Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Silence

SILENCE (Queen of the Dead #1)
Michelle Sagara
Paranormal Young Adult
 256 pages
DAW
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
"It began in the graveyard... "
 

Ever since her boyfriend Nathan had died in a tragic accident, Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that's all it was. For Emma, life had stopped with Nathan's death. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there--Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. And when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death....
 

Emma was not quite like others teenagers. It was true that other girls had experienced grief. Other girls had also lost their fathers, or had their boyfriends die in a senseless accident. But though she hadn't known it till that night in the graveyard, unlike those other girls, she could see, touch, and speak with the dead. In fact, Emma could draw upon the essence of the dead to work magic. That was what Necromancers did. But Emma had no desire to be a Necromancer. She just wanted to help the ghosts who walked the streets of Toronto, unable to escape from the land of the living. And that was just as well, because had she chosen the path of the Necromancer, Eric would have had to kill her.
 

Instead, Eric and his fellow Necromancer hunter Chase found themselves violating every rule they were sworn to follow, becoming part of Emma's group, helping her to stand against those who preyed upon the dead. But whether Emma and her friends could survive such a battle was anyone's guess. And whether Emma could learn to use the magic of the dead against her enemies without herself falling victim to the lure of such power remained to be seen. Eric seemed to think she could, and her living friends would never abandon her. But only time would tell what Emma's true destiny was.... 

MY THOUGHTS
Silence is beautiful in its possibilities, sparkling with promise and tempting us with a fascinating premise to crack its spine and dive into a new and dark world. While necromancy isn’t necessarily a new and novel paranormal concept, Ms. Sagara’s twist that those with an affinity for the dead are hunted down and assassinated certainly is, and we read on with breath held waiting to see how Emma’s fate unfurls. Though the new, violent take on necromancy piques our curiosity initially, we quickly realize that any questions we have about the ins and outs of Emma’s ability are going to go unanswered, just as the reasons behind a necromancers immediate death sentence is going to continually elude us, leaving nothing but vague half-truths and skilled deflections in their place.

Emma, much like the story itself, has a great deal of potential as a heroine. She’s emotionally strong, rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her boyfriend Nathan and ensuring that her closest friends, especially autistic Michael (the highlight of the story for me), are all taken care of. Her strength though, while admirable, is part of what keeps us from forming a visceral connection to her, as she rarely lets those around her see or share the weight she’s carrying. When she learns of her gift for necromancy and Eric’s subsequent assignment to kill her because of it, she asks very few questions, instead preferring to fumble around in the literal and figurative dark, seemingly content to handle things on her own despite her confusion while we want nothing more than to assume control of her voice and ask everything she refuses to.

In addition to a surprising lack of detail regarding the necromancy, how it works, and why it's feared so greatly that death for the necromancer is the only possible outcome, there are also a myriad of questions left wide open with regard to Emma’s personal life and her relationship with Nathan. We’re told of Nathan’s death early on, but because there are no flashbacks and very few memories of Emma’s time with him, his loss is intangible – an event that elicits a brief flash of sympathy from us before fading into the background, leaving us a bit indifferent to his role in the book rather than completely devastated by his loss. The haunting ache and acute pain we might expect as a result of the death of someone so loved by our protagonist is missing, and we find ourselves frantically searching for a tether to bind us to either characters or story before we’re swept away by the force of all that’s unknown.

Overall, Ms. Sagara has crafted a world more than interesting enough to inspire readers to pick up the second installment, though hopefully moving forward Emma will take pity on us and seek out as much information as possible regarding her ability so we can all find ourselves a little less lost.



Rating: 3/5

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Revived

Cat Patrick
Young Adult
336 pages
Little, Brown
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.


MY THOUGHTS
Revived has a fascinating premise, the idea of a super drug able to thwart death raising a series of intriguing questions for both us as readers as well as our young protagonist. How differently would we live our lives if the threat of death no longer had the finality it does now? While physically we would perhaps take greater risks—live louder, faster, harder—emotionally would be an entirely different story, something Revived brings to the forefront as Daisy settles into her new home in Omaha. We are presented with two different versions of death in this story–Daisy’s type of death wherein the loss of life is merely an inconvenience easily remedied, and then the type of death that leaves us feeling hollow, empty, and struggling for purchase as the world tilts and knocks us off balance—and we read with no shortage of anticipation as Daisy is forced to take a closer look at how death has irrevocably shaped her life.

From the first chapter in which we experience one of Daisy’s deaths with her, we find ourselves glued to the pages, unabashedly curious about a drug able to wrestle someone back from the clammy hands of death with no physical or mental consequences. Daisy in the beginning is content with her world, slightly put out at their nomadic lifestyle given they have to relocate after each of her untimely demises, but ultimately she doesn’t question her handlers or the Revive program itself. To our immense relief, meeting Matt and Audrey in Omaha ignites in her a desire to uncover the intricacies of the drug and the twenty-one other people in the program, and while we don’t uncover as many details as our eager minds might like, we at least find ourselves fully supporting Daisy as she starts asking the questions we’ve wished to give voice to from the beginning.

The romance with Matt is a sweet one, smiles plastered to our faces when we see them together, but theirs is not a relationship that has the paper pages acting as electrical conduits to shoot currents up and down our arms. We enjoy our time with them but aren’t necessarily swept up in the intensity thrumming between them, more like we can feel their phantom fingers wrap around our hearts but they never squeeze, instead we just take note of their pressure now and again as Matt and Audrey navigate a shared pain. While the romance is not the type to feel out of place or as though it’s been added perfunctorily, more interesting to read about than their love is how death affects the two of them individually, and how Matt’s visceral reaction to his loss makes Daisy reevaluate everything she’s ever known and experienced. It’s the juxtaposition of the two of them – the young woman for whom death is merely a new beginning and the young man for whom death is a messy, painful end—that makes Revived continue to play through our minds long after we’ve finished reading.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post + Giveaway: Justin Gustainis + Evil Dark



Today I'm pleased to welcome urban fantasy author Justin Gustainis back to the blog to give us a fun top fifteen list. Take it away Justin!

THE TOP FIFTEEN THINGS PEOPLE SAY WHEN I TELL THEM I WRITE URBAN FANTASY
 
15.  “That’s, like, stories for black people, isn’t it?”

14.  “Oh, you mean children’s books?”

13.  “Yeah, well, I could do that too, except I have a life.”

12.  “You do?  Tell me -- what’s Joss Whedon really like?”

11.  “Isn’t that just another name for porn?”

10.  “I’ve got this great idea for a series about vampire cops. Will you write it for me?”

 9.  “Wow, that’s fantastic! Let’s go to my place and have sex.”*

 8.  “Is that right?  So, what’s your real job?”

 7.  “You mean dragons and trolls, and shit like that?”

 6.  “You spent all those years in grad school to do that?”

 5.  “I hear that stuff’s hot right now – you must be rich, huh?”

 4.  “I thought only chicks wrote that stuff.” 

 3.  “That’s nice. What name do you write under?”

 2.  “Oh? I only read literature, myself.”

And the Number #1 response that I get when I tell people I write urban fantasy is:

“Cool!  I just loved those Twilight books.”

*Okay, that one hasn’t happened. Yet.

Justin Gustainis is author of the “Haunted Scranton” series, consisting of Hard Spell, the recently released Evil Dark, and Known Devil (scheduled for 2013).  He is also author of the ongoing “Morris and Chastain Investigations” series, and a standalone novel, The Hades Project.

Thanks so much for stopping by Justin! I have to say #9 had me snorting while making this face O_o :)  More information on Justin and his books can be found here:

Website
Goodreads
Amazon

GIVEAWAY

Justin is generously offering up a copy of Evil Dark to give away on the blog today! This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL, with the winner able to choose from either a signed print copy or a digital copy, and will run through midnight EST on Friday, June 29th after which time a winner will be chosen and emailed. Good luck everyone!


My name's Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

A series of seemingly motiveless murders of supernatural creatures points to a vigilante targeting the supe community. Markowski wouldn't normally have much of a problem with that, but his daughter may be next on the killer's list...


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Seraphina

SERAPHINA (Seraphina #1)
Rachel Hartman
Paranormal Young Adult/Fantasy
464 pages
Random House Children's Books
Available July 10th
Received via NetGalley for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.


MY THOUGHTS
Seraphina is a grand, sweeping fantasy where a precarious truce between humans and dragons keeps war at bay, and while life among dragons is obviously something we can’t realistically relate to, the thread of prejudice running throughout on both sides is more than enough to yank us into the story heart and mind. The lack of understanding between both species is staggering, with neither human nor dragon deigning to learn anything significant about the other, instead both irrationally cling to a long-standing hatred perpetuated generation to generation. It’s this aspect of the story that anchors us amidst a sea of unusual and fantastical creatures, and it’s pleasantly confusing to try and sort through our feelings towards each group as we attempt to ferret out information on both species that neither group seems willing to research on their own.

While Seraphina’s world is a fascinating one, the beginning chapters tend to drag a bit (as is often the case when there's a significant amount of world-building), our connection to people and events held at bay as we’re bombarded with unfamiliar terminology and a rather large cast of characters given Seraphina herself has seventeen individual companions existing in her head alone. There is a glossary of terms in the back, though those with an e-reader will likely not benefit from it given the difficulty of trying to flip back and forth in a digital format, but inevitably those who have a physical copy will be grateful for the thorough description of both terms and characters. About a third of the way through however, the strange words and unusual descriptions lose their foreign quality, and the story quickly picks up as the leader of the dragons makes his way to the human royal court.

Seraphina is an intriguing heroine, not a young woman who leaps off the pages at us from the first chapter, but rather someone who takes her time garnering our favor, holding pieces of herself so close to her chest we can’t get a good look at them until she slowly starts to unfurl and lets us get a glimpse of the real girl. She’s highly intelligent and possesses an unexpected sense of humor that seems to pop up at random times to shock us into a laugh, and once we’re immersed in her world and learn her secret, we find ourselves fiercely protective of this young girl who has not once been accepted for the truly extraordinary person she is. She’s hidden herself her entire life due to her own fear as well as the rampant fears of others, and it’s hugely satisfying to watch as she starts to take pride in herself, flaws and all, and trust those around her to see with more than just their eyes and their preconceptions.

After a somewhat sluggish and disorienting start, Seraphina blossoms into an engaging paranormal murder mystery with a touch of light romance worked in, and we’re given a solid conclusion to the first installment with still a myriad of possibility for Seraphina and company moving forward. Those who are lovers of fantasy most likely won’t be quite as lost in the sea of unusual terms as the world is built piece by piece in the beginning, but I would encourage those who don't attempt fantasy often to keep reading and allow Seraphina’s subtle charm to work its not-insignificant magic.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are You Ready? The All Male Review Challenge Schedule


I'm beyond excited today to share with you the schedule for the upcoming All Male Review Challenge, it promises to be ridiculous amounts of fun. What's the All Male Review Challenge you ask? Well, I have all the details courtesy of Missie at The Unread Reader below, but I think the most important thing you all need to know is it has to do with boys. Delicious fictional ones and the men and women who write them. WIN!

Some of you who read the blog frequently may have noticed I tend to harbor rather epically intense crushes on my fictional boyfriends, and what better way to fan the flames of my impressive passion than to participate in an event that actually challenges me to read about as many boys as possible? I've made this sound a little slutty haven't I? Well done me. Be prepared my friends. I'm a highly competitive person, so factor that in with my fictional sluttiness and I'm going to be a force to be reckoned with. YOU WILL NOT BEAT ME! 

In all seriousness though, this should be a lot of fun, so I hope you'll sign up and go toe to toe with me (or boy to boy, whichever) and the other fabulous ladies hosting the event. Missie has kindly compiled all the information you'll need to participate, so I'm just going to steal it all directly from her:

Ever feel like you don’t read enough young adult novels by male authors or featuring male protagonists? Then we have the reading challenge for you!

Yes, that's right, The All Male Review Challenge is back by popular demand. And this year's challenge is bigger and better than ever because we are kicking off this month long event with a giveaway hop! But there's more... Beginning on JULY 1st and running until JULY 31st, any YA book you read and review by a male author or containing a male protagonist is eligible to be entered into our Linky collection. At the end of the month, winners will be chosen for our Mega Hot Prize Packs of books! Plus, throughout the there will be special spotlights on authors who give us the best of boys in books, and each guest post will include a mini-giveaway!!!

The All Male Review Challenge Schedule:
July 1st: GIVEAWAY HOP  

July 2nd: Welcome/Review Link up post

July 3rd: Interview with author Katie McGarry and giveaway of Pushing the Limits hosted by The Unread Reader 

July 9th: Male authors roundtable and signed books giveaway hosted by Danny of Bewitched Bookworms

July 16th: Lish McBride guest post and giveaway of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer hosted by Melissa of Books and Things

July 23rd: Interview with author Veronica Rossi and giveaway of Under the Never Sky hosted by Jenny of Supernatural Snark  

July 30th: Interview with author Mike Mullin and giveaway of Ashfall hosted by Jen of In the Closet with a Bibliophile

August 3rd: Announcement of Grand Prize Winners

 We are still pulling together the grand prize packs, but so far...

PRIZE PACK 1
Partials by Dan Wells
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Zombie Blondes by Brian James
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Brendan Halpin and Emily Franklin

PRIZE PACK 2
Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
The Last Domino by Adam Meyer
Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese

PRIZE PACK 3
Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2) by Mike Mullin
Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
Doing It by Melvin Burgess

International Prize Pack
Streamline by Jennifer Lane (e-book. Thanks to Omnific Publishing)
Destiny's Fire by Trisha Wolfe ( (e-book. Thanks to Omnific Publishing)
 Ember by Carol Oates (e-book. Thanks to Omnific Publishing)
Breaking Point by Jess Bowen (e-book. Thanks to Omnific Publishing)

Are you excited? I know I am! More details are coming soon, but we wanted to give you time to get your reading list together for July. Remember, only YOUNG ADULT books featuring MALE protagonists or written by male authors will count for this challenge. Books with alternating narrators (POVs) also count as long as one of the main characters is male. And there is still time to participate in The All Male Review Giveaway Hop! Come on! Giveaway your favorite boy boyfriend, you know you want to. Help us get the word out. Grab our button!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Midsummer Dream Fair: J.L. Bryan Giveaway



Hey Everyone!

I'm just doing a quick post today to let you know about a fantastic giveaway as part of the Midsummer Dream Fair. Author J.L Bryan has organized a month-long event featuring a variety of indie authors, with interviews and fun giveaways galore. And possibly unicorns if you believe the poster.

The fair is drawing to a close, but J.L. is hosting one last amazing giveaway on his blog, and you really don't want to miss it. For all the details, visit J.L. HERE.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Shine

SHINE (Shade #3)
Jeri Smith-Ready
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Simon Pulse
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.

As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart.


MY THOUGHTS
The Shade series is one that elicits from us a strong emotional reaction, ripping our hearts out almost immediately with Logan’s tragic death and then alternately stitching it back together and ripping it open again as Aura deals with his status as a ghost as well as the arrival of Zachary and her subsequent feelings for him. Due to the absence of both Logan and Zachary at the beginning of Shine, our emotional investment in this third and final installment isn’t quite as strong initially, and we’re a left with an unexpected loneliness that has us frantically turning the pages in search of our beloved Scotsman. Once we’re assured of his presence, no matter the physical distance remaining between him and Aura, we’re able to settle in and direct all our considerable focus into reviewing the possibilities of how things are going to work out for the last of the pre-Shifters and the first of the post-Shifters.

Aura is and has always been a thoroughly enjoyable heroine, a young woman with an astounding resiliency who copes with one painful punch to the gut after the next as her life spirals out of control in the wake of Logan’s death. As mentioned above, there is a sense of emptiness in the opening chapters and for most of the first third of the book when Zachary is notably absent, however, while we feel her acute need for him, it never once crosses the line into obsession nor does she deteriorate in mental strength without him there to support her. She wants to be with him, she loves him, and she desires his safety above all else, but she also is beyond strong on her own, making plans and taking action until she lays eyes on him again.

Though Logan has finally passed on prior to the start of this last book, Ms. Smith-Ready does a beautiful job of threading Logan’s presence subtly throughout, never allowing us to forget him but also gloriously granting many a reader’s wish – to see Aura and Zachary’s relationship become the sole romantic element throughout. We feel Logan in this story, but the poignancy of Aura and Zachary’s love is finally given the full spotlight, and we can’t help but smile every time we see their names appear side by side on the page. Their relationship is not all sweetness and light though, as they face a myriad of challenges and seemingly omniscient foes at the hands of which death would be a mercy not likely granted.

Overall, Shine wraps up Aura’s story impressively despite a slightly slow beginning, answering all our questions about the Shift itself, Zach and Aura’s respective roles in it, and the future of the ghost-seeing world. Fans of the series will no-doubt delight in the romance and find themselves with brows creased in concentration as the mystery of the Shift unfolds—smiling, grimacing, cheering, and possibly tearing up as we walk the final leg of these cherished characters’ journey.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Arise

Tara Hudson
Paranormal Young Adult
404 pages
HarperTeen
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Amelia—still caught between life and death—must fight for every moment of her relationship with the human boy Joshua. They can hardly even kiss without Amelia accidentally dematerializing. Looking for answers, they go to visit some of Joshua’s Seer relatives in New Orleans. But even in a city so famously steeped in the supernatural, Amelia ends up with more questions than answers…and becomes increasingly convinced that she and Joshua can never have a future together.

Wandering through the French Quarter, Amelia meets other in-between ghosts, and begins to seriously consider joining them. And then she meets Gabrielle. Somehow, against impossible odds, Gaby has found a way to live a sort of half-life...a half-life for which Amelia would pay any price. Torn between two worlds, Amelia must choose carefully, before the evil spirits of the netherworld choose for her.

MY THOUGHTS
Arise is a strong sequel to last year’s Hereafter, Amelia’s ghostly existence increasing exponentially in complications as she tries desperately to make a life out of death. Ms. Hudson avoids many of the familiar second-book elements, giving us plenty of tension without the frustrating addition of a love triangle while creating a series of realistic (for a ghost story) relationship roadblocks for our main couple. Arise is everything we could hope for in a second installment—the connection between Amelia and Joshua characterized both by sweet moments that satisfy our inner romantic as well as painful realizations that wipe the dopey grin off our faces and fulfill our somewhat twisted desire for drama.

Our resident ghostly heroine is as enjoyable as ever in her second appearance, inherently curious about the eccentricities of her afterlife, but not so curious as to run unthinkingly into danger without pausing to look at the situation from all sides. As much as she wants to stay with Joshua and continue their strange and beautiful relationship, she understands the limitations her existence places on the two of them more than the overly optimistic Joshua does, and while she acknowledges the selfish desire to ignore those limitations and revel in the bliss of her ignorance, she proves to us she’s made of stronger stuff than we might have expected and makes some difficult personal decisions.

In Hereafter, it was fairly easy to get caught up in the romance blossoming between Amelia and Joshua–the fact that she’s a ghost overshadowed by the fulfillment we got in watching her find a companion and confidante in him–and we basked in warmth as Joshua chipped away at her loneliness until it was nothing but dust at her spectral feet. In this book though, the complications of her being dead are a more central focus, and we can’t help but appreciate the way Ms. Hudson addresses the questions we've been asking ourselves given our hero is in love with a girl who will never age, who he can never introduce to his family, and who he can never even speak to in public without a passerby raising a questioning brow. Arise introduces us to solutions to a couple problems while causing a myriad of new ones, keeping us on our toes the entire time we read as we attempt to anticipate what intriguing curveball will be hurled our way next.

Overall, Arise doesn’t tease us with filler content or tap dance around major issues as we’re set up for the next book, instead progressing Amelia and Joshua’s relationship in interesting ways while thickening the plotline surrounding the netherworld and Amelia’s unusual connection to it. The conclusion is completely satisfying with events wrapped up nicely but without the perfect bow, and we eagerly look forward to seeing what’s in store for Amelia and Joshua after their time in New Orleans.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: One Moment

Kristina McBride
Contemporary Young Adult
272 pages
EgmontUSA
Available June 26th
Received through Teen Book Scene for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?


MY THOUGHTS
Based on the synopsis it’s not hard to predict the type of story One Moment will be, nor is it difficult to deduce Joey’s secrets long before Maggie figures them out, however, the overall predictability does not detract even the slightest from the rawness of Maggie’s pain as we're drawn into her sudden devastation with sure fingers wrapped around our hearts in an unrelenting grip. Joey’s death is just the beginning for Maggie, and though we can clearly guess what’s coming for her, the tension is almost greater as a result of our enlightenment when she remains so stubbornly in the dark, Joey’s secrets weighing on us as much as they do those around her who have knowledge of them. Each chapter eats at us, the tiny black letters on the pages morphing into predatory entities ravaging us mentally and emotionally until we’re laid wide open and feeling just as vulnerable as our protagonist.

Maggie is a fairly uncomplicated young woman, presenting us with little challenge in trying to read between her lines or analyze her every thought and action as we search for a darkness or extra layer that just isn’t there. She’s by no means a flat character, instead she seems so genuine from the very beginning that it’s beyond easy to project ourselves onto her, sliding seamlessly into her position as her entire foundation crumbles and she slowly but surely sifts through the pieces to build again with stronger materials. While her friends at times call her selfish for being so introverted after Joey’s death–seeming not to notice or acknowledge the pain of those around her–we as readers have a difficult time agreeing with that label, our time spent in Maggie’s head showing us clearly the chaos her mind is trying to manage and how strong her love for her friends is even when those friends are being less than honest with her.

When the truth finally comes out in its entirety and Maggie’s memories are restored to her in gut-wrenching detail, our respect for her grows exponentially as she shoulders the weight of the revelations when others would surely collapse under the strain. She cries, she yells, and she gets justifiably angry, and through it all we whisper in her ear words of encouragement to assure her she’s right in her feelings, a reassurance more for ourselves than for her given our hurt cuts as deep and our anger burns as bright despite our distance as readers from the events. We may technically be observers in this tale, but our hearts are as tangled in the mess Joey left behind as Maggie's is, and we read on wishing, however hopelessly, that she had the opportunity to get the answers from him she so rightfully deserves.

Overall One Moment is a tragic and painful story, but through it all we have a young woman in Maggie who opens her eyes wide after having them shuttered for so very long, and walking beside her as she copes with not only the loss of Joey himself, but also the loss of the love and trust that shattered on the rocks along with him, brings a smile to our faces despite our agony.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Author Interview: Huntley Fitzpatrick + My Life Next Door


I'm really pleased today to be a part of the promotional tour for Huntley Fitzpatrick's contemporary young adult novel My Life Next Door. Thanks to Teen Book Scene, I was able to ask Huntley a few questions about Samantha, Jase, and the entire amazing cast of characters, so I hope you enjoy! This book caught be my surprise in the best possible way (you can read my full review here), and is certainly going to be one I buy a copy of for the keeper shelf so I can read it again and again.

What might Samantha say was the one thing she most admired about the Garrett family from simply observing them? Would she say that one thing changed once she got to know the family as individuals?  

How everything looked easy and was perfect in a more real way than her family defined it. She would say it did change, that every family has its faults and its struggles and its crazy moments that you can’t see from a distance. But those are generally the best and most real of all. 

If you were seventeen again and could have any celebrity or book character climb through your window and fall madly in love with you, who would it be? 

When I was seventeen, having someone climb in through my window and fall for me was a big fantasy of mine. It would have been Pierce Brosnan. I had a picture of him on my wall back then and just thought he was perfect. If I were seventeen now, it would probably be Augustus Waters from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. However brief, it would be worth it. I would still open the window for Pierce, though.

Is there one personality trait of Samantha’s (or Jase’s) you wish you possessed, or one you’re most proud of?  

Samantha tries hard to show up for the people she cares about and struggles to do the right thing—I hope I do that. 

What’s the strangest or most inconvenient place you’ve been when an idea for a story has popped into your head? 

I am always ONLY in inconvenient places when I have ideas. On a bike ride, in a shower, at a teacher conference, on a playground with no scrap of paper available for miles. I leave myself a lot of messages on the phone and use my lipstick and store receipts for purposes for which they were not intended.

What’s the very last word you wrote for My Life Next Door and what one word best describes what you were feeling when you wrote it?  

What a great question. The very last word I wrote was the scene at the Garretts where Tim sends Samantha over to talk to her mother and find out what she said to Mrs. Garrett. I’d written the conclusion earlier, but then realized I’d left Tim in the house while all these dramatic things were going on without saying what he was doing. So I figured out he must be outside, smoking. He needed his own last words, so the last words I typed were “Go find out. I’ll man the fort here.” I felt elated and relieved to be finished with the book, but also this sense of incompletion…like…I wonder what happens to Tim now.

Thanks so much for stopping by Huntley! More information on Huntley and My Life Next Door can be found here:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
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Amazon buy link

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR (from Goodreads)

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Transcendence

TRANSCENDENCE
C.J. Omololu
Paranormal-ish Young Adult
336 pages
Walker & Company
Available Now
Received from publisher through Netgalley

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider.
 

As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet—an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.
 

Full of danger, romance, and intrigue, Transcendence breathes new life into a perpetually fascinating question: What would you do with another life to live?

MY THOUGHTS
Transcendence starts out strong, an emotional and violent vision assaulting our heroine as she wanders the Tower of London with her sister serving to yank us into the story as we can't help but wonder how a woman with so tragic a fate as the one in the vision is linked to sixteen year-old Cole. Things continue in a rather fascinating vein from there, numerous flashbacks to both the woman facing public execution as well as a young Italian immigrant with an extraordinary talent for music keeping our attention glued to the pages as we look for the clues that will link everything together. Certain aspects of the story we see coming, however Ms. Omololu also manages to toss a few surprises in the mix to keep us sufficiently on our toes, and we make our way quickly and easily to the end, enjoying asking ourselves the “what if” questions that inevitably accompany ruminations on reincarnation and past lives.

Much like the story itself, Cole makes a memorable first impression as we're tossed around in the temporal confusion of her past and present lifetimes with her, and we share in her desire to figure out who these two young women were and what exactly happened to them. She’s adorably awkward with Griffon in the beginning, checking her phone an absurd number of times to see if he’s called and hyperaware of his every movement, but about midway through she starts to shift forms – going from an interesting young woman with a sweet crush to a more stereotypical young adult heroine who makes rash decisions and jumps to drastic conclusions without taking a moment to truly think things through.

While some behaviors can be given a bit of a free pass due to her young age and the enormity of the pressure she’s suddenly under given the new memories dominating her life, there’s one particular instance with regard to Griffon toward the end that elicits a groan from us as she does the exact opposite of what we’d like her to do. Her best friend Rayne thankfully is a voice of reason, pointing out Cole’s dramatics to her and acting as a logical devil’s advocate, and though it falls on deaf ears, we at least take comfort in her more level-headed nature. Granted, should Cole have approached the situation logically and with a tad more maturity, the climactic conclusion might not have been quite so action-packed, but there are times when the desire for a teenage character to demonstrate rationality far outweighs the need for a dramatic showdown.

Despite the drawback of Cole’s behavior toward the end, Transcendence is a story with legs – the intricacies of reincarnation opening up a myriad of possibilities and guaranteeing us an entertaining journey as Cole’s memories come trickling back bit by bit. The sneak peek of book two at the end promises emotional upheaval for our two young (or old depending on how you look at it) protagonists moving forward, and that promise stays with us after we finish – a glorious taunt to ensure we come back for more.

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Fun HarperTeen Style: SPF9 Epic Giveaway




Who's excited for summer? *raises hand* Though it's not quite as exciting as it was when I was in school and summer meant 3 months off, I still love this time of year, and the people over at HarperTeen are trying to make it even better with some amazing giveaways and opportunities to experience their books. Love it.

Before I get to all the giveaway goodness though, HarperTeen has a few other things made of win I wanted to share with you. First up:

See the art.

Spread the love.

Join the Resistance

Love is not a disease.

Follow the above link to join the Resistance from Lauren Oliver's Pandemonium by sharing some beautiful posters with your friends to help encourage recruitment.

EPIC READS

Have you heard of Epic Reads? No? Well HarperTeen has recently launched EpicReads.com, a central location of awesomeness for all of HarperTeen's books, and now we can all officially join. Yay! The people at Harper can explain it a bit better than I can, so I'll let them give it to you straight from the source:

EpicReads.com is the new hub for all of HarperTeen’s books. We’ve also launched two channels, for readers who prefer particular genres. If you’re a huge fan of paranormal or dystopian fiction, PitchDark.com is the channel for you! Rather read about romance than werewolves? Then you should definitely explore the StoryCrush.com channel! Each channel has its own blog, contests, polls, quizzes and forums – so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, win free books, & chat with authors!

I just registered this week, I hope to see you guys on there!

YA CRUSH TOURNAMENT

This tournament isn't related specifically to HarperTeen but I wanted to include it because it should be a blast. The YA Sisterhood is hosting their Crush Tournament in which all our favorite book boyfriends go head to head to see who's the hottest crush of the year. It's nomination time again, and now through June 19th you can nominate your top 10 YA crushes and see who's already topping the list.

Topping my personal list this year is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer's Noah Shaw, followed closely by Kaidan Rowe of Sweet Evil. The fabulous Michelle Hodkin is offering fans extra incentive to add Noah to their lists (as if we need it) by offering up a special scene of our choice should he receive enough nominations. Maybe it will be another scene from his POV! You can find all the details on Michelle's Blog.

SPF9 GIVEAWAY

Last but not least, I have the SPF9 Giveaway (from HarperTeen):

Did you know… books provide excellent shade? HarperTeen is giving you the chance to sample your very own Sun-Proof Fiction with nine of our most fantastic summer reads in paperback. During the month of June, we’ll be tweeting our favorite beach reading photos with #spf9 hashtag, giving away books and more on HarperTeen’s Facebook, and spreading the word that books can be better than sunglasses.

To enter the giveaway, just visit HarperTeen's Facebook Page.

WAIT! Before you run off and enter (because this giveaway is unbelievably awesome), HarperTeen has given me the privilege of hosting a separate giveaway here on the blog. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and you'll be entered for a chance to win. Giveaway is open to US residents only, good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lies Beneath Blog Tour: Word Associations


Today as part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene I get to share with you some fun word associations from author Anne Greenwood Brown. I sent her a random assortment of words and she replied with the first thing that popped into her head. Love it. Lies Beneath  just released this week, and you can check out my full review HERE.

Hot chocolate -    Skiing

Stiletto -    Not in this Lifetime

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious -    Something Quite Atrocious

Green thumb -    The Hulk

Michelangelo -    Naked David

The Chronicles of Narnia -    Stupid Edmond

Gift -    Crap, I didn’t get you anything!

Supernatural -    Haunted Houses

Mr. Darcy -    Ahhhhhh. Darcy.

Fairytale -    Horror Story with Princess

Laundry -    Kids

E-reader -    Soulless

Summer vacation -    Lake Superior

Underwater -    Tinny

London -    Big Ben

Heroine -    Anne of Green Gables

Thanks for playing Anne! More information on Anne and Lies Beneath can be found here:

Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon Buy Link


LIES BENEATH (from Goodreads)

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. 

But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. 

Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Goddess Interrupted: Interview + Giveaway


Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you an interview with Aimee Carter, author of the paranormal young adult Goddess Test series. Also, thanks to the fabulous people at Harlequin Teen and Media Masters Publicity I have one copy of Goddess Interrupted to give away on the blog, so be sure and check the bottom of the post for details.

I'm a huge fan of all things Greek mythology so this series is right up my alley. While I have a few small issues with Kate and Henry (you can read my full review of Goddess Interrupted HERE), I really enjoy this series overall and cannot wait to get my hands on the third book!

As this interview was provided for me, some of you may have read it already, but I hope those of you who haven't enjoy reading as Aimee dishes on the series!

How familiar were you with Greek myths and folklore before writing the Goddess Test series?  Was a lot of research required?

I first fell in love with Greek mythology when I was a kid learning how to read, and my infatuation only grew from there. I’ve studied various kinds of mythology for years, sometimes for class and always for fun, but even then I put a great deal of research into the Goddess Test series. Mostly as a refresher to make sure I was getting my facts right, but I also researched the various myths looking for ways to tie the plots and characters together in unexpected ways.

Was Goddess Interrupted any easier or harder to write than the first book in the series, The Goddess Test?

It was both easier and harder, in a strange way. I rewrote The Goddess Test multiple times, and I’ve never edited a book more heavily in my life. Goddess Interrupted did require some editing, of course, but it was much easier.

However, the pressure to deliver a sequel worthy of the series made the writing process for Goddess Interrupted more difficult than I’d anticipated. There’s something called the “sophomore slump”, where sequels or second books generally don’t quite match up to the second, and I wanted to avoid that at all cost. So that added a lot of stress, but in the end, I was very happy with the results.

You give the gods and goddesses in the series “ordinary names” – Zeus is named Walter, Aphrodite goes by Ava, Hermes is named James.  Why did you do that and do the more contemporary names have any significance?

This was something I went back and forth on multiple times. Initially the characters Kate encounters weren’t council members at all – I changed that very, very quickly though. By the second draft, I had a place for each of the Olympians, and I did some heavy rewriting to replace my first draft characters with the gods. I wanted to find a way to keep their names the same, but since they’re supposed to live among us in secret in the modern world, it didn’t really make sense. How many men named Zeus do you know, or women called Aphrodite? On top of that, keeping the council’s identities secret was incredibly important to the plot. So eventually I decided they would have changed their names when Western civilization stopped worshipping them as gods, allowing them to live freely among us.

I did choose each name for what it means, some more than others – Walter, for instance, means “army leader”, while James means “supplanter”. The exception is Calliope, which in the story was chosen by her counterpart for its Greek roots. The reason the gods changed their names – and why Artemis didn’t wind up with the name Diana – is explained throughout the series, but you get to actually see this happen in The Goddess Legacy (July 31).

Goddess Interrupted begins with the main character Kate Winters adjusting to her new life as an immortal.  Given Kate’s innate strength and stubbornness, was it difficult to switch gears to portray her as a bit more vulnerable and unsure of herself in her new role as goddess AND wife?

Not so much, to be honest – her progression felt natural to me. While Kate is very tough in certain ways, she’s extremely vulnerable as well. She’s emotionally dependent on the people around her (her mother in the first book, Henry in the second), and that in and of itself carves the path she takes in the sequel. She’s spent six months with Henry, falling in love with him and forming a relationship she thinks is going to last for eternity. But Henry is battling his own demons and isn’t ready to be the person she needs him to be, and because Kate is so stubborn, she has a hard time coming to terms with that. In the sequel, Kate really is her own worst enemy emotionally – her entire world has changed, after all, and that’s a lot for anyone to take – but it’s all part of her development into a goddess and queen.

Kate finds herself trying to work through her rather complicated relationship with James, as well as her relationship with her new husband, Henry (Hades).  Neither seems to be black and white, but rather varying shades of gray.   Were any of Kate’s feelings or situations based on any relationship struggles you’ve been through?

Not personally, no, but I did try to make Kate’s relationships with the people in her life as realistic as possible. She isn’t perfect, and neither are they, and that’s something they all have to work through at varying points in the series. None of the relationships in the books are based off of specific experiences I’ve been through though.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

Outlining is by far my favorite part of the process. I love the idea stage, where anything’s possible, and it’s such a shiny place. All of that comes crashing down when I write the first draft though, which is the hardest part for me. I tend to get mentally exhausted about two thirds to three quarters of the way into the manuscript, and it’s always a struggle for me to push through it, especially if I’m on a deadline. And inevitably there are a ton of problems I didn’t notice in the outline stage that have to be fixed for the story to work. I’m a perfectionist, so in order for me to continue writing the story, everything I’ve already written has to make sense.

Do you have a favorite quote or line from a poem or book?

I love so many quotes that I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.

How did you get your first publishing deal and how did that feel?

My agent, Rosemary Stimola, sent the manuscript out to various publishers, and after a long submission process, Harlequin TEEN offered to publish it! I was stunned at first, but that quickly gave way to giddiness. It was an incredible feeling to know I’d be published, and to this day, I still can’t quite believe it.

When is the next book in the series due out? Any hints on what will happen in book 3?

Goddess Interrupted, the sequel to The Goddess Test, came out in late March. The next book in the series, The Goddess Legacy, will be out July 31. It’s a collection of five novellas told in the perspectives of Calliope, Ava, Persephone, James, and Henry, and together they form one story.

The third book in the series, The Goddess Inheritance, is currently scheduled to be released in March 2013. Unfortunately I can’t say too much about it, but the challenges that Kate will face are pretty clear by the end of the sequel!

After the huge success of The Goddess Test, Goddess Interrupted is on many, many TBR lists for this summer. What’s on your TBR list?

I’m so excited for a slew of books coming out – The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, Grave Mercy, The Selection, The Serpent’s Shadow, Philippa Gregory’s YA novel, and a ton of others. I never have as much time to read as I want, but I’m definitely making time for all of those and more!

Yearbook Superlatives! If you went to high school with the Greek gods and goddesses, who would you vote for?
 
•    Most likely to succeed? - Hera
•    Class clown? - Hermes
•    Nicest? – Demeter or Hephaestus
•    Best dressed? - Aphrodite
•    Best dancer? - Apollo
•    Most school spirit? - Iris
•    Most likely to attend summer school? - Ares
•    Teachers pet? - Athena

More information on Aimee and her books can be found here:

Goddess Test Official Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes & Noble
Buy at Harlequin
Watch the Trailer

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Media Masters Publicity, I have a copy of Goddess Interrupted to give away on the blog today! To enter, just fill out the form. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only, and will run through midnight EST on Friday, June 22nd after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR
Huntley Fitzpatrick
Contemporary Young Adult
395 pages
Dial Books for Young Readers
Available June 14th
Received through Teen Book Scene for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?


MY THOUGHTS
The pages of My Life Next Door contain more than simple black and white words, juxtaposing the chaotic warmth of a loving environment with the cool detachment hidden by a mask of perfection–two families worlds apart but yet separated by mere feet and a sturdy fence. Both the Garretts and the Reeds could be called the “ideal” family depending on one’s definition of ideal, and it’s fascinating to learn how the view of both from the outside is nothing if not skewed, reflecting none of the joy, pain, love, loss, strength, weakness or truth lingering within. The Garrett family lives in a home—pieces of them infused in the very wood and mortar holding it together–whereas Samantha and her sister and mother reside simply in a house–four walls and a roof all perfectly decorated and absolutely beautiful to those looking superficially—and we as readers are granted the glorious opportunity to follow Samantha as her world and her life are completely redefined.

Sam is quite literally an observer of life rather than someone who actually lives it each day, watching the Garrett family for years as they argue, play, support, and tease one another before returning to her fairly empty existence. Her gradual integration into the Garrett household is beautiful to watch, almost as though we can see the love they radiate flush her cheeks and pebble her skin, continuing to seep into her until she glows with a new confidence and knowledge that she is important and cared for now and always. There are times when she reverts back to her role as observer, watching the madness around her and allowing it control her rather than taking control of it with both hands, but she soon quickly realizes what she’s done and stands up in defense of a new love for Jase and the entire Garrett family as well as a new love for herself.

The romance with Jase is as perfect as any reader and lover of romance could wish it, gradually building and steadily growing without a cliché or common plot device to mar its beauty. Not a single preemptive declaration of love is uttered, no all-consuming attraction exists between them, and no third party enters into their relationship once it’s established; instead we get a sweet and awkward foray into emotional attachment and physical intimacy that has us giggling with glee and sighing in utter satisfaction. While the relationship between Jase and Sam is prominent, the relationships formed with all the secondary characters are exquisitely executed as well, the boisterous members of the Garrett household splitting our hearts into multiple pieces, each family member retaining ownership long after we’ve set the book down (though George’s piece might be the largest).

At times the reading of this tale can be a bit slow, the day to day lives and troubles of the Garrett family not necessarily causing us to flip the pages with record speed, however, there is a tension prevalent that refuses to dissipate, a simple knowing that tragedy is on its way that has us secretly wishing the quiet, simple moments could be drawn out to the fullest extent to allow them all happiness before the darkness rolls in. As hard as we wish we’re unable to keep that darkness at bay, and when it hits, our pain is acute and our anger powerful as the portraits of two very different families are torn to shreds and left in fragments of warm and cool colors that bleed together at our feet. Luckily for us, our beloved characters are stronger than we might have given them credit for in the beginning, and we’re left with the hope that those fragments will slowly find their way back to the whole.

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interview: Nalini Singh


Those of you who read this blog with any regularity are well aware that I'm a huge fan–dare I say a complete and utter fangirl–of Nalini Singh and both of her adult paranormal romance series. It goes without saying then that I'm absurdly excited to welcome her back to the blog today to answer a few questions about her latest release in the Psy-Changeling series, Tangle of Need. I think Nalini writes absolutely captivating characters, and hers are stories that bring a smile to my face every time without fail, so I hope anyone who has yet to pick up one of her books will give her a try!

You give those of us who absolutely adore Hawke and Sienna a gift in Tangle of Need by continuing their story right alongside Adria and Riaz’s. Is there one scene between Hawke and Sienna in this book that is a particular favorite of yours?

This is a really tough question! If I absolutely must choose, I think the scene with them in bed after the mating ceremony has a particular poignancy and power to it, showing us just how deeply they understand one another.

If you were to join the SnowDancer pack, what position in the hierarchy do you think you’d fill, and what skills do you have that would most benefit them as a whole?

Hmm. I’d probably end up Dalton the Librarian’s assistant. I would continue to be a storyteller, but the tales I’d tell would be those of the pack, and as Dalton would say – the past informs our future, so it’s important for the pack to never forget their history.

Let’s say there is a supernatural Guild Hunter/Psy-Changeling wife swap and Sienna spends a week learning Raphael’s world while Elena spends a week learning Hawke’s. What’s one trait each male would say they most admire in the other man's mate after spending time with them?

Though they are very different women, I think it may well be the same trait that would strike both Raphael and Hawke about each other’s mates: an internal strength that means the two women never give up, even when the odds seem insurmountable.

They are both women a man can rely on to walk by his side, no matter the obstacle in front of them. And that of course, speaks to another trait they share—their bone-deep loyalty to those they love.

The Psy-Changeling world is extraordinarily complex, and while each book focuses on mainly one couple, there are always multiple storylines playing out side by side. How do you keep track of all character and world intricacies you’ve created?

I do have a series bible with all kinds of notes in it, but each world exists as a whole in my head – and it’s such a visual creation that I feel as if I step into the particular world with each book, able to see the myriad story threads.

Is there any one aspect of Adria and Riaz’s relationship that surprised you while you were writing? Something that wasn’t necessarily planned?

I’m not a planner as such (not in terms of laying out a book from start to finish), so the evolution of every couple’s relationship is a surprise – Riaz and Adria were no different. I learned about them as they learned about one another.

Do you do anything in particular when you’ve finished a book for one series to help you get in the right mindset for the switch in world and characters before you start the next series?

I might take a few days break after I finish a story, watch DVDs of my favorite tv shows, catch up on some reading…but honestly, I’m usually itching to get back to the world I haven’t been in for a few months.

If you could take one of your characters on a book tour with you, who do you think would keep you and the fans entertained the most?

Can I pick one from each series?

For the Guild Hunter series, I think Illium would be the hands-down fan favorite. Not only does he like humans, he’s both fun and charming.

For the Psy/Changeling series, I think Drew would be great company—like Illium, he’s witty and intelligent, and also playful.

(And sneaking in one more…) I also think Brenna would be great fun to tour with—she’s so smart with technology that she’d be on top of everything, and she has a friendly personality that means she could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Also, she could dish about Judd. ;-)

Okay, I’ll force myself to stop there…though I could keep going and going and going…

The last time you were here I asked you this question:

If Hawke were to describe Sienna with a single word the moment he saw her upon her defection from the PsyNet, what would that word be? If he had to describe her now?

And you answered:

I think now and then, he would always call her strong. But now that he knows all the facets of her personality, he’s likely to use words like compelling and intriguing, too,…as well as one other that I’ll tell you after Kiss of Snow releases.

Can we have that last missing word now? :-)


Mine. :-)

*Jenny can no longer run this blog because she has died of an overdose of love (and also lust) for Hawke*

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Nalini! More information on Nalini, the Psy-Changeling series and the Guild Hunter series can be found here:

Website
Blog
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Amazon

TANGLE OF NEED (from Goodreads)

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Moment Blog Tour: Character Interview with Pete


As part of the promotional tour through Teen Book Scene, I'm super excited today to welcome Pete from the upcoming release One Moment to the blog. One Moment releases June 26th from Egmont, and I highly recommend it to all lovers of contemporary young adult fiction. I absolutely adored this book, and will be on the lookout for everything Ms. McBride writes in the future!

If you had to choose a song that best describes the dynamic of your friendship with Maggie and the others prior to Joey’s death, what would it be? 

Something fun and fast and twangy, with a bunch of instruments mixing together to make a perfect harmony. After his death? A slow tune with gloomy guitar/harmonica combination.

What is the craziest thing you, Joey, and Adam have ever done (aside from jumping off cliffs in the gorge)? 

One time, we had this contest to see who could hold on to the tailgate of Joey’s truck longest while riding through curvy backcountry roads on a skateboard. Joey won, of course.

The friendship between the six of you in One Moment is complex and not without its various secrets. Are you the type of person who would share someone else’s secret in the hope of fixing a delicate situation, or are you the type to keep it to yourself hoping everything will work out? 

It depends on the situation, but I’m more the type to keep it to myself and let things work out naturally. That said, I wouldn’t be afraid to jump in if needed.

Let’s say it was possible for you to have one more minute with Joey. What would you most want to say to him?

Either, “Dude! What were you thinking?” or just a simple “I love you, man.” It’s a toss up.

Joey planned a pretty perfect-for-her date for Maggie when they first got together. Where would you go and what would you do on a date you considered perfect for you? 

An all-day music festival, guitar in hand, with a girl who’s not afraid to grab a hand drum and join in the music mix. One of my favorite things in life is an impromptu jam session.

Thanks for stopping by Pete! More information on Kristina and One Moment can be found here:

Website
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Goodreads

 ONE MOMENT (from Goodreads)

This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BEA 2012 Wrap Up + Winners


(Before I start rambling about my BEA experience, I just want to say that I stole all the pictures in this post are from Melissa at I Swim for Oceans because I'm lame and didn't bring a camera.)

This year was my second year attending BookExpo America, and I have to say the the event just seems to keep getting better. Authors, publishers and publicists, and fellow bloggers were there in force and I had an absolute blast meeting as many people as I possibly could. Of course, because I'm me and can be more than a little challenged in large groups of people, the trip was not without its entertaining moments. Let's start from the beginning shall we?

For those of you who read my previous BEA post, you know Melissa flew to Ohio a couple days early before she, my mom, my mother-in-law (also known as the Moms) and I flew to NYC absurdly early on Monday morning. I'm not a morning person. Not even a little.

See this photo?


That's me on the right pretending to be excited by life at 5:30 in the morning at the Columbus airport. That expression fell from my face the minute after Melissa clicked the button and I returned to my sullen, half-asleep, "are books really exciting enough to wake up at 3:30am for?" state of mind.

For those of you who have never traveled with me, I have a secret for you. I'm bad news for anyone that wants to be on time. Without fail, every plane I get on is late. Or catches fire (seriously). Or has mechanical failure. Or the entire flight gets canceled. Our flight to NYC was no different, and we were of course delayed because our crew was "resting". Super. Once everyone was properly rested, we managed to get to New York late but without further incident.

Once there, the days all sort of blurred together in a whirlwind of awesomeness. There were books. There were fantastic people. And there was exhaustion. When I get exhausted, I get slaphappy, and then things like this happen:


I have no excuse for this picture. This was taken at the Teen Author Carnival event Tuesday night, and all I can say is I was tired, it was late at night, and I was hungry. If you look in the hand not holding the Penguin water bottle, you'll notice I have a vise-like grip on a yellow wrapper. That would be a bag of peanut M&Ms (win!), which, along with the water, was absolutely keeping me from certain death at that point in the evening. I hadn't eaten much that day which might explain why I'm licking the water bottle. Or not. Whichever. Melissa, of course, was kind enough to document my slow dissent into death. Bless her.

One of the primary activities at BEA is standing in lines. Lots of lines. And then more lines. This might not sound like fun, but for me it's a blast as I'm surrounded by fellow book-lovers and often stumble upon bloggers whose blogs I follow or whom I've spoken to on Twitter, and that makes it all worthwhile. While waiting in one of many lines this year I was introduced to a hilariously horrifying cartoon called Salad Fingers, and sat with Melissa watching in rapt fascination and terror as she played episode after episode on her phone. If you haven't seen this cartoon, watch it immediately. I've been scarred for life and I want everyone else to be scarred along with me ;-) Seriously, his soft, lilting voice will haunt my dreams for years to come, as will his need to caress rusty kettles. Melissa and I may or may not have adopted British accents and whispered the creepiest of his lines to one another in the middle of the night just to freak the other out. Whuh.

Also, there was a pirate at the event this year. One who refused to leave Melissa and I alone to wallow in our pain (my feet still hate me) on the floor of the Javits Center while waiting for the Moms to get their books signed. He called her Melissa of the Helmers and me Jenny of the Zemanek and asked many a passerby what brew they were drinking. He went on to tell Melissa her hair was the color of the sun. I got no such compliment. Where was my "you have hair the color of tree bark", that's what I'd like to know. Apparently the pirate was fonder of Melissa than me. *cries* We took a picture with him but it hasn't been emailed to us yet, as soon as it's in my hands I'll update this post ;-)

In all honesty though, BEA is an unforgettable experience, and one I look forward to repeating again and again despite my body's protests at the moment. To all the wonderful people I met, thank you for making BEA 2012 the best one yet!

Oh, and don't even ask about my flight home. Yes, it was delayed. And it's possible I cried like a little girl when we sat on the runway for 2 hours. Travel + Jenny = MADE OF WIN.

Top: Me, Melissa, Author Dan Cohen, and Danny from Bewitched Bookworms. Lower left: New York City from the the top of the Standard Hotel. Lower right: The Empire State Building at night from our hotel room.

Lastly, I hosted a few giveaways prior to leaving for BEA and have finally drawn winners! Thank you to everyone who entered and to Jennifer Estep and the people at Penguin for providing such generous giveaways! Winners have been emailed.

DARK FROST + KISS OF FROST
Winner: Melissa

PENGUIN GOODIE BAG:
Winner: Cheryl