore she had sealed forever. All of a sudden she is doubting herself and thinking that she is the same girl that people used to call "fattifier." Seeing Cameron again also brings back the dreaded memories of her ninth birthday when her Cameron experienced one of the most horrible things children can experience. Mixed with emotions Jenna starts to look at her present life with new eyes and sees that that her boyfriend isn't the right guy for her after all. She also learns tons about herself when Cameron comes back and continues to learn from him throughout her life.

This book is the perfect example of short and sweet. Usually short books are lacking that certain something that thicker books have, but not Sweethearts. It was one of the best love stories I have ever read. I remember reading something that Sara Zarr said about this not being a romance because its not mushy gushy love, but it's a love story because the characters work through their faults together and make each other feel special. This book captured me from the very first page and I was stunned at the end. For a short book (216 pages), it is definitely very powerful. The characters are so likeable and I couldn't get enough of the Jenna/Cameron relationship. Also the message was one of a kind and certainly one we all need to take to heart. Once again a great read and I would recommend it to anyone.

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Gemma returns for another fantastical adventure. It is two months after Pippa's death and Gemma hasn't returned to the realms once. She is scared of what she will see and what she won't. At Spence the girls are gearing up for Christmas time and Gemma is extra excited because this is her first Christmas in England. Before they depart for Christmas break, Gemma takes Felicity and Ann into the realms. She is shocked to discover that the magic is running wild, instead of contained like she thought it would be. She soon discovers that Circe is after her and she won't rest until Gemma is dead. Gemma feels the same way as Circe and tries to figure out a plan to capture Circe. When Ms. Moore's replacement comes, Miss McCleathy, Gemma is convinced that she is up to no good. Soon Christmas is upon them and Gemma is home in London with her Grandmama, brother Tom, and alcoholic father. Amidst the dull weather Gemma finds the sun in Simon Middleton. Just a few years her senior, Simon enchants Gemma and it seems that she does the same for him. Felicity and Ann don't let Gemma forget about the realms over the holiday and they are often together. As Christmas draws nearer things in the realms start getting funky and time is running out for Gemma to find Circe. Many new characters are met that add to the mystery of the Order and some old characters are revisited and might not be who we all thought they were.

Please pour some cold water over me because I am still in shock from reading this book! It was amazing. It was all I could do to put the book down. Rebel Angels takes "page-turner" to a whole new level. There is absolutely no way that anyone could predict the ending. The twists and turns are endless and keep you guessing until you read the final sentence. This was a phenomenal book and I think I may like it more than I liked A Great and Terrible Beauty. Once again Libba Bray makes unforgettable characters and a wonderful storyline. I cannot wait to read what happens to Gemma next. I encourage everyone to read not only Rebel Angels, but A Great and Terrible Beauty as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Great Valentine's Day Contest

What could be a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day, but with books? All week the authors at Author2Author Blog are giving away books in honor of Valentine's Day. The contest is super easy, all you have to do is comment on their blog under the post that tells about that day's book giveaway. Easy enough, right? So just jump on over to their blog by clicking here and good luck!

Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider literally falls from the sky when he is asked to participate in yet another mission. This time he's working for ASIS - the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. His job is to infiltrate a snakehead, a dangerous gang, in Indonesia and find out how they smuggle refugees. At first Alex refuses, he wants to go back to being a normal kid, but then the ASIS bribes him. They tell him that the agent accompanying him is his godfather Ash. This lures Alex into joining the mission because he thinks Ash will give him information about his parents. Alex reluctantly agrees to the mission and is soon transformed into an Afghan named Abdul. Things start going downhill from there. Major Yu, the leader of the Snakehead and a member of the dreaded Scorpia, knows that Alex is a spy. He doesn't kill Alex right away because he knows that he could be useful to him, so instead he puts Alex through many trials. On his last day before he is supposed to be transferred down the pipeline as an Afghan refugee he meets an undercover M16 agent and is brought to M16 headquarters where he is greeted by the familiar face of Mrs. Jones. He is informed that Scorpia has stolen Britain's newest bomb-The Royal Blue. M16 knows that Major Yu had something to do with it and they want Alex's help to recover it. Now it seems that Alex is working for two special intelligence agencies. The plot thickens as the story moves on and Alex finds out dark secrets about his parents and about Ash that will change his life forever.

Wow! This was the best Alex Rider book yet. It was jam packed with action, suspense and adventure. A really interesting fact about the book is Anthony Horowitz took a lot of time and researched so many topics that are talked about in the book. For example, he talked with a man from NASA about how one would reenter the atmosphere. This helped him accurately describe the whole first chapter of the book and made me like the book even more. Snakehead will keep you turning the pages one after another, desperate to hear what Alex is up to next. As always the book ends hanging you in mid air wondering if the end of being a spy for Alex has really come or if he has one more mission left in him. Anyone looking for a great adventure book, pickup Snakehead (or the first book in the Alex Rider series, Stormbreaker) and cuddle down into a chair and read it! Trust me you won't be able to put it down.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Gemma Doyle is a normal sixteen year old living with her parents in India. On the day of her sixteenth birthday she has a horrible vision of her mother being murdered. The worst part is, it comes true. After her mother's death her father moves her to England and sends her to Spence Academy for Girls. Here she learns to be a proper English lady and continues to receive mysterious visions filled with fantastical magic. While at Spence she befriends the beautiful Pippa, fierce Felicity, and timid Ann. Together these four girls are thrust into a magical world where they find the answers to some of the most mysterious questions.

I know my summary wasn't very long, but I think if I made it any longer I would give part of the book away!! Also don't you think the cover is absolutely amazing?? I know I do. It's one of the first things that drew me to the book.

So now my opinon. I LOVED this book. Like I mean I can't believe I haven't read this book before!! Gemma is an amazing character who is incredibly strong. Libba Bray created a host of awesome 3-D characters that made the book a page turner. The plot of the book is all together great and probably the last fourth of the book has so many twists and turns that make the ending phenominal. The story sucks you in from the very first page and leaves you wondering what Gemma will be up to next. I warn you know this book will make you hungry for more! I know I can't wait to read the sequel. A Great and Terrible Beauty is definitely one of my new favorite books and I don't think it will ever come off my list. I cannot get over how amazing this book was. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet go to the library and put a hold on it now, or even go out to the book store and buy it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My first meme!!

Well the Story Siren tagged me for this meme and I am very excited to fill it out!! So here goes my responses, I hope you like them!!

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? Honestly?
I’m not sure I’ve met a book that I have cringed away from. I am open to trying new books of every kind. I will especially read a book if it has good reviews.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
I think I would have a dinner party with Anidori from Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl because I loved this book so much that I would love to meet someone as determined as Ani was. Another person I would invite to my dinner party would be Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She is just so smart that I would just love to be in her presence and maybe she could teach me a few spells to make my homework go faster! The last person I would invite to my dinner party would be Elizabeth Holland from The Luxe. She is a fascinating character and I love how she stood up for true love. My dinner party would definitely be diverse, but none the less it would be fun!!

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
I would have to say Great Expectations by Dickens. I was given the option to read it for English this year and I was like no way!! So yes, I think Great Expectations would make a comfy pillow for a coffin.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
The only book that I have pretended to read is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I didn't even mean to. I had read most of the book so I had some ground to stand on, but I guess I never finished it, so therefore I was pretending to have read it!! (See next question for further details!!!)

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realize when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?
Honestly I think this would have to be the fourth Harry Potter book. I don’t know how it slipped by me, but it certainly did. I went to reread the series this summer in anticipation for the new book and I was like “I don’t remember any of this!” I could have sworn that I finished it, but I guess I never did, or I had a blackout!

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalize the VIP.)
I think I would have to recommend I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder because this is my new favorite book. For a not so big reader it is the perfect book too, because it is an amazing story, but it’s not long at all. What can I say I’m a sucker for love stories and this is definitely one!!

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
I would have to say Latin. I took Latin 1 this year and realized that so much of our language today comes from Latin. Knowing Latin would really help my vocabulary skills and help me boost my SAT score!!

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
That would have to be Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng. I read this book for the first time in sixth grade and it has been a favorite ever since. The characters are so likeable and the story is awesome. I think I read it pretty much every year anyway!!

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art—anything)?
I think before I blogged I didn’t really get to share my love (or hatred) of books, so by becoming a book blogger I have learned to really tune my feeling as to whether I really liked the book or if it was just o.k.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leather bound? Is it full of first edition handovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favorite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead—let your imagination run free.
My dream library would be filled to the ceiling with books. I think I would want it to look like Dumbledore’s office in the Harry Potter movies. There would all of my favorite books and plenty of new and unread ones! The authors will have signed all my books and once I have exhausted all the books I will just simply get more!! There will be lots of comfy chairs, especially ones I can lay down on, and good lighting (so I don’t get bad eyes!). Other than that I think I would be in paradise, because one can never have to many books!

I know you’re supposed to tag someone after this, but it seems that every blogger I know has already filled the form out! Now if I have missed you when I was perusing book blogs then I tag you!! Have fun filling the meme out, I know I did!!

Want a bite of some juicy books?

Who doesn't want free books? Book Burger is sponsoring a contest where you can win not just one, but five books. They are giving away five sets of these five books:

Gossip Girl Prequel: It Had to Be You by Cecily von Ziegesar
Poseur by Rachel Maude
Sealed With a Diss: A Clique Novel by Lisi Harrison
Beautiful Stranger: An A-List Novel by Zoey Dean
Lucky: An It Girl Novel by Cecily von Ziegesar

So if you haven't signed up already go and click here sign up now!! This is an awesome contest and I hope I win a set!! Good luck to all who enter and happy reading!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Jackson and Ava are head over heels in love. They promise one another that they will never leave each other's side. Everything changes when Jackson dies at a beginning of summer vacation party. Ava is distraught. After the funeral she slips into a deep depression, especially because she thinks it was all her fault that Jackson died. Only a couple days after Jackson is buried Ava thinks that she sees his reflection in the mirror. Of course she thinks she is going crazy, but there is a part of her that really wants Jackson to be there. Ava can't believe it when other weird things start happening and then she hears Jackson speaking to her. After this Ava doesn't want to leave the house for a second, afraid she will miss a visit from Jackson. Ava wonders why Jackson could be visiting her and when she does some research she reads that when most spirits continue to haunt the living they are doing so because there is something holding them back from crossing over. Ava wonders if this is why Jackson is haunting her. She discovers the answer after many attempted conversations with Jackson and through the help of her best friends. Over time Ava learns to move on and that you need to embrace the life someone lived and not wallow in the loss of a loved one.

This book blew my breath away. It was that good! After reading this I admit I shed a few tears, and books don't often make me cry! Written in a lyrical fashion this book was so unique and had a rhythm to it. I've never read anything like I Heart You, You Haunt Me and to be honest I was a little skeptical at first. Like I said though, the book was just phenomenal. Ava was an incredibly deep character and there was nothing flat about her. I could feel her pain and her lust to have Jackson return. I just felt like I wanted to jump into the book and comfort Ava. Lisa Schroeder created an incredible, stunning, amazing first novel and I cannot wait to read what she has coming our way next.

Here's a video that was on the class of 2k8's website. It's one of those book trailers. Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

American Fringe by Valerie Frankel

Adora Bennet has just landed a dream job. She is the new teen advice columnist for the New York Moon newspaper. She's super excited and along with this new opportunity comes a new friendship. Well sort of. Her sworn enemy Sondra has decided that they should be best frenimies now that Adora is "famous," Adora reluctantly agrees. While she is off making new friends her old friends, Eli and Liza, are not getting along at all. All is good with the Ask Adora column until she responds to a question about stay-at-home moms. Adora doesn't agree with the idea of a non-working mother and makes her opinion blatantly obvious. She offends many mothers, especially her boyfriend’s. Adora is sent into a frenzy of fame as many people become aware of her column. She appears on talk shows and the paparazzi are after her. Then the press finds out that the person who wrote the question is none other than the son of New York’s favorite presidential candidate, and Adora is again in a whirlwind of fame. Alas, her fame is short-lived because when grilled about her column on a talk show she doesn’t give a good response. This sends Adora into a downward spiral. Sondra doesn’t want to be her friend anymore, Liza and Eli aren’t talking to her anymore either, her dad tells her that her column is shallow, her boyfriend isn’t talking to her because his mother and all the stay-at-home mom’s of the nation hate her guts. What is a girl to do? Will Adora figure it out and turn around and write a stronger column?

This book was O.K. There was nothing terribly exciting about it and it was very predictable. I didn’t feel like I could connect with Adora and felt like she was a little flat. I know this is the third book in the series and in the fall a fourth one will follow. From reading American Fringe I don’t think it is necessary to read the preceding books in the series. Frankly, I don’t think I will read the first two books and am not anticipating the fourth.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Secrets of My Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Over the summer, Ren's mother was killed by J.K. Rowling. No not physically by Rowling, but a pile of Harry Potter books did fall on her mother's head and killed her. If having her mother die isn't enough grief for Ren, her father decides to move her out of her beloved Manhattan to plain old Danbury, Connecticut. It seems life is out to get Ren, because she has no new friends, the evil "it" girl Farrin is out to get her, and it seems that her dad never wants to talk with her anymore. Things start to look up for Ren when she meets Jack, an uber cute boy! Unfortunately Farrin likes to think Jack is hers and that Ren should just stay away. One day when Ren and Farrin's identical notebooks get mixed up Ren finds printouts of chat rooms from a website called Sex World. Even though Ren despises Farrin she can't resist the urge to help her get out of the mess she has put herself into. Ren creates an account on the website and pretends to be Farrin. She's not too scared about meeting this predator until she thinks she's found out who it is. Could it be so obvious? Is it someone close by? Ren sets off on an adventure to save her enemy and find out the true identify of this sick man. Along the way she gains the friendship of two girls and catches Jack's heart. In the end she gets the bad guy, but it will shock us all as to who he is!

This book wasn't my favorite, but in no means was it a bad book. It had mystery and romance in it and kept the reader wondering who the predator was. I enjoyed Ren's character, but to me she was just like a lot of characters in many other books. She didn't have that extra special something that makes me want to be the character. The book's theme seems to be geared more for older readers, but the writing, in my opinion, is geared toward a younger age group. The one thing that did really speak to me though is the fact that a lot of girls go online into chat rooms, like Sex World, and get themselves mixed up with creepy sex offenders. This is a growing problem in today's world and people need to really be made aware of it. If you know anyone who even think might be involved in this type of activity don't hesitate to tell someone because you could be saving a life.


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