Book Talk: Clarity by Kim Harrington

Publisher: Scholastic Point
Date: March 1, 2010
Series or Standalone: First of two
ISBN: 9780545230506
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.
And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

First line: “You don’t want to kill me.”

I read this whole book in a two and half hour flight to Nashville. Yea, it was that good. Clarity does a great job of adding some great elements into one freaking awesome book. Murder-Mystery. Drama. Crime. Romance. Paranormal. Comedy.

Clarity “Clare” Fern and her family are a palor trick to some. They are all gifted. Clare is a physic, who can see visions with the touch of an object. Her brother Perry is a medium and her mother is a telepath. Her family is anything but normal—which always put her as the town “freak.” When people start dying, Clare is the only one who can help and save her brother. But the closer Clare gets to the truth, the more dangerous it becomes.

I just love Clare. She’s independent, strong and full of sarcasm. Her internal dialogue makes me laugh so much. I really adore her as a main character. Her devotion to her crazy family and her desire to stop a killer make her more unique in the small tourist town. She’s Veronica Mars meets Nancy Drew—plus psychic. So, it’s awesome.

The story is littered with possible suspects. The more you read the more you have no idea who the killer is!

First, there’s Perry. Her disappears after the first murder and has connections to her. Did he do it? Clare is out to prove his innocence but the deeper she digs, the guiltier he looks.

Then there are the town bullies: Billy and Frankie. They’ ve always been evil little guys, hating on the Fern family. But are they capable?

Let’s not forget Madame Maslov. Ever since she’s moved to town the fraud has been stealing clients from Clare’s family. She has this creepy air about her—and every time she talks to Clare she gives her a deadly warning. Surely she’s hiding something!

And-and there are two great boys after Clare’s heart. There’s her ex Justin. He seems like a good guy. We learn pretty immediately how he hurt her—but you can tell he really cares about her. He’s the one who gets the new detective to use her to solve the mystery. There’s also Gabriel, the detective’s son who has his own secrets and appeal. He counters Clare well, keeps her on her toes and comebacks on the tip of her tongue. The two boys are different—very good boy vs bad boy—but both are swoon-worthy. But does one of them have a deadly secret?

Don’t miss this fantastic debut! Clarity is a funny, perfect, mysterious story. It will keep you wondering whodunit and how in the world so many secrets can exist in a small town. You’ll fall in love with Clare as she ventures to stop a killer—and it may cost her life.


A Year Ago It Was Starting

A year ago Friday, I woke up in South Africa. Our house was on the beach near a town called Fish Hoek (that's not where we were, but it was down the road.) I woke up in the morning and smelled the water, listened to waves as I went to sleep, and the wind that is ever-present in South Africa's summer season. A year ago today, everything was starting.

I wrote at the end of day one: It’s a miracle that I even got to come here.

And it was. I mentioned that I didn't like where I was as an intern, but had I been anywhere else I never would've gotten to go. See, I only had half the trip paid for. I still had to pay about $1,600. I didn't have it, but they let me go anyway. Not many places would allow you to go on a trip that you hadn't paid for. If I had been anywhere else I would never have gone.

I also wrote this: I’ve been here less than 24 hours and I know that something big is happening around me.

We say things flippantly, not really gathering the full weight of the words. I'm pretty positive this was one of those moments. Before I went on the trip, people kept telling me not to waste it. I never planned to, but I didn't know what to expect. Yet I expected so many things. I expected to come back knowing my passions are A, B and C. I wanted to be able to say THIS (whatever A, B or C was) is my life calling, my purpose. I expected answers. But even in that expectation, I didn't know what that would be. It was a flippant expectation--and one that as I look back I spent so much time looking for--that I missed a lot of small things.

On day one, we got to explore the organization we were there to serve alongside. It's called Living Hope and they change lives. Completely transform lives. It's the embodiment of what it looks like to see a need and meet it. It’s something that you hear all about and so rarely see put into action. Living Hope is a ministry that gives people who have HIV/AIDS a chance to fully live by offering free health services and teaching life skills to people who just need to make money to survive.

There's another branch that serves the homeless (called Living Grace) by giving them a place to store their belongings, beds and meals. Living Works teaches those who come out of poor townships how to survive. There's even a group of people called Life Skills Educators who "sponsors" children and youth across townships and teach them. (I'll talk more about that later.)

But on day one, we got a small glimpse of Living Works at the Educare Center--a place where all the kids (usually of those involved in Living Works) who can't afford school go--that's set in the heart of a township called Masiphumelele. (That's pronounced like mas-e-pooh-ma-lay-lee, which I only add because I’m one of those people who would keep trying to figure it out). Masi is one major township that Living Hope serves in. When we walked into their classroom today, they were learning how to brush their teeth. Crazy, huh?

For me, even a year later, what they do is so amazing. I used to be that person who didn't know what I wanted out of life because I loved so many things. Homelessness and HIV/AIDS movements being two of them. Children being another, though a year ago that was still pretty minute (aka denial) in my head, almost nothing. In ONE DAY I found a place that served all my passions. All of them. It made me realize that maybe, just maybe, they could all work together somehow. Even as I reflect and write this I get chills. Why can't we do this in America--have one places that serves every need in our community? The things that would change...

A year ago today, it was starting. Those moments of life-change that are so small you can't even see them until it's a year later. I know I still can't. It's crazy how we do things without thinking--and how those things completely wreck our lives. That's not always a bad thing. It wasn't for me.

If you want to follow the team that's there now, you can do it here.


Fragment Friday: FALLING UNDER and CLARITY

It's Friday! *cheers* Being an "adult" brings a whole new meaning to TGIF. (Aw... *Boy Meets World flashback montage here* I love that show.) BUT it also means it's time for Fragment Friday. (Another side note: You ever seen the Charlie Is So Cool Like videos? We need that announcer to do the same for Fragment Fridays. It'd be so cool....)

Anywho...this is weekly meme hosted by James from Book Chic Club where we vlog something that we're reading currently or a book that we love or something we want to read just because it goes with the week's theme. (Ok, I added that bit.) Today, I feature Falling Under by Gwen Hayes *swoon* and Clarity by Kim Harrington. *snark* As you can see, it will be fun. Enjoy! 

Read my Falling Under review here and enter to a copy here.
Come back on Monday/Tuesday for my review of Clarity and a fun Kim Harrington interview!


Interview with Gwen Hayes

Today, I have the immense pleasure of hosting an interview with Gwen Hayes--the author of Falling Under. I posted that review yesterday in case you missed it. I love the book and Gwen. It hits shelves on March 1 so grab a copy! 

A bit about Gwen: 

Gwen Hayes lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero, their children, and the pets that own them. She writes books for teen readers about love, angst, and saving the world. 
Baffled by the fact that not everyone has people talking to each other in their head all the time, Gwen decided maybe she should start writing down what they say. She told her family she wanted to be a writer in 2007, they all nodded, and the adventures began. 
You can also find Gwen every other Friday at The Fictionistas, the coolest YA blog in the whole universe, and just about every day she's tweeting something nonsensical on her Twitter page. She also keeps her blog updated with the latest news.


Book Talk: Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Publisher: NAL Trade
Date: March 2010
Series or Standalone: First in series
ISBN: 978-0451232687
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
In her dreams he’s irresistible—seductive, charming, and undoubtedly dangerous. But when he appears to her when she’s awake—and captivates her just the same—she’s not sure which way is up and which is down.
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.

First line: Everything changed the night I saw the burning man fall from the sky.

I picked up Falling Under because of the cover. I mean, it’s SO gorgeous. I read it because of that line. That very first line. It captivated me and then, the rest was history. I started the book on a plane ride and when I had to stop to sleep it you might as well have killed me. It was so marvelous—the prose, the characters, the plot, the descriptions—I was in love right away.

Gwen Hayes did an amazing, amazing job painting a picture of Theia’s dream world and Haden’s real world that you couldn’t help but be pulled in. The whole time—from the first dream to when Haden steps into Theia’s class—you’re wondering if he’s good or evil. It’s a hard decision to make because you want to trust him, yet he’s saying not to trust him. All we know about Haden is that he has an agenda (again, whether it’s good or bad we don’t know) and it involves Theia. Unfortunately for Haden, he falls for her—and you can be certain that’s not part of his plan.

Haden is a wonderful character, teasing Theia and then being nice. He’s hot and then he’s cold. He wants to be near her and then he’s pushing her away. He's the trademark "tortured soul"--or so he seems. He's completely surprising.

Theia is a nothing-left-unsaid kind of girl, especially when it comes to Haden. She doesn’t question herself. She knows she wants to be with Haden, knows he wants to be with her, and she doesn’t let him change her mind. I love her because she's NOT that way in the beginning of the story. She’s sheltered, distant from her father and does everything to please him—even when she doesn’t want to.

Then, Haden helps her come out of that role and find a role as her own person. She also does the same for him. He doesn't change her--or her change him--they change each other by showing each other who they truly are. It's one of the most beautiful transformations of a character in literature. I can't explain it without you reading it, but who Theia is in the beginning of the book and who she is at the end are two very different things.

This is story that you won’t be able to predict. Everything is so exciting and descriptive and unique. It will take you down one road only to switch directions and leave you with whiplash. It will tear out your heart, stomp on it and then patch it back together—that’s a good thing, of course.

Falling Under is the perfect blend of things that go bump in the night, dreams, nightmares and the deceptive beauty of love. It will challenge your view on what's real and what's only a dream--and how both of those things can completely transform a life. Don’t miss Falling Under. This is a book that people will be talking about!


A Year Ago I Left

A year ago today, I was packing a bag for South Africa. For months I'd planned, worried about money to pay for it, and questioned why I wanted to go, but on this day one year ago, I was restless. Waiting. Stuck in between here and there. I was excited, but it was different. It was a calming excitement that I can't possibly explain unless you've felt it.

The people I went with are headed there right now--at this exact moment they're waiting in the Nashville airport to go again. I'm not; I'm nannying in Boston and drinking coffee. It's a weird feeling, knowing that they're going to visit the wonderful kiddos we saw, see the gorgeous country and check in on the people we served and met. And me, I'm sitting here.

It's crazy where life can go in a year. I'm sure I'll say the same thing next year for other reasons that I can't see now. I definitely never planned to be here a year ago. Boston? Blogging? Writing? You would've been crazy to say that to me. I don't make a lot of life plans, but those were big, unheard of, scary words to me a year ago.

I'm telling you about South Africa because that trip was one of those moments you can pinpoint as something that puts your life on course. I've never really told this story on my blog. It's a huge, enormous story that needs to be told. So, I'll be posting things over the next couple weeks about where I was a year ago. There may be some double posts each day because I didn't plan on doing this--but now I am. I hope you like the story. The end is pretty awesome.

A year ago, I worked as an intern at a church. It was a hard time. I didn't love it, didn't even like it, but it was what I did. I also worked at Borders (one of the unfortunate ones that's closing and I am so sad for my family there). I kept busy between the two. Work and intern. I liked work; I hating interning from the very first day. Each day was a struggle. Each task was more horrible than the one before. I missed college. I wanted to leave every single day but I had nowhere to go and nothing else I wanted to do.

The important thing for today to know is: a year ago I went to South Africa. I had no expectations, no clue of who I was, no idea what I was really, really passionate about. A year ago I went because I had this urge in my heart and my gut that said it was where I needed to be. I've never been a girl who wanted to go overseas--but I've always been a girl who listened to my gut, who acted on whims even though I hate them, who did what I felt I needed to do regardless of everyone else. That's just me. When I left for South Africa, I even went regardless of my fears.

When I came back from South Africa...well, I was a lot smarter, a lot more in tune with life, a lot more everything. You'll hear that story in a couple weeks.

A year ago today I was waiting to go to South Africa. I had no idea what I'd find there. It's completely like everything in my life, like writing, like reading an awesome book: there was a lot of a trouble and a lot of good to come.


Book Talk: A Touch Mortal

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: February 22, 2010
Series or Standalone: First in trilogy
ISBN: 9780062004994
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: ARC
Eden didn't expect Az.
Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.
So long, happily-ever-after.
Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.
She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.
And that's only the beginning of the end.

First line: Eden dug her hand into the damp sand, black polish chipping off the tips of her fingernails.

A Touch Mortal is a lot fun. There’s a huge cast of characters full of quirks and witty sarcasm that you can’t help but love it! Of course, I use the word “fun” lightly—since this is dark book that’s very far from fun. Yet, it's exactly that.

Leah Clifford does a few things really well in this story that make it stand out. I'm going to lay out all the ones I can think of without giving anything away.

First, Clifford avoids all the clichés and makes things completely her own. She develops a mythology and a world that’s unique, dark and powerful. Siders, the Fallen, and the Bound…each aspect added something new and exciting to the book.

This book is heavier than a typical “angel” book. Clifford handles the dark and depressing issues with ease and a sense of humor. This is not a light book. The suicide is a major theme in this book—in fact, it’s how the race of Siders are created. This is a tale of loss, lies, right and wrong and the lines that blur them. But it's also about truth, discovery, life and love.

If (I mean, when) you read it, you'll meet some amazing characters. ATM is full of intense characters—and many, many hot boys (some with wings!) Whether it’s the Eden, Az, Gabe, Kristin (the Sider who first took her in and “taught her the ropes”) each character has a purpose and story line. There are a lot of characters, but Clifford does a great job keeping them together and flowing. The third person POV really helps here. You get to see and experience everything the characters do. I liked Eden; she’s like Rogue from X-Men. Only sassier. I still don’t know which characters I like and don’t like. They’re so mutli-dimensional and layered. Kristin was great—or maybe not, I don’t know!—but I loved the interactions that she and Eden had. I can’t wait to see where ALL the characters go and who we meet next.

A Touch Mortal leaves you guessing! I could never figure out what was happening. As soon as I thought I knew something, I’d soon find out that I was wrong. The book kept me wondering, "What the heck is going on?” Clifford throws piece after piece of the massive plot puzzle on the table and slowly and precisely puts them together to show you the whole--stunning!--picture. My mind was reeling the whole time, wondering, hanging on for the rest. It was twist after twist and I loved it. So few books give the challenge of figuring it out and not being able to. That really made the book for me.

I think I mentioned all the guys? There were a lot of guys. There were almost as many swoon-worthy boys as there were lines. Here are some that I loved:

Az: "Enjoys long walks on the beach and sarcastic girls. Bird fetish a plus."

Eden: "You're insane." Kristin: "And you're boring.”

Eden: "So beg. I'll even lend you some markers. You can make yourself a real nice sign."

Luke: "Just because I don't know how to work a toy doesn't mean I don't want it in my toy box. She's shiny. And I want her.”

Gabe: "Every secret seems to burn its way out eventually."

The only thing that left me dissatisfied was that we don't get to see Eden & Az's relationship develop in the beginning. They go on a date and then they’re together and things are past tense. I don’t want to see everything, but more details there would have given all the wonderful pages that follow more stability. I think if we had more stock invested in their relationship, it would've make the risks and decisions Eden takes later have a lot more power. AND I really wanted something to explode. Something needed to blow up! Boom. Maybe she'll throw an explosion in one of the next books just for me? (Please Leah? PLEASE?)

I definitely can't complain! A Touch Mortal exceeded my expectations with witty dialogue, suspense and lovable/hate-able characters. If you want an unpredictable, fresh, romantic, paranormal book, then A Touch Mortal will not disappoint. A Touch Mortal comes on Tuesday; be part of the rumor.


In My Mailbox (1)

Hey loves. Today is my first ever In My Mailbox, which is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren! In My Mailbox is a way to share the books you received each week, whether for purchase or review or from the library.

I talk about it for a second in my blog: I never really grasped what IMM was. I avoided even watching them because I didn't want to see what other people got. It seemed like a bragging thing BUT then I really started paying attention and a post that Kristi wrote the other day really cleared up everything. So, after some debate and research, I decided to participate! It won't be every week but, here's number one. :)

Anything here you want me to review? If so, chime in & I'll make sure it's on my list!

People/books mentioned:
Shark Wars

Relic Master: The Dark City

Lost & Found
Imaginary Girls 
Texas Gothic
Recovery Road
Girl Wonder
White Cat & Red Glove
A Touch Mortal 
The Iron Witch
Madame Tussaund
The Story Siren
April @ Good Books & Good Wine
Jami @ YAaddict


Breathless Reads Winners

Winner of Prize 1: Buttons & an ARC: Su

Winner of Prize 2: SIGNED bookmarksand an ARC: Pam Harris

Winner of Prize 3 Signed poster: Christi

Thanks for entering! If you're a winner and did NOT receive an email then let me know. :) I probably couldn't find your email. My bad.



 Over on her blog today, Kirsten White revealed the cover for Supernaturally, the sequel to a book I loved called Paranormalcy. And. IT. IS. GORGEOUS. I seriously already have a whole display planned of red and black books for the store when it's released . Anyway....COVER.

 Life's never fair when faeries are involved.
The sequel to Paranormalcy.

(That's obviously not the description, which is still in hiding.) And lookie, a whole picture of the front and back--which is MORE gorgeous on a whole. Wow. 

I WANT IT. What do you think of the cover?


Book Talk: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date: March 15, 2010
Series or Standalone: First in trilogy
ISBN: 978-0062002327
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Source: ARC
Description: This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers – monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell – she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie’s powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her – an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie’s soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian’s most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives – including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

First line: I stared out the classroom window and longer for freedo, wanting to be anywhere in the world other than gaping at my economics teacher like the rest of my classmates.

This book is pretty wonderful. I had the ARC for a while but I didn’t have the time to read it early. I read Sunday night instead (or while) watching the Grammy’s, and it was the right call because it was 10000 times better! It didn’t take long to figure out this book was completely new and different—in addition to well-developed and well-written. I jumped into the world of Angelfire and couldn’t escape! It was amazing.

This book is the story of Ellie, a girl who has nightmares that turn out to be real visions of her past lives. Ellie is the Preliator—the one person (who’s not quite a person) with the power to stop the ultimate evil of the reapers. But she doesn’t know this until she turns seventeen and she meets Will. Will is her Guardian, sworn to protect her and search for her each time she is reborn. Ellie and Will work together to stop the evil from ending the world and she soon discovers that she is way more than she expected and the duty of protecting humanity is more important than the rest of her world.

Angelfire covers so many pieces of YA it’s really hard to list them all. There’s romance, real-life drama that you’d find in contemporary pieces, humor, fantasy, mythology and action. True story: there was a boy in college writing class who loved Stephen King and all his stories were gore and guts. Many scenes took my back to that class and that boy’s stories. Moulton’s character kick a lot of Reaper butt. Seriously. There was scene after scene of killer combat action. Sometimes, I felt like I was reading a different book. That alone makes this book more boy-appealing. Sure, there’s love and lust and the MC’s a girl—but the action is enough to cross-over to other fans. It really makes this book stand out.

Something else that made Angelfire unique is the world-building and mythology that Courtney Allison Moulton developed in the story. I enjoyed the way the story employed Christian theology, as well as other Eastern traditions. She pulled in the basic beliefs of Christian theology (the fallen, Satan, the separation of angels and lost souls) and teachings of reincarnation, magic and fate. It was a unique and solid spin on good vs. evil and angels and demons. I’m not a big fan of angel books, but I can definitely recommend this book! I hate even calling it an angel book because it’s so much more than that.

Ellie struck me from the beginning. I liked the way she was set up as a normal girl—and how that stays throughout the story. She doesn’t want to be “special”, but she is and she accepts that eventually in some way. Her life is so normal: friends, school, parties, a mom who is so cool and supportive and a dad who…um…isn’t. She struggles at school just because she’s distracted. It was all very true. I liked Ellie. As the story went on and she learned exactly what she was I liked her more. She’s a great character: independent, smart, sarcastic, friendly, passionate. When I think of powerful and strong female MCs, I’ll always think of here now. She’s up there with Clary and Katniss.

There’s been a lot of talk about Will. I’ve heard the stories of his dreaminess and kick-butt awesome gorgeousness. It was true; he IS incredible. He’s completely and totally angelic. He combats Ellie’s snark with plenty of his own. His words are wise, his eyes are green and his character is completely lovely. Plus, he will always defend Ellie and challenge her at the same time. I like that. I like that, a lot.

Favorite lines! I tweeted these while I read. These are just a few lines that I really, really liked.

"Love doesn’t make you blind. It paralyzes you until you can’t breathe or run away from it.”
"He felt as familiar as his voice, firm like the foundation of a skyscraper..."
"Love is a beautiful but terrible thing. You have to be careful with it. It can destroy you."
"My eyes may have been unused to his face, but my soul knew him better than it knew anything in the world."
"That’s the point of believing in something. There’s so much doubt and tribulation during your journey that you’ve got to hang on to something, or else you’ll fall."
"I'd let him think about that for a little while"

I can’t wait to see where these lovely characters go. This is the first book in a trilogy and Moulton did a great job of wrapping up the book and leaving open so many details.


Spotted: Today's Releases (1)

 These titles are out and about in the wild TODAY.  I am way excited. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you wonderful books and authors!!

I've had an ARC of this for a while and I FINALLY read it last night. It was AMAZING. See? Look, it's in my list. I'm working on the review today so hopefully it will be up on Wednesday. But really, just go buy it. It's freaking awesome. AWESOME I tell you. Look for the review soon and a giveaway with this book later. I can already promise that will hapen. Plus, Courtney Allison Moulton is super fun. You should support her debut novel. It's kick-butt.

Nothing’s simple when you run with werewolves. Jess Gillmansen thinks she’s seen it all but her eyes are about to be opened to even more danger and a reality far more paranormal than she’s suspected. With Jess’s realization that the Rusakovas’ mother is still alive and imprisoned, the group’s choices become harder and trust more important. Lines are drawn and relationships change as the broken Rusakova family struggles to reunite long enough to free their mother and people who Jess always just took to be normal people show themselves to be much, much more.

I started this book today! I'm way behind on my TBR but I have heard some really amazing things about this debut from Sara Bennett Wealer. Everything up to page 8 has been good! You can be sure I'll talk about when I've finished it. If you like music, contemporary novels, stories about friends and rivals--then you should check this out! It sounds like something I've never read before and I'm pumped about the new and different.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah! When Regina Bloomsbury’s band, the Caverns, breaks up, she thinks it’s all over. And then she makes a wish— “I wish I could be as famous as the Beatles.” The Beatles are her music idols. The next day, she gets up to find that the Caverns are not just as famous as the Beatles, they have replaced them in history! Regina is living like a rock star, and loving it. There are talk shows, music videos, and live concerts with thousands of screaming fans. And Regina is the star of it all.  But fame is getting the better of Regina, and she has a decision to make. Does she want to replace the Beatles forever? Here is a rocking novel about the good and the bad of Hollywood, fame, and rock ’n roll. I like The Beatles. This book seems interesting! If anyone reads it, let me know!

The sequel to The Body Finder is out today! I posted a review here so be sure to check that out for the scoop.  Kimberly Derting does an amazing job at showing you the characters and their deepest thoughts without you realizing it. This book is a thrill-ride filled with new characters, new scenarios, new drama and new challenges. If you liked The Body Finder then you won’t be disappointed by it’s sequel.

Being only half-vamp in a high school like Carpathia Night makes you a whole loser. But Danny Gray manages to escape the worst of the specists at his school. Thanks to genetic treatments he had as an infant, most people assume Danny's other half is human. Which is a good thing. 
Ever since the development of synthetic blood – SynHeme – vamps have become society’s elite, while wulves like his father work menial jobs and live in bad neighborhoods.  Wulves are less than second class citizens; once a month they become inmates, forced to undergo their Change in dangerous government compounds. For Danny, living with his vamp mother and going to a school with a nearly all-vamp student body, it’s best to pretend his wulf half doesn’t even exist.  But lately Danny's been having some weird symptoms -- fantastic night vision; a keener-than-usual sense of smell; and headaches, right around the full moon. 
Even though it's easy to be in denial, it's hard to ignore evidence.  There's only a month until the next few moon, and Danny's time is running out.

Welp, there you have it. Some of today's hottest YA titles. Let me know if you pick up any of these and what you think of them! As for me, I'm off to write my ANGELFIRE review and read RIVAL. Happy book hunting!


Book Talk: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: March 15 2010
Series or Standalone: Second in trilogy
ISBN: 978-0061779848
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Description: Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

First line: Violet leaned forward on her hands and knees over the frozen landscape.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but waay back in July (I’m talking first month of blogging) I got my first ARC in the mail addressed to me--because the author is so amazing. It was super exciting—and it was none other than Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting. I read it so long ago that I had re-read it so I could write this review. Let me tell you, the second time around is even better.

Desires picks up where The Body Finder ends. Violet is haunted by the memories of what happened to her and spends the whole book trying to figure out who she is with this ability (among other things.) I’m a big fan of self-discovery. Plus, she and Jay are still so amazing together. This book is very different than TBF, a lot darker and somber. It really works considering the things that Violet encountered and what she has to deal with now. (And yes, she still insists on doing things alone. On going out alone and being so completely daft sometimes it makes you want to scream! But that’s Violet; it’s expected.)

The story starts for Violet by the discovery of a missing boy. She’s in way over head and makes an anonymous call to the FBI. Unfortunately for her, it’s the FBI and they find her. Now, she can’t explain why she found him or how—and she doesn’t want to tell anyone in her life that she’s involved yet again. But as usual for our heroine, things never go as planned and she finds herself trapped under the weight of her lies, her problems and a new family in town that has a dark secret.

Violet retreats in this book. Instead of facing her issues and being honest, she pulls away from Jay and learns the effect that secrets have on a relationship. Jay is a good character. In the first book, he was seemingly perfection—said the right things, did the right things, always supported her. In this one I like that we see the other side. The human side. The side that struggles, that’s frustrated, that tries to reason with her and can’t. He still loves her—and is absolutely adorable—but he definitely grows and reveals his layers.

I think I should also mention Rafe. Rafe is a teenage boy with an ability too. He ‘works’ with the FBI and knows that Violet has a secret. He’s not mentioned a lot in this book, but the scenes he appear in are very purposeful. And I should say on the record, I love Jay….but Rafe is super steamy and swoony. I can see that being an issue if he hangs out for book three—especially since he’s kind of a secret.

Desires of the Dead is full of mystery and suspense. The twists are intense and the side-story (like the one in the last book was the murderer) is also from a disturbed character. It made my brain hurt at some of the scenes. Kimberly Derting does an amazing job at showing you the characters and their deepest thoughts without you realizing it. And she does it in third person!

This book is a thrill-ride filled with new characters, new scenarios, new drama and new challenges. If you liked The Body Finder then you won’t be disappointed by it’s sequel.

Some Valentine's Day Fun

It's a day for celebrating the people you love. And honestly, friends, I love all of you. If I didn't, I wouldn't spend so much time with you! From me to you:

This is a pretty random post for today--because Valentine's Day is supposed to be FUN!

First, I'm a BIG fan of Mad Libs. Did you know there are a ton of Mad Libs online? Yup.  If you click here, then you can go make your own Valentine (or anytime) Mad Lib. I made one! See? (Disclaimer: It's 1:40 am....)

You are my generous love. You have me completely in your wings. I know and feel that if I am to talk anything fine and noble in the future I shall do so only by wondering at the books of your heart. I would like to go through life leg by leg with you, Trying you more and more until we Cried to be six being(s) together until the hour should come for us to jump.

Is it perfect? No. Was it fun? Yes. There's even a poetry one right here, if you want to strictly do a love lib.  You should play.  And if you do any of these activities, leave the finished product in the comments. I really like Mad Libs and corny poems--and who knows, maybe someone will get a surprise for being awesome!

I'm also hosting a giveaway. I'm not telling you what it is. It's a Valentine's day surprise!

Thanks for being lovely! Have a great day :)


Breathless Reads Tour

Wednesday night I had the pleasure of journeying to New York City with some of my blogger buddies (Gail of Ticket to Anywhere, Nikki of Wicked Awesome Books, Dani of Overflowing Shelf & Jen of Secret Life of a Bibliophile) to the first stop on the Breathless Reads tour at Books of Wonder.

It was a long day--complete with six hours of driving and 2 hours on a train where we ladies talked loudly and excitedly about books, blogging, authors, music and everything under the sun. It was joyous. We had pizza, met some other bloggers & delivered cookies to our author friends. (Yum.)

The authors: Kirsten Miller, Brenna Yovanoff, Andrea Cremer, Ally Condie & Beth Revis. The first part of the signing was q&a with the authors.

Here are some highlights from that thanks to Jen, who furiously tweeted as many answers as she could. She rocks. :) 

Q: Is there any of you in your character?

Brenna: My crit partners tell me I am the Morrigan. She went on to explain that it's only occasionally. 

Beth: There's a little bit of me in all my characters. Amy embodies the loneliness that she felt and Elder the adventure and desire to know things that she doesn't understand.

Q: What advice to do you have for young writers? 

Brenna Yovanoff
Beth said to find things that you're interested in go do those things instead--you have to experiences to write about and writing can't get in the way of living.

Brenna said to write. She spoke about having a balance between the living and the writing or one wouldn't get done.

Ally said to have a something else happening in your life as well---and to write.

Andrea Cremer
Andrea said that you need to write for yourself, for the story that has to be told--because if you do it any other way then you won't be satisfied.

Kirsten says you have to have a thick skin so you're able to handle the things people say to you. She also said to be able to sit for a long time.

Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
Beth said: "I always wanted to be a writer because typing was cool and I was good at it. Then, someone said I should have another plan. I agreed that I wanted to have money--so I became a teacher....I took a creative writing class that wasn't fun." Beth said the teacher wouldn't let her write what she wanted to but eventually she started writing. She talked a lot about blowing stuff up, which all her early stories involved. "I wrote ten really bad novels and then a good one."

Ally and Andrea both taught prior to writing, and both wanted to write. Andrea started because she broke her leg and was in a cast for 12 weeks. So, she used the time to write. Ally started writing because she stayed home with her son and "babies go to bed at like 7." Everyone had great answers! I wish I would've been able to catch them all for you.

Beth shared a story about "Frexing" that was really great. She initially used "Frak" but didn't know about Battlestar. So, she was searching for a term they could use on the ship and she read "Frex" on a blog. She liked it, used it & discovered it meant "For Example." Luckily, it also ended up being an acronym for....well, I won't say. It's in the book. You go search and figure it out!

Q: What's harder to write: the first line or the last?
Kirsten says the first line is the hardest because everything starts there. Andrea says the last because it has to be perfect. Ally said the last as well. Brenna said the first. Beth said both--but even more important is the line in the middle of the book. :)

Q: What was your favorite subject in high school?

Kirsten Miller
Kirsten was good at English and liked English. But--she really loved Chemistry (even though she wasn't good at it.) "We had an expensive, fancy lab and I really wanted to blow things up!"

Andrea said drama and history--which she taught at a college level prior to writing.

Brenna didn't really care about English back then; she loved PE.

Ally said Biology because they didn't have an expensive, fancy Chemistry lab but they did have "lots of dead animals" she could cut up.

Beth said history and science. And typing.

Ally Condie
Q: Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Ally's first story? "It was called Unicorn Party. I had plastic unicorn necklace and I dropped in the stable." (It became REAL!) "I had a real unicorn--and it was pregnant. I had pregnant unicorns so naturally, I had a party to celebrate. That was the whole story."

There were many more great questions and answers. It was a fun stop and they are hilarious ladies! If they come anywhere near you make sure you're there!! Check out the rest of the dates here.

Us with Kirsten Miller
Us with Ally Condie

Us with Andrea, Beth and Brenna. :)

What would a signing be without a prize for my lovely followers?

What you can win:

Prize 1: Buttons & an ARC (I have Eternal Ones, Across the Universe and Nightshade to choose from)

Prize 2: SIGNED bookmarks for The Replacements, Nightshade & The Eternal Ones....and an ARC. (Same options as above, minus winner's choice.)

Prize 3: This poster signed by all the authors. 

To win: 
Leave a comment on ANYWHERE ON MY BLOG that includes #breathlesstour in the comment (and your email if you aren't a GFC follower) so I can find you. OR fill out the form. Please do NOT do both.

I'm going to draw three winners based off the comments using random.org (starting with prize #1).  US/Canada only.  The contest will end Thursday, February 17 at midnight.


Woe is Me: Ode to the Shiny New

I'm not a very good poet. If I was, I'd totally write a ballad & I would call it "Woe is Me: Ode to the Shiny New."

If you write at all--or follow anyone who does--you've undoubtedly heard someone refer to the Shiny New. It can have other names, but it's the same concept. What is it? It's the point in writing, typically somewhere in the middle of a novel, when a brand new idea occurs. These are always the most incredible ideas you've had, the most desperate to be written, and oh so exciting!

I asked my friend Victoria last year the biggest advice for a writer aside from writing. I can't remember exactly what I asked, but I remember her answer. She said, "Only write one thing." Her reasoning: when you write more than one project, you never finish one. Especially when you are starting out, focus on getting one novel written. All the new ideas will leave you with ten half-written stories and not a single finished one. Since she told me, I've always followed that advice. Trust me, it's not always been easy. But if you know V, then you know she's brilliant and should be listened (especially when regarding cookies and writing!)

With my first novel, it was easy. I wrote that book in four months, which included stopping mid-way and starting over. There wasn't much else I wanted to do. With the one I just finished, it has been a constant battle. I love, love, love my MS. I've enjoyed writing it--even in the frustrating parts--but I felt for months it would never be finished. I was plagued with the Shiny New throughout most of those 100,000 words. When I get an idea, I'm  forced to write it down or I'll forget it. Most of the ones I had over the last few months were really awesome. I mean, I loved them. But I had to forge on with my novel and avoid them. There were days when that meant writing nothing at all because I couldn't focus.

Last week, as I was nearing the end of my WIP (and before my big fear revelation) Heather Brewer (who is completely amazing!) wrote this post about how to write a book. I was struggling with a Shiny New idea I'd thought of the night before. (No lie.) I wrote it down, but the idea was five pages. Five. I really wanted to write it--but I was so close to the end of my other one! Then, I read this post. The whole thing rings true, but this part was what I needed to hear.
I start writing the story, and usually, in the beginning, my fingers fly and my keyboard catches on fire. HOWEVER…after some time, my mind begins to wander…often to SHINY NEW IDEAS. This is a dangerous time for a writer. Because if you really want to write a book, you’ve got to hit The End. So SHINY NEW IDEAS must be ignored, no matter how SHINY or NEW they are. I’ve taken to scribbling down just a few basic notes in a notebook and then getting back to work on the book I’m writing. Otherwise, I will have a bajillion partially-written books, and I will NEVER reach The End. And, c’mon, be honest…how many partially-written books have you ever seen at the bookstore? The answer is NONE. So…shaking off the urge to frolic around my office with the SHINY NEW IDEAS, I apply the formula and get my butt back in that chair.
Does it need to be said that I didn't start the Shiny New? Because I didn't. And now, I'm finished with the novel. One of the first thoughts I had when I was finished: Yay! I get to write something new.

But this is a ballad entitled woe is me. Thus, here comes more heartache. 

What is it with the Shiny New? They plague you while you are working on something else, but when you need them they are nowhere to be found! This has been my week. I've opened about five of those ideas I had to see what I wanted to work on; none of them are appealing. I read it now and wonder what on earth I was thinking. Some of them aren't good--or they are, but I don't have a clue where to start. They aren't the shiny or new I need.

I guess it's for the best. I'm been editing instead, and my TBR pile is insane. Plus, you can't write a story that isn't ready to be written.

All that to say these three things:

1) Sometimes you should avoid the Shiny New. When you are working on something else the Shiny New is your brain's ploy at distraction--or your way to run away from the scary middle of a story. If you never do the scary middle, you'll never have a novel.

2) Sometimes the Shiny New may, in fact, not be shiny or new. But when you think of a new idea--it's always the most incredible thing in the world. Take some time away from it and then re-visit. It will probably not be good anymore; if it is good, then maybe it's a story that you need to write. You shouldn't jump blindly into something--especially if you're working on another project.

3) Sometimes the Shiny New will disappear when you "need it most". On the plus side, it always comes back. I've got no doubt that I'll be working on something new in a couple weeks. Down time is good. It gives you a chance to evaluate, to edit, to read and to bake cookies. Plus, a little bit of sleep and sunlight is a good thing.

If you are a poet, you should write this "Ode to the Shiny New" for us. I think everyone can agree with it....right? Tell me I'm not alone here!


Book Talk: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Disney*Hyperion
Date: March 1, 2010
Series or Standalone: Second in trilogy
ISBN: 978-1423121312
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Source: ARC
Description: Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

First line: At a normal high school, having class outside on a gorgeous May day is usually pretty awesome.

I’m a huge fan of Hex Hall. It’s the perfect book—hilarious, great characters, a twisty plot, sarcasm, magic, sexah boys. What else do you need? A sequel!

Demonglass picks up shortly after Hex Hall’s stunner of an ending. Some time has passed for Sophie but she’s still adamant that she’s going through the Removal. First, of course, she has to make it out of class alive. No problem. And then survive being around her father and some news that he delivers. After a fight with some soil (you'll get it later-hilarious!), Sophie, Jenna and Cal travel to England with Mr. Mercer. When Sophie gets there, things aren’t what she expected. She learns that that the leaders of the Prodiguim have decreased in number and that some of the other guests are demons. Demons that shouldn’t exist. The fact that they do is bad for everyone; Sophie’s determined to figure out who’s responsible for the making new demons.

It’s rare for the sequel in a series to stand strong. Nine times out of ten it can’t compare to the first one. I think Demonglass is almost better than Hex! It was that good. This is an incredible sequel. I loved, loved, loved it! (Although, I had always planned to love it.) England provides a great backdrop for the story and creates all kinds of problems and greatness on it’s own. It’s rich in culture and Prodiguim history, which you can tell shapes some of the story. The new characters—Nick and Daisy—add a great balance to the trio from Hecate.

Sophie is still her snarky, sarcastic at inappropriate times self. The journey she goes though in this book—from seeing herself as an evil monster to seeing herself as something more—is weaved into  the rest of the drama, but really finds a way to stand out.

What kind of review would this be if I didn’t mention the best part of the story?!? Cal—I mean. Archer….Wait…Archer—No, Cal! Archer. Cal. Archer. Cal.

Get the picture?

On one hand, there’s Archer. I love Archer. I loved him in the last book when he fled the scene in such a devastatingly heartbreaking way. And, as it says in the description, Archer is indeed around in this book. He’s bad, working for the Eye, and his one task is to get Sophie. But, come on. It’s Archer. Even if he’s evil--is he evil?--you have to love him. You want them to be happy, to make it and to end up together.

At least, maybe.

Because on the other hand, there’s Cal.

And boy, oh boy, I love me some Cal. I liked him in the brief moments we got to enjoy him in Hex Hall, but he’s more prominent in Demonglass. The more we meet of him, the deeper I fall. He really, genuinely cares for—dare I say loves?—Sophie. He brings out the best in her, supports her, encourages her and worries about her. It’s so cute the way they interact--with their sarcastic arguments and uncertainties. He accepts her for what she is, and that is why I love him.

As you can see, there are some decisions that Sophie has to make. Unfortunately for her, the twists and turns and problems that she encounters through the rest of the book make this decision seem minuscule. (For her, not for us!) After the ending of Demonglass, #3 is definitely going to be something amazing. (13 months to wait!)

The wait may kill me. At the very least, the indecision of Cal—Archer will.


Cover Me! (3)

Are freaking gorgeous. I wanted to make sure I shared. So...here are some that have come out recently that I didn't want you to miss. Why? Because they are gorgeous. :)

Leigh Fallon's debut novel sounds really, really good! And I like this cover!

A move to Ireland is about to introduce Megan to her destiny, her real destiny, can she embrace it and will she survive it?

A tragedy in Megan’s past set her on a predetermined course. A chain of events has been set in motion that brings Megan to Kinsale, a small town in the south of Ireland where her destiny awaits her. Her life starts to fall into place as she makes new friends and settles into her new school. However, the reclusive and distant Adam DeRís calls to her body and soul.

She finds herself increasingly drawn to Adam and his strange family. Adam knows a secret from her past and he and his family hold the key to her future. A future that binds her to Adam and his world, a world of power, mystery and ancient orders. A world that unbeknownst to her, she very much belongs in. 

Myra McEntire's amazing debut is one I'm super pumped for. I love Myra--and I can't wait to read Hourglass. And look at the cover---girl is on the wall! 
Since the age of fourteen, Emerson Cole has seen strange things – dead things – swooning Southern Belles, soldiers, and other eerie apparitions of the past. She’s tried everything to get rid of the visions: medication, counseling, asylums. Nothing’s worked.

So when Emerson's well-meaning brother calls in yet another consultant from a mysterious organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to give it one last try.

Michael Weaver is no ordinary consultant. He's barely older than she is; he listens like no one she's ever met before; and he doesn't make her feel the least bit crazy. As Emerson ventures deeper into the world of the Hourglass, she begins to learn the truth about her past, her future--and her very life.

A seductive time-slip novel that merges the very best of the paranormal and science fiction genres, Myra McEntire’s Hourglass is a stunning debut from an author to watch .
Comes out May 24!

Here's another I can't wait for (but have to as it doesn't come out until Sept) by Michelle Hodkin.

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a
hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember
that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been
through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

Yup...I know, right? The cover's been around for awhile now but I still love it. 

To the left is the paperback cover of Tricia Rayburn's book SIREN. I loved the hardcover but wow, this is pretty.  And to the right is the cover for the sequel: UNDERCURRENT. It is equally beautiful. There's no description yet of the book, but it comes out on July 12, 2011.

Siren description:
Vacationing in Winter Harbor, Maine, is a tradition for Vanessa and Justine Sands, and that means spending time with the Carmichael boys. This summer, Vanessa is determined to channel some of her older sister’s boldness, get over her fear of the ocean, and maybe turn her friendship with Simon Carmichael into something much more.

But when Justine goes cliff-diving after a big family argument, and her body washes ashore the next day, Vanessa is sure that it was more than an accident. She is more certain of this, when she discovers that her sister was keeping some big secrets and Caleb Carmichael’s gone missing. Suddenly, the entire oceanfront town is abuzz when a series of grim, water-related accidents occur, with the male victims washed ashore grinning from ear to ear. 

Vanessa and Simon team up to figure out if these creepy deaths have anything to do with Justine and Caleb. But will what Vanessa discovers mean the end of her summer romance, or even life as she knows it?

I loved Heist Society by Ally Carter. And finally, here's a cover for the sequel: Uncommon Criminals. If you haven't read Heist, you need to.

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Here are two more covers that I really think are pretty that have also come out in the last few weeks.

Maybe it's just me, but there definitely seems to be a theme among most of these covers. Perhaps grey, mysterious and alluring is in!