Saturday, May 29, 2010

Supernatural Saturday: Blood Promise

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?
The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.
He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?
[from Goodreads]

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens who love good vampire drama
High point:  The empathy the reader feels for Rose
Low point:  Lissa
Reader maturity:  15+

I can't believe it. She did it. Again. Richelle Mead surpassed all of my expectations and created, not only an amazing 4th book in a series, but a story that's even better than the 3 amazing novels before it!

In Blood Promise, we're taken along for a ride to Russia with Rose, and we get to see her vulnerable side, her thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams. It's a great next step in character development. I've lamented in the past that Rose matures and then de-matures, but in this novel, she shows a lot of growth and self-control, making me love her even more as the main character.

Even though she's away from the Academy, we check in on Lissa, Christian and the gang through Adrian's dreamwalking. And someone (my new favorite little spitfire!) puts Lissa in her place by stating the obvious--that Lissa is kinda selfish. That's when Lissa finally stops being so irritating to me;  she finally gets a little humanity in there with her Moroi blood too.

I've had a soft spot for Adrian for a while, and Blood Promise doesn't let me down in that department. The ending is sweet and hopeful, and even though I have a pretty good guess how the next book will turn out, I'm still rooting for Adrian.

There are several chapters in this novel where nothing really happens;  Rose is in the same place for weeks and does the same things over and over...but I never got bored. It was interesting to me to see what Ms. Mead did there, catapulting us into Rose's head so that we were just as lost as she was. Blood Promise is the best book in the Vampire Academy series by far, and they're all pretty amazing.

One thing I've disliked about the previous novels was the needless adult content. Blood Promise is much cleaner. There are some intense romantic situations, but the type of scenes that appeared in the earlier 3 books are missing from Blood Promise, making it suitable for a slightly younger audience.

Title:  Blood Promise
Author:  Richelle Mead
Genre: Young Adult Horror and Suspense
Year: 2009
Book Source:  Purchased

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 5/28

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
In Jennifer's words:
This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

**Don't forget to check out the Pay It Forward giveaway that's going on here in the Box! Happy hopping!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pay It Forward Giveaway [CLOSED]

It's finally here--Bookish in a Box's first ever giveaway, to Pay It Forward!!! I've accumulated several ARCs, courtesy of other bloggers' giveaways, and I want to say thanks to the blogging community and all my followers for being so awesome the last 5 months. Let's get to it!


Books in the Box:
[UPDATE] As ARCs, some of these books have been read by several people before they got to me. Truly, Madly:  A Novel, Day of the Assassins and Fever Crumb have each been read once. Rules of Attraction, Hush, Hush and A Match Made in High School have (presumably) been read more than once, but they're still in good condition!

Rules in a Box:
  1. You do NOT have to be a follower, but I'd love to have you around, of course! :-)
  2. You must be 13 or older to enter.
  3. US addresses only. I love my international followers, but shipping is exorbitant. (My next giveaway should be international though!)
  4. Ends [updated:  at 11:59 pm CDT) June 14th, 2010.
  5. There will be 3 winners of 2 ARCs each. 
    1. The 1st winner gets 1st pick of 2 ARCs.
    2. The 2nd winner gets their choice of 2 of the remaining ARCs.
    3. The 3rd winner gets the 2 that are left.
  6. Winners will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond 
  7. Entries will only be accepted using the FORM, and you MUST include your email address so I can contact you. No email = no books.
  8. Winner will be chosen using a spreadsheet random number generator. 
I've never had a giveaway before so I'm sure there will be some bumps in the road, and I reserve the right to amend the rules as needed. (Hopefully this won't happen, but just in case...)
    Extra points in a Box:
    1. +2 for being an old follower (before 5/26).
    2. +1 for being a new follower.
    3. +2 for tweeting/facebooking/blogging/linking anywhere else. Leave a link or it doesn't count. (You only get points for one link, but you're free to do more!)
    If you can't see the form below, you can find it here.

    If you have questions or problems accessing the form, email me at whatinabox at gmail dot com, and I'll get back to you ASAP.

    Want to Read Wednesday: Linger

    In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.
    [from Goodreads]

    This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Review of A Match Made in High School

    When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.
    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:   3 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience:  Younger YA readers, contemporary fiction fans
    High point:  The just desserts
    Low point:  The youthful drama
    Reader maturity:  13+

    I wasn't really sure what to expect with A Match Made in High School. I knew I really wanted to read it for some reason;  it just seemed happy and...pink. The swag that came along with the ARC made me swoon. Cute little ring? Check! Bookmark? Check! Notepad disguised as a matchbook? Check and check!

    Admittedly, I was a little disappointed. I'm starting to figure out that real-world type YA fiction is more often than not a miss for me, but that's not the fault of AMMIHS. Kristin Walker is a funny author;  the writing had me giggling aloud several times. I liked the main character Fiona, but there's a point in the novel where she comes to realize that she's a very harsh and horrible person. I didn't really get it. I thought that, yeah, she'd made some mistakes, but the people upset with her were just as bad. They sat up on their high horses looking down while she tried to get them back. I would've moved on. That might be because I've learned a few things since high school.

    Fiona's "husband" seemed like he was going to be such a tool, but as the layers peeled back, he was revealed to be a much more interesting person. His girlfriend, the cheerleader, also turns out to be nicer than she first appeared. [SPOILER] And then, most importantly, the token jerk-boy gets his in the end. Ah, fiction, I love thee. [END SPOILER]

    There wasn't too much swearing and the high school kids seemed like high school kids, not an author trying too hard to be hip by using weird lingo. Like I said, Kristin Walker is funny. A Match Made in High School isn't anything I'll probably be reading again, but it was fun while it lasted.

    Title:  A Match Made in High School
    Author:  Kristin Walker
    Genre:  Teen Fiction- - Contemporary
    Year:   2010
    Book Source:  Won an ARC from The Book Pixie

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Wannabe Writers #17

    Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

    One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

    I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


    I've been remiss in commenting the last few weeks, but I'll try my best to visit everyone this week!

    Where I am in the writing process:  Working on Novels #2 and #3 in my head.

    My current problems:  Time...but as soon as things settle down, finding time shouldn't be a problem.

    Question(s) this week:  Do you recommend finishing (and polishing) a novel, even if you know the story would never be strong enough for publication?  To finish just for the sake of finishing or to focus your energies on a better project? 


    Yes! Finish the novel! The process of editing and revising is so beneficial. My beta reader for my first novel pointed out [bad] writing habits I have, and I learned where I am as a writer. If I hadn't finished, I wouldn't have realized approximately where my skills fall.

    However, I don't necessarily think you should finish every novel. I believe that there will be times that I find a story just doesn't work or I'm not a strong enough writer to tell it, but if I'm at least 1/3 of the way through, I'm going to finish it!

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Supernatural Saturday: Review of Watcher in the Woods

    It's not just the house that's keeping secrets.

    Pretending everything's all right is harder than it sounds. But the Kings know that even if they told the truth about the bizarre things happening in their house, no one would believe them. They're hyper-focused on rescuing their lost family member before anyone finds out what's going on.

    But when a stranger shows up to take their house, their options start dwindling fast. Why would he be so interested in a run-down old place? And what secret is he hiding--just as he hides the scars that crisscross his body?

    The mystery gets stranger with each passing day. Will the Kings be able to find a way to harness the house's secrets and discover who is watching their every move before another gets snatched into an unknown world?

    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:   3 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience: Male readers, wannabe time travelers
    High point:  The crabby old man
    Low point: The sluggish pace
    Reader maturity:  10+

    Watcher in the Woods is the 2nd book in the Dreamhouse Kings series. I was pretty impressed with the 1st book, House of Dark Shadows, but Watcher in the Woods failed to capture my attention as fully.

    Watcher in the Woods was a slow read. While there was some action and mystery, most of the novel dragged in plot, if not in writing. At the end of the book, I hardly felt closer to discovering the secrets of the house than I did at the end of book one. There were a few interesting subplots--the crabby old man who breaks out of the nursing home--but the Kings didn't seem to do much but argue until the very end, when things finally got interesting.

    The writing style and quality are about the same as House of Dark Shadows (so...pretty good), and I didn't mind being in Xander's head. Though frustrated with the slowness of the storyline, I did enjoy what progress was made by the Kings. As with the 1st book in the series, I would recommend Watcher in the Woods to sci-fi/paranormal/mystery readers, especially males.

    Title:  Watcher in the Woods
    Author:  Robert Liparulo
    Genre:  Fiction & Literature
    Year:   2008
    Book Source:  Purchased

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Reading Habits

    I saw this at Inside of a Dog, and I'm borrowing it from Kathy Martin, who borrowed it from Simcha at SFF Chat,  who borrowed it from Floor to Ceiling Books, who got it from The World in the Satin Bag, about books and reading habits. I hope that credited everyone!

    Since I'm currently supposed to be packing  moving  mentally exhausted, I don't have time to write a review so I thought I'd present some more "about me" material. Sound good?

    Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

    Sometimes I chew on a Starburst or two, but other than that, no. I used to be able to read and eat breakfast at the same time, but I'm not that talented anymore.

    What is your favorite drink while reading?

    My favorite drink of all time is Dr Pepper, but if I drink cokes while reading, they go flat because I forget to drink them. So...water.

    Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

    The only book I've ever drawn in is Bridget Jones' diary, where I marked the super-funny parts or the bits that my HS best friend and I joked about all the time. In general, writing in books horrifies me.

    How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

    Bookmark, piece of paper, empty gum wrapper...whatever's handy. I used to dog-ear or lay the book down, but that's so bad for the pages and the spine.

    Fiction, nonfiction, or both?

    Fiction. I went through a historical non-fiction kick in elementary/middle school that I'm still not over.

    Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

    Either the end of a scene or the end of a chapter. Otherwise, I get terribly lost.

    Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

    No! Even if I don't like the book, it should still be treated kindly. Someone else might like to read it.

    If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

    Never! Never have, probably never will. I'm too lazy to stop;  context clues are enough.

    What are you currently reading?

    The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness [update:  The Agency:  A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee and The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness]

    What is the last book you bought?

    The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson, A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, Uninvited by Amanda Marrone and The Debs by Susan McBride (it was a big shopping trip!) [update:  Boneshaker by Cherie Priest]

    Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

    I always read multiple books at a time.

    Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

    Currently, my bed. I used to a have a little reading nook but new furniture took up that space. Hopefully in my new apartment, I'll have the couch or a comfy chair. [update:  Ha! Well, hopefully I'll have somewhere other than my bed soon!]

    Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

    I like series because so much more can happen (see:  Vampire Academy, Heather Wells mysteries) but stand alone books are nice too if I want closure (see:  anything by Sarah Dessen)

    Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

    Lately, I've been recommending The Dark Divine by Bree Despain and Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens. My three favorite authors are Bradbury, Crichton and King, so I promote them a lot too, particularly the latter. If he didn't write horror, he would be more widely recognized as one of the greatest novelists of our time. The Awakening by Kate Chopin gets a lot of talk time from me too.

    How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

    They're in alphabetical order by author. Within a particular author, they're in alphabetical order by title, unless it's a series and then it's chronological. To make it even more confusing, I pulled my pretty, newer books out and gave them their own shelves, where they follow the same organization scheme.

    Book Blogger Hop 5/21

    The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
    In Jennifer's words:
    This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
    So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Quick Little Update

    Hi! *waves sleepily* I just wanted to say hello to all my new followers (and to the old ones too!). It's been a busy couple of weeks, but I'm finally working my way up the mountain of stuff I have to do instead of just throwing things on the pile. Hopefully I'll be back writing and commenting next week.

    I have so much catching up to do with writing, blogging and reading, but I think the busiest time is finally over. My schedule is still sort of wacky (do you realize how hard it is to change your sleep schedule by four hours?), but I'm getting to where I've got time to breathe again. I hope you guys are having a fantastic spring! Congrats to all those who are graduating and may you enjoy the sunshine!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Want to Read Wednesday: Shiver

    For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

    Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

    [from Goodreads]

    This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Review of Numbers

    Whenever Jem meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die.

    Burdened with such an awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. But while they’re waiting to ride the Eye Ferris
    wheel, Jem notices that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today’s number. Today’s date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem’s world is about to explode!

    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:   2 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience:  Younger YA readers
    High point:  Non-stereotypical supporting cast
    Low point:  Spider
    Reader maturity:  15+

    Based on the reviews that I read, I eagerly awaited Numbers, but the book left me feeling flat and unsatisfied.

    Jem, a girl who can see the Numbers--death dates, if you will--embarks on a road trip, fleeing London after a terrorist attack she thinks she's being accused of. It sounds like a great plot, but everything fell flat.

    It might could be attributed to my upbringing, but I just could not relate to Jem. She was bitter and angry and not the brightest crayon in the box. Her crush on Spider grossed me out too;  Jem kept talking about his foul body odor because Spider didn't shower for days or weeks at a time. Call me shallow, but where I'm from, it's hot and you had better shower EVERY DAY and apply deodorant liberally or you're going to smell. Bad. And everyone is going to stop standing anywhere near you. How hard is it, in London, to bathe every day or so? It's not even hot up there! So, to smell that bad, Spider must've been quite averse to water. And...just...yuck. It makes my nose hurt just thinking about it.

    Disregarding the repeatedly mentioned stench, Spider and Jem never really connected to me. Jem was okay by herself, but she and Spider didn't have the spark or sizzle of friendship, let alone young love. Jem also makes a lot of foolish decisions that I couldn't empathize with. Her ability to see people's numbers was an interesting plotline, but I couldn't get into the rest of the novel.

    One thing I did like was Jem's foster mother. She wasn't a witch, and she didn't hate Jem;  she went out of her way to be patient and caring. This was a nice change from the usual evil stepmother-type family situation.

    Assuming that it's just me unable to relate to Jem, I thought Rachel Ward was a good writer, and I'd like to read some more of her work. Numbers just wasn't for me.

    Title:  Numbers
    Author:  Rachel Ward
    Genre:  Teen Fiction - Fantasy
    Year:   2010
    Book Source:  Won from Bookworming in the 21st Century

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Wannabe Writers #16

    Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

    One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

    I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


    I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

    Where I am in the writing process:  I spent the week moving and didn't get a single word down. In fact, I think these are my first all week! I'm still settling in and running around, trying to finish too much in too little time.

    My current problems:  Time...but as soon as things settle down, finding time shouldn't be a problem.

    Question(s) this week:  How to start a story.  I've never been very good a writing hooks.  Any suggestions?  How did you start your story?  (Dialogue, description, action, etc.)

    My most recent story started with a vague idea about what topics I wanted to cover;  one morning, I woke up and the first line was just there! The first scene is sort of a discussion with the reader.

    With my 2nd WIP, the idea and first line just popped into my head while riding in a car, toying with stories that fit the scenery as it flew by. The hook here changed a few times;  it was description, now it's action. I don't know which one I prefer yet.

    The first WIP started with a scene that ended up having little to do with the rest of the novel and received heavy editing as a result. It starts with an action flashback. I have no idea where the inspiration came from.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Book Blogger Hop 5/14

    The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
    In Jennifer's words:
    This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
    So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Review of English Trifle

    Things to Do in England:
    Visit Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the London Zoo 
    Take the Jack the Ripper tour creepy! 
    Sample authentic English scones and crumpets 
    Discover a dead body 

    What begins as a holiday trip for amateur sleuth and cooking aficionado Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, turns into a bizarre mystery when they discover a dead body in the sitting room of an English manor. Breanna's boyfriend, Liam, is heir to both the family title and the family estate of Southgate, where everyone seems to have a secret . . . or two. When the body in the sitting room disappears, Sadie and Breanna are stranded at the estate until the police can clear them to leave. With their departure delayed, they might as well solve the murder. Armed with a jogging whistle, her personal recipe collection, and an unfailing sense of American justice, Sadie begins her own investigation to find the killer. But as Sadie uncovers layer after layer of misdirection, secrets, and outright lies, she wonders if anyone is telling the truth or if the case is really as hopeless as it appears to be. Take a missing family history, toss in a secret romance, mix with a mysterious murder, and this is one vacation Sadie will never forget.
    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:  3 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience:  Mystery solvers
    High point:  The whodunnit
    Low point:  Too much backstory
    Reader maturity: 13+

    I dove into English Trifle expecting an Agatha Christie-type murder mystery in the vein of Miss Marple. In a way I was right, the novel is set in England and thrusts the reader into the awkward (for an American) world of butlers and maids. On the other hand, the primary character, Sadie Hoffmiller, is decidedly less of a detective but no less entertaining.

    English Trifle took a few chapters to draw me in, but once I was hooked, I was racing to discover whodunnit before Sadie. I wish the novel had included less backstory because Sadie's out-of-place reminiscing about events that must have occurred in Lemon Tart (the first in the series) threw me out of the action time and time again. Sadie also recalls bits of random and only sometimes related information. I found that character trait annoying and distracting.

    Character quirks aside, Ms. Kilpack knows how to write a good mother-daughter relationship. The college-age daughter was pretty moody, waffling between helpful to being in love to being completely standoffish to her mother. I can relate. That's one of the best descriptions of a mother-daughter relationship I've ever read. English Trifle is definitely a novel geared toward a more mature crowd (it's clean, but it's not YA) and Sadie's daughter Breanne brings a little bit of youth that keeps the novel from coming across as stodgy.

    I was surprised by the ending, having only figured out the culprit a few pages before Sadie. The solution isn't a stretch, and the author does a terrific job of giving the relevant information to solve the puzzle without giving away too much too early.

    As mentioned, this is a clean novel geared toward a more mature crowd. Though some YA readers may enjoy it, they would likely find the pacing slow and the exposition slower. It's not boring, by any means, but it doesn't contain page-turning action sequences or dark and forbidden romances. English Trifle is for readers who want a good, solid mystery novel to pass the time.

    Title:  English Trifle
    Author:  Josi S. Kilpack
    Genre:  Mystery
    Year:   2009
    Book Source:   Received for review from
    Pump Up Your Book Promotion; no other compensation was received.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Want to Read: Knight Angels: Book of Love

    When seventeen-year-old Jane Taylor witnessed her father's death at age seven, something happened to her. Ever since, her thoughts have been consumed by death, going so far as to foresee the ever-changing deaths of those around her.

    Sixteen-year-old Emily Taylor always resented her sister’s closeness with their father, who died when she was only six. Ever since she can remember, she’s had the strange ability to read minds, something her father held the key to. Left helpless, she drowns herself in a world of prescription drugs, sending her responsible older sister Jane – who acted as the mother her real mother refused to be – over the edge.

    Seventeen-year-old Wes Green was adopted as a baby, left carelessly by parents that clearly did not love him. He moved in next door to Jane, sharing an alleyway window and finding in her a childhood friend that soon turned into his high-school crush. All summer, though, the pain that’s been wracking his body seemed to come with no explanation. He was done growing, was plenty healthy, and worked out regularly as a member of the wrestling team. When senior year starts, though, and the pain gets worse, the changes ahead of him are anything but what he expected, and far to animal for his taste.

    When Max Gordon, doomed to be a teenager for the next thousand years, found himself standing above her dying body, he saw in her bright eyes something he hadn’t seen in the nearly one-hundred-years he’d spent roaming Earth. Her father was already dead, but there was a chance he could still save her from the wreck. Jane was her name, and she was only seven, but already she was all he ever wanted. It was his job to bring her back, but it was an act that could have been the biggest mistake of his life.

    When four teens enter Glenwood High on an unseasonably cool day in September, no one but Max could understand the future that was ahead of them. Drawn together by blood and friendship, they each hide a dark secret that will soon help to bind them even closer.

    When the one face Max hoped to never see again shows up on school grounds – his evil twin brother, Greg – he knows that coming back for Jane was the wrong thing to do. Finding that Greg already knows about Max’s attraction for Jane, Max finds he can no longer hope to leave again, afraid of what Greg will do.

    Max has to protect Jane, Jane wants to be normal, Wes wants Jane to love him, and Emily just wants the voices to stop…

    And Greg… he just wants everyone dead.

    [from Goodreads]

    This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Review of Fallen

    There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

    Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

    Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:   4.5 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience:  Teen girls, 20-somethings, anyone with a hankering for clean paranormal romance
    High point:  The Sword & Cross boarding school inmates
    Low point:  Luce's initial relationship with Daniel
    Reader maturity:  13+

    Fallen follows the legally crazy Luce Price as she chases after the mysterious Daniel Grigori, a fellow student in reform school.

    I went into Fallen with extremely high expectations. I couldn't help it! The cover was gorgeous, and the plot sounded like a good read. Though I can understand why so many of the reviews I read labeled Fallen as hit or miss, I wasn't disappointed.

    I saw where the other bloggers were coming from in their hot/cold reviews. I didn't really see the connection between Daniel and Luce or understand why she kept chasing him when he kept telling her to stay away. It came off as desperate rather than romantic. Things picked up between them about halfway through the book. If the whole book had been written that way, Fallen would've had more hits than misses.

    Romantic weirdness aside, I really enjoyed Fallen. It has the perfect amount of meat--it's not emotionally heavy, but it's not fluff either. The crazy reform school inmates are a little bit scary (like they're supposed to be), but they're also shown as being people underneath all the psychosis and medication. Long before Luce, I figured out what was going on so Fallen felt a little like The Dark Divine in that there were so many mini-flashbacks that it became distracting. Overall though, Fallen is well-written. The reader identifies with Luce, and she's a refreshing shot of light in the darkness of the Sword & Cross boarding school. She's emotional and confused and disheartened and a little bit obsessive, but other than the stalkerish bent of her attraction to Daniel, she doesn't come off as whiny or weak or pitiful. She's not really a strong character--she's so uncertain that she gets tossed about by more dominant personalities--but she's identifiable and a good character to follow. Due to her situation, she's a little girl lost, rather than simply being an immature teen.

    During the second half of the book, I fell for Daniel, hard. I still don't understand why he does the things he does (or doesn't do, in certain cases), but it's a really neat romance, a little different than what I've read lately, especially among the paranormals. All of the supporting cast are neat too;  the only one that felt flaky to me...I don't want to give away the ending, but maybe she was supposed to be superficial.

    All in all, I recommend Fallen. It's a quick, satisfying read for teens of all ages and young-adults-at-heart who skulk through the YA section in the bookstore.

    Title:  Fallen
    Author:  Lauren Kate
    Genre:  Teen Fiction--Horror & Suspense
    Year:   2009
    Book Source:  Won from sheknows.com

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Wannabe Writers #15

    Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

    One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

    I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


    I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

    Where I am in the writing process:  I thought I wasn't going to have anything to say here except that I sent off my [requested!] manuscript of Novel #1 to an agent. BUT THEN...due to my impending move, I've been driving from my current home to my new town a lot, which is a sojourn of no small length, and had a lot of time to think up a new plot. I wasn't sure where to find my "point of change," but when I woke up this morning, a beautiful opening line popped into my head and I was off. 

    Normally, I'm pretty groggy between washing my face and numbly slathering my toast with peanut butter, but this morning, I was writing furiously. I typed up two pages while eating breakfast and trying to remember which keys my fingers were supposed to touch. Success! I haven't been able to think on Novel #2 properly for weeks, but the floodgates have opened now that I've started a Novel #3. This happened with Novel #1 as well, so I'm guessing that's part of my process.

    My current problems:  Err...still time. I'm in the middle of making a major move! My to-do list actually says "breathe" on it right now and has, on occasion, reminded me to do just that when I'm turning a pale blue color. Just a few more weeks, and I'll be back in action!

    Question(s) this week:  Would you be disappointed if 5 years from now you still wrote 500 words everyday and weren't published? What then?

    I wouldn't be disappointed 5 years from if I didn't write 500 words every day. I love writing--don't get me wrong--but my career, that thing that pays the bills and makes me excited to go to work everyday, is in the sciences. Writing is my creative outlet, like drama and choir were in high school. I don't want to push it and make it a chore. I would LOVE to be published, but first and foremost, that's not why I'm doing it.

    BUT, in the spirit of the question--yes, if I wrote 500 words a day for 5 years and actively tried to get published and wasn't able to...I'd be disappointed. Sorely disappointed. I'd probably have a mental hissy fit and give up writing for a while to give me time to calm down. Then, after my feelings recovered sufficiently, I'd pick up my figurative pen and have at it again. I'd try to think of all the things I learned while writing for the 1st five years and apply that to the next five. Maybe I just needed to get the not-so-great stuff out of my system to make room for the great stuff to grow. :-)

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Book Blogger Hop 5/7

    The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books so that readers and bloggers can get to know each other a little better.
    In Jennifer's words:
    This is a weekly event where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read.  It's a great way to network with other bloggers and make new friends!  Every day I seem to find another book blog that I start following. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!  It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed!
    So head over to the Blog Hop and have some fun! Thanks for stopping by!

    The Friday 56: Dark Visions: The Passion

    Closest Book:  Dark Visions:  The Passion

    Author:  L. J. Smith
    Page 56, sentence 5:  "Jackal Mac caught her wrist from behind. 'Hey, she fights! I like that.' Kaitlyn jerked her hand out of his grasp. 'You haven't seen anything yet,' she told them, and gave her best wolfish grin. It wasn't acting. This was genuine, from the heart."







    Rules:
    * Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
    * Turn to page 56.
    * Find the fifth sentence.
    * Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
    *Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
    * Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Want to Read Wednesday: Penitence

    Book Two. Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open?
    [from Goodreads]

    This meme is hosted by Boy with Books. I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Review of A Season of Eden

    He's my teacher. I shouldn't be alone with him. But I can't help that he's irresistible. I let the door silently close at my back. He stared at me, and a taut quiet stretched between us. "I like hearing you play," I said, moving toward him. He turned, in sync with my slow approach. He looked up at me but didn't say anything. I rested my clammy hand on the cold, slick body of the baby grand. "May I?" The muscles in his throat shifted, then he swallowed. "Eden." My knees weakened, like a soft tickling kiss had just been blown against the backs of them. "Is it okay?" I asked. His gaze held mine like two hands joined. He understood what I was really asking. "Let me stay," I said. "Please." "You're going to get me in trouble," he said.
    [from Goodreads]
     
    Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
    Target Audience:  Teen girls
    High point: Emotional depth of Eden
    Low point: Lots of awkward moments
    Reader maturity: 13+

    A Season of Eden explores Eden's relationship with her choir teacher, Mr. Christian. As expected, her infatuation leads to several awkward situations but also some valuable lessons.

    As in Jennifer Laurens' novel Heavenly (J. M. Warwick is a pen name), the reader is drawn into the main character so completely, the outside world ceases to exist. In A Season of Eden, this led to some awkwardness for me. I could see what Eden was doing to her teachers with the short skirts and leg crossing, even if she didn't give a second thought to it.

    Don't be misled;  Eden is not a shallow girl looking solely for a good time. She wants a real, stable relationship, but since her mother died and her father spends all of his time with his PYT wife, she has no idea how to look for it. Looking for it in her choir teacher, who is not, admittedly, that much older than her, she makes a lot of mistakes, falling into the habits of her past. Unlike before, she doesn't give up; she works for what she wants, even when that means not doing anything but waiting.

    [Possible spoiler] Though there are some awkward scenes where the reader's probably going to be yelling at Eden for being naive, nothing inappropriate happens or is insinuated. A Season of Eden is a good, clean book, exploring the lonely life of a lost teenage girl.

    Title:  A Season of Eden
    Author:  J. M. Warwick
    Genre:  Teen Fiction
    Year:   2008
    Book Source:   Received from author

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Wannabe Writers #14

    Wannabe Writers is a meme created by Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published!

    One of my goals right now is to move my literary ambitions out of the box and onto the shelf, by which I mean that I no longer want to ignore  how   much I enjoy writing. I love the idea of this meme, and I'll quote from Sarah's post here:

    I often find myself searching the web for information during my struggles as a new writer.   So I wanted to start a place where us future young-adult authors can come together to  ask those questions, share our stories, and get feedback.


    I'm  going to be offline for the day, but I will read your lovely comments and get back to y'all on your blogs ASAP next week. :-)

    Where I am in the writing process:  Ugh, I didn't get around to anyone's posts last week; I'm so, so sorry!! There's lots of [good] stuff going on around here, and the internet has been pretty low on my priority list, as has my writing. The one (*1*) night I had time to write, my brain wouldn't work so I didn't get much on [digital] paper. 

    On the positive side of things, the agent who requested a query from me asked me for a full. This is, of course, a really positive experience. Even if nothing comes of it, I feel like I'm really doing this writing thing (as if 1.5 novels weren't enough!). I can't wait to get back to a schedule so that I can do some good work again.

    My current problems:  Time. There's not really anything I can do about it right now except ride it out. Life should be back to a new normal in 3 or 4 weeks. I'll use the time to figure out where I'm taking my characters next!

    Question(s) this week:  What to do to get myself back into writing? What to do to get myself excited about an old story?

    I'm really not the person to be giving out writing opinions this week, but I'll try (and keep it short and sweet). :-)

    To get back into writing:  It might be helpful to start something new to get creative juices flowing and then switch back to the old story once your brain is on the right track.

    To get excited about an old story again:  What made you abandon the story before?
    • Poor writing
    • Dead-end plotline
    • Boring characters
    • Overcomplicated elements (for your writing maturity)
    Identify the problem and tackle that. If the writing quality is poor, it might work to use the old MS as an outline and completely start over with the writing.With a dead-end plotline, go back a few chapters and see where it took the lethal turn. Add some spark to your characters.