Book Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Publisher: Simon PulseDate: February 8, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-1416994817
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Source: ARC
The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

First line: Everything changes when Tiffany Quinn disappears.

Kendall Fletcher has OCD. That’s an important thing to know about this story. It’s the reason I liked it. I’ve never read a story where a character has OCD—but McMann did it exactly how I imagined it. It’s a secret struggle she has. Not many people know about Kendall’s OCD—her parents and her best friend/unannounced boyfriend Nico. Kendall tries to fight it but she can’t; she can only live and move with it as part of her. She can only do her best. That’s why when Tiffany disappears she can’t handle it. She didn’t know Tiffany—not really—but Cryer’s Cross is a small town. A safe town. These things don’t happen here.

Not much time is spent talking about Tiffany Quinn. The town moves on because it has to. The kids move on because they have to and when the new year starts, it brings with it two new students: Marlena and Jacian. Jacian is a suspect but when someone else disappears, they are in the clear—but Kendall’s entire world is shaken.

Most of the book focuses on Kendall fighting her feels for Jacian—because she’s with Nico—and trying to cope with the loss that shakes her world. I liked Jacian and the dynamic of he and Kendall. I liked the idea of the story—that people go missing and a desk is the only clue—a desk and some secrets that have long-since been buried. It was definitely a creepy book and well-written. (Again, I loved the OCD aspect.) (And it was very creepy!!)

What the book had in creepy and swoon-worthy romance, it lacked in other areas. I felt at times that Kendall’s voice changed. They were small moments where her internal dialogue (which was always consistent) sounded different than when she actually spoke. In those instances, it feel like McMann tried too hard to make her sound like a teenager. But all in all, again, I liked Kendall.

Most of the characters were two-dimensional—I think of Nico and Marlena. And while they were secondary characters, they were still important to the story (especially Nico) but Marlena felt like filler to me. I enjoyed Jacian almost than Kendall.

Honestly, I found the story highly predictable. I pegged it all in just a few pages. The beginning was full of potential and good story development, but then the end felt rushed. I didn’t like the wrapped-up-in-a-bow-but-not-really aspect of the ending. All these things happened that were pretty horrible for Kendall, yet at the end she’s seemingly unaffected. The story is wrapped up without being wrapped up.

It was enjoyable on the whole. If you like creepy books then you should get Cryer’s Cross. My favorite part of this story: the thing Kendall hates most about herself saves her.

Lauren Willig book signing!

I know I only talk about my love for YA typically, but there's another series that has my attention. One that is so a-typical for me but full of intrigue, mystery, romance, funny characters and espionage! This series is non other than The Pink Carnation novels!

I first discovered this series (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation) back in 2006 when my best friend and I found one single copy in a $4 bin at Borders. (Note: I found both of favorite fiction authors this way! Always look!) Anyway,
she was taking a bus trip but I wanted to read it. So, she bought it, I read it/loved it and then she read it. I remember our conversation as something like, "There should be more of these" and lo and behold--there were! Over the years since then, Ashley and I gathered the books as we found them and now we are officially only short the newest book, The Orchid Affair. We live states away, so the trading is sometimes difficult BUT I am slowly reading and thoroughly enjoying. When a friend said Lauren Willig would be here for the Orchid tour, I jumped at the chance to go.
Lauren & me...

She started the night off with a reading of three passages from The Orchid Affair.  The storyline for Orchid is completely enchanting--as were the pieces she read. I can't wait to get there. I'm only on book 3: The Deception of the Emerald Ring but I'm looking forward with excitement! It was great. Lauren was funny, charming, wore the cutest dress and entertained us with her stories of falling in the Boston snow, Paris policemen and claims of being nothing like character Eloise (despite both women studying history at Harvard, &going to England to work on a dissertation.)

Lauren said of Orchid, "It's a different book. Paris in January--and no one is English." She said Orchid--as well as any book/movie about nannies--follows two rules of The Sound of Music. This book is "Sound of Music meets James Bond." Rule 1: The nanny must inform the leader of the house that she disapproves of the way the children are raised/treated or the upkeep of something in the house. Rule 2: She must attend an awkward party where she feels inadequate and under-dressed. Here's the description to further pique your interest!

Laura Grey, a veteran governess, joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte’s minister of police. Jaouen and his arch rival, Gaston Delaroche, are investigating a suspected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte, and Laura’s mission is to report any suspicious findings. At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and knitting, but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen—secret meetings and odd comings and goings. As Laura edges closer to her employer, she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far more in common with Jaouen than she originally thought. 

After her readings, she took some q&a from guests.

Q: Will any of the books feature Hortense Bonaparte?
Hortense actually started course Lauren took toward this series because of a mini-series she watched in 5th grade and loved. Said she even wrote a novel in high school about Hortense. She also said ninth book featured Bonaparte--as well as an American in Paris--but nothing about Hortense. "Someone should write it!"

Q: How many books will there be?
At one point she said six...and this is eight. So, she wasn't saying definitely but maybe 15. "The last three will draw the characters together."

Q: Will more of the books take place in other countries?
Lauren said she'd love to--especially doing something in Latin America because Bonaparte's reign even stretched there. Book 10 is Tommy Fluellen book and takes place in Wales. She explains that in 1804, there was an underground revolution group and the first railroads were tested in 1805. Both of those aspects can appear in the book. She also said Jane could possibly go to Italy in her book during the Napoleonic Wars.

Q: What is Colin's mystery?
She didn't tell us. She did say three things. 1) He has multiple. 2) He may be a spy--or he may not be. It can go either way. 3) There are more secrets to come out. "That family has secrets in the closet like others have skeletons!" She also mentioned that she'd love to write a spin-off murder mystery book featuring Colin and Eloise as murder suspects. "It may not happen but the person wouldn't be a surprise and it would deserved."

Q: Will August W.  have a book? (I didn't catch his name--if anyone knows it!)
His book is book 9! Most of the chapters begin with verses that he likes to write (poorly!) He receives mysterious advice that Napoleon has a secret device and August wants to get it. He secures an invitation by helping a girl named Emma write masques--it's disastrous since August can't write his own. She also tells us that Gwen is featured as a pirate queen and reminds the children to "pillage before you burn." 

Sounds like fun! I can't wait to get through the series. If you get a chance to see Lauren Willig or read her books--you should do it! They will not disappoint.

 (Order: Pink Carnation, Black Tulip, Emerald Ring, Crimson Rose, Night Jasmine, Blood Lily, Orchid Affair.)


Iron Fey Winner!

Thanks to everyone for you participation this week! Hope you had fun getting to know Julie and the Iron Fey series. If you haven't read it yet you need to!

determined by Random.org

Amy Carlin!!


Julie Kagawa Giveaway!

It's been a great week celebrating Julie Kagawa! I love The Iron Fey series & Julie! I hope you do as well!

Here's a fun excerpt direct from The Iron Queen...
Ash strode to a nearby rock, swooped down, and tossed me a long, slightly curved stick.  When I caught it, I saw that it was actually a leather sheath with a gilded brass hilt poking from the top.  A sword.  Ash was giving me a sword … why? 
            Oh, yeah.  Because I wanted to learn to fight.  Because I’d asked him to teach me. 
            Ash, watching me with that weary, knowing look on his face, shook his head.  “You forgot, did you?”
            “Nooooo,” I said quickly.  “I just … didn’t think it would be this soon.”
            “This is the perfect place.”  Ash turned slightly to gaze around the clearing.  “Quiet, hidden.  We can catch our breath here.  It’s a good place to learn while you’re waiting for your father to come out of it.  When we’re done here, I have a feeling things will get much more chaotic.”  He gestured to the sword in my hand.  “Your first lesson begins now.  Draw your sword.”
I did.  Unsheathing it sent a raspy shiver across the glen, and I gazed at the weapon in fascination.  The blade was thin and slightly curved, an elegant looking weapon, razor sharp and deadly.  A warning tickled the back of my mind.  There was something about the blade that was … different.    Blinking, I ran my fingers along the cool, gleaming edge, and a chill shot through my stomach.   
            The blade was made of steel.  Not faery steel.  Not a fey sword covered in glamour.  Real, ordinary iron.  The kind that would burn faery flesh and sear away glamour.  The kind that left wounds impossible to heal. 
            I gaped at it, then at Ash, who looked remarkably calm to be facing his greatest weakness.  “This is steel,” I told him, sure that Leanansidhe had made a mistake.
            He nodded.  “An eighteenth-century Spanish saber.  Leanansidhe nearly had a fit when I told her what I wanted, but she was able to track one down in exchange for a favor.”  He paused then, wincing slightly.  “A very large favor.”
Alarmed, I stared at him.  “What did you promise her?” 
        “It doesn’t matter.  Nothing that endangers us in any way.”  He hurried on before I could argue.  “I wanted a light, slashing weapon for you, one with a good amount of reach, to keep opponents farther away.”  He gestured to the saber with his own weapon, a blindingly quick stab of blue. "You’ll be moving around a lot, using speed instead of brute force against your enemies.  That blade won’t block heavier weapons, and you don’t have the strength to swing a longsword effectively, so we’re going to have to teach you how to dodge.  This was the best choice.”
“But this is steel,” I repeated, listening to him in amazement.  He could teach a class with his knowledge of weapons and fighting.  “Why a real sword?  I could seriously hurt someone.”
“Meghan.”  Ash gave me a patient look.  “That’s exactly why I chose it.  You have an advantage with that weapon that none of us can touch.  Even the most violent redcap will think twice about facing a real, mortal blade.  It won’t scare the Iron fey, of course, but that’s where training will come in.”
            “But … but what if I hit you?”
             A snort.  “You’re not going to hit me.”
            “How do you know?”  I bristled at his amused tone.  “I could hit you.  Even master swordsmen make mistakes.  I could get a lucky shot, or you might not see me coming.  I don’t want to hurt you.”
            He favored me with another patient look.  “And how much experience do you have with swords and weapons in general?” 
“Um.”  I glanced down at the saber in my hand.  “Thirty seconds?”
              He smiled, that calm, irritatingly confident smirk.  “You’re not going to hit me.”
Ah! It's so lovely isn't it?! The book is amazing!  On to the winning....The lucky winner will receive your choice of the series from the Book Depository. It's open international if TBD delivers there.  Contest closes January 30 at 9 pm EST.

Click here to enter!


Julie Kagawa Interview!

Today, I have the lovely Julie Kagawa on for an interview! She took time out of her crazy-busy schedule to answer these so I hope you enjoy it! Before all that, here's a little about Julie.

Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel. 
Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon puppy. 

If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and why?
Um...a Jalapeno Popper. Small, hot and cheesy, lol!

What are the last five songs played on your I-pod?
Don't have an ipod, but the last five songs I listened to were "Bulletproof Heart" by My Chemical Romance, "The Only Hope For Me Is You" by MCR, "What is This Feeling" from Wicked, "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage, and "On The Nature of Daylight" by Max Richter. (I have eclectic music tastes.)

If you could have dinner with one person—dead or alive—who would it be and why?
Neil Gaiman, because he is my author hero. Also Ben Barnes, but there wouldn't be much eating, just a lot of swooning and fainting.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
"Wrestling Goats and Making Stuff Up."

Tell us two truths and a lie..** **I have the answer. You'll get a chance to guess in the giveaway tomorrow for an extra entry!
I owned a talking parrot that would wolf-whistle at girls.
My ball python would curl up inside my shirt because it was warm. 
I would take my pet chameleon to the mall perched on my head.

What is the first book you remember reading yourself?
I don't think I can remember back that far. My parents tell me all I did even as a small child was read.

What do you in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy video games, painting, drawing, reading, and movies.

What is one thing you have learned through your time as a published author?
That you can have three novels under your belt, and still be terrified about the release date.

What is your writing process?
I usually try for 1,000-1500 words a day. Except when I'm doing NaNo, and the word count jumps to 1700-2000.

You participated in NaNoWriMo in previous years. Since a lot of people participated a couple months ago (including me) can you tell us about the post-writing process was like for you?
Lol, post-writing process? What's that? When you're writing a series, there's always another book to be written. I take short breaks between stories, but I never really stop. :)

Mmmm...stubborn! *swoon*
Which book or scene from any of the books was the most difficult to write?
I'd say a certain icy prince gave me a heck of a lot of trouble when I was writing his story. We would argue. I would be like: "say something already! Open up! Tell me what you're feeling, dang it!" And he would just stand there and be stubborn.

What can we expect in the next book--The Iron Knight? (Which is going to be glorious and smoldery with Ash-ness!!)
I can't say very much, except this: if you think you know Ash, you haven't seen anything yet! :D

Thanks Julie! That was fun. And thanks for writing lovely books that I get to read. 

Come back tomorrow for a chance to win your choice of an Iron Fey book!


Julie Kagawa Week: The Iron Queen

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Series or Standalone: Third in series 
ISBN: 978-0373210183
Format: Paperback, 386 pages

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.
My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

First line: Eleven years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s my favorite of the series (until the next of course because nothing will be as great as a whole book in Ash’s perspective. I’m drooling already).

Why do I love this book? I’ve made a list.

Great opening. From page one, we see the repercussions from the decision at the end of Iron Daughter. You start immediately rooting for Meghan. The things that unfold on the first ten pages are the reasons for everything in the rest. You know, immediately, that there’s a threat. Not only for the Nevernever, not only for Ash. But for Meghan. For her family. That is one thing you don’t mess with.

The rest of my list is all centered around the characters. They are the thing I can talk about the most without ruining the book sooo...characters! Again, Julie Kagawa develops these amazing characters.

Meghan. I love Meghan in this book. I think this book completely blows her character out of the water and makes me look back on her in the other two books with fondness. Really. She’s that good here. The entire book is Meghan’s journey to save them, to save Nevernever, to fight the Iron Fey and mostly, to survive.

Ash. He is an incredible character. If you didn’t catch that before, you catch it here. He sacrifices a lot for Meghan and he works so incredibly hard to keep her safe. Plus, they have lovey-dovey moments of goodness.

Grim. “I am a cat.” That says it all, right? I mean, he knows everything. He’s a smart cat.

Puck. I’m team Ash but I like Puck—even when he makes unwise decisions—because he’s a good friend to Meghan. He’s a good friend to Ash even, deep down. He’s a good guy all around. And funny. But he proves that no every good guy is perfect.

The truth comes out! Meghan discovers many things that affect her life forever. Things I can’t tell you because they will spoil but know that they are big. Really big.

The end. I said in my review of Iron Daughter that the end of this book killed me. It did. The wait for Iron Knight is going to be looooong. The whole world is on verge of disappearing. The other books in the series have been leading us to this moment. This is the ultimate battle to save the Nevernever or to lose it. In the end, it all comes down Meghan and a choice. It all comes down to the Iron Fey.

The result is brilliant.

I can't say anything else really--because I don't want to spoil anything. But know that this book is brilliant.


Julie Kagawa Week: The Iron Daughter

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Publication Date: August 1, 2010 
Series or Standalone: Second in series 
ISBN: 978-0373210138
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

First line: The Iron King stood before me, magnificent in his beauty, silver hair whipping about me like an unruly waterfall.

I really enjoyed The Iron Daughter. The story opens with Meghan in the Winter Court—and Ash nowhere to be found. When he does show up, which is always in the nick of time, he isn’t interested in her anymore. Feeling alone and trapped in the cold world of Winter, things can’t be any worse for Meghan. Of course, shortly after the Summer Court hands over the changing of the seasons to The Winter Court, something horrible happens. Things for Meghan and Ash and the whole of the courts are at stake and only Meghan can save them.

Meghan grew a lot in this book. You can tell the things she faced in IK changed her. I know I liked her more. I believed her selflessness and quest to save the realm with her friends at her side. This story takes them farther and deeper into danger than the last.

Like in the first book, the character interactions in Iron Daughter are incredible. They feed off each other and bounce off the page. I can’t even tell you how much I love each of Kagawa’s characters. Even if they seem minor and unimportant, they are so well developed and alive (and rarely unimportant.) Each one adds a unique piece to the story. As always, Grim is my favorite (next to Ash.) Why? “I am a cat.”

Aside from her amazing characterizations, the details in every scene are intense and vivid. Every place Meghan and crew travel is painted in my head because of her descriptions. The Nevernever and our world are both dripping in great scenery.

Ash and Puck. Ash and Puck. Well, Ash is smoldery. Puck is Puck. Separately, both characters add so much: humor, heart, love, smolder, swoon, joy. Together they bring all of that and witty, sarcastic banter. I can’t get enough of that! Plus, this is the book Meghan chooses between them, or they choose for her, or fate steps in. You can call it what you like.

Everything builds and builds in Iron Daughter to lead up to the most amazing ending. I seriously think I was stopped breathing and died. Well, until I read Iron Queen, that is.


Julie Kagawa Week: The Iron King

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date: February 2010
Series or Standalone: First in series
ISBN: 978-0373210084
Format: Paperback, 368 pages

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

First line: Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

I’m don’t read many books about the Fae. It’s not personal—and I’ve tried on numerous occasions—but I can’t do it. There are a couple that I’ve picked up a few times and still not succeeded. There was even one I read the entire first book and attempted the second but couldn’t. I don’t know why that is. I like faeries, I just haven’t had much luck reading the books about them. When I was bullied into reading The Iron King, I went into it open-minded, though I wasn’t sure I’d like it. Is anyone surprised that I was wrong?

I was hooked from the first line of this story. Meghan lost her dad and then spent the last ten years feeling invisible to her family. The only people who’ve ever noticed her are best friend Robbie, the prankster extraordinaire and best friend, and her four-year-old brother, Ethan. (And the dog, of course.) That’s why when things get weird at home and at school, her only option is to learn the truth about her heritage. That truth: she’s Oberon’s daughter. Yup, the Oberon. And now, with the help of Robbie—who’s also known as Puck—she enters the faery world to save someone she loves.

Her journey through the Nevernever (part of the faery world) is full of great imagery and description. I feel as if I’m there with her, seeing what she’s seeing and experiencing this magical world. It’s a unique story when the added mystery of the Iron Fey come into play. I like the ideas behind it and the way it all develops. Plus, the story is full of great characters. I’m not a huge fan of Meghan but since she’s the main character, I am forced to like her just a little—I just like her sidekicks a little more. Grimalkin is hilarious and I really liked that darn cat. I also liked Puck, as he provided great commentary. I laughed a lot during this book.

The best part of the book? Ash. I mean, he’s a prince so he automatically wins. He’s dark and has a snarky sense of humor. He’s smoldering and swoon-worthy. I’m in. I’m totally in. Even if this book sucked (which it did not) I would still read it just for him. That’s how much I grew to love him. Luckily, it was so fabulous that I got to enjoy the whole story and the characters and the plot twists.

Ash was the ice cream on the proverbial cake.

And my, my, my what good cake it was.

Author Focus Week: Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa is one hilarious and talented author. Her series, The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, Winter's Passage (a short story) is about to have a sister book. The Iron Queen hits shelves on Tuesday and in honor of that, it's Julie Kagawa Week!

And I'm excited.

This is another series that my book bully told me to read and I have thanked her relentlessly. (If not, thanks again!) I love this series. It's fun, intriguing, full of swoon-worthy boys and a beautiful world. I never liked books about faeries until I read this one. So, it has a special place in my heart. Check out this video below for more information about the series.

On another note, there's also an epic blog tour happening. You can check out those details here. 

Every day this week I will post my reviews of all three of the books and at the end of the week, you can win! It's easy. Read the reviews (and possible other surprises!) and then on Friday, you can get a chance to win by filling out the form on Friday. But, as always, there are a few ways you start gaining extra entries NOW into the giveaway. All of these are optional but they are here if you'd like to gain them!

How to get Extra Entries: 
(each item is +1 entry unless indicated. Keep track of what you do--there will be a tally on Friday when you enter the giveaway.)

  • Follow this blog
  • Follow me on twitter
  • Follow Julie on twitter
  • Tweet the reviews, the interview, the giveaway. (You can get +1 entry each day from this, starting today. You MUST include @daniellebunner and #JulieWeek in the tweet.) 
  • Leave a comment each day
  • Write a blog post (add link in comments below) (+3)
The prize on Friday is your choice of The Iron Fey series--which includes the e-book of Winter's Passage. The contest is open anywhere The Book Depository delivers.


Book Talk: The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Reader
Publication Date: February 11, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-0385736916
Format: Paperback, 528 pages
Description: Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.

Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

First line: For months, I relived the pas de deux in my dreams, in that multisensory Technicolor of a memory I'd much rather forget.

The reason I picked up this books was the cover. Seriously. We have a Delacorte poster at work with all these book covers on it--and from the first day I saw it (and each time I walked past it) I liked the cover. So, when it finally graced the shelves, I picked it up and read the prologue. Then, I was hooked and home we went.

The book is about Sylvie Davis--ballerina extraordinare who messes up a landing and shatters her career, as well her leg. After her mother remarries (and Sylvie makes a big mistake), Sylvie goes to spend a month in Alabama with her cousin. When the city girl is thrust into the country, her nerve isn't the only thing to go. Her sanity is on the line as well because now, Sylvie can see ghosts.

I liked Sylvie--she was spunky and mean and somewhat spoiled and annoying, but I liked her. I would be mean too if I'd lost everything I'd worked my whole life for and thrust into the deep south. As someone who lived in the south for years, I understand the way it can be overwhelming. I'm not a prima ballerina but I relate. The discovery she makes about herself throughout this book isn't the one you expect her to find. It's still important.

There's a Welsh guy in this book; his name is Rhys. I like men with accents. There's also a Southern boy; his name is Shawn. These are the best two kinds of guys--ones with accents. Of course, I rooted for the English boy. He was snappy and handsome, whereas Shawn was good-ole-boy. Both make for some good reading. Which reminds me, Sylvie knows what she wants and she stands up for it.

The story was full of magic and ghosts and mysteries galore. I never figured out what was happening, which makes for a good story! My only qualm with the book was that it was 528 pages. Pages that were overstuffed with excessive descriptions and internal dialogue. I know that I skipped over too many pages. It took too long for things to really start taking shape. It could've happened quicker and deleted all the excess. Despite that, it was still a great read.


Book Talk: Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 11, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Description: Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.
First line: On a hillside stood three figures.

Can I say first how refreshing it is to read a story in third person? Maybe it's just me, but so much YA is in first now. I'm not saying first person is bad or anything--it's not. In fact, both are hard to do. But I really loved that about this book. I don't know the last book I read in third...maybe Clockwork Angel? Not only was the POV enjoyable to read, it made the book stronger. With this POV, we were able to see the past, Tessa's present, the antagonist's present and the fates better. It was all sorts of amazing.

In fact, everything about this book for me was refreshing. And when I say refreshing, I mean here's a glass of sweet tea while you're mowing the yard at noon in July in the armpit of South Carolina (or Georgia). That kind of refreshing. Yum! 

Tessa was a wonderful MC. She wasn't too average or too needy. She didn't really complain. She didn't have--or want--everything and she didn't need more than she had. She was very content, even despite all the sadness she carried around from the loss of her mother. That too was refreshing. She really was a good friend and a good daughter who happened upon a magical tapestry. A tapestry with a bleeding unicorn and a loose thread, which she pulled and then bam--cute British boy from the 1500s in her bedroom. And bam--story.

I'm trying to figure out what to say because all I have is praise. I was completely taken with this book from the first page. It was intriguing and woven together in such a way that you couldn't figure it out. At all. At least, I couldn't--and more, I didn't want to. I wanted to be surprised, to be carried away without know what was going to happen. That's a big deal for me because I like to be in control. Maurissa Guibord kept control of the story, of my mind, of me. I couldn't stop reading! 

This was a wonderfully written debut! The story was rich with details, emotion and so much mythology. I think that was my favorite part. Unicorns. Fate. Magic. Past and present.  Life as a thread. It poses *subtle thinkable issues in the middle of all the fun! How much control do we really have in our life? This is what Tessa tries to figure out. 

And Will. Will. William de Chauncy. (You love him already because of his name.) He's a great counter to Tessa. He's smart and calm. He makes a comment to her that she tries to fix everything--and he doesn't. He goes with it, figures it out as they move along. And for a guy who's tossed 500 years into the future, he handles it pretty well. I would've freaked out I'm sure. 

I keep replaying scenes in my head--and oh, how brilliant some of them were. I mean, really, really enjoyable. I'm a sucker for a story about magic and British boys. The only thing I can say bad about this book is that it ended too soon. I feel as if there's more to tell! And if she does, I will be reading it. 

*subtle, meaning they aren't the focus of the story, but are such a part of the story


200 Winners Update

I still haven't sent out the prizes yet. Sorry. I wanted to take a second to tell you what was happening. 

This was my last week:

Tuesday: Contest ends.
Wednesday & Thursday: Snow
Friday: Announce winners.
Saturday: Post office closed at noon and I worked til 1.
Sunday: PO closed.
Monday: Holiday! PO closed.
Monday night: Me: I'll go tomorrow.
Today: Wake up. SNOW. Lots of snow. I'm not walking in that snow or I shall die.

Thus....PO delayed again. Maybe tomorrow? I swear I will get there this week yall!!!! :)

Until then, enjoy this funny moment with good life lessons from Boy Meets World.


Book Talk: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

"They say that the cure for love will make me happy and safe forever. And I’ve always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now, I’d rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live a hundred years smothered by a lie." (Quote from back)

Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: February 1, 2011
Series or Stand-alone: First in trilogy
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Description:  Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

First line: It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three years since the scientist perfected a cure.

There’s a quote by Oscar Wilde that says, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring." 

This is Delirium. This is the world that Lena Holoway lives in—a world without love. A world, in my head, that is a lot like this quote: sunless, poor, dead.

Forty-three years ago, the government developed a cure for amor deliria nervosa, a disease that caused impaired judgment, uncontrollable thoughts, rapid heartbeat, an inability to function, a disturbed state of mind. Fever. Restlessness. Illusions.

At the age of eighteen, every person receives this cure and becomes a member of society. They can live after that, free from the worries and delirium that amor deliria nervosa causes. What is the cure? The government removes a part of the brain that controls amor deliria nervosa—love. Love destroyed the world until The Cure.

Lena is counting down the days, ready, willing. She wants to start this new life they have planned for her. Of course, then the unthinkable happens. She meets Alex—and falls in love.

The world Lauren Oliver created is haunting. Imagine a world where everyone simply is. Parents feel no affection toward their children. Wives feel no affection toward their husbands. People don’t love each other. Everyone plans your life and you simply follow. I can only imagine it because of this book, this moving, hopeful, devastating book.

Lena is good protagonist. At first, she’s not that interesting. Not that extraordinary and overly cautious. She cares too much and not enough. Then, a boy laughs and her whole world is turned upside down. That’s the moment I loved her. Everything that happens after that is a whirlwind of romance and discovery and hope in the midst of despair. The secrets that Lena learns—and how she handles them—really show all that she’s risking and all that she’s lost. It’s amazing to see her discover the sunlight.

Alex is the boy she falls in love with. He’s everything she shouldn’t want and everything she does. They are star-crossed lovers in every sense of the word. And being such, you have this feeling the whole time that it won’t end well for them. But you want it to. You root for them. Alex is cultured and smart and very swoon-worthy. He helps Lena, guides her, pulls the strength out of her. Their romance is one of the few in YA that’s completely developed and justified. You fall in love with them. You feel the appeal of this boy and his world.

Not only is the story amazing, the writing—oh the writing. I could take a highlighter to this book and highlight the beautiful lines that exist. The whole book would be yellow. The prose is so poetic yet simple. They speak volumes to what Lena is feeling—what it would be like to discover this wonderful thing that you never knew existed. I won’t spoil anything but just know that is the first in a series. If you don’t know that, the ending will devastate you. It leaves you hanging!

Delirium really stands out for me. I actually gave it to a friend—who doesn’t read YA at all—and she adored it. She said she cried. When we met up again, I asked her why and she said, “It was devastating and beautiful.”

That’s a very fitting line. Everything about Delirium is devastatingly beautiful. It’s a love story that will haunt you and make you wonder if all those songs about the world needing love and being love (and love in general,) really have a point after all. And the biggest question of all: What would the world be like without love?


Stuck in the Snow: a poem

It's no secret that I write. I mean, that's half the purpose of this blog. It's a huge part of my life and right now, I'm in a rut. I told a friend today I was a car stuck in the snow, my wheels spinning and me yelling for help but unable to move. Then, I came home and wrote this poem. Now, I'm not a poet--I write fiction. But, there is a special place to me made for poetry. It was how started in middle school (poems and really bad songs that I thought were amazing.) I find that when I'm most lost or in need of direction or a place to vent, I turn to poetry.

I thought that since I can't really share any piece of my novels here (not smart with the wanting-to-be-published thing), I could at least share this. This is a step for me--so don't tell me it sucks. It very well may. And some of the rhymes don't line up--but ironically I didn't know it rhymed until my second read-though. That was not intentional. Anyway, read on. Maybe you will understand it.

That is, after all, why we write it. To share it and to have someone else understand it.

*PS. One bad comment and I close the commenting. I'm not in a place to handle that.  It's definitely a "say something nice or nothing at all" kind of post.

Stuck in the Snow

Spinning, spinning, stuck in place
All these questions yelled in space.
Can't find answers in the silence
Plead my heart out, verge of violence.

Sighing, sighing, can't move away
All these feelings wrapped in dismay.
Can't see the sunlight and the path is gone
Eyes are closing, need the dawn.

Screaming, screaming, no one to hear
All these steps that brought me near.
Can't move forward and can't move back,
Don't know how, this is what I lack.

Seeking, seeking, set me free
All these hopes of who I'm meant to be.
Can't live my life completely alone,
It's not mine, but yours to own.

Waiting, waiting, here I am,
All these words from a battered man.
Can't move, can't live, can't see, can't find
Heart is empty, broken, here--ready for redesign.


Book Talk: Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 0373210280
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
Description: Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.

When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough….

First line: I looked down the hall and noticed one of the few people who had never been fazed by my reputation.

I hated Bridget. I mean, from page one I hated her. And I think that was brilliant, why I kept reading.. As the story went on, I liked her more and I struggled with that because I didn't want to. I don't understand her much but yet, i do. She was intriguing protagonist. I had to know what happened and that was why I kept reading. I was enthralled by Bridget and couldn't put the book down!

It's a good story about how our actions and words effect other people--and how we don't really know what when we do it. There are repercussions that we have to eventually come to terms with and moments in other people's lives that we have no idea about. This book explored that.

Ultimately, it was okay. It didn't suck or anything but in the end I was dissatisfied with the result. Harbison spent most of the book replaying scenes, merely changing from one point of view to the other. The best of these was Meredith's scene. (As well as Liam's.) It could've gone a little deeper with the characters and I wish more time had been spent showing us other instances (besides the ones we saw at the beginning). I liked seeing there opinion of those things--and seeing them from Bridget's perspective in their eyes--but, it seemed to drag. And where those moments could have readched huge depths, they only seemed to scratch the surface.

When she gets to go home and "Fix it" I thought it all came to easily. I wanted her to struggle with it more--and perhaps to fail. Everything seemed to be wrapped up in a pretty bow as "I've seen the error in my ways and I'm sorry." And everyone forgives her. I guess I didn't find it believable. The fact that it happens over twelve hours made it hard to do that.

So much of the book was spent telling us how horrible she was to everyone and then it was wrapped in thirty pages. I wanted to really see her struggle with her horrible-ness, not just cry and ask for forgiveness. I really wanted to SEE her change. Or, again, to see her fail. I also wanted to see everyone's apology. Some were left out--and having been a huge part of the story--should have been explored. I felt cheated.

All in all, it was a good then lackluster. I won't buy it for myself but it has a lesson. It has Liam, who is too good for Bridget, and it really shows the side of forgiveness that people aren't willing to provide. Huh....that explains my feelings from before. Perhaps it's not believable because we don't easily forgive. Something to ponder. 


200 Followers WINNERS

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway---and my sincerest thanks for following. There are lots of good things on the docket already for this year and I can't wait to share. The winners are below! Since we're in a snow storm, it may be a few days before I get to send it out. Keep an eye out. :)

Kindred: Jessica B.

Secrets, Satin and Silver Linings: Briana

Sapphique: Jessica E.

My Misadventures as a Teenage Rockstar: Akchita S
Swag: Claire B & Braiden A.

Afterlife: Christi A.

Bitter Melon: Anna H.


Launch into Across the Universe

Today is 1/11/11. What does that mean? It's the release date for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis!! 

Header courtesy of Novel Thoughts.

My goal by the end of this post is to make you want it. In fact, if you make it through this post before you buy it, I'll be impressed. Oh yea, you can buy here: 
(They have signed books there!) 

AND, when you get your pretty finished copy, you can enter this contest!
If you don’t know, which you should, I LOVE this book. In fact, here’s my mini-review. You can read my full review here!
Godspeed that has been traveling though space for 300 years. The people aboard are waiting for the new society that lies ahead. These are the people who will populate the uncharted territory—them and the secret stash of frozen bodies that lie under the main levels of the ship. Amy is one of the frozen. When she is woken 50 years before Godspeed is scheduled to land on the new planet, everything goes into chaos. She’s too different, too much of anomaly and her very existence threatens everything, including Elder. Elder is the next in line to lead the ship to safety and despite the commands from Eldest, the current leader, there’s something about Amy that he can’t ignore.  Elder finds himself at the center of a mystery that’s bigger than both he and Amy, he knows she’s the only person he can trust. But can Amy allow herself to trust Elder? The answers to everything lie within each other. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is an adventure that everyone will want to read—boys and girls, moms and dads—and you won’t want to miss this incredible thrill ride, that’s part-dystopia, part-sci-fi and part-all the things you’re afraid to wonder about. 
The great people at Penguin (who you should follow on twitter, too!) reached out across the blogosphere to join in the celebration of Across the Universe!! They have given some exclusives that have never been seen before today. Why? Because we have some things to celebrate!

First off: an EXCLUSIVE video in which Beth talks about ATU and explains everything you need to know (not everything but a lot!) about the layout of the good ship Godspeed. 

Wow! So cool! There's also this fabulous website that launches today, www.acrosstheuniversebook.com where you can explore Godspeed and the world or ATU. You can look and see where every incident in the book happened. It's really cool to visualize and play around with. I love getting to see the Feeder Level and the Keeper Level.  The site is full of author and book information and some incredible background downloads.

And, there’s this other epic thing where you can read the first 111 pages at io9. It will be posted today only from 11:11 AM—11:11 PM. 

I know, I know. That’s amazing . Can you handle anymore? If so, check out the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE book page and the Penguin page on Facebook.

You can also get to know Beth Revis (who is fantastic by the way) by checking out her website, her blog, and her twitter.

I hope you are drooling--like, incessantly. I hope it’s so bad that you keep scrolling back up, wanting to buy this book. You should do it. You won’t regret it!

and congrats to Beth!!!


My 2011 Goals

My only resolution for the year: Make 2011 awesome.

Instead of making New Year's Resolutions that I forget about in a couple weeks, I decided to make some goals that I would hope to achieve in 2011--and some monthly resolutions, which I'm calling challenges. I like that word better. Not everything is ironed out yet but most of it is, so I thought I should post it. I like accountability! :)

2011 Goals
Things I want to work on all year!
  • Write! I want to finish this WIP and write at one-two more. 
  • Read. I'd like to read 100 books--12 of which will be classics.
  • Be more intentional. This includes personally, spiritually and blogger-ly, especially by commenting on EVERY post I read. It's all about support! (Thanks to Gail & Erica for the idea!)
  • David Tennant. I want to watch everything he stars in that I can get my hands on. He's brilliant. (I mean, I named my nook after him.)
  • Try. Do at least one new thing every month.
  • Be joyful. Everything I do is purposeful, fun and uplifting. I want to be happy and positive, not let things get me down. Be content all around. 
And, a side not for '11, since I only have limited control. The Elevensies. Get as many to sign my nook case as possible--the perfect marker of The Year of Awesome/new decade.

Monthly Challenges
Each month I will pick one of these to focus on. They aren't designated to a month yet--since I won't know what month I can/need to work on what. So, when I figure that out, I will inform you!
  • Write every day. I don't do this like I should. So, as inspired by NaNoWriMo, I want a copy month in which I write x amount of words every day! When I do this, I'll offer it up & see if anyone else wants to join. It's a good discipline that I don't follow as I should.
  • Read YA staples. I haven't been in YA long. And, because of that, I've missed out on a lot of major YA staple books and authors. I'll spend a whole month reading people like John Green, Meg Cabot, Neil Gaiman, Susane Colasanti, Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Echols. When the time comes, I'll probably ask you for some suggestions.
  • Journal month. I used to journal ALL THE TIME. I mean, I still have some from middle school. It's a habit I want to get back into. So, I'm going to dedicate a month to it.
  • Month of prayer. Yall, I am a bad pray-er. So, I figured I'd try to spend a month intentionally doing just that. This year is about self-improvement and challenges and this is both of those things.
  • Be healthy month. I know, I know...health is ongoing. But I don't know basics. I have a friend who does--eating and exercise--and I want to learn. Maybe a month isn't long but I have to start somewhere!
  • No TV month. *gasp!* I know. I watch a lot of tv...too much. So, at some point this year, I'll spend a whole month without it. Think of all I'll get accomplished! *gulps*

That's six months--half the year. It's a good place to start. I figure everything will line up at some point. I can say that the only month I have nailed down is January: Survive!

After experiencing 1/4 of it, I can say that's going to be tough!

What about you? What are some things that you have planned for the year?


200 Followers Giveaway!

I'm excited! 200 followers--that's so awesome! You totally, totally rock!! I'm not going to delay  the giveaway news with some big speech. BUT if I could do this, I would...

O_O hehehehe...

And as The Doctor would say to each of you: You are brilliant. (Really. He would. I promise. You can see here.)

Anyway. We're casting lots for prizes! Here are the rules, it's pretty simple.
  • You get three lots (entries) for being a follower. You can use them toward anything that you see here! They can go toward one prize or you can split them up. It's your choice. 
    • If you are casting all your lots toward one book, there's an option that says "Add the rest of my lots to this entry." If you click that, whatever remains will go there.
  • You MUST BE a follower to enter. Since, I'm celebrating you. :) Normally I don't require that.
  • This IS international.
  • Giveaway ends on January 11.   
 There are no extra entries but feel free to spread the word!  

Here's what's up for grabs! (All are ARCs) You can click on a book for the info.

And this Author Swag Pack!! I have two of them. :)

It includes: Brightly Woven bookmark, Mockingjay tattoos and mini-posters, an Across The Universe goody, signed A Touch Moral swag, Michelle Zink bookplate & signed Angelfire swag. 

That's the giveaway!!! Here's the form. Thanks for following!! 2011 is going to be such fun!

Across the Universe WINNER/200 FOLLOWERS!!!

First....I HAVE 200 FOLLOWERS!! WOO!! So...a contest is coming. I'll post the details late tonight or early morning! Thanks everyone for following me!!

Stacy from Urban Fantasy Investigations!!

Congrats Stacy!

<----------You just won THIS ARC!!!

 I'll send it out to you soon!

To those of you who didn't win, Beth has this HUGE/AWESOME AtU contest happening on her blog with TONS of ways to the finished copies, waterbottles, swag and it's international!

Check out that contest right here!!


Hey, good looking! Let's celebrate!!

If 2011 is going to continue like this, I have no doubt that it will be absolutely awesome! *throws confetti*

For starters, look at my blog! Isn't it just so lovely? The amazing Amy re-designed everything for me--including my header which I'm in love with. She even made those cute buttons in my sidebar so everyone can pass along the noise! I owe a hugely ginormous thank you to Amy for taking the time. I love it!  Another thing that will happen in a few weeks will be loosing the blogspot IP address and gaining a .net one. Stay tuned for that.

This is my Nook!!

His name is Tennant Fitzwilliam North. You may call him Fitz or Tenne (pronounced Ten-nay) or Doctor. His name is a mouthful but it took a lot of thinking. 

Tennant: as in David Tennant, aka Tenth doctor from Doctor Who.  He was my favorite and I think he's brilliant. One of my goals this year is to watch everything he's been in that I can find. 

Fitzwilliam: as in Darcy. As in Pride & Prejudice. As in yum. 

North: as in main character from Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken. I love North. And it just sounds good at the end. :) 

Last night was epic again because I finished Part One of my WIP! I've been toying with this story since September and really writing since NaNo. It's a three part beast. I wrote Part Two first and have been dying to finish Part One. It felt like it would never happen but now it has! I'm pumped about it. Only thing that's left is Part Three and then I can share with my readers and CP and jump into edit mode! Woo!!!

Now, the big announcement: I'm *almost* at 200 followers! *throws more confetti* It's kind of mind-blowing. I thank each and every one of you because you are awesome! I'm devising a giveaway of awesome to celebrate! After I reach 200, I will let you know all the details once I've figured them out. I promise I will try to make it amazing!

We're only five days in but how was 2011 been for you?