Liesl & Po Review

Friday, September 30, 2011

Title: Liesl & Po
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: MG, Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
Liesl's young, but she's already had a difficult life. Losing her father at a tender young age, she's forced by her stepmother to spend her days locked in a cramped attic alone. She wants nothing more than to see her father one last time and to tell him that she loves him, but she's all alone...until she meets Po. Po is unlike anyone she's ever met before. He's just a boy, but he's a ghost and Liesl dares to feel that glimmer of hope that she might be able to get a message to her father. But when she and Po finally dare to venture beyond the attic doors, one major mistake by the mysterious boy across the street is about to send their adventure in a whole new direction.

Honestly, I have a bit of a thing for middle grade fiction. Do I read a lot of it? Not really, but that's simply because I'm picky about those I choose to read. Liesl & Po had a premise that captivated me from the start. Reminiscent of the dark and twisting tales from the Brothers Grimm, Liesl & Po sends the reader on a fantastic journey into worlds beyond our own. Veteran author, Lauren Oliver, has tackled a new genre with ease, providing an adventurous book teeming with larger than life characters, a seriously delicious plot and an overriding theme of love, family and friends.

Have you ever read a book with divergent plot arcs that somehow slowly manage to weave together throughout the story into one utterly spellbinding conclusion? If not, Liesl & Po will truly be a treat for you. The beauty of the story was that each plot art was fleshed out, giving you access to Liesl, Po and Will from start to finish. Because there was so much action and so much happening in Liesl & Po, it would have been easy to lose the reader in mundane details, but the story balanced the issue with ease, giving you bits and pieces and stringing you along. The characters, too, were fresh and engaging. Perfectly age-appropriate, Liesl is a bundle of love and innocence. Likewise, Po complements her with his honesty and compassion, and Will balances the two with touches of heartfelt humour. Together, the companionship between the characters was pure and unadulterated - giving the reader a true middle grade experience. Furthermore, Liesl & Po features superb writing. Sweet and simple, barring superfluous details and excess prose. Liesl & Po takes a minimalist approach, heightens it with a soaring plot and gives the reader everything they wanted and more. The only things I would have changed were some elements that I found a bit too predictable, and there were a small few questions that lingered at the end, which I wish could have been resolved.

All in all though, Liesl & Po was a heartwarming and fantastic addition to the market. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of MG fiction, especially those who enjoy paranormal and adventure stories. This book is also appropriate for both boys and girls.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 9/28

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Try Not to Breathe
Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard (Twitter)
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publish Date: January 19, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 272

Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it’s the only thing that makes him feel alive. He’s sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital.

Then Nicki barges into his world, brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan’s depression that no one else has ever been brave enough—or cared enough—to ask. Ryan isn’t sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again.
You know me and issue books. We're like peanut butter and jelly...we just go together. Try Not to Breathe sounds like a deeply emotional read, and I love the potential it has to make the reader feel the inner pain of the character. It's almost cathartic to read such stories. Plus, the fact that the MC finds peace by water speaks to me in and of itself. Oh, and the serenity of the cover is stunning. Frankly, this one just sounds like a win all around. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Tuesday {20} & A Chance to Be in a Book Trailer

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Books I Want to Reread:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - I've reread this series so many times, but I find it very difficult to reread the final installment. It's the end of an era, and it breaks my heart every single time.

2. In My Father's House - I have a bit of a thing for historical fiction, particularly in the period of the Civil War in the deep south. This book is a great coming of age story, and I've had to buy it a few times to continue rereading it.

3. Fahrenheit 451 - I only read it once for school, but it was one of the few books I didn't mind having to read. Usually that's a deterrent for me, but this one was phenomenal. I still remember loving I just need to read it again.

4. Lord of the Flies - I also read this once for school, and I was shocked by bits of it, probably because of my age and naivete. That said, I really want to read it now because I think I'll finally be able to appreciate it more.

5. On the Banks of the Bayou - Ok, colour me crazy, but I was obsessed with the Laura Ingalls and Rose Wilder books when I was younger. In fact, I own all of them. This one though, in particular, I'd love to reread because it's a huge part of Rose's transition to adulthood.

6. Leaving Paradise - The sequel left a sour taste in my mouth, unfortunately, and I'd love to go back and read this one to remember why I loved Maggie and Caleb's story so much. I think that would make me feel a little less unfulfilled.

7. The Long Weekend - I loved this one so much that I organized a tour for it. It's a fantastic, bone-chilling read that I've yet to have the time to reread. It definitely deserves it though because it is that good.

8. Vampire Academy - So sue me...I haven't finished the series yet. I'm so scared to finish yet another series I love! I think it kills a little piece of my soul every single time. That said, maybe I should just go back and start from the beginning again...thoughts?

9. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - There are few books like this out there. It exudes compassion, and fun, and reality and love. Plus, it has Tiny Cooper...and Tiny Cooper OWNS this book.

10. Raw Blue - Contemporary fiction isn't my thing, but this book is. I sent my copy merrily on its way, and I've been dying for a copy of my own ever since. This one deserves a place of honour on my shelf.


Do you love book trailers? Have you ever wanted to be featured in one? Now might just be your chance. The awesome Daniel Cohen, author of The Ancillary's Mark and upcoming Masters of the Veil is offering a unique opportunity for bookish fans to be in the trailer for Masters of the Veil. In short, all you have to do is submit a short video (or ten if you're really stoked) displaying a whole lot of school spirit and act as though you're outraged that your team just blew it in the championship game. It can be a one-liner, a face or heck, even a whole monologue. It's up to you! Click HERE for full details on how to enter your video!

Everyone who submits a clip will get a signed Masters of the Veil rack card, and if your video is selected, you'll receive a signed ARC, too! How cool is that?! Spencer Hill Press is always coming up with great ideas for the bookish community, and I'm so excited to see the finished product of this one!

Anna Dressed in Blood Review

Monday, September 26, 2011

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor
Publish Date: August 30, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 316
Source: Publisher

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Cassius Theseus Lowood is as unusual as his name implies. The only son of a white witch and a ghost hunter, Cas inherited his strange trade at the tender age of fourteen when his father was brutally murdered by the ghost he was hunting. Now, while other kids his age are thinking about college, Cas is armed with an atheme and preparing to meet the most dangerous ghost he may ever meet. Her name is Anna, and the white dress she was murdered in over fifty years ago is stained with her own blood. Cas has been planning it for a long time, but the time has come. Daring to enter Anna's domain is one thing. Expecting to come out alive is another. But Cas and Anna have a lot more than blood and vengeance in common though.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of horror (even if I do have to watch the aforementioned horror movies with my ears plugged so I'm not as terrified.) Truthfully though, books that are dark, or slightly unhinged, or perhaps just tinged with the macabre are books that I seek and don't often find. Anna Dressed in Blood, however, wholeheartedly fit all my criteria. Author Kendare Blake has written an inspired debut that is bone-chillingly gruesome and graphic, all the while spellbinding you with rich, vivid and breathtaking prose that mesmerizes you and keeps you transfixed. With an intense and action-packed plot and a story that very well leaps from the pages, Anna Dressed in Blood is sure to captivate even the most reluctant horror fan.

Anna Dressed in Blood was a bit of a mystery from the start. Cas's fate was sealed when his father died. He knew he wanted to avenge his father's death, and he wanted to carry on his father's legacy by dispatching the angry dead who haunt their former haunts. His life is a maze of complexities though. He's balancing an attempt at teenage normalcy as instructed by his mother, all the while attempted to banish the most gruesome ghost he's ever encountered. His anger is acrid, and his fear is tangible, but so is his heart. Then there's Anna. Anna, was a million things at once, making her a character that I loved and feared throughout Anna Dressed in Blood. The visual of Anna in her bloodstained dress is gory, as his her daunting reputation, but the beauty of her character is that she was equal parts a murderer and a victim. She's a vicious killing machine, but there are shreds of the little girl she once was underneath her morbid facade. The relationship between Anna and Cas in Anna Dressed in Blood is going down as one of the most memorable I've read in a very long time. The combination of Cas's wit and sarcasm met head-to-head with Anna's vengeful, yet captivating demeanor was a web that slowly unravels, but keeps you guessing until the very end. Above all else though, Anna Dressed in Blood is a perfect blend of shock value and utter entertainment, offering both the best of horror and the best of character-driven plots.

Anna Dressed in Blood is one of those rare books with near-perfect execution. Flawlessly engaging and original, it's sure to be on my list of re-reads for a very long time. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all YA fans, especially those who enjoy paranormal stories and ghost stories. Fans of the television show, Supernatural, are sure to love this book.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

In My Mailbox 9/25

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

(ARC) - Thank you, Macmillan

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction.

(ARC) - Thank you, PYR

There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of billions of parallel earths.

When Everett Singh's scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this fourteen-year-old has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse — the Infundibulum — the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. 

The Faerie Ring Review

Friday, September 23, 2011

Title: The Faerie Ring
Author: Kiki Hamilton
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: YA, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…
Tiki lives in a world of extremes. While Victorian London is alive with colour, hustle and bustle for those with plenty, those without are forced to live in the slums and do whatever they can to scrape by. An orphan and alone, Tiki is the latter, as is her "family" in Charing Cross - a whole group of orphans working to pick pockets and make enough to live day to day. But even so, money is scare, times are hard and Tiki never knows when her little bit of luck will run out. Then she happens upon the ring; a mysterious and beautiful ring belonging to the Queen, and she is presented with two choices. She can keep the ring and return it for the reward money, or she can venture further into a world of shaky alliances between humans and vengeful fey. Either way, Tiki's life is about to change forever, and she might not be who she thought she was.

Faerie stories are hit or miss for me. I'm not the type who loves glittering faeries born to be tedious little tricksters. Rather, I like my fey to be a bit heinous, a bit mad and whole lot dark and nasty. The Faerie Ring more than easily obliges all my criteria. Author Kiki Hamilton may have very well accomplished the impossible with The Faerie Ring, merging a young adult historical story with the paranormal. Two difficult genres to blend, The Faerie Ring brings the two together in a potent and intoxicating story of truth, dignity and the right to survive at all costs. Battle lines are easily drawn in The Faerie Ring, but peace is the more difficult path, and the tension, compassion and mystery overflow throughout the story.

Tiki is one of the most lovable and engaging heroines that I've read in a while. Right from the start, though she's strong and resilient, you can feel her anger at her situation. Though it simmers lightly below the surface, part of the beauty of The Faerie Ring was that you can sense that she will eventually reach her boiling point, and you're simply waiting to find out when. Despite her circumstances though, Tiki's love for her fellow orphans in Charing Cross was abundant, and the feeling left me feeling comforted by the sense that there was a rock for her charcter no matter where the action took us. In regards to the action, The Faerie Ring was a complete rollercoaster. Fast and furious, the plot is a whirlwind, sweeping us through Victorian London, all the while letting us taste the gritty air, view the extravagance of the wealthy and feel the acrid hatred between the humans and the fey. The transition between historical fiction and paranormal elements was flawless. The two were intertwined in a way that one would be incomplete without the other, which is a feat in and of itself. Furthermore, the full cast of characters in The Faerie Ring were wholly enmeshed in the ever-moving plot, driving it in the right direction from start to finish. I do have to say that Reiker was the one character that, though awesome, confused the heck out of me. I never knew what I was going to get from him, and I'll be honest and say I still had some questions at the end.

The Faerie Ring is a meticulous blend of all the elements of a great story - characters, plot and writing. Entertaining and engrossing from start to finish, it will have you guessing throughout. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA fiction, historical fiction and paranormal.

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

The Rift Walker Review

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Title: The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire #2)
Author: Clay & Susan Griffith
Publisher: Prometheus
Publish Date: September 20, 2011
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk
Pages: 399
Source: Publisher

Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet.

These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele's beloved Greyfriar.

Adele is running out of time. Her wedding is fast-approaching, and she's running out of reasons to delay it. Though her marriage to Senator Clark will provide an alliance that's great for her people, she's at a loss. She's fallen for the mysterious Greyfriar, despite the fact that he should be her mortal enemy, and everything she does and thinks turns right around to him once again. But when things go from bad to worse and Adele learns of a heinous plot to willingly use humans against the vampire race, she realizes something must be done...only fast because her wedding is going to be held no matter what. The Greyfriar learns of other plans though - plans that could threaten Adele's life, and the two will be reunited on adventure that will change the course of their lives and all those around them, as well.

I always have to add this disclaimer to reviews of books involving vampires because, let's be honest, they still have vampires in them, and I loathe vampires. With a passion. That said, yet again, I was blown away by a book that defied my staunch stance on vampires. The Rift Walker deftly picks up where book one left off, carrying a heavy load of backstory with ease, all the while introducing new problems, battles and enemies for our hero and heroine to work through. Clay and Susan Griffith have created a sequel in The Rift Walker that may very well surpass its predecessor. With surprising depth, this love story brims with gripping action, potent characters and an enthralling world that seeps through the pages into real life.

Honestly, I adored The Greyfriar, and I will rarely (if ever) say that a sophomore novel ups the ante and might just be better than the first book, but The Rift Walker is truly dangerously and deliciously that good. While we saw the Greyfriar as a passionate hero in book one, we now see Adele coming into her own. She becomes stronger and more steadfast in her beliefs, and she ardently fights for what she wants and knows is right now. Though she knows what should be done with the way the world is, Adele is more concerned in what must be done for the good of everyone and not just herself. She carries the novel from start to finish - a heavy burden to be sure - but it's done well. The Greyfriar lends his nature to the depth of the story, which enriches it without making their dynamic cloying or overbearing. Furthermore, The Rift Walker makes you want to get into the mind of the villains. When a plot so gruesome is brought to life, you want to comprehend what makes a character tick, and the best part of The Rift Walker is that you can see it, and you can feel it and through each of the characters' actions, you can live it. The true beauty of The Rift Walker though is that, although it features a paranormal romance, the seamless blend of political agendas, power and prejudice, love and war make for a striking story that is compelling and dynamic.

Yet again, I was blown away by this series, and I'm so excited to finally read a sequel that steps up its game! The Rift Walker was a fabulous read, and it's one I'll be happy to read time and again. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to all fans of both YA and Adult reads, especially those who enjoy paranormal romance and steampunk.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Mara Madness Blog Tour & Author Interview - Michelle Hodkin

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I read a lot of books, but sometimes there is a book that stands head and shoulders above the rest in its genre. Recently for me, that book was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I've been raving about it since I finished, so I was SO excited to be asked to participate in the awesome tour coordinated by Cindy from Books Complete Me. So, I had the great honour and privilege of interviewing the lovely much fun! Be sure to visit all the tour stops to see the other awesome features they have in store for you! 

An Interview with Michelle Hodkin

1. Describe The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in five words or less, please!

Dark, sexy, disturbing psychological thriller.

2. Part of what I loved most was the fact that Mara was still a bit of a mystery to me after the entire book. Did you intend for the reader to have a full grasp on her character, or did you want to make her a bit hazy?

What I wanted was for Mara to feel real, like someone who actually exists. And real people are complicated—we sometimes laugh when we want to cry, we might insult someone we actually want to kiss. Real people change. What’s challenging and beautiful about the YA perspective is that it captures the age when people become who they really are. In THE UNBECOMING, I wanted readers to witness the very beginning of that process for a girl when she starts to realize she isn’t necessarily who she thought she was. And by the end of the series, my hope is that readers will have a more fully realized sense of not just who she is, but who she isn’t. For now, though, readers are limited because Mara’s own self-knowledge in THE UNBECOMING isn’t that extensive yet. What you know is what Mara knows, and Mara knows some things but not everything, and that was very much intentional.

3. Noah Shaw pretty much stepped out of every girl's fantasy...where in the world did he come from, and how in the world can we expect more from him in book two?

To tell you the truth, once I knew who Mara was, which happened in the span of an hour or two before I began writing the book, I knew who Noah had to be. For better or worse, I couldn’t have written him differently, for reasons that will become apparent later.

Speaking of later, I really, really can’t tell you anything about the sequel yet, even though I’m dying to share it, but I can say that Noah is very much in it.

4. Speaking of book two...when can we expect to start hearing, perhaps, the title?

I don’t know! But I do think it more information will probably start filtering out after THE UNBECOMING is released…

5. There are annoying, cloying cliffhangers, and then there is the aptly titled "Cliffhanger of Doom" that we see in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. How did you know that was the right moment to end the book?

Oh, cliffhangers. I have to tell you, as a reader, I suffer just as much as the next person when the series books I adore end with cliffhangers! And actually, I went through a few different endings for THE UNBECOMING before settling on the ending it does have. The bottom line was that the other endings didn’t work; either they ended at an earlier point in the story’s timeline, leaving even the central question of the novel—whether something is happening to Mara Dyer—unresolved, or they ended at an even later point, which would have resolved some questions but would have introduced many, many more (and would have led to the book becoming a 700-800 page monster). THE UNBECOMING ended the way it had to, so while it’s tough for readers who are dying to know what’s next—and thank GOODNESS for you guys! I’m so glad you care!—there’s really no other way it could have been written.

6. Your writing is equal parts conversational and descriptive. How do you choose to balance the two, and does it affect how you paint a character or a scene?

I kind of love this question, because for better or worse, my novels start as rough screenplays; I write most of the dialogue first and then fill it in with description. In some cases, I’ve even developed scenes out of bits of dialogue that I found myself writing. It makes me super happy to know that you find the novel descriptive because I always worry about not being descriptive enough.

For THE UNBECOMING, my first readers were helpful in letting me know when the balance was off. In an early draft of the book, I hadn’t even described Croyden, Mara’s new school. I remember the moment and the email from my youngest brother telling me I had to include that. Since then, I think I’ve become better able to tell when I’m going overboard in one way or another. At least, I hope so! And I’m glad you liked the balance :D

7. It's a cliche a question, but what (if anything) sparked the idea of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer?

The very short answer is that was inspired by true events. The long answer is going to be posted on when it goes live.

8. In The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, you give the reader enough to set a scene and get to know the characters, but you somehow keep us from knowing too much. How do you filter what information you give the reader and when you do so?

This is always a really difficult balance to strike, but one of the things I tried very hard to do was to stay painstakingly, firmly in Mara’s perspective throughout the whole novel. Every observation is colored from her point of view—how she views her mother, her school, Rachel, her brothers, Noah, the weather—everything. Because every human being sees the world and the people in it differently; we view everything that happens to us through a unique lens, and we process the information we learn from what we see in our own way. In that way, we’re all unreliable narrators; if someone asks me what brussel sprouts are, and I answer “a disgusting vegetable,” that’s a highly subjective opinion and one that can’t necessarily be trusted. So to, if someone asks Mara about needles, she won’t give you the same answer that an acupuncturist would. And if you ask her about Anna, a girl at school she thinks isn’t so nice, she’d be likely to give you a very different answer than Anna’s mother would.

Which is why the events that occur in the plot unfold the way that they do—everything that happens colors and affects Mara’s perspective, which affects the way she tells her story. An example: there’s an exchange between Mara and her older brother, Daniel, at one point in the novel where Mara starts to bemoan how easy everything is for him and how he’s going to get accepted to every internship he applies to. And Daniel basically calls her out for not working as hard as she should to get the same results. Does Mara see it that way? No. But Daniel’s right anyway; sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge the more unflattering aspects of our personalities…and sometimes we overacknowledge them, and emphasize them. And because of that, I think that everything that is and isn’t included in her telling says a lot about her without explicitly telling the reader what to think. That was was my hope, anyway.

9. If you can only pick one character in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer to be your favourite, who would you choose, and why? (If you choose Noah, I will fight you for him, and yes, I bite.)

I could never pick just one—that would be like picking a favorite pet or a favorite child! But I always enjoy writing Daniel, Joseph, and Jamie. They don’t give me trouble the way Mara and Noah often do—though I love them just as much.

10. My token throwaway question - Michelle, is there anything you'd like to tell your readers?

Thank you for picking up this very strange story. Thank you for talking about it. It means more to me than I can can say.

Now, for those of you that didn't know, each tour stop is posting a letter or character that makes a complete phrase from the book. It's a very important phrase, but even if you haven't read the book, you should be able to figure this one out. Click on the links to each post to find the correct letter and once you have the phrase figured out, fill out THIS FORM. Ends 9/30 at midnight. So, without further ado, my letter is...

Be sure to click HERE to check out all the tour stops and collect all the letters to earn your chance to win! If you've already forgotten, click HERE to fill out the form! Good luck!

Top Ten Tuesday {19}

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me:

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Well, you know me and contemps. It's hit or miss, and I'm too scared this will be a miss. Now I'm thinking I might be missing out though, eh?

2. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - I was late to Vampire Academy, and I'm one of those people that fears a crossover series won't live up. Yikes. I'm sensing a theme.

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - Well, I tried to read it, but I got stuck on page two, and I put it down and picked up something else. I've seen incredible reviews though, so I'm sure it was a case of the wrong time for a great book.

4. Shut Out by Kody Keplinger - Again with the trend in contemps, I know. Honestly, I struggled with her other book - not because of the writing but because the material just wasn't for me. Colour me nuts. I dunno...maybe I'll come back to this one...

5. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzman - I'm actually DYING to start this one, and I have it on my TBR, but there are so many books I have to review first. I can't wait to start this one though - it's all the right kinds of twisty!

6. Torment by Lauren Kate - I'm sure this series is loved and fawned over by plenty, but I couldn't get past book one. It felt too familiar to me. I doubt I'll be able to continue the series.

7. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - Well, I love some of her other titles, but I've never managed to get around to this one...I take it I should though?

8. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young - Love the cover, I really do, but the premise never really hooked me, unfortunately. Maybe one day it will captivate me. Until then, I'll just enjoy the reviews.

9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - So, sue me. This one is one of those that I was ordered to read for middle school and couldn't finish it. I know, I know. I'm horrible. This taste of the classics was too sour for me.

10. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Again, sue me. Aragorn is so much better onscreen as Viggo Mortenson...Oh, wait. Did I just say that out loud? Man candy + epic battles + great visuals = movie > book (for me.)

Anna Dressed In Blood - Interviewing the Cover Designer & Artist

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today I am SO excited to feature an amazing interview with the cover designer and the artist of Anna Dressed In Blood. The lovely ladies behind Kismet Book Touring have put together another incredible tour and coordinated with the too-awesome-for-words, Kendare Blake, to offer a fabulous giveaway for all of you, too! Be sure to read through the interview and find out how you can win the amazing prize! Also, my review for Anna Dressed In Blood will be up tomorrow with yet another giveaway for you guys because it is a must-read!

An Interview with Seth Lerner - Cover Designer

1. Can you give us some background on what your process is in designing a cover? Do you read a book first or do you work from notes and if so who makes the notes for you?

In most cases I work from the notes the editor puts together. In this case, a new series, and a new author, I felt I needed to read it. I also looked at the comparison titles the editor sent to get a feel for what it should look like. In the end I had a lot of help in putting it together. The editor’s ideas and take on what the cover should be really made the difference. As for the artist, I’ve known of Nekro’s work for a few years. I really didn’t have a project that spoke to what he was doing, until Anna came along. He really made it the success it is. My part was easy after that, don’t obstruct the really cool art with too much type, let it speak for itself. We haven’t posted it yet, but I can say the second cover in the series is just as wonderful as Anna is, and Anna is one of my favorites this year.

2. Do some books speak to you more than others or you have a favorite genre of books to design for?

Lately, I have really enjoyed working for the YA and Teen market. I don’t read a lot of it, but the books we’ve been doing are a lot of fun to design for. The market has changed over the years, and the consumer is really aware of bad design. I hope we’re putting out product that makes them take notice. I love to work with such talented artists and designers. It also doesn’t hurt that our editors are receptive to trying out new artists and ideas.

3. If you could design a cover for any book, published or unpublished, what would it be and why?

That’s an easy question to answer, the next big thing, whatever it may be. Why? Because if I’m successful, then I’ve helped launch it. It’s nice to be a part of something. I know it’s cliché, but it’s still true.

An Interview with Nekro - Cover Artist

1. Did you create the picture that was used for the cover of Anna Dressed In Blood specifically for that book or was it done before you'd even heard of that book?

Yes, it was made for the book.

2. If you created the artwork specifically for the book, do you do that often and what is your favorite part of working on a commission like that? 

Yes, usually, I receive a briefing with all the details to make the illustration. Although they use to be a very detailed commissions, my preferred part is the personal touch I can add to the image

3. Do you primarily do artwork for books or is that more of a side project for you?

At present, I mainly work making book covers but I also work in personal projects.

4. Who is your favorite artist and why?

I can’t say only one artist, I admire and look for inspiration in a lot of artists, like: HR Giger, Kris Kuksi, Brom, J.S. Rossbach, Aleksi Briclot or Jason Chan, among others. I specially admire their style and originality. 

Kismet Book Touring has put together an incredible giveaway for you guys, giving you the chance to win a Kindle 3 with the skin featured above, as well as the book pre-loaded on the device! Be sure to check out all the features at each of the tour dates listed below for your chance to win...Here's how the contest works:

Contest Info: Who is about to take on Anna next? Last week we met the ghost hunters and this week they reply!

Each day this week, each of the ghost fighters introduced last week will reply to Anna's challenge. Follow the tour for the next two weeks to find out who accepts the challenge, who does not and, ultimately, who among the five is the one who will enter Anna's house on the last day of the tour! A list of all the tour dates, including last week's dates where the ghost hunters were introduced, click here.

On the last day of the tour, a link will be provided where you can enter the ghost hunter's name for 15 entries into the contest to win a Anna Dressed In Blood skinned and loaded Kindle 3! Open US/Canada.

My Ghost Hunter - (Click to enlarge):

For an extra points in the meantime, you can gain +1 point a day by tweeting the following:

Who will make it to Thunder Bay? Join the contest to best Anna and win an Anna Dressed In Blood Kindle! Follow #ADIBtour @KendareBlake

Monday, September 12th - Rachel, Parajunkee
Tuesday, September 13th - Stacey, A Reader's Record
Wednesday, September 14th - Alyssa, Teens Read and Write
Thursday, September 15th - Heather, Buried In Books
Friday, September 16th - Jenny, Supernatural Snark

Monday, September 19th - Melissa, I Swim For Oceans
Tuesday, September 20th - Tawni, The Book Worms
Wednesday, September 21st - Alice, Alice Marvels
Thursday, September 22nd - Julie, That's Swell
Friday, September 23rd - Angela, The Reading Angel

Monday, September 26th - Julia, Rex Robot Reviews
Tuesday, September 27th - Ashley, Smash Attack Reads!
Wednesday, September 28th - Britta, I Like These Books
Thursday, September 29th - We Fancy Books
Friday, September 30th (Anna's 1 month birthday!) - Kristi, The Story Siren

Tuesday, October 4th: Announcement of the big prize winner on Kendare's Site!

Find Kendare on:

In My Mailbox 9/18

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox is an amazing weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren that features the books we have received during the week. It's so much fun because we get to see what our fellow bloggers stumbled upon this week and add even more to our piles of books! Without further ado, this week I received the following books:

(ARC) - Thank you, Balzer & Bray

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Thank you, Aladdin

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

Thank you, Prometheus

Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance's horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Review

Friday, September 16, 2011

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Karou is, for all intents and purposes, your average art student living life in Prague. She has an ex boyfriend that treads daily into her life and messes things up, an eccentric best friend and a penchant for drawing wildly daring artwork that seems unimaginably alive. When classmates ask where her inspiration comes from, she smiles and says it's all true. Karou lives a little on the edge behind closed doors though. Her life in secret is one of mystery. Raised by demons, knowing magic and the depth of the realm of possibilities the world has to offer is a beautiful and dangerous gift. So dangerous that meeting Akiva could be both the greatest and worst thing that could have ever happened to Karou.

Before I say anything else, I have to say that no matter what I write in this review, I will never be able to adequately put into words the sheer ingenuity that is Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I've read twists on the paranormal. Heck, I've read at least fifty books claiming they're the next big thing. It's when a book like Daughter of Smoke and Bone creeps up and takes your breath away that you realize there is still room to grow in the young adult genre - there are still ways to dazzle readers and enthrall them with a world beyond our own. Laini Taylor has written a book I want to lose myself in forever. Fabulously original, richly engrossing and utterly refreshing, she's created a world within Daughter of Smoke and Bone that is unlike anything I've ever read and that somehow manages to make me feel both mesmerized and uneasy all at the same time. Lyrical and imaginative, you too will forget where the real world ends and Daughter of Smoke and Bone begins.

The story begins with two lines that could very well serve as the entire synopsis of Daughter of Smoke and Bone: "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well." If you're thinking of cliches and time-tested angels/demon stories, think again. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is nothing if not original. Whereas so many books regarding good versus evil lapse into a world that pacifies readers with physical beauty and little to no twists on time-honoured tales, Daughter of Smoke and Bone pushes the boundaries. Rather than settling with what we think we know about angels and devils, the book creates a haunting and brilliant backstory that throws every caution and preconceived notion to the wind. Daughter of Smoke and Bone seamlessly merges character development, a brutal, bloody feud and breathtaking imagery into a story that packs a punch throughout. Karou was never overdone. Her confusion and willingness to learn and grow was believable. She wasn't weak, but she wasn't overtly strong either, which made her a character that truly resonated. Then there's the love element. Don't be alarmed though - there is no insta-love in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Rather, the romance begins to bud far into the story, searing through tense moments and making the events and emotions smolder that much more, making them so much more powerful. Furthermore, it must be said that the verbiage, the tone, the imagery and the setting, in general, were impeccable. Every word in this lengthy story had a purpose, and that is a feat in and of itself.

Like I said though, nothing I can say will do this book justice. You'll simply have to read it to understand the beauty of it for yourself. As one who aspires to someday (hopefully) be an author myself, I have to say I seriously covet the author's writing talents. I give it a 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to both YA and adult audiences, especially those who enjoy paranormal and paranormal romance.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday 9/14

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Life Is But a Dream
Author: Brian James
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: March 27, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 240

Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.
I love challenging myself with my reads, and while contemporary still is a bit of a hit or miss for me, I'm always sold on issue books. I've never read one with such a young MC having a mental illness, and that's a huge part of why Life Is But a Dream appeals to me. Well, that...and have you seen the cover? LOVE. Absolute love. In all honesty though, if this is done half as well as the synopsis implies, I think we're in for an emotional rollercoaster, which I can't wait for! What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

Frost Review

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Title: Frost
Author: Marianna Baer
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: September 13, 2011
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—eccentric Celeste Lazar.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House: frames falling off walls, doors locking themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And although Leena strives to be the peacekeeper, soon the eerie happenings in the dorm, an intense romance between Leena and Celeste’s brother, David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind…or in Frost House itself?

Senior Year at Barcroft Academy was meant to be a dream for Leena. She and her best friend Viv have scored residence in a cozy corner of the campus - Frost House. But circumstances change when an eccentric roommate, Celeste, is thrust into their living space and thing start to take a turn for the worst. Frost House seems to have a mind of its own as chairs fall, picture frames tilt and crash and the locked doors become ominous and foreboding. But as Leena's personal life becomes more chaotic and confusing, she finds herself withdrawing further into Frost House until she very might well lose her mind because she's no longer sure anymore - is there something wrong with the house, or is something wrong with her?

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of twisted stories. There's something about being sent on a spellbinding tale that resonates those things that go bump in the night. Frost does that and more. Walking a fine line between a pyschological thriller and a paranormal tale, Frost delicately balances between genres and promises a fulfilling tale for all. Author Marianna Baer has crafted a haunting debut that's mesmerizing, confusing and haunting, allowing the reader to escape into a world where darkness is undefined and every twist and turn has you guessing what's really going on at Frost House. With a fluid style and sinister tone, Frost is sure to delight readers who have a thing for the dark and mysterious.

The true beauty of Frost lies within the bones of the novel - the writing. Mysteries aren't easy to write. If you tell too much, the reader gets bored, but if you tell too little, the reader grows impatient. Frost walked a tightrope of ambiguity, giving the reader enough information to keep them turning pages and continuing guessing, but never giving anything away too soon. Moody and atmospheric, tumultuous and nerve-wracking, Frost messes with your perceptions, captivating you with a realistic MC and then sending your mind spinning on a psycholgoical tale. Leena, like I said, was a great protagonist. There was something believable and accessible about her. While she was a strong girl, there was a sense of vulnerability about her, and as her confusing grew, her mindset lent a creepy vibe to Frost. The more chaotic her thoughts were, the more suspenseful the story grew. Likewise, the relationship between David and Leena only fostered the humanity of the story, which could have easily been lost in the plot. Celeste, though a vivid and prominent secondary character, never stole the spotlight from Leena and added a tenuous sense of peace to the story, but remained precariously close to sending Frost spiraling into a veritable pandemonium. The ending was satisfying, but it was the only sort of flat element for me. I don't like ribbons and bows, but I don't like to feel like I'm still guessing. Frost balanced between the two, only offering a semblance of an answer to the mysteries within its pages.

Overall though, Frost was a dynamic, creepy debut from an author that's sure to deliver many more powerful novels to the genre in the future. I give it a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy YA, especially mysteries and psychological thrillers.

I received this ARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Top Ten Tuesday {18}

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Books I Read Because Of Another Blogger:

1. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar - If I could name all those who gave rave reviews of it right now, I would, but there are too dang many. This one was one of my first forays into the realm of contemporary fiction, and it was one hell of a success.

2. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I hate vampires. It's not a secret. That said, I kept seeing glowing reviews, and I finally caved. Then I made others read it. Thank you for being the one series YA vamps that keeps me riveted!

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I resisted this for a good bit because of the hype, but finally gave in, and I'm so glad I did. This is up there with my favourite series of all times, even if Mockingjay wasn't loved by all.

4. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer - This was an epic start to a dystopian series. While I didn't love all three books, this one is for sure one of those books that was raved about until I read it and loved it for myself.

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan - I remember thinking this was too young for me (I know - says the girl who reads YA in her mid-twenties), and swearing it would never be on my radar...then I read it, and I read the entire series in a matter of days. Totally worth it!

6. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler - Contemps are a hit or miss for me, and the title put me off this one for a while, but I kept seeing great reviews that finally convinced me to give it a try. Was it a difficult read for content? Sure, but it was powerful and true.

7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - I never liked the covers. Sorry kids, but they deterred me for a long time. When I finally caved into the hype from a certain blogger, I thanked her endlessly because this is a series that I've had to buy multiple copies of because they're worn out now.

8. Blood Red Road by Moira Young - I had an ARC of this one, but I was scared of the dialect in which it was said to be written. Two five-star reviews from trusted bloggy friends convinced me to give it a go though, and it got a five-star review from me, as well.

9. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - This is another one of those surprising contemporary reads that is raved about by pretty much every blogger I follow. I put it off as long as possible, but finally read it and loved it as much, if not more than them.

10. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson - Something about this cover always deterred me because I thought it would be too sci-fi for my taste. I didn't think there would be enough humanity in the book. I was wrong. This book is perfection.


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