Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Books for your Buck

Sometimes, people tell me I buy too many books—and it’s true. I haven’t read most of the books I bought this month, for example, let alone everything I purchased last year. What most of these people don’t understand is the fact that I jump on a purchase when I can get a good deal. I like to think I spend way less money on books than the average person despite bringing home more in my shopping bag.

I have a feeling that many of you reading this blog share a similar affliction, bookworms that we all are. I’d like to share my secrets with you!


If it’s not a book you need to have right away, you might eventually see it at a bargain price and decide the deal is too good to pass up. Likewise, you might discover a new author while browsing the bargain stacks at your local B&N, Borders, etc. For example, last year I discovered Brunonia Barry when The Lace Reader was a bargain book at B&N, then decided to also pick up her brand-new book, The Map of True Places, since it was on sale for 50% off (plus an extra 10% off as a member).

You can tell it’s a bargain book by its tag:

Wow, look at that price! Only $4.98+tax for a Meg Cabot before discounts? Yes, please!

Here are a few of the many books I’ve purchased this way:

Occasionally, the books will have black lines at the bottom to show they’re remainders, but not always. As you can see, most of my pile doesn’t contain these marks, but some do. I’m a little OCD about appearance, so I’ll go through a pile of books until I find the best-looking one. Most people probably don’t care, though!


Sometimes, you can score great treasures from your local used bookstore. Locally, I have two used dealers that I like to visit. One issues 50% off the cover price and the other 33%, which isn’t as great of a deal, but the store has more of a selection. Plus, if there are books you no longer want, you can sell them to the store for credit and use it to buy new books! There’s also a used bookstore in NYC, The Strand, that I love. (I'm hoping to go there when I'm in NYC next weekend, actually!) You can get many current books for about half-price—in hardcover, too! Sometimes, I also go on to websites such as or to see what prices the used deals are selling certain books for, usually if what I want is out of print or if I’m looking to stock up on a “new” author. Sometimes, if you’re looking for a bunch of books by an author you’re just getting into, can be a wonderful thing (especially if they’ve recently sent you a coupon!). Some sellers will put a batch of books together for one low, low price. I’ve used this method several times; the years I first discovered Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Diane Chamberlain all come to mind. If I’m buying used online and can’t see the condition, I’ll ALWAYS opt for the hardcover. Even with shipping, the book is normally cheaper than buying it new in paperback at the bookstore AND it will last longer. I hate when a paperback starts creasing down the spine (again, OCD about appearance…). In fact, this past weekend, one of the used stores had nine of Terry Goodkind’s books in hardcover.

I purchased the lot for $19.08 after tax. PLUS, I got to exchange the six pre-owned paperbacks already sitting on my shelf for $10 in credit (though I couldn’t use it on hardbacks. That’s okay, another time! I’m just amazed they took back books from a used shop other than their own…). Then, I went online and purchased two of the missing books in hardcover from Abe Books for $10.07 (after shipping, which costs more than the book itself!) and the third book from Amazon for $5.24 after s/h. Guys, that’s less than $40 for a 12 book series where the books run from $20 to $30 a pop. Used books for the win!


Oftentimes, stores have great sales on their books, usually anywhere from 10% to 50% off (more if it’s on clearance or a bargain item). If you’re also a member of a rewards program (Barnes and Noble, Borders Plus), you save an extra 10% on top of the sale price.

Here’s a book I wasn’t sure about purchasing but was curious about earlier this year. When I saw it for 50% off, I grabbed it! Plus, I had a 15% off coupon AND the 10% off members discount. I only paid $5-something for a $15 book! ^_^

Yes, it costs money to join, but if you buy a lot of books, it adds up. Plus (with B&N, at least), you get exclusive coupons throughout the year with a percentage off that’s higher than what a non-member receives. By using those coupons, you make back your money really fast! Another perk with the B&N program is that it gives you free online shipping. Have you ever noticed how cheap books are online when they’re available for pre-order? Usually anywhere from 30% to 50% off! No wonder stores are suffering. These prices are GOOD. As a member, you get free express shipping, so you don’t have to put together a $25 order to get free standard shipping. I usually have the book on my doorstep the very next day. Amazon Prime offers free shipping all the time for members as well, but it costs $79 a year. That’s too rich for my blood. I’ll settle for $25 at B&N. Though I admit, I do take the free Amazon Prime trial whenever they offer it if there’s something I want! This being said—and here’s the important part—there’s still a way to give your local B&N store money WHILE stilling getting the online discount. Yes, it’s true! If you go up to Customer Service and ask for a “Ship to House” on a pre-order, you’ll pay for it that day in the store...AND you’ll get the online price. On top of that, if you have a coupon, you can use it in the store on your pre-order, which you can’t always do online. The store gets your money, not just the website. I always, ALWAYS pre-order this way. Stores are in trouble because of everyone moving to online. You just have to look at the sad state of Borders atm to see that. I want to support my local store in every way I can...but I also want to save money. As a B&N member, I get free shipping no matter what, so it’s okay to go to the store and do “Ship to House with Free Member Shipping.” You can do this with online sales, too—not just pre-orders. I recently bought These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf in paperback for 41% off this way. It was already available, not a pre-order. If you’re not a member but have a friend or family member who is, you can also share a membership card. All you need is the phone number at the register. I shared my friend’s card for a long time before getting one of my own.


Libraries often need to raise money. Sometimes, they’ll sell their own books that they no longer need for various reasons. Here are some of the books I’ve purchased in the past:

Other times, library patrons will donate books they no longer want to the library. If they don’t keep the books for their shelves, the libraries will sell these books during a sale. My local library charges fifty cents per paperback and a dollar per hardback. Here are some books I’ve purchased this way in the last year:

Next week, one of the local libraries is having its huge annual book sale with over 10,000 books being available. I'm heading over with a sturdy bag!


Many stores will give out coupons. Last year, Borders gave out a lot of 30% and 40% off coupons good for one item. B&N often gives out coupons between 10% and 25% once a week/once every other week. I usually wait until I have a coupon, then go to the store and do a “Ship to House” on a pre-order ranging from 30% to 45% that I want (see #3). Sometimes, there are secret coupons, too. Recently, I received a coupon for 50% off that I stacked with Jodi Picoult’s latest book, Sing You Home, which was already 40-something % off to pre-order. After tax, I only paid $8-something for that book. I tend to get a lot of my hardbacks for $7-$9 by using this method. And again, I ALWAYS go to the store and do this as a ship-to-home so that the store gets the money. I don’t want my local store going out of business! Going back to the Terry Goodkind model, his new book is currently available for pre-order at 44% off the list price. I’ll wait until I get another coupon, then swoop in for the kill. After all, it needs to match all my other shiny new hardbacks, right? ^.~


This isn’t applicable to everyone, but if you manage to get a job in a bookstore, you can save a great deal of money! Even if you just apply to work nights/weekends during the holidays when they need seasonal help! I work part-time at my local bookstore. I save money every single time I purchase a book. Twice a year, we have Employee Appreciation Week, so I save an additional 10% during that week. I’ll often stack a bunch of books I want together with a pre-order and lock in the lower price. That’s one reason I have so many “purchases” for the month of March. I ordered older books I wanted with pre-orders coming out this month. If it’s a book I can wait for, I’ll also group pre-orders together from time to time. Oooh, plus ARCs. We get ARCs at my local bookstore where I work!!! That’s how I recently obtained Wither!

So there you have it, guys. Six ways to save money. I hope this helps your wallet out a little!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Dream Big, Little Pig!" by Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi: Olympic-winning figure skater, Dancing with the Star Mirror Ball trophy winner, and now...children’s book author? Yes, you read that right! Yamaguchi is trying her hand at children’s literature. Her first picture book, Dream Big, Little Pig! is adorable and full of inspirational messages. It’s enchanting and fun with bright, vivid pictures. Look no further than the cover, with the beautiful typography and pig on skates. There’s even glitter! Despite all the pink and purple, this is a book with a message so strong, it will even appeal to boys.

Dream Big, Little Pig! teaches children to believe in themselves and have fun, even when they’re not good at something. I love the way “pig” rhymes with “big” and is used with this inspirational message. The book centers around Poppy, a little pig with big dreams. As a child, who doesn’t remember dreaming to one day become a singer or a dancer or a movie star? Everybody does, even piglets. I love the fact that Poppy’s family and friends are so supportive of her. Every time she gets a new idea, we get this chorus:

“Follow your dreams!” said Poppy’s mother.
“You go girl!” said Poppy’s grandparents.
“Dream big, pig!” said Emma. (Poppy’s best friend.)

They encourage Poppy even when other people say her dream “is just not for you...try something else!”

After a while, Poppy starts to think twice about following her dreams, but then she learns that nothing is impossible. This book reminds me of the famous quote from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:

"Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.' 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'"

Children should always believe in themselves, and that’s the message they learn in Dream Big, Little Pig! You don’t have to be perfect at what you do. It’s okay to make mistakes. As long as you have fun and believe in yourself, your dreams will always take flight. Ultimately, Poppy doesn’t give up and she finally finds something she’s good at.

I truly love this story’s message. It showcases what Yamaguchi believes in. Her Always Dream Foundation was created to help children reach their goals in life and this book supports even that. Even her children had a part in helping her write her book. One of her daughters came up with Poppy’s name and her youngest daughter shares a name with Poppy’s best friend. There’s a lovely dedication to her girls at the back of the book encouraging them to dream, as well as a beautiful family picture. Yamaguchi also thanks Linda Oatman High, who helped her idea come together. The fun illustrations were created by Tim Bowers. This is a fantastic book well worth picking up despite the fact that it’s currently exclusively in hardcover!

Word Count Wednesday (2)

Word Count Wednesday is my way of sharing my weekly writing progress with you and holding myself accountable for not giving up.

So without further ado, this week's "Word Count" for Super-Secret Project/Codename: FIZZYPOP:
(Why Fizzypop? sounds fun!)

This week: 16 pages
Total to Date: 47 pages
Start Date: March 2, 2011

How far is this in terms of a word count? I'm not sure. I get 150-400 words per page depending on how small I'm writing and/or how many cross-outs I have. I always write in my notebook before I type everything up! (Plus, that gets me an extra round of editing!)

I didn't write anything last week when I was sick. I can't be as awesome as Lauren DeStefano (who says that she wrote the first draft of Wither while ill). When I'm sick, the last thing I want to do is use what little energy I have to write. I did get in a bit of reading, though, which is good, because some of my netGalley stuff was expiring!

Today, I was able to introduce a character who won't really be 'introduced' until a later book. We just get a hint now. Very exciting! I also had my big snafu that I'll have to revise in the first round of edits. I said that my main male protagonist had three sisters and was totally used to girls, but as I entered another scene, I realized that this was impossible. He's totally an only child and it's why he has as little tact as he does. It's his roommate who shall have all the siblings. Good thing to know! Other than that...well, today's writing was a little like pulling teeth. Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Do you have a WIP at the moment? What was your word count this week? To date? Let's support one another!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays (1)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I don't usually do lists, but I saw a lot of bloggers participating in this last week and it looks like a lot of fun. Plus, what a good way to talk about "older" authors that aren't as in-your-face as stuff currently releasing!

This week's topic:
Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

1) Brunonia Barry -- A writer with a beautiful way of writing and intriguing storylines that keep you turning pages. Why don't more people know about her yet?
2) Alexandra Bracken -- While Bracken only has one book out atm, it's AMAZING. She hasn't really caused a fervor among teens, though. I don't get it. If you claim to love authors such as Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce, why are you not also picking up this?
3) Diane Chamberlain -- Despite the fact that this woman has written TWENTY books, she still hasn't "broken out." Why the heck not? She's hailed as the "Southern Jodi Picoult" so she should have a lot more fans than she does!
4) Maurissa Guibord -- One of my favorite 2011 debuts, but the one nobody else seems to be picking up. It was such an awesome fantasy novel. Why does no one else care?
5) Shannon Hale -- A fairytale author who writes a lot of teen fantasy. Princess Academy was a Newberry runner-up, but no one blinks twice at her other books. I've met Ms. Hale in person twice and she's such a nice person. I wish she sold more of her books!
6) Diana Wynne Jones -- A lot of people know her, true, but obviously not enough. Why is the blogosphere not going nuts over the fact that she passed away this weekend? How does nobody know/remember who she is?
7) Juliet Marillier -- Another fairytale author, this time mostly in adult fantasy. She has a loyal fanbase, but doesn't seem to get a lot of new fans. Why isn't there greater hype about her awesome books, especially among those who love fairytales?
8) Jacquelyn Mitchard -- A lot of buzz surrounded her when she was the first author to net Oprah's net of approval thanks to The Deep End of the Ocean, but most of her other books haven't done nearly as well. She's still an amazing writer. Why do people no longer care? She has some awesome teen books, too, but she hasn't picked up in that genre, either.
9) Cindy Pon -- Another awesome fantasy author who deserves more recognition. When her first book, Silver Phoenix was released to paperback, they redesigned the cover in order to attract more readers. Now the books look all paranormal. It will draw in more readers, yes, and there's still a hint of the gorgeous Asian fantasy hiding within if you know how to look, but it's a shame this is the way to attract readers!
10) Diane Setterfield -- She's only written one book, The Thirteenth Tale, but it's one of my top five favorite books (behind only two Jodi Picoult titles, actually). It got a lot of buzz and attention when it first came out, so you would think more people would CARE that she has another book coming out. Sure, it's not titled and there's no summary, but it EXISTS and no one cared enough to notice.

And on that note, I need to get ready for work, guys! See you again tomorrow!

Teaser Tuesdays (10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

"There is no such thing as pure good or pure evil, least of all in people. In the best of us there are thoughts or deeds that are wicked, and in the worst of us, at least some virtue. An adversary is not one who does loathsome acts for their own sake. He always has a reason that to him is justification. My cat eats mice. Does that make him bad? I don't think so, and the cat doesn't think so, but I would bet the mice have a different opinion. Every murderer thinks the victim needed killing."

(~pg. 127 [1995 edition paperback])

Goodreads Summary here.

I'm also reading Red Glove by Holly Black, but Simon & Schuster requested ARC readers not to quote from the unfinished galley. But hey, you'll get to read my review soon! The book's out next week!

Also, before you ask, yes, it is my first time reading Terry Goodkind. I've been buying his books when I see them used, but never started reading them until this past week. So why now? My local used bookstore was selling nine of his books in hardcover--$19.08 after tax for the lot! So I made a headstart on the first book, Wizard's First Rule, to make sure I liked it before purchasing the lot, then brought in the six paperbacks I had for credit (and they took all six backs, even the ones from the other used bookstore!). Very cool stuff! Today I had to go online to Abe Books and Amazon to snag used copies of the remaining three I needed in HC for cheap. :) I'm currently on page 208 (out of, *gulp*, 836!). Watch me go!

Sorry the above passage was so long. Way more than two sentences, I know. But I really liked it!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones: 1934 - 2011

Bookworms, have you heard the latest heartbreaking news to come our way?

This past weekend, beloved author Diana Wynne Jones passed away. She's been battling cancer since 2009. The news shocked me; I love the author and didn't even know she was sick. In terms of fantasy authors, she's one of the great ones.

For those of you looking at this entry and scratching your head thinking you've never heard of her, I bet you have and just never realized it. At the very least, you must have seen (or at least heard of?) the awesome Studio Ghibli movie Howl's Moving Castle. That movie is based on an even more awesome book written by the awesomest Dianna Wynne Jones. Plus, the book is so awesome that there are two more books in the line. (Let's see how many times I can use "awesome" in a sentence, shall we?) She's written so many great books. Surely you've heard of at least one of them?

Two more books will be forthcoming at some point before we've read her last written word. Diana, you will be sorely missed by fantasy fans everywhere!

What was your favorite book of hers?

Cover Crazy (7)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

Have you guys noticed the latest Dystopian sub-trend taking place in spacecrafts? Across the Universe by Beth Revis debuted in January and Outside In by Maria V. Snyder came out earlier this month. Next up, we have Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, out this coming fall. What do you think about this trend? I still tend to think of these books as sci-fi despite the rise against the government. Maybe it's just me? After all, the last book I read *was* Outside In, so maybe it's just on the brain... But the more I think about it, the more I think it's a new trend!

Anyway, the cover for Ryan's Glow is made of awesomesauce and you should all drool now:

Why I Love This Cover:

Glow hints at its sci-fi roots. Originally, I thought the the "o" was just an "O" with the picture inside. However, upon looking at a huge version of the cover on Ryan's site, I realized that the "O" represents a spaceship window. How cool is that? Plus, I love how the image, um, glows. I love how sturdy the typography is--All you need is that glowing "O" with the cover art inside it.

The spherical shape reminds me a bit of Matched by Ally Condie, and the "girl inside the image" reminds me of something else coming out soon, but I can't think of what or by whom. I'm horrible. I want to say it's a cell phone on the cover, but I think I'm wrong. I might also remember the object being purple...? Anyway, whatever the book is, it came to mind. But Glow is also holding its own. I LOVE the fact that the whole image is inside one letter of the title. How awesome is that? Plus, look at the girl! Doesn't she look upset? Looking at the summary on Goodreads, the storyline has a faint trace of Wither in it, so perhaps she's upset because she doesn't want to be married so young? I come up with so many situations in my head and just want to know WHY she looks like that. It's enough to make me want to pick up the book. Then again, whatever she's lying against doesn't look very comfortable. Maybe she's just upset it isn't soft. ^.~ (I jest.)

Anyway, total cover love here!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

[Glow is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you on Sept. 27, 2011.]

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Demonglass" by Rachel Hawkins

I love it when sequels are as strong as--or better than--their predecessors. It doesn't always happen. I can think of more series that failed to live up to their hype than I can ones that surpassed what was expected of them. Demonglass, the second entry in Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall series, is a book worthy of standing next to its sibling on the bookshelf. If you thought Hex Hall was fun and quirky, you'll be pleased to know that the second novel in the series is as well. In fact, Hawkins packed the kitchen sink this time around. Demonglass is even spunkier than Hex Hall. This is a series that I never expected to love. I don't read many paranormal novels and I didn't expect much going into the first book. If you recall from my review last month, however, I fell in love with the world Rachel Hawkins created for us. Her characters are witty and fresh. Paranormal stereotypes don't exist; rather, they're turned on their heads.

One of the most interesting things about Demonglass is how fresh it was. Starting the novel, it didn't feel like a rehash of the same old story being drawn out for no necessary reason. There's purpose in everything that goes on. While there's a little angst (because, really, can you think of a single book that doesn't stir things up a bit?), it's not the usual dreck so frequently found in YA literature. Main character Sophie doesn't sit around feeling sorry for herself and whining about her lot in life. No, she's so kick-ass, she's going to do something about it. Without spoiling things for anyone who hasn't read Hex Hall (in which case, what are you sitting around here for? Shoo! Go read!), huge revelations are revealed toward the end of the first book. These things are dealt with here. Sophie is very focused on doing the right thing, even if it goes against her own safety.

Demonglass begins shortly after Hex Hall left off, so little time has passed. I didn't feel like I was being thrust into a new situation. Show, don't tell. Hawkins took this advice to heart and it shows. In fact, she goes a step further and moves the entire novel to another country. We explored the school in the first book; now we travel to London, where things (again) aren't quite as they appear to be. A new setting poses new problems and scenarios. There are quite a few familiar faces, but also new characters to love (or fear!). Demonglass has an even tighter storyline, one that completely sucked me up and involved me. I'm usually good at picking up on the path an author is headed down and able to arrive at the right spot ahead of time. The Hex Hall series likes to keep the surprises coming, though. There are so many things I never anticipated in both books, but especiallly here. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in Wonderland, where everything is the opposite of what it seems. Hawkins is brilliant when it comes to weaving together a captivating novel. My only con? The cliffhanger is downright wicked. I don't want to wait to read the next book! Hawkins is such a tease; she knows just where to leave us hanging...

Finally, what you've all been waiting for: Cover Design! I didn't mention it the last time around, and some of you called me on it. I hope to rectify my mistake today. The Hex Hall covers are so much fun. I love how they're a mirror image. On the one side, you have what's on the outside: What everyone sees when they look at a person. On the other, you have the inner person. It symbolizes this hidden world, and on top of that, all the hidden secrets that Sophie has slowly begun to unlock. While Demonglass is visually more stunning (imo) than Hex Hall, I like the first cover the best. In it, Sophie is outwardly dressed like a student, but inwardly reflected as being a magical being. Even the hair/makeup are well-suited. Demonglass is more posh in appearance. Maybe it's the European influence since everyone's so fashion-forward, but Sophie looks more sophisticated than she actually is, even in her "outward image." The cover is gorgeous, but it's not quite as well-suited to the tone as the first one. I do, however, love the orange reflection pull. It reminds me of the Eye, which is integral to the second book.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Loot (4)

It's that time of month again, bookworms. Instead of snapping pictures of everything and clogging up space, I did a video entry. After all, I have to justify buying a camcorder, right? ^^; Anyway, I talk a little about what drew me to each book in the video, but if you want to skip that, you can click the Goodreads link associated with each book title.

Have you read any of these? Are they on your wish lists? I taped this last week, so I already have a couple of new books. Oops...?

Anyway, sorry I've been MIA this week. Between being sick and working, I haven't had much free time. I was supposed to have yesterday and today off, but wound up working yesterday. Today, I caught up on blog entries, cleaned the house, and finished reading Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney (review to come). I still need to review a couple of things on here, too! And I still need to reply to some emails... Sorry! ^^;; I might not get to it until Monday or Tuesday before work...

Anyway, time for the loot!

F r o m A u t h o r s :

*The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (August 2011)
*The Childe by C.A. Kunz (available now)

**Video entry detailing these two packages here.

B o r r o w e d :

*Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

A R C s

*Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I also got quite a few e-ARCs courtesy of netGalley. Too many to list, but the next..oh, let's say five...books I'll probably read will be Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine, and Like Clockwork by Bonnie Dee. I also received a couple of books from Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab. I'll start reading Red Glove by Holly Black this weekend.

P u r c h a s e d :

*These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
*Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
*Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (Small Review and Eleusinian Mysteries have great reviews of this fantasy novel, so I MUST read it ASAP!)
*Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster
*Words by Ginny L. Yttrup
*Looks by Madeleine George (That Cover Girl brought this book to my attention. She even got an interview with the cover designer!)
Mistress Fortune by Arina Tanemura
*Emily Windsnap and the Siren's Secret by Liz Kessler
*White Cat by Holly Black
*Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
*Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce
*Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
*The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

E - b o o k s

*The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt ($2.99)
*Eye Candy by Tera Lynn Childs ($0.99)
Straight Stalk by Tera Lynn Childs ($0.99)

Plus, I also got a lot of free books from Smashwords for E-book Appreciation week.

R a n d o m S t u f f :

*Emily Windsnap (by Liz Kessler) corrugated display topper
*Peter Rabbit (by Beatrix Potter) lunch tote

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (9)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

"Yet even in places where mortality was less crudely separated from life, people would be stunned at the extinction of the young and lovely. No one could make Claire Harkness on the floor, her skin the color of a candle, turn into something normal. Sally kept sobbing, Madeline kept holding her, and together they sank to the top of the stairs. And then she realized something else that was not normal about Claire."

(~pg. 18 [according to Nook e-ARC, courtesy of Hyperion/Voice Trade via netGalley]; changes may be made before book launches in print on June 14, 2011.)

Goodreads Summary here.

Author Interview: Lori Pescatore

Hi Bookworms! I have a special treat for you today: A Backwards Story is hosting its first Author Interview. Lori Pescatore, author of the paranormal YA novel Human Blend, has been awesome enough to stop by for a visit!

Plus, to celebrate the first interview, A Backwards Story invited blog followers to come up with interview questions. Lori was awesome and answered every one!

If you haven’t read Human Blend, stop by this entry to check out my review!

From Gina (at My Precious):

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

I came up with the idea of Human Blend just by thinking about a girl on the run. I didn't know from what or why until she began to tell her story.

This is the first in a series of books. How many books with be in the series. What are the intended release dates? Do you have titles for any of them?

There will be three books in the Blend series. Book Two, Earth Blend, is set for (fingers crossed editing gets done in time) a late April release. Book Three is untitled and will not be released until 2012. In between, I hope to release another separate stand alone book. More details on that to follow.

What audience did you intend this book for?

I intended this for a young adult audience, although the older ones because of the sexual (although not graphic) situations in the book.

How do you feel about e-readers and e-books?

E-readers and e-books rock. They are the future. I have a Kindle and read exclusively on it. Not to mention, the prices are a lot cheaper. Thanks for your great questions.

From Trish:

In terms of world-building, how long does it take you to create a world that is different from 'ours' and what is involved in it?

World building is a delicate task. Depending on if you are building a world within the world we live or one so far removed from the one we know, it can be tricky. For me, even though fantasy worlds are fiction, I feel the need to have it based in some reality. I feel it is necessary for me to get pulled in and believe the characters. Research for me is the key. Is this world or what happens in it an actual possibility somewhere down the road? My son is a scientist at heart and we regularly throw out scenarios of what may or may not be possible given the parameters of the world created. It is important to have rules even in the fantasy world. Great question.

From Steve:

Is turning known writing conventions on their heads something you would use in your writing? I guess the simplest example is the usual idea of antagonist and protagonist being subverted, where motives and actions fall outside the usual expectations of the reader.

I think turning the conventions of the usual writing around is a great idea. Whether a publisher or agent would agree with me is a different matter. In the self-published world I currently live in, I do not need to abide by set rules. This can either annoy or enjoy a reader. I'm always looking for something different or the same thing told unconventionally. A book in point is Precious. The entire book is written in broken slang and at times was a difficult read, especially with the subject matter, yet I feel it had to be written that way. Unconventional is something I do and would absolutely have no problem with.

How much of the writing of a character is inspired, and do your characters tend to, as happens for me, 'write themselves’ as if you finds Laney aka Julie speaking through your fingertips like it is a collaboration?

Steve, I'm with you on this one. The characters tell the story; I just put it into format. Once they are introduced into the story, they take over, especially for the first book in the series. Sometimes I am unsure of what they will tell me next. I hope I was not amiss in not attaching the characters’ names as co-authors.

From Nitya:

What got you into writing?

I've been writing my whole life. I used to do fanfiction for friends long before the internet (yes, showing my age). I also loved doing short stories and poems in high school. Even at Easter time when my kids were little, they had to solve riddles I made up to find the egg containing cash. LOL. I write whenever I can with whatever I can.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? Dos and don'ts, etc.

There are no "don'ts" in writing. Do believe in yourself and your story. Do market yourself until you can't see straight and do make sure you have a good editor. The first edition of Human Blend was still riddled with mistakes and typos even after three really good friends helped edit it. I now have an editor that costs me money but is so worth it and the second edition of Human Blend is tight.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Some of my favorite authors are Dean Koontz, S.E. Hinton, Stephenie Meyer, and Maria Snyder. Thanks for your wonderful questions.

From Tamara:

How many times a day do you check Amazon for reviews of your story? Do you even read reviews of your story? Why/why not?

As far as reviews go, I might check once a week. Sales are a different story. I'm approaching the 400 sales mark and want to be at 500 by June when Human Blend has been out for a year. Sales are checked at least every other day. Some sales are not reported right away though, so it's a nice surprise to find out thirty more books sold last quarter than I originally thought. Reviews are very important, but I find that most come from bloggers. They are my lifeline in the self-publishing world. I regularly check blogs for reviews of my book. I like reading the reviews. They helped me realize how badly I needed a professional editor, but even with that said, most of my reviews have been pretty positive. There are a few reviewers on Goodreads that were not thrilled with it, but again, mostly because of editing issues, not the storyline. The readers will tell you what is good and what is bad, but you need a backbone. Not everyone will like it and as an author, you need to accept the good with the bad.

And finally, I asked the question I know you’re all waiting for...

Can you give us a sneak peek in regards to the sequel? Do you plan for the final book in the trilogy to come out in 2012? Will you be exploring the back story from before Human Blend begins? Will we find out more about why everyone has the special abilities that they do?

I would love to give you a sneak peek into the sequel. Earth Blend will actually begin as a prequel for the first six chapters, giving you some insight into the creation of the supernatural creatures in the story and how certain creatures came to be in the situation they are in. I'm very excited about it. It will, of course, pick up where the last story left off with the same wonderful characters and continue their saga. I do plan for the final book of the trilogy to be out sometime in 2012. I will be releasing some of Earth Blend on my Facebook Author Page.

There you have it, folks! I hope you enjoyed this interview! Check back soon for more exciting news!

Monday, March 21, 2011

100 Posts!

Congratulations A Backwards Story! We're 100 posts into our journey and still going strong! Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I love you all! *hearts*

It's off to work for me! See you all again, bookworms!

Cover Crazy (6)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

I never heard of Jeff Hirsch or The Eleventh Plague before Beth Revis (Author of Across the Universe, which I reviewed here ) revealed that he had his cover art. The cover screams "Dystopian Fiction" and makes my little Dystopian fangirl-loving heart quiver!

Why I Love This Cover:

Maybe it's not beautiful, persay, but it's gripping nonetheless. If you're a Dystopian lover, I bet you just fell a little bit in love based on this cover, yes?

What a grim world we're looking at! That green-tinged sky really sets the mood. There's the broken rock to the right of the car that might have once been a building and--um, yeah, the CAR. It's completely torn apart. The hood is gone. All its bits and pieces are hanging out. I'm dying to know what it represents, what it symbolizes. Plus, despite all the debris in the foreground, if you look in the distance, you see what appears to be a fully-functioning ferris wheel. At least, I assume it is. It doesn't look decrepit, but whole and intact. This book makes me want to pick it up and read the back jacket to find out MORE (or, as the case may be, go over to Goodreads for a summary).

Plus, Dystopian lovers, did you see? Suzanne Collins, the brain behind The Hunger Games, blurbed his book. She says it "hits disturbingly close to home" and is "taut." Um, if you're saying that Ms. Collins, then yes, I must read this too!!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week? As for me, I'm off to eat some unagi sushi for lunch. It has my name on it!

[The Eleventh Plague is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you on Sept. 1, 2011.]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wither: Broken Down

I promised you guys that I would post pictures of the Wither marketing display, and I always keep my word. Plus, I wanted you all to see just how beautiful the real cover is! I should have posted Friday, but I got sick. Boo. I'm almost better now, but between my cold and the fact that I sprained my ankle earlier in the week, I'm no longer going into NYC for the conclusion of the NYC Teen Author Festival. This seriously depresses me. I was looking forward to going to Books of Wonder and listening to all those fabulous authors (esp. Sarah Beth Durst!). Boo, boo. Oh well, always next year. Wasn't meant to be this time around. Have fun if you go! Can't wait to hear all about it!

It's HUGE. Very tall. While the corrugated display isn't as striking as the cover held within its shelves, I must say, I like the way they focused on a tree. Trees are important in Wither. Plus, if literature classes have warped your brain to the point where you see symbolism in everything, you'll also be focusing on that sole, barren, desolate, empty tree... *coughs* AHEM!

But you want to see the gorgeous cover, yes? Yes!

The pink isn't so cotton candy in the final product, which makes me even happier with the design. It's sultry and metallic; this color brings out her eyeshadow even more! Plus, with the final cover art, you can see that the stunning front photography continues through to the back cover, revealing even more imagery and symbolism than previously notated. Plus, even the inside flaps are gorgeous! This cover seriously makes me swoon. One of the best teen covers (imo)! Books two and three need to top it though, yes? Can't wait to see!

Finally--and I don't know if this was there in the ARC and I overlooked it or a final design change--even the copyright page is using the boxed-in design and it looks AMAZING:

This book just amazes me more and more...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Wither" by Lauren DeStefano (Debut Author)

Lauren DeStefano brings a raw, powerful voice to the teen scene with the launch of her debut novel, Wither. She holds nothing back: The book is gritty and dark, harsh and unyielding. In a Dystopian world where everything has gone wrong, death runs rampant and freedom is an illusion.

In “our” world, we race to find the cure to serious diseases such as cancer and dream of the day when one will be discovered. What happens when one is, when genetic engineering is perfected, when we have an ideal race? What if achieving perfection has horrific repercussions? In Wither, this is exactly what happened. A generation of children immune to all illness and frailty was born, however, when it came time for them to have children, something went wrong, something not discovered until twenty years later when it was too late to make corrections.

For some unknown reason, females now die upon reaching the tender age of 20 and their male counterparts follow them once they hit 25. Nobody knows why. There is no cure.

In a world where no one ages, there’s less emphasis on schooling, fewer new homes, less people who care about tomorrow. To ensure that the human race doesn’t die out, healthy teenage girls are kidnapped and forced to marry, then conceive, though they’ll never live to see their children mature. Rhine is one such casualty. At sixteen, she is stolen away from her twin brother and the only life she’s ever known, whisked away to an impenetrable mansion that’s impossible to escape. There, she’s forced to marry twenty-year-old Linden Ashby, along with two other captured girls. Linden’s father, Housemaster Vaughn, brought him three new wives to replace his childhood sweetheart, Rose, who is lying on her deathbed, consumed by the virus with no cure in sight.
Rhine’s only wish is to escape and return to her twin. She hates Linden and his father for imprisoning her and swears she’ll never give in. Instead, she begins a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, one where she will play the part of a perfect, obedient wife, all the while waiting for a chance to escape. Things grow more complicated as she finds herself growing more attached to her sister wives, developing strong feelings for a servant named Gabriel, and learning more about the sinister plot lurking beneath the surface at the Ashby mansion.

Wither hooks you from page one with its strong language and vivid imagery, consisting of a scene so intense, readers are instantly drawn in. The story refuses to let go once you’re in its thrall. While there were slower, more drawn-out areas in the text, the story elements more than made up for this. With the foundation set in place, DeStefano sets up the world readers will explore in the next two books of The Chemical Garden Trilogy . I, for one, can’t wait to see where she’s going, especially with all the possibilities available at the novel’s end.

The cover art for Wither is one of my favorites of 2011—and possibly ever in Teen Literature. It’s absolutely breath-taking and full of symbolism. The model is supposed to be Rhine in her wedding dress—pink eye shadow and all. In fact, that little bit of pink is pulled out of the image and used in the typography. I love the way there are so many geometric shapes boxing everything in and reflecting the way Rhine is held prisoner. There’s a circle highlighting her face, her wedding ring, and even a bird that symbolizes the way Rhine is caged. Even the title, Wither, is boxed in, the ‘W’ pulled away from ‘ither.’ Lauren DeStefano’s name and the series title act as bars to the cage holding the title and model hostage. Inside the novel, we see more of this gorgeous design, from the chapters to the page numbers to the dedication page to the quote from T.S. Eliot. Nothing is left unscathed; every single page of the book boxes in the reader with a reminder of Rhine’s horrendous plight.

(Sorry for the low quality. I shot these photographs at night and was too lazy to go hook up my scanner...Trust me, in person, they look GORGEOUS!)

The design is gorgeous, like nothing else I’ve seen. I love the way this is on Every. Single. PAGE. Designer Lizzy Bromley did an amazing job.
With its dark themes and harsh realities, Wither isn’t a book for everyone. If, however, you’re a reader that enjoys Dystopian fiction or innovative new ideas, Wither is absolutely worth your time. What a stunning debut novel!

Still not sure if you want to read Wither? Check out a teaser I recently posted here!

And before you leave you want to see the new book trailer floating around? Yes, I'm sure you do! It captures the essence of Wither *so* well.

...Are you excited yet?

[Review based on ARC edition courtesy of Publisher; all included photographs subject to change in final version (but I hope not!)]

[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]

[This entry is part of Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges' Dystopian Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]

Word Count Wednesday (1)

Hey Bookworms! It's time for another new feature. This one's writing-related rather than book, but they're two sides of the same coin, so it still counts, right? Right!

Recently, a fellow writing friend of mine, Marissa Meyer (whose Spring 2012 debut novel, Cinder, you should ALL have on your MUST READ list, especially if you like fairytales...and futuristic stories...and androids...and...), mentioned that she hadn't seen me post about my writing progress (on my private journal) lately despite the fact that I'd recently started a new project.

And...that's true. I really don't post my word count. For one thing, I tend to write by hand first and then type everything up later. Double the work, yes, but as I type, I get in the first wave of editing. It works for me. *shrug*

Anyway, I thought it was a good idea to post a weekly entry such as this one to share my progress with anyone interested in my writing journey. Maybe someday, it will be published and I'll be living my dream!

So without further ado, my Word Count for Super-Secret Project/Codename: FIZZYPOP:
(Why Fizzypop? sounds fun!)

This week: I wrote 9 notebook pages today!
Total to Date: So far, I've written a total of 31 pages (3 chapters)
Start Date: March 2, 2011

How far is this in terms of a word count? I'm not sure. I get 150-400 words per page depending on how small I'm writing and/or how many cross-outs I have. I should be a little further along than I am, but I didn't write much of anything this past week. I was having trouble with a scene leading from Chapter Two into Chapter Three. I'm still having trouble, so today I decided to skip it for now and come back later when I have fresh eyes.

Do you have a WIP at the moment? What was your word count this week? To date? Let's support one another!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Author Swag: C.A. Kunz and Victoria Scwab

Hey Bookworms!

Before I went to Arizona, I purchased a Kodak PlaySport when Best Buy had it on sale. It's cute, small enough to fit in my pocket or a cellphone case, AND it's waterproof up to 3 m (10 ft) under water. How cool is that? It comes in black, purple, and blue. I purchased the black one because blue and purple are sold exclusively online and I was in a hurry to have it, but I sort of regret not waiting for a fun color...

I didn't wind up using it in AZ, so what better way to break it in for the first time than with BOOKS? I don't have a tripod, so you'll just hear me talking, but I did add a photo of myself so you'll have a face to put with the voice. Yay? I'm not sure that's a bonus, lol!

Anyway, I recently got packages from debut authors Victoria Scwab (The Near Witch) and C.A. Kunz (The Childe. Want to see what these fun packages entailed?

If you can't see the embedded video, it's hosted on YouTube. I filmed three other vlogs this week to share with you in the future as well, you lucky bookworms!

Stills of the swag:

T h e N e a r W i t c h b y V i c t o r i a S c h w a b :

I was a runner-up in a Near Witch contest on Victoria Schwab's blog (which is an awesome site you all should totally have in your RSS Feeder!). I won a numbered button (Number 65) and abookplate with Schwab's signature and hand-illustrated doodles. I'm really looking forward to this 2011 debut novel! Be sure to become a Facebook Fan as well!

T h e C h i l d e b y C . A . K u n z :

The Childe came with a pretty awesome marketing kit consisting of a USB drive with information and fun Easter Egg Goodies, a mock-up of "best-selling author" Robert Craven's book flier, and a bookmark with a key for cracking the code that led to those Easter Eggs hiding on the USB drive. Plus, of course, the book itself! The Childe is the first novel in a new YA fantasy series by the mother-son team C.A. (Carol and Adam) Kunz.

Keep an eye on Facebook, where a huge marketing promotion is ready to take off:

Evie Carmichael
Robert Craven

The novel is currently available through Amazon, and will soon be offered for both Kindle and Nook.

Teaser Tuesdays (8)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

"A sense of dread slowly began creeping up my spine. 'Why would I want to know him better?'

'Because,' Dad said, finally meeting my eyes, 'you and he are bethrothed.'"

(~pg. 18)

So, I finished Demonglass a couple of days ago (ZOMG!), but haven't picked up anything new to read just yet. I'll be posting a book review sometime this week, so watch for it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cover Crazy (5)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

I've been in love with Mary Lindsey's beautiful cover for Shattered Souls, her debut novel, for quite a while. I keep meaning to post it here, but something else always comes out. So finally, here it is. IMO, this is one of the best 2011 covers so far. It's GORGEOUS.

Why I Love This Cover:

Isn't it beautiful? I love the way the girl's body is made up of petals that break apart as your eyes move down her torso. It fits in with the "Shattered" part of the title. (I also love the way the title is shattered into fragments. Very creative!) I love the vivid color and the way the petals fade at the bottom. I love the way the petals shape her torso like a dress. It's just a fantastic, drool-worthy cover. Absolutely stunning!!!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

[Shattered Souls is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you on Dec. 8, 2011.]

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cover Art REVEALED: "Crossed" by Ally Condie

Sorry, I have too many posts in a row, I know...but I saw this and HAD to tell you! *fangirl mmoment*

The sequel to Ally Condie's Matched has a cover, and it's AMAZING! I'm seriously in love with this cover, you guys!

I love the way the cover uses blue when the first book used green. I adore the way Cassia is breaking out of her bubble. That bubble is so symbolic in the first book; she's sheltered and protected. In the second book in Condie's trilogy, Cassia has broken out. I'm expecting this book to be grittier and much more detailed. I can't wait to see what the final cover in the trilogy looks like. This succession very much reminds me of The Hunger Games, but that's not a bad thing!

Do you need a little summary to hold you over until November, guys?

SPOILER WARNING for anyone who HASN'T read Matched:

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Can't WAIT!!!! <3<3<3

"Love You More" by Lisa Gardner

How far would you go to protect what’s most important in your life? That’s the question at the heart of Lisa Gardner’s latest thriller, Love You More. I’ve never read anything by Gardner before, but the novel’s synopsis caught my attention right away:


One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?


As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

. . . TO SAVE HER?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

Love you more . . .

I normally don’t include summaries in my reviews, but did this time since the back cover is more riveting than anything I could come up with… Besides, if I gave you any more of a summary than that, I’d be giving too much away. Love You More is one of those books. I don’t read a lot of crime novels or watch shows such as NCIS, so perhaps parts of this novel have followed various stereotypes. I wouldn’t know. For me, the novel was taut with suspense. It was hard to tell when to discard information as a red herring and when to file it away because it’s important. There was one small sentence that I noticed and put in the back of my mind, but figured it probably wasn’t as important as it seemed. I should have trusted my instincts the first time around.

Love You More was full of characterization when you look back on it as a whole, but a little frustrating as you’re reading. Information comes in trickles, which is a great way to build suspense, but frustrating when trying to connect emotionally to your main characters. It’s just not the style I’m used to enjoying, though absolutely appropriate for a psychological thriller. By the end, I knew more about Tessa Leoni than I did homicide detective D.D.Warren. Then again, this makes sense. This is the fifth book featuring the good detective, with more to come. Gardner even states in her author’s note that while it’s good to re-visit old characters, she’d rather focus on introducing readers to new ones. How much time has passed between books four and five, I don’t know. There are some loose threads still hanging in D.D.’s life by the novel’s end, making it a safe bet that readers will pick up the next book in the series to see what happens. Tessa Leoni, on the other hand, has a full character arc. There are definitely parts I went back to and re-read while in the midst of reading as more information began to come together and make sense.

All in all, I did ultimately enjoy Love You More. It was like spending a couple of hours watching a thrilling, adrenaline-filled movie. Too much isn’t good for you and there isn’t as much replay value once you have all the pieces, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a rip-roaring good time in the process. I especially enjoyed the fact that this book stood on its own, with no need to have read the four novels preceding it. Anything that was essential, Gardner revealed in a way that was easy on new readers. If you like thrillers or crime novels that give in-depth looks into the lives of the officers protecting our streets and families, this is one you won’t want to miss. Maybe even if you don’t tend to read this type of book. I don’t, but I couldn’t help myself—I read the whole thing in one sitting because I had to get to the heart of the matter and discover the truth along with everyone else involved.

[Review based on ARC edition courtesy of Goodreads; Thank you! <3]


All day, I've had Fox News on watching the devastation in Japan. Reading about Dystopian societies built on the backs of natural disasters such as tsunamis wiping out the world is one thing, but coming this close to fiction becoming fact is something else entirely.

Having lived in Japan for two years, the tragedy really hit me hard. While I lived down south in Nagasaki, I have friends in/near the affected areas and worried about them until I saw Facebook postings saying they were okay. On days like today, I'm so glad there's such a thing as Facebook...

I doubt anyone I knew in Japan reads this, but if you do, you and your families are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope everyone is okay and that no further tragedy awaits you in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (7)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

"For males twenty-five is the fatal age. For women it's twenty. We're dropping like flies."

(~pg. 8; changes may be made before book launches in print)

I just finished reading this a few minutes ago, saw that it was officially Tuesday now, and had to pop on here and share a tidbit with you guys! Tomorrow, I'm either going to start Love You More by Lisa Gardner or Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins. While I'm dying for the latter, I won the former via GoodReads and it comes out tomorrow, so...I should really read it ASAP! ^^;

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cover Crazy (4)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

This week, I fell in love with Maureen Johnson's cover for the first book in her new series, The Name of the Star, which was unveiled on Friday. It's GORGEOUS! Too bad it's not coming out until September. :(

Why I Love This Cover:

Believe it or not, I've never read any of Johnson's books before, which is a shame, especially because she went to one of our local schools and I SHOULD read her. The first thing that caught my eye was the mysterious man in the shadows. This is my inner fangirl coming out, but does he not remind you of the swoonishly handsome hero Tuxedo Mask? I also want to know why the girl at the forefront is curled up in a fetal position. Is she dreaming, is she hurt (or even worse, dead)? I love the way the girl is bathed in color while the rest of the image is kind of foggy and overlaying everything as though from another world. I also like the swirls in each corner and have a feeling they'll be all embossed and shiny when the time comes.

The book sounds really unique, too. Looking at the cover, you'd think it was a historical novel, but it occurs in modern-day London at a private boarding school. Not only that, a string of murders begin taking place...on the anniversaries of the days Jack the Ripper killed his victims. Not Johnson's typical fare; I HAVE to read this!

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

[The Name of the Star is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you on Sept. 29, 2011.]

Sunday, March 6, 2011

You're Gonna LOVE Me: "Lost Voices" by Sarah Porter

Title: Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Release Date: July 4, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Received: ARC Courtesy of NetGalley
Goodreads Page

Lost Voices is going to be a perfect summer book. Why? MERMAIDS! Not your typical mermaids, either. These mermaids were once human girls who were abused and neglected in life. If they wind up dying prematurely, they become mermaids. Not only that, they have siren-like tendencies and delight in bringing down ships and drowning all remaining survivors. Throw in some cattiness à la Mean Girls or The Clique series and mix it up with a metaskaza (newly-formed mermaid) who doesn't want to bring down ships and you have an irresistable book that's hard to put down.


Waves of satiny, vibrating music poured from Luce’s mouth, and the old man was comforted. He gazed at her with his round blue eyes as if she were someone he had always wanted to see, his heart’s only treasure, long lost but suddenly returned to him. Even her own father, Luce realized, had never once looked at her with such profound tenderness, such acceptance. Luce knew the old man must be dying, but he was so happy. Happy just to be with her, and to listen to her singing. He understood her so well, and the better he understood her, the more complete his love for her became. He was still smiling at her as the silver bubbles gushed up from his mouth and his eyelids sank over his blue eyes.

-Page 52; changes may be made before book launches in print

New Feature: You're Gonna LOVE Me!

I decided to create a new feature entitled You're Gonna LOVE Me! after a conversation with fellow blogger Small Review regarding what to do when reading ARCs months before the book releases. (Do you all have "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls stuck in your head now? I know I do! I think I'll hear it every time I post one of these now...)

On the one hand, if a review is posted now, you'll all forget about it by the time the book actually comes out or be dying to run and grab it that very day (when you obviously can't). At the same time, if I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek, I want to thank the publisher for their kindess by hyping it now and rewarding you all with a look at what's to come. Small Review linked me to a conversation on a January post by The Perpetual Page Turner. I really liked this comment from publisher Molly O'Neill:

In a perfect world, I'd love if (for ARCs you get really excited about, at least), you posted twice: once just briefly, right after you've read (all gushy but also informational, saying that you just finished this book; it was great; linking to the author's blog or Twitter or such; and when it comes out). Then, closer to publication (within a couple weeks before or after the official pub date), you could post your full actual review. And you could of course have written right that right after you read it, so you don't forget anything; you'd just held off on pressing post till later. A two-pronged approach like this lets you help to build buzz/get books on the radar of other readers without spoiling the reading experience for anyone.

I decided to make a new feature that will hopefully be the type of net etiquette that other book bloggers utilize as well. I'll be posting information about the book such as its release date and publisher, briefly highlight the synopsis, and give you a teaser to whet your appetites.

Feel free to join me and spread this style of ARC blogging!

[Are there any changes you would make?]

[Also, thank you to Small Review for the ultra-informative post regarding how to make colored boxes to type in. It really punches this feature up, no?]

If you do something similar, I'd love to see it! Please post your links for me here. I'm eager to see how other bloggers are handling ARC Buzz. ^_^

"Trickster's Girl" by Hilari Bell

The reviews for Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell are all over the place. Personally, I enjoyed it. I thought Bell had a unique take on a Dystopian world that could very well become our future. She blended our fears about terrorists and new security guidelines with the fact that humans are slowly killing our planet. Throw in the awesome mythological Trickster and hints of Native American folklore and Trickster’s Girl becomes something utterly unique.

The novel takes place about a hundred years after 9/11 and the world has become obsessed with security. On top of secure border checkpoints between countries, the USA also has border patrols between each state. To travel from state to state, citizens need special ID cards that are coded with their own DNA, making them impossible to forge. If going to another country, however, a special pass needs to be issued from the government. The USA seems to be more uptight than other countries. Take Canada, for example. Despite the border between the countries, state borders aren’t manned and people are freer to move about. While there is a lot of futuristic lingo thrown about, it’s described so naturally, it doesn’t feel like we’re being slammed with a wealth of new information. You can see this technology, can imagine it, can envision it in our own world. I never struggled to find a mental image of what was being described the way I have with other futuristic books full of new technology. I truly appreciated the way Bell spread this information over the course of the book instead of throwing it at us all at once.

Trickster’s Girl begins at a funeral. A teenager named Kelsa is mourning the loss of her father, who lost the fight against cancer. In this futuristic world, you can “rent” a resting place for your urn for about sixty years. Kelsa swaps out her father’s ashes for a mixture of flour, ashes, and some of her father’s beloved fishing tackle (to add weight) so that no one would notice the difference. She slips away from home at night after everyone is asleep and goes to the special place she’s always come with her dad to bury him beneath a cottonwood tree. Trees play an important part in this world. Bioterrorists have created a bioplague that has killed much of the South American rain forest and has made its way up to Mexico. If it can’t be stopped, the United States and Canada are next. Kelsa’s father went down to research the bioplague and contracted cancer soon after. Kelsa thinks the two events might be related.

After burying her father, Kelsa meets Raven, a strange boy who says he’s been looking for her. She thinks he’s dangerous, freaks out, and runs away. She begins seeing him everywhere and thinks he’s stalking her. It takes a while for him to convince her that he is the human form of Raven, the Native American form of the trickster spirit. He states that humans have been destroying their planet to an extent that its affecting the spirit world. Some of the spirits want the humans to clean up their own mess and save the planet while others want them to die off so that the world can begin anew. The way this concept is described reminds me of the movie Spirited Away (which I love), so it was easy to envision. The only way to begin saving the world is to travel to various nexus power spots and heal the leys in the earth. Only Kelsa can do this; spirits are unable to fix what humans broke. Many spirits are angry at the quest Kelsa and Raven embark on and the duo suddenly find themselves being hunted down.

The book is the first of two: The Raven Duet will conclude in 2012 with the release of Traitor’s Son. The end of the first book does have a lot of loose threads left hanging, which is one reason many people dislike the book. To me, it feels more like Bell split her novel into two chunks. We get half now and the rest next year, sort of like how The Lord of the Rings is really one book in three chunks. The other thing that frustrated readers was the lack of romance, but Bell has promised that there will be some in the second novel. The fact that Kelsa kept reflecting on Raven’s physical attributes but nothing happened made sense to me. Raven is very much a deity. Kelsa’s doing what he asks of her, but deep down, I think she’s afraid of him, especially because she knows he has his own agenda and is only using her to better his own world. For me, their relationship worked. I’ll be interested in seeing how Bell weaves the rest of the story together and ties everything up next year.

One last thing I wanted to point out to all of you is the fun chapter headings inside. Are you ready?

They’re inside a raven! How symbolic is that? Plus, Raven transforms into his namesake a few times, so it’s like you’re looking at the Trickster himself come the start of each new chapter. I also love the way the cover of the book uses mauve and white--and no other color. At first, I didn't think much of the cover, but the more I look at it, the more I fall in love with it. It's one of those images where you discover more things every time you look at it. On first glance, it's just a girl, right? But if you look really carefully, you'll see that the mauve making up her hair is also the wingspan of a raven and his head curves into the shadow of her eyes. There are also two other shades of mauve beneath the first to add dimension and each one repeats the head and wings pattern. Not only that, the image continues into the spine and onto the back cover, so when you look at the back cover, you see the raven's tail. The image also continues into the front inside cover flap when you flip it out, and while on first glance it's fly away hair, if you just look at the flap, it's a raven's head/beak and wings. Here's a look at the cover unfolded. Sorry for the lightning--it's dark and rainy this morning, so the light is kind of sucky for taking pictures and I'm too lazy to hook up my scanner. ^^;

[Review based on ARC edition courtesy of NetGalley; Photograph from my purchased copy of first hardback edition]

[This entry is part of Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges' Dystopian Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]