The Compulsive Reader: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx by Elaine Showalter

This article first appeared in the Big Rapids Pioneer in March 2010 to celebrate National Women's History Month.

Women have always been writing, even before our nation was created, but it is only until now that one woman has endeavored to chronicle the history of women writers--essayists, novelists, playwrights, poets, and more--in America. A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, written by Elaine Showalter, a professor emerita at Princeton University, is the the first book of its kind. Its title is aptly taken from the short story by early twentieth century writer Susan Glaspell, about two women who conceal evidence of another woman's crime, appointing themselves a jury of her peers, and protecting her from "the patriarchal system of the Law."

The theme of judgment throughout this book is present, but not overpowering. A Jury of Her Peers is quite readable and fascinating as Showalter explores not only the works, but also the lives, of the many women who have in some way taken part in shaping our culture and our country, and how they are all interrelated. Showalter's canon is expansive and diverse, and she writes as much about the lesser-known women as much as she does of Dickinson, Cather, Alcott, and the like. In fact, it is her insights on those names not often heard that make the book most fascinating, and some of the best essays are about Susanna Rowson and Julia Ward Howe.

Though, as the title implies, the book is focused on writers, Showalter's work touches upon a broad range of subjects: literature, performing arts, political activism, and the mundane tasks of every day life. This is an excellent, powerful, and well-researched source for knowledge and insight on how woman through the ages have lived. It is thought-provoking and will leave you with a long list of books to read and a strong urge to visit the library.

But despite being a celebration of women writers, and one would even argue, women's history, perhaps the best part about A Jury of Her Peers is that she illustrates through her many biographies, excerpts, and anecdotes that despite the fact that society views these individuals first as women and not writers, solely being a woman is not what makes these writers or their works so great. Showalter gives the hundreds of women she writes about what many of them searched for but could not accomplish: a voice of their own and the recognition they deserve for playing such an integral role in our history.

For Keeps by Natasha Friend

Josie Gardner lives with her single mother Kate, who gave birth to her when she was only sixteen. Josie and Kate are close, more like sisters than mother and daughter, and Josie is used to her mother avoiding people from her high school and acting like a teenager herself at times. But then one night, Kate spots the parents of Paul Tucci, Josie's father, and she unravels. Paul has never contacted Kate or Josie since he moved to Arizona with his family before Josie was born, but now with his parents back, both Kate and Josie know it's only a matter of time before Paul shows up as well.

For Keeps is a sweet, eclectic, and meaningful read. Readers who also fans of the TV show Gilmore Girls will see a lot of similarities between the two. Josie is a smart and responsible character, making her an easy to relate to character and someone the reader can look up to. The cast of supporting characters are dynamic and fun (especially Josie's quirky best friend, Liv), and the perfect pacing and humor on every page balances out the rather serious subjects of teenage pregnancy and Josie and Kate's feelings toward Paul's absence for over sixteen years.

In addition to her family issues, Josie also has to grapple with Liv’s crazy (and sometimes reckless) actions, and her budding romance with her crush/semi-boyfriend Matt, which is light and cute, but it seems to take a back seat to all of the family drama once it starts to really unfold, and then pop up again at the end. Nonetheless, For Keeps is well-plotted and keep busy enough to keep readers entertained without ever seeming boring. Fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will enjoy this book with about atoning for past mistakes and missed connection, and, most importantly, new beginnings.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot. It's sweet and bright, and seems to capture the mood of the book perfectly. Very nice!

For Keeps will be available on April 6th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Stephenie Meyer Novella

Okay, you Stephenie Meyer fans: Publisher's Weekly announced this morning that Stephenie Meyer will be publishing a novella titled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Bree Tanner is, if you remember, a minor character in Eclipse.

The novella will hit shelves on June 5th, and part of the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross. In addition, the novella will also be available for free online from June 7th to July 5th. You can go to the official website at breetanner.com!

So, what do you think? Are you excited? Not so much? Will you buy it, borrow it, or read it online?

Read the PW article here.

Cathy's Book App

One of the very first books I reviewed here on The Compulsive Reader was Cathy's Book--a very interactive mystery told in journal format, accompanied by an envelope of clues and evidence--notes, napkins, maps, newspaper articles, documents, drawings, you name it! There were phone numbers to call, and websites to visit, and it was awesome! Since then, there have been two sequels, Cathy's Key and Cathy's Ring, written in the same style.

Well, Cathy's Book came out more than two years ago, and since then, an Apple app (for iPhone and iPod Touch) has been developed to go along with the stories! Awesome, huh? Check out this video to learn more!

You can also learn more at cathysbook.com! I hope you check out these books--they're really unique and quite unlike anything I've ever seen before!

Morpheus Road: The Light Trailer!

I think this trailer for the book Morpheus Road: The Light by DJ MacHale is really well done! What do you think?

Click here to check out my review!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Gabry has lived her entire life behind the Barrier of Vista, a small protected town by the ocean, along with her mother, Mary. She's always followed the rules and played it safe, too terrified of the Mudo to even think about going over the Barrier. But then one night a group of teens, including her best friend's brother Catcher (whom Gabry has always liked), sneak out over the Barrier…with tragic consequences. Propelled by guilt and a sense of duty, Gabry is forced to push aside her fears and venture once more past the Barrier. There she meets Elias, a mysterious young man traveling outside of the protected areas, and their friendship will lead her to surprising discoveries that will forever alter her life.

Carrie Ryan's latest zombie book is, like its prequel The Forest of Hands and Teeth, just as thrilling and adventurous as it is pensive and philosophical. Picking up twenty-some years after the heart-pounding conclusion of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Ryan reveals another sliver of the world overrun by relentless zombies, called Mudo. Readers learn of a loose government and a string of protected towns, guarded by Recruiters, an army whose job it is to protect the people, and recapture land and supplies from the Mudo. Gabry's world is quite sheltered--she only knows about the outside from stories told by her mother and other adults, and so much of the story is about how she gathers up the courage to venture out into the unknown, trusting those she doesn't know, and learning from the past to try and create a better future, sometimes at a great cost.

The Dead-Tossed Waves is very well paced as well. Ryan keeps readers on edge, wondering what will happen next and where the characters will go, and there is always plenty of action. Gabry's feelings about the two young men in her life are always changing as well, which provides for romantic tension and drama to keep the novel from being overly dark. Once again, Ryan has written an elegant, high-stakes, and utterly fascinating novel that will keep readers rapt.

Cover Comments: This is a very beautiful cover--it's tempting and very eye-catching. I am not a big fan of the font of the title--it seems as if there should be something more elegant on the cover. Over all though, I think the cover fits the mood of the book very well.

Review copy purchased.

Check out my post about Carrie Ryan's book signing for her The Dead-Tossed Waves tour!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson has been Tiny Cooper's best friend since elementary school. Tiny is, according to Will, "the world's largest person who is really, really gay" and constantly falling in and out of love—and dragging Will with him everywhere. When his latest attempt to hook Will up with a girl fails, Will meets Will Grayson, another teen who is depressed and discouraged. Both Wills make an effort not to feel too much in life, but are changed after meeting, and continue to change as Tiny puts on his extravagant and fabulous autobiographical musical, “Tiny Dancer”, culminating in an unforgettable and powerful night.

John Green and David Levithan have created a very unique, surprising, and downright hilarious novel. The book is told in alternating chapters, and it's very easy to distinguish which point of view each author is writing from. Their characters are so different, but at the same time the book is very cohesive and engaging. Green's Will is a lot like some of his previous characters: funny, self-deprecating, and a bit nerdy and self conscious, but he is a terrific friend and an honest person. Levithan's Will is a bit darker. He is lonely and depressed, and it's evident throughout most of the book that he is hurting and doesn't know how to be himself, or even be happy. Each Will possesses his own authentic voice, and the chapters flow seamless together, playing off each other well with Tiny as a good (albeit a little self-centered) central character.

The plot is complex, and the change in each Will may be gradual as each one sorts out their own myriad of problems and issues, but the journey is funny, rough, and best of all, smart (for example, Schrondinger's cat is used as an extended metaphor throughout much of the book). Will Grayson, Will Grayson is brilliant and intelligent read about love, appreciation, and feeling with an unflinching and bold style that many teens will appreciate.

Cover Comments: I really like this cover! It is very fitting that since there is a musical in the book there is a spotlight on the cover, and the perspective is different. The font is also pretty cool--I like how some of the letters of the title run into each other. This is just a really excellent cover!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson will be available on April 6th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Bleeding Violet begins with Hanna Jarvenin’s arrival to Portero, Texas in search of a mother she's never met, and talking to a hallucination of her dead father. Decked out in nothing but purple from head to toe and accompanied by a pharmacy's worth of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, Hanna is certain that she's the weirdest thing Portero has ever seen...but she soon learns that she isn't, not by a long shot.

She and her mother, who is less than enthused to see her, arrange an agreement: if Hanna isn't fitting in by the end of two weeks, she has to leave. Hanna's determined to stay, but finding her place in a town full of spirits, monsters, and distrusting people may be harder than she ever thought.

Bleeding Violet is a truly weird and creepy novel. Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sunnydale. Portero is overrun with monsters and evil supernatural beings that are bent on harming its unperturbed human inhabitants, and are held back only by the Mortmaine, an unfeeling society of demon hunters with their own agenda. This fact is a bit unclear at first as Hanna isn't necessarily the most trustworthy narrator; between her delusions, mental health issues, and history of violence, it’s sometimes hard to tell if what she is seeing is a figment of her unbalanced mind, or just one of Portero’s quirks.

Nonetheless, Hanna is a fascinating character. She is both desperate to be needed and loved by her mother and unable to act appropriately in high school social circles, but at the same time very confident and courageous when it comes to talking to guys and facing monsters. Readers may not be able to fully trust or like her, but Hanna is strong and engaging, and goes after what she wants. She often brags about her sexual experience, but it felt as though that the chemistry between her and Wyatt, the apprentice demon-fighter she sets her sights on, wasn’t anything extraordinary. Despite these details, Bleeding Violet is a highly unique paranormal read that keeps you in edge with its bold and unpredictable plot twists and dangers, and mature teens will like Hanna's stark and unforgettable voice.

Cover Comments: I really like the purple and the model used on the cover! It's all very mystical and beautiful. I am not a huge fan of the font that the tagline and author's name is in, but that's just a minor detail. All in all, a very nice package!

Review copy received from Amazon Vine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Beautiful Darkness Cover and Description!

Beautiful Darkness, sequel to Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, now has a cover and description!

"Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems."

Sounds exciting, right? I am eager for another long, sultry, and mysterious read! And I am loving this cover! I don;t think I like it as much as I like the BC cover, but I like the blue and the stars, and the unique font is artwork in and of itself!

All About Crescendo!

For you fans of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick...look what I found! An official summary for Crescendo, the sequel!

"Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy, Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.

The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?"

I can't wait! How about you guys?

Interview with Jaclyn Dolamore!

I have Jaclyn Dolamore on the blog today, answering a few of my questions. Jaclyn is the author of Magic Under Glass, which has gotten a lot of attention lately!

TCR: I love the concept of a fairy trapped in the automaton; where did that idea stem from?

JD: Originally, the automaton was not a stiff doll that played the piano. The love interest was just a guy, a normal guy on the outside, who happened to be clockwork on the inside. I've written tons of stories in my life about animated dolls and robots and things like that, so it wasn't really a new idea for me. But the idea of having him trapped came from a book I was reading about "The Turk", a chess playing automaton from the 18th century. It was a huge hoax for a long time because no one could figure out how he played chess (and won!). It turned out there was a guy concealed inside the cabinet where the automaton sat, in a terribly clever way, but it took so long to figure it out, and it made me wonder... what if there had not been a physical person in there, but an intelligence to the automaton?

TCR: I really enjoyed the different cultures you created in Nim's world. Were they hard to create, and will we be learning more about her world?

JD: My next two books will be set in the same world, so yes! I've always been fascinated by other cultures. At any given time I'm always reading about some other place; right now I have my nose in a book about the culture of Thailand, with books about Native Americans and 1920s Germany in the queue. I love travel (not that I've done much), other foods, world music, the customs of other places, the clothes... all of it! When I write a book, I can't help but think globally... I just hope I do justice to the cultures from which I draw inspiration.

TCR: What are you writing now?

JD: I'm working on MAGIC UNDER STONE, the sequel!

TCR: If you could have any magical ability, what would it be and why?

JD: I've always wanted to be able to fly. Of course, it wouldn't be AS much fun if I didn't live in a world where flying was acceptable. But I have a lot of dreams where I can fly and in the dream I'm always so happy I remember how, but I'm worried it will be taken away again. I wake up very sad from these dreams. =(

TCR: Have you read any good books lately you'd like to recommend to your readers?

JD: I'm on a Mitford kick! I'm almost done rereading Nancy's novels Love in a Cold Climate and In Pursuit of Love, and starting on the autobiographical Hons and Rebels, by Jessica Mitford. They are so witty, I adore them.

Thanks so much, Jaclyn! Magic Under Glass is amazing, so be sure to buy it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cover Talk: Another Series Makeover

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but do you all remember my series makeover post? Well, I found another series that has undergone a makeover (and no, the second book isn't even out yet).

The Hollow by Jessica Verday is a spooky, Washington Irving-inspired book, and though the cover was not my favorite, I thought it was pretty cool. Check it out:

Nice, memorable, dark. Well, the sequel, The Haunted, is coming coming out this fall, and the cover, while similar to the one above, is a bit different, and the paperback edition of The Hollow seems to have gotten a new look as well.

Honestly though, I think I like this change a bit better. The cover model for the hardcover cover looked a little too severe, but this is nice. I like the colors used a lot! I am most certainly looking forward to The Hollow paperback, which I'll probably end up buying, and I am eager to learn more about Abby in The Haunted.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monster Throwdown Event

So, for those of you who caught my post last week about the monster-classic mash-ups, here is a fun little follow up to a question I posed: how do you think that the authors of the classics being parodied would feel about these books?

Here is an event, happening in NYC, with the authors of two Louise May Alcott mash-ups, and an expert on Alcott!

A discussion of vampires, werewolves and Louisa May Alcott
moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner John Matteson
on May 6th at Symphony Space

Lynn Messina, coauthor of Little Vampire Women (HarperTeen), and Porter Grand, coauthor of Little Women and Werewolves (Random House), sit down with John Matteson, author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (W.W. Norton), which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography on May 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street).

The evening will be introduced by Ron Hogan, of Beatrice.com, the well-known literary blog, which is presenting the event. The discussion will explore their mash-ups of Alcott’s classic, Little Women. Both authors will address the challenges they faced reworking the text. Alcott’s own work, published under various pseudonyms, included many sensational elements such as spies, murderers, drug addicts and mummies, and Matteson will explore whether inserting vampires and werewolves into the beloved story would be truly anathema to the author.

In writing Little Vampire Women, Messina insists that she was just following Alcott’s lead. Messina says, “I found the inspiration for the book in chapter eleven, when malaprop-prone Amy calls her Aunt March ‘a regular samphire.’ ‘She means vampire,’ corrects Jo. I was absolutely stunned to see the word vampire in Little Women. I knew vampires weren’t a modern creation, but it still surprised me to realize that they were mainstream enough in the 1860s that Louisa May would drop it into a book.”

Grand, on Little Women and Werewolves says, “Bronson Alcott, Louisa May’s father, was a staunch vegetarian who forbade his family to eat meat and preached ‘without a flesh diet, there would be no blood-shedding war.’ The family obliged Bronson in this, as in all things, but once Louisa May’s writing put her in a position of financial comfort, she ate a great deal of meat. It is quite fitting then, that carnivorous werewolves have been added to the very novel which had put her in the situation to eat all the meat she craved.”

John Matteson says, "With a teenage daughter in the house, I have been alternately intrigued and scandalized by the vampires-in-literature craze. But Louisa May Alcott herself loved writing thrilling tales, and I think it's nice for people to know that Alcott fans can enjoy something more lurid and exciting than the proper folding of pocket handkerchiefs."

The event will be held at Peter Norton Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater on May 6 at 7:00 p.m. Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway (at 95th Street). Tickets are $10 and available through SymphonySpace.org.

Lynn Messina is the author of four novels, including the best-selling Fashionistas, which has been translated into 15 languages and is in development as a feature film. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied English Literature. She lives in New York City.

Porter Grand, a Cleveland native, holds an AS in liberal arts, a Bachelors degree and a Doctoral in Theology. She has worked, among other jobs, as a waitress, bartender, carnival barker, go-go dancer, shampoo girl, welfare caseworker and Reference Librarian, and now writes daily in her Huntsburg, Ohio, farmhouse.

John Matteson is a Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York. He is author of Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (W.W. Norton), which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He is currently at work on a biography of Margaret Fuller, also to be published by Norton.

Cover Talk: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Anna Godbersen is the author of the Luxe series, which features the rich elite from 1899-1900. The most memorable aspect about those books are the stunning covers, featuring the full, beautiful dresses from the time. I loved. it when a new cover was released so I could stare at those dresses!

I was really delighted to hear that Anna's next book would be set in the 1920's, which is such a cool age in history. I loved learning about it in school because as a historical fiction fan, it always seemed to me that writers would focus on the 19th century, and then skip ahead to the the 30's or 40's, but leave out the first 30 years of the 20th century. So Bright Young Things definitely was good news!

My only thought was...how could the cover for Bright Young Things possibly stand up to the Luxe covers? Well, I think HarperTeen did a pretty good job...

This cover just screams 1929! I love the swank and glamour, and the font is just perfect! So beautiful! It is very distinct, yet very obvious in which time period the book is set. I love it. October cannot come soon enough!

What do you think?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel by Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn't have any say in the matter when his mother sends him from Mexico to his older brother Alex in Boulder, Colorado. Carlos has already been displaced from his hometown of Chicago once before, and he wasn’t happy about it, so he intends to break as many rules as possible in Colorado.

Kiara Westford is the good girl; she doesn't get in trouble, and she's always willing to help out, but Carlos' attitude annoys her. When those with connections to a Mexican gang plant drugs in Carlos's possession, Kiara's father vouches for him, and he is forced to move in with her family and abide by their rules. But rebellious Carlos will find that the only thing harder than following the Westfords' rules is fighting his feelings for Kiara.

Fans of Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry will be happy to read this sequel, featuring Alex's younger brother, now seventeen and now every bit as rebellious and then some. Carlos has a devil-may-care attitude, and he is rough and determined to go his own way. Though the reader may not always agree with his decisions and thoughts, Elkeles does an excellent job at getting into his head and revealing what makes him tick. Kiara, on the other hand, is much sweeter and a little naive, but she is smart and she has guts. She's not quite as interesting of a character as Carlos, but is admirable nonetheless.

The danger in Rules of Attraction isn't quite as palpable and immediate as it was in Perfect Chemistry, but the bit of mystery surrounding it keeps you in suspense, though the action at the climax is tense and a bit unexpected. At its heart, this book is more about Carlos' gradual change of mind concerning his attitude and behavior as he falls in love with Kiara. He changes quite a bit as a character, which is gratifying to see, and the actual romance is steamy and naughty in just the right amount—an excellent mix of humor and rebellion. Like in Perfect Chemistry, Elkeles includes an epilogue set far in the future that is a little cheesy, but cute, that will leave readers with a happy feeling and hopes for a novel about the third Fuentes brother, Luis.

Cover Comments: This is such a cool cover! I like how the black, white, and pink theme is carried through to this book, but what is so cool about it is that the scene depicted actually happens in the book! Very neat!

Rules of Attraction will be released on April 13th, 2010!

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carrie Ryan Signing!

On Wednesday, I traveled to the lovely Schuler's Books and Music in Lansing, MI to see Carrie Ryan, author of the amazing zombie books The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and the newly released The Dead-Tossed Waves. I was really, really pleased to see the crowd that was already there when I get there a half hour early! The last few events I've been to haven't been that well attended, but this one was great! There had to have been at least fifty people there!

It was a pizza party, so we had pizza as we watched the trailer for The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and then Carrie came out and began talking about how she came to write such creepy books and her love for zombie entertainment. She was really funny and great, and the group had a lot of questions for her. She told us that there will be a third zombie book, called The Dark and Hollow Places (I just love her titles! They are a little hard to remember at first, but once you know them, they really stick with you. They're just as haunting as the books are!), and she did say she loved the cover for that one, so I'm looking forward to its unveiling.

She also talked a bit about some of her short stories. There are three anthologies coming out this year in which she has stories. One is the anthology sequel to The Eternal Kiss, in which there will be a story about a teenage Sister Tabitha (a character from The Forest of Hands and Teeth), and then another whose title I have forgotten, and then one in the much anticipated Zombies vs. Unicorns. (One of those stories will take place on an island in the Carribean!) So there is much to look forward from Carrie Ryan this year still!

Carrie also gave us the choice of a kissing scene or a zombie scene from The Dead-Tossed Waves for her to read aloud, and the choice was unanimously "ZOMBIES!" She left us hanging, and let me ever so thankful that I have a copy of the book to read as soon as I am through with Bleeding Violet!

Then we got our books signed, and Carrie very generously gave me some bookmarks and some fun "Eat. Prey. Love." stickers, so those will be dispersed here on the blog in future contests! It was such a fun time, and Carrie is the sweetest--just talking to her, you would never guess that she can write such creepy books!

If you are in Seattle or California, check out her tour schedule here to see if you can still catch her on the last leg of her tour! You definitely will not regret going!

Thanks also to Schuler's for putting on such a great event! This is the second time I've been to an event at one of their stores, and they put on some of the best. I am very impressed!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie

Violet's life has been peaceful and simple on her family's farm for most of her life, though she has always wondered about her future; who will she marry and what will he be like? Then one night a terrible storm brings and injured Prince Richard to Violet's farm. He's returning from traveling all around the land to find what his parents consider a true princess to marry, but when he and Violet see each other, they fall in love. Not willing to let Richard give up his crown for her, Violet travels to the royal palace to compete with scores of other princesses in a competition of sensitivity to win Richard's hand...and learns a thing or two about her own upbringing and destiny along the way.

This romantic retelling of "The Princess and the Pea" is sweet and clever. Debbie Viguie beefs up the story with a mystery concerning Violet's past, the unlikely competition between the princesses, and even a bit of political drama, which certainly makes this tale a bit more reasonable to the readers and also casts the king and queen in a more favorable light compared to the original taale. It also allows for the true strengths and qualities of the princesses to shine through, making them characters that readers can love, and allows the story a bit more depth. Although there really isn't any doubt in the reader's mind how the story will end, Viguie adds a bit of mystery to the plot by disguising the true meaning of the challenges the king and queen present, building up a little bit of suspense. Overall, Violet Eyes is a romantic and intelligent and entertaining read, perfect for readers of any age.

Cover Comments: This cover is cute, and it works with the story well. I like the different shades of purple! It is not the best cover in this series, but it is nice.

Review copy purchased.

Also, be sure to look for the next book in the series, The World Above by Cameron Dokey, this June! I am really excited for that one!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blog Tour: Merlin's Harp by Anne Compton

When I was yet a very young woman I threw my heart away. Ever since then I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, the way Humans think all Fey live.

Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and greed of man. But the strife of King Arthur's realm threatens even the peace of Avalon. And while Merlin the mage has been training Niviene as his apprentice, he now needs her help to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. Niviene's special talents must help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love...

You can read an excerpt below!

Merlin's Harp Chapter 1 Excerpt

Be sure to check out the official site here!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Carrie Ryan Signing!

If you are in the Lansing, MI area tonight, you should stop by Shuler Books and and Music at 6 PM for a pizza party with Carrie Ryan to celebrate her latest release! Carrie is the author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and its companion novel The Dead Tossed Waves.

I'll be there (with my The Body Finder tote bag!) so you should say hi! Here is the link to the event description on Shuler's site.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Interview with Amy Brecount White!

Amy Brecount White is the author of Forget-Her-Nots, which is a story about a girl with a special kind of magic when it comes to flowers. You can click here to read my review. Below is a short interview with Amy!

TCR: What got you interested in writing a book in which the meanings of flowers played an integral role?

ABW: When I was freelancing for newspapers and magazines, I was always on the lookout for original stories. So when I found out about the language through a beautiful book, I knew I had something. Plus, I’m a big time gardener. Flowers are so hopeful, too. They can brighten a room or someone’s face.

TCR: In Forget-Her-Nots, the love of flowers is passed down from generation to generation in Laurel's family. Is your interest in flowers something you share with any of your family members?

ABW: Definitely. My mom, both my sisters, and I all love gardening. We visit gardens and conservatories together. We share ideas about what to plant and what looks amazing in our own gardens. And we’re trying to pass that love on to our kids, too.

TCR: What sort of research did you do for your book?

ABW: I read lots of language of flowers books and online sites – there are many versions – and I even read a few academic books about the Victorians. I spent a day at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC reading about Shakespeare’s use of flowers. (Yes, that was my cell phone that they confiscated.) And anywhere I go, I check out the flowers and see if they have a scent. I do stop and smell the roses. Every season, I try out new flowers in my own garden too.

TCR: What was the hardest part about writing Forget-Her-Nots?

ABW: One of the hardest parts of writing a novel is getting the plot and pacing right, especially with YA novels. Adult readers are a little more tolerant of slow openings and digressions. YA writers have to draw readers right in and keep their attention. It’s a lot of work and revision.

TCR: The easiest?

ABW: I really enjoy writing descriptive passages and dialogue. And I loved being in the world of FHN whenever I wrote. I hope to revisit the world of Avondale in a companion novel one of these days.

TCR: Do you have a favorite flower (or flowers)?

ABW: I really do love all flowers – pansies, gardenias, lilies, and dogwood trees, especially. It’s so amazing for me to await the unfolding of each bloom. In my own garden, I try to have something blooming from February through November. Sometimes my camellia blooms in the winter, too, which makes me smile.

Thanks so much, Amy!

Now, keeping up with Amy's contest, I give you all purple tulips--they mean "royalty", so see what you can do with that! I chose them because I have a vase of purple tulips sitting on a bookshelf, and they are so pretty--they embody Spring!

Good luck!