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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass


Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Birthmarked

Birthmarked (ARC) by Caragh M. O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pub. Date: March 30th, 2010
Pages: 368
Age Level: 14+


Synopsis from GoodReads
After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

Review
Birthmarked is the utterly gripping, brilliant debut YA novel from very talented author, Caragh M. O'Brien. I can't wait to see what O'Brien has in store for me next; more specifically, the sequel.

In Gaia, O'Brien has created the perfect heroine; she is strong, brave, smart, and even a bit sassy. Gaia is also a very complex and realistic character with raw emotions, a heart full of hope, and a slight touch of innocence. She was so very easy to connect with; when Gaia was heart broken, relieved, happy, or angry, I felt the same way. She is probably my favorite lead character of all time. As for the other main character, Leon aka Sgt. Grey, well I can honestly say I didn't like him at first. He was cold, distant, and straight up confusing. However, as the book goes on, he steadily develops into so much more and by the end, I was positively in love with him. Here again, O'Brien has created such a wonderfully written and dynamic character. None of the changes in his personality were sudden but instead gradual and I slowly found myself liking Leon more and more making him my favorite male romantic interest ever.

There was a nice array of minor characters throughout Birthmarked that really added to and helped make this story so great. I particularly liked Mace Jackson's, the baker inside the Enclave, family. They really allowed me to get a different perspective on the situations occurring inside the Enclave, causing me to think and wonder.

Birthmarked was skillfully crafted with every passing moment pulling me further into the story. This book was seriously thought-provoking, just like any dystopian novel should be. I could see and understand the Enclave's point of view on things even if I didn't agree with their solutions to the problems. However, getting to know Mace Jackson's family really made me think, "If I were them and had experienced the grief that they had, would I still feel the same way?" This question really nagged me and I still don't have an answer for it and probably never will as I have never been in such a situation. My dear readers, this is one of the things that really helped make this book so amazing.

The writing was very well done with a terrific use of imagery that made everything so clear and vivid in my mind. The world that O'Brien has created is so impressively imagined and depicted through each and every fine detail from the language to the setting and more.

The ending was very jaw-dropping and a total cliffhanger. A certain thing happens that really made me want to cry, stomp my feet, and then throw the book at the wall. Since I know there is going to be a sequel, I still liked the ending and think it is perfect to leave me ready to go all ninja-style and sneak into O'Brien's house after a manuscript, draft, etc of the next book.

Honestly I could probably still go on about the greatness that is Birthmarked but instead I'll leave you with this: If you don't read Birthmarked I'll shun you for all eternity. Ok well maybe not but I can truly say you'd really be missing out on the awesometastic journey into the world and life of Gaia Stone. In other words, get it and read it as soon as you can. This is now a favorite book of mine and I can't wait to re-read it and for the sequel to come out. Two-thumbs way, way up to Caragh M. O'Brien for writing this masterpiece.

Grade:
Characters: A+
Writing: A
Plot: A+
Ending: B+

#1 in Trilogy: A+
Enjoyment/Likability: A
Recommendable: A+
Cover: A

Overall: A+ (The first and one of only 2 A+'s)


Saturday, May 29, 2010

In My Mailbox (39)

In My Mailbox
IMM is a weekly meme hosted and created by Kristie at The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

From HarperTeen/Collins
~Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
~Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison
~Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Bought w/ Saved Giftcards from Swagbucks and Contests
~Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson
~Shock Point by April Henry
~The Declaration by Gemma Malley
~Guitar Girl by Sarra Manning
~The Watcher by James Howe

So that's what I got in my mailbox. I hope you are all having a lovely weekend. :D

Friday, May 28, 2010

Noteworthy Passages: Purge

Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: April 1st, 2009
Pages:
Age Level: 15+ (For some sexual content and language, including the F-bomb.)


Synopsis from GoodReads
Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That's what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward.


Noteworthy Passages

Janie; pg. 1
It's completely mortifying, but having a watchdog outside the bathroom door is one of the many oppressive rules they have here at Golden Slopes. There are rules for everything: the No shoelaces in case you hang yourself Rule, the Thirty-Minute Rule, the No Napkin in the Lap Rule, and the Finish every single thing on your plate even if you are full or else drink a can of Ensure Rule. But the worst part is this: trying to do your business with someone outside the bathroom door listening.

Janie; pgs. 35-36
I wonder if she really believes that journaling will help or if she's just encouraging us to write because someday she's going to use our journals to write a book -- My Life Among the Crazy People. Maybe I should start writing in code. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid. But you know what they say: Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

Kelsey & Janie; pg. 93
"Janie, I've got a bone to pick with you."
"Can't you pick it tomorrow?" I said. "I've got a wicked-ass headache, and I'm pretty sure that's the Grim Reaper standing there in the corner waiting for me."

Janie; pg. 217
So while I'm not denying that it will completely suck if everyone is talking about me and thinks I'm this crazy, screwed-up chick, I know I'll live. What's more, I know I want to.

~~~~~~~~

Well folks, those were the chosen passages from the great YA novel Purge. I hope they have made you want to pick up this book and read it because I know I really liked it. You can read my review
HERE.









PLEASE NOTE: This is a feature hosted here at my blog in which I present you with selected passages or quotes that I deem Noteworthy from a book I've just reviewed. My hopes are of course, that these passages will make you want to pick the book up and read it. This feature was started and created by me in January in hopes of making my blog more unique. That being said, I would like to kindly request that you do not use this feature as it was intended to be for my blog only and is not a meme. If you see some one else using it, please know it is without my permission. Thank you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Purge

Purge by Sarah Darer Littman
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: April 1st, 2009
Pages:
Age Level: 15+ (For some sexual content and language, including the F-bomb.)


Synopsis from GoodReads
Janie Ryman hates throwing up. So why does she binge eat and then stick her fingers down her throat several times a day? That's what the doctors and psychiatrists at Golden Slopes hope to help her discover. But first Janie must survive everyday conflicts between the Barfers and the Starvers, attempts by the head psychiatrist to fish painful memories out of her emotional waters, and shifting friendships and alliances among the kids in the ward.


Review
Purge is a wonderfully crafted look into what it is like for a teen girl living with and trying to understand her bulimia. With a realistic and lovable heroine, not to mention a gripping story line that will sink it's hooks into you from the first page, this is a book I feel would be a great read for many teens.

After the last eating disorder book I read turned out to be a bit of a dud, I admit that I was worried about how I would take to not only the book itself, but to Janie as well. Turns out I found Janie to be a very witty, dynamic, and relatable character. Despite having practically nothing in common with her situation wise, I could still understand and connect with how she felt and I think a lot of teen girls will be able to as well. From the very first page, I knew I liked her and I only came to love her more as I watched her grow and develop throughout the book. Though Purge is mostly about Janie's journey to recovery and better understanding herself, I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the other characters a bit better. This is something I think could have been improved by a few more one-on-one conversations between Janie and the other patients. However, despite the fact that I didn't get to know the minor characters as much as I'd have liked, they were still well developed and great additions to the story.

Purge was a fast-paced read that at times had me close to tears and at other times, oddly enough, laughing out loud. Littman did not try to sugar coat the harsher realities of having an eating disorder; instead she used Janie's dry humor and sarcasm as a way of making things a bit lighter yet still allowing me to realize the darker truth beneath the joke, providing no false illusions. Don't get me wrong, this book had it's sad, heart-wrenching moments but I feel Littman's technique of using humor to help balance the otherwise painful realism of this story was expertly done. Another thing I really liked about this book was how through Purge's nice array of characters, I got to get a better understanding of the various reasons why different people end up developing eating disorders. Though I felt this is an aspect that could have been a bit more thoroughly explored, I also realize this book was about Janie and what she in particular was going through, not everyone else.

(Now this paragraph may be considered a bit spoilerish so some of you may want to skip over this part.) I can honestly say I was pleased with the ending Littman gave this book. Though it was indeed on the happier side, I like that it was made clear that Janie knew things would never really be easy for her after everything that had happened. I would have liked to have known a bit more about what ended up happening with some of the other patients like Callie and Tracey but, just like in real life, we don't always get to know how things are going to turn out for some people. Sometimes we just have to hope for the best.

Bottom line, I would highly recommend Purge to young adults, especially teen girls. There is so much pressure, mostly on females, from both families and society as a whole to be thin. Whether you've suffered from an eating disorder or not, I think a lot of girls can relate to Janie; I know I did. This is definitely a book I plan to re-read in the future and I'm really looking forward to Littman's next YA novel, Life, After.

Grade
Characters: B
Writing: B-
Plot: B
Ending: B+
Enjoyment/Likability: B+
Recommendable: B+
Cover: B

Overall: B



Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Blogger on the Block: Confessions of a Bookaholic


Ok, so a couple of weeks ago I came across this awesome new book blog called Confessions of a Bookaholic. There were reviews already up, a great layout, and consistent posting during it's short time running. However, to my utter shock, no followers. I was very proud to be Jessica's, the blog creator, first follower. And guess what? She has over 50 now. Jessica has done an amazing job with her blog in such a short amount of time. I promoted her on twitter a bit to try and get more followers her way when it was just me as a follower but now I wanna do something a bit bigger. So, I'm doing this post. I don't normally do this kind of stuff but I could tell Jessica had put a great deal of an amount of work into her blog and after talking to her a bit, could also tell she was blogging for the right reasons.

If you have not checked out her blog already, you really should. Here is a little bit about Jessica from her About Me on her sidebar:

"I'm Jessica and this is my new book blog! I do this in my spare time. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful 2 year old and I'm also a full time graduate student. Books are my passion and I hope to share that with others."

Jessica currently has TWO release parties planned for two awesome books which you can view more information about by clicking the buttons below:



She also has an awesome contest going on for TWO signed copies of.......

along with some swag and a t-shirt which you can enter to win HERE!!!

So what are you waiting for? Go check out this great blog now!





Monday, May 17, 2010

The Winners Circle!

Yes, I know, I can't believe it either; I'm actually posting the contest winners on time! There's a first for everything I guess. lol. So ok below you will find the contests listed along with their stats and the winners.

HarperTeen Prize Pack Giveaway
Prize: Before I Fall, The Heart is Not a Size, The Reckoning, and Voices of Dragons.
Valid Individual Entrants: 157
Total Valid Entries: 409

THE WINNER: Mary Graef (Responded)

500 Followers Box of Books Giveaway
Valid Individual Entrants: 110
Total Valid Entries: 760
Most popularly opted out of book: Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion

THE WINNER: Christine H. (Responded)

Christine opted out of four books:
ARC Dreaming in French
ARC Little Vampire Women
ARC The Body Finder
ARC Blue Plate Special

These books will be taken to the Children's hospital at MCG in Augusta along with three others I have to be donated. Christine will receive the other six books from the list which you can see HERE.

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #1
Prize: Girl on the Other Side and Mackenzie, Lost and Found
Valid Individual Entrants: 56
Total Valid Entries: 375

THE WINNER: ChickLitGirl (Responded)

She lives in Pakistan and has a friend here in the states who can ship to her. I'm very glad to see these two books will be going someplace where these kinds of books are hard or expensive to acquire. Total awesomeness!

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #2
Prize: Signed copy of Far From You and Chasing Brooklyn bookmark.
Valid Individual Entrants: 72
Total Valid Entries: 425

THE WINNER: Katie B. from Katie's Book Blog (Responded)

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #3
Prize: A Golden Web
Valid Individual Entrants: 49
Total Valid Entries: 272

THE WINNER: Nancye Davis (Responded)

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #4
Prize: A signed copy of The Pace and The Pace swag
Valid Individual Entrants: 67
Total Valid Entries: 397

THE WINNER: Alex from Tales of a Teenage Book Lover (Emailed)

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #5
Prize: Wondrous Strange and Darklight
Valid Individual Entrants: 77
Total Valid Entries: 435

THE WINNER: uprobdontknowme from Thinking Beyond the Wall (Responded)

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #6
Prize: Forever Changes
Valid Individual Entrants: 43
Total Valid Entries: 225

THE WINNER: elizabeth from Swords for Fighting (Responded)

Congratulations to all of you on winning and thanks to everyone who entered and participated in my celebration! For those winners I'm still waiting on responses from, you have 48 hrs to get back to me or another winner will be chosen.




It's My One Year Blogoversary!!!

Guess what everyone?! Today is my One Year Blogoversary! Yay! I'm so happy and excited, proud and surprised I actually stuck with blogging this long. It's been a great journey so far and I plan on sticking around for quite a while yet. Blogging and becoming friends with all of you fellow bloggers and authors has made me a happier and better person; there's no chance I'll be giving up on something as good as this anytime soon.

Now I started book blogging basically on a sheer whim. I noticed a lot of my BookMooch friends, including The Story Siren, had these things called blogs. One day I finally decided to take a look at one of them. Oddly enough the first one I looked at was The Story Siren's. Go figure, right?

Well, I thought to myself, "I write short reviews on the books I read. Maybe this would be something fun for me to do." And that was it folks. With barely any idea of what I was doing, I started my book blog. Most the stuff I learned as I went along; thankfully I quickly learned how to use the HTML coding and gadgets but with some stuff I did require some help.

When I first started, Tina from Fantastic Book Review was a HUGE help to me. You have her to thank for the fact that my blog has three columns. If I had questions she had answers and I'm sure I annoyed the crap out of her at times. Honestly, I don't know that my blog would be where it is today had it not been for her help. So thanks Tina, if you're reading this. :D

A few other people I would like to thank are my very first blog buddies! Without them, things just wouldn't have been the same or near as fun and I might have gotten bored and quit. Who are they, you may ask. Well I'm about to tell you. They are Eli from The Tainted Poet, Sandy from Pirate Penguin's Reads, Taschima from Bloody Bookaholic, Shayla from The Book Explorer, Briana from B.A.M. Book Reviews, and Laina from Laina Has Too Much Spare Time. Ya'll rock! Also a big thanks to all of my other current/newer blog buddies! I'd name you all but there's a lot of you and I'm typing this at 6AM.

Now, everyone, for some fun facts and stats about my journey so far as a book blogger.

Blogging Firsts

  1. My first review -please don't hate me- was of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Pure coincidence I swear!
  2. First commenter was lilly.
  3. First author to follow me was Suzanne Young.
  4. First author to comment on my blog was Becca Fitzpatrick.
  5. First contest was my 100 Followers contest for a copy of Ballads of Suburbia.
  6. First book won from a blog was Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow from The Compulsive Reader.
  7. The first author I ever interviewed was Suzanne Selfors.
  8. The first blog tour I ever participated in was for Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors.
  9. First Guest Post was by C. Lee McKenzie.
  10. First Noteworthy Passages was done of Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted.


Post Stats

  1. Including this one, I have written and posted 321 posts.
  2. I have posted 58 reviews.
  3. I have done 16 Author Interviews.
  4. I have done 4 Blogger Interviews.
  5. I have posted 4 Author Guest Posts, 1 Blogger Guest Post, and 1 Character Guest Post.
  6. I have posted 16 Noteworthy Passages posts.
  7. I have held 18 different contests, 8 of which were in the last month for my celebration.
  8. I have done In My Mailbox 38 times.

Bits of Randomness About My Blog and Me
  1. I have managed to acquire 606 Followers in the year I've been blogging.
  2. I used to participated in memes such as Waiting on Wednesday, Teaser Tuesday and occasionally Friday Finds but now only participate in In My Mailbox.
  3. I created and started a new feature strictly for my blog on January 7th, 2010 called Noteworthy Passages.
  4. The layout/design my blog has right now is the one it has always had. (Well except mine started with one sidebar. Tina helped me add a second.)
  5. I designed my header and page buttons. The background image is one I photographed.
  6. I have yet to participate in a Read-A-Thon. I know, sad right?
  7. I started a challenge last year but didn't finish. I am currently participating in 4 this year.
  8. My reviews are drastically improved from the vague, short ones I used to write before blogging.

Well that's pretty much it everyone. This past year has been awesometastic and I have loved getting to know and talk with all of you. Stay tuned because tonight I will be announcing the winners of all my Blogoversary Countdown giveaways. Hope you are all having a terrific week and thanks for supporting me by being a follower!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Noteworthy Passages: Kiss Me, Kill Me

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: January 8th, 2008
Pages: 272
Age Level: 14+
Series: Scarlett Wakefield #1


Synopsis
When 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield transfers from St. Tabby’s to Wakefield Hall Collegiate, she is relieved that no one knows her dark, haunting secret. A few months ago, Scarlett was invited to an elite party with a guest list full of the hottest names in British society, including Dan McAndrew. Before the party, Scarlett had only imagined what it would be like to have her first kiss with Dan, but on the penthouse terrace, Dan leaned in close and she no longer had to wonder. Their kiss was beautiful and perfect and magical, and then . . . Dan McAndrew took his last breath as she held him in her arms. No one knows how or why Dan died, and everyone at St. Tabby’s believes Scarlett had something to do with it. But now that she’s safely hidden away at Wakefield Hall, Scarlett would rather forget that it ever happened. Only she can’t. Especially when she receives an anonymous note that will set her on the path to clearing her name and finding out what really happened to the first and last boy she kissed.


Noteworthy Passages

Scarlett; pg. 35
You can only worry about what's going on at the time. That's one of life's weird ironies. Because so many times afterward, you look back and think, God, that's what I was fussing about? Talk about a total lack of proportion! I'd give anything to go back in time and be dealing with those tiny little issues, instead of the great big problems I'm wrestling with now.

Scarlett; pg. 95
I can barely cope with talking to a boy, let alone one who seems like he might be remotely interested in getting to know me. How can I even think about boys? The only one I ever kissed dropped dead while we had our tongues in each other's mouths. And I don't even know why he died. No one does. It doesn't look like we'll ever know what killed Dan. And that means that I might as well go into a nunnery. Because after what happened with Dan, how can I even think about kissing a boy ever again?
What if the next boy I kiss drops dead, too?

Scarlett, Taylor, and Lizzie; pg. 206
"I'm sorry about Taylor," I say, glaring at the girl in question. "She gets a bit carried away sometimes."
"She hurt me!" Lizzie wails.
"Yeah, she doesn't know her own strength."
"Hey, stop talking about me as if I was your tame gorilla!" Taylor snaps.
"Well, don't throw people around like you were starving and they were between you and the banana tree!" I snap back.

~~~~~~~~

As always, I hope you liked the passages chosen from this book and that they will help you make up your mind as to whether you plan to read Kiss Me, Kill Me, in case you weren't sure before.

You can read my review HERE and thanks for stopping by! Comments appreciated, naturally. :D









PLEASE NOTE: This is a feature hosted here at my blog in which I present you with selected passages or quotes that I deem Noteworthy from a book I've just reviewed. My hopes are of course, that these passages will make you want to pick the book up and read it. This feature was started and created by me in January in hopes of making my blog more unique. That being said, I would like to kindly request that you do not use this feature as it was intended to be for my blog only and is not a meme. If you see some one else using it, please know it is without my permission. Thank you.

In My Mailbox (38)

In My Mailbox
IMM is a weekly meme hosted and created by Kristie at The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

For Review
~And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
~ARC And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman
~White Cat by Holly Black [(From S&S)(Also included two pairs of gloves, two patches, and 8 postcards.)]
~Crank and Glass box set by Ellen Hopkins (From Simon & Schuster but already own. Expect giveaway for this around the release of Fallout.)

Won from Coupon Clippin' Mommy
~I Has a Hotdog by Professor Happycat

Won from Flipping Pages for All Ages and Wastepaper Prose
~Forget-Her-Nots swag pack!



Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Kiss Me, Kill Me

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: January 8th, 2008
Pages: 272
Age Level: 14+
Series: Scarlett Wakefield #1


Synopsis
When 16-year-old Scarlett Wakefield transfers from St. Tabby’s to Wakefield Hall Collegiate, she is relieved that no one knows her dark, haunting secret. A few months ago, Scarlett was invited to an elite party with a guest list full of the hottest names in British society, including Dan McAndrew. Before the party, Scarlett had only imagined what it would be like to have her first kiss with Dan, but on the penthouse terrace, Dan leaned in close and she no longer had to wonder. Their kiss was beautiful and perfect and magical, and then . . . Dan McAndrew took his last breath as she held him in her arms. No one knows how or why Dan died, and everyone at St. Tabby’s believes Scarlett had something to do with it. But now that she’s safely hidden away at Wakefield Hall, Scarlett would rather forget that it ever happened. Only she can’t. Especially when she receives an anonymous note that will set her on the path to clearing her name and finding out what really happened to the first and last boy she kissed.


Review
Kiss Me, Kill Me was one of those books I enjoyed but still found some faults with. Oddly enough, it is the first book, as far as I can recall, I've read by a non-American author that I haven't thought was at least great or better; instead it was just pretty good.

Scarlett was a believeable and fairly likable character despite her flaws; in fact, I feel it was those very flaws that made her more realistic. She tended to repeat and over explain things at times and she occasionally grated on my nerves. However, she was also funny and though she made some not so wise decisions, she was quick to see when she had done wrong and understand and take responsibility for the consequences of those mistakes. The other character I'd like to talk about is Taylor, the new American girl at Wakefield Hall. She starts out as this tough, almost too tough, slightly mean girl but we gradually get to see her weaknesses and softer side; I actually ended up really liking her character. I thought the enemies to friends thing between Scarlett and Taylor was well developed without feeling rushed or forced. As for the rest of the characters, well they weren't really around long enough for me to get to know them or for them to develop.

Honestly, I found the story to be predictable and I was surprised to realize I had basically everything figured out so early on, which believe me, is rare. I felt there could have been more actual mystery incorporated into the story than there was and I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that things weren't a bit more complicated. Despite this, I still found Kiss Me, Kill Me to be a fast-paced and compelling read. I'm not sure exactly what but there was just something about this book that sucked me in. The story was fairly original in comparison to what I've read lately so it was quite a refreshing read. The writing was good and fairly basic, nothing that really stood out to me aside from the usage of British terms and expressions which I always find humorous.

The ending wasn't anything shocking but, being a bit of a cliffhanger, it was enough to leave me excited to read the next book so I can find out what all happens next.

So this book wasn't perfect and as the first in a series, part of me can't help but think the second book will be better. If you are looking for a quick and easy read with a bit of mystery then I would definitely recommend this to you. I can't wait to read Kisses and Lies and I will be re-reading Kiss Me, Kill Me in the future.

Grade
Characters: C+
Writing: C
Plot: B-
Ending: C
1st in Series: C+
Enjoyment/Likability: C+
Recommendable: C+
Cover: B

Overall: C+


Friday, May 14, 2010

Noteworthy Passages: Angel Star

Angel Star (ARC) by Jennifer Murgia
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing
Release Date: May 18th, 2010
Pages: 256
Age Level: 14+

Series: #1

Disclaimer: Please note that this is an ARC and passages and quotes below are subject to change in the final copy.

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand-the mark of an angel.
But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.
Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel's sacrifice collides with another angel's vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.


Noteworthy Passages

Exchange between Teagan and Claire; pg. 16
"Mm-hmm." Claire eyed me over the Devil Dog she was devouring. She reached across and grabbed my hand, opening my palm before her. "Like I thought. It says, 'I have a crush on Garreth Adams.' It says so in your sweaty little palm."
"Does not!" I stood up to drop my bag into the garbage can, turning my back on her.
"Does too! Perspiration doesn't lie!" she yelled after me.

Teagan; pg. 134
I couldn't look away from the glass angel. The rain was coming down heavier than ever now, dimming the likeness in the glass. A passing car disrupted my thoughts. It's red taillights illuminated the angel from behind in a scarlet glow no one else seemed to notice. I looked around the room. Everyone's head was bowed except mine.My eyes returned to the window above me and I shuddered as I saw the still-red glow penetrate the raindrops and spill down the angel's face like tears of blood.

Exchange between Teagan and Garreth; pg. 208
Then, leaning even closer, he placed the sweetest, softest kiss his lips could possibly allow on my lips. "You did mention Hadrian's name a few times. Not many, but a few."
"And?"
Do I really want to know?
He looked away for a moment, taking his light with him. I felt left in the dark in more ways than one.
Oops, what have I done?

~~~~~~~~~

Sorry it took so long to get the Noteworthy Passages up for this book but things have been hectic with Mother's Day and all the other blogoversary posts, etc. I hope you all enjoyed these passages and that they will make you want to pick up the book and read it. You can find my review
HERE and my interview with Jennifer Murgia HERE.









PLEASE NOTE: This is a feature hosted here at my blog in which I present you with selected passages or quotes that I deem Noteworthy from a book I've just reviewed. My hopes are of course, that these passages will make you want to pick the book up and read it. This feature was started and created by me in January in hopes of making my blog more unique. That being said, I would like to kindly request that you do not use this feature as it was intended to be for my blog only and is not a meme. If you see some one else using it, please know it is without my permission. Thank you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Post: April from Good Books & Good Wine

Today we have a guest post courtesy the lovely April from Good Books and Good Wine!

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Blogging Friendships
by April

The Book Blogging world is huge. At times, it can be a bit overwhelming as there are so many blogs with so many followers. It may be an uphill battle to find your place within the blogosphere. However, this is something you do not have to do alone.

I bet a new book blog is created every week. Who says reading is dead? As the world of book blogging continues to expand, so does potential for new friendships. Some of the people I find myself talking to more than anyone else, I have met through blogging.

Here's some tips on making blogging buddies:

Be social. - I know, such a no-brainer. However, it can be scary commenting on the blog of someone you really admire! I say, swallow your fear and share your opinion. However, don't just spam people with your link.

Get Twitter. I promise you will have fun conversations about things like The Princess Bride and well, books.

I also find google chat has been incredible helpful in helping me get to know people on a more personal note.

Most important of all, be your gorgeous, rocking, wonderful, amazing self. You, friend, are truly wonderful and I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to be your friend!

Book blogging friendships can bring so many positives to your blog life. You have someone to bounce ideas off of. You could team up with said person and create a sekrit project. There's the book rec aspect, if the person has similar taste to you. It's nice to have that support system of people who really get what pour your blood, sweat and tears into. (Gross, I know, but such is hard work.)

So, what are you waiting for? The world is ready to meet you.

~~~~~~~~~

This was an excellent guest post, April, and I completely agree.

It's weird, when I talk to people I know here about my blog friends they look at me like I'm crazy. It's like, "But you don't even really know these people. They are just online." They automatically form a mental image of some random person in a yahoo chat room with robotic-like qualities. I feel blog buddy friendships are really something you just can't understand the depth of until you've had one. And when you do start forming friendships with other bloggers, and even authors, I gotta say, it is one of the most rewarding and special things you'll ever experience.

I hope this guest post was of help to those of you who've been a little shy so far or for those who may have just started blogging.


I'd like to thank you all for stopping by and I hope ya'll are having a nice day. :D




Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest Post: Shelena Shorts

Hi everyone! Today we have Shelena Shorts, author of the awesome YA novel, The Pace, joining us for a guest post. Hope you all enjoy it. :D

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What Makes Your Wheels Turn?
by Shelena Shorts

Everyone reads books for a reason, whether they’re just looking for an escape, simply to be entertained, or if they’re looking for something in particular. I love to read for all of those reasons, but especially the last one.

See, I’m a bona fide love story junkie. That doesn’t mean I like mush and goo. No, I just like to see two people, believably in love, who would risk anything for the other. People I can care about, root for, and hope they end up together in the end. I even find myself looking for that in movies too. I’ll watch anything, as long as somewhere in it, there’s love story too!

So for me, if a book has a wicked plot line with suspense, mystery and can pull off a love story, I am HOOKED. Believe it or not, it is only recently that I discovered this about myself. The other night I was watching the movie Enemy of the Gates with Jude Law. There’s blood, war, and suspense, but there’s also an awesome love story and I found myself glued to it and then realized… that’s it!! That is my niche, my obsession in everything. When I thought about all of my favorite books and movies, it was there every single time!

From then on, I have wondered if other people have a similar preference. Some may like comedy, action, mystery, self-discovery, and some readers may like any and all things related to books. It’s quite interesting to take the time to think about all of your very favorites and consider their commonalities. In doing so, you might discover that it all boils down to one soft spot or maybe a few?


~~~~~~~~~

Thank you Shelena for the guest post! After reading this, I took a look at some of my favorite books to find that they vary quite a bit in genre; not that I was very surprised. My favorite books range from classics, to Holocaust lit, to children's books, to historical fiction, and to various genres within the YA category.

Like Shelena, I'm curious if maybe you've discovered a particular preference in what you read and love. Please feel free to comment; I'm sure both Shelena and I would love to hear what you all have to say.

Links

My Review of The Pace
Noteworthy Passages of The Pace
Interview with Shelena
Contest for The Pace





Monday, May 10, 2010

Video Premier of Lisa Schroeder's, 'Flying Through the Rabbit Hole'!!!

Today is a very, very special day! Why? Well because today is the video premier of Lisa Schroeder singing and playing the song she wrote, Flying Through the Rabbit Hole, for her second YA novel, Far From You.

I'm so incredibly honored to get to be the first person to post this and to be able to share it with all of you. Lisa did a lovely job and it is such a beautiful song. I strongly admire the courage it took for her to record herself singing and playing for a video that would go on the internet. I know I could never do it. So give a huge round of applause to LISA SCHROEDER!!!

video


Lyrics

Flying Through the Rabbit Hole
a song
by Alice Andreeson


Everything's always changing.
Nothing stays the same.
Yesterday's gone forever,
I've got memories and my name.

But like Alice I grow bigger,
and I shrink back, yes, it's true.
It's the ebbs and flows of life,
it's the rabbit hole we go through.

But with angels we will make it.
And with angels we will fly.
We will keep on going forward.
We will fly, yes, we will fly.
We will fly, yes, we will fly.

Friends will keep us happy.
Our family keeps us warm.
We'll party through the good times
and hold tight through the storms.

Because with angels we will make it.
And with angels we will fly.
We will keep on going forward.
We will fly, yes, we will fly.
We will fly, yes, we will fly.

Wonderland is here now.
Don't know what we might see.
Yesterday's gone forever.
But my future's up to me.

What a future it will be....


~~~~~~~~

I hope you all enjoyed this video as much as I did and I want to give a HUGE thanks to Lisa for letting me post this as part of my blogoversary celebration. Please show your support for her in the comments section. I'm sure she'll probably be checking in every now and again to see what you all think. :D




Saturday, May 8, 2010

In My Mailbox (37)

In My Mailbox
IMM is a weekly meme hosted and created by Kristie at The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

For Review
~The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (Henry Holt)
~Wings by Aprilynne Pike (HarperTeen; already own in HC)
~Spells by Aprilynne Pike (HarperTeen)

For Giveaway
~Forever Changes by Brendan Halpin (Enter HERE)

Won from Bookin' With Bingo
~Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
~Ten Cents a Dance Swag

Won from Addicted 2 Novels
~The Body Finder Swag and Forget-Her-Nots Swag

Blog Tour: Interview with Joelle Anthony

Today I would like to introduce you all to Joelle Anthony, the author of one of my favorite books, Restoring Harmony. She's totally awesometastic and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her as much as I did. :D

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The Book Pixie: If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be of? If you already have one, what is it of?

Joelle Anthony: Heather Brewer, Sara Zarr and I all have the same agent and we have a running joke that we're going to get tattoos that of his avatar because we adore him so much, but I think Heather's the only one that might actually go through with it.

TBP: If forced to dye your hair an unnatural color, what would you choose?

JA: In high school, I had all kinds of funky colours in my hair and I kind of miss the fun of it. Unfortunately, I've reached that age where instead of looking cool, I'd just look like I was trying to be young, so it's not likely I will dye it. However, I saw this girl with the most amazing orange Popsicle coloured hair with a really cute cut the other day and I was totally envious. It was great!

TBP: It is late at night and you are going to lock the doors when you see Edward Cullen jump out of a dark corner at you. How do you react?

JA: Ummm...I was going to say, "Who's Edward Cullen?" but then I realized he might be from a book that I should've read and it would show that I'm not as well-read as I think I am, but then I decided to risk it. Who's Edward Cullen?

TBP: You are walking outside when a frog hops up to you and tells you that he is really a prince and to kiss him. How do you react?

JA: Oh, well, I'd totally kiss him, but he'd have to find someone else to fall in love with 'cause I'm happily spoken for!

TBP: You see a $20 bill on the sidewalk but when you go to grab it, it moves away. Do you continue to chase after it?

JA: No way. This has Candid Camera written all over it! (Oh but you'd kiss the talking frog? lol.)

TBP: If you were to create your own 'Bucket List' (Things to do before you 'kick the bucket'), what would be the first 3 things on it?

JA: Live in a small village in Italy for a year with my husband and write. Learn French...which wouldn't really help me in Italy, now that I think about it. And take my mum to England for a holiday.

TBP: If you could turn into any animal, which animal would it be and why?

JA: Well, my cats seem to have it pretty good. They sleep all day in the sunshine, run around all night in the moonlight, get fed regularly, and don't have to earn a living. Yep. A cat. (Would probably have to agree with you there. My cat is definitely livin' the good life.)

TBP: If today was your last day, how would you spend it and why?

JA: As sappy as it sounds, I try to spend each day like it's my last. That's why I eat well, get outside some, and laugh a lot every day.

TBP: Your house has just caught on fire. What is the first thing you grab?

JA: My husband. No wait. That could slow us down. We'd each grab a cat and call it good.

TBP: What is one of your favorite quotes?

JA: My religion is simple. My religion is kindness. The Dalai Lama said that and it's my religion too.

TBP: Anything else you'd like to add before you go?

JA: Oh, man! I almost missed the required question. That's like skipping the essay part on the test and finding out later it was worth 25% of your grade. What else would I like to add? Hmmm...I would say that if you want to write then write, but have a life too. Don't let the dream consume you because you'll miss out on a lot of good stuff. And thanks for having me! I loved the questions.

~~~~~~~~~~

And thank you Joelle! I definitely enjoyed doing this interview and plan to do more like this one with authors in the future.

Some of you probably recognized some of these questions from past blogger interviews I've done. A few of these questions are fairly generic while others I came up with myself and hope to keep unique to my interviews.

I hope you all liked the interview and will feel free to comment. In case you'd like to check them out, you can read my review of Restoring Harmony HERE and Joelle's guest post HERE. Thanks for stopping by. :D



Friday, May 7, 2010

Character Guest Post: Phyllis (A House Afire)

Today I would like to introduce you all to Phyllis, the main character in Emma Kinna's debut novel, A House Afire, through her guest post.

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A Guest Post
by Phyllis

What Is It About A Vampire?

Hi, my name is Phyllis Sorin. I'm not too familiar with book blogs. I don't really read or write much, not recreationally. I tend to associate those things with school, my least favorite place. But there's a book out about my family and me, so I'm doing the author a favor and posting on a book blog. I guess my house is the sort of thing someone might want to write about. My Aunts rent out rooms to anyone in need, so we get some...interesting people, to say the least. At least the writer came in with clear intentions, because some of them don't.
I was okay with the book. I figured we'd get a writer in the house eventually, and there's a lot to find out about us. There's still stuff I'm trying to find out about us. I'm not even sure where or how tenants hear about my Aunts half the time. You'd think it'd be a mistake to let someone in and write all our secrets, but luckily for us, everybody's going to think it's fiction!

As for me, I'm not very familiar with the difference between fact and fiction. Like I said, I'm not a big reader. I mean, my Aunts read to me when I was little, and there are plenty of magazines around the house, but I prefer to read music. I do know that book people seem to like vampire stories. My friend Taylor says those books "just get eaten right up." In fact, she gave me the idea for this post.
I haven't read any vampire books, but I met a vampire once. Well, technically I met him a few times. He wasn't exactly the disarmingly beautiful type that vampire-lovers might expect— he was more of the creepy variety, the type that, well, lurks. But from what I understand, just like humans, vampires are all very different. Especially in the literary world.

Taylor and I went to the mall not long ago, and were wandering through the bookstore. Taylor's been my best friend for the past two years, and she's one of those people who reads anything and everything. Books are her sanctuary. One entire wall of her bedroom is a bookshelf.
Utter insanity, I tell you.
But of course, the girl's a genius. And, as you can imagine, she has a lot to say about books.
"Phyllis," she told me, "I cannot even begin to...why? Why are there so many vampire books? They just keep coming! Vampire romance, vampire horror, vampire sci-fi, vampire schools, and vampire clubs. It's spin after spin, Phyllis." She shrugged. "I guess we can't all be Bill O'Reilly."
I rolled my eyes. "Tay, you still read them."
She nodded vigorously. "Yeah, and I like them, but still. Can't anyone think of anything else?!"
I shrugged. "You're asking the wrong person."
Taylor sighed. Then she gave me a look. "Maybe that's Sid's secret."
I raised an eyebrow. "What?" Sid's one of our tenants, as well as the person I'm in love with, and I had long since discovered what his secret was. But it wasn't the type of thing I could share. Not even with Taylor. So Taylor, thinking we still didn't know, still brought it up once in a while.
"It would make so much sense! He's gorgeous, kinda dark...you invited him into your house..." She looked at me significantly.
"Sid doesn't strike me as a blood-drinker," I said carefully.
Taylor shrugged. "Eh, I could see it. And I could see you letting him drink yours."
I giggled. She had a point, which made me glad that Sid wasn't a vampire.
When we got back to my house, Taylor was still talking about it. I was sort of nodded compliantly at that point.
Happily for me, Sid was in the living room, along with Amos, who moved in a few months ago for "business reasons." Sid was reading a newspaper. Amos was staring into nothing. Amos doesn't sleep much.
You all read a lot, so I know you can appreciate a good man of mystery. That's what Sid's been for me. Sid's been completely alluring to me since I first met him. Not just because he's good-looking; everyone is attracted to Sid because of that. But he hid something from me, and trying to find out what it was only drew me closer. Yeah, I know, my Aunts have told me that "it's rude to nose about." But it's only fair! The guy knows my secret, so I didn't see why he couldn't just tell me his.
Sid's utterly frustrating to me in every possible way, and there's nothing I can do about it. We've become sort of pals, which is the best I'm going to get for a while because I'm seventeen and he's...well, let's go with 26 for now.
Back to my story. We walked into the house and Taylor was basically ranting about vampires.
Amos turned. "What about vampires?" For him, the subject was rather close to home.
"How do you think you'd really protect yourself against a vampire?" Taylor said.
"With my goddam fire axe," said Amos matter-of-factly. Amos seems to be incapable of forming sentences that don't involve expletives.
"Couldn't you just not invite him in?" Taylor questioned. "And what constitutes as 'inviting'? What if you just hold the door open? Or say, 'Go ahead'?"
Sid snorted and folded his paper. "It really doesn't matter. If a vampire wants to come in, he's gonna come in."
Amos laughed. "Really."
"You just better hope he's polite enough to ask," said Sid.
I had the terrible feeling that Sid had seen a vampire in action. I'll have to ask him about that later...
Taylor found the whole exchange amusing, and it got us thinking. Regardless of the true nature of vampires, what do you think the best fictional take on them is? Do you prefer your vampires sparkly, or menacing? Are they just monsters, or do they operate under the guise of beautiful, cultured ladies and gentlemen? Or are they just like us, with a little something extra?
And lastly, should we kill them, or fall in love with them?


~~~~~~~~

What a terrific character guest post, eh? Personally I would love to hear ya'lls answers to Phyllis's questions so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. And as always, thanks for dropping by. :D





Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: Angel Star

Angel Star (ARC) by Jennifer Murgia
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing
Release Date: May 18th, 2010
Pages: 256
Age Level: 14+

Series: #1

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand-the mark of an angel.
But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.
Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel's sacrifice collides with another angel's vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.


Review
Going into Angel Star, I was really expecting to love this book. I had heard nothing but excellent things about it and the author Jennifer Murgia is just such a sweetie. So not only did I expect to love it, but I also really, REALLY hoped I would. Unfortunately, I can't say that I loved but I did however, like it. For the most part it was a very enjoyable read, but I had a couple issues with it.

Well let's get the worst part over and done with. I was not a huge fan of Teagan and Garreth. With Teagan, she immediately came off to me as naive, cliche, and I couldn't form a connection with her. When a new guy shows up at your school, singles you out, and makes it obvious he doesn't care about being around anyone but you, that should raise a warning signal. Ok so we all know Garreth is good but how did she know that? I know her soul was saying she was safe with him and all that but her brain should have been raising a red flag. I just felt she should have been more cautious in the beginning. Another thing, it annoyed me how much she seemed to rely on and swoon over Garreth; it made her seem a bit weak and dependent. As for Garreth, he was just too perfect. Ok I understand that as a good guardian angel, he kind of needs to be perfect personality wise but did he have to look perfect too? A guy can be good looking or attractive without looking like his body was sculpted by Greek gods. I also thought he could have been a bit better developed.

Now here is where the switch flips. I would like to talk about Hadrian for a minute. Hadrian was, in my opinion, was a way better character; he was more complex, the ultimate villain, and he seemed to make both Teagan and Garreth better characters. With Teagan, he brought out her slightly darker side and a fierceness and strength that she seemed to lack before. With Garreth, you got to see his more vulnerable, less perfect, more human side because of him. In other words, not only did I love Hadrian's character, but he made me like Teagan and Garreth a lot more than I had before he made his grand appearance.

As for the story itself, my only issue with it is I felt things moved too quickly in the beginning; I also feel this contributed to part of my issues with the characters. Other than that, it was suspenseful, exciting, and fairly original. Now there were a couple of small details, mostly un-related to the overall plot, that I thought were a bit reminiscent of The Pace and Hush, Hush, but nothing serious. Except the beginning, the book was well paced and wonderfully plotted out. The writing was lovely and definitely a style of it's own so kudos to Murgia on that.

The ending didn't exactly blow me away but it did a good job of getting me all excited for Lemniscate.

All in all, I ended up enjoying this book despite some of the problems I had with it, problems that were mostly resolved towards the end. Angel Star was very compelling, well written, and a worthwhile read. I've got a pretty good feeling that I'm going to like Lemniscate better than this one so I'm definitely looking forward to reading that. I recommend this book on a medium-high level; I realize most people were basically blown away by this book and I liked it pretty well myself.

Grade
Characters: C+
Writing: B
Plot: B-
Ending: C+
1st in Series: B-
Enjoyment/Likability: B-
Recommendable: B+
Cover: B-

Overall: B-



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Books I Enjoyed Giveaway #6 (CLOSED!)

Forever Changes by Brendan Halpin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pub. Date: September 2nd, 2008
Pages: 192
Age Level: 14+


Synopsis
5:30 a.m., Brianna Pelletier gets ready for her daily pounding. As she lies on the couch, her dad beats her chest, then her back, coaxing the mucus out of her lungs. The pounding doesn’t take care of everything. Brianna’s held out for a long time, but a body with cystic fibrosis doesn’t last forever. It doesn’t matter that Brianna has a brilliant mathematical mind or that she’s a shoo-in for MIT. Or even that her two best friends are beautiful, popular, and loyal. In the grand scheme of things, none of that stuff matters at all. The standard life, lasting maybe seventy-five years, is no more than a speck in the sum total of the universe. At eighteen, and doubting she’ll make nineteen, Brianna is practically a nonentity. Of course she’s done the math. But in her senior year of high school, Brianna learns of another kind of math, in which an infinitely small, near-zero quantity can have profound effects on an entire system. If these tiny quantities didn’t exist, things wouldn’t make the same sense.

Funny, tear-jerking, and memorable, the author’s second novel for teens introduces readers to an extraordinary girl who learns that the meaning of forever can change, and that life – and death – is filled with infinite possibilities.

~~~~~~~~~~

Contest Details
Well everyone, this is the last of my giveaways for the celebration. I do still have some special posts planned to go up so keep an eye out for those and if you'd like to enter any of my other giveaways, you can find the links in the box at the top of my blog.

Prize:
Thanks to Brendan's publisher, I have a copy of Forever Changes to go to one lucky winner.

Rules:
~Comments, though greatly appreciated, do not count as entries. You must FILL OUT THE FORM.
~This book giveaway is open to participants with a United States mailing address only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prize by mail.)
~Contest will end at 11:59 PM EST on May 16th. Winner will be announced on May 17th and will be given 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Links you may need for extra entries:
Review: Forever Changes
Noteworthy Passages: Forever Changes
Author Interview: Brendan Halpin
Guest Post: Brendan Halpin


CONTEST CLOSED!




Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Post: Brendan Halpin

Welcome back peeps! As promised, here is the great guest post that Brendan Halpin, author of Forever Changes, kindly wrote as part of my blogoversary countdown celebration.

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Brendan Halpin on Writing Advice

I'm not the first person to observe this, but almost all writing advice is complete crap. We writers are an insecure and vain bunch, and most of us don't really know why sometimes we sit down and write something great, and other times we sit down and write garbage. We dispense advice as a way to convince ourselves that we know what we're doing. So when someone tells you that you have to spend a certain amount of time writing, or that you have to write in a certain kind of space, or that you have to write every day, or you have to do pretty much anything, take that advice with a grain of salt. That writer is telling you what works for them. It might work for you, or it might not. The only thing you really have to do is find what works for you and do that. And, if you're lucky, you'll find that several different things work for you, and you can do them all.

I would like to address one piece of writing advice that I think is especially pernicious. "Write what you know." If everyone followed this, we would never have had such titanic works of imagination as Tolkein's Lord of the Rings or China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. (And more importantly from my perspective, I would not have been able to write three novels with female main characters.) Readers want your writing to feel real, or at least credible, but you don't have to live something to create a feeling of reality. I was never a teenage girl, but I wrote credibly (or so I've been told) about them in Donorboy, Forever Changes, and my forthcoming novel Shutout. J.K. Rowling was never a boy and never went to wizarding school, but she was able to create a boy who did who felt real to her and millions and millions of readers.

In Rowling's case, I think Harry feels real because his grief feels real, his crushes feel real, and his fear of becoming the adult he needs to be also feels real. So you can absolutely use your own feelings and experiences, and you can certainly write a novel about a person exactly like you in a place exactly like the place you're in. Such books-- To Kill A Mockingbird is one, or so people say--can be fantastic, but, from my perspective, where's the fun in that? I have to be myself in my real life--why would I want to limit myself to that in my writing? Part of the beauty, power, and fun of creating any kind of art is bridging the space that separates you from other people, from other places, from other experiences. So, please, write credibly, but don't limit yourself to writing what you know. Write whatever the hell you want.

Or don't. As I said at the beginning, most writing advice is crap.


~~~~~~~~~

Thanks so much, Brendan, for the terrific guest post.

I don't know about you all, but I loved the blunt and forward approach he seemed to take when writing this. Plus, he's absolutely right. I've started two books and a short story and the situations aren't anything I would know about from personal experience. Especially the historical fiction novel I'm working on that takes place in WWII. Part of the joy of writing is getting to learn more about what your writing while you write it. At least, that's my opinion. So like Brendan said, write what you want to write about; don't restrict yourself to what you already know.

In case you missed it and would like to check it out, you can read my interview with Brendan Halpin HERE and my review of Forever Changes HERE. Also, keep your eyes open because I'll be having a giveaway for Forever Changes going up soon.



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Author Interview: Brendan Halpin

Hello everyone! I recently had the great honor of getting to interview Brendan Halpin, author of the great YA novel Forever Changes! He is also the author of Donorboy and the upcoming YA novels Shutout, Notes from the Blender, and The Half-life of Planets. I loved getting to hear what he had to say and I hope you all will too.

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The Book Pixie: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Brendan Halpin: Well, I've been writing professionally for ten years. I'm also a teacher--I taught high school English for ten years, then wrote full-time for five, and am now teaching again. I live in Boston with my wife and our three children and our dog. We have a blended family--I was widowed in 2003 and brought one child to the marriage, and my wife brought two. This is fun because we have two 13-year-olds who aren't twins, which causes people a lot of confusion.

TBP: Give us a brief description of your YA novel, Forever Changes.

BH: Forever Changes is the story of Brianna Pelletier, a senior in high school who has Cystic Fibrosis. It's about how she finds a mentor in her calculus teacher, but mostly it's about how she figures out how to live with the knowledge that she's going to die. Which of course is everyone's problem, but it's more immediate for Brianna.

TBP: What inspired you to write a book about a teen girl dealing with Cystic Fibrosis?

BH: Well, it all goes back to my late wife Kirsten's death in 2003. I've written about grief before, but I had never written about death from the perspective of the person facing it down. I was and am really in awe of the way Kirsten faced death, and I wanted to write something that honored what was remarkable and heroic in the way she died--not the "battle" against cancer (Kirsten hated that term, and so do I), but the way in which she faced and accepted the inevitable.

So I wanted to write something about someone facing death, but I didn't want to write about cancer because if you're dying of cancer, it's very obvious. Whereas people can be very sick with CF and not be bald and jaundiced and totally emaciated. So I wanted to write something in which the character appeared kind of normal but was dealing with her mortality on the inside.

I was actually quite nervous about it because, apart from knowing a couple of students with CF, I don't have a lot of experience with the disease. I know there have been tremendous advances in treatment and life expectancy, and I didn't want anyone with CF to get mad at me over this book. So far the reaction has been positive, so I feel good about that.


TBP: Did you ever find it difficult writing a book with a female main character?

BH: Not at all, strangely. I tend to overthink and second guess a lot of things in my life, and those are more stereotypically female traits. Anyway, people believe them more in a female character. When I write men and boys, people sometimes complain that they are too reflective, that it's not realistic for a male character to think that much. I don't know if that says more about people's preconceptions about men or about my manliness, but there it is. So no--I'm very comfortable writing girls and women.

TBP: One of the things I loved most about Forever Changes was the incorporation of Brianna's love of math; this is a rare thing in literature these days as a lot of authors seem to express their own dislike for math through their characters. (As pointed out to me by Joelle Anthony.) What inspired the mathematical aspect to Forever Changes and do you, yourself, enjoy math?

BH: Well, since I was an English teacher, and since the inspirational English teacher has kind of been done to death, I wanted to stretch myself and try something different. I'm not really very into math--I stopped taking math after junior year in high school and never took calculus and was generally annoyed and befuddled by things like graphing equations and i, the imaginary square root of negative 1.

But I am really interested in the philosophy of math, and I really appreciate the beauty of it. And when I was researching this book, I found that a lot of the ideas of math provide a pretty interesting description of the universe that seemed to fit right in with Brianna's attempt to understand her life.


TBP: In Forever Changes, Brianna's math teacher, Mr. Eccles, both inspires and challenges her in many ways, having a great impact on her life. Did you have a teacher like that when you were in school?

BH: Well, I didn't have anyone who resembled Mr. Eccles either physically or personality-wise, but I was certainly impacted by a lot of the excellent teachers I had. Not to take anything away from them, but I don't think any of my teachers really shaped my world view in the way Eccles does for Brianna.

TBP: What do you hope for readers to take away from Forever Changes?

BH: I just hope they're touched by Brianna's life and maybe thinking about life and death in a way that might be sort of comforting or inspirational. I mean, that sounds a little high and mighty, but most of what I believe about life and death is in this book, and I hope that some readers will find it challenging or possibly even comforting.

TBP: Is there anything else that you are currently working on at the moment?

BH: I'm always working on something. I actually have 3 YA books coming out this year: THE HALF LIFE OF PLANETS, which I co-wrote with Emily Franklin, is a love story about a boy with Aspergers and a girl with a reputation; SHUTOUT is about two best friends and how one making varsity soccer in the 9th grade changes their friendship and their lives; and NOTES FROM THE BLENDER, which I co-wrote with Trish Cook, is about a popular girl and kind of outcast boy who suddenly find that they're going to be stepsiblings.

I also write horror novels under another name, so I've got stuff cooking in that arena as well.


TBP: Who are a few of your favorite YA authors?

BH: Well, I obviously like Emily Franklin and Trish Cook's work enough to want to work with them. Dana Reinhardt is also a friend of mine and an excellent writer to boot. Her second novel Harmless is really great and hasn't, I think, gotten the attention it deserves. China Mieville and Neil Gaiman have both done great YA books recently; I also loved Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Frank Portman is fantastic too--King Dork is one of my favorite books ever.

TBP: Anything else you'd like to add?

BH: Just this--the world of publishing is changing a lot, and probably more than ever, writers are depending on readers to spread the word about books they like. So I guess I would just encourage all of your readers to let the world know if you've read a book and liked it. Put it on your facebook status or twitter, blog about it, post a review on Amazon or goodreads, join the author's fan page on facebook, or whatever. Only a very few writers have publishers put a lot of money into telling the world about their books. The rest of us depend on you. With all these ways to share your opinions, readers are now more powerful than they've ever been, which is a good thing.

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I would like to give a huge thanks to Brendan Halpin for not only allowing me to interview him but also for his great, well thought out answers to my questions. Once again this is probably one of my favorite three author interviews. It's like the authors I interviewed for my celebration were thinking, "This is for her blogoversary celebration so I better make it good." Or maybe I just did an excellent job picking the authors to interview. lol.

Everyone stay tuned because over the next couple of days I will be posting a guest post by Brendan Halpin that you won't want to miss and also a giveaway for Forever Changes.

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by and I hope you all are enjoying the last day of your weekend. If you would like to read my review of Forever Changes simply click
HERE.



About Me

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Georgia, United States
Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

My Partner in Crime...er...I mean reading. :P

My Partner in Crime...er...I mean reading. :P
Meet Rudy everyone!