Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a post where I tell you the books that I received this week either by buying them from the bookstore, going to the library or from my mailbox. In My Mailbox was created by Alea and turned into a meme by Kristi.

I Am J by Chris Beam

J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Contest Saturday

Here are some contests that are currently going on right now. Click the links to enter them. I will hold my own contest on the last Contest Saturday of each month. That means my next contest will be on March 25th.

Make sure to enter my current contest to win a copy of Everything is Fine HERE Ends 3/25

Win a copy of The Unwritten Rule HERE Ends 3/20

Win a $55 CSN Gift Code HERE Ends 3/26

Win a copy of Clarity HERE Ends (Not posted)

Win a copy of The Liar Society HERE Ends 4/1

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shimmer Book Trailer

Check out the new book trailer for Alyson Noël's newest book Shimmer, the sequel to Radiance.

Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi's advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca's sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she's not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?

Waiting on Wednesday

Abandon by Meg Cabot-- April 26th

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld

Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry-- August 30th

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Lens and the Looker by Lory Kaufman

Title: The Lens and the Looker
Author: Lory Kaufman
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Age Group: Young Adult
Grade: B+

It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.

This book completely took me by surprise. Any regular reader of the blog would be able to tell you that I adore dystopian novels, so I could not pass this even. Though, this book isn't exactly dystopian, it is more or less post dystopian. Meaning, the craziness and panic is all done, and a new normal way of life has begun.
The descriptions in the book were fantastic. They gave you enough that you could sense the surroundings but not so much that it became tedious and boring. What I found really interesting was how, when they are at history camp, how much it felt like they were really in that time period. In fact, I thought something happened that caused them to go back in time already. It seemed that legit. But then, when they DO go back in time, Kaufman points out the subtle differences between how the past really was, and the History Camp's interpretation.

I expected the teens to be annoying and for them to get under my skin. But that didn't happen. They were rebellious, but that was the point. I actually really began to like the characters and root for them.

Another thing I wanted to mention was how they explained hoe glasses were made. I wear glasses, and I have since I was about 11. I will most likely never get contacts because I am just so content with my glasses. It was fascinating to see the detailed work that went into them in the past.

Overall I would say that The Lens and the Looker did a wonderful job taking you back in time. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and romance.


Lory Kaufman Blog Tour Guest Post

Question: I would love to learn about Lory’s inspiration for History Camps, and why he chose the story's setting as 1347 Verona, Italy. It must have been a hard decision to make. History is filled with many other interesting places and time periods.

Answer: Choosing a setting for a story usually happens in two parts for me. The first is the inspiration, where I’m just day dreaming or doing something, like cutting the lawn, putting out the recycling or, most often, I’m on a long walk. Then, without warning, some random incident will cause a click in my brain. It’s a real click, like a video screen changing channels. Suddenly I’m in the middle of a story. Over the short span of a few seconds a whole universe unfolds and I’m watching a character in the middle of some situation. Then two or three subsequent incidents, streaming off the first, flash in front of my mind’s eye. It’s like a dream, where you think it’s lasted hours, but apparently, the whole experience lasts but a few seconds.

I used to think that all I had to do then was fill in the in between bits, between the original inspiration and the subsequent events, write an introduction and then an ending. As a consequence of this naïve thinking I have journal upon journal, full of half developed story ideas. I would dive in, scribble page after page, writing what I call, free fall, where I’d just see how one thing leads to the next. The result was most ideas have just stayed in their journal, stillborn and silent.

Because this happened often I learned to be very careful, which brings me to the second part; qualifying the characters, story and setting.

What I do now is write the original inspiration as an elevator pitch . . . the shortest description of the story concept I can muster. It's like you've just met a big publisher in an elevator and only have the length of the ride to inspire them with a great story idea. With this done I’ll start writing point forms of the story, characters, settings, etc. It’s a long, arduous vetting process that takes months, where you come back to it with a new puzzle piece, seeing if it fits. Now don’t get me wrong, this is all creative work, but done in a logical manner, because a novel has thousands of things to consider, thousands.

But the question is about how I picked 1347 Verona, Italy out of all the times in history. I’ve explained my process. Now to the specific.

Again, the first seed of choosing 1347 Verona came from a series of unexpected inspirations. I had the criteria for a concept. I wanted to send kids from a future world back in time to before our time. I was going to have them involved in some sort of ancient industry, to make them appreciate how easy their modern lives were in contrast. With this quest placed firmly in my subconscious, I went about the everyday business of life. Then it happened.

I was in a local Lens Crafters store with my mother. Some weeks earlier she’d had a cataract operation and we had to keep going back to have the lenses of her glasses changed several time to accommodate her new vision. Having this happen to my own mother, it made me think about people from the past, how it would have been for, say, a seamstress or a blacksmith or . . . anyone. How could they do their job, make a living, if their eye sight was failing? I know that without my glasses I can’t work for long, or at all, and it was oddly emotional the day after my mother’s operation where she spoke of waking up the next day and being able to read the alarm clock from across her bedroom. She thought she had slept with her glasses on. When I heard her recount this, I received a sympathetic and emotional shock. (code for started to cry) Perhaps it was this that caused it, but while I was in the Lens Crafters, watching them make lenses within an hour on ultra modern equipment, that I started to wonder what the first lens making equipment looked like. Back at home I researched when glasses were first invented. Their first mention in the historical record is in 13th century Italy, although magnifying stones had been around for several thousand years, as far back as ancient Egypt. But it was in Italy where two lenses in a frame were first propped up on the bridge of a person's nose. What then “clicked” in my head was the fact that this was also the time of the Romeo and Juliet story. And whammo! I sat, as always when inspiration strikes, my brow furrowed and my body frozen like a statue. The possibilities began to spin in my mind, incidents and the faces of colorful characters, yet without names, popped into my mind. Then I pulled myself out of my trance and sat down at my laptop and wrote down the stream of consciousness that had just been flying through my brain.

My curmudgeonly high school art instructor, Mr. Meachan, used to say in his thick, Scottish accent, “Art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Girls, start perspirin' and boys start sweatin!!” It’s true. After the inspiration, the work really starts, including research. I love research because, again, stories and ideas just seem to spin off from it. It puts me back into a fantasy world. I think this is the “high” that keeps me going.

On this particular project I spent the better part of six months researching Italy, then Verona, Romeo and Juliet, ancient lens making, clothing and foods, regional names, developing characters . . . the list went on and on. Like I said, months are spent trying out and rationalizing if things work. You bring in and throw out lots of research. But eventually things fell into place, and what a place. Verona worked because there’s no better place to set a young love story than the home of Romeo and Juliet. The ancient technology of lens making worked because it showed a time when what was a craft turned into a science, the science of optics. It showed how a simple invention took so much manpower and dedication, always a good thing to make young and old readers appreciate the past. And the setting was exotic. Verona, Italy is absolutely beautiful. After I had been working on and off the project for some years, I arranged to spend four days in Verona, at the end of a holiday. You can see those pictures on my History Camp Facebook page (


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Contest Saturday

Here are some contests that are currently going on right now. Click the links to enter them. I will hold my own contest on the last Contest Saturday of each month. That means my next contest will be on March 25th.

Make sure to enter my current contest to win a copy of Everything is Fine HERE Ends 3/25

Win a copy of The Unwritten Rule HERE Ends 3/20

Win a $55 CSN Gift Code HERE Ends 3/26

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a post where I tell you the books that I received this week either by buying them from the bookstore, going to the library or from my mailbox. In My Mailbox was created by Alea and turned into a meme by Kristi.

Numbers by Rachel Ward

Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode!

Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey. Dominion over her immortal consort Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z. But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there. Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it? Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago. Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated-and with it, order-and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal. The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Bumped by Megan McCafferty


Saturday, March 5, 2011

To the Cinema!! #2

This post is similar to a Waiting on Wednesday post, but will only feature MOVIES that I am excited about releasing. I will include trailers for your viewing pleasure. I'll probably only do this monthly so it doesn't push out reviews that I need to post.


The Tree of Life


Contest Saturday

Here are some contests that are currently going on right now. Click the links to enter them. I will hold my own contest on the last Contest Saturday of each month. That means my next contest will be on March 25th.

Make sure to enter my current contest to win a copy of Everything is Fine HERE Ends 3/25

Win a copy of The Unwritten Rule HERE Ends 3/20

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fearscape by Simon Holt

Title: Fearscape
Author: Simon Holt
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Grade: A

It's been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won't be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won't give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back.

These books are so mindblowing! This review will most likely include spoilers, so if you haven't read the first two books and don't want to know how things wrap up, don't continue.

One of my favorite things about these books was the descriptions of the fearscapes. This book had plenty of that. Since Reggie is constantly put to the test by being forced into Fearscapes, we get to see a lot of them. I am always surprised by how thought out and complex they are. These aren't just simple fears, you feel like you get a glimpse into the lives of these people. Even when I was a bit afraid, I felt something more, like understanding. Because a lot of the fears we can all idetify with.

I really enjoyed watching Aaron change throughout the trilogy. Most all of the characters changed, but for him I felt it was bigger. I loved him since the beginning, but he got even better. He gained confidence in himself, and pushed himself to new limits. Plus he is super adorable. All of the characters were truly great and I was impressed by the ways they evolved.

Everytime you think the story can't go any farther Holt thinks up something new and fantastic to keep it alive. Many times I thought nothing more could happen, there could be no more twists, they won't uncover the next mystery, but they can and do. These books never left me with a dull moment, and I loved it.

Overall I would have to say that Fearscape was a great end to a great trilogy. They fascinated me in almost every way possible and had me begging for more. I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys being afraid and likes a little mystery.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Those That Wake by Jesse Karp--March

New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will.

But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer--April

Sixteen-year-old Tansy Piper is less than thrilled about being uprooted yet again so her novelist mother can work on a new book, and she is determined to hate her grandfather's tiny hometown of Cedar Canyon, Tex. Worse yet, their new house ("three stories of pure creepiness") is said to be haunted by the ghost of 17-year-old Henry Peterson. Tansy becomes increasingly intrigued by Henry's story, and she is stunned when her camera's viewfinder shows her black-and-white images of moments that have long passed, moments that include Henry. Feeling transported into the photographs, Tansy starts to spend more and more time in Henry's world. As the color in Tansy's world begins to drain away and fill Henry's colorless world, Tansy is pulled deeper inside until she's on the cusp of entering it forever.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February in Review

Okay. My success from January did not continue into February. I have many excuses for this, but of course none of them really matter. The truth is, I got lazy and didn't schedule posts. When I KNOW that I'll never getting around to posting every single day. *sigh* nonetheless, here are my pathetic stats.

I read 3 books this month (you can check them all out in the sidebar)

I reviewed 1:
The Keening by A. LaFaye

I watched 1 movies/seasons of tv shows this month (also in the side bar)

I reviewed 0:


I listened to 2/6 audio books for the 2011 audio book challenge

I read 12/100 books towards my personal goal

Blog Changes: None


I only hosted/held one contest this month, which is still going on HERE

Let's hope I can jump back on the wagon and make for a very good March!