The Compulsive Reader: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Books That Suck Month Contest!

All right, all right, so I know this is very last minute. And I do apologize for the lack of reviews the second half of the month. I was supposed to receive many of the books highlighted in the past two weeks, but USPS can be pretty unreliable sometimes, so I didn't receive any of them in time. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can rectify that.

But, that also means that I didn't know what sort of prizes were available for contest purposes until like an hour ago, so this is going to be a super duper quick contest, so you need to enter NOW! Send me your name, address, and email along with your thoughts on this month's feature (Was it boring? Cool? Did you learn about some cool new reads? Was it a complete waste of everyone's time?) with Books That Such Contest in the subject heading, and each person will get a chance to win one of the following prizes:

-1 person will win a signed copy of The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
-1 person will win a paperback of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and a Sucks to be Me bookmark and book plate signed by Kimberley Pauley
-9 people will win a Sucks to be Me bookmark and bookplate signed by Kimberley Pauley

Send your entries to me by midnight, the night night of August 2nd, and I'll announce the winners on Sunday, the third. Good luck to everyone, and once again, sorry for everything being to out of whack lately!

Books That Suck Month: Day Thirty-One: The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Last, but not least: Twilight. It's arguably gotten the most hype as a vampire book for teens, and the release of the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, has prompted bookstores to host midnight release parties, something they haven't done wince the release of the Harry Potter books.
You'd pretty much have to live under a rock to NOT know what this series is about, so rather than giveyou some reviews, I'm just going to voice my opinon on the series.
I think the first book is the best by far. I remember reading it for the first time and going, "Whoa!" The setting, emotions, and action all work together to give you that gut feeling that occurs only ever so often when you know you've found a really good book.
I am looking forward to the release, although I can't say I am going insane like some are, counting down the hours and minuted (right after I write that, I remembered the down and to the left...hm). But what about you? How do you feel about the series and the release of Breaking Dawn? Let me know what you think!
P.S. Are you a little vampired out? I know I am. I'll get my copy of Twilight Saturday morning and read it, but then I plan to dive into some nice, non blood drinking reads.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Thirty: An Interview with Ellen Schreiber

Ellen Schreiber, author Teenage Mermaid, Comedy Girl, and the featured Vampire Kisses series, agreed to take a moment and answer a few questions.

Why did you decide to write a series of books about vampires?

I wanted to write about a girl who was an outsider--a girl who was fearless and feisty. After seeing some goth girls swing on swings at a nearby park, I thought maybe I’d write a poem. It was only later that I thought about combining the two ideas. It popped in my mind that girl would be obsessed--with vampires. Then I decided she would fall in love with a handsome guy (rumored to be one) and she find out that she loved him regardless of whether he was a vampire, or not.

What makes the Vampire Kisses series unique?

It is about the romantic vampire--eternal love--thirsting for one mate-- not about blood and gore. I wanted to explore everlasting true love. The romantic vampire and his need for eternal love.

Which three words would you use to describe the Vampire Kisses series?

Romantic, fun, mysterious.

If you could be any supernatural creature, which would you be and why?

A mermaid. I think they are beautiful and it seems like fun to swim with the dolphins.

What's your favorite YA vampire themed novel?

Honestly, I don’t read other’s vampire books. (I like writing more than reading.) I do read manga--and like Chibi Vampire.

Thanks to Ellen for answering our questions! Also, if you are a fan of the Vampire Kisses series, be sure to check out the manga series!

Blood Relatives, Volume 1

The absolute last thing goth-girl Raven and her vampire boyfriend, Alexander, need is another hitch in their nighttime-only romance—but dark trouble hovers on the horizon when Raven and Alexander discover four freshly dug graves filled with empty coffins. When a crew of sketchy vampires takes up residence in Dullsville's lonely graveyard, Alexander finds this motley bunch led by his very own blood-sucking cousin, Claude Sterling. Shocking! Claude and his creepy crew can only spell out more problems for the pair, especially when Raven finds them in daylight in the very last place she could ever imagine. What could Claude and his invaders be doing—or searching for—in Dullsville?

Blood Relatives, Volume 2

Who says dating a vampire is easy? Raven's nocturnal romance with her immortal love, Alexander, is definitely dicey, but even more so with Alexander's meddling half-vamp cousin in town. Claude and his sketchy gang are on the hunt for a stash of blood-filled vials that can turn them into pure vampires. With an old family feud casting a shadow on the search, they'll do anything to get their hands on the vials. Raven and Alexander must swiftly mastermind a plan to outwit them, but will the very lure of the vials create more risk for Raven than she could ever imagine? And deepen her own quandary about the possibility of becoming a vampire?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Nine: The Vampire Kisses Series by Ellen Schreiber

The Vampire Kisses Series by Ellen Schreiber

Vampire Kisses

From Amazon.com:

The mansion on top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people –– especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires?
Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.

Kissing Coffins

From Amazon.com:

Not far from Dullsville, someone's lurking in the dark. . . .
After meeting the handsome and shadowy Alexander Sterling, goth-girl Raven's dark world has a bright, new glow. But as in her favorite movie, Kissing Coffins, Raven knows that love always has its complications, especially when Alexander has a big secret to guard.
When Alexander suddenly disappears, Raven leaves Dullsville to begin a dangerous search to find him. Can she stay safe, no matter who—or what—she encounters on the way?


From Amazon.com:

Can Raven stop Dullsville from becoming Vampireville?

For goth-girl Raven, dating her dream boyfriend is complicated, especially because Alexander's secret means they can only meet at night. And now they must be extra wary, with Alexander's archrival, Jagger, creeping around town. Then Jagger's exquisitely pale sister Luna also surfaces -- and seems to have her sights on Raven's own longtime nemesis.

Raven and Alexander must begin a terrifying hunt for Jagger and Luna's secret hideout. Can they drive them away before Dullsville is eternally threatened by these menaces from the Underworld?

Dance with a Vampire

From Amazon.com:

The most important night of the year is drawing near . . . but not without a little trouble from the Underworld...

Dullsville's newest night-faring intruder may be only a tween, but Raven knows that Valentine Maxwell, the younger sibling of two nefarious vampires, is a full-size menace. Valentine becomes even more of a threat when he befriends her brother, Billy. Raven must try to shield Billy, even as the biggest excitement of the year approaches . . . attending prom with her immortal love, Alexander. And while Alexander is one kind of vampire -- sweet -- Raven soon learns Valentine is another.

Could Valentine somehow know Raven's private thoughts about turning into a vampire?

The Coffin Club

From Amazon.com:

It's tough for love-struck Raven to imagine what's keeping her nocturnal boyfriend from returning to Dullsville. So there's only one thing to do -- find Alexander. Along the way, Raven can't resist the spot where she feels most at home, the Coffin Club. But when she stumbles upon a secret door in the club, she descends into a dim catacomb -- to a hidden hangout where the house drink happens to be type A or B. Drawn to one of its shadowy members, Raven suspects she's in over her head. But exploring the covert club is too tempting, even after coming face-to-face with Alexander's trouble-stirring enemy.

Can Raven delve further into the Underworld unbeknownst to Alexander -- and also solve the mystery of her true love's own secrecy? Ellen Schreiber's sizzling Vampire Kisses series continues with its darkest installment yet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Eight: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong and An Interview With the Author

Though not what we'd call a vampire book, The Summoning more than deserves a mention in this feature!

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost—and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Check out chloesaunders.com to learns more.

And now, an interview with the talented author, Kelley Armstrong.

You are a quite prolific writer of paranormal books for adults...why did you choose to write a trilogy for teens?

I have a lot of teenaged readers, but my characters are all older, in some cases old enough to be the parents of my readers. My only teen character started as a 12 year old, but by book 9, she's 19 and ready for her own turn at narrating one of the adult books. I've always wanted to give more to my teen readers and a book about teens seemed better than adding more teenaged characters.

What makes The Summoning unique?

I'm always hesitant to point at any part of my work and say "this is unique" because as soon as I do, someone will find another novel that did the same thing! What I've learned is not to try to be wholly unique, but to do something a little different and trust that my writing voice and my storytelling will set it apart. Teens who see ghosts are not new. Even teens who can raise the dead probably aren't new. Teens being sent to group homes isn't new. But hopefully, in my characters and in my plots, readers will find something, if not unique, at least new and interesting.

If you could have any supernatural power, which would it be and why?

I would love to be one of my werewolves, who change into full wolves. What better thrill than to experience life in a different form? The secondary characteristics I give them would be cool too (I'll refrain from listing them because it might give spoilers for the book) But the characteristics that make a werewolf unique also make it hard for them to blend into general society, so if I was being very practical, I'd go with spell-casters instead--their powers take work to perfect, but they have fewer drawbacks.

Have you thought about writing more YA books besides the Darkest Powers trilogy?

For now, that's foremost in my mind (along with the adult series) so I don't dare start thinking of other ideas. I'm sure they'll sneak in, though...hopefully when I have time to write them!

What's one book that you enjoy re-reading every so often?

Richard Adams's Watership Down. While it has plenty of deep elements and political metaphors, it can also be enjoyed simply as a great adventure story. I first read it when I was quite young and it fired my imagination for writing "realistic fantasy"--a fantastical story that still feels very realistic and grounded in the real world.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Seven: Frostbite and Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead


From Amazon.com:

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks….This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…

Shadow Kiss, available November 13, 2008

Is Rose’s fate to kill the person she loves most? It’s springtime at St. Vladimir’s Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason’s death, Rose hasn’t been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can’t concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret . . . .She’s in love with Dimitri. And this time, it’s way more than a crush.

Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever…

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Six: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

From Amazon.com:

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Five: The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

From Amazon.com:

A mysterious epidemic holds the city in its thrall and the chaos is contagious—black oil spews from fire hydrants, rats have taken over Brooklyn, and every day, more people disappear. but all that matters to Pearl, Moz, and Zahler is their new band. They ignore the madness around them and join forces with a vampire lead singer and a drummer whose fractured mind can glimpse the coming darkness. Will their music stave off the end of the world . . . or summon it?

Set against the gritty apocalypse that began in Peeps, The Last Days is about five teenagers who find themselves creating the soundtrack for the end of the world.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Three: Peeps by Scott Westerfel

From Amazon.com:

A year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying than in attending biology class. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal’s life.

Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he’s infected the girlfriends he’s had since Morgan. All three have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls Peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. It’s Cal’s job to hunt them down before they can create more of their kind. . . .

Bursting with the sharp intelligence and sly humor that are fast becoming his trademark, Scott Westerfeld’s novel is an utterly original take on an archetype of horror.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Three: The Mortal Instruments Books by Cassandra Clare

Although vampires aren't the focus of The Mortal Instruments books, they are present, especially in City of Ashes.

City of Bones

From Amazon.com:

Their hidden world is about to be revealed....

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it's hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary's mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

City of Ashes

(Be warned, this next review contains spoilers from the previous book.)

The past few weeks have been hectic for Clary Fray to say the least, and they only seem to get even more so in the sequel to Cassandra Clare's popular debut City of Bones. Clary's mother still hasn't awoken from her strange sleep induced by Jace and Clary's father, Valentine, and Jace is having troubles coming to terms with his true parentage.

Things only get more complicated when an Inquisitor is sent to the Institute to question Jace's loyalty to the Clave, and he doesn't make a good impression. Suspicion is further aroused when children of magical descent are found dead all over the city, making everyone suspect that Valentine is up to something more sinister than they have anticipated.

The second book in the Mortal Instruments series is full of fast paced action and twists and turns that you won't see coming. Clary gets more and more involved in the supernatural world as she and Jace struggle to accept their relationship, while at the same time fending off attacks from all sides. In between it all is exhilarating excitement, the awkwardness of being a teenager, and intriguing mysteries. Readers looking for more breathless adventure and a spectacular battle against evil will delight in City of Ashes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-Two: Evernight by Claudia Gray

Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.

"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty-One: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book Two: Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer

High school totally bites when you’re half human, half vampire.

Freshman year sucks for Vlad Tod. Bullies still harass him. The photographer from the school newspaper is tailing him. And failing his studies could be deadly. A trip to Siberia gives “study abroad” a whole new meaning as Vlad connects with other vampires and advances his mind-control abilities, but will he return home with the skills to recognize a vampire slayer when he sees one? In this thrilling sequel to Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad must confront the secrets of the past and battle forces that once again threaten his life.
Find out why author D. J. MacHale calls The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod “Gruesome, heartwarming, spellbinding.”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twenty: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book One: Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Vlad has to keep his vampire urges under control while dealing with the pressures of middle school.

Thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod really hates junior high. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem:

He’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Nineteen: The Reckoning by Kate Cary

From Amazon.com:

Mary Seward thought she had escaped the darkness of Transylvania and the evil that claimed the soul of her fiancé, John Shaw. But now, back in England, Mary has terrible nightmares, fears the dark, sees vampires everywhere she turns. And when a strange virus weakens her father and her patients at the clinic, she suspects that there’s a far more sinister explanation than the one the doctors provide.

Then Quincey Harker, heir to Count Dracula’s bloodline, shows himself in England. Gaunt and pale, he claims to have renounced his evil heritage, in part out of love for Mary. But is he telling the truth—or playing a deadly game with her?

Kate Cary continues her follow-up to Bram Stoker’s original Dracula, examining the nature of good and evil, and the places where both exist at once.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Eighteen: Bloodline by Kate Cary

From Amazon.com:

This story is an interesting blend of mystery, horror, and romance, and readers who love vampire novels will find it a refreshing twist to the classic story. Mary Seward recognizes the patient who has just been brought into the Purfleet sanatorium. It is Lt. John Shaw, who lives in the mansion near the hospital along with his sister Lily. Hoping to help him, Mary begins to read his diary, written during his tenure in the trenches in France during the Great War. John describes his encounters with a Captain Quincey Harker, a brave but bloodthirsty leader. Lily meets Captain Harker during one of her visits, they fall in love, and he takes her home to Romania to be married. However, Quincey is the son of Count Tepes and Mina Harker, and he has taken Lily to Dracula's Castle to fulfill the family's destiny. Lily and John are also connected to Count Tepes, as John is the son of Count Tepes and Rosemary Shaw. As the wedding day draws near, the full story of the family is revealed. Lily is faced with a dilemma–to live forever as a vampire or to end it all. Written in diary format with excerpts from each main character, this novel continues the saga of Count Dracula with a new generation. Each character is fully realized, as are the environs that surround them. Although readers know that something binds the characters together, the author maintains suspense until the end.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Seventeen: Shattereed Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

As a witch, Sarah Vida has been brought up to abhor vampires and hunt them down. She's the daughter of the most famous (or infamous, depending on the company you keep) vampire hunter of the times. So when she starts tentatively making friends with two weak sibling vampires at her new school, her sister is horrified. She tries to impress upon Sarah that such friendship will only lead to death, or worse. Yet Sarah can't seem to tear herself away from the only ones who have ever perceived her as anything other than a killer, when in fact they are the ones that should fear her.

Shattered Mirror is the opposite of so many vampire themed books that are being released in the past years in the sense that it initially shows vampires in a less favorable light. This factor, coupled with the fantasy-like intrigue of the laws and customs of the Vida witch clan is the only interesting and innovative element of the whole novel. The protagonist, Sarah, appears to be a flat character without much profundity. Any of the author's attempts at depth, like working in the Vidas' reactions to their father's death, fall flat, and the reader experiences no real connection with any of the characters. Shattered Mirror is chocked full of drama, but very much lacking substance.

New Contest: Win Great Prizes from Jennifer E. Smith, Author of The Comeback Season!

Hey all, remember April's Book of the Month, The Comeback Season? Well, the author, Jennifer Smith, is hosting a Comeback Season contest to celebrate the publication of the book and the Cubs' success this season! There are three prizes:

1st Prize: 2 tickets to the Cubs vs. Astros game on 9/3/08 at 7:05 at Wrigley Field*
2nd Prize: A marked-up copy of The Comeback Season, with notes from the author
3rd Prize: A signed copy of The Comeback Season

(* If you win 1st prize, but don't live in Chicago, you can opt for the Cubs tickets to go to the next person, and you'll get a marked up copy of the book instead, plus another YA book of your choice!)

There are also a multitude of ways to enter:

1. Let Jennifer know that you told at least 10 people about the contest via blog or email
2. Send a photo of you reading the book to Jennifer
3. Send a receipt showing that you bought the book to Jennifer

Send all entries to Jennifer at thecomebackseason@gmail.com .

Winners will be chosen on August 12th, 2008 by random drawing.

Click here to order the book on Amazon, and here for my review.
And if you enter the contest, be sure to let Jennifer know The Compulsive Reader sent you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Sixteen: Suck It Up by Brian Meehl And An Interview With the Author

Tired of the same old bloodsucking vampire stories? Up to your neck in fang-popping fiends?


•He drinks a soy-blood substitute called Blood Lite.
•He believes staking should be a hate crime.
•Someday he wants to march in a Vampire Pride Parade. He’s also the first Undead American to out himself and prove that vampires are just another minority with special needs.

The undead get a madcap makeover in: SUCK IT UP

A funny-bone-chilling tale.

And now an interview with the hilarious author:

Why did you choose to write about vampires?

Vampires are the ultimate victims in our victim-culture. Yes, victim. Did most vampires want to become vampires? I doubt it. And once they were turned, how fun can it really be? I mean, would you want to skulk around at night, quaff people's blood, and do it forever? I think vampires are like any other minority with special needs. Yes, they're dietetically-challenged, but that doesn't mean they see every mortal as an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). There are vampires who want to "come out of the casket." Who want to prove that the dark, blood-lusting lord of the night is an unfair stereotype.

I chose to write about vampires so that maybe, some day, vampires can take their rightful place in out multicultural society.

What makes Suck It Up unique from every other vampire novel?

It's the first vampire novel that's a real bite 'n' tell. Unless there are other vampire novels that lift the lid on such intimate issues as maximus dentis eruptus and "blue gums."

If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be?

A better writer? Okay, seriously, hmm, I think I'd be Hercules so I could go back and play professional football. Or at least be really good at mucking out stables.

What was your biggest influence on writing Suck It Up?

Easy. While writing for a kid's educational television show I was told I couldn't write a script about a birthday party because Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in celebrating birthdays and we didn't want to offend any Jehovah's Witnesses. It was my eureka moment. If the PC Police were going to protect Jehovah's Witnesses by censoring birthday parties, then gosh darn it, I was going to join the PC Force and defend vampires.

If you had an autobiography, what would it be called?

The autobiography I wish I could live would be, "I Loved Her But the Show Closed." But, so far, the life I've lived is more like "The Escape Artist." I do things really passionately for a time and then move on. I love escaping into the future.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Fifteen: Otherwoldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler And An Interview With the Author

From Amazon.com:

Fern communicates with her dog, blisters from just moments in the sun, and has correctly predicted the daily weather for more than two years. Even so, she's always seemed to be a normal twelve-year-old girl . . . until one day when Fern closes her eyes in class and opens them seconds later on a sandy beach miles away from school. When Fern disappears again, this time to a place far more dangerous, she begins to realize exactly how different she is.

With the help of her twin brother, Sam, Fern struggles to gain control of her supernatural powers. The arrival of a sinister vampire in town—who seems to have an alarming interest in Fern's powers—causes Fern to question her true identity. Who is she? More importantly, who can she count on? Soon Fern finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old battle—one that could destroy Fern and endanger everyone she loves.

Why did you choose to write a book that included vampires?

I have always had an interest in vampires. In college, I took a course on gothic literature and I read Dracula and fell in love with it. It's such a great read. So I decided to put my own spin on the lore and mythology behind vampires.

What makes Otherworldlies unique?

I think The Otherworldlies is unique because it is a different take on vampires. It also pays tribute to the gothic literature that inspired many of the more famous vampire stories, but it is different because it combines a lot of fantasy and vampire elements. It's not just a fantasy novel and it's not just a vampire novel.

Do you think you'll write more books that are similar to Otherworldlies?

I hope so. It was so fun for me to write! Creating a world can be difficult in terms of making everything consistent, but it's also the kind of challenge I relish.

If you could be any supernatural creature, which would you be and why?

Hmmm. I'd probably be Spiderman. I guess it would be more like Spiderwoman. I think he's got a good set of powers. I've really always wanted to fly. And the great thing about Spiderman is he can kind of fly, but he's still attached by his spidey webs, so it wouldn't be as scary.

What's one of your favorite supernatural books?

My favorite supernatural book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time. I reread it recently and it still knocked my socks off. I don't think I fully understood it as a kid, and it was still so good.

Thanks so much, Jennifer!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Fourteen: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

For a high school senior, Quincie Morris is exceptionally responsible and already she is certain in what she wants to do with her life: run her family's Italian restaurant. She and her uncle plan on re-opening the place with a hot new vampire theme, certain to attract business. But then their head chef Vaggio is brutally murdered a month before the re-opening, leaving Quincie and her uncle scrambling for not only a new chef, but the ultimate performer.

Enter Henry Johnson. Skinny, blond, and so not the vampire type. But he can cook. And so he's hired, and Quincie is left with the job of transforming him into an intimidating, dramatic, and convincing vampire performer. All the while, Vaggio's killer is still at large, and the police seem to think that Quincie's werewolf best friend Kieran is responsible, and the question is posed...is it a vampire or wereperson that is truly at fault? Quincie is finding it harder to know who to trust in a world where it is unclear who is the predator and who is the prey.

Tantalize is an elegant, dark, and nicely creepy read. Smith has created a fascinating and slightly chilling world where things aren't all that they seem to be, and it is too easy to fall into an enemy's traps. She cleverly reveals only a glimpse of the whole picture as the story progresses, not too much to allow the story to become predictable, but just enough to tempt and entice readers without frustrating them. Quincie is an engrossing narrator and admirable character who lives up to and beyond her namesake. Polished and sophisticated, if you're looking for a remarkable, unique, and completely mesmerizing supernatural read, this is it.

I got the opportunity to ask the lovely author a few questions about her inspiration for Tantalize and why she wrote it.

Thanks so much, Cynthia! I appreciate it.

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm!

Why did you choose to write a YA supernatural book?

I’ve long been enchanted with the supernatural, especially Gothic fantasy, the subcategory of horror involving monsters. After a few years off, Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate (1997) was the first YA novel I returned to as a young law clerk in Chicago, about to ditch her day job to write full time.

Having endured my share of speculative stories with clichéd female victims/trophies, I appreciated strong characters like Chris Carter’s Scully and Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Annette’s werewolf protagonist, Vivian.

I’m also fascinated by the classics, and it had intrigued me that, in the novel Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker, an Irishman, had chosen a Texan, Quincey P. Morris, for one of Van Helsing’s vampire hunters.

At the same time, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at Stoker’s leading female characters, which—true to the fictional norms of the day—were crafted as a sensual monster and “virgin” victim, metaphorically speaking.

So, I decided to revisit the literary Dracula mythology with my more girl-powered sensibility, bring the tradition “home” to Texas, and extend it into the twenty-first century. My gender-flipped Quincie P. Morris is a strong, capable, and passionate Texas girl.

What makes Tantalize unique?

Probably my most remarked-upon twist on the tradition is that the story largely revolves around Sanguini’s, a fictional a vampire-themed restaurant set here in Austin, Texas.
As an older teen, I’d waited tables in restaurants to help pay for college tuition and expenses, and I loved how each was a stage for drama—complete with thematic décor, menu, costumes/uniforms, music, and more.

Most people think of vampires as more drinkers than diners, but that adds a fresh twist.

Do you plan on writing any more books similar to Tantalize?

At the moment, I’m working on a very similar book—a graphic novel adaptation of Tantalize, told from the point of view of Kieren, the werewolf leading man. Because the prose novel is told from Quincie’s perspective, there are plenty of new scenes and insights in the graphic version.
What’s more, Tantalize isn’t a stand-alone story. It’s the first installment—the toe-hold, if you will—of a larger arc. The next prose book, Eternal (Candlewick, March 2009), will feature different main characters, and then my plan is to crossover the two casts in a third novel, picking up again at the end of Tantalize.

The first two novels have sub-arcs of their own, but careful readers should be able to thoughtfully speculate as to where we’re heading for the third.

In the meantime, Tantalize readers may want to take a peek at the excerpt of Eternal in the Tantalize paperback release (Candlewick, July 2009). That novel will be told from two alternating points of view, male and female, and the female protagonist’s is featured in the excerpt. While erring more toward Gothic fantasy than paranormal romance, it’s more of a love story than Tantalize.

Though that will conclude a particular storyline, readers can take slip into the same fantasy world in at least a couple of upcoming shorts—“Haunted Love,” which will appear in Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, August 2008) and “Cat Calls,” which will appear in Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, March 2009).

At the moment, I’m open to writing more stories in the universe, and there’s another that’s whispering to me, but with so much on my plate, I’m taking it one book at a time.

If you could be any supernatural creature, which would you be and why?

I’ll go with the werecat. I’d much prefer to be living, to be a predator, and to have more abilities. Plus, cats tend to be clean and have great agility.

Do you have a favorite word, quote, or a poem that you'd like to share?


Thanks so much! I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that we can't wait to read Eternal! Best of luck to you in all of your future endeavors!

Read Savvy by Ingrid Law for Free

For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy" — a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity... and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day.

As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman's bus... only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up — and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.

From today until Sunday, you can read this book for free! Just look below, or click here!

Read this document on Scribd: Savvy by Ingrid Law

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Thirteen: Night World No. 1 by L.J. Smith

Long time fans of L.J. Smith rejoice! Her Night World series has been re-released!

Welcome to the Night World, a treacherous and strict society of Earth's darker species--vampires, witches, shape shifters. There are two rules that must never be forgotten...human knowledge of the Night World is strictly forbidden, and a member of the Night World must never fall in love with a human. Both are punishable by death, and both are broken in L.J. Smith's riveting collection of novels.

When Poppy finds that she has pancreatic cancer, she is devastated that her life is coming to such an abrupt end. But then her best friend James reveals that he is a vampire, and he can offer her a chance to live...forever. But the risks are great. If the Night World were to find about her, it'd be certain death. Poppy must choose in Secret Vampire.

Daughters of Darkness takes us to a small village in Oregon, where human Mary-Lynette harbors suspicions about her elderly neighbor's three nieces. Then a string of brutal murders and baffling happenings occur, coinciding with the mysterious girls' appearance. Things only get more complicated when Mary-Lynette meets their brother, and finds out what they truly are.

In Spellbinder, witch cousins Thea and Blaise have one last chance to get their act together at their new school. Thea is determined not to get expelled this time due to Blaise's actions, but when Blaise begins playing with Thea's new crush, Thea can't help but get sucked it. Soon both girls are in over their heads.

These three novels by L.J. Smith that have been combined and put between one knock out of a new cover will captivate, amaze, and entertain. What you think would be cliché and overworked is unique, innovative, and enrapturing in Smith's voice. All three of the stories are cleverly connected, making them that more enjoyable. Smith's characters are wonderfully imagined and presented in such a fashion to make the readers fall for them and become enraptured in their struggles and triumphs. There's a new twist around every corner and surprising depth and compassion on every page. Though each story was originally published separately, they flow together fluidly to present an enticing, dangerous, and highly appealing look at the Night World.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Twelve: The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Zoë has been existing in a fog for the past months, ever since cancer forced her mother into the hospital. She practically lives on her own. Her father spends every minute with her mom and limits Zoë's time with her. But then a series of brutal killings in Zoë's town brings Zoë and the mysterious Simon together. Simon is not human, and claims that the murderer isn't either. And unless Zoë helps him, the unlikely killer won't be stopped.

The Silver Kiss has the perfect eerie and hazy setting to draw the reader in and set the perfect mood. Despite the book being shorter than most of the genre, Klause artfully builds suspense at the perfect pace, and makes the serious tone of the book quite entertaining by cleverly interspersing sharp, witty comments throughout the story. Though originally written and published almost twenty years ago, this book has a timeless air that makes it easy to fall headfirst into. The Silver Kiss is proof that a novel doesn't have to be a weighty tome in order to be thrilling and captivating.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Eleven: The Morganville Vampires Books by Rachel Caine

Book One: Glass Houses

From the author of the popular Weather Warden series. Welcome to Morganville, Texas.

Just don't stay out after dark. College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better.

Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

Book Two: The Dead Girls' Danc

Claire has her share of challenges. Like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains; homicidal girls in her dorm, and finding out that her college town is overrun with the living dead. On the up side, she has a new boyfriend with a vampire-hunting dad. But when a local fraternity throws the Dead Girls' Dance, hell is really going to break loose.

Book Three: Midnight Alley

Claire Danvers's college town may be run by vampires but a truce between the living and the dead made things relatively safe. For a while. Now people are turning up dead, a psycho is stalking her, and an ancient bloodsucker has proposed private mentoring. To what end, Claire will find out. And it's giving night school a whole new meaning.

Book Four: Feast of Fools

It would seem that Claire Danvers's life couldn't get any worse, what with living in a college town that is also inhabited by vampires who wouldn't think twice about killing her, and having her parents pressuring her to move back in with them when she already lives with her three best friends. But when Mr. Bishop arrives, things turn positively deadly.

No one's really sure what Mr. Bishop wants exactly--all they know is that he's more powerful than anyone--possibly even Amelie, and he lacks any good intentions. Everyone is on their guard. Soon everyone is buzzing about the upcoming formal ball, and all the humans are clamoring for invites, even Claire and Eve. But this is one party that the breathing might want to pass up.

Feast of Fools is an exciting, fast paced and chilling thriller. Caine has a real knack for combining a headstrong heroine, nicely creepy happenings, and a dash of romance and intrigue to bring about a knock out of a novel that'll stun, spellbind, and utterly captivate readers. There's a twist around every corner, and a cliff hanger that will leave readers desperate for more in this wonderful series that's reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A word of caution: once you start into the Morganville Vampires series, it's impossible to let go.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Ten: Prom Nights From Hell by Various Authors

Though these stories don't all fit under the vampire category, they're all wonderful paranormal reads from five great authors: Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Michele Jaffe, Kim Harrison, and Stephenie Meyer. Meg Cabot's is the very first, and is a suspensful, humorous look at Mary, determined to kill the son of the vampire who turned her mother, and is currently wooing her best friend Lila. But when Lila's ex and his friend inadvertenly prevent her from doing so, things will get interesting.

Be sure to check out this chilling, witty, and creepy prom themed read that will make your bad date look like Prince Charming.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Nine: Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

Schuyler Van Alen wants an explanation for the mysterious deaths of young Blue Bloods. Her search brings her to Venice, Italy, in the hopes of finding the one person who can help. Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the famous Four Hundred Ball, an exclusive gala hosted by the city’s wealthy, powerful, and unhuman—a true Blue Blood affair. But it’s at the after-party masquerade that the true danger lurks. Hidden behind the masks is a revelation that will change the course of a young vampire’s destiny.
Rich with glamour, attitude, and vampire lore, this second installment in the Blue Bloods saga will leave readers thirsty for more.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Eight: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods is one read that I've had scores of readers write in to tell me that I must read. Well, I haven't gotten myself a copy of it yet, but here's a review that sure makes me want to.

From Amazon.com:

De la Cruz has revamped traditional vampire lore in this story featuring a group of attractive, privileged Manhattan teens who attend a prestigious private school. Schuyler Van Alen, 15, the last of the line in a distinguished family, is being raised by her distant and forbidding grandmother. Schuyler, her friend Oliver, and their new friend Dylan are treated like outsiders by the clique of popular, athletic, and beautiful teens made up of Mimi Force, her twin brother, and her best friend. What they have in common is the fact that they are all Blue Bloods, or vampires. They don't realize that they aren't normal until they reach age 15. Then the symptoms manifest themselves and they begin to crave raw meat, have nightmares about events in history, and get prominent blue veins in their arms. Their immortality and way of life are threatened after Blue Blood teens start getting murdered by a splinter group called the Silver Bloods. This novel constantly name-drops and is full of product placements, drinking, drugs, nonexplicit sex, and superficial characterizations, but the intriguing plot will keep teens reading. De la Cruz's explanation for the disappearance of the Colony of Roanoke is unique and the idea that models don't gain weight because they are Blue Bloods rather than anorexic is unusual.

–Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Seven: Sucks to Be Me by Kimberley Pauley

Mina Hamilton has always known about her parents' unusual position as vampires, but it never occurs to her that she might have to become a vampire herself until the Northwest Regional Vampire Council gets wind of her existence and insists that she make a choice. But how can a girl choose between a great life in the human world with a best friends and an almost boyfriend, and her family and the allure of living forever (although, the idea of drinking blood is just gross). Well, Mina's about to find out.

Sucks to Be Me is one of those fun, light reads you like to kick back and relax with. It was chocked full of humor and vampire myths revisited. Yet, the reader can't help but wonder at Mina's obliviousness and her ability to be so anti-vampire, and then ready to embrace vampirism all because of one boy. Pauley's plot devices are weak and little cliché, and the characters underdeveloped, but she knows how to play the humor card...almost too much so. While the story had a number of positive elements, Pauley does little to develop them, and their exposition is weak. However, she shows some definite potential, and readers looking for a funny, modern take on the vampire world will look forward to this one.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Six: The Society of S and The Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard

From Susan Hubbard comes two novels that have been hailed as the the most surprising vampire story that you will ever read.

The Society of S

Courtesy of Amazon.com:

Identity issues involving a child of mixed heritage get a supernatural spin in this affecting coming-of-age tale. Ariella Montero's mother vanished the day she was born, leaving her to the care of her overprotective scientist father, who homeschools her and limits her contact with the outside world. Only when she reaches adolescence does Ari discover that her special diet and insular home life set her apart from her peers. Her father's confession that he was vampirized shortly before marriage, and that Ari can choose whether to be undead like him or mortal like mom, set her off on a road trip that eventually brings her to her mother and into an understanding of tough truths about her family. Hubbard (Walking on Ice) delineates Ari's world of innocent and uncertain adolescence with uncommon poignance and forgoes sensationalism for sensitivity in her depiction of vampirism as one of many emotionally charged challenges Ari faces as a child of estranged parents. She doesn't do much original with the vampire theme, but the novel's open ending suggests inevitable sequels where this may develop further.
Author tour. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Click here to learn more about The Society of S.

The Year of Disappearrances

Courtesy of Amazon.com:

Wherever Ariella Montero goes, it seems, someone is murdered. Writing in a style that The New York Times calls "minimalism O. Henrified," Susan Hubbard continues, with The Year of Disappearances, her heroine's mysterious and spellbinding quest, begun in The Society of S, to recognize the demons who may live inside us and the ones we love -- so that they can be removed.

Click here to learn more about The Year of Disappearances.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Five: Bitten by Jennifer Banash And a Word From the Author

Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite and its sequel In Too Deep, is more than just a contemporary teen author. She's also written a paranormal teen book called Bitten that takes you straight to the heart of all of the vampire myths.

Bitten by Jennifer Banash

Love is definitely a pain in the neck . . .

Mina Vanderbilt has just moved with her family to a dilapidated, musty, stone castle in Romania that once belonged to Dracula himself. Her parents, successful Manhattan real estate moguls, are clearly in the throes of a major midlife crisis, and, as a result, have decided to "rearrange their priorities" by selling the Vanderbilt's fabulous penthouse apartment, and moving Mina and her identical twin sister Lucy to Eastern Europe after bidding an astounding $137.5 million dollars at ultra-exclusive auction at Sothebys. But before both girls begin attendance at a posh boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland, they'll spend the summer at their new home sweet home—a castle situated in the heart of Romania, just off of Highway 73—better known as the intersection of creepy and get-me-the-hell-out-of-here—worlds away from their sophisticated Manhattan lifestyle where they're used to getting whatever they want, whenever they want. With Prada bags slug firmly over their shoulders, they'll learn to navigate the endless corridors and wings of the drafty pile of bricks (OK, their mother, Amanda, began a massive redecorating and demolition project immediately on their arrival, but come ON—there are SKULLS in the cellar for God's sake!) which may or not be haunted by the spirit of a certain cape-wearing, blood-sucking legend . . .

Upon their arrival, Mina quickly falls in with Jonathan Marlowe—the town's resident hottie, who's left London to visit his grandfather for the summer and spends his days attempting to pen the next great British novel at the town's lone café. But after Lucy suffers a "bite" from a mysterious apparition one evening while trolling the grounds of the castle, her love life will never be the same again. Expressions like "can I have a bite of that?" take on a WHOLE new meaning, and suddenly, the most notorious identical, inseparable twins in all of Manhattan have never been quite so different . . .

Summary courtesy of Jennifer Banash.

Says Jennifer on her new novel, "BITTEN is like a cross between GOSSIP GIRL and DRACULA. What makes it special is that it’s a contemporary update of the Dracula legend—seen through the eyes of two identical twin socialites whose parents have bought Dracula’s castle in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and who then, of course, move the family to Romania."

When asked why she decided to write about vampires, Jennfer said, "When I was around thirteen, I was completely OBSESSED with Anne Rice’s Vampire Trilogy—before she became a born-again Christian! I thought the Lestat books were some of the most compelling and imaginative fiction ever penned about Vampires (sorry TWILIGHT fans!). Ever since then, I’ve always loved vampires. Actually, I wouldn’t mind being bitten—their lives—no matter who’s writing—are always so glamorous and dark—and I have a dark side roughly the size of Australia."

Bitten does not have a publisher as of yet, but rest assured that Jennifer and her agent are working on it! In the meantime, you can buy copies of The Elite and pre-order In Too Deep! And good luck to Jennifer on getting Bitten published! It sounds fabulous!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Four: Chosen by PC Cast and Kristen Cast and An Interview With the Authors

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans, and to the rest of you readers who won't being attending barbecues and watching fireworks tonight, Happy Friday!

Today is pretyy special, because not only do we have a review of Chosen up, but also an interview with the lovely authors, PC and Kristen Cast! First up, the review.

Everything has changed for Zoey at the House of Night. Her best friend has turned into the stereotypical vampire, and is quickly losing her grasp on her humanity. Her mentor has now become her enemy, and Zoey might be forced to make her worst enemy her ally. Zoey has now acquired three boyfriends, and can't seem to get rid of any of them.

And then the People of Faith decide to strike out against the vampyres in an unprecedented attack against te House of Night, leaving some of their own truly dead. Zoey and her friends will have to struggle to stay together during a time when no one is as they appear, and trust is hard to come by. Zoey especially will get a taste of the responsibility and heartbreak that being a priestess entails.

The third book in the House of Night series is as exciting and heartpounding as the first. If it hasn't been evident before, it is now crystal clear that the Casts have planned out every detail of the House of Night series impeccably, making for a smooth, irresistable story that leaps out of the pages at you. Chosen is a bit darker than its prequels as certain secrets come to light and new mysteries surface, but not without the same wit and great action. Zoey continues to mature and grow as a person, making this just as much as a down to earth coming of age novel as an engrossing supernatural thriller. The Casts leave the reader with an ending that will make them groan in anticipation for the fourth novel.

Why did you choose to team up to write a vampire (rather, vampyre!) novel?

Actually the team up happened not because of the vampyre part, but because of the YA part. I've taught high school since 1993, so I have a pretty good handle on teen-speak, but I realized as I was trying to write first person from a sixteen year olds point of view that I was getting stuck on what should have been pretty simple word usage questions. Well, I kept yelling down the hallway from my office to where Kristin was "innocently" (her word!) watching MTV and asking her questions. After I did this several times I decided it was ridiculous! That I should just see if Kristin wanted to co-author with me. She said yes - my agent loved the idea - and we took off from there.

What makes the House of Night series unique?

Our vampyres have a biological basis that's unusual. It's something I brainstormed with my biologist father, and it deals with a junk DNA strand and hormones. Add to that the fact that we've created a complex vampyre society that is matriarchal, with Nyx, the Goddess of Night, as their deity, and you have a unique take on an old mythos.

How many books do you plan on writing together?

Right now we've agreed to write nine House of Night books. Kristin and I already have an idea for another YA series, which we're looking forward to brainstorming.

If each of you could be any supernatural being, which would you be and why?

PC: I'd definitely be a goddess. I like the idea of being in charge of a world and of having perpetually good hair.

KC: I would be a witch! Not an ugly, mean, poison you witch, but a brewing potions for the locals, long, flowing hair, Practical Magic witch.

So, I have to ask because I am a little nosy...how do you go about writing your novels?

I write the draft and then I send it to Kristin for her rewrite. I often leave her notes in the text as I'm writing, as well as blanks I ask her to fill in. When she gets done I read the manuscript again before sending it off to our editor in New York. It sounds complicated, but it's really not. Plus, we're writing our fifth book together right now, so we pretty much have the system down.

If you had an autobiography, what would the title be?


The Misadventures of the Gorgeous Miss Cast

Thank you, PC and Kristen! And I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we cannot wait until Untamed comes out! Best of luck to you both!


Courtesy of Amazon.com:

Life sucks when your friends are pissed at you. Just ask Zoey Redbird – she’s become an expert on suckiness. In one week she has gone from having three boyfriends to having none, and from having a close group of friends who trusted and supported her, to being an outcast. Speaking of friends, the only two Zoey has left are undead and unMarked. And Neferet has declared war on humans, which Zoey knows in her heart is wrong. But will anyone listen to her? Zoey's adventures at vampyre finishing school take a wild and dangerous turn as loyalties are tested, shocking true intentions come to light, and an ancient evil is awakened in PC and Kristin Cast's spellbinding fourth House of Night novel.

Untamed will be out on September 23rd, 2008!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Books That Suck: Day Three: Betrayed by PC Cast and Kristen Cast

Even after her first month as a fledgling at The House of Night, Zoey Redbird's life still is as fast paced and hectic as ever. As the new leader of the Dark Daughters, she's responsible for turning it into a respectable and admirable club. Also, she seems to find herself with two boyfriends...with another guy sending her some mixed signals. On top of all of that, Zoey has been seeing some dark and mysterious creatures on the east wall. She wonders if it's all a trick of the mind, until human teenagers start disappearing...and winding up dead. Zoey will have to start facing the facts, especially after a shocking death in their midst reveals that what she has seen is no figment of her imagination...and what's truly horrifying is the identity of the person behind it all.

Betrayed picks up on all the suspense and thrill right where Marked left off. Full of twists and turns that flow fluidly and a continuation of excellent character development, Betrayed reveals more sinister plots and dastardly deeds that will leave readers reeling. The many normal teenager issues and feelings are melded with the supernatural happenings to create an adventurous and believable story. Though the world in which Zoey lives is unfamiliar, the Casts make the reader right at home with their smooth and inimitable writing style.
Check back tomorrow for a review of the third book in the series, Chosen.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day Two: Marked by PC and Kristen Cast

So, if you are a Teen Tuesday reader, you'll know aboiut my issues with the House of Night series. But, to make a long story short, I've had the first three books since like January. I read them for the first time last week. I am kicking myself for waiting so long. Yes, they are THAT good. The first is called Mark, snd here is a review.
Marked by PC and Kristen Cast

When Zoey is Marked, all hopes of fitting in at her suburban high school seem to suddenly vanish. She already feels like a stranger in her own family, and when her religious step-father finds out that Zoey has been Marked to undergo training to become a vampyre, he is convinced that she is evil, and together, he and her mother refuse to accept that Zoey has only two options…learn how to become a vampyre, or die.

Fitting in at her new school, The House of Night, is nearly impossible as well, for the goddess of the night, Nyx, has bestowed special powers upon Zoey, making her the most powerful fledgling in history, and earning her many enemies. But Zoey is not alone. With the help of some newfound friends, her spiritual Cherokee grandmother, and her mentor, she will learn to embrace her talents and take the first step to righting the many sinister happenings at The House of Night.

Marked is riveting and fast paced right from the very start. Zoey's biting wit and easygoing, honest demeanor make Marked an easy read to get sucked in to (no pun intended). While the exposition of the story may seem a bit too hasty, the Casts make up for it in suspense and remarkable character development, in not just Zoey, but every person, friend or foe. The tone of the novel is pitched perfectly, and it includes references to drug, alcohol, and sex without being graphic, but entirely realistic and plausible. The Casts certainly know how to speak teens' language, bringing us a thrilling novel that will make the heart pound, the mind race, and will ultimately capture the imagination.
Look for a review of Betrayed, the second in the House of Night series, coming your way tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Books That Suck Month: Day One: Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde

No, I am not going to spend an entire month on books to avoid. Instead, this month is going to be devoted to an ever growing genre of YA—Vampire books.

I first got the idea back in April, when a friend of mine remarked on how now that she’s read the Twilight Saga, there aren’t any good vampire reads left. I was shocked that anyone could say such a thing! There are so many good YA vampire stories out there…the genre didn’t emerge with the publication of Twilight after all! And so this month is dedicated to those fantastic books to read while you wait for Untamed, Breaking Dawn, and Stargazer.

We’ll also have a few authors stopping by to answer some questions about the genre and why they chose to write about it, along with a few contests with chances to win copies of Tantalize, The Summoning, and lots of cool bookmarks and bookplates.

So stick around! We’ve got a lot books for you to sink your teeth into.

As I was thinking about which books to feature, I couldn’t help but remember an old favorite—my first encounter with vampires in literature, actually.

Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde

Kerry is packing in a late night cram session for a big test the next day when her little brother Ian wakes up and realizes that he left his stuffed bear in the Laundromat earlier that day. He begs Kerry to go and retrieve it for him. Reluctantly she agrees, and once she’s there, she stumbles into what she thinks is a gang war. But when she’s taken hostage, she soon realizes that her captors must be truly insane—they keep raving about killing a harmless guy, Ethan, claiming he’s a vampire.

Kerry helps him escape, and when Ethan promises not to tell the police about her involvement, she heads home. But the situation is far from resolving itself when later the next day Kerry comes home to find her home vandalized and her family missing. Ethan shows up again, bent on protecting her. It’s then she realizes that maybe their captors weren’t so crazy after all…

Companions of the Night is a very quick and fast paced read. Ethan’s unpredictability, Kerry’s tenuous grasp on her life, and their race against time to find Kerry’s family all make for a gripping and suspenseful read. Though readers today may feel that with the absence of many modern day technologies that the book is dated, the intrigue of Ethan’s past and mystery of what beings a vampire means more than makes up for it. Vande Velde creates a completely realistic atmosphere in a situation that is out of this world. Companions of the Night is one of those books that you will wish had no end.

Cool New Reads!

Check out these new releases...the perfect way to spend your lazy summer days!

Kitty, Kitty by Michele Jaffe

Venice, Italy better watch out...Jasmine Callihan is on the loose. But this time she's determined not to get involved in anything Dadzilla would disapprove of...especially after what happened in Vegas, resulting in him whisking her away from her wonderful new boyfriend. She will be perfecting her skills as the Model Daughter. But all of her intentions go poof in the wind when her new friend Arabella is found dead. With her keen knack for solving crimes, super power for attracting cats, and le crazy friends, how can Jas not get involved?

Jump in quick, Kitty Kitty is yet another wild and hilarious ride. Never boring, Jas is an upbeat, witty, and dramatic narrator whose flair for trouble and intelligence will enrapture the reader. Each character is vividly expressed, unique, and entirely unforgettable. Throw in a completely absorbing mystery with some unexpected plot twists and you have yourself an extravaganza that is le fabulous!

The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson

Sophie's life at her boarding school and great-aunt's home in 1938 Edinburgh is a satisfactory one. Never one for athletics or too much excitement, Sophie occupies her time studying, and plans to go to University, or become a trained assistant to the country's business leaders. But a frightening series of terrorist bombs soon disrupts her quiet life, and after a unsettling encounter with a medium at a séance, Sophie begins to unravel a deadly plot that will not only affect her future, but the fate of her schoolmates, family, Scotland, and even the rest of Europe.

What would have happened if things had transpired differently? This age-old question is answered in this chilling and fast-paced novel that weaves a tale of what might have happened had one day in 1815 turned out differently. Set in a world that is at the same time technologically advanced and backward, The Explosionist is a thrilling journey full of mystery and suspense, with a careful balance of politics, science, and supernatural intrigue. Though the story starts off slightly confusing, Davidson's characters are perfectly crafted and her plot cleverly constructed, resulting in a haunting, tremendous novel that will attract readers of all ages.

The Guy Next Door by Carol Culver

Maggie's life took a nose dive after her parents' divorce. Forced to move out of the large mansion that she grew up in, Maggie and her mother now live in a small house in a decidedly less affluent neighborhood. None of their old friends talk to them, and they are always coming up short on money. Luckily for Maggie, she still attends exclusive Manderley Prep, and she's made a few new friends along the way. But she'd like nothing more than for Ethan, her childhood playmate and ex-neighbor, to notice her as a girl, and not think of her as the metal mouth tomboy she used to be. The perfect chance arrives in the shape of a class trip to Hawaii, but how will Maggie ever be able to afford it?

The Guy Next Door is a completely absorbing and unique read. Maggie is intelligent, grounded and self deprecating in an empathetic way. Her continued worries about money may rub some readers the wrong way, but they'll be happy to see as the plot goes along, Maggie comes to find that she can live a happy and fulfilling life without the deep pockets she had before. Returning readers of the BFF series will also be able to summon up a bit of righteous indignation as the headmaster of Manderley Prep continues to form the school to his expectations, causing chaos along the way. The Guy Next Door is the perfect froth of teenage angst, romance, rule breaking, and action that'll keep you reading to the very last page.

The Center of the Universe (Yep, That Would Be Me) by Anita Liberty (aka Suzanne Weber)

Anita Liberty is a teenager. And it sucks. She's subjected to her parents' craziness and other cruelties that the world saves especially for teenagers. Throughout her junior and senior years of high school Anita is put on a platform, given drama lessons, dumped by a French boy, dumps an egomaniac, and has a curse cast upon her, among other painful, embarrassing, and sometimes joyful things. Ah, the life of a teenager...

Told completely in hilarious, heartrending, and very candid poems, diary entries, and lists, The Center of the Universe (Yep, That Would Be Me) is a wonderfully fun and quirky cross between The Princess Diaries and The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. Anita Liberty is you, your best friend, that girl who sits next to you in English. Amazingly perceptive and full of wry humor, fun times, awful times, and many, many cute guys, this is one cool and edgy book that reaches out to teens and sends a message that is loud and clear: YOU'RE NOT ALONE!