Monday, February 28, 2011

Cover Envy (19): Swear & Sweet Venom

It's that time of week again! I'm showing another couple of covers that make me green with envy and stuck sitting on my hands until the novels they cover come out.

I hope you enjoy!
Swear by Nina Malkin- Look at that gorgeous cover! I love the bright pink leaves/petals dropping down from the dark gate and falling onto the model. The model's pose is so interesting and a bit hopeless. Her hair twisted up into an elegant bun and swept off her shoulders really accentuates her pale skin. The cover oozes drama and sorrow. Absolutely breathtaking! 

Swear doesn't have a summary yet but it is the sequel to Swoon.

Swear is set to be released September 6, 2011 by Simon & Schuster.

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs- Simple, elegant and beautiful, Sweet Venom's cover is a masterpiece in it's simplistic beauty. The sweeping back of the black dress, the girl looking down at her shoulder and her gleaming hair tied into a shiny braid is just beautiful. The stark white of her skin next to the black dress and dark green/blue background works so well. I love the hint of something more with the ends of her hair curling out to mimic snakes. Amazing!

Summary from Goodreads
New series, in which triplet descendants of Medusa learn they are destined to guard the door between the world of monsters and the world of men – pitched as a mythological Charmed.
 Sweet Venom is set to be released October 4, 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books.

Book Review: Gone by Lisa McMann

Gone (Dream Catchers #3) by Lisa McMann

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardback: 224
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1416979180
Source: Bought (and signed!)
Cover: This cover makes the most sense out of all the others I've seen. I know where this chair fits into the novel so it makes me like it a bit more than the other two. Not only can I identify where this chair is in the book but it also gives this really lonely, forlorn type of feeling, adding the the title of the book. This is the best cover out of all three in my opinion.
First Sentence: "It's like she can't breathe anymore, no matter what she does."

The Mini-Review: If you hung in there for the first two, you better finish this series. McMann does an amazing job of sending off the characters we've grown to love!

Book Summary:

Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her.
She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.
Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out. . . 

The Review:

The final installment in The Dream Catchers trilogy, Gone is an exploration in saying goodbye. Full of desperation, hope and our favorite characters, it isn't to be missed.

Janie's back for one last round of fighting, but this time it's for her future. After discovering the horrible secrets about her future in the previous installment, Janie is now faced with a choice: stay with Cabe and go blind in her early or late 20's or leave him and go into solititude. Both decisions are unbearable and both have consequences that can't be ignored. Janie finds an entirely new type of strength in this novel. She's already proven herself as resourceful and powerful but in this one, she has no way out. While her situation is terrible, I had respect for her the entire time because she was willing to act. Plus, I was so excited for her to finally start standing up for herself with her mother.

Cabe and Janie's relationship was as complex and heartwrenching as ever. I love that Cabe is willing to sacrifice and I just wish that Janie understood this more. Especially after the lessons they learned in the last one. I think Janie and Cabe's relationship is one of the most realistic I've read in YA fiction but on that note, I hate that it didn't feel like it went anywhere. They still didn't talk to each other. I wish there had been a bit more communication.

The plot was a lot more quiet than the last one. I almost wish the novels had been reversed. It felt like the crescendo of the story arc was in the second one and this one, while interesting, fell a bit flat as far as plot goes. With the previous installment, I needed to know what was going to happen. Gone was really about Janie finding herself and in that sense, felt like it took a step backwards or was out of order in the story arc. It felt to me like we should have been introduced to Janie in the first (Wake), let Janie come into herself in the second (Gone), and let her begin her life by fighting crime (Fade). That's just a personal opinion and in no way effected my liking of the story on an individual note.

As always, McMann's gritty, simplistic writing style lent itself to Janie's story perfectly. Through the breaks in time, we get everything we need and I love the honesty of the simple sentences. I knew that when it says "Janie's sad" that that's really what it means and it made the pain of the discovery that Janie's life will never be right, no matter what she does, that much more powerful.

Gone leaves Janie with no easy answers and though the furture is as unsure as it was in the beginning, I felt confident that together, Janie and Cabe could work it out. An altogether wonderful ending to a wonderful series with characters and writing that won't let you down. If you haven't read this series, I say go for it. 


Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (26)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren that encourages other book bloggers to share what they bought, won, begged for or borrowed. It is usually held on Sundays!

From The Book Center:
Pre-ordered from Amazon:

So that's it for me this week. What did you get in your mailbox?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Check out my new look!

Nothing was better than waking up this morning and getting the email that my blog makeover was up and running. Since I've been doing this crazy little thing called blogging for six months I figured, what better what to celebrate than to treat myself to a little makeover!

So I got in touch with the wonderful and fabulous Lori from Pure Imagination and Use Your Imagination Designs and she created this awesome new layout. I wanted something a little off since that really is the beauty of Alice In Wonderland but also something whimsical and fun. After a bunch of really amazing kits, we finally settled on this design and Lori got cranking.

I couldn't be more happy with what she came up with!

If you are looking to get your blog made over, I highly recommend Lori. She's knowledgeable, super patient, responsive and really helpful. She wanted to make sure I loved my design above everything else. I can't thank her enough!

So I welcome you to grab a button and let me know if you have one so I can grab one too. I'll be doing a blog button colleague in the near future.

Tell me, what do you think?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Tunes (4)

Book Tunes is a new meme that will be held on Fridays and the point is to share the book your reading and a song you think represents it. Be sure to include the novel you are reading, the summary, the song you think fits it and an explanation of why you chose that particular song. So snag yourself a button, write a post and link up at the bottom of the page!

*If you link up, starting next month, I'll be giving away a book at the end of every month. Every time you do a post, you get a point do you can get SIX entries for next month! Winner gets to pick what they'd like from The Book Depository! Please link up to enter and put your email in the comment section. Can't wait to hear some new tunes!*

Goodreads Summary:

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

The Tune: Going Under by Evanescence 

The Lyrics:

Now I will tell you what I've done for you
50 thousand tears I've cried.
Screaming, deceiving and bleeding for you
And you still won't hear me.
(going under)
Don't want your hand this time I'll save myself.
Maybe I'll wake up for once (wake up for once)
Not tormented daily defeated by you
Just when I thought I'd reached the bottom

I'm dying again

I'm going under (going under)
Drowning in you (drowning in you)
I'm falling forever (falling forever)
I've got to break through
I'm going under

Blurring and stirring the truth and the lies.
(So I don't know what's real)
(So I don't know what's real and what's not)
Always confusing the thoughts in my head
So I can't trust myself anymore

I'm dying again

I'm going under (going under)
Drowning in you (drowning in you)
I'm falling forever (falling forever)
I've got to break through


So go on and scream
Scream at me I'm so far away (so far away)
I won't be broken again
I've got to breathe I can't keep going under

I've died again

I'm going under (going under)
Drowning in you (drowning in you)
I'm falling forever (falling forever)
I've got to break through

I'm going under (going under)
I'm going under (drowning in you)
I'm going under

Why This Tune?:

So the truth is, this song is a little obvious. I'm only about 50 pages into this novel and they keep talking about not falling under. This song just screams that message. The story as a whole is a bit dark and I get the same vibe from this song.

So what's a good tune for your latest read?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where She Went & If I Stay Winners!

The winner of Where She Went by Gayle Forman was number 360: Jasmine Miller! An email is being sent your way!

The two winners of If I Stay by Gayle Forman are 284: Jenniferstrand and 50: Mary Ellen. An email will be on its way shortly.

Congrats to the winners and thanks so much for entering! Stay tuned for a new giveaway soon!

You guys voted and here's the next novel I'll be giving away:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (29): Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine where you can post about upcoming books you're looking forward to.

This is a wonderful chance for blogger to show off what's coming out soon that they are excited about! Every week my wishlist balloons thanks to this awesome meme.

Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

When Jessica Packwood found out she was a Romanian vampire princess, she had the shock of her teenage life. Turns out that was the easy part. Now, married to Prince Lucius Vladescu, she has to claim her throne and convince a vampire nation she’s fit to be their queen. But Jess can’t even order a decent meal from her castle’s Romanian staff, let alone deal with devious undead subjects who would love to see her fail.

And when Lucius is accused of murdering a vampire Elder and imprisoned without the blood he needs, Jessica finds herself alone, fighting for both their survivals.

Desperate to clear her husband’s name and win his release, Jess enlists the help of her best friend Mindy Stankowicz and Lucius’s mysterious Italian cousin, Raniero Lovatu. But both of them are keeping some dark secrets. Can Jess figure out who to trust – and how to rise to power – before she loses everything, including the vampire she loves?

Full of romance, mystery, and danger, the highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side shows that sometimes a princess has to earn her “happily ever after” – with a sharpened stake in hand.

I LOVED Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side so when I saw this title this morning I just about flipped. I love that the cover meshes well with the other one and the description sounds absolutely yummy. I really enjoy Fantaskey's writing and can't wait for this one to come out!

Jessica Rules the Dark Side is out January 9, 2012 by Harcourt.

What are you looking forward to?

Needs Some Brains...

...And totally not in the zombie way you were thinking of!

I am working on snappy little saying for my rating system and I need some help brainstorming them. I'm trying to stick with the Alice In Wonderland theme. This is what I have so far:

5 Stars- Bandersnatch it now!

4 Stars- Mad for it!

3 Stars-

2 Stars- Ask Alice... to borrow it

1 Star- Off with its head!

What do you think? Have any suggestions for 3 stars or any alternate suggestions for the other four?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Talk To Me Tuesday (3)

Talk To Me Tuesday is a fun new meme created by the wonderful Melissa over at i swim for oceans.

Talk to Me Tuesday is a brand new weekly meme where we will discuss anything (and everything) literary-related in an open forum of honesty. Questions for the next week will be posted one week prior to the post on the Features page. If you'd like to participate in this weekly feature, simply create your post, link back to me, and add your post to the wonderful Mr. Linky on Melissa's page. Have fun, and have at it!

This week's question: How do you feel about book banning and censorship?

As a writer, I strive to write the truth and nothing but the truth. But the thing about the truth is, it isn't always pretty. In fact, sometimes the truth is really ugly. Sometimes it's full of bad words, bad situations, bad decisions, really nasty people and terrible consequences. Flip on the news and you'll find stories about war, rape, serial killers, drinking, drugs and everything in between. That's just the nature of the world. 

As a writer, that's what I want to write about. I want to dive into the grey areas of the world and push and pull, stretch and mold, and  twist around to make good fiction. As a YA writer, I'm going to be doing all that with teen characters who I hope will be as close to lifelike as I can make them. 

If that's how I feel as a writer, I'll be damned if I don't get to READ about it. Censorship is wrong. I guarantee you that you won't find half as many bad situations and language and people in books as you do in the hallways of EVERY high school in the world. Generally speaking, if these things are in a book, they are in there for a reason. There usually is a bigger picture and to ban those who need to read about it the most is just wrong. Period. End of story.

I hate to say it now but a lot of parents have become lazy and just want all the work done for them. If it's banned, they don't have to worry about reading it to see if they want their child reading it. To all you parents that still will read your kids books first, I applaud you. To all you parents who read your child's book first and realize it's a tough subject and prepare to talk to your child, I double applaud you.

What I'm saying is, there is a reason we write about things. It's because horrible things exist. If we all go around pretending they don't, people become isolated. Though some subject matter is tough, it's there for a reason. It says, you are not alone. It says, I understand. And it says, you can make it through.

I Finally Did It...

After a lot of maybes and I'll-do-it-tomorrows, I finally broke down and got a Twitter account. I'd love it if everyone would drop by and follow me. It will be mostly for this blog and will announce fun things I am doing and great contests I have found. I look forward to seeing you all there!

My Twitter account

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Reading level: Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (June 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061537969
ISBN-13: 978-0061537967
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Cover: I won't comment on this cover too much as I would have never picked up this novel without someone plopping it onto my lap. It's a dog and it's about a dog and it's got a black background...
First Sentence: "Gesture are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature."

Mini-Review: Dog person? Buy it! Cat person? Buy it! Young person? Buy it! Old person? Buy it! Anything in between? Buy it! (Are you sensing a trend?)

Book Summary:

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoƫ at his side.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human only a dog could tell it.

Book Review:

There are some books that you read and they completely change the way you see the world. The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of those books. Told in the perspective of a dog, it's smart, funny, and completely lovable, exactly like its narrator. From the first paw shake to the last, I was sucked in and it won't be something I'm likely to ever forget.

Enzo is one of those characters that makes you want to know more about him immediately. The book starts off subtly and it's not until the third or fourth paragraph that we realize, oh this isn't a human speaking to us. It's actually a very clever, perceptive dog with a knack for studying human behavior. The way Enzo sees the world is absorbing and unique without being so out there that we can't relate. That's the thing about him, sometimes the reader forgets what he really is until he throws in a sentence about "not being invited to the courtroom" because he has a tail. There is this really great scene where Enzo is left home alone and is horrified to see a stuffed Zebra turn into a demon and started shredding the other stuffed animals that I don't think I'll ever forget. I also loved hearing his philosophies on the world. He often talks about becoming human in his next life (he saw a television show on reincarnation) and he's so intelligent in his perceptions that it's really hard not to believe him.

Through Enzo we meet the other characters. There is Denny, his owner, an amateur race car driver on the cusp of going pro, who in Denny's eyes can do no wrong. Denny was a delightful character solely because that's how Enzo saw him. I really did like him though because he is thoroughly tested throughout the book and goes to lows not even an animal can understand. We are introduced to Denny's love Eve, who Enzo thinks of as a bit of a threat and their interactions and relationship was very fascinating. And of course, the dreadful Twins (Eve's parents) who I wanted to maim. Altogether an amazing supporting cast.   

The plot felt a little slow at times but once I got a quarter of the way through, I couldn't put it down. Like Suzanne Collins with her Hunger Games, Stein found ways to make the low get lower and the worst possible outcome be just a starting point for what is to come. Yet, there was always hope and the ending melted my cold, cold heart (I don't generally cry from books or movies) and brought me to tears. 

The real star here though is Stein himself. Writing a convincing dog is such a daunting task but add in one that is intelligent yet simple, emotional yet animalistic is a task so daunting I wasn't sure it could be completed. Stein passed it with flying colors. I was also worried about dialog. How can a book about a dog have any? But Stein even managed to make that work, having Enzo speak to Denny even though he couldn't hear them. The metaphors drawn between Enzo's doggy world and that of the humans are incredible and effortless.

The one thing that felt a little overwhelming were some of the in depth racing chapters. Because of his master's love for the race, Enzo is also in love with the ins and outs of racing and often goes into great detail about how drivers drive their cars on the track. Though many of these turn into amazingly beautiful metaphors, I found myself skimming some of the nuanced details. Luck for me, it's seems even Stein started to notice this and put the racing information in different chapters that I could easily skim over the main idea which helped with the pacing of the story.  

I'm by no means a dog person. I own cats and love them dearly. BUT. But The Art of Racing in the Rain made me want to run out and adopt a dog just so I can look into its eyes and imagine what it might want to say to me. Impactful, beautiful, touching... all of these words don't come close to describing the bond I felt with this novel. I strongly urge everyone to give this one a read. It's life changing, world shaking, amazing and everyone deserves one of those type of novels!


A Cornucopia of Dystopia!

Staring in March, Danya over at A Tapestry of Words and Casey from The Bookish Type are hosting a really fun event to celebrate a bunch of new dystopia titles coming out for YA. I'll be participating in them as well by posting reviews of XVI by Julia Karr and Bumped by Megan MaCafferty as well as hosting interviews with each author. I'll also be hosting an XVI cover contest (and I'll post more on that closer to the date). This is going to be a ton of fun and I hope everyone will participate in the awesome events.

Here's the schedule thus far:

                  21 – A Tapestry of Words Dark Parties Review & Interview, The Bookish Type Memento Nora Review & Interview
                  22 – I Swim For Oceans Awaken Review & Interview, The Book Worms XVI Review & Interview
                  23 – A Writer’s Review Bumped Review, Musings of a YA Reader Memento Nora Review & Interview
                  24 – Books in the Spotlight Delirium Review, Supernatural Snark Possession Review, Reading Teen Wither Review
                  25 – Down the Rabbit Hole Bumped Review & Interview, Supernatural Snark Possession Interview
                  26 – Musings of a YA Reader Awaken Interview, A Writer’s Review Dark Parties Review, Books in the Spotlight Dark Parties Review
                  27 – Midnight Bloom Reads Awaken Review, The Bookish Type Delirium Review, BSAOT XVI Interview
                  28 – I Swim For Oceans Bumped Review & Interview, Midnight Bloom Reads Awaken Interview
                  29 – Supernatural Snark Memento Nora Review & Interview, Reading Teen Possession review & Interview
                  30 – 365 Days of Reading Bumped Review & Interview, The Bookish Type XVI Interview & Review
                  31 – Loud Words and Sounds Awaken Review & Interview, Good Choice Reading Dark Parties Review & Guest Post

                  1 – Reading Teen Bumped Review & Interview, The Book Worms Memento Nora Review, Literary Explorations Wither Review
                  2 – Musings of a YA Reader Possession Review & Guest Post, Books are a Girl’s Best Friend Delirium Review, Books in the Spotlight Awaken Review
                  3 – Books in the Spotlight Awaken Interview, Down the Rabbit Hole XVI Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Memento Nora Review
                  4 – The Bookish Type Dark Parties Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Memento Nora Interview
                  5 – Books are a Girl’s Best Friend Awaken Guest Post, A Tapestry of Words Awaken Review, Literary Explorations Possession Review
                  6 – Loud Words and Sounds Bumped Review & Interview, Reading Teen Delirium Review, Musings of a YA Reader XVI Review
                  7 – Books in the Spotlight Dark Parties Interview, Supernatural Snark Awaken Review, A Tapestry of Words Possession Review
                  8 – The Book Worms Bumped Review, Midnight Bloom Reads Delirium Review, Supernatural Snark Awaken Interview, A Tapestry of Words Possession Interview
                  9 – The Book Worms Bumped Interview, Literary Explorations Memento Nora Review, 365 Days of Reading XVI Interview
                  10 – A Writer’s Review Awaken Interview, The Book Worms Possession Guest Post, The Bookish Type Possession Review
                  11 – Reading Teen XVI Review & Interview, The Bookish Type Possession Interview
                  12 – The Bookish Type Awaken Review & Interview, Books in the Spotlight Memento Nora Review, Literary Explorations Bumped Review
                  13 – Supernatural Snark Bumped Review, A Writer’s Review Possession Review, Books in the Spotlight Memento Nora Interview
                  14 – Reading Teen Awaken Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Dark Parties
                  15 – A Tapestry of Words Memento Nora Review & Interview, 365 Days of Reading Dark Parties Interview
                  16 – The Bookish Type Bumped Review, Books in the Spotlight Possession review, Supernatural Snark XVI Interview
                  17 – The Bookish Type Bumped Interview, Literary Explorations Delirium Review, Books in the Spotlight Bumped Review
                  18 – Delirium Scavenger Hunt Interview

Stay tuned for more details but I have to say, I'm pretty stoked to be a part of this!
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