The Compulsive Reader: May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Rose Hathaway has returned from Europe a little wiser, and bent on finding a way to restore Dimitri to his previous state, or destroy him in the process. But first she has to get through her guardian trials and graduation, and move to the Moroi court with Lissa, who refuses to let Rose disappear again. But now that the girls have left Sr. Vladimir’s, they have to face their uncertain futures: Dimitri wants to kill Rose, and Lissa is finding herself more involved in the twisted politics of court. And as the girls work together to bring about change that continues to bewilder the vampire world, they are acquiring enemies--dangerous ones that would go at great lengths to make sure that Rose won't reveal the secrets she has learned...by shutting her up permanently.

After the cruel cliff-hanger of an ending in Blood Promise, readers will want to tear through Spirit Bound. Picking up a few months after the previous book left off with the girls' graduation, this latest installment follows strong and fiery Rose as she soars through her trials. Though she seems to be physically invincible and a tremendously talented guardian, Rose grapples with a lot of doubt and uncertainty. Her less than stellar record might mean that she won't be able to become Lissa's guardian, and she still hasn't accepted the fact that Dimitri's soul may be lost forever. Add on top of that the confused jumble of feelings she has for Adrian and the tense political situation concerning the interactions between Moroi and dhampirs, and there is plenty of drama going on. Like always, Mead packs the pages with plenty of action scenes that will have you biting your nails and flipping the pages nervously. Readers will really be torn as Rose must make important decisions and faces heartache after heartache, getting herself into more trouble. Mead certainly raises the stakes in Spirit Bound and like before, will leave readers with a sudden ending that will have them squirming anxiously for a sequel and rooting for Rose.

Cover Comments: I'm not a huge fan of this cover, though I do like the title treatment and the gates on the front--it's a neat effect!

Review copy purchased.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

KJ lives in a small, small town near Yellowstone Park where ranching, hunting, and fishing are the town's livelihoods. But when the re-introduction of wolves into the park and surrounding areas threaten those practices, her life is surprisingly turned upside down, especially so when Virgil and his mother, a scientist who has run many studies on wolves, move into town. Rather unexpectedly, KJ finds herself becoming friends with Virgil and becoming an advocate for the wolves through her column in the school newspaper, Wolf Notes. But soon the heat and frustration of the townspeople finds her and KJ learns that there is always another side to anything, and that some things are worth fighting for, despite what anyone else may think.

Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me is not, as some have speculated, another werewolf book. What it is, however, is a fascinating and unique take on small town life with all of its loyalties and quirks, and how this community in particular reacts and divides when faced with the re-introduction of wolves in Yellowstone Park. KJ is a laid-back and sarcastic narrator, and her humor keeps the book entertaining even while the book drags slightly, and in darker situations as KJ is faced with malice from upset and belligerent citizens and must decide whether to stand up for what she believes in or back down as many would like her to.

KJ’s mother died when she was a toddler, and she lives with her father, who is straightforward and bit gruff at times, and their relationship is something interesting to observe. There is a lot of tension between them as KJ chafes against his tight hold, and her father bounces back and forth between being overprotective and letting KJ flounder to find her own way. KJ is also grappling with her feelings for Virgil: both are attracted to each other, but it hard for them to truly connect due to of all the animosity they face from the town, their parents' dislike for each other, and their own misunderstandings.

KJ's attempts at dealing with both her father and Virgil definitely stirs up drama, but each relationship is portrayed pretty realistically, and readers will be just as eager to see how Chandler leaves KJ and her father and KJ and Virgil as they will be to discover how the book is resolved and the fate of the wolves. Chandler doesn't delude readers with any perfect, magical solutions, but shows that through hard work and passion, amazing things can be accomplished. Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me is a humorous, well-researched, and thoughtful debut that even manages to be quite suspenseful and thrilling.

Cover Comments: I think this is a pretty cool cover--I love how abstract it is, with the font of the title and the image cut outs appearing at odd angles. It's a really neat effect. I am also liking the cool blue color of the background, and the way the girl's hair is blowing. It's very fun!

This book is available now!

ARC received from publisher.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

When eighteen-year-old Abby Goodwin finds Jefferson Andrews, the town's golden boy with some darker secrets underneath his perfect facade, dead in a ravine while on her morning run, and her sister Maya's phone not far from his body, she knows that the situation looks grim, but she also knows Maya wouldn't have killed anyone. Used to protecting Maya her entire life, Abby knows she must get Maya out of town and throw the attention away from her. But protecting Maya from a possible murder charge isn't the same as protecting her from nasty gossip or making excuses for her consistenty bad behavior to their parents. Keeping the police off of Maya's tail (and her own) will prove harder than Abby originally thought, and then of course the most important question still lingers: who really killed Jefferson Andrews?

The Deadly Sister is a fascinating examination of sisterhood, loyalty, and how far one person will go to cover up a vicious crime. Abby is a hard character to make out though: it's obvious to the reader that she is fiercely loyal to her sister in all that she does to protect her, but the reader doesn't get into her feelings and motivations toward Maya until the end of the book, and by then many readers may have already dropped The Deadly Sister in confusion. Similarly, the true feelings of Abby and Maya's parents may befuddle readers. They're lawyers and seem to be truly invested in doing the right thing, but oftentimes say or do things that go against their characters that only confuse the reader and aren't really explained in the end.

However, Schrefer's novel is certainly intriguing and convoluted as Abby peels back the layers of Jefferson's life and discovers secrets pertaining to him all around her. There is no shortage of leads, clues, and suspects, and with each new chapter, readers will have a new theory. However, the more astute reader will easily pick up on the clues pointing to the real killer, and many will guess who the killer is long before the reveal, which lessens the drama, and leaves only one question left: will the killer get away with it? Though interesting and multi-faceted, The Deadly Sister just doesn't pack as much punch as other YA thrillers out there, such as Anna Jarzab’s All Unquiet Things.

Cover Comments: This cover certainly grabs your attention! I like it a lot, and how the yellow tape in incorporated into the title display. It also seems morbidly fitting seeing as the scene depicted is similar to the setting in which Abby finds Jefferson's body, though the brightness of the colors make it seem less serious somehow.

This book is now available!

ARC received from publisher.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner

One year ago, Haley's mother disappeared without a trace while on a trip to Iceland with Haley’s geologist father. Impatient with her father's seeming willingness to give up on the search, Haley compels him to take her to Iceland, where she plans to launch her own search. But she's not there long when she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about the circumstances of her mother's disappearance, and is sent on a dangerous magical exploration with a boy named Ari, toying with a spell that spans generations and a power that could destroy the world.

Thief Eyes is an intriguing and detailed novel that combines magic, romance and the actual myths and legends of Iceland to create a very accessible tale that teen readers will enjoy and even learn from. There are many elements of Nordic legends, combined with the family drama that Haley and her father must work through, in Thief Eyes to make this novel busy and appealing, and the pages go by quickly. At times it does seem as though Simner moves a little too quickly for readers to keep up, and the introduction of the mythical beings is sudden and a tad bit unexpected. Still, Thief Eyes is a unique and absorbing novel that might remind readers of Ice by Sarah Beth Durst, and combines the appeal of centuries old legends and the practical issues and problems of life now to make a dramatic and entertaining novel.

Cover Comments: This is a really pretty cover--I like how the blue and white looks like snow and ice, and besides looking really cool, the coin on the cover is also significant in the story. Very cool!

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Waiting for Strange Fate

So, I was browsing Borders.com, looking to order Strange Fate, the final book in L.J. Smith's Night World series because I remembered that it was supposed to come out this April. But, much to my chagrin, I discovered that it looks like the release date was pushed back--to May 2011! Bummer!

I started reading the Night World books two years ago, when the first three novels were re-released into one big volume. You can read my review here. What I like about these books in a nutshell: they are all their own stories, but they're interconnected and related, and they are also very diverse. Whether you are a fan of vampires, werewolves, guardian angels, ghosts, witches, soul mates finding each other through reincarnation--whatever--the Night World series has got you covered. (Read my review of Volume 2 here, and Volume 3 here.)

I'm eager to see how L.J. Smith ends it all with Strange Fate, and it shall be hard to wait--but well worth it, I'm sure. If you're an impatient fan like me though, check out this neat trailer for the series!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Space Saver!

I have a problem.

Besides having more books than I could possibly read (thank goodness I have libraries to donate the surplus to!), I don't have much space. Every spare inch of wall space has been used for shelves, and I am still running out of room--stacks of books are all over the place! So I've decided that the next step is this:

A hanging corner shelf! Very convenient when you don't have much wall or floor space! CSN, a great online store that has bathroom vanities, office furniture, kitchen supplies, and more. They've offered me another bookcase, and since I am so short on space, this one seems like the perfect choice!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Short Stories

If you are a writer out there, check out Jaclyn Dolamore's (author of Magic Under Glass!) great blog post about what makes a good short story! It's pretty interesting!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Claire has never been very close to her mother. Marie's busy work schedule that requires her to travel has always kept her away, leaving Claire with an au pair, Lisbeth. But now that she's sixteen, Claire thinks she's old enough to be left alone a bit more, and is hoping to find freedom in a car of her own and perhaps a date with cute Matthew Engle.

Instead, her party is cut short by a spotting of a malicious werewolf, and Marie divulges a shocking secret: she and Claire are a part of an ancient line of werewolves themselves. Now besides worrying about friends and her new relationship with Matthew, Claire must deal with becoming something that everyone in her community misunderstands and hates, help her pack find the rogue werewolf who is hunting humans, and stay away from the man who is leading the hunt against the werewolves, Dr. Engle--who just happens to be Matthew's dad.

Claire de Lune is an interesting werewolf tale, with strong themes of loyalty and acceptance and a dash of romance to liven things up. Though there isn't always a lot of action, which made the book rather slow at times, Claire's struggles with learning to accept who she is and keeping her identity from Matthew, Lisbeth, and her friends provides plenty of drama and angst. Claire's relationship with her mother was well composed, as both mother and daughter struggle with communicating and trusting each other, and Claire attempts to find answers and guidance with another member of the pack, which frustrates Marie.

The novel is punctuated with a few short chapters from the point of view of the rogue werewolf as she stalks her prey, which creates enough suspense to keep the book from dragging too much. Though some may finds the climax predictable, the ending has some nice action and twists, and Johnson concludes the book nicely. For the YA supernatural enthusiast, Claire de Lune is a great summer read with a sweet romance and just enough thrills.

Cover Comments: I like this cover, the title font is delicate and feminine, and I like the model used. The way the moon is obscured by the clouds is really neat as well--very pretty!

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Iron King Giveaway!


Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Learn more here!

See the book trailer:

And read an excerpt:

And now...the contest!

Treat the faery creature in you to something magical and mysterious with a $25 Visa Gift Card and a copy of The Iron King!

To enter, fill out the form below!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Gemma is just an ordinary English teen, waiting for her flight in the Bangkok airport with her parents while on vacation. When she steps away from them for a moment to buy a coffee, she meets Ty. He's charming and handsome, and he buys and drugs her drink before whisking her away. When she comes to, Gemma finds herself in small house in the harsh Australian desert, alone with Ty. It's then that she discovers that he has been watching her for years, and stole her away so that they can live together away from anyone else. He expects her to love him. Gemma is devastated, but as days and weeks slip away, along with any hope of escape or rescue, and Gemma comes to know and understand Ty, the lines between enemy and friend become less tangible.

Stolen is an intense and complex novel that explores the gray areas between two extremes, forcing you to think. The novel is written in the form of a letter from Gemma to Ty, recalling her experiences, which is an intimate technique that really puts the reader in Gemma's shoes and reveals all of her thoughts and convoluted feelings as she wrestles with curiosity and fear, but also portrays Ty in an interesting light. Along with Gemma, readers come to realize how damaged Ty is psychologically, but his caring and even noble sides are also revealed, which will invoke nearly as much sympathy and concern for him as the despise and disgust ignited when he stole Gemma away.

The setting of Stolen is described with breathtaking beauty and desolation, and its characteristics and the many things that Gemma experiences while in the desert--catching the camel, for instance--all serve as a fascinating extended metaphor for Gemma's time spent with Ty. Christopher's depiction of the desert is vivid, and will certainly haunt you.

Christopher does build quite a bit of suspense throughout Stolen, which will have readers wondering how the letter's end will find Gemma, and what her emotional state will be when she finally signs her name. She is an incredibly strong and capable heroine, and by the end she has grown impressively as a person, and she grapples with the fact that once you have truly understood someone and their motivations, it is difficult to condemn them. Stolen is a remarkable and stirring novel that blurs the lines between right and wrong, love and hate, and freedom and captivity--it is a truly impressive debut.

Cover Comments: I love this cover--so simple, and beautiful, but the colors used hint at its darker undertones. It is perfect.

ARC received from publisher.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Alcott or Faux-cott?

With all the classics/monster mash-ups out there, is it any surprise that Louisa May Alcott's Little Women has been re-worked not once, but twice? Little Vampire Women and Little Women and Werewolves both came out this month, and John Matteson, Alcott's biographer, has come up with a little game called Alcott or Faux-cott? that might throw you.

Here's how it works: read each of the ten passages below, and then see if you can tell which one was written by Alcott herself, and which passage was taken from Little Vampire Women or Little Women and Werewolves. The answers will be at the bottom of the post!

1) Nothing human ever wore a look like that of the ghastly, hollow-eyed pale-lipped countenance below the hood. All saw it and held their breath as it slowly raised a shadowy arm.”

2) Restless mind and lawless will, now imprisoned in a helpless body, preyed on each other like wild creatures caged, finding it impossible to escape, and as impossible to submit.”

3) She advanced upon one of the women and thrust her to the ground, where she ripped off the bodice of her dress and one of her breasts with one efficient bite. The other woman screamed, and the men stood in a shocked stupor.”

4) [She] knew nothing till, with a stifled cry, her lover started, swayed backward form her arms, and dyeing her garments with his blood, fell at her feet, stabbed through the heart.”

5) She...tasted his fear, a salty thing with a desperate edge, and heard a sob. Someone was crying, either the man or the woman, and pleading for mercy.

6) With a ferocious slam of the door, she was off, a predator in the night hunting for justice, for even if the victims she found were innocent of the crimes committed against her, they were still guilty of something.

7) For an hour she sat so, sometimes lifting the glass to her lips as if the fiery draught warmed her cold blood; and once she half uncovered her breast to eye with a terrible glance the scar of a newly healed wound. At last she rose and crept to bed, like one worn out with weariness and mental pain.”

8) The gazes of hunter and prey were locked, and Mr. Davis could not look away from the gleaming golden eyes.

9) My one hope died then, and I resolved to kill myself rather than endure this life another month; for now it grew clear to me that they believed me mad, and death of the body was far more preferable than that of the mind.”

10) Oh, what am I doing? I am mad, for I, too, have taken hasheesh.”

How did you do? Are you surprised at the results?

As you can see, Alcott was pretty imaginative herself. I think she might have been amused at the parodies of her most famous work. Has anyone read any of her other works beside Little Women? I've only read Little Women and Rose in Bloom.

Happy reading!

The answers:

1) Alcott, "The Abbot's Ghost
2) Alcott, "A Modern Mephistopheles"
3) Faux-cott, "Little Women and Werewolves"
4) Alcott, "V.V."
5) Faux-cott, "Little Vampire Women"
6) Faux-cott, "Little Vampire Women"
7) Alcott, "Behind a Mask"
8) Faux-cott, "Little Women and Werewolves"
9) Alcott, "A Whisper in the Dark"
10) Alcott, "Perilous Play"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nancy Drew 80th Anniversary Giveaway!

Happy 80th Birthday, Nancy Drew!

I don't know about you, but for me it's hard to believe that the Nancy Drew books have been around for only eighty years. She has become such an iconic figure in children's literature, and even if you haven't read any of the Nancy Drew books, it's safe to say that most people know the name.

This month, we're commemorating the 80th anniversary of the release of the first Nancy Drew book by giving away a Nancy Drew prize pack, thanks to the generosity of Simon and Schuster!

The prize pack includes these awesome items:

  • The Secret of the Old Clock 80th Anniversary Limited Edition
  • THQ's Nancy Drew: The Model Mysteries for Nintendo DS
  • Nancy Drew: Warnings at Waverly Academy PC Adventure Game
  • Nancy Drew Silhouette Pewter Charm
  • Nancy Drew Girl Detective: Secret Sabotage

All you have to do to enter is fill out this form:

The contest will run until May 31st, 2010!

Want more Nancy Drew? Visit NancyDrewDetective.com, or click here to become a fan on Facebook!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Best and Hardest Thing by Pat Brisson

Molly Biden is sick of being the perfect, dependable girl. She wants to be impulsive and outgoing and she wants to be noticed--especially by handsome and aloof Grady Dillon. So she devises a plan to nab his attention and re-create her image. But even as her plan seems to be working, Molly can't help but have a few doubts. And then Grady turns out to be far different than what she thought, and Molly is left alone and pregnant. Now she must gather her courage, figure out what she needs to do, and face her future.

The Best and Hardest Thing is a solid, quick-paced book told in verse. The poems are mainly free-verse, but there is a wide variation in the styles that Brisson employs. Molly is quite a dynamic character; in the beginning, she just wants to be someone more exciting and different, but she slowly loses control over her life changes when her best and only friend moves away, and she is left without a parent or friend to confide in. Brisson portrays the passing of months well, as Molly moves from shock to denial, and finally takes the momentous steps toward acceptance. Molly learns to become strong and independent, her experiences culminating in the best and hardest decision she'll ever make. And as Molly grows, so do the poems telling her story: the most beautiful ones are at the very end of the book. Though it was very short and didn't contain much character development outside of Molly herself, The Best and Hardest Thing is an emotional and lyrical book.

Cover Comments: I like the colors used in this cover, and how the title is displayed. It's simple, yet very pretty and eye-catching.

This book will be available tomorrow, May 13th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders and her friends think that they may have finally found a safe haven with Andrew, who has rejected everything the Edison Group works for and has connections to other supernaturals who feel the same way. But Chloe, Tori, Simon, and Derek are nothing if not cautious, and they don't entirely trust these adults, who are afraid of what their genetically modified powers are capable of. As the four dig deeper and deeper into the mysteries of their abilities and the politics concerning their well-being, they'll find some chilling secrets and shocking revelations that will force them to realize that there is only one way out this danger...if they can survive long enough.

The main focus of this final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy seems to be the question of trust. Who can Chloe trust among her friends, who can they trust out of all of the adults supposedly taking care of them, and most importantly, do the trust each other enough to work together and find a safe place? The story can get a bit convoluted as loyalties continue to shift, and surprise after surprise is revealed, but one thing that really keeps the book grounded in Chloe’s relationship with Derek, with all of its believable and relatable tension, attractions, and frustration. It's not overly complicated, but it is realistic and well drawn out.

As with the previous books, plenty of action is packed between the pages, leading up to the final showdown, which is a bit dragged out, but nonetheless dramatic and exciting as Chloe, Tori, Simon, and Derek must face hard choices (Chloe especially flirts with danger) and work under pressure to figure out a way to escape. The story wraps up in a satisfactory manner in that all old grudges and issues are resolved, but Armstrong leaves the group's future wide open. Luckily for readers, Armstrong has a new series coming out, beginning with The Gathering and with new characters, which will allow readers to remain in Chloe's world a little while longer. Overall, The Reckoning is a very fine finish to a thrilling trilogy.

Cover Comments: Again, I like the style of the covers in this trilogy. Very glamorous, very mysterious. It's pretty, and eye-catching, and it shows just enough of the face, but still lets the necklace be the focus. Nice.

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Ever since the murder of her father, Jill Jekel has been doing her best to keep her life--and her mother's--together. But when she discovers that before he died, her father not only was involved with some shady dealings, but stole her college savings as well, Jill is forced to enter into a science competition with the mysterious and withdrawn Tristen Hyde in the hopes of winning a scholarship. She and Tristen break the rules to set up a dangerous experiment: recreate the potion described in the famous book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jill may be in on in for the scholarship money, but for Tristen, this could be his cure to a family curse that reaches back generations...to the original Mr. Hyde. This experiment will put both Tristen and Jill in danger, and they'll have to fight against the powerful rush of simply being bad.

Jekel Loves Hyde is a potent mix of romance, thrills, and danger. Fantaskey's concept is a very creative and unique one that draws upon the suspense and mystery of a classic story, but doesn't require prior knowledge of the original Jekyll and Hyde story in order for this book to be enjoyed. Fantaskey's liberal use of foreshadowing makes this book very dramatic and suspenseful and the alternating points of view will have you adding up clues and guessing up until the end. Fantaskey doesn't go into too much detail when it comes to the actual chemistry bits of the book, and she makes sure that formulating the experiment and creating the potion come rather easy to the pair. The main focus is the psychological drama unfolding as Tristen fights the darkness inside him and Jill attempts to avoid it and find answers. Jill is a strong and dogged character and a good heroine, and Tristen is appropriately enigmatic, and oftentimes a bit stiff and formal (Fantaskey's excuse for this is that Tristen is British), but they have interesting chemistry themselves.

The ending is tense and dramatic, and blurs the lines between good and bad, making you wonder what exactly happened, how each character truly ended up, and whether the bad parts in them are just a part of their natures, or something more sinister. Despite the fact that the novel seemed overly dramatic, Jekel Loves Hyde is a dark, dangerous, and romantic read with plenty of twists and turns, in which every character harbors a secret.

Cover Comments: I like how this cover is dark with the green chemistry equipment added in. I think the position that the models are in is a little funky--it looks like an outtake from a vampire cover shoot, to be honest, but it is what I imagined when I thought of the characters. Not a bad cover at all!

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Win a Glass Slipper from The Cinderella Society!

You all remember that fabulous book The Cinderella Society, by Kay Cassidy, right?

Well, this week, Kay donated a mini glass slipper to give away to one lucky reader!

Go ahead and enter below, or even better, pick up a copy of The Cinderella Society! You won't be sorry, I promise!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

After the Kiss Giveaway

Today is the release day for Terra Elan McVoy's After the Kiss! I just adored Terra's first book, Pure! (Which, by the way, is now available in paperback!) Both of her books are really great ones that you'll want to pass long to all of your friends!

To celebrate the release, Terra was kind enough to answer some of my questions, and thanks to Simon and Schuster, you'll have the chance to win copies of After the Kiss--one for you, and one for a friend!

About After the Kiss:

Becca is just another high school senior, counting down the days to graduation and college and passing her time with her boyfriend Alec, the one guy that truly gets her. Camille has been dragged across the country and back again multiple times thanks to her father's job, and she's miserable in her new Atlanta home. Thoughts of her old home in Chicago—and the boy she left behind—won’t stop haunting her. Camille doesn't know Becca, but she gets to know Alec...and when they share a kiss that Becca's best friend witnesses, neither Becca nor Camille will ever be the same again.

Terra Elan McVoy's striking second novel examines the power of one kiss and its many ramifications. After the Kiss alternates between the points of view of the two characters: Becca's perspective is told in many lovely, inventive, and diverse poems that are fun to read and showcase McVoy's talent nicely, while Camille's portions of the story are more emotionally grabbing. They are in second person, and she lacks capital letters. This style is unusual, but it embodies Camille's confusion and her detachment as a coping mechanism perfectly.

Though the girls have very few physical encounters throughout the book, their stories flow together seamlessly. Becca's new job, which forces her apart from Alec, helps her mature and the experiences she faces help her to obtain the confidence she needs to talk openly with her mother and plan for her future. In a world where everything is interchangeable--homes, schools, friends--Camille wanders around without any sort of purpose, but she finally learns to open up to others and slowly comes to the realization that goodbye for now doesn't necessarily mean goodbye forever. Each girl's journey is entertaining and profound, and the best part is that McVoy doesn't force you to take sides. Instead, she demonstrates that people are never what they appear to be, despite their actions and what little information you may know about them.

After the Kiss isn't so much about romance and Alec as it is about growing up and all the problems and triumphs that come with that process: figuring out your own problems, coming up with the appropriate solutions, and making peace with others. This is an extraordinary novel about letting go and holding on that you won't easily forget.

Cover Comments: Though this cover gives you the impression that the book will be lighter and more romantic than it really is, I love it! The pink on blue is very pretty, and I like the how the candy hearts and the title all gravitate toward the bottom of the cover. It's a very fresh, neat effect!

Here's Terra!

TCR: How did the idea for After the Kiss evolve? Did you know from the very beginning that you wanted to write a novel in verse?

TEM: After I was finished with Pure, I got antsy to start something else but didn’t know quite what to focus on. I was talking with my editor, and she was tossing out some ideas she’d thought I might be interested in, and one idea was a novel in verse. She had some other ideas too (including something involving a love triangle), but that verse thing stuck with me, since my background is in poetry. So, about a half hour later I was suddenly bubbling with this idea of writing a book from three different perspectives, using three types of poetry to distinguish the voices. I got up, started writing things out right away (which to me is a sign the book’s going to happen). Things got modified a bit, but that’s where the book came from!

TCR: After having published a novel in verse and one in prose (Pure), is there a style you prefer, or does it depend on the story?

TEM: I think it really does depend on the story, and the characters. I’m not sure all tales can be well told in verse, because it’s a very interior and character-centric format. And, to me, because Becca and Camille are so strong and distinct, I feel like it might be hard to write another novel in verse any time soon, without duplicating their voices. So, while I really, really enjoyed this format a lot, I may be sticking to prose for a little while.

TCR: After the Kiss alternates between the points of view of Becca and Camille; did you enjoy writing from one character's perspective more than another's?

TEM: It was really fun playing between both of them. I would write for Becca for awhile, and then would need to get Camille caught up to where we were, and that was neat, going back and forth between their brains. The girls are such perfect foils for each other—one is strong where the other is weak, and vice versa, so there was this constant feeling of balance for me. Camille was a little harder to get to know (which I thought was funny, because that’s her personality in the book), but I like both girls so much that it was really a pleasant experience!

TCR: What are your writing essentials?

TEM: I’m fairly easy, really. I do most of my generating on my laptop, but I do also do a lot of pre-writing and freewriting in notebooks. I have to have a lot of structural background planning, too. Like, for Pure I had to figure out the girls’ school schedules and write out a calendar of when things happened for whom, when Morgan had dance practice and things like that. Same with After the Kiss—there’s a lot of sort of logistical stuff I have to have for myself so that everything makes sense. At home while I write I play music, of course (for After the Kiss I listened to a lot of Neko Case), and usually have some water nearby, but I don’t have any special chair requirements or anything like that.

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

TEM: I’m actually really behind on my reading right now, which is a total shame for me! But I am reading How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, which I’m enjoying a lot, and I thought John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson was just perfectly delightful. Adrienne Vrettos’ The Exile of Gigi Lane is also hilarious, and a book everyone should be really excited about is Accomplice, by Eireann Corrigan, which is coming out in August—it is so astonishingly good.

TCR: What can we look forward to next from you?

TEM: Haha. How did you know there was another project in the works? I do have a book I’m working on for 2011, but I’m not really talking about it yet, because not even my editor has seen it! I just hope people will enjoy reading After the Kiss for now, and will let me know what they think!

Thanks, Terra!

Now...contest! All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below, and tell me who you would give a second copy of After the Kiss to! Your best friend? Sister, cousin? Let me know, and you'll be entered to win! This contest will run through May 21st, 2010!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready: Read It and Win It!

Aura is a part of the first generation born after the Shift, which gave everyone born into the world the ability to see and speak with ghosts. She's never liked her ability, but can't deny being curious about what caused the Shift to occur, and harbors hopes that one day it can be undone. But when her boyfriend Logan dies unexpectedly and Aura is beside herself. Her ability is the only thing that gives her comfort, and allows her to still communicate with Logan. Then she meets Zachary, a mysterious boy with more than a few secrets that Aura is dying to know about, and together they find that their pasts have far too many common factors to be written off as coincidence...bringing Aura closer than she can imagine to the truth about the Shift.

Shade is an unconventional and tension-filled read. Smith-Ready's fascinating world in which everyone under the age of seventeen can see and hear ghosts will draw readers in, and Aura's strong voice and her conflicting feelings over Logan and Zachary will have them falling in love with Shade. The concept of the Shift is inventive and perhaps the most appealing aspect of the book, though Aura's personable and realistic voice is very well written, from her anguish over Logan's death and her intense curiosity over the truth about the Shift to her growing feelings for Zachary. Smith-Ready steadily builds suspense throughout the book as Zachary and Aura search for answers and confront the obstacles that stand in their way. However, partway through the book, it feels as if the momentum of their search is thrown off track as Aura becomes involved in finding a way to help Logan move on to the afterlife. This detour is not completely unwelcome though; plenty of romantic tension is built, Aura must face some tough decisions, and evens appear to develop some interesting new abilities in her pursuit to keep Logan from turning shade.

Shade has a very open ending that demands a sequel, in which we hopefully will learn more about Aura's past, the specifics of turning "shade", and how she and Zachary and Logan are involved in the Shift. Shade is a smart, and even at times philosophical, paranormal read that is as thrilling as it is romantic.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot. Purple and red are a striking combination, and I love the red ribbon. The cover is the perfect balance between beautiful and ominous.

Shade will be available tomorrow, May 4th!

ARC received from publisher.

Thanks to the generosity of Simon and Schuster, I will be giving away five copies of Shade! All you have to do is fill out the form below! This contest will run until May 17th, 2010!

Also, in case you missed it, don't forget to check out the fabulous trailer!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Swag Pack Giveaway!

Hey everyone,

It's time for another swag pack drawing! Each month, I'll pick one lucky winner who will receive a big envelope of miscellaneous bookish swag I've accumulated. Posters, bookmarks, postcards, stickers, pins, etc.!

Plus, this month I have a signed Linger bookmark from Maggie Stiefvater to include!

All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Isabel is the Shifter, a legendary mystical being who can take many forms and is sworn to protect the king of Samorna and his family. But every so often, she leaves court to reside in Mistwood, the mysterious woods that are her origin, until her aid is needed in Samorna once more. When the young king Rokan comes to Isabel in Mistwood, she follows him back to court...but this time is different. She can't remember who she is, how her powers work, or the circumstances that drove her away from court ten years ago. As the weeks slip by, it's glaringly obvious that something terrible happened, and in remembering the truth, Isabel will have to test her loyalty and discover who she truly is.

Mistwood is a thoughtful and suspenseful novel with plenty of mystery that will keep readers guessing. The concept of the Shifter and her duties is a clever and interesting one, and though it would have been nice to learn more about the legends surrounding Isabel past and existence, the story is entertaining as Cypess slowly reveals who and what Isabel is and what her abilities are throughout the book. Isabel herself is a complex and dynamic character, and her grapple with her identity and loyalty is what makes Mistwood so absorbing. King Rokan is a good supporting character as well; his determination and earnest nature are admirable, and will win readers over quickly, but the sly and duplicitous nature of his sister Clarisse will have them on the edge of their seats.

The story takes places mainly in the royal palace, and the plot has a lot to do with the politics of the land and the royal family, and not actually Samorna itself, which makes this fictional world seem a little underdeveloped, and Cypess glosses over many aspects in the story. However, the constantly shifting powers and the mystery regarding Isabel's lost memories easily keeps the plot moving and the reader entertained. Mistwood winds down with a few surprising twists and a conclusion that will leave everyone content. This is an engaging and imaginative debut.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot! Truth be told, I like any covers in which there is a castle on it, and the image of the woman with the unnatural eyes is very good! I think this is a pretty cover without being too soft. Very nice!

ARC received from publisher.