Delayed B&N Nook - An e-reader for Christmas?

Well, I now know I am definitely not pre-ordering one of these. In case you haven't heard, Barnes and Noble recently announced their Nook, an e-reader with 3G network and a huge competitor against Amazon's Kindle. These new e-readers were supposed to be released today, but now Barnes and Noble is pushing back the release date to December 7 due to demand. And if you pre-order a Nook from now onwards, you won't be getting on until January 11... what?! A major step down for the Nook because it won't be coming out in time for the holidays, and a major boost for the Kindle.

I'm personally still waiting to jump onto this bandwagon. I'm having a hard time giving up the feeling (and smell! my family calls me weird) of a tanglible, paper book. A huge jump forward with the Nook's new borrowing to other friends service, but I'm not quite convinced. Maybe a hundred dollars down would convince me, in the "cheap" category, and many other ordinary, not so book-enthusaistic people, but for now I'm holding out until I see something as gorgeous as the Nook, but for a lower price. And 2010 is definitely looking to be the year for the e-reader!

Companies to look out for in 2010:

-- > confirmed e-readers from: Asus, PaperLogic, Netronix, Entourage, Samsung
-- > suspected e-readers from: Apple, Fujitsu, Dell, MSI, Amazon (Kindle 3 and DX 2??)

Anyways, anyone already pre-ordered a Nook (lucky!) or planning to order one despite the delay? Any thoughts on getting a e-reader for Christmas or next year?

Review: Willow by Julia Hoban

Publisher: Dial (April 2, 2009)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Price: $11.55 from {amazon}
Summary: from {goodreads}
Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.
Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal to give up on her.


Review: I don't really feel like there's much to say about this one. The summary basically sums everything up: Willow's the new girl that managed to "kill" her parents, she has a hard time adjusting so she starts cutting, then she meets this guy called Guy (wonder what his parents were thinking) that just manages to get her. It's told in third person, which was pretty awkward at first; think: "Willow does not like her home. Willow is sad. She is lonely." Not a direct quote of course, but the sentences are very choppy and sounded a bit elementary to me at the beginning. However, I got used to it and managed to enjoy the story, so while the writing wasn't exactly a plus, it wasn't necesssarily a bad thing either.

As for Willow herself, I had some problems with her at times. I thought Julia Hoban did a nice job conveying Willow's feelings and what exactly made her cut herself. Definitely interesting to see how the "cutter mindset" was interpreted and how that played out throughout the book. I did feel a bit of disconnect at times, and that maybe not only was Willow a bit depressed, but also a little bipolar... As in, sometimes she would seem fine and then she'd do something totally unexpected. And towards the beginning, I felt Willow was way too judgemental and put herself down a lot, but I could definitely see improvement as she met Guy and their relationship progressed. As for Guy, he was so sweet and understanding, it was unbelievable. And "unbelieveable" as in both the ying and the yang. His sensitivity made me love him, but it was also a little like I can't imagine anyone who'd be quite that caring. That being said, he and Willow seemed perfect together; he knew how to deal with her and said the cutest things.

For people that are squeamish (I know I am a lot squeamish when it comes to blood), the cutting scenes weren't that bad. There were a few parts where I had to cover my mouth, but again I'm extremely wimpy here. If you can handle a razor, a little bit of blood, and some vague descriptions of pain, I'm sure you'll be fine. That can actually apply to the whole book; Willow just grazed the tip of the iceburg of all those raw feelings and disorders, so I'd definitely say this is one for people that want to have a little more emotional read, but don't want to deal with all of reality's hidden dark monsters. Don't want to believe in the monster underneath the depression bed? Read Willow. Though Willow didn't delve that deeply into disorders, it still was a fairly realistic book that didn't have the typical perfect ending. And, in the end, I was happy for Willow and the road she's heading down.

Romance: Sweet, light romance. While Guy was the major turning point for Willow, there wasn't much phsyical contact. There might be one instance of sex and perhaps two instances of kissing, but really not much here. It's a lot more concentrated on the feelings versus the physical manifestation, which I can appreciate.
Cover: 3.5
Writing: 3.0
Characters: 4.0
Plot: 4.0

Bottom Line: So maybe I had a few faults with Willow, and maybe the book Willow wasn't the turn of the century, but in the end I was able to get over the minor problems I had with it and enjoy the book. Despite my complaints, I still like Willow as a person and her compelling voice; though I can't say I've cut myself before, she still felt relateable and someone real. Overall, Willow was an enjoyable read that I'd recommend to anyone looking for something a little realistic and deeper than a chick-lit that they can immerse him/herself in for a couple hours.

You Pick, I Review -- What do you think?

If you recall, I did a You Pick, I Review! post a few days ago, asking what you wanted me to review. I've been thinking of doing this as a sort of meme, listing the books I got that week and some recent ones on my TBR pile. I'll also ask if there are any suggestions for books I should read and review, that I'll try to either buy or borrow. The basic purpose is to let you, my readers, pick one or two books that you want me to review and to help me decide which books to read first, so it should be a win-win situation.

Now, opinions: do you think it's redundant (ie. In My Mailbox), and I should just choose the books myself? Do you like the idea of being able to sort of control what you read? Would this be something you'd be interested in doing, as either a reader or a blogger? Is the name horribleAny other suggestions or thoughts?

And don't be afraid to say it completely sucks, because I'd rather know now then later! :)  

Winner: 100 Followers Contest

A huge thank you to everyone for the awesome contest! Wow, 353 total entries! I now have 184 followers, and once I hit 200, there will be another, hopefully even better contest! I'm thinking of doing a combo 200 followers/holiday contest soon...

Anyways, without further ado, here's the winner of my 100 Followers Contest:

Congrats!! You have 48 hours to email me with your mailing address and book choice, before I pick another winner.

And for everyone that didn't win, I'm sorry, but keep an eye out for future contests. :)

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (December 1, 2009)
Paperback: 576 pages
Price: $9.71 from {amazon}
Summary: from {goodreads}
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


Review: I know there are a lot of reviews out there already, but I have to write my own because OH MY GOD was Beautiful Creatures AMAZING. Third 5-star ever. I need to write a review now, to capture this feeling that I still haven't finished the book. I'm still sort of in a state of shock. Beautiful Creatures was one of those books that just left me thinking "wow." I'm an avid roller coaster fan, so I have to compare it to a coaster ride - it's ended, but I still feel like I'm sitting there, being blown away and nothing to hold onto. And actually, as I continue to write this, I'm starting to feel a bit depressed and to miss the book already... what an unhealthy, but completely enjoyable, addiction that I'll gladly welcome without regrets.

To start off, I'm going to tackle one of my main concerns: the number of pages. It's not everyday that I read a nearing 600-page novel, and I was afraid how that would work out. Too boring? Too lengthy? However, the width of the book was nothing but a plus. Beautiful Creatures was a little slow going in, and for the first 100 pages or so, I was waiting for the "real" action to begin. But looking back, it set up the awesomely mudane (or maybe not so mudane) Gaitlin community, that made the whole book seem more realistic and just gave the story the extra something it needed. After the initial introduction, the mysteries and answers were revealed at a stready pace, enough to temproarily satisfy me but keep me hooked for more. What I loved were the 150 pages, which were ultimately what clinched the 5-star rating because they were some seriously high-level of intense. As in take a thriller, unconcentrate it, and the ending of Beautiful Creatures is what you'll get. The amount of action and things coming together was crazy, but still easy for me to follow.

Now, I have to mention Ethan since he's the one how tells the story. He's adorable, the average high school boy that every nice girl wants - cute, sweet, senstive, caring. Obviously, I'm generalizing here, but Ethan is a refreshing break from all those bad boys who scare their girl and then somehow win her over (no offense here, lovelies). Instead, Ethan and Lena's love was like those innocent, slowly-budding relationships that I wish I could have. I loved how their romance developed without them actually having to define it - no needing to say the words "girlfriend" or "I love you." Ethan and Lena did show their love tangibly, but it was like they didn't need to, just wanted to at times. I do have to admit that their love was borderline "obsession" (as in Edward-Bella), but it was gradually developed so I felt that there was an actual foundation for their intense emotions.

To wrap it up, the ending was solid, but definitely hinted towards a sequel. It left me satisfied with what happened, but dying for more. Seriously, that sequel better come out before I die of waiting. All I can say, is awesomly amazing debut by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl!

Romance: Sweet, complicated, and definitely there 24/7. I wrote about this in my "review" portion, so I'm not going to go in-depth here. Ethan and Lena's intricate romance is one of the main focuses of Beautiful Creatures, and I definitely liked it. :)
Cover: 3.5
Writing: 4.5
Characters: 5.0
Plot: 5.0

Bottom Line: If you didn't conclude it from my review: go buy Beautiful Creatures now. The plot was well-woven, the setting was so Southern and believable, the writing was solid, and the characters all had their own unique and interesting personalities; all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read that I couldn't put down. Kami Garcia and Maragaret Stohl are definitely a powerful duo that I'll have to watch out for in the future!

Sidenote: I think Ethan might just earn a spot near my heart, next to all those bad boys running havoc there. While Ethan searches for ways to save his love, my fellow male classmates sing "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" at 6:30 in the morning... I shudder to think of any romantic prospects.

Author Interview: Lindsay Eland

I've had the fortune of interviewing Lindsay Eland, who's debuting with her book Scones and Sensibility on December 22. It's a little different  from the usual in that her book is intended for middle schoolers (age 9-12), but I thought the premise and cover were extremely adorable, so I had to share. A little blurb on Lindsay from her website: "I love to write, read, hike, drink espresso, and attempt to keep my plants alive. I am a laugher and a dreamer. Mix all these together and you get me–a lucky writer of middle grade fiction."

-- >; Scones and Sensibility links: {goodreads}, {amazon}, {barnes and noble}, {book despository}

1. What three words would you use to describe Scones and Sensibility?

Humorous, heartwarming, fun

2. What was the inspiration behind the baked goods theme?

Very good question! And the basic answer to this question is that I love food! I love to smell it, cook it, and eat it! And I think that food is a basic human connection that we all share with each other, and I sought to tap into that connection that is not only very strong for us as human beings, but is also something that I love!

3. Do you feel that Polly, the main girl, is a reflection of yourself?

In many ways, yes! I am overly romantic, just like she is, I adore the idea of "true love," I'm simply swept away by elegant things, and my friend and I did act out some of Anne of Green Gables when we were younger!

4. Have you ever been in a similar situation to Polly: a misled attempt at matchmaking, finding out that everything that you wanted was right under your nose, or anything else you can think of?

Thankfully, I never endeavored to take up matchmaking! When I was in Jr High School I did imagine and wish and dream for the perfect family, only to find out that I am probably the luckiest person on earth to have a mom and dad and sisters that are only above and beyond any dream I could've ever had realized.

5. It seems to me that a lot of the story is about childhood innocence and first love. Would I be true in saying that? And what were your fondest memories of childhood that later affected you growing up?

It is about those things. But it's also about celebrating family and friendships and just plain old laughing. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood that have always stayed with me are of sitting around my MomMom and PopPop's big dining room table and listening to the grown ups tell stories from when they were young! I know all of them by heart but still never tire of hearing them!

6. Were there any particular literary influences in writing Scones and Sensibility?

LM Montgomery is definitely one because she created one of the dearest most wonderful characters in all of literature: Anne Shirley. Then, of course, Jane Austen who is brilliance on the page!

7. I noticed that there are some Jane Austen references in your book, what made that time period the most endearing to you? (ie. the men!)

Yes, the men, cause who could resist Mr. Darcy! But also the clothes! I'd love to wear one of those dresses every single day!

8. Do you believe in the concept of “true love?”

I do. I've tried not to, but I simply can't help myself. I've found my true love, John, and no one can convince me that we weren't meant for each other.

9. Favorite:

TV Show? We actually don't have TV so I don't watch anything regularly. We do own all the seasons of The Office which I have to say is the funniest show I've ever seen...EVER
Book? Oh dear! There are waay too many to name just one. But I'll have to go with Anne of Green Gables as number one.
Song? The Beatles: When I'm 64. I grew up listening to The Beatles and that song just always makes me smile
Place to write? In a coffee shop with headphones in and a mocha latte beside me
Vacation destination? I've never been to Hawaii, though I think I'd choose Ocean City, New Jersey over any place!
Way to annoy others? Hmmm...incessant poking in the arm is always fun <-- I agree! :)

10. Do you have any upcoming releases or works-in-progress that we should know about?

I'm working on two projects right now:
The Culinary Year of Gloria Cubbins
My Life as an Omelet

11. And finally, is there anything else you would like to add?

Laugh, cry, dream, believe...and always save enough room for dessert!
Lol, love Lindsay's motto (though I tend not to have room for desert, unfortunately)! Thanks goes out towards Lindsay for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me and give us a bit more insight about her new book. I love Jane Austen's Emma, which bears a lot of similarities to Scone and Sensibility's plot, so I'm definitely going to be watching out for this one - and I hope you will too! :)

(Lindsay's also hosting weekly contest to celebrate the countdown towards her book, so check out her blog!)

-- >; Linsay Eland's links: {website}, {blog}

100 Followers Contest Reminder!

Just a quick reminder that my 100 Followers Contest ends tomorrow! Click here to enter.

And a quick question if you feel like answering: My favorite music is either metal (ranges from light to heavy metal) or some soft, relaxing music, usually some form of classical. For my blog's music, do you prefer one or the other, or would you rather I put a little of each? Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Pictures, Images and Photos

(BEGIN mushy, gushy feelings.) A HUGE "thank you!" to all of you guys, my wonderful, irreplaceable blog readers and friends!!! I definitely couldn't do all of this without your help and comments every step of the way. You make me feel like I can make a difference, and that's my sunshine after a particularly long and hard day. Really. And, for everyone, I'm so grateful because I just wouldn't be able to get anywhere without your unconditional love and support. THANK YOU!! :) (END gushy, mushy feelings.)

Anyways, hope you guys have a great thanksgiving and an even better turkey!

And here's some relaxing and uplifting music that I'm sure most, if not all, of you have heard. It's what all this thanking makes me think of:

You Raise Me Up by Westlife

Review: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Price: $12.23 from Amazon
Summary: [from goodreads]
Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.
Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is des-perate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.
Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.
This is the Demon's Lexicon. Turn the page.


Review: ... My ending response is "what?" My realtionship with The Demon's Lexicon was sort of on-again-off-; at times I felt really involved with the action and at others wonder what exactly was going on. This book felt like it was split into three sections, and just when I was though I understood what was going on and getting excited, the plot would jump and I'd be left to reread and wonder if I missed something. Basically, Sarah Rees Brennan has a great way of gradually developing the plot and making me intrigued, but just when I was about to fall off my seat wondering what would happen next, I'd be left hanging and had to make the connection myself.

On the other hand, I definitely have to say the action was on 25/7, the extra hour because I'm pretty sure some intense action was happening then too. When one demon went down, some power-hungry magician would pop up and be causing some major drama. And Nick was pretty hardcore taking care of the villains. Nick was, without a doubt, one of the most arrogant and cold main male characters I've read about. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially because he's described as an amazingly dark, brooding, girl-magnet (case in point: Patch from Hush Hush). There were some signs of compassion that made him actually seem like that adorable, nice boy inside... I'm trying not to ruin the storyline, so I'm just going to say that some insane twist happened at the end that really set me apart from Nick. I was debating whether or not to like him throughout the entire book, and I wanted to like him, but it was like he was PMSing; he would do something sweet, and then execute a 180-degree turn toward evil. Towards the end I just felt Nick lacked reason, had extremely limitied compassion, and was an immature child, plain and simple. If you've read the book, you probably know what event caused that change. However, I loved Nick's brother Alan! Technically, "loved" might be pushing it too far, but relative to Nick, I did love Alan. He was bookish, but he could definitely get to business when need be. Such a sweetheart.

I think what I mainly have to say about this book is the plot. The ideas were awesome, incredibly so considering The Demon's Lexicon is Sarah Rees Brennan's debut novel. There were so many different concepts, new things to puzzle out, intricate relationships, wow. The only problem with all of this information was the implementation. Not in the way that it was too much for me to handle at once, but I felt that there were some plot holes, very loosely based assumptions on the characters' parts, and, very rarely, a few parts that left me completely incredulous. I'm still confused at what exactly was running through Nick's head at the end, especially since he seems to be quite the hypocrite, and the ending was very, very open, definitely leading on to the sequel. Right now, I can't say I'll definitively read the sequel, but the ideas had me intrigued enough that I might try it. After all, this was Sarah Rees Brennan's first novel, so I'm crossing my fingers that she'll maintain the same originality and complexity, but with a little more experience and development in the writing area.

Romance: Mild. I can't say much without ruining the book, but though there was talk of and some real romantic action, it was not a major contributor to the work as a whole. Definitely more of an action book.
Cover: 2.5
Writing: 2.5
Characters: 2.5
Plot: 2.0

Bottom Line: I think Sarah Rees Brennan has potential; she can weave an intricate plot, build suspense well, and write some butt-kicking action. While The Demon's Lexicon might not be a very solid book plot-wise or writing-wise, if you're interested in the premise I would say try it and see what you think. Try to look past any gaps you might see and value the ideas underneath, because I'm hoping the sequel will be like The Demon's Lexicon, that it will retain the great concepts minus the not-so-great development. We'll have to wait for The Demon's Covenant in May 2010 to find out! :)

Extra: Slightly angsty music that this book makes me want to listen to.

Break by Three Days Grace -- love them!

2010 Debut Author Challenge

My List:
1. Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston
2. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

And second challenge! I saw a few bloggers participating in this one (I need to go back and remember to comment), and it definitely looked like something I could do and enjoy doing. There are so many awesome authors debuting in 2010, so I'm pretty sure I can get the 12 minimum here. I'm not setting an exact goal for myself, but I hope to read at least 20 debut books! I would probably read more, but, alas, my wallet...

This challenge is hosted by the awesome Kristi at The Story Siren, so please click here for some more information. Here's a short excerpt from the info page:

What is the 2010 Debut Author Challenge?

The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year.* I'm going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! I’m hoping to read at least 30! You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year. I will also be focusing on mostly Young Adult novels.
Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on, or any other bookish site.
•The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010. You can join at anytime!

* I would like to limit the novels to those released in 2010.

I'll be posting the books I read here, and I would love it if you told me you're participating too! Also, please feel free to link me so I can go comment on your post. :)

You Pick, I Review!

Okay, so I realized I have quite a few books in my reading pile, and I don't know which one(s) to read first. There are also a few that I've already read, but haven't quite gotten around to reviewing yet. Since I'm having a problem deciding and because I know that sometimes I want to see a certain book that I'm having mixed feelings about reviewed, I decided to try this out for a change. I would love it if you could tell me what you want me to review; basically, you pick, I review! Sound easy? Just tell me what book or books you'd like me to review, in order or whatever, up to you.

edit -- I forgot to add I'm going to be doing some holiday book-shopping soon, so feel free to suggest any new books you would like to see me buy and review!

My TBR (to-be-read, to-be-reviewed) Pile:

- The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees. Brennan
- Love is the Higher Law by David Leviathan
- Hold Still by Nina LaCour
- A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
- The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison
- Sovay by Celia Rees
- Goddess Bootcamp by Tera Lynn Childs
- Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
- Geektastic : Stories From the Nerd Herd by Holly Black, et al.
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
- Willow by Julia Hoban
- How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
- Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I also received Beautiful Creatures today from Amazon, so psyched! Hm, and that sort of brings me on to the question of : Do you like reading reviews of books that have already received a lot of attention and reviews? (ie. is it redundant, do you like seeing others' viewpoints)

Thanks!! Hope you guys have some awesome Thanksgiving plans coming up! :)

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Publisher: Orbit (October 1, 2009)
Paperback: 384 pages
Price: $7.99 from Amazon
Summary: from [goodreads]
Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


Review: Soulless was definitely not what I was expecting... but that didn’t make it any less good. I really don’t know how to describe this book: witty, adorable, fun, unique… What other words can you use to describe a passionate, pragmatic, Italian, and young British lady of good breeding that happens to not only lack a soul, but also kills a vampire with her steel-tipped parasol, of all things? And, in addition, seems to fancy a certain very eligible, messy bachelor werewolf and enjoys the company of a centuries-old male vampire that dresses up in multi-colored frocks and likes handsome young men? Hm, well maybe I could relate to that last part… ;)

First, bloody brilliant setting! Loved the time period and how Gail Carriger threw in some reference to scientific advances. And she gave the perfect amount of historical reference, just enough to make me interested and the setting more realistic and not enough to make me bored. The whole werewolf-vampire relationship in conjunction to the crown is very intriguing, and I found the systems to be believable and fairly intricate but understandable. And that’s actually one of the main things I liked about Soulless, how Gail Carriger was able to take the werewolves and vampires, which are getting a bit cliché these days, and give her own little twist to their little cliques.

Now, to tell the truth, it took me a while to get into the writing. Reading Soulless made me realize that it’s actually been a really, who-knows-how-long time since I’ve read a young adult novel in third person, and, at first, I felt sort of excluded and a little disconnected from the plot and characters. That being said, after the initial introduction, I got used to and enjoyed Gail’s writing style, which has an interesting way of noting the inner thoughts of all the characters while still managing to focus on Miss Alexia Tarabotti. And I loved Alexia! She’s stubborn, sort of eccentric, witty, and just basically everything that made her her. From her mannerisms to her love of food, Gail Carriger manages to pinpoint Alexia’s unique personality exactly. And, of course, yummy love interest here (look at the “romance” section). Plot-wise, the first 2/3 of the book were enjoyable, but I simply could not put the book down in the last 100 pages or so! Intense.

In the end, I still don’t know how to describe Soulless; it’s so hard to flatten this 3-D book down to paper. I guess I'm just have to settle by saying Soulless was a breath of welcomed, though unexpected, fresh air that you should try to intake with an open mind.

Romance: HOT. Search up Lord Maccon this is what you’ll find:
Thesaurus: “n. dark; commanding; powerful. Upon deeper inspection: sweet; caring; sensitive.”
Dictionary: “n. gorgeous werewolf that will make you swoon upon contact of any of his oh-so-deliciously lean muscles and make you want to marry him. now.
Cover: 3.5
Writing: 4.5
Characters: 5.0
Plot: 4.5

Bottom Line: Soulless made its own twist on the traditional werewolf-vampire dynamic by throwing in a certain preternatural named Alexia Tarabotti, a few mystery disappearances, a very English setting, and, of course, a tray of treacle tarts. Gail Carriger is a new, unique YA voice that I would definitely recommend to any fan of the paranormal looking for something witty and just a tad bit out of the ordinary fish bowl. As for me, I will definitely be reading Changeless, the sequel coming out in May 2010!

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

Just signed up for my first reading challenge over at J. Kaye's Book Blog! Definitely excited. I'm signing up for the Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge, which is basically read 75+ YA books. There are a TON of great tenners, so I'm pretty confident, but who knows? ;)

Anyways, here is where I'll be listing all the books I read. If you want to join in on the fun, please head over here to sign up! And, no, you don't have to be a blogger.

A little bit of info (check out the actual challenge for more):

The four levels:

--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

--Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

--Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

--Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

Challenge runs from January 1st to December, 2010.

Either way, if you do sign-up, I would love to know so we can cheer each other on and watch our progress!

Author Interview: Laura Ruby + Giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce my first author interview ever with Laura Ruby, the author of YA books Good Girls, Play Me, and Bad Apple. She currently lives in Chicago and writes a wide range of books, from adult to childrens, and you can check out more of her books over here. Today, I'm going to focus on one of her newest books, Bad Apple, and please read on for the awesome giveaway Laura has kindly provided at the bottom! :)

1. What three words would you use to describe Bad Apple (or, if you would like, your books in general)?

If I'm trying to choose adjectives for Bad Apple in particular, I'd say funny, quirky, and unique. If I had to choose adjectives for all my teen books, I'd say funny, edgy, and honest.

But if you're asking for a phrase, I'd say that all my teen books are about finding your voice. This is something I believe is particularly hard to do, especially when there's such a wall of noise blaring from every direction — the opinions of friends, family, even strangers blah blah blahing all over the Internet. How can you figure out what you think when nobody will ever shut up?

2. Would Bad Apple reflect your own attempt in self-discovery, especially during your own high school years?

Though I'm nothing like Tola — I was shy, can't draw to save my life, and not a troublemaker at all — I'd say Bad Apple does reflect some of what I was feeling when I was in high school. It felt to me that other people were always trying to define you FOR you, and it was so hard to contradict what they were saying (even when what they were saying was contradictory). It felt as if you were the last person on earth allowed to define yourself. There was always some other person slapping a label on you: you're a slut, you're a geek, you're a jock, you're goth, whatever. I felt hemmed in all the time, trapped. What if you don't want to be what everyone says you are?

3. On that note, how did you get the inspiration for the character that is Tola and why, in particular, did you choose to write about a teacher-student scandal?

I'd guess the initial inspiration for Tola came from my own blended family. I wrote the earliest pages of this manuscript back in 1994, after I was officially adopted by my stepdad, who'd raised me from when I was eight years old. I was already in my twenties at the time of the adoption, which was purely ceremonial at that point. I was interested in the way that the break-up and then re-making of families affecting the kids growing up in them. How fractured their lives could be, how jaded they appeared, and yet, how secretly romantic they were. (I was all of these things, myself).

So, when I was writing Tola, I was thinking about those things — fractured, jaded, and yet secretly romantic. Secretly hopeful. Hungry.

Over the years, when I was rewriting the manuscript, I realized I also wanted a main character who was chattier and more digressive than others I'd written. Not as nice and plainspoken as Audrey in Good Girls. Not as clear or forward as Eddie in Play Me. I get bored really easily, and I'm so nosy I want to try on as many voices as I possibly can. Tola's voice is weirder, more layered, and sarcastic than the narrators of my previous books. I like that about her.

4. Tola has a very unique view of life, she's very aware of other's conceptions about her and certain objects have fairly unusual symbolism to her. I also felt that the development of her relationship with Seven was unconventional in that they are two very different people. Would their relationship reflect your own high school dating experience at all? Or any special event that sticks out to you?

I think Tola is unconventional, and I think Seven is as well, but I think the way they come together, falling fast, is conventional in that you'll find this kind of pairing in lots and lots of fairy tales. You know, the prince gets one look at the princess — or vice versa — and they just know they're meant to be together.

As for it being anything like my own high school dating experiences, well...I can say that I fell hard and fast and often, but none of them led to any happily ever afters, and most didn't even lead to happily for a few minutes. I had to wait a bit for that.

5. What made you interested in writing, especially writing young adult novels?

I've always written stories and poems, from the time I could compose sentences and paragraphs. Like most writers, I'm a huge reader, always have been. My most powerful reading experiences came when I was young. I remember being able to disappear into books. I wouldn't even hear anyone talking to me as I read, I was so lost in the stories. I wanted to be able to give that experience to other young adults if I possibly could.

Other Questions:

6. If you had the chance to go back to high school and redefine yourself, what would your personality and appearance would be like?

Okay, my first, visceral response to this question: I wouldn't. Ever. I hate being told what to do.

My second, more rational response: If I could go back and change anything, I wouldn't want to change my personality or appearance so much. (Well, okay, I'd want all the lovely antifrizz hair products that are available now, and I would NEVER have bought those corduroy knickers in the 9th grade). What I would wish for my high school self is more courage. More daring. I loved acting in school plays and wish I'd been brave enough to do more of it outside of school. I loved writing and wish I'd been brave enough to finish all the pieces I started (it took me years before I could do that). And I really really wish I didn't waste so much time thinking about what other people thought of me.

Lol, corduroy knickers? Sounds like there's a story behind that. :)

Nope, no story, just very very bad judgment. I wore them once. If you believe it, knickers were all the rage for about five seconds back in the 80s.

7. If you could only pick one thing to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?


8. Favorite:
TV show? Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance
Book? Adult: Pride & Prejudice. YA: Speak
(That's this second, however. Ask me in a few minutes and I'll have entirely different ones).
Hobby? Running.
Place to write? My office, with the cats sprawled across my desk.
Vacation destination? Coronado Island.
Way to annoy others? Pontificating. Or sarcasm. Pontificating sarcastically?

9. Hm, I think that's about it. Do you have any upcoming works we should know about?

I'm working on a bunch of things — a sort-of-but-not-really YA romance, a teen thriller, a middle grade mystery, even a horror novel. I'll just have to wait and see which of them I finish first. : )

10. And is there anything else you would like add?

Thanks, Jenn, for taking the time to read my books, and to interview me. It's been fun!

♥ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ♥

Wow, I just realized that I asked what seems like a lot of questions, but Laura gave great responses to all of them! And a huge "thank you" goes toward Laura for making my first interview an awesome experience, and just for being an awesome person in general. She's super nice, witty, and a great writer, so please go check her out! You can read more about her at her website,

And, for my readers, thank you for listening in and look for more interviews in the future!


Laura, being the amazing person she is, is providing ONE copy of Bad Apple to give away to a lucky winner, and it's INTERNATIONAL.

To enter:
Fill out this form.

Extra entry link: Review of Bad Apple here.

Contest Ends: December 11, 11:59 EST (time converter here)

Review: Bad Apple by Laura Ruby

Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (October 6, 2009)
Paperback: 256 pages
Price: $11.55 from Amazon
For Tola Riley, life is not a fairy tale, it only feels like one. She's got evil classmates, a runaway dad, a wicked stepmother, a possible Prince Charming, and her very own troll. But it's only when someone accuses her of having an affair with her art teacher that her whole world turns into something out of Grimm's. Because the person accusing her is her own mother.
"If I really wanted to open up, I'd confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am."

High-school junior Tola has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she's crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.

But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won't help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?



Review: I’m going to let that summary sink in for a little while.
Emerald green hair.
A depressed sister, forbearing mother, and absent father.
Supposed affair with her art teacher.
If you’re thinking what? right now, then be assured that you’re normal; because that’s exactly what I thought when I read the premise of Bad Apple. Unless I’m weird, but then everyone is normal because we’re all weird... WELL. Bad Apple is definitely a novel that fiddles with your mind at times, denouncing what you thought you knew and what you perceived things to be. And if that didn’t make sense, read on!

I’m going to start off by saying what I loved, loved, loved about this book: the comments sections between every two chapters. They offer blunt, realistic quotes from different characters, and through what they said, I got to know some characters that didn’t appear much in the story. Kudos for a creative (considering it’s a police investigation and all) method to reveal development throughout the story; it’s like twenty different personality types stuffed into one book! And "stuffed" in a good way because I didn't feel overloaded with the multitude of minor characters. And, well, I’m a major fan of Twilight, but I can definitely enjoy some humor at its expense. Definitely.

Quote taken from Tola’s sister, Madge/Tiffany:

“I’m supposed to be watching Twilight? Let me tell you something, the pretty, sparkly vampires aren’t coming to save us. We’re not worthy. We’re not special. We don’t even smell good.”

Excuse me while I crack up, lol.

Anyways, I guess that sort of brings me to the topic of Tola. The best word I can come up with is unique. Physically, her appearance is definitely out of the ordinary, but deep inside she has just the same problems as everyone else: insecurity, discontent, family issues. What sets her apart is her view of the world. I have a hard time describing it, but Tola notices insignificant things and makes them symbolic, especially when it comes to fairytales, and she’s is simply herself. Her character was a refreshing break from the endless string of no-way-I’m-beautiful and the holy-cow-I’m-different types of girls I seem to happen upon more and more often. Not saying those girls are bad, but it’s nice to be different once in a while.

I do have to say that I wanted to see a little bit more of Mr. Mymer, the teacher that Tola is rumored to have had an affair with. Though he’s mentioned often in passing and gives a comment, he actually never shows up through the entire book. Bad Apple jumps in fast, and I wish I had gotten the 101 on the affair before I started reading about how Tola deals with the consequences. The fact that it took me a while to get in the “flow” of Laura Ruby’s writing probably didn’t help my understanding, though I do like Laura’s writing and it was very in person with Tola’s character. So even if you don’t really “feel” the book at the beginning, I would strongly (notice the underline here!) recommend that you read more before you set it down.

Overall, the story unfolded nicely, with Tola undergoing some major self-discovery and actually world-discovery in general. Kind of like the Discovery Channel: High School Edition and with a tuft of green hair in the middle. The ending definitely had me pleased; relationships were definied, emotions uncovered, meaning found, etc. I sometimes felt Tola was little too blase about how she felt on the subject of the affair, but overall she had her own way of dealing with things, and I can respect that. :)

Romance: 2.0 -- There was a little romance, but it was generally restricted. I felt that the guy Tola gets together with, though as unique as Tola herself, isn't as well-developed as he should be and I ended up having neutral feelings about him. Mainly, I thought their romance was a result of attraction rather than knowing the person and wish I could've seen a more gradual progression of their relationship.
Cover: 3.5
Writing: 4.0
Characters: 4.5
Plot: 4.0

Bottom Line: Bad Apple was a very interesting book: some parts weird, all parts unique. Overall, I still have to say it was a fairly light read, though it definitely had some snippets of deep insight tucked in there. I would recommend this one to people looking for a book that diverges from the commonly-taken toad of cliches, talks about self-discovery and personal identity, and contains a certain girl with some emerald green hair struggling to deal with some major high school drama.

Exchange Buttons! :)

I've recently put up my first blog button, made by the awesome Rachel @ Parajunkee's View, and I would love to exchange my button with some fellow bloggers! If you're interested, leave me a comment and I'll put your blog button up on the sidebar and the code for my button can be found on the right sidebar. Thank you! :)

Throwdown Thursday - 4

Throwdown Thursday is a meme started by Kate at The Neverending Bookshelf. It is a weekly thing where we tackle books with similar characters, covers, themes, etc. to determine which one rocks more. And it is up to YOU to determine the winner!

The winner of last time's Throwdown Thursday was: Fairy tell retellings that basically tell the same exact story in a different way - Unfortunately, there was only about one clear vote (kt!), but I have to say I agree with the results. It was hard to decide, but I love seeing how different authors interpret things.
Check out last time's Throwdown Thursday here.

I know I've already done Edward vs. Mr. Darcy, but I simply can't help myself. To celebrate New Moon's release tomorrow, I'm going to ask the always controversial question that definitely demands to be asked. Fairly simple, but...

Edward vs. Jacob


Leave a comment saying what team you're on by next Thursday, and I'll announce the results next week. I'll annouce my preference then *coughEDWARDcough*, but definitely no bias here...

Aside, is anyone going to see New Moon tomorrow? I'm not, but I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be awesome! :)

Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Publisher: Dial; First Edition edition (October 5, 2009)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Price: $10.52 from Amazon
Summary: [from goodreads]  

Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.
Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
Wondering what makes it a companion book/prequel? Fire takes place 30-some years before Graceling and has one cross-over character with Graceling, a small boy with strange two-colored eyes who comes from no-one-knows-where, and who has a peculiar ability that Graceling readers will find familiar and disturbing... 


Review: Kristin Cashore has done it again; FIRE WAS TOTALLY AWESOME. Tucking my bias aside into a very nice, cozy corner, Fire was a bit confusing at first, like the relationship between Archer and Fire, but once I got into it, I just couldn’t put it down. Trust me, I tried to put it aside and do a bit of work, but I picked it right up again after a few minutes… and let’s just say an hour later, with no homework done, I woke from a beautiful, intricate world with a finished book in my hand. Hm, the world’s such a mystery.

The world Kristin weaves in her book is truly astonishing. All of the ideas are so original (monsters, anyone?), but somehow still seem plausible. The flow was well-paced and steady; there was always action with bouts of self-discovery in between. I have a small complaint that, at times, I felt like Fire just kept on reflecting over the same things and ending up with the same result; maybe a bit too much self-discovering. Other than that, I just had to keep on reading to find out how this or that event tied in to the big picture. The conspiracy against the crown was obvious, but still very exciting to read how Fire and the others decided to handle it. Plus, lots of small sub-plots and interconnected family ties to keep you guessing. And, *romantic sigh,* the way Fire’s romantic relationship develops is fairly conventional, but the way Kristin chose to depict it makes their love seem unique.

In addition, Kristin has a very unique talent for drawing the reader in and making him/her sympathize with the characters, even when there seems to be nothing alike. I don’t know how, but I even found myself sympathizing with pitying the villains and King Nash (poor thing that hasn’t gotten laid in a while). I think what made all the characters 3-D and relatable, even some that barely appeared in the story, was how Kristin managed to develop believable motives and always present two-sides to a person; not one person can be completely nice 100% of the time, just as a person can’t be completely evil, and Kristin definitely understands that and uses it to make her story more realistic and enticing. Each character had his/her own personality, and though some were better-developed, each contributed a part to the whole. As for Fire, I definitely admire her strength, refusal to back down, capability to do what’s right, and love for others. She’s vulnerable on the inside, but so, so determined. For the most part, I really liked her and could relate to her feelings, but at times I was thinking along the lines of “what is she doing??!” As in Fire would be brave… and then suddenly run out of the room when something happened and come back a minute later. When she does, it’s sort of understandable, but I really expected her to stand her ground and act a little less immature. And sometimes she actually made a good decision about her self-image... and right when I started to cheer for her, Fire would revert to her old ways. You can imagine that might get a bit annoying.

(Just as a little side note, there’s also a little bit of enmity between Fire and me because, physically, she’s just so perfect and that’s stressed so often it’s hard to miss. It is hard to really love a girl that has men practically begging at her feet...)

Anyways, the ending was solid. I definitely wanted more, but that was only because the story was so engaging and I didn’t want to return to the real world. That being said, Fire did tie up nicely, with happy endings here-and-there, and *another happy sigh* true love. It was also interesting to see how Leck, the boy with the Grace that’s introduced at the beginning, turned out to be who he is in Kristin's other book, Graceling. He actually plays a very minor role in the overarching scheme of things, which was not what I was expecting because he seems to always be present. After reading a bit about his history and actions, I could sort of see where Leck was coming from, but I wasn’t able to fully sympathize with him because there just wasn’t enough foundation for it.

Romance: 4.0. Romance was definitely there, and it balanced the action out perfectly. Brigan, Fire’s love interest, is sort of different in that he isn’t those super handsome princely types, like his brother Nash. I think it tells Kristin’s success when I say that she described Brigan so well, that at the end I actually imagined him to be hot because of his bravery, aka male idiocy, and protective glare. Totally rugged, yet refined (technically he still is a prince).

Cover: 4.0 -- I would give the UK version a 5; it's gorgeous! (on the right)
Writing: 5.0
Characters: 4.5
Plot: 4.5

Bottom Line: Inevitably, I do have to compare Fire to Graceling and say I liked Graceling better; but it’s hard to match up to the original so I’ll just respect all the hard work that went into Fire. I would say Fire is a very highly recommended read for fans of fantasy and romance (whereas Graceling is a DEFINITE must-read) and even those that aren’t such big fans of the fantasy genre might still enjoy this book. Prepare to get swept away by Kristin Cashore's flowing writing and rich, mystical land!... Or on second thought, maybe wait, because once you read Fire, you’ll be so anxious waiting for Bitterblue, the third companion novel coming out in 2011 (oh, the horror of such a long year)!

Teaser Tuesday - 1

Teaser Tuesday is a meme started by Should Be Reading to share wiuth others what book(s) you're currently reading.

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

"I should be thinking of the bounty on our heads, not whether or not I'd get to see him again. Because of course I'd get to see him again; he's probably try and stake one of my brothers, if not me. Hardley a promising start to a relationship.
What was I thinking?"
--pg. 57

ARC and swag provided by Katie, and a huge thank you to her because this is turning out to be an awesome book! So much action and romance bundled together, and I'm not even done yet. :)

♥ ---------------------------------------- ♥


1) Grab your current read
2) Open to a random page
3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4) 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!)
5) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Double-Trouble Monday: Episode 3

Sort of meme. Renamed so I get prompted to post one of these on Mondays, instead of whenever. I hope they're still helpful! :)

Reviews: Kiss Me, Kill Me and Kisses and Lies

PhotobucketKiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 13, 2009)
Price: $7.19 from Amazon
3-Sentence Summary: Scarlett has a first kiss with a guy… And he dies. She gets shipped off to a boarding school in America with the tabloids trailing her, but was it really her fault that the guy died? With her gymnastic skills, she kicks some major butt and starts on the journey of finding the truth.


Kisses and Lies by Lauren Henderson

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (January 13, 2009)
Price: $9.99 from Amazon
3 1-Sentence Summary: Not going to ruin anything in the first one, so I’m just going to say that Scarlett returns with some more flips and turns, a budding romance, and a continuing mystery…


Bottom Line for both: Enjoyable reads, overall. I liked Scarlett’s strong character, her girly image but bad-ass interior. Who knew gymnastics could turn you from regular girl to super sleuth, who swings from branches like a monkey and hangs off window ledges? I didn’t.
I did have a little concern that she might be a bit bipolar and a lot shallow, though I think she's not supposed to really care what others think. Scarlett’s depressed one second and mystifingly happy the other, but it's nothing that can’t be remedied with a good plot (and maybe a good psychologist…). And both Kiss Me, Kill Me and Kisses and Lies, which I definitely recommend reading them consecutively because the first one ends halfway into the mystery (!!), did have intriguing plots. It was obvious who the culprits were in each book, but I still enjoyed the process of finding out who they were; I’m always up for some embarrassment and danger. It's like Mary Kate and Ashley, except Scarlett and her partner in crime are older, not twins, don't prance around in little outfits... Maybe completely different except for the mystery and two girls part.
All in all, nothing stand out, but nothing that really made me dislike these books either. Solid job, Lauren Henderson! :)

Romance: More in the second book, but definitely all very PG-13 or less. Definitely too few kisses.

Buy it? Maybe if you're in for some light reading. I wouldn't definitely reccomend these books to everone, but those that like a bit of romance and mysteries (think the Gallagher Girls series) might enjoy them..

Currently Reading

The Princess and the Bear
145 out of 336 pages

-- Hm, a bit boring going into, but the pace is building up, and I'm sort of used to the writing by now. Very interested to see where their relationship is going!