Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TEASER TUESDAYS: THE CHILDE by C.A. Kunz & SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover




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!



Welcome to another double-edition! I’m finally getting around to reading THE CHILDE by C.A. Kunz (Disclaimer: I know “A.Kunz” from university) and SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover (Which I’ve been dying to read, but have been waiting for due to an upcoming blog tour). Both are intriguing from the beginning! (And I think it’s funny that both authors featured today use initials! ^_^ Not funny that they *use* them, but that both entries *today* are doing so when I haven’t come across this in a while. Oh, you know what I mean!)

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












THE CHILDE by C.A. Kunz

"Maniacal laughter filled her ears through the thickening smoke. Dark shapes moved beyond the fire and disappeared. The front door burst into flames as Cat went to grab for the handle. She was trapped.”


(~pg. 21, paperback edition)

Goodreads Summary here.






And No. 2 :












SOLSTICE by P.J. Hoover

"When I walk into Social Sciences, there’s a new guy sitting right where I normally sit near the windows. His face turns to me, and his eyes are the first thing to catch my interest. They’re dark like chocolate and filled with shadows. His lips move into a flicker of a smile, and a piece of his dark hair falls across his forehead. He makes me think of mysteries and secrets. In short, he sums up every single thing my mom tells me to avoid. So I sit down in the empty seat next to him.”



(~ pg. 15, nook edition)

Goodreads Summary here.








What are you reading right now?

Monday, May 30, 2011

MYTHOLOGICAL MONDAYS: COVER ART REVEALED: THE SON OF NEPTUNE by Rick Riordan



Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc. Please feel free to do this with me! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. I’ve even included a Linkbox for you. It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too. ^_^







Today’s Mythological Monday edition features a Cover Reveal of THE SON OF NEPTUNE by Rick Riordan. OMG, isn’t it gorgeous? It was revealed at the end of BEA, and I held off posting it for you all to see until today. (I know, how could I wait that long? Let me tell you, bookworms, it was HARD!)

Who isn’t waiting for the next installment of THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS? This series is seriously filling the hole left behind in my heart when PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS concluded. It’s all that and then some! The first book in the new series, THE LOST HERO, is my favorite book by Riordan. I can’t *WAIT* for SON (haha, S.O.N. are the initials AND The first word in the title…) to come out on October 4th!

How fierce is this cover, by the way? It reminds me of something out of the animated series AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER, especially with all that snow in the background. But isn’t Percy supposed to be in California…? Where is this, Alaska maybe? I want to know how he gets there and why! And what’s the golden bird he’s holding? (I’m ASSUMING this is Percy…especially with a title like THE SON OF NEPTUNE! Our boy MUST be featured in this book!)

I love the way his hair is falling into his face, hiding the dirt-encrusted cheeks. He’s on a quest, a quest, a quest! I want to know more about the quest, especially the golden bird staff he’s slamming into the ice. What is it? There’s no fun object title like THE RED PYRAMID or THE THRONE OF FIRE to let us know what that golden bird really is!
This cover looks GOOD and OMG, I want this book NOW because I am super impatient.


How about you? What do you think?

(And if you haven’t read the PERCY JACKSON books yet, I disown you. No, seriously. I do.)

COVER CRAZY: BETWEEN TWO ENDS by David Ward




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."





Why I Love This Cover:


This cover looks AWESOME. I always love covers with books on the cover. It’s one reason I recently had a cover crazy post featuring THE BOOK OF HEROES by Miyuki Miyabe. Books about books will always make me want to read them, especially when they’re books about people sucked into classic tales such as THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. Yes, please!

After looking up the summary online, I already appreciate this cover even more. There’s an Arabian palace looming in the background, with a boy facing it, his back to us (possibly the main character). Sand is beneath his feet, and beneath that, there are books, glorious books! And then empty space, because this world was created out of those books. There’s also a random necklace floating down there. I want to know more about it because it must be important to the story!

I also like the way the sand is whipping up around the title. Each letter is raised and cracked and dirty as though made from stone. It has a bit of a 3-D effect to it.
I *love* this cover and now I really want to read this book!


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


[BETWEEN TWO ENDS is available now wherever books are sold!]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

THE SECRET PRINCE by Violet Haberdasher







Knightley Academy is back in session, and Henry Grim is confident that nothing else can prevent him from earning his knighthood. But Henry and his friends quickly discover that their professors have made some troubling changes to the curriculum -- an old classroom filled with forgotten weapons. It is the discovery of this classroom that prompts Henry and Valmont to become the unlikely leaders of a secret battle society. But disaster strikes as Henry, Adam and Frankie find themselves stuck as Partisan School servants. Yet something is rotten in Partisan Keep. And when Henry is discovered by a secret society of outlaws with a sinister purpose, he must come to terms with a great sacrifice that will take him away from everything he has ever known and wanted. The stakes get higher and tension mounts in the second installment of Violet Haberdasher's fresh, fast-paced, and always surprising Knightley Academy books.

From Goodreads



Yesterday, I reviewed KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY, the first in a trilogy. The second book, THE SECRET PRINCE, is even better than the first. If yesterday’s review didn’t convince you to read this series, hopefully this one will. I’ll do my best to write this review without any spoilers so that newcomers to the series (or even just this volume) will still be surprised.

What I already love about the KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY books is the way they’re evolving in a fashion similar to HARRY POTTER. Those books grew up with us, and so do these. The first volume, as fraught as it was with danger and mayhem, felt like child’s play compared to the newest installment. Filled with danger, romance, and even death, THE SECRET PRINCE is darker and more likely to make you chew your nails to the quick as you race through each new page. I can’t wait to see what Violet Haberdasher infuses into the final novel. I wish there were more than three, because I’m already not ready for this series to end!

THE SECRET PRINCE begins at the start of second-term, so Henry Grim and Co. are still first-year students. While much remains the same, a lot has changed, too. Characters set up to be loathed in the first book are given a more humane side and redeeming traits that most authors don’t often bother with. Other beloved characters take on sharper edges. Everything we thought we knew has changed. The first novel was very much an introduction to school life; now, everyone has settled in, so there are more issues to explore. At the same time, Henry can’t forget the events that changed his life during the first semester, so he’s much more cautious this time around. The Nordlands are once more up to no good. Disturbing tales of a doctor who goes around snatching citizens and “fixing them” when they’re out at night after curfew have made their way to London. During a trip to the country last semester, Henry discovered a combat room at a rival school, but under The Longsword Treaty, combat training isn’t allowed. The Knightley students find a secret room and start teaching themselves how to use weapons for battle, and when Henry discovers a chance to disguise himself as an envoy en route to The Nordlands, he jumps at the opportunity. However, this isn’t the smartest move, and our scrappy hero finds himself in over his head in ways no reader could foresee.

I REALLY like this series, bookworms. It has all of the elements I love in a series. I adore the way Haberdasher doesn’t leave us in suspense at the conclusion of each novel. Yes, there are loose ends that we want answers to, but HARRY POTTER does this as well. They end on the same note. Unlike HP, however, Haberdasher gives us the goods early on. There’s no sidestepping around issues such as romance and drawing things out. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am for the win! Only, not crude like I just made it sound. ^^; I really appreciate the way the author continues to flesh out characters that we thought we knew and shines them up until they become someone new. This is a great fantasy adventure for anyone who enjoys such genres.

COVER DESIGN:


I love the full suit of armor on this cover. It fits nicely with the fencing armor on the paperback edition of KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY. In the first book, students only fenced, so it was appropriate. This time around, the boys are secretly teaching themselves how to use weapons and preparing for battle with The Nordlands. I love the dark shades of black and blue, not to mention that brilliant splash of deep crimson coating the background. Plus, there’s a suit of armor in the hallway that the students use to inform everyone when their secret training sessions will take place. This cover is well-suited, and I can’t wait to see what the third book will look like.


[THE SECRET PRINCE launches June 28, 2011. I normally wait until a week or two before launch to review a book, but since 1) I reviewed KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY yesterday, and 2) It's The All Male Challenge month, I figured I'd slip it in a little early!]


This entry is part of Logan E. Turner and The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challenge (2011 Edition). See how I've done so far here.]

Saturday, May 28, 2011

KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY by Violet Haberdasher










In Violet Haberdasher's Knightley Academy, the first commoner accepted at a prestigous boarding school uncovers a conspiracy that could lead to war.

From Goodreads









Bookworms, I’ll tell you upfront: I’m going to have a lot of trouble reviewing KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY for you. I’m not sure how to describe the magical way the story snuck beneath my skin and consumed me. I feel like if I describe it one way, I’ll pigeon-hole it and you’ll think it’s a book that it isn’t. Even though it’s similar to other works in some ways, it’s also unlike anything I’ve read, in a class of its own. Unputdownable. A perfect blend of reality and fantasy for children, teens, and adults alike.

Ignore the title of this book: If KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY brings up images of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress, you’re WRONG. You’re also not alone: That’s the type of novel I thought I was getting, too. I thought this novel was going to be about a school that taught students how to be a knight. I was hoping for the next RANGER’S APPRENTICE by John Flanagan or SONG OF THE LIONESS (or PROTECTOR OF THE SMALL) series by Tamora Pierce. While this novel IS about knights, it’s not about *knights.* When I first started reading and saw the word “car,” I thought, “What…? Dashing knights in our world?” And then I kept reading. It takes place at the turn of the century, when electricity is still new and cars are used only by a select few. I grew even more confused. But then I realized how brilliant author Violet Haberdasher (nom de plume) is. Because this world is our world, but it’s *not* our world. At one point, there were real knights of old. Eventually, the various countries signed The Longsword Treaty with one another, creating peace and eliminating the need for combat and true knights. Instead, Knights of the Realm now train to be detective knights, police knights, and secret service knights. They might also work in prestigious office positions or for famous families.

KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY also holds a vague similarity to HARRY POTTER, albeit without the use of any magic. The novel centers around an orphaned boy named Henry Grim who has dreamed of one day attending Knightley Academy. Alas, without a proper status or position in life, he has no chance of getting in...until the entrance exams allow all residents at the school where he works to apply. There are a couple of characters reminiscent of beloved members of the POTTER family, as well as a few nuances here and there. Haberdasher wrote a particularly lovely guest post earlier this year on Bookalicio.us about her goals in creating KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY. She wanted a series to fill in the hole left when the POTTER series concluded for fans such as herself who grew up with the novels, something with a similar texture to them. But she didn’t want the magic, or a boy who knew nothing about the school he was about to attend, and resolutions that never occurred in the best-selling series. In the guest post, she states, “The hero is the cleverest scholar in his year, hopeless at sports and destined for nothing. And yet…there is something undeniably Potterish about my storytelling.” The result is a series with a similar flavor, but different enough that the two truly can’t be compared to one another.

In KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY, danger lurks on the horizon. The newspapers all buzz about how the Nordlands are doing medical experiments on their citizens, and talk about how women are refused education to the extent that people who break the law are prosecuted. But if these rumors are true, then London is about to go to war for the first time since The Longsword Treaty was set in motion...and knights are no longer trained for combat. It’s a dangerous time to be a young man. London is changing as well: For the first time, Knightley Academy is admitting commoners to its elite knight program due to the discovery of a brilliant young servant named Henry Grim. In addition to accepting Henry into training, the school opens two more spots and admits Adam Beckerman and Rohan Mehta. The three students become roommates and are ostracized by their peers, Henry because he was a servant, Adam because he’s Jewish, and Rohan due to his dark skin. This is hardest on Rohan, who, while orphaned early on, was adopted by a wealthy family and feels equal to the other boys at school despite his appearance. The first year students are too afraid to reach out to the three “common” students due to two students who delight in tormenting them, the pompous Theobold Archer IV and his lackey, Fergus Valmont, with whom Henry is previously acquainted (and not in a pleasant way). The boys must suffer through school, making friends only with Francesca “Frankie” Winter, the Headmaster’s teenage daughter. Soon, terrifying accidents start to occur, and it becomes clear that either someone wants to remove the three common boys from Knightley and restore the school to its superior roots or something more sinister is at play.

KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY is full of adventure, mystery, and intrigue. I had a lot of trouble putting it down and delved right into book two, THE SECRET PRINCE (launching June 28, 2011). The books are currently set to be a trilogy, but they don’t have cliffhanger endings. Rather, they hit the end of term the way the POTTER books due, with the first novel ending as winter break approaches and the second one starting off with second term. Unless the series is extended, the books won’t follow Henry and his friends throughout their years at Knightley, for reasons that will become apparent in book two. KNIGHTLEY ACADEMY was fantastic, and THE SECRET PRINCE is even better. I’ll post a review tomorrow. If you’re looking for a new series that hits your sweet spot and doesn’t leave you frustrated for several years, this is a series you don’t want to miss.

COVER DESIGN:


At the moment, I’m reading a library copy, so the original hardback cover can be seen on the right. Knightley Academy takes up the bulk of the cover beneath the veil of night, with a shadowy figure about to ascend the stairs. I’ll soon buy my own copy in paperback (And at only $5.99 for an almost 500 page novel [albeit middle-grade, so it reads fast], how can you say no to such a steal?), and the cover will match the above image on the left. The new cover embodies much of what I thought the novel would be, but also so much more. At first glance, if you just take in the armor and the “sword,” you think you’re looking at a real knight. Then you realize that the student is in fencing gear, and while sword combat is no longer taught, the students do fence in the novel. I like both covers. I love the font on the paperback the best and feel that the fencing is well-suited for the cover, but I also enjoy the darker atmosphere of the original cover and like the way the school is the focal point. Which cover do you prefer?




This entry is part of Logan E. Turner and The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challenge (2011 Edition). See how I've done so far here.]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA: Nurturing Relationships




Today’s BEA topic is all about giving tips to help others build a stronger blog. I’m not promising to have all the answers. Heck, I’ve only been blogging a year. This is just what has been working for *me* personally.

What do you struggle with when it comes to nurturing relationships between bloggers, publishers, and authors?
Since I’m a writer, I like to talk. A lot. Sometimes, I have to balance between what’s too much, and oftentimes, it becomes too little. I’m learning how to write less because of Twitter, though...! I’m more casual with other bloggers and more formal with authors and publishers because the relationship is more “professional.” It’s hard when there’s easy access via blogs and Twitter, though.

What do you wish someone had told you in the beginning?
To participate more in other activities. At the beginning of the year, I had maybe ten followers. Now I have over a hundred. I still can’t believe that many of you think I have something interesting to say! Hopefully I’ll continue to live up to your expectations... The more you participate in memes or by commenting and forming relationships with other bloggers, the more well-received your blog will be.

How would you like to be approached by a publisher or author who is pitching their book?
I do have a review policy. At times, I’ll get requests to read books that don’t fall into a genre I generally read. Sometimes, the books sound really good, but a lot of the times, I feel bad when I reject them. I like it when the pitch tells me what a book is ABOUT and not just blurbs about how great the book is. I always have to take an extra step and look it up on GoodReads or the author’s blog when this happens.

What are your best tips on working with publishers and authors?
Always walk a line that is both friendly and professional. Publishers and authors are people just like everyone else. Treat them well and you’ll be treated the same way in return. Try not to get starstruck. I’m always over the moon when an author I’ve admired grants me an interview, etc., but I don’t let the stars fall from my eyes when corresponding. Keep it professional, but also light, not stiff.

Who are some bloggers you feel nurture their relationships well?
Everyone I mentioned yesterday, really. I’ve formed relationships with all of the bloggers I featured yesterday because we comment on one another’s post and talk on Twitter or another Messenger program, etc. Find fellow bloggers you really enjoy, ones you click with, ones whose opinions you trust. These will be your best allies in the future.

You're Gonna LOVE Me: VIRTUoSITY by Jessica Martinez








Title: VIRTUOSITY
Author: Jessica Martinez
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Pulse
Received: ARC Courtesy of GalleyGrab
Goodreads Page

SUMMARY:

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....




If you like competition books or novels centered around the fine arts, VIRTUOSITY is going to be your new best friend! The novel reminds me a lot of fellow debut choir novel RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer (which I reviewed earlier this year here. It’s also similar to upcoming debut ballet novels AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe and BUNHEAD by Sophie Flack, as well as movies/TV shows such as CENTER STAGE and GLEE. But it’s also not like any of the above. First of all, it’s the only one centered around violin, which makes it unique all by itself. One thing I loved about RIVAL was the way two girls who are frenemies are up for a prestigious music scholarship. It’s rare to see a book be so focused on two girls and their relationship. It’s more often a girl and a guy, as is the case with VIRTUOSITY. Even so, I’ve always loved stories that started out in hatred and get all mixed up once feelings are involved.

VIRTUOSITY centers around Carmen, a world-class violinist from the USA with a full ride to Julliard ahead of her. She’s only seventeen, but has already come out with several CDs and won a Grammy for classical music. She conducted her first symphony at the tender age of nine. Her biggest competition for the Guarneri, a prestigious competition that results in a world tour, $50,000, and the use of a Guarneri guitar for four years, is a British guy named Jeremy. He’s the same age as her, began conducting at the same age as her, and has also come out with a few CDs. He is her male counterpart. What starts out as a fierce competition becomes something more, with both parties unsure how to react around one another in a realistic way.




Teaser:

Unfortunately, I can’t give you guys a teaser this time around. Simon & Schuster doesn’t allow quotes before publication. Just know that VIRTUOSITY is one fantastic book, one that I’ll post a full review for closer to launch. But you will LOVE it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Word Count Wednesdays (9)



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? IDEK...it sounds fun!)



This week: 11 pages
Total to Date: 99 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. (Plus, that gets me an extra round of editing!)




I really only get to write on my days off because there’s too much to do at night or I’m too tired. I wish I could slip in more writing time! I’ve spent a lot of time this week blogging, too. But hey, eleven pages isn’t *terrible.* It’s probably what most authors do in a day, though. Okay, and usually I’ll spend two half-days writing, so I guess it’s the same, but you know what I mean!

This week, I floundered a bit after finally hitting my OMG moment that I’d been dying to write last week. The part right after it is a little boring, so I made a nice [SKIP THIS SCENE] note in my notebook to come back to! Instead, I focused on the next scene, which is also incredibly important. Plus, it deals with aftermath from the previous scene. It was hard to write, and I still might re-work certain bits, but for now, I have a draft. This is one of four major scenes that will just get harder to write from here! I’m getting to the point where I wonder if anyone but me will ever be interested in reading this, though.

On Sunday, I had a coupon, so we went to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. They were showing the Kentucky Derby on TV. Watching this one horse prance as he warmed up before the race gave me a vivid image of a scene that I might one day include in a book. It gave me a nugget of an idea, but atm, the idea is nonsensical with nowhere to go. All I know is that if the idea blooms into something more, it will be high fantasy. The funny thing is that I’ve been trying to incorporate horses into SUPER SECRET PROJECT FIZZYPOP, but it isn’t meant to be. Someday I will have a horse book!!

That's how my week went! Do you have a WIP at the moment? What was your word count this week? To date? Let's support one another! This week, I hope you were as inspired as me!!!

Armchair BEA: My Favorite Book Bloggers & Upcoming Authors!




Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens!
Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things…!



And here are a few of my favorite book bloggers! I didn’t sign up in time to interview a fellow blogger for BEA, so instead, I’m making a Top Five list of fellow bloggers whose taste runs similar to mine. I guarantee you’ll like them!

And now, in alphabetical order...

*Ashley @ BOOKS FROM BLEH TO BASICALLY AMAZING: Ashley is my soul twin! We have very similar tastes in books, especially when it comes to fairy tales. I met her because of Fairy Tale Fortnight, but we’ve chatted online a lot and have a ton in common. LOVE!

*Ashley @ THE BOOKISH BRUNETTE: I LOVE this girl. Her taste is very similar to mine. She can get me to read books I would otherwise never pick up such as FORBIDDEN, which I reviewed yesterday. I love seeing her on Twitter and wish we could chat together more :)

*Brodie @ Eleusinian Mysteries: A fellow Armchair girl! Brodie hails from Australia and puts fun covers on her blog I haven’t seen before, as well as introduces me to new authors I might not otherwise hear about! Plus, we love a LOT of the same books & are nuts on hearing about HUNGER GAMES movie news!

*GINA @ MY PRECIOUS: I met Gina through Small Review (Or was it the other way around? I forget now…). Both lovely ladies have similar tastes to both each other and to me. Gina loves discussion and will sometimes do discussion question posts on her blog like a virtual book club! She also has great taste when it comes to book cover design, especially illustrations!

*SMALL REVIEW: Small has such a beautiful website. I’m always hearing about new books I want to read from her. She’s constantly adding new, unique features. My favorite is her REVIEW COMPARISON feature, when she pulls together a bunch of reviews from various bloggers and talks about the overall pros and cons of a book. It’s always fun to see what people agree/disagree on!


If you’re not listed here, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you, because I TOTALLY do! I could only pick five!

Also, because my heart beats for books, I want to also share the blogs of five upcoming authors you should all know about and have on your TBR list!

*Brigid Kemmerer: Brigid’s first novel, ELEMENTAL, is coming out in June 2012 from K Teen, an imprint of Kensington Books. ELEMENTAL was sold in auction as the first in a three-book deal.

*Sarah J. Maas: For you fairy tale lovers out there! QUEEN OF GLASS is a new retelling of Cinderella that initially got its start on FictionPress. The novel is slated to be released in Fall 2012 from Bloomsbury.

*Josin L. McQuein: Josin posted just today that she has accepted an offer of agent representation for ARCLIGHT. It hasn’t started making the rounds to publishers yet, but here’s an upcoming author you can follow on her incredible journey to publication! I first heard about Josin when she posted her query letter for PREMEDITATED at The Query Shark’s blog. OMG, what an awesome query! I can’t wait for that book to make the rounds!

*Marissa Meyer: Another fairy tale novel coming your way! CINDER is the first in the LUNAR HEIR CHRONICLES quartet and slated to launch January 3, 2012 from Feiwel & Friends, a Macmillan imprint. The novel is futuristic, takes place in China, and has Cinderella as a cyborg. Wait a second, whaaaaaaaat? You know you’ll be reading this. Marissa had a fairy tale dream come true when it came to querying for agents and getting a publisher through a major bidding war in a high-end deal. I’ve watched her every step of the way, since CINDER was still a NaNo dream, and I couldn’t be happier for her (or, okay, jealous, too!)!!! Cover Art is being worked on right now (I can’t WAIT to see!!).

*Kat Zhang: HYBRID is the first in a trilogy and has no release date just yet, but was picked up by Harper Teen and pitched as a cross between THE GOLDEN COMPASS and GIRL, INTERRUPTED.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma (Debut Author)







Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

From Goodreads


FORBIDDEN is not a novel for everyone. It deals with several hard-hitting issues and features one of the biggest taboos in society. There is extreme neglect as a mother slowly withdraws from her family, leaving her eldest children, Lochan and Maya, to act as parents to their younger siblings. The novel centers on Lochan and Maya’s relationship as it changes and evolves, going from siblings and best friends to two people hopelessly in love. This book is too too and features a squick level that will keep many readers away. Heck, it would have kept me away if I hadn’t seen The Bookish Brunette, a blogger I adore and trust, post a raving review and highlight why everyone should read FORBIDDEN despite the topics explored. I don’t think my review will be anywhere near as stunning as hers, so check it out.

While FORBIDDEN explores many hard, brutal topics, the most harrowing moment deals with none of these issues. It’s not something I ever expected to see in this novel, and I won’t spoil it for you here, but you’ll know it when you see it. Perhaps of all, this moment is what stayed with me long after the last page was turned. Despite the extreme topics, I would absolutely read another novel by Suzuma in a heartbeat. She has a way of combining words and characters in a raw, gripping fashion. Her writing is so sharp and intense that it is impossible not to be invested in Lochan and Maya’s lives and root for them despite the fact that they’re siblings. They know their relationship is fundamentally wrong, but when they try to avoid their feelings, they are destructive and accidentally inflict severe harm upon themselves.

Lochan and Maya have never had a proper childhood. Their father skipped out and found a new family when they were about 10/11 years old. Their mother is an alcoholic who spends her paychecks on clothing for herself and presents for her younger boyfriend, hoping to regain her youth and find a way out of her family. She is the most destructive element, the catalyst of so many things. When she’s in their lives, chaos ensues. She comes home less frequently as the novel progresses, until she’s never home at all and Lochan has to go to her boyfriend’s house to beg her for money to pay the bills. Lochan and Maya are left to be parents to their younger siblings; the youngest is only five years old.

Their family life has an especially devastating effect on Lochan. He is painfully shy and has extreme social anxiety. He can’t deal with other people. In school, he’s called a freak. He can’t even form words if a teacher calls on him in class, and will sometimes have massive panic attacks. He has no friends and can only talk to his family members. Even then, he can, at times, be stumbling or withdrawn. The only person he really trusts to “see” him is Maya, and even that can be a struggle. As for Maya, no one will ever live up to the perfection of her brother. He’s her best friend, the person she loves most in the world, though she doesn’t realize just how much until after going out with a boy she thought she liked.

FORBIDDEN is slow-moving, forming relationships in a way that feels natural and building up the reader’s level of tolerance so they understand why things develop the way they do. The novel was originally published in the UK, which I wondered about upon seeing several character names I wasn’t familiar with, names like Lochan and Walla and Tiffin. They reminded me of a time when names such as Phillipa and Hermione were new to me. I always love seeing what names are popular in other countries. I also like the fact that the US publisher, Simon Pulse, kept in a lot of British slang instead of revising it for an overseas audience. I may not have known a word 100% of the time, but could gather its general meaning from the surrounding contest clues.

In the end, only you can decide whether or not this is a novel you’ll be able to read. I didn’t think I ever would, but found myself immersed in Lochan and Maya’s plight. The characters stick with me even now, days after finishing the novel.


COVER DESIGN:

This cover uses the same stock as the UK version of THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES by Carrie Ryan. I have to admit that I prefer the way it's used in Ryan's book the first. At the same time, I love the way the cover is RED. For passion, for love, for betrayal, for blood. There are so many connotations with the color red that suit this novel. I also love the way the heart is sharp and prickly like a thorn. The small, delicate cursive of the typography goes against the grittiness of that heart and bold red, saying that there's also something delicate about this novel.



[FORBIDDEN launches May 28, 2011 at bookstores everyone. E-ARC courtesty of Simon and Schuster]






[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 Logan E. Turner and The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challenge (2011 Edition). See how I've done so far here.]

Armchair BEA: Giveaway Edition





If you're stopping by from Armchair Giveaway, please click this link and fill out the form to enter to win an autographed copy of BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel. The giveaway form is here (beneath Michel's guest post).

Yesterday, I also posted an interview with the cover designer and my review (part of my new meme, Mythological Mondays). Feel free to check it all out!

Good luck and I hope you're enjoying the week from your armchair!

Armchair BEA: Best of 2011



I’ve already read at least fifty books this year. No, I’m serious. I just counted 43 on my blog and I know there are at least ten I haven’t mentioned yet. Then again, I’ve always been a fast reader.

I’ve decided to highlight my top ten books so far this year, 1/5 of what I’ve read. Narrowing it down was so hard. There are so many books I loved that didn’t make this list! Also, the list really isn’t in any particular order because I love a lot of them equally!

(Huh, doing this just made me realize that I've put aside a LOT of my adult novels this year for the latest and greatest teen reads!)




MY TOP TEN TO-DATE OF 2011




DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver: Okay, this one is my favorite book so far this year. I’m obsessed with it. Oliver has a beautiful way about making you care about her characters. I’m dying for books two and three! (Book Review)

THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab: My other favorite book of 2011. The descriptions are STUNNING. They give me goosebumps. I can’t wait to buy a finished copy when this novel comes out in August and read it again! (You’re Gonna Love Me post; interview with Schwab)
WARPED by Maurissa Guibord: This high fantasy novel swept me away to new heights. It’s one of the best teen fantasy debuts since Kristin Cashore hit the scene with GRACELING. Plus, there’s a unicorn. And a hot guy. And an awesome romance! *swoon* (You're Gonna Love Me; interview with Schwab)

UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand: The book I didn’t think I’d *like* is one of my favorites of the year. I’m not a big angel person, but Hand made me care deeply for all of her characters, even minor ones such as the mother and brother. OMG, and I’m totally Team Tucker. Why is there no Tucker in my life? I’m ashamed for judging this amazing book before I read it! (Book Review)

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano: This and DELIRIUM are, hands down, two of the best Dystopian entries since THE HUNGER GAMES. WITHER is one of the grittier novels in this genre, full of harsh realities and horrible circumstances. The topics aren’t for everyone, but the book is so.good! (Book Review; Break-Down)

GODMOTHER by Carolyn Turgeon: I loved both this and MERMAID, but chose GODMOTHER for a Top Ten of the year because of the psychological impact and the way it tossed me around. It was dark and gritty like the original tales tend to be, and not at all the sort of re-telling I was expecting. (Book Review; interview with Turgeon)

LOST VOICES by Sarah Porter: Can I just say: MERMAIDS!!! Do you need another reason to read this book? Okay, okay. I love the way this isn’t a re-telling of THE LITTLE MERMAID, but a world out of Porter’s own imagination. It’s deceptively beautiful; beneath the surface of these mermaids lurk dangerous secrets. I also was taken in by the way mermaids come into being. Porter brought so much of her own, unique mythology to this novel. I can’t wait to buy a finished copy in July! (You’re Gonna Love Me, Interview with Porter)

HEX HALL/DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins: Another series I didn’t think I would like. I’m not huge on paranormals focusing on vampires/witches/werewolves/fairies/etc., so the concept of all these supernatural creatures together at a boarding school made me raise my eyebrows. But the books are SO GOOD! Like, insanely good. Like, laugh-out-loud funny good. They’re not dripping with crazy angst like so many paranormals these days. It’s more focused on a mystery, and Hawkins has an amazing writing style. Plus, DEMONGLASS totally killed me: I need TRIPLE XXX right NOW, please! (HH Book Review; DG Book Review)

THE FALSE PRINCESS by Eilis O’Neal: A sleeper hit! I was expecting to enjoy this book, but didn’t think I’d love it quite as much as I did. It reminds me of Shannon Hale’s THE GOOSE GIRL in reverse. While there are fairy tale-like elements at play, the story is original and breath-taking, full of unique ideas and an amazing sense of girl power. I can’t wait to read O’Neal’s next novel! (Book Review; interview with O’Neal)

SILVER PHOENIX/FURY OF THE PHOENIX by Cindy Pon: Okay, SP was a re-read right before FURY came out, but it reminded me of how much I love and miss Pon’s amazing characters. It was like coming home and reuniting with an old friend. While I didn’t like FURY quite as much, I still enjoyed it and was happy to see the storylines come to a natural conclusion. I can’t wait to read Pon’s next novel. If you’re a fan of high fantasy and well-written epic adventures, this is one duo you don’t want to miss! (Book Review; interview with Pon)






BEA MOST WANTED OF 2011





THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin
ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE by Gabrielle Zevin
LEGEND by Marie Lu
CROSSED by Ally Condie
THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting
AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe
LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver
BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu
VIRTUOSITY by Jessica Martinez
WITCHSONG by Amber Argyle

(Choosing just ten? Also hard!!)

Teaser Tuesdays: OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper




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 :












OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper

"I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.”

(~pg. 2 [US hardcover edition)

Goodreads Summary here.











Okay, honesty time: I’m not actually reading OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper right now. I read and reviewed it last year. However, I’m not allowed to share my current books with you. I can’t even tell you what I’m reading or when I’m finished. I’m a first-round judge for Nerds Heart YA and can’t disclose these titles. Likewise, I’m still reading JUNIPER BERRY by M.P. Kozlowsky, which I teased last week and had to put aside for other reading obligations. So, silly girl that I am, I went over to my bookshelf, closed my eyes, reached behind me, spun my hands around, and pulled out the first book my fingers touched.

So I guess this isn’t a TRUE Teaser Tuesday. But doesn’t it make you want to read this novel? SUCH a good book!!


What are you reading right now?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: Who am I?



Since I won't be attending BEA this week, I've chosen to instead participate in Armchair BEA, aimed at bringing the fun to our home computers.

Armchair BEA - Day #1:
Who are you, and how do you Armchair?



Born and raised in the good old U S of A, I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. The first book I ever fell in love with was ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by Dr. Seuss. My dad once told me he read that book to me so many times that if he got a single word wrong, he'd get "in trouble" with me. I can't remember ever not having books in my life. I was one of those kids who spent all her pocket money on books, buying series such as BABYSITTER'S CLUB, SWEET VALLEY, and SADDLE CLUB each month. I've since moved on to more complicated books. My favorite authors are Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard, which may surprise longtime readers of my blog (which is predominantly YA-focused). When it comes to YA, my favorite types of novels are fantasy-focused, particularly high fantasy, fairy tales/mythology, and dystopian fiction. I love authors who make me think, who feel no qualms about reaching inside my chest, pulling out my still-beating heart, and shredding it to bits with magic scissors. Books that aren't black and white, but shades of gray. Books that have MEAT to them and aren't just "We live in a perfect world. Let's live happily ever after with our 2.5 kids now." Books that pull me in and make me care fiercely about the characters.

I'm also a life-long writer. One of my biggest dreams is to one day publish a novel. I'd love to begin querying SUPER SECRET PROJECT: FIZZYPOP by the end of 2011 (which means the world CAN'T end in 2012!). I've always been a writer, even when I didn't know what that word meant. As a child, I'd get really upset if someone deviated from the storyline I wanted to play out with our Barbies. I was also the type of kid that could go outside (or inside, for that matter) and live in my head for hours, making magical objects out of silly things like rocks and tree branches. In first grade, my school published a school literary magazine that we all had to submit for. My entry was really silly, something like, "The clown was sad. It was his birthday. A girl knocked on the door. The clown was happy. The end." But that silly little story made me want to write, and I started my "career" of paragraph-long stories. Someday, I hope to share something I've written with all of you, my fellow bookworms.

I'm hoping to armchair by participating in a lot of fun events this week and bringing all of you a taste of what you're missing if you're not in NYC!

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Mayandree Michel, author of BETRAYAL



Today, Mayandree Michel has stopped by A Backwards Story to share how she came up with the world for her debut novel, BETRAYAL, the first in THE DESCENDANTS trilogy. She discusses world-building, one of the most important components of any good, compelling novel.

BETRAYAL can be purchased as an e-book (for 99¢, what a steal!) or a paperback from sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Today’s blog tour stop also features an interview with BETRAYAL cover designer Samantha Oyola and a review of BETRAYAL for Mythological Mondays!


To find out more about Mayandree, please visit her blog or website featuring THE DESCENDANTS.




I wanted the fantasy world of the Ischeros, the descendants of the twelve Olympians, to come alive in the reader’s mind and be tangible and real. World building in fantasy is imperative because it allows a writer to bring a visual reality to the world contained in the novel.

My book is set is in the overlapping time periods of the western gold rush and the stylish and elegant Victorian era. In order to allow readers to experience the time and place I visualized, I studied the Victorian time period and how the standards of behavior influenced the culture and customs of people living in tiny western towns during the gold rush. Then I worked on the basics like climate and geography, and mapping out the fictitious town of Nickel City.

After the setting and premise is chosen, the actual world building gets trickier because detail is paramount. In creating the world of the Ischeros, I used what I knew of established Greek mythology as well as plenty of other folklore and myths to make their world magic-rich. This included each family of descendant’s individual powers. I had to make a decision about magic. How much is there? Who uses it? What are the rules governing it? How do the characters feel about it?

I set up all the rules and expectations for the Ischeros families, Apolluon shadows / vampires and mortals, which had to be consistent and coherent so that I wouldn’t confuse the reader. I was advised by a generous friend who is also a writer that all this had to be established before actually writing the story. Boy, am I glad I took her advice because once the rules were in place, it was still tricky keeping track of all the details at times. My memory is shot after having two kids, so I don’t trust myself to remember a thing. I kept a three subject spiral notebook close by along with organized notes tacked on a corkboard to stay consistent with the elements of the story.

Well executed world building adds a sense of depth to the writing and relevant details make the story tangible for the reader. Little things like the symbolic medallions worn by the Ischeros, the gods disguised as monuments, even the element of time travel, which unlocks limitless possibilities, enrich the story. Most fantasy writers will agree that world building is time consuming, but I enjoy creating magic that suspends the reader’s sense of disbelief while they are consumed with the story and elaborate cultures within historical settings. In my opinion, I think world building is one of the most fun aspects of fantasy writing.





Enter to win an autographed copy of BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel! You do NOT have to be a follower to enter! :)

This contest will run until June 1, 2011.

Cover Crazy: BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel/ Interview with Designer Samantha Oyola




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 love the coloring of BETRAYAL, all the gold and bronze. I love the gorgeous dress Cordelia is wearing, especially because it goes alongside one of my favorite scenes in the book. The way lightning comes from her hands reminds you of how the novel starts off and hints at Delia's parentage. I love the inclusion of the Parthenon in the background, hinting that this book will be about Greek mythology. In person, the design continues around the spine and back cover; this book is LOVELY to look at!















And now, a special treat for my fellow cover design lovers!








Everyone who sees BETRAYAL, the first book in Mayandree Michel’s THE DESCENDANTS trilogy, agrees: The cover is gorgeous. Not only does it feature a pretty girl in a beautiful dress (debut model Giselle Elyse Lopez), it hints at the powerful magic and Greek mythology lying within the pages it’s protecting. Designer Samantha Oyola did a fantastic job and I’m pleased to share an interview with this talented woman today! More about Mayandree can be found on her personal blog or website featuring THE DESCENDANTS.

Today’s blog tour stop also features a guest post on world-building from BETRAYAL author Mayandree Michel, a review of BETRAYAL for Mythological Mondays, and a giveaway of an autographed copy of BETRAYAL!


BETRAYAL can be purchased as an e-book (for 99¢, what a steal!) or a paperback from sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.



BETRAYAL looks absolutely gorgeous. The cover made me covet the book before I even knew what it was about, then the Greek focus cemented the deal. How did the cover for BETRAYAL come about?




The front cover was inspired by one of the earlier scenes that took place in the woods; it was what initially captivated me when reading the story. I felt it was very powerful and mysterious, that the scene needed to be brought to life. In addition, I wanted to include key representative elements such as the Parthenon, the iconic dress, and most importantly, the lightning, in order to draw readers and give them insight on what this novel is about.




Will you also be designing the covers for SACRIFICE and the third THE DESCENDANTS novel? Do you have any ideas in mind yet?
Yes, and yes :) I will be doing the covers for the next two books. I have a general sense of what I would like to create, however, finalizing my ideas will come into play when their release date nears.




Will you be making the covers look similar to one another?



I do plan on keeping the same style in order to establish an easily recognizable series. I’m taking the time in between books to gather references and inspiration in order to produce an
equally strong follow up cover.



Do you often get a chance to read books before designing the covers?



Yes, I think it's important to have an understanding of the story; it's where inspiration comes from and how you can effectively portray correct emotion, mood, and style.



For me, it would be almost impossible to create a personal piece of art without knowing what it was for. Almost like painting a portrait without having met the person- It loses the sincerity that an artist can capture in the subtle details such as knowing the exact angle of a smile, or capturing the slightest glimmer in the eyes.



How do you go about your creative process?



When designing anything, the first thing I do is gather references and inspiration. From there, I experiment with my own style and add a touch of personality.



What other books have you designed covers for?



This is actually one of my first book cover designs, however, I am currently in the process of creating a few personal designs, which I will share shortly.



Who has influenced you as a designer?



As a designer, I look to creative and unique minds, anyone from the great classic artists, to today’s entertainers and street artists can influence me by reiterating their courageousness on being different.




What made you want to go into art/design to begin with?



I've always had an artistic flare within, and it was very apparent when I undoubtedly "discovered" I was horrible in math!
I love painting, sewing, sketching, fashion and photography, hence, I made it a point to make sure that I was content in life as long as I had a creative career.


What's your favorite part of the design process?

My favorite part in design, whether it’s a t-shirt, business card, flyer or book cover, is the challenge of a particular goal that needs to be met. There is a great sense of fulfillment when it all comes together.


Do you have favorite types of covers that you gravitate towards over others? What are some of your favorite book cover designs?

I love children's book covers. I think there is a certain aspect that is endearing about the ability to create "outside the box" for the simplistic open mindedness of a young reader. One of my favorite covers is THE ROUGH-FACED GIRL, illustrated by David Shannon. I love how he was able to intensely portray the character’s humble personality in one frame. In addition, I also appreciate iconic book covers that hold lasting impressions such as the unforgettable TWILIGHT series and American classics such as THE GREAT GATSBY and GO ASK ALICE.

MYTHOLOGICAL MONDAYS: BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel




Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological (and heck, folklore/fairy tales, too) tales, etc.

Last week, The Flashlight Reader mentioned that she wanted to snag my picture and meme for her own blog. Please feel free! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. I’ve even included a Linkbox for you (I think…). It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too. ^_^






Welcome to the first of three posts in today’s Blog Tour Stop featuring BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel. Today’s stop also features a guest post on world-building from BETRAYAL author Mayandree Michel, an interview with BETRAYAL cover designer Samantha Oyola, and a giveaway of an autographed copy of BETRAYAL!

BETRAYAL can be purchased as an e-book (for 99¢, what a steal!) or a paperback from sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.








Where there is love and power, there is always... betrayal.

At seventeen, Cordelia is an ordinary teen with an extraordinary and frightening secret. A secret that induces vivid dreams which she not only experiences true love, but crippling fear while barely escaping with her life each night.

After a life altering event, Cordelia has an unexpected encounter with Evan, the mysterious boy from her dreams, who reveals who and what she is, a descendant of the Greek gods. At that moment everything she knows of her world is a lie, and she must leave the present and go into the past to assume the role she was put on this earth for, safeguarding her ancient empire amidst evil forces that toil hastily to destroy it.

In a race against time, Cordelia must decide if she is truly a part of this dangerous world, or risk defying the gods, and ultimately lose the boy who has put a claim on her heart.


From Goodreads



I always have certain expectations going into novels. Sometimes I’m let down, and other times, I’m stunned beyond my wildest expectations, as was the case with BETRAYAL by Mayandree Michel, the first in THE DESCENDANTS trilogy. I didn’t have many expectations for this book beyond salivating over Greek mythology and being caught up in an epic adventure. I wasn’t expecting historical elements such as the fact that the majority of the book takes place during the Victorian era or the inclusion of various paranormal beings. I also wasn’t expecting to like this independently-published novel more than much-buzzed about traditionally published novels such as THE GODDESS TEST and STARCROSSED. The story, however, completely blew me away and I can’t wait to continue my journey through the next two books.

BETRAYAL centers around Cordelia, a seemingly-ordinary teen living in our world. One day, she accidentally creates lightning and discovers that someone is after her. After living in fear without realizing the secrets lying within her, she is killed by an evil man bent on claiming her power. As a Greek descendant, or Ischeros, however, she still has 24 hours to be brought back to life, which occurs in stunning fashion as she’s brought back to 1891, her own era. Cordelia finds out she was sent to the future two years prior in order to protect her from the man trying to kill her. All her memories were wiped out, replaced with false ones of a childhood that never existed. In her own world once more with no memory of who she really is, Cordelia struggles to reclaim her identity and tap into her vast array of powers before someone attempts to kill her again. As heiress to a vast empire, if she dies, the hopes of all the Ischeros go with her. Without her memories, however, Cordelia has no idea how to be the powerful woman she once was.

Full of intrigue, mystery, suspense, and, of course, betrayal, Michel’s debut novel hits every sweet spot in a compelling way. Characters you thought you knew will completely surprise you. Michel is deft at building intricate layers; things that don’t seem important are thrown into the story, coming back to haunt readers later on. The climax is powerful and captivating, unlike some books where authors are unable to uphold what they’d promised to deliver. The final scenes are rendered in such a way that readers will want to continue on to book two and find out what happens next, especially in regards to events they never saw coming. I read a first-edition, who had a lot of grammatical errors, but BETRAYAL has since been edited and the second-edition promises to deliver a cleaner read. At times, the descriptions got to be overwhelming and bogged the action down, but for the most part, pacing was even and the storyline was captivating enough to keep me eagerly turning pages.

Book Two in THE DESCENDANTS trilogy, SACRIFICE, is expected to be released in December 2011.



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

Friday, May 20, 2011

JUNONIA by Kevin Henkes




Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?
Alice's friends are all returning, too. And she's certain her parents have the best party planned for her. Alice can't wait. If Alice is lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

From Goodreads




The ocean has always been a place of solace for me, water baby that I am. The same can be said for a young girl named Alice, whose family goes to a beach house in Florida every winter. Each year, Alice celebrates her birthday while on vacation, and this year is especially special: She’s turning ten years old, double-digits! She’s excited beyond belief, but that emotion quickly tapers off as she realizes that this year won’t be the same as previous ones. First, some older kids can no longer come on vacation due to a heightened course load at school, then her favorite artist gets stranded due to a snow storm. To top it all off, her favorite aunt shows up—but with her new boyfriend and his five-year-old brat, Mallory. This will definitely be a summer for Alice to remember, but will those memories be good ones or tarnish her love of a place she’s always loved?

Kevin Henkes has a beautiful way of writing. His sentences are so precious, so descriptive, that I just wanted to scoop them up and let them sit on my tongue to melt like drops of sugar. He’s good at creating a picture with words that evokes the perfect image in the mind’s eye. He’s best-known for his picture books, especially KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON, which won the Caldecott in 2005, along with several other prizes. His art in JUNONIA is whimsical and light; in the finished product, the illustration that begins each chapter reminds me of a pen-and-ink drawing, and each image is bursting with images of a beach vacation.

The heart of JUNONIA is very delicate. There isn’t a lot of action in this short middle-grade novel. Alice is very introspective for a girl her age, which some readers in the 7 - 12 demographic might have trouble relating to. They might get bored and put the novel down. At the same time, the book has a soothing quality to it destined to appeal to readers who get scared by a lot of big events and not knowing what comes next. On top of that, Henkes sneaks a powerful lesson into the pages of his book about the power of sharing, as well as the way everything changes, but not always in a bad way. Alice does a lot of growing up in this book, which ends on just the right note.


COVER DESIGN

I LOVE this cover. This is my favorite of all the images in JUNONIA. I love the way Alice is looking out to sea, the wind blowing in her hair and the gulls soaring in the sky. It reminds me of her family’s tradition each year to see the first pelican, first dolphin, etc. I also love the way the cover is decorated with junonia shells. Not only does it match the book’s title, but it features Alice’s greatest wish: to find a rare junonia on the beach. She’s obsessed with junonias and thinks about them constantly. I love the way there are junonias EVERYWHERE on the cover, because they’re everywhere for Alice, too. I also like the earthy, sandy, beach-like colors of the cover and the way the water is the same shade of blue as the illustrations hiding within the novel. Such a great cover for summer!



This entry is part of Logan E. Turner and The Unread Reader's All Male Review Challenge (2011 Edition). See how I've done so far here.]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss




What do you think? To all the naysayers freaking out because she didn't "look" like Katniss, see what some hair dye and make-up can do? Hollywood listened and heard. Now you have an actress who both looks and acts like our heroine.

...I'm still not convinced that you will ever get me anywhere NEAR this movie b/c I'm convinced it will be a blood-bath, and as I said the other day, I'm super-squeamish, but this is one hot-button issue!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Word Count Wednesdays (8)



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? IDEK...it sounds fun!)



This week: 10 pages
Total to Date: 88.5 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. (Plus, that gets me an extra round of editing!)




I had a much better writing week this week. FINALLY! Not only that, but I wrote THE SCENE. The one that starts this ball rolling. That one that has been in my head for a while. I don’t think it’s 100% right yet, but I’ll fix that in round two. I was just so happy to write it. Not to mention, finish this chapter…it’s been going on for way too long. Biggest one yet! Not only that, but I found out that we get to meet a major character from book three in this chapter! That means I had to take time to figure out names and appearances from a book I’m not even thinking about yet. I wasn’t expecting this person to show up, but it works AND I discovered something important about the character’s personality in the process. Now I want to write book three… ^^;;

On top of my work on SUPER SECRET PROJECT FIZZYPOP, I started working on something new, for now, we'll call it SUPER SECRET PROJECT HEARTBREAKER. As some of you know, I went to the Diversity in YA Tour on Saturday in NYC (I’ll post tomorrow or Fri. on it). On the train back home, I was listening to my ipod and some music really inspired me. The biggest song was MY HANDS by Leona Lewis. Now, I get into these moods where I’ll listen to the same CD over and over, and I’ve been listening to Leona Lewis a lot lately. But that night, I was just on a random playlist by various artists and this was the second song to come on. Do you know the song?




It’s incredibly sad. I’ve listened to it a zillion times (and it always makes me want to re-watch the finale of FINAL FANTASY XIII, which I’ll do on YouTube one of these days b/c I don’t want to replay such a long game…), and for some reason, it connected with me in a new way. I knew I wanted to tell the story of a girl who’d lost someone important in her life, who is suffering and seeing that person everywhere around her every day. I wanted to write something that would break people’s hearts (I admit it). I wanted to jab readers in the gut, have them bawling like Jodi Picoult makes me sob every time I read MY SISTER'S KEEPER (though not in the same fashion), but also the flavor of an ending that comes from Suzanne Collins' MOCKINGJAY, w/o spoiling it for those who have read it. I just have a strong KNOWING of the feelings I want in this novel, but that's about it.

I started to write down my feelings and what I wanted to get out of this idea, and then, all of a sudden, I had a first line, followed by two more. And then I had three chapters. The writing style is like nothing I’ve ever done before. It might change to something more traditional; I’m still in the “new idea stage” of the process. But this character already isn’t who I thought she was going to be, and her story isn’t what my muse was hinting at. Or maybe I started getting the foundation for two stories that night. I don’t know. But it’s always so exciting to have the germ of a new idea. I’m nowhere near ready to focus on writing this yet—there’s too much story that I don’t know—but I LOVE the rush of a new idea, even if it’s one that never comes to fruitation!

That's how my week went! Do you have a WIP at the moment? What was your word count this week? To date? Let's support one another! This week, I hope you were as inspired as me!!!