The Compulsive Reader: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein

Albia is secretly the daughter of Macbeth, but thanks to a deformity at birth, she was taken away from Lady Macbeth and secretly sent to live with three mysterious sisters. There, she lives quietly, until disorder comes to Scotland and Macbeth wants to consult with these sisters to learn his fortune. Albia is sent away and she falls in love her father's opponent...and discovers strange powers. She must make a choice--become involved, or ignore what she foresees.

Lady Macbeth's Daughter is a riveting, interesting, and very entertaining story that is complex, yet is seamlessly aligned with William Shakespeare's Macbeth. Albia is a strong, likable heroine, and her story and voice are compelling. Klein's writing is very detailed, and the novel develops between two points of view, Albia's and occasionally Lady Macbeth's. There is a lot of character growth as Albia matures and learns the truth about her parents and their natures, and also grapples with her feelings for Fleance. Though the romance was not especially deep or memorable, it was sweet.

Klein's novel is very clever and one can't help but admire her for the way she builds her characters, each event in the book somehow shaping and forming who they are and how the act. Her character development and more in depth examination of these characters may be interesting for some, as Shakespeare oftentimes leaves his character motivations vague and undefined. After reading this story, readers may come away with a better understanding of each character and the story of Macbeth. This is a very insightful, remarkable read.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover, I think it is attractive without being too busy, and the sunlight on the model's hair is a very neat look. This isn't extremely remarkable, but it suits the book nicely.

Interview with Lisa Klein:

What inspired you to "add to" the original tales of William Shakespeare?

I've long had this kind of "hero worship" of Shakespeare. He is one person I'd like to meet in the afterlife. Or I'd like to time travel to Elizabethan London and follow him around, go to all his plays. My own rewriting of Shakespeare's stories is an effort to understand and participate in his creativity. But being a woman born in the twentieth century, my focus and purpose differ. I want to retell the play from the perspective of female characters that I don't think Shakespeare understood very well--or cared all that much about, except as they set off his tragic heroes.

What sort of research went into writing Lady Macbeth's Daughter and Ophelia?

For Ophelia, which I set in the late 16th century, I relied on what I already knew, since my PhD was in English Renaissance literature. But I also had to research herbal cures, the architecture of castles, convent life, and so on. Plus, I studied Hamlet backward and forward, so I could understand how Ophelia's story would fit in, and where it would depart. Because Lady Macbeth's Daughter was set at the actual time Macbeth lived (1000 years ago!), it was harder to research, because there are no written records from that time. So I read what archaeologists and historians had uncovered, I studied the Highland folklore and folk ways (which remained unchanged for centuries). Most importantly, I traveled to Scotland and visited ruins of ancient forts and stone circles, and forests and bogs, which became key elements of the setting. When it come to Macbeth and the witches, an eerie, supernatural setting is everything!

Is it hard to stay true to the stories Shakespeare wrote and still tell your own story?

Good question! It's a challenge, but one that I enjoy. I respect Shakespeare so much that I don't want to change his plays just for the sake of making my story work. That feels like cheating. In Ophelia I wanted to show readers the possibility of her heroism and survival, in contrast to Hamlet's degeneration and death. In the case of Lady Macbeth's Daughter, I want readers to feel like my character Albia helps to explain the violent, tragic behavior of Macbeth and his wife. My two novels are by no means retellings, but Shakespeare is very much the inspiration and foundation for them.

Are you planning on writing any more books similar to Ophelia and Lady Macbeth's Daughter?

Yes, but I think I'll move away from tragedy and try my hand at something lighter. Don't you agree?

Thanks, Lisa!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Amy Huntley Signing!

This blog post is very late in coming, but rather late than never, right? The Thursday before last, I went to Grand Rapids to meet my book buddy Sara (of The Hiding Spot!) for Amy Huntley's first ever book signing! Amy is a Michigan author, and her debut novel is The Everafter.

Amy talked about where she got her inspiration for the book, some feedback she's received from her students (she's a high school English teacher!), and read a really great, really funny bit from The Everafter about a very embarrassing situation her character was in. She did such a great job!

After that, Sara and I waited at the back of the line, chatting about books and such until it was our turn to talk to Amy. Amy was very gracious, and signed my books and a bookmark for Sara since Sara's copy of the book hadn't been delivered yet. We talked for a long time, and it was such great fun!

And then after THAT, Sara and I hung around the YA section for another hour or so, just going through the shelves and talking about the books we spotted. That was some great conversation, and we had tons of fun. I picked up Hush, Hush and read the slightly different ending that had replaced the one that I read in my ARC, and we even discovered a book or two we hadn't heard of before. It was really fun! Sara was incredibly patient with my short attention span and my ADD-like conversation changes. And my mom and her boyfriend were incredibly patient with us as we babbled about book after book after book...

Anyhoo, do pick up The Everafter! I loved it, and it is such a thoughtful, beautiful book!

DupliKate by Cherry Cheva

As the final weeks of her first semester of senior year approach, Kate can't help but feel majorly overwhelmed. In between trying to write a kick-butt college essay, finishing all of her last-minute work, preparing for exams, and trying to hang out with her friends and boyfriend, she hardly has time to sleep. And matters just worsen when she wakes up one morning to find her easy-going and excitable clone, ready to embrace Kate's social life. With so much on her plate, will an extra Kate make for less work...or just more trouble?

Cherry Cheva's second novel is as funny and enjoyable as her first, and at the same time it tackles an issue that many teens face: overloading themselves with so much work, they lose sight of their priorities. In many ways, Kate is a smart character; she's intelligent, ambitious, and she pushes herself to do well. Her pitfall is that she pushes too hard, to the point where she doesn't know what she wants. Her computer clone Rina does an excellent job in bringing out the best and the worst in Kate, and ultimately shows her what's most important in life, and a series of misadventures that go hand in hand with having a double make for many laughs. DupliKate is a humorous, hip, and engaging read that is not only fun and entertaining, but has a great, empowering message as well.

Cover Comments: This is a cool, very appropriate cover. Anything with purple really catches my eye, and I like how the girls aren't completely identical. The computer animated one fits within the context of the story, and the girls look modern, which will attract an audience now, but I fear may date the book three-five years from now. Nonetheless, it's a great cover!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

Music-loving Quinn is looking forward to spending a fun summer before college in Austin, Texas, the live-music capital. She's got an internship at a record label and a place to crash at her cousin's condo. But when she gets to Austin, not all is she expected: her cousin is a complete sorority girl, her internship is only one day a week, and Russ, the world's most annoying cowboy/frat guy will not leave her alone. One thing's for sure: this will be a memorable summer!

Melissa Walker's fun-filled and light novel is the perfect relaxing, summery read. Quinn is a very smart, confident character, but not too perfect, and Walker's large cast of unique and quirky supporting characters makes Lovestruck Summer quite memorable. Russ is a great male lead: annoying at first, but sweet and genuine, and reading about his and Quinn's misadventures is quite humorous. Walker makes Lovestruck Summer a smart but fun read about the ups and downs of romance with an engaging narrator that's easy to fall for. This book makes a great, budget-friendly pick-me-up.

Cover Comments: This cover is really fun (I love the bright colors used), but it's a bit misleading as it really doesn't have too much to do with the content of the book, which is more about music than anything. Nonetheless, it's a really beach-y one, and this is a great beach-y read.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Contest: Win a Copy of Girl in the Arena!

A couple of weeks ago, I read an amazing book called Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines, which tells the story of an alternate world in which the gladiator sport is wildly popular in the United States. You can click here to read my review, or here to visit the author's website for more information. If those two links haven't convinced you of this book's awesomeness, then this spectacular video will:

Thanks to the generosity of Bloomsbury, I have three copies to give away to readers...but first I want to know who you would cast as the characters of Lyn, Uber, and Mark. Those of you who haven't read the book but would like to win can still comment for a chance to win, but those of you who have a few actors in mind can comment below with them for extra entries! This contest will run through November 9th, US addresses only please.

So go ahead and comment! This book is very enjoyable and engrossing, and I hope you'll check it out!

P.S. Click here for the main character Lyn's playlist!

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey

Mulan is the daughter of Hua Wei, the greatest general of all of China. But unlike most honorable daughters with a good name, Mulan isn't very gentle or ladylike. Instead, she lives as simply as a servant in the country, where she hates learning embroidery and instead has convinced her neighbor and friend Li Po to teach her all he knows about fighting and reading and learning. But when the Huns threaten to strike China once more and the emperor demands that each family send one male, Mulan is determined to take her aging and injured father's place. But war isn't always a grand adventure, and having to disguise herself isn't always easy...

Wild Orchid is certainly one of the more enjoyable books in the Once Upon a Time series. Cameron Dokey's magical and lyrical storytelling never gets old, and she has taken an unusual and lesser-known tale and made it enthralling and entertaining. Mulan is a character that readers can respect and sympathize with: bold and strong, but sometimes she’s a confused girl who yearns for parental love. The novel moves quickly, making it an easy and enjoyable read, though it would have been interesting to have a lengthier story that delved deeper into the relationships between the characters, had a more developed romance, and more involved scenes when it came to Mulan’s time in the army. Nonetheless, this is an uncomplicated read that is about love and loyalty and friendship that is easy and enjoyable to read, and a nice departure from the norm.

Cover Comments: At first glance, this cover is really great; I like the colors and the blossoms in the background, and the clothes and the bow and arrow fit. But the girl in the photo looks more Caucasian than Chinese, which is a shame. I will admit, it irks me when the models on covers are so different from the characters they are supposed to represent, but I'm sure this cover will attract readers nonetheless.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Julia Hoban Signing!

Hey everyone,

Friday afternoon my mother and I headed down to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the signing Barnes and Noble was hosting for Julia Hoban, author of Willow! First off, my mom and I met Julia at Olive Garden for an early dinner, where Julia came with one of the coolest handbags ever (she designs her own bags, clothes, gloves, AND parasols, so she is always quite stylish!) and we talked about many books and authors (Charles Dickens, Bleak House, The Woman in White, The Importance of Being Earnest, and other assorted works by Oscar Wilde to be exact) before heading over to the Barnes and Noble.

This Barnes and Noble was brand new, and it honestly one of the largest bookstores I have ever been in. It was open and gorgeous and crowded with books, but sadly the staff was a little disorganized and we were unsure of where to go at first. We finally found our way up to the very large teen section where they had Julia set up and met up with Sara of The Hiding Spot. Unfortunately, she was the only other person who showed up at six! It was a little disappointing, but the weather was really nasty out, so that was most likely a reason.

We did hang around for a little while and Julia sold books to customers who were walking in and out of the store (she's a good saleswoman!) before she invited Sara, my mom and I back to her hotel room where she fed us a ridiculous (and wonderful!) amount of chocolate and we talked about Willow. She gave us a version of her speech and talked about the relationships in Willow, her reason for writing a story about healing, not about cutting, and talked about her writing process. She had me enthralled--I know for a fact that I learned more from her in those two hours about writing than I have in my entire Creative Writing class this whole semester. She really is an excellent and thoughtful speaker!

Overall, it was such an enjoyable night despite the fact that the event wasn't very well attended. However, if you live near Grand Rapids, if you head over to the BN in Woodland Mall, there are a bunch of signed copies of Willow for sale! And if you ever get the chance to hear Julia speak in the future, take advantage of it!

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures....my camera died on me, and I was frankly too busy talking to take pictures!

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets by Teens Famous and Obscure

I can't Keep My Own Secrets is the latest Six-Word Memoir book (which began with Not Quite What I Was Planning), written entirely by teens, famous and obscure.

If you've never picked up one of these books, they're really quite simple: the book is filled with "memoirs" that consist on only six words that range from sad to funny to heartbreaking and everything in between. This collection especially captures so many emotions, making you laugh and think and want to cry, all in the space of one page. Some memorable ones:

"Found out I had cancer. Damn."

"Hair's pink to piss you off."

"I resent people who ignore grammar." (I LOVE this one!)

"I never got my Hogwarts letter."

.....And so many more!

It's really easy to just flip through this book quickly and read all of the entries, but the best part is that there are so many of them, you can keep coming back to them every once in a while and feel like you're reading them for the first time. I'm just in awe of the talent and intelligence some of these teens possess, and it is always so much fun going through the memoirs. It's a book that will make you laugh, challenge some of your beliefs, and make you think, six words at a time.

And P.S., I actually have an entry in this as well (though I don't think mine is anywhere nearly as good as most of the ones in this book), which has its own little story behind it, but I won't tell you where it's at, you'll have to buy the book and see if you can't find it yourself!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Valerie Leftman's world comes crashing down the morning her boyfriend Nick open fires on students and teachers at their high school, killing six and wounding many, before shooting Valerie and killing himself. Val wakes up in the hospital to discover that Nick is dead and she has become the scapegoat.

Months later, Valerie returns to school, where her old friends ostracize her and practically no one trusts her. But it's better than being at home with her mother who hovers over her, scared that she's suicidal, or her silent father who believes that Val is a monster. But the one thing that Val has the hardest time getting over is what will haunt her the most—the fact that she helped create the Hate List of people that Nick chose his targets from.

Jennifer Brown's debut YA novel is complex, gripping, and highly emotional as Valerie must come to terms with her role in her school's shooting amidst atmosphere of hate and resentment. Brown does an excellent, excellent job at making Hate List as realistic as possible—from parent expectations to bullying in school, and the hostilities and frustrations that most teens experience firsthand. Not only that, but Hate List is a story of healing as Valerie tries to put her life back together and encounters many roadblocks in the form of hostile teens who blame her for what happened, a shaky family life, and her own fear. Her journey is portrayed realistically; she gets the help of an excellent therapist, but finds that he's not enough to heal her—she needs be brave and willing to take small steps to recovery, sometimes with unexpected outcomes and consequences.

Brown reveals all of this about Valerie and her life before and after the shooting by alternating points of view between what is happening in the present, Val's memories from before when she was just happy to be with Nick, and to the moments of the shooting, when everything changed. It's is an intricate layer of stories, told with feeling and suspense, making every moment gut-wrenching, not just those that occur during the shooting. Hate List is a powerful novel that is at once a reminder that every action has some sort of effect on someone else, and that there is hope after a tragedy, no matter how hurtful or impossible healing may seem. Jennifer Brown is an author to watch.

Cover Comments: I love this retro-feel to this cover and the colors used. I feel that it's appropriately solemn without looking completely depressing, and it just pops despite its dark colors.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coolest FIRE Widget Ever!

This is about the coolest widget I have ever laid my eyes on! If you are a fan of Fire and Graceling by Kristin Cashore, check it out!

Isn't that awesome? Who'd you all choose?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Writing Contest for Teens!

*Another* Another Faust Contest

Hi everyone, Daniel Nayeri here. Dina and I are about to kick off a month-long tour for our book, Another Faust, and we want to do it by announcing a contest! We are looking for the most promising writers out there (that’s YOU). And then we want to showcase their work, so that all of the Internet can bask in their awesome writing might (and, you know, give them prizes).


We want you to write your own short story, re-imagining of the Faustian Bargain. (For inspiration, check out Bedazzled, Simpsons “Tree House of Horrors IV,” and The Little Mermaid). It can be about anything you like (but let’s keep it PG-13, and under 3,000 words), and it’s open to everyone.

All you have to do is send your entry to dviergutz@gmail.com before January 31.

Rules and details can be found here:


Make sure to read them so you don’t get DQed!

And the winner gets all kinds of sweetness:

  • A signed copy of Another Faust
  • A handwritten deleted scene
  • A featured article & interview on our site
  • An author’s galley of the sequel Another Pan

Though we’ll feature the top five on our site for comments, the judging WON’T happen by popular vote (so basically, we don't care which contestant has the most friends). Dina and I will personally read them.

So, spread the word! Tweet, retweet, forward, thread, spread, embed this post.

Good luck!


Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

It's been a year since Lucca died, but one year is not nearly long enough for his girlfriend Brooklyn and his brother Nico to move on. They're both still trapped in a well of grief and despair, with Nico constantly turning to running to run away from the pain, and Brooklyn clinging to the past, writing letters to Lucca every day. But when another friend of Lucca's, Gabe, commits suicide, he begins haunting Brooklyn. At the same time, Nico is suddenly being haunted by his brother, who is urging him to reach out to Brooklyn.

Both Nico and Brooklyn are scared and hurt, but unless they can overcome the fear they've let rule them, they can't move on....and neither can Lucca or Gabe.

Chasing Brooklyn is a book about pain, grief, healing, and hope. The story starts one year after Lucca's death and finds Brooklyn and Nico still struggling with every day life, unable to just move on like nearly everyone around them. Their reactions to Gabe's death are very realistic, and not long after that is when the hauntings begin. The book focuses more on the changing, conflicting feelings of the protagonists as they sort through their grief and slowly begin to trust each other rather than the supernatural elements, though they do serve an integral role in the novel.

The free verse style the book is written in allows for more emotion and feeling to be poured into the story, which is nicely accented by the beautiful and vivid imagery that Schroeder employs. At the same time, Chasing Brooklyn has a very authentic teen voice, with references to popular bands and school and parties that make this story seem reachable and real. Many teens will be able to pull a lot of meaning out this book that they can apply not only to grief and death, but to nearly every situation in life, and that is to not let fear overcome you, but allow love to prevail. Chasing Brooklyn will suck readers in with its heartbreaking and yet empowering pull.

Cover Comments: I like the blues used in this cover, and the hands to the glass is just eerie enough for this ghost story, but what I focus on is the girl, and the expression on her face. This is a great cover, and I think it fits the story very well.

Chasing Brooklyn will be released from Simon Pulse on January 5th, 2010.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Glass by Ellen Hopkins

This book is the sequel to Crank by Ellen Hopkins. If you have not read it, some details in the review below may be spoilers.

Kristina managed to pull herself out of the horrible downward spiral of drugs and addiction when she found out she was pregnant. Now that she's had Hunter though, she chafes at the restrictions her family still imposes on her, and longs for a place of her own, a guy to love her...and the monster. She finds herself moving to glass, involved with some dangerous people, and falling in love all over again...but not without some serious consequences. Will she get in over her head?

Hopkins' second novel in verse about the troubled Kristina is compelling and heartbreaking at the same time. Kristina wants what most eighteen-year-olds do: independence, income of her own, a place of her own, and love. But how she goes about trying to achieve it is not the path many would take, and as she takes that first step towards the monster, readers can't help but hope for the best and be frustrated at her stupidity and thoughtlessness. The scariest aspect of Glass is how, as the story goes on and Kristina becomes even more hooked, it becomes increasingly apparent that there can be no happy, clean ending, and the struggles and dependence on drugs will always be a part of Kristina’s life. This is a gut-wrenching, dark read that reveals the power of true addiction and the pain and havoc it can wreak.

Cover Comments: I do like the grittiness of the cover, and how the title looks like it has been formed out of bits of glass. It's very appropriate to the story, eye-catching, and it goes along with the style of the prequel. Very nice.

Click here to read about when I met Ellen Hopkins!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Julia Hoban Book Signing!

Hey Michigan readers,

If you are in Michigan, please try and come to Grand Rapids Frinday night to see Julia Hoban (author of Willow) at Barnes and Noble! She's super sweet and her book is just simply amazing. Even if you haven't read it, you should still come and listen to Julia talk, and then perhaps pick up a signed copy to read (you'll seriously want to read this book, it's amazing!). Here are the details:

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Barnes and Noble
Woodland Mall
3195 Twenty Eighth Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

I hope to see you there!


Dark Secrets 1 by Elizabeth Chandler

I read this series when I was much younger, not long after the books initially came out, and it was a lot of fun to revisit the stories.

Dark Secrets 1 is comprised of two novels by Elizabeth Chandler, “Legacy of Lies” and “Don't Tell”. In “Legacy of Lies”, Megan is unceremoniously summoned to visit the grandmother she's never met, who cut her mother out of her life when she married a man of a different race and then adopted children. Megan's welcome is rather cool, from both her grandmother and her cousin Alex. When Grandmother starts behaving oddly and things turn up missing, Megan suspects that there are dark secrets that her grandmother is trying to cover up...but bringing them to light could prove to be fatal.

This story, while short, packs in a lot of suspense. Though it is slow at times, the unanswered questions and mild supernatural elements will keep readers hooked. There are a lot of paranormal mysteries in Legacy of Lies; ideas of ghosts and hauntings are intertwined with the concept of reincarnation that makes for an interesting plot. However, many characters' motivations sometimes don't make much sense, or aren't explained at all, and the ending is a bit rushed. Despite these facts, a satisfactory ending with some romantic elements will please readers.

“Don't Tell” tells the story of Lauren Brandt, whose childhood summers passed in bliss at her godmother's riverside home with her and her daughters until her mother drowns in the river the summer she's ten. She returns seven years later, ready to confront the past and reconnect with her old friends Holly and Nora. But she shocked to find that Nora is mentally ill and almost intimidating, and that many of the same things that happened to her mother that summer she died are happening to her, and Lauren fears that her mother might not have drowned by accident, and that she could be next.

“Don't Tell” is better developed than the previous story in that the mystery is more extensive and more surprising. Once again, supernatural elements are present in this story, making for a spooky, thrilling read as Lauren struggles to decipher their meaning and discover who is behind them, all the while finding herself stuck in a confusing love triangle. Like “Legacy of Lies”, some characters seemed distant and a little flat, but Don't Tell possesses a more dramatic ending that will satisfy readers.

Overall, these stories are entertaining if you are looking for a quick, engaging supernatural read with some light romance, and the two for one deal can't be beat!

Cover Comments: I like the simplicity of the cover, and the black with the multi-colored key is a neat, striking look. Though I'm not too crazy about the font, this cover works well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey

Growing up, Kai and Grace have always been close, but while Kai has always been more serious, Grace is free spirited and longs to see beyond the horizon. When the two find themselves on their own and Kai professes his love for Grace, Grace rejects his love in fear. Later that night, when the legendary Winter Child shows up, Kai goes with her willingly, leaving Grace behind.

Grace is shocked when Kai is missing, and filled with determination to find him. So she sets out on a journey across the countryside and the vast land of ice and snow to find Kai...but her journey soon becomes so much more than just a quest for a missing friend.

Winter’s Child, the latest book in the Once Upon a Time series, retells the lesser known fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. As always, Dokey fills the story with her magical style and vivid storytelling that makes her characters so engaging and the stories so intriguing. Told in twelve parts, Winter's Child is narrated from the point of view of all three main characters, Grace, Kai, and the Winter Child, making for a read that moves quickly and is never boring. The only complaint would be that the novel is too short. It might have been more entertaining if it had more details, or if the plot was slightly more complex. The romance in the story is very light, and each character ends with their own happily ever after, though there is little romance or courting leading up to the ending. Despite this, Winter's Child is an enjoyable book that will appeal to younger teens or older ones looking for a nice and sweet escape from every day life.

Cover Comments: As disappointed as I am that these books have gotten a new look and no longer wear Kinuko Y. Craft's beautiful artwork, I do admit that I like the new design and can recognize how it might appeal to more people. I like this cover's concept, though the girl looks a little too modern to belong on this particular cover, and she doesn't quite fit the Winter Child's description. But the title treatment is really nice, and the snowy landscape fits.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Testing the Ice Giveaway!

Testing the Ice is a great picture book by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and is a true story about Jackie Robinson.

About the Book:

In the early 1950s, legendary baseball hero Jackie Robinson literally "tested the ice" for his kids who so eagerly wanted to skate on the frozen lake near their home. Under Sharon Robinson's skillful authorship and Kadir Nelson's vivid illustrations, TESTING THE ICE also becomes a stunning metaphor for her father's remarkable racial breakthrough.

Click here to find the book on Amazon.

And here is the author video:

Okay, now on to the prizes:

One (1) winner will receive a TESTING THE ICE prize pack!

* Kidorable Hat, Glove & Scarf set (random styles – see attached image)
* copy of Testing the Ice

Four (4) additional winners will receive a copy of the book!

The Small Print:
Prizing is only available to United States mailing address only. (International readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail.)

All you have to do to be entered to win is leave a comment below! The contest ends November 5th! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Girl in the Arena Awesome-ness

Consider this a public service announcement. Don't bother reading my review of Girl in the Arena. Forget about all the gushing I did over it. It's trivial. Basically, everything I feel for this book is summed up in this video, which is beyond awesome. Just watch it. You're welcome.

Guys who performed in that video: You are infinitely amazing and Khy and I would like to marry you.

Now go pick up that book. Seriously.

And the Next Stop...

of the Chasing Brooklyn Chase Around the USA is....

Kelsey at The Book Scout!

Kelsey is in New Jersey!

Thanks to everyone who entered! If you didn't win, you still have a chance! Watch Kelsey's blog, and within the next two weeks she should be sending the book out to another person--it could be you!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hello everyone!

I just finished a lovely book called Chasing Brooklyn, Lisa Schroeder's latest book in verse. It was lovely and heartbreaking and all sorts of beautiful. I'll get my official review up soon, but for now, check out this drawing I did. It spells out "healing", because that is part of what this book is about--finding healing through the pain. I drew the letters of the word with flowers (or attempted to anyways, I have to confess, I am not a great artist), because in the book, Brooklyn's talent lies in photographing and then drawing flowers. I'm certain she does it better than I!

And now I'm ready to pass it on to the next person in tour...but first I have to figure out who that is! Read below for more details and for info on how you can be the next stop in the tour!

CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder will be released January 5, 2010. Due to publishers cutting back, ARCs are not as plentiful these days. BUT, Lisa has one ARC that she's sending out on a multi-state tour, and she will be trying to chase it down as it goes from reader to reader.

If you would like to read CHASING BROOKLYN, add your name to the comments below. One name will be randomly drawn 24 hours from the date and time of this blog post, and the winner will be contacted via e-mail (please leave your e-mail address in your comment). Not only will the winner get to read CHASING BROOKLYN before it hits the shelves, but each winner will receive a $10.00 gift card from the bookstore of his/her choice from Lisa. If Lisa guesses what state the winner lives in before the state is revealed to her, that amount doubles to $20.00!

Participants in the Chase Around the USA have 5 responsibilities. If you don’t think you can meet these responsibilities, please, PLEASE do NOT volunteer to be a part of the chase.

1) READ - CHASING BROOKLYN within 7 days of receiving it. If you can read it sooner, even better!

2) Take a photo of ONE word - about the book, to describe the book, something in the book that’s important, etc. How do you show us your word? Be creative! Write on paper, on a t-shirt, in the sand, on the wall, in cereal – the possibilities are endless! Please TRY TO INCLUDE THE ARC IN THE PHOTO SOMEHOW. The only requirement is that it cannot be something negative. Of course some people may not like the book. But Lisa plans to use these pictures in a special way when the chase is over, so positive is best. If you don’t like the book, simply pick a word that shares the tone of the book, describes a character, etc. (By participating in this contest, you agree to e-mail the photo to Lisa for her to use as she chooses.)

3) Post the ONE WORD photo on your blog - along with a picture of the CHASING BROOKLYN cover and these rules, and hold another contest just like this one, drawing a name within 24 hours of the blog post. Do what you can (tweet, facebook, etc) to point people to your blog about the contest.

4) Post a comment on Lisa Schroeder's blog - that you've held the contest and drawn the next blogger's name (without revealing the name) to receive the ARC. Lisa will then try to CHASE the ARC down by posting a guess on her blog of what state the ARC will go to next. Once Lisa's blog post goes up with the guess, the current holder of the ARC will post the new winner's name and the state he/she lives in on his/her blog. If Lisa guesses the correct state, the next recipient of the ARC receives a $20.00 gift card to the bookstore of his/her choice!!

5) Mail the ARC - to the winner IMMEDIATELY after receiving the winner's address, so the book can get into as many hands as possible. Lisa is hoping for at least 7-8 stops on the chase, but that will only happen if people get the book read and sent off quickly. Use the flat shipping rate envelopes at the post office for a low price and speedy delivery! Whoever has the book on the release date of 1/5 will mail the book back to Lisa. Please feel free to write notes in the ARC for Lisa to read when the book is returned to her.

At the end of chase across the USA, Lisa will draw three names from the bloggers who participated in the chase to receive FREE signed copies of one of her books - I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, FAR FROM YOU or CHASING BROOKLYN.

Finally, the blogger who has the most creative one word photo (judged by three teens in Lisa's neighborhood) gets a signed copy of FLASH BURNOUT by L.K. Madigan, a signed copy of LIPS TOUCH by Laini Taylor, and a copy of CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris.

Okay, it is 4:30 PM Eastern by my watch, so I will be picking a winner tomorrow, October 14th, 2009, at 4:30! Get commenting below (only US residents, please)!

Ready? Set? Go! Let the chase begin!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, With Illustrations by Jim Di-Bartolo

First kisses can be romantic, awkward, disastrous, funny...and in Laini Taylor's three stories, downright dangerous. Lips Touch: Three Times is imaginative and detailed, accompanied by gorgeous artwork that goes along with each story, full of romance and danger.

In “Goblin Fruit”, Kizzy is an out-of-place, wishful teen yearning for first love and for the perfect guy to kiss her. Only when a guy comes along, he's far from perfect...but can Kizzy see that in time?

“Spicy Little Curses Such as These” takes you to British occupied India and into the heart of hell with Anamique, a girl forced mute thanks to a curse laid upon her by a spiteful demon. But when true love comes along, Anamique questions whether or not the curse actually exists, and in doing so risks the lives of everyone she loves.

The final story, “Hatchling”, tells the tale of Mab and Esme, a mother and daughter on the run from a fearsome and cruel immortal race, the Druj, which has lost touch with humanity. But their fates are intertwined with the powerful Druj queen, making escape nearly impossible.

Taylor's stories are the perfect combination of danger and suspense, romance and a bit of the dark side. Though each one is short, they are affecting and vividly imagined, and their settings are diverse, from an average high school to the heart of India, and to a foreign, cold, and powerful kingdom. The characters are enticing, and their stories riveting and the endings aren't always happy or light, but they are unforgettable. These tales are reminiscent of original fairy tales--dark and sometimes a bit gruesome, but they don't fail to entertain, and will certainly stand out among other books of the same genre that are seeped with happy, blissful endings. Taylor's work is elegant, sophisticated, and dark, and I can only imagine how wonderful a full length YA novel from her would be.

Cover Comments: This cover is just gorgeous! I love the colors used and the style of the drawings! And the cover is just the beginning--the book is brimming with beautiful drawings that follow the stories. I also really like the color scheme of the cover, which is also reflected in the color of the fonts inside. This book is stunning inside and out.

And here is the book trailer!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amy Huntley Signing!

Hey everyone,

If you are a Michigan reader, you should know that Amy Huntley, author of the beautiful and thought-provoking book The Everafter, is going to be signing copies of her book in Grand Rapids this coming Thursday! Here are the details:

Book Signing: 7:00 pm
Schuler's Books
3165 Alpine Ave NW # C
Grand Rapids, MI 49544-8225
(616) 647-0999

I'll be there, along with my fellow bloggers Sara (thehidingspot.blogspot.com) and Laura (http://bedtimebooktalks.blogspot.com/), so come on by if you have the chance! Even if you haven't read The Everafter, it promises to be a fun time, and it's the perfect chance to pick up signed copy for when you do have a chance to read it. Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

FIRE Trailer and Contest News!

Hey all,

Check out this awesome trailer for Fire by Kristin Cashore! It makes me get tingly and excited for the book all over again!

Also, I've notified the winners of the Catching Fire contest! If you weren't a winner, please check out this month's new contest and the very awesome widget that goes along with it here. Good luck!

Hilarious Josh Lieb Video

Check out this hilarious and wacky video for Josh Lieb's new book I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President! It's totally worth the two or so minutes, I promise!

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Kristina was an average teen until the monster took hold of her. A visit to her estranged father the summer before her senior year of high school introduces her to the wrong guy, and he gets her hooked on crystal meth. When she's high, her alter-ego, Bree, takes control. She's everything that Kristina is not: promiscuous, rude, assertive—and powerful. After Kristina returns home, she finds herself in a battle for control between what's right and what the monster demands.

Ellen Hopkins' first book is one that will blow you away. Kristina is a character that you get to know intimately through the first person narrative in verse form, making her story quite absorbing and very easy to read. Hopkins tells Kristina's tale in a frank, direct way, leaving nothing out—from her lowest moment to how she feels when she is high and everything in between. Bree is an interesting element to the story, because rather than excuse Kristina's behavior, she magnifies that idea that once you become addicted, the most manipulative and desperate part of you is released, intent on finding that next fix.

Though this book focuses on some of the toughest issues facing society today, it is important and could be used as a tool to educate teens on the horrors of addiction and how easily things can spin out of control. This engrossing, horrifying, and painfully honest book will make you cringe, but also make you laugh with its surprising moments of humor, oftentimes dark, but mostly it'll have you hoping that against all odds, somehow Kristina will straighten up. You had better have Glass on hand for when you finish Crank, because you'll most definitely want it.

Cover Comments: I think this cover is very befitting of the starkness of this book. It's hard to tell in the picture, but in real life, the title is made out of lines of white powder, which is a subtle but affecting sight. This cover is perfect for the subject matter.

Click here for a chance to win Burned, another book by this author, and for the post about the Ellen Hopkins signing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Here!

It's finally here, Fire by Kristin Cashore! This is probably one of my favorite books of 2009, so please do check it out! In my opinion, it;s even better than Graceling!

Fire is an outcast in her society, her vibrant and unnatural hair color an indicator of her monster status and her dangerous powers of mind control. She's the only one left of her kind, and she resides far out in the country where she is safe from those who fear her and would harm her.

Meanwhile, King Nash is struggling to hold on to his kingdom as enemies from the north and south threaten to overthrow him. Both Nash and his brother Brigan distrust Fire for the havoc her father wreaked on the kingdom before his death, and Brigan would like nothing more than for Fire to be killed. But now, unless they find a way to resolve their differences and work together, they'll never win the impending war.

In this prequel to Graceling, Kristin Cashore has woven an intricate and brilliant tale that reveals a whole new world beyond Katsa's seven lands, full of fantastic creatures, strange powers, and a land teeming with political tension. For the most part, the characters in Fire are made more mature than Graceling's protagonists by the complexities of their past. Fire is a strong heroine, tough and fiercely independent, but loyal and kind through and through. She is genuinely thoughtful, and her concern for others stands out, especially as she struggles to reconcile her own nature and her father's actions with who she wishes to be.

The beginning of the book is slightly slow, but in no time at all it speeds up as Fire is launched out of her comfortable world and into an unknown and dangerous one. Cashore's plot is wonderfully complex and elaborate, but tight and solid. Fire also deals with many emotions--guilt, regret, fear, love, and empathy--in a very affecting way. Cashore is a master at using all of these elements to create a suspenseful, surprising, and totally engaging read. Though Fire is not a happy, warm book all of the time--it deals with death and violence and life's cruelties, but in a sensitive and optimistic manner, it has its moments of humor and romance. Cashore's talent for pulling off such an epic and engrossing read makes her one of the best YA fantasy writers since Tamora Pierce first introduced her character Alanna to the world. If readers weren't already in love with Cashore after reading Graceling, they will be after reading Fire.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hey New Yorkers! Awesome Event + Writing Opportunity!

Attention all tween girls in the NYC area! The Amanda Project is the first series that invites tween girls to become a part of the mystery and contribute their own stories and ideas! Come celebrate the publication of the first in the 8-book series - Invisible I - and launch of The Amanda Project!

Hear author Melissa Kantor read from the book and talk about writing collaborative fiction.

AND, in the spirit of Amanda, we're also taking submissions from tween girls who aspire to be writers! Send your latest piece of fiction (up to 500 words) to info@theamandaproject.com, and we'll pick a select group of writers to read at the event!

For more information:


Friday, October 2, 2009

Ellen Hopkins Signing!

Hey everyone,

Thursday night I took a little trip down to Portage, MI to see Ellen Hopkins at her signing at Barnes and Noble! I was super-excited because this was the first signing I had ever been to, and it was tons of fun! We arrived about a half hour early, and saw that the section they had set up for her was kinda of sad and small. I browsed the store for about fifteen minutes, and when I came back, it was standing room only! Ellen said it was her biggest turn out for her Michigan events so far! Yay!

Ellen then talked about her censorship issues in Oklahoma, and she discussed her inspiration for each of her characters in Tricks and read aloud a poem from each person's perspective. She also talked about how all of her other characters from her other books are based on people she's met, which was interesting (and sad and scary) to know that all of the books she writes are just that much more real.

Then we had a Q&A and Ellen did a great Twilight impression (it was right on the money, really) and made us all laugh, and then want to cry in the next minute (which is really the nature of her books). It was a great event!

Then, I got into the very back of the line where I met up with fellow blogger Sara, and we chatted up a storm as we waited to get our books signed. Then, we met blogger and ultra-awesome librarian Laura and stood around and gabbed for another hour and half! So much fun! We must connect at later signings!

All in all, a great first signing! Ellen Hopkins is an excellent speaker, so if you ever get the chance to see her in person, definitely take advantage of it!

Also...I got a little souvenir for you blog readers...a signed copy of BURNED! It's my favorite book by Ellen, and I'll be giving away the extra signed copy here on my blog. Just comment below and tell me which author you'd most like to meet and why and you'll be entered! Contest ends on October 31st!

Also, Michigan readers: stay tuned for some more cool event announcements!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Vampire's Assistant Giveaway!


In Theaters October 23rd!

Hey everyone,

The Vampire's Assistant is a cool new movie releasing late this month, based on the books by Darren Shan, and I am hosting a giveaway for some cool swag!


In theaters October 23rd

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, based on the popular series of books by Darren Shan, is a fantasy-adventure about a teenager who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires. Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.


THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT and Other Tales from the Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

Do you love to be scared? Then don't miss the terrifying adventure that begins when Darren and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the CIRQUE DU FREAK, a wonderfully bizarre and creepy freak show. Brace yourself for thrills and chills as the boys witness a parade of grotesque creatures and face their deepest fears by entering the darkest world of the vampire. In the blood-curdling tradition of Anne Rice and Stephen King, CIRQUE DU FREAK will have you shrieking for the next horror show!

Okay, now for the contest details!

Two (2) winners will receive:

* Cirque du Freak book Set (3 titles in one book)
* Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant Locker Mirror

The Small Print:

The Vampire’s Assistant giveaway is open to participants with a United States mailing address only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail.)

If you want more info about The Vampire's Assistant, visit the website here!

Also, check out this cool widget, which allows you to vote for your favorite saying that will be printed up on t-shirts! I like "There's a little freak in everyone" the best! You can also view the trailer in it below!

The contest will end on Friday, October 23rd! Just comment on this post to be entered to win. Anonymous commenters, please provide a way for me to get in tough with you!

Good luck, everyone!