Friday, December 30, 2011

SEERS by Heather Frost

For Kate Bennett, surviving the car wreck that killed her parents means big changes — and even bigger problems. As she begins to see auras and invisible people, Kate must learn to trust Patrick O'Donnell, a handsome Guardian, or risk her life being overrun with Demons. She soon realizes that both she and her heart are in big-time trouble.

 I could not put this book done. 
I love the take on auras and guardians.
I found myself rooting for Kate and Patrick. 
Good, clean, fast-paced book.
Everyone has a color surrounding them, telling of their emotion. Kate can see it. She can see happiness, jealousy, anger. (I think it's a great way to read a person. Think of the possibilities of helping a relationship! You don't have to wonder what the boy you like feels about you.)
Patrick is different (and gorgeous, of course). His aura is silver. That's it. It freaks Kate out and she wants nothing to do with the new kid. I was hooked, wanting to know if Kate and Patrick ever trusted each other or talked about their feelings for each other.
Soon enough, Kate finds out what she is and what Patrick is and that there is a whole other world creeping on right under our noses.
The characters were well written and their own. I liked the BFF's! 



Rating: PG13

V: fighting, demons, 
L: No
S: kisses


Liked: 
the romance
the auras


Disliked:
two random Patrick chapters





THANKS to NetGalley for the preview! I think I'll go buy it now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Savvy Saving by Melissa Jennings & Shelley King

Working to stretch your budget? With their expert coupon strategies, menu planning, and other household management skills, Stockpiling Moms are the answer! Straight from their award winning blog to your hands and home, they've compiled their best loved tips and tricks just for you. They know what it takes to live a frugal lifestyle within a budget, and now you can too!

Great book with lots of resources, websites, tips, ideas and secrets for couponing, food storage and stretching your budget.
This is a good book for starting off the new year and keeping your goals of doing better financially or getting your food storage stocked. While I'm not into major couponing I have found using them has helped me save $$, especially now that stores are doing double coupons. 
I use a weekly menu service that prints out my recipes and shopping list. I save a lot of time and money doing this.
These ladies have a blog that's worth reading also: stockpilingmoms.com.
The book was easy to read even though I had to reread certain sections a couple of times to get the idea for the best way to coupon. I looked up the sites the ladies mentioned, tried a few of their tricks and am  going to try and few ideas. I read this easily in one day. 
Anyone can benefit from this book!

Want to buy it? Here's a link.


Melissa Jennings and Shelly King, authors and award-winning bloggers, announce the release of their first book, Savvy Saving, to be released - January 10, 2012. Their book will be available online at BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com (available now) and at select retailers.

Authors of the award-winning blog "Stockpiling Moms," Jennings and King know what it takes to live a savvy lifestyle within a budget and are now sharing their best tips and strategies in their book, Savvy Saving. Their new book describes expert coupon strategies, menu planning, and other household management skills.

"Like saving money? Working to stretch your budget?" Melissa Jennings asks. "Since 2009, Shelly and I have blogged at StockpilingMoms.com, making it our mission to save money for our families and helping others do the same."

Readers will learn from the collective expertise of Jennings and King as they share tips for frugal living and teach how to build a stockpile and how to live a debt-free life.  "Around the new year, everyone wants to start saving money and eating healthy, but few ever do," says Jennings. "Our book has tips and tricks that can really help people achieve their goals."



The book blog tour calendar:



Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday



December



26 27  28 29 30 31
January Christy Monson/ Living Your MoMent/
The Tuckers Take Tennessee/
Keepin’ Up with LDS Bookstores/ Sweeter Than Taffy/ Coupon Beat/
It’s a Penpal World/
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Happy New Years! Krazy Book Lady/ Living Your MoMent/ Ebates/ Coupon Clutch/ Real Mom Kitchen/ Practical Frugality/ Coupon Magic Organizer/ Robyn’s Online World/ The Happy Wife/
8 9 10 11


Little Craft Nook/ Mojo Savings/ The Semi-Single Mom/ We Use Coupons/ Project Mom/


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Love Twelve Miles Long by Glenda Armand




First line:
"This was a special night."

Great story about Fredrick Douglas and his mother, both slaves on different plantations. His mother walked twelve miles to see her son. Each mile had a special meaning.
The beautiful pictures help convey the story.

Rating: PG
V: No
S: No
L: No

5 STARS


THANKS to NetGalley for letting me read it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure by Naomi C. Rose

Tashi loves listening to Popola, her grandfather, sing Tibetan chants to the click, click of his prayer beads. She also loves hearing Popola s stories about the village in Tibet where he grew up. But recently Popola has been sick, and Tashi is worried. One of the stories Tashi remembers tells how people in Popola s village use flowers to help themselves recover from illnesses. Will this healing tradition work in the United States, so far from Popola s village? Determined to help Popola get better, Tashi recruits family, friends, and neighbors in a grand effort to find out. Lyrically told and illustrated with impressionistic paintings, Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure shines a tender light on the universal bond between grandchild and grandparent. Readers of all ages are sure to be inspired by the gentle power of this story and its spirit of compassion and community.


First line:
"I love being with Popola while he sings Tibetan chants."

Beautiful story. Pretty pictures.


Popola is sick and his granddaughter wants to help him get better. Popola talks often of his Tibetan home and the cure of the flowers. She sets up a way to help him and in the process they make new friends.


Rating: G

4 1/2 STARS

THANKS to NetGalley for the preview!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Choose the Right by Kimiko Christensen Hammari

Crazy days mean no time to plan family nights. With Choose the Right, all your Family Home Evening lessons are done for a whole year, complete with activities, games, scriptures, songs, challenges, and a CD-Rom with printable handouts! Not only are the lessons fantastic but they correlate with the 2012 Primary topics and lessons. Spend quality time with your children as you make family night the best night!

Great Family Home Evening help! 
The lessons are easy to understand and teach. 
The activities are tied well to the lessons.
A challenge at the end of each lesson helps the family really learn what the lesson taught. 
Perfect for children and teaching how to Choose the Right. 
My kids love to teach FHE lessons so this is a great asset for my family.





Irena's Jars of Secrets by Marcia Vaughan

Irena Sendler saved thousands of Jewish children from extermination during WWII. I wish we all knew her amazing story.
Irena proves that one person can make a difference!
This is a beautiful picture book with a beautiful message to read out loud to your family.

First line:
"On a cold February day in 1910, a baby girl was born to a Catholic family in a small town near Warsaw, Poland."

Rating: PG
S: No
L: No
V: references to Gestapo soldiers and killing of Jews

4 1/2 STARS (only because there weren't enough pages to do Irena justice and now I want more about her)

THANKS for NetGalley for the copy I read. It's one that's worth buying for my personal library.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


First Line:
"Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom."


Wow. Good, clean, amazing story.
Loved so many details and lines from this book. For instance:
"Only faint lines and slight weariness around her eyes reveal that she is older than I, maybe late twenties." (p. 59). What a great way to tell age and give detail to a character.

Elisa is a fat princess. She can't understand why she was chosen by her God as the Bearer of the Godstone. Only one is chosen every hundred years. Why her? Why not her beautiful, bright sister? Elisa stuffs herself and her low self esteem. But every once in a while a little glimpse of the fire inside her shines. Her growth is subtle and beautiful and amazing.
Alejandro is a scared prince. Marrying to procure soldiers to help save his kingdom. But memories of a loved one's death causes him to freeze and become indecisive.
Ximena is an old but lethal nurse maid. Ximena is the bearers protector. Elisa has no idea she's trained in the fine art of death.
Every place Elisa travels or lives is rich in detail. I almost felt like I was there in the heat of the desert or the coolness of a palace or sitting next to a special someone.
Each character is unique and has a flaw/quirk/personality.
From beginning to end, I enjoyed the way Carson slipped words together into beautiful sentences and built paragraphs that created an amazing story.
Twists! There are many twists. If a princess can be fat and a prince scared, this story will surprise you with a few great twists.

Liked:
Everything??
Finished without a cliff hanger (why is this important? Keep reading)

Disliked:
IT'S A TRILOGY! And this is the first book! ARGH


Rating: PG 13 (rating for war and violence though not detailed)
V: yes but not graphic
L: None
S: kisses

5 STARS

25% test (p.106):
"...her hands rub up and down my arms with despearte relief are testament to something deeper.
My nurse.
"I'm sorry." I reach into my pocket for the second scone, and my fingertips brush the leather pouch. It feels so huge and bulky there, and I worry that Ximena will see its shape through the fabric. "I...um...brought you a scone."
She takes it from me, a soft smile curving thin lips. "Thank you." She turns and links a companionable arm in mine to exort me back.
Ximena is tall and sturday and strong. As we walk together, arm in arm, I lan my head against her shoulder, taking comfort in her solid familiarity. Later that night, when I am certain Ximena again sleeps,  creep out tot he balcony and buy my dead Godstones at the root of my potted palm tree."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Illustrated in black-and-white. This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked "Which," Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the "impossible" mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

First line:
There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself--not just sometimes, but always."


If you like words and playing on words, this is the book for you! Funny, clever, sensitive and never dull, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH is a great read. I laughed out loud several times, had to reread a few lines and paragraphs to catch the idea and enjoyed the story to the very end. 
Excellent book for elementary kids.


Liked: 
Pretty much everything
Drawings


Disliked:
Some longer passages
I admit I skimmed a few times


Rating: G


4 STARS

25% test (p.64):
Page 64 is an illustrated page. I do like this line from the next page:
"You can get in a lot of trouble mixing up words or just not knowing how to spell them."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies
.


First line:
"Aren't Fridays suppose to be good?"

Ohhh! Love the story!
Londan Lane suffered a traumtic event that affected her long term memory. Every morning at 4:33, her brain wipes clean and she starts over. Except for the fact she can see things from the future.
Thanks to a understanding, sympatheitc amother and friend and notes London writes to herself every night, she's able to have a almost normal day.
Then some hot guy moves in and shakes her world up (but she can't remember him in the morning).
Great tension, theme, romance and mystery all rolled up in one story.
Also a quick, clean read that's not fluff. AND! A stand alone book! Not part of a triology (someday I may have to eat my words about trilogies...).

A few favorite verses:
"Somehow, amid all the conflicting emotions, sleep grabs my hand and pulls me under."
"That's about the point when I felt myself being strapped onto a roller-coaster ride that I didn't stand in line for."


What I liked:
London
Luke
Mrs. Lane
Plot
Twists

What I disliked:
Only seeing Luke's family once
Not seeing the twist (I pride myself on catching the twists! Sixth sense? Yeah. Guessed it)!

Rating: PG 14
V: No
L: I can't remember any
S: kissing, make out (though not detailed)

5 STARS

25% test (p. 72):
"...something. Unsure how to respond, I look back until he is forced to return his eyes to the road. He continues.
"Then one day Dad showed up with flowers and begged Mom to take him back. Eventually, she did, and he took a job in Boston at a smaller firm and came home at five thirthy every night. it was like New York had never happened.
"It was all pretty weird, but that's my parents. Then one day they shock me with news that thy're having twins."
"Wow," I say when he's finished.
"I know, sorry. That was really long and boring," Luke says.
"No, not at all. It sounds like a  movie."
Luke laughs and says, "Oh, I'm sure we all have our movie dramas," in a way that makes me think he can see into my soul.
"What about your parents?" he asks casually.
"My  mom sells real estate," I say, eyes on the houses we're passing.
"What about your dad? What does he do?"
"I odn't know," I say quietly. Luke glances at me.
"Sorry for bringing it up," he says.
"It's no big deal," I lie. In truth, it's a very big deal, particularly today, but it's nothing I need to share with a potential boyfriend who seems to play no part in my future. I'm relieved when we reach Luke's house. Luke's very new, very large house.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Because sometimes you've got to think about more than your own safety! Sometimes you've got to think about the greater good! This is war!" — Harry Potter from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pg. 568)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin


Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.


First line:
"My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something."

Interesting plot. Great characters. Good dialogue. Loads of mystery/intrigue.
Mara has PTSD and hallucinations. Her family moves to another state to help her get a new start after her friends are killed.
Noah is the local newbie, bad boy from England. Mara wants to stop the hallucinations and reluctantly accepts Noah's offer to help. Mara makes one other friend at school, a boy named Jaime. He keeps Mara sane (if that's possible) and smiling (me too!). There are the typical cheerleader/jock bullies. The main one is a girl who likes/hates Noah but hates Mara more when they become an item.
I enjoyed the mystery and trying to figure out what was happening with Mara, her memories and her family.
I would've liked to understood more before the end of the book.
I want to read the next book but may not solely because of the language.

Liked:
The story
I was hooked, had to see how it ended
The cover
 Jaime

Didn't like:
Too many swear words
Confusion at the Mara's "abilities"
It's Book One
(you all know how I feel about reading trilogies that are all out yet.)


Rating: PG 17 (for language) max
S: No
L: Yes
V: No

3 STARS

25% test (p. 113):
""Thanks."
Aiden pushed past Jamie on his way out the door, slamming Jamie's shoulder into the door frame. Aiden turned before leaving the room.
"Don't you have a lawn you should be decorating?"
Jamie glared after him and rubbed his shoulder. "He needs a knife in the eye," he muttered, once Aiden was gone. "So. A-holes aside, how's your first week?"
Oh, you know. Saw a dead guy. Losing my mind. Same old. "Not too bad."
Jamie nodded. "Big change from your old school, is it?"
When he asked me that, a still frame of Rachel materialized in my brain. "Is it that obvious?"
"You've got public school written all over you."
"Uh, thanks?"
"Oh, that's a compliment. I've sat in class with these douches for most of my waking life. It's nothing to be proud of. Trust."
"Going to private school or going to Croyden?" I asked as we made our way to his locker.
"From what I've heard from friends at other schools, I believe this level of a**hattery is unique to Croyden. Take Anna, for example, She's only a few IQ points above a corpse, and yet she sullies out Algebra II class with her stupidity."
I decided not to mention that I was probably just a confounded by the homework as she was.
"The amount your parents donate is directly proportional..."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

In this chilling beginning to The Wolves Chronicles, two little cousins are left in the care of an evil governess. They escape and travel 400 miles to London with their friend Simon and his geese.
Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.



First line:
"It was dusk--winter dusk."

Intrigue. Evil governess. One goose boy. Two mistreated girls. Three different adventures. Wolves within as well as outside
Thus is the tale of Bonnie (rich girl) and Sylvia (poor cousin) as their lives intertwine and their adventures begin.
Some of the aspects of the story were a little hard to believe. Three children travel 400 miles on their own?

What I liked:
Bonnie & Sylvia
Bonnie's courage
Simon
The story
Characters growth

What I didn't like:
Some aspects of story
Convenience of some good things happening

Rating: PG
S: No
V: scary adults
L: No

4 STARS

25% test (p.45):
"...marched up the stairs and along the passages to the nursery. Sylvia followed, her heart swollen with compassion. She longed to say some comforting words, but could think of none.
"It may not be long, Bonnie," she ventured at length.
Bonnie sat at the table, her hands tightly clenched together. "I will not, I will not cry," she was saying to herself.
At Sylvia's anxious, loving, compassionate voice she took heart a little, and gave her cousin a smile. "After all," she thought, "I am lucky to have Papa and  Mamma even if they have gone away; poor Sylvia has no one at all."
"Come," she said, jumping up," the sun is shining. I will show you some of the grounds. Let us go skating."
"But Bonnie dear, I have no skates, and I do not know how."
"Oh, it is the easiest thing in the world, I will soon show you and as for skates, Papa thought of that already, look..." Bonnie pulled open a cupboard door and showed six pairs of white kid skating boots, all different sizes. "We knew your feet must be somewhere near the same size as mine, since we are the same age, so Papa had several different pairs made and we thought one of them was certain to fit."
Sure enough, one of the pairs of boots fitted exactly,. Sylvia was much struck by this thought on the part of her uncle, and astonished at the lavishness of having six pairs made for one to be chosen.
Likewise, Pattern pulled out a whole series of white fur caps and pelisses, and tried them against Sylvia until she found ones that fitted. "I've hung your green velvet..."

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

First line:
I say, "I can't believe you're really here."


Fun summer read. I often wondered about the people who go to the beach house for the summer. Parties, pools, beach, suntans and cute boys.
This story deals with all of the above plus divorce, death and love. Quick, summer read.


What I liked:
Each character's growth
Belly understanding everything about summer isn't glamouros
Nickname, Belly


What I disliked:
The summer fling guy
Belly's bellyaching (couldn't resist)


Rating: PG 16
S: No
L: Some
V: No


3 1/2 STARS

25% test (p.69):
""Hi, Ste-ven," she said in a singsong voice.
"Hey," he mumbled.
Taylor looked at me and crossed her eyes. Brump, she mouths, emphasis on the p.
Iluaghed. "Taylor, this is Conrad and Jeremiah. Steven you know." I was curious about who she'd pick, who she'd think was cuter, funnier. Better.
"Hey," she said, sizing them up, and right away I could tell Conrad was the one. And I was glad. Because I knew that Conrad would never, ever, go for her.
"Hey," they said
Then Conrad turned back to the TV just like I knew he would. HJeremiah teratedher to one of his lopsided smiles and said, "So yu're Belly's friend, huh? We thought she didn'thave any friends."
I waited for him to grin at me to show he was just joking, but he didn't even look my way. "Shut up, Jeremiah," I said, and he grinned at me then, but it was a quick cursory one, and he went right back to looking at Taylor.
"Bely has tons of friends," Taylor informed him in a breezy was. "Do I look like someone who wuold hang with a loser?"
"Yes," my brother said from the couch. His head popped up. "You do."
Taylore glared at him. "Go back to jacking off, Steven."
She turned to me and sai, "Why don't you show me our room?""

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents' ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who has changed... Everyone still alive has turned - some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh). Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom - an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home - and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to find food, shelter, while fighting off the 'Changed' and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped.

First line:
""Where are you?" Aunt Hannah demanded as soon as Alex thumbed TALK. "What do you think you're doing?""


I have to be honest and tell you I haven't read all of this book. I read the first 200 pages, skipped the middle, and read the last 150 pages (there are over 400 pages in this book). 
I'll explain my reasons later.
ASHES is a well-written, intriguing, suspenseful and scary story. Not scary as in "boo!" but as in I hope-this-never-happens scary. An electromagnetic pulse hits the earth, killing millions on impact. Then it affects the nuclear plants which go off and kill more people. In the meantime hundreds of thousand are turned into zombies.
Alex is the main character. She's camping high in the mountains when the EMP hits. A grandpa and his granddaughter are also nearby and the grandpa is killed. Alex reluctantly takes the girl with her to find the ranger station and, hopefully, safety.
I honestly didn't know this story had zombies in it. I was fine with it until a scene where it describes the zombies eating a dead, older woman. It was gross.
Alex meets up with a military guy close to her age who helps her not get killed by dogs. Along the way they tell their stories and grow closer. They also decide they need to get somewhere safe. They understand they will see zombies, dead bodies and killings.
I was worried about the middle of the book. More gore? Sex between the main characters? I honestly didn't want to take the chance.
I also didn't realize this was the first book in a trilogy. I'm don't think I'm going to read the rest of the series.

Rating: PG 17 (max)
S: not sure, didn't read the middle of the book
L: some
V: Yes. zombies killing/eating humans. humans killing zombies.

3 STARS


25% test (p.116):
"Water streamed from the mutt's flanks. Blood bubbled from a slash on its shoulder where it had struck a rock or snagged a branch. But it was there and it was alive, and now the animal went for her face with a flash of fangs, white and deadly.
Screaming, Alex pressed back against the rock, her only working arm--the right--flying up to protect her face. It was instinct, pure and simple--and saved her life. Crabbed on her back, unable to get to her feet, she felt the dog batten down, waited in a slow-motion dread for the jaws to grind and for her bones to break...Or maybe it would go for her throat next, or even push her under the water, hold her there until she drowned. But then her arm did not break, and she realized the dog had misjudged and that all it had was a very big mouthful of sopping wet sweatshirt. The pressure around her arm lessened for an instant as the dog let up and shifted its jaws, trying for a better grip--
Mina sailed across her vision. in an instant, the mutt had let go of Alex and whirled, incredibly fast for such a large dog. The..."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Author interview with Cindy Bennett

Give us your elevator pitch:
Geek Girl is a contemporary young adult novel about a teen Goth girl who bets her friends she can turn a geek boy bad. She soon finds that hanging out with a geek isn’t such a bad thing.

Do you have a snack you eat while writing?
I always have ice water and I almost always have Hershey’s dark chocolate to munch on.

Do you have trouble with distractions while writing? What are they?
 Games on my phone. It’s terrible but as soon as I feel the slightest writers block I pull the ‘Droid out and start playing games.

How do you combat distractions?
I try to put the phone down (lol) and then close my eyes for a minute while I try to get back into my characters head. I picture what point I want to get them to in the scene then start writing them to that.

Do you eat or listen to music while writing?
I sometimes eat while writing if it’s lunchtime or something, but usually it’s hard to eat while typing. I only listen to music if I’m looking for a particular mood for a scene and am having a hard time getting there. I might put on a movie that conveys that mood. Honestly, I’m usually watching TV while writing. I need the background noise.

What would your character do if they spent the day together? (Star Trek marathon? :))
A Star Trek or Star Wars marathon would likely be included, or any number of geek movies. One would have to sneak in there somewhere. They might take Trevor’s brother bowling, or jump on the trampoline. They would definitely spend a lot of time talking, because they really enjoy talking to each other.

Are you a night owl or early bird?
Definite night owl. I do most of my writing between midnight and 4 a.m. I might go to bed anywhere between 4 and 6, and sleep until noon. Nighttime is my most creative time. I’m pretty useless in the mornings. Mornings and I don’t get along at all.

What was your favorite TV show as a child/teen?
Oh, man, this is going to totally date me, but as a kid I loved The Brady Bunch—probably because there was a character who shared my name. And Sesame Street, which I have to admit I still watch on occasion. As a young teen it was all about The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. What great concepts they were. One was about people on a cruise boat. Who wouldn’t want to be on a cruise all the time? How exotic that seemed. And the other, you went to this beautiful, tropical island and had your fantasy granted. I mean, wow. I’d take that any day—even if it meant listening to Tattoo yelling “De plane, de plane.”

Do you have a favorite comfort food?
Chocolate, as cliché as it is—dark chocolate, particularly. Almost any kind of junk food really—cookies, brownies, doughnuts, chips. I only wish I were comforted by carrots and celery.

Any other books in the works?
I’m nearly finished with my newest called Immortal Mine. It’s a little different than the others as it takes a dip into the paranormal pool, though at heart it’s all about the romance—small town girl whose life is disrupted by stranger moving into town, there’s something unusual about him, something she can’t begin to imagine (he’s immortal, but not a vamp or werewolf). And of course it wouldn’t be one of my characters if something tragic didn’t happen to the poor heroine.

What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring writers?
Let the negative stuff roll off. You’re going to get a lot of rejections, you’re going to get bad reviews. They’re heart breaking, but you have to let them go or you’ll get so bogged down by depression that you’ll never be able to succeed. But along with that, learn from the negative stuff. Sometimes bad reviews actually have something constructive within them (:o)).

Anything else you want to add?
I want to send a gigantic thank you out to all of my readers, and to all of the reviewers and book bloggers who have helped my books to have the success that they’ve had. I absolutely love writing; it’s a huge source of joy to me. But if there weren’t people willing to actually read what I write, then I’d be spending way too much time on a hobby (lol).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett

"Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, the goth girl finds herself sucked into his world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. To truly belong with him-and with her new foster family-she must first come to terms with her violent past.

Authors note: Geek Girl has been optioned by Cedar Fort Publishing, and is therefore currently unavailable. It will become available again in December, 2011. Thanks to everyone who has asked about it, and want to know when it will be available!


First line:
"Think I could turn that boy bad?"

Girl gets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy again. This is the basic plot behind GEEK GIRL but it's sooo much more!
Jen is in the foster care system and deals with it by being emo with a crowd of emo friends who like to party. Out of boredom, she bets her friends she can "turn" a geek boy emo too.
Doesn't turn out like Jen thinks it will.
I enjoyed the characters! Jen was quirky, funny, and hiding from her pain. She believes she's unlovable and leaves the foster families before she can get hurt.
Trevor is awesome. Kind, courteous, cute and great dimples. He sees past Jen's black clothes and makeup to who she really is.
Jen soon learns Trev is a great guy. She feels a connection with him and feels herself falling for him which scares her because she's not good enough for anyone.
Loved the sci-fi references. Loved the cute romance. Loved the relationships. Loved the book.

I highly recommend this clean, high school romance to any teen!

Rating: PG
L: None
V: None
S: None

5 STARS

(book provided by Netgalley for review)
25% test (p. 70):
"He turns away from me.
"You thought it was sappy?" He sounds a little upset. I sit up and scoot to the edge of the bed so I can see his face.
"Yeah, I guess I did. but good sappy."
He looks at me sardonically. What, exactly, is good sappy?"
I shrug. "Well, you know, really romantic. That kind of thing."
"You don't like romantic?"
"Do I strike you as someone who likes romantic?"
Now he shrugs. "I think you have a lot of layers that you hide."
"Trev, you really have to stop thinking there's more to me than meets the eye."
"There is." I groan at his words and he laughs. "To tell you the truth, that song was something I've been working on."
I reach out and grab his hand with a gasp.
"That's a song you're writing?" He nods. "And I bashed it." my tone indicates my distress.
"It's okay. Not a big deal."
It is a big deal. I don't want to hurt you."
Even as I say the words that are the truth, I know they are also a lie because Of everything I do now will eventually hurt him, or at least hurt who he is.
He gives me a wry smile and shrugs, self-conscious. "I wrote it for you."
"For me?" I refuse to acknowledge the the feelings that try to push their way to the surface at this.
"Yeah, you know, inspired by you. Dumb, huh?"
I lean my head on his shoulder and place my hand over his, but instead of going stiff as I have come to expect whenever I touch him, re relaxes into me and leans his head against mine." (le sigh)(my note)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other females in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn't want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist's attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn't going to go quietly.

First line:
"My shadow stretched out in front of me, making my small build and slight frame seem almost tall--willowy even."


Great way to start out by a new author!

Like:
Main characters
Cherie
Haunted pool house
School curse
Romance
Ghost story
No cliff hanger!


Disliked:
How long main characters stayed in ghost form, doing ghost stuff (not that they had a choice)
Bad ghost in human body character
Editing
Only the first book!



Rating: PG 13
V: evil ghost
L: No
S: kissing


4 STARS


25% test (p. 76):
"...like she was made of gelatin, rubbery almost, rippling under my touch.
"Cherie," I called, my voice soft and melodious, heavenly almost. I hesitated for a moment, waiting to see if she'd join me, but she didn't. I wasn't sure what to do. Am I brave enough to go further without her?
After a brief moment, I knew me answer. I was.
I turned toward the window, leaned against the pane, and found it solid. Would the same go for the fire-escape? I imagined my spirit spilling through the metal grate like water through a sieve. I tested it first, sitting on the ledge and pressing down with one foot. It felt secure, so I stepped outside and climbed down to the sidewalk below.
the air itself was a complex tapestry of my surroundings and I could smell each thread. Fresh-cut roses, avocados, oranges, and from far away, blooming lilies. It was amazing, and I breathed in deeply, savoring it all.
When I reached the grass, I spun around in a circle with my arms stretched wide. Each star in the sky twinkled brightly as if warmly greeting my liberated spirit. A slight breeze brought in a new bouquet of smell as it gently caressed me.
The night felt like a blank canvas awaiting the first stroke, and I was the artist, picking the color from a newer-infinite palate, able to go anywhere, see anyone, do anything. My personal tastes seemed to drift toward a pair of dreamy brown eyes, and my feet were soon heading toward Brent's room.
Since he cold astral project, too, I thought spying on him might be fair, and I sprinted toward the boys' dorm only slowing when I neared the fire escape. The entire journey had taken seconds, but I didn't feel winded or tired. My plan had one hitch: I didn't have any idea what..."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming
.


First line:
"Daddy said, "Let mom go first."


Interesting, creepy, claustrophobic story.
First off, I can't imagine being on a spaceship for fifty years let alone hundreds. Can you say claustrophobia?? Seriously, there were times I felt closed in. That's good writing!

Liked:
The ship, Godspeed, and all it's quirks
Orion
Harley
Lots of secrets
Learning about the ships social structure


Disliked:
I skimmed the first 1/4 of the book. I don't think the first few chapters were totally necessary to the story. I got tired of Amy's 'poor me' chapters.
Earth's history changed so the leaders have control
I wasn't hooked from the beginning.
Robot-like passengers
Sex in the street, park, steps during the 'Season'





Rating: PG 16
V: Yes, fighting
L:Yes but not our swearing. The ship has it's own like 'frex'
S: almost rape scene, the Season where the shipmates have sex like animals

3 STARS

25% test (p.100):
"...chair I am sitting in at him, not to pull down the walls that surround me. "In fifty years I'm going to be older than my parents, and you're telling me to find a way to occupy my freaking time?!"
"A hobby, perhaps?"
"GAH!" I screech. I lunge for his desk, about to sweep everything on it onto the floor. The doctor stands, too, but instead of trying to stop me, he reaches for the cabinet behind him. there is something so calmly disturbing about this action that I pause as he pulls open a drawer and, after rummaging around for a bit, withdraws a small, square, white package, similar to the hand wipes I used to get from the Chinese restaurant Jason took me to on our first date.
"This is a med patch," the doctor says. "Tiny needles glued to the adhesive will administer calming drugs directly into your system. I do not want to spend the next fifty years medicating you just so you stay calm." He sets the white package in the center of his desk, then looks me square in the eyes. "But I will."
The med patch lies there, a line in the sand that I do not want to cross. I sit back down.
"Now, do you have any hobbies or skills that you could put us on the ship?"
Hobbies? Hobbies are something ninety-year-old men have as they piddle around the garage.
"I liked history in school," I finally say, although I feel like a dork for thinking of school before anything else.
"We don't have school here." Before I can contemplate life without school, the doctor continues. "Not now. And besides, at this point, the life you lived is, well..."
Oh. I see his point. My life, my former life, already is history. What will..."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Finding Hope~Where to Look for God's Help by S. Michael Wilcox

When life's challenges seem overwhelming, where can you turn for help? In this newest volume of the Time Out Classics series, author S. Michael Wilcox offers a profound message of hope and encouragement. Using powerful stories from the scriptures, he teaches that hope can be found in looking past obstacles and moving forward with faith, in looking back at past experiences that may have strengthened us for future challenges, and in looking for times when the Savior walks with us. On those days when we may wonder if Heavenly Father has forgotten us, we have the assurance that each of His servants will receive "the light of the countenance of their Lord . . . every man in his hour and in his time and in his season." And although it may not be your hour now, He will come because He is aware of us, He knows our needs, and He will bless us.

First line:
God spoke to the great prophets of the Old Testament in some rather unique ways, most of them deeply visual."

When life's challenges seem overwhelming, where can you turn for help? Using powerful stories from the scriptures, Michael Wilcox teaches that hope can be found.
This book is a quick, uplifting book. Easy to read and understand. Can be read as a daily uplifting read.

5 STARS

25% test (p. 14):
"Camping on the Beach
There is another story,in the book of Mormon this time, that can enhance the message of the story of the twelve spies. As the Jaredites moved forward toward their promised land, they had to build barges and boats to cross smaller bodies of water. Eventually they came to the ocean, the ultimate crossing. Before we examine what they did at this point in their journey, I would like to point out that all of the major journeys and almost all crossings in the scriptures--be they deserts, wilderness, oceans or the Jordan River--should be read with our own lives in mind. We too are making journey to the eternal promised land, the celestial kingdom. There will be critical..."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Princess Academy Sequel! Squee!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMSBURY CHILDREN'S BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE MUCH-ANTICIPATED SEQUEL TO THE NEWBERY HONOR WINNER AND BESTSELLING NOVEL PRINCESS ACADEMY
To be published August 2012

"Shannon Hale's books blow me away. When I read them I get lost in the magic—her stories are magic."
—Stephenie Meyer

Ever since the publication of Princess Academy in 2005, fans and booksellers have been clamoring for a sequel. Now, Bloomsbury is delighted to announce the Fall 2012 publication of the as-yet-untitled second Princess Academy book.

The new novel picks up where the 2006 Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy left off. Miri and a few of the academy girls travel to the capital city of Asland to help the princess-to-be. But while continuing her studies, Miri befriends some other students who seek to overthrow the crown. Torn between her friendship with the princess and her belief in her new friends' daring ideas, as well as an old love and a new crush, Miri struggles to find her place in the larger world.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

The magical, secretive society of JANITORS will sweep the country in the fall of 2011. Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve year- old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You ll never look at a mop the same way again.


First line:
"Spencer shifted the papers on his school desk and looked for a hundredth time at the graffiti in the corner."


I read Tyler's book to my kids at bedtime. Every night they were adamant we read it even at 11 PM (which I nixed)!
They loved the characters, cleaning weapons and Toxites. My son wants to take it to school so his teacher can read it to the class. That's a huge compliment!

I loved the clean, fast-paced writing. Lots of twists and play on words. With the tagline: 'you'll never look at a mop the same way again' Tyler is not kidding!
The story kept us hooked from beginning to surprise ending.

Not very happy with the cliffhangers, Mr. Whitesides! Did not see that one coming. My kids even gasped when I read it!
Keep up the good work, Tyler! We are anxiously awaiting the second book. Even though I'm still mad at you for the cliffhanger...

Rating: G
V: Intense fighting moments, a friend disappears & presumed dead
L: No
S: Gross! No!

5 STARS

25% test (p. 70):
""And he drew on my face," Daisy said. "But it washed off."
Another bout of silence hit the truck like a black hole.
"Could someone please explain why I'm a chameleon?" Spencer finally muttered.
"A chameleon," Mr. Gates said as he turned into Hillside Estates, "is a type of lizard that changes color. Might be green one moment and black the next. It changes to fit the environment around it, sometimes to blend in, sometimes to stand out."
"But what does that have to do with me?" Spencer pointed out Aunt Avril's house and the big Ford rolled into the driveway.
"You don't get it?" Daisy asked, a faint smirk on her face. "In our family, a chameleon is someone whose story changes. They might tell it one way, then totally twist it around and tell a different version. People do it when they're insecure. Sometimes to blend in, sometimes to stand out."
Spencer wasn't pleased about being called a color-changing lizard. He had a comeback worked up, but he let it die on his lips. Just wait. The soap was in Daisy's drawer. Soon she'd see that he wasn't a chameleon.
Thanks for the ride, Mr. Gates," Spencer said, slipping off the edge of the seat. he checked his pocket for the flashlight and the latex glove. With both items secure, he walked to the back of the truck, but Mr. Gates had beaten him there. With a smile, Daisy's dad lifted out the boy's bike."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YA Book Award~by teens for teens

Here is the list of the TEN winners:

  1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Simon & Schuster)
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
  3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon & Schuster)
  4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (HarperCollins)
  5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin)
  6. Matched by Ally Condie (Penguin)
  7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson (Little, Brown & Company)
  8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (HarperCollins)
  9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)
  10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Penguin)
     
    I've read SEVEN of these YA books. How many have you read?

Here is a list of 25 YA nominations (have you read any of them?):
  • Bachorz, Pam. Drought. Egmont USA. 2011. (978606840160).
  • Beam, Cris. I Am J. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2011. (9780316053617).
  • Beaudoin, Sean. You Killed Wesley Payne. 2011. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. (9780316077422).
  • Black, Holly and Justine Larbalestier. Zombies vs. Unicorns. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books. 2010. (9781416989530).
  • Card, Orson Scott. The Lost Gate. Tor Books. 2011. (9780765326577).
  • Clare, Cassandra. Clockwork Angel. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry. 2010. (9781416975861).
  • Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. Scholastic. 2010. (9780439023511).
  • Collins, Yvonne. Love, Inc. Disney/Hyperion. 2011. (9781423131151).
  • Condie, Ally. Matched. 2010. Penguin/Dutton. (9780525423645).
  • Cremer, Andrea. Nightshade. Penguin/Philomel. 2010. (9780399254826).
  • Fitzpatrick, Becca. Crescendo. Simon & Schuster Children’s. 2010. (9781416989431).
  • Grant, Michael. Lies. 2010. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. (9780061449093).
  • Hawkins, Rachel. Demonglass. Disney/Hyperion. 2011. (9781423121312).
  • Hakwins, Rachel. Hex Hall. Disney/Hyperion. 2010. (9781423121305).
  • Kagawa, Julie. The Iron King. 2010. Harlequin. (9780373210084).
  • Lore, Pittacus. I Am Number Four. HarperCollins. 2010. (9780061969553).
  • Moore, Peter. Red Moon Rising. Disney/Hyperion. 2011. (9781423116653).
  • Nelson, Jandy. The Sky is Everywhere. 2010. Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers. (9780142417805).
  • Oliver, Lauren. Before I Fall. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2010. (9780061726804).
  • O’Neal, Ellis. The False Princess. Egmont USA. 2011. (9781606840795).
  • Patterson, James. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel. Little, Brown & Company. 2011. (9780316036207).
  • Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red. Little, Brown and Company. 2010. (9780316068680).
  • Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Blessed. Candlewick Press. 2011. (9780763643263).
  • Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth. Simon Pulse. 2010. (9781416971757).
  • White, Kiersten. Paranormalcy. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2010. (9780061985843). 
I've read nine!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has traveled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister. 

First line:
"Grace, holding on tightly to her precious burden, found the station entrance without much difficulty."

The good, the bad and the ugly of Victorian London. Poor Grace and her sister Lily are in the gutter of this city. The girls are orphans and rely on Grace to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs.
Grace meets James Solent and Mrs. Emmeline Unwin at a cemetery while taking care of a personal tragedy. Solent and Unwin are opposite ends of the spectrum of humanity.
I was tense from almost the first page of this book! I connected with the characters, enjoyed the scenery and enjoyed the plot.
Some things I liked:
A newspaper clipping or epitaph or invitation introduced each chapter.
People hired funeral muses??
I learned a ton about funerals in Victorian England.
Grace is amazing and strong and scared.
Learning about history without knowing I was learning.
Charles Dickens has a cameo.
James is quite the gentleman.

Rating: PG 13
L: None
V: bad people
S: None
(We know Grace has been raped but the story around the story is done sensitively)

5 STARS

25% test (p. 74):
"...she hurried to change the subject. 'Forgive me, my dear, but how long ago did your poor mother die?'
'Near ten years back,' Grace answered.
'were there no other relatives who would take you in? What about your father?'
Grace shook her head. 'I've never known much about my father or his family,' she said. 'When Mama and he were married neither family approved of the match, and two years after that, when Lily was a year old and before Mama even knew she was expecting me, Papa went off to the Americas to seek his fortune.'
'Your poor mother! To be left without a protector!'
Grace nodded. 'She brought us up on a little inheritance she'd had from her grandparents and taught me to read and write quite early, hoping that one day I'd make a good marriage and be able to keep Lily as my companion.' She smiled wryly as she spoke, knowing that good marriages were not made in Seven Dials, and that the most a girl here might hope for would be to marry a coster with his own barrow. 'I started my training as a teacher and Lily was to learn about domestic duties, but then we had to leave...' Here Grace stopped and found it impossible to continue.
'And when was this?'
'Some...some nine months ago.'
'Nine months,' Mrs Beale repeated, and if she made the obvious connection was refined enough not to say anything about it. 'And you never heard from your father again?'

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Splendor by Anna Godbersen


As spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father's death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.
Carolina Broad, society's newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty—but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father's rule extends well beyond New York's shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.
In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York's most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city's oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?


First line:
One
"With the younger Miss Holland, Diana, away in Paris for finishing season, it is a most lonely social era, and we have all had to content ourselves with lesser beauties."

I loved the prologues in each book!
The last book in the Luxe series turned out to be full of twists. Everyone got what they deserved in many surprising ways. At first I wasn't too happy with the end but after mulling it over for a couple of days, I like how Ms. Godbersen tied up the series.

Rating: PG 15
S: yes, not graphic
L: No
V: No

4 Stars

25% test (p.98):
":Thank you, Conrad." She twisted the black agates set in white gold at her wrist. Like all the pretty things she had been given as a bride, it was from the elder Mr. Schoonmaker, whose money was old and greatly augmented by his youthful ventures in railroads and real estate and other areas that ladies like Penelope were raised not to be curious about. Her stepmother-in-law had once told her that a woman had the most fun after she was married, when no one cared very much about her purity anymore, and, staring at the breathtaking arrangement that her loveliness had garnered she felt ready to finally accept this as the truth. Before--when she was cooped up in the house, or having to be constantly vigilant of her husband's questionable fidelity--she had been dubious. But now she saw that there were plenty of thrills to be had even with Henry away. Or--she amended her train of thought, thinking of the way the prince had admired her on Carolina Broad's dance floor--especially with Henry away. She gave herself a private, mischievous smile as she checked her simple, up swept bouffant in the walnut-framed hall mirror, and then turned in the direction of her in=laws.
"What a joy it will be to have all my family together again, under one roof...," William Schoonmaker was saying as she entered the grand first-floor drawing room. He was not a small man, and all of his considerable size was richly garbed. Every detail of him commanded attention, but she was having..."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oops! National Book Foundation Unveils SIX YA finalists

Have you read this article? I would like to have my book accidentally picked as a finalist!

National Book Foundation


Have you read any of the six books? I've only read CHIME

Envy by Anna Godbersen

In this sequel to Rumors, novelist Elizabeth Holland returns to the inner circle of New York's Gilded Age upper crust. Gramercy Park society watchers quickly notice that differences appear to be simmering between Elizabeth and her sister Diana. Meanwhile, troubles are also festering between celebrated newlyweds Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker. Apparently, the stately brass doors of Manhattan's 400 conceal more tumult than the general public suspects. Silk gowns and scandals.

Another book in The Luxe series. And another book I couldn't put down. I had to finish it!
The characters seems more real this time. This book is the one I felt was the high point of everyone's lives, getting what they want. But wait! There's one more book in the series so the high must be setting us up for some loses.
  While the lives of the rich and mean are interesting to watch, the little voice in my head asks why no one is paying the consequences?

Rating: PG 15
S: yes not graphic
L: no
V: no

3 Stars

25% test (p. 99):
""People broaden the guest list all the time," Buck went on. "Anyway, you'll need someone to help you, especially so that you don't ever have to worry about appearing to scheme. Miss Broad has all the right clothes, but she hasn't learned to be clever yet."
"That's true," Penelope glanced at the deflated blonde at her side. "I wish you could come, Isabelle. It's so unfair that mean old Schoonmaker says you must stay here."
Isabelle smiled at her sadly. "Thank you for saying so," she replied in a tone that suggested that the younger girl couldn't begin to understand her suffering.
Penelope might have asked herself if Buck didn't want to come along, and whether or not he might have been her choicest ally, when she looked down below and saw her older brother hopping off the driver's set of a four-in-hand. the horses were gleaming with sweat as though they had just been ridden hard, and Grayson handed over the reins to a servant and began to trot up the Hayeses' grand limestone steps with the clipped assurance of a born aristocrat. Although she liked to think of herself as the brighter. more cunning sibling, she had always known that he was like her--they had the same natural excess of ambition and total deficiency of sentimentality--in a way that could only be explained by shared blood. She had always been a little proud of that , and as she watched him disappear into the house below, an idea began to form in her mind."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rumors by Anna Godbersen


After bidding good-bye to New York's brightest star, Elizabeth Holland, rumors continue to fly about her untimely demise.

All eyes are on those closest to the dearly departed: her mischievous sister, Diana, now the family's only hope for redemption; New York's most notorious cad, Henry
Schoonmaker, the flame Elizabeth never extinguished; the seductive Penelope Hayes, poised to claim all that her best friend left behind—including Henry; even Elizabeth's scheming former maid, Lina Broud, who discovers that while money matters and breeding counts, gossip is the new currency.

As old friends become rivals, Manhattan's most dazzling socialites find their futures threatened by whispers from the past. In this delicious sequel to
The Luxe, nothing is more dangerous than a scandal...or more precious than a secret. 


Fist line:
Prologue
I have just been invited to a most secretive, but assuredly most elaborate, celebration in Tuxedo Park sponsored by on the Manhattan's finest families."

The second book in The Luxe series continues the stories of Manhattan's upper society. More twists and turns and sighs and gasps.
I'm waiting for someone to step up and be a man/woman, grow a conscience or backbone or moral compass.
So far, no fairytale endings but lots of convenient story plots.
Still good reading though.

Rating: PG 15
S: a couple of short scenes
L: None
V: None

I give it three stars for no morals.

25% test (p.106):
"Ten
With the opening of the opera tonight, we can again expect to see many of the city's most lamentable invalids, those suffering from that insidious disease call social aspirations, who will no doubt be trying to elbow their way into making new friends in high places by renting a box, no matter the cost, as have so many strivers before the,. We can at least be assured that the crowd they move in is already inoculated.
--from The Society Page of the New-York News of The World Gazette, Saturday, December 16, 1899

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen


In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. That's only the beginning of the action and suspense in The Luxe, the launch volume in a teen series by Anna Godbersen.
First line:
"Prologue
On the morning of October 4, 1899, Elizabeth Adora Holland--the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Edward Holland and his widow, Lousia Ganesvoort Holland---passed into the kingdom of heaven."

I had a hard time putting this book down due to the intriguing characters, mystery and writing.
Yes, this book has a prologue and I like it. The prologue set up the place, time, characters, possible goals and society. The prologue is also set in the future to give the reader a few clues (or to throw us off) to what might transpire.
Let's start with the setting. New York, 1890's, where the wealthy have more than ten servants, get their clothes handmade or brought in from Paris and everyone must follow the strict codes of conduct. Of course, the stricter the codes, the more people want to break them
If you enjoy lavish descriptions of period clothing, you'll love this book.
The characters range from servants to the most wealthy. Servants wish they could trade places with their wealthy charges, the men and women are forced into marriages for money/appearances/guilt or manipulation.
Do you remember the one girl in school you loved to hate. Ms. Godbersen's got one. What about the stud/jock/player, the one everyone girl drooled over. Check. The nice girl who had secrets? The sister who wanted the boy her sister had? The best friend who wasn't? The ones concerned only with appearances? Check. Check.  Double check.
Ms. Godbersen has a chapter for each major character and sets them up with a blurb from the gossip columns or from the manners book. Very unique and great idea. The characters have their own voices and quirks and weaknesses and strengths.
All that being said, the characters didn't have a lot of moral strengths, which is too bad. Sex was used as a tool to manipulate, deceive and hurt others. Do not remember reading about a character waiting until after marriage to have sex.

I give this 3 stars because of lack of morals for almost anyone in the book.

Rating: PG 15
S: yes but no scenes, just alluded to
L: None
V: None




25% test (p. 108):
"...to be elsewhere? She was reminded of some vague impression from her childhood, of the Schoonmaker boy who was two years older than she and always smirking and who didn't seem to care about anything.
"I guess you know what the dinner is for," Henry said, giving Elizabeth a cold stare.
She shook her head petulantly. It occurred to her that Henry might be drunk. She glanced around her, as though for a familiar face to agree that all of this was very strange, and very rude. But there were only children and nannies calling to one another. Everybody she knew was hidden behind closed doors, and whatever happened next, she would have to deal with it herself. "no, I don't know what the dinner party is for."
"The dinner party," he said, pronouncing the words with derision, and rolling his dark eyes at the sky, "is for our engagement."
"you mean...the engagement of you to...me?"
"Yes," Henry replied with moderate sarcasm. "The much lauded engagement of miss Elizabeth Holland to Mr. Henry Schoonmaker."
And then she felt like the ground beneath her was crumbling away. She was hit by the nausea and light-headedness of looking down from a very great height. As she tried to keep herself upright, she couldn't but picture Will kneeling,..."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs


On Lily Sanderson’s eighteenth birthday she’ll become just a girl—still a mergirl, true, but signing the renunciation will ink Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia out of existence. That leaves plain old Lily living on land, dating the boy she loves, and trying to master this being-human thing once and for all.
Now that Lily and Quince are together, mer bond or not, she’s almost content to give up her place in the royal succession of Thalassinia. But just when she thinks she has everything figured out, the waves start to get rough. Lily’s father sends a certain whirlpool-stirring cousin to stay with her on land. What did Doe do to get herself exiled from Thalassinia and stuck in terraped form when everyone knows how much she hates humans? And why why why is she batting her eyelashes at Lily’s former crush, Brody?
The seafoam on the raging surf comes when a merboy from Lily’s past shows up—Tellin asks Lily for something that clouds her view of the horizon. There’s a future with Quince on land, her loyalty to the kingdom in the sea, and Lily tossing on the waves in the middle. Will she find a way to reconcile her love, her duty, and her own dreams?
Tera Lynn Childs’s sequel to Forgive My Fins offers another tail-flicking romance with plenty of fun, sun, and underwater adventure.

First Line: "At the moment I am sole heir to the throne of Thalassinia, one of the most prosperous underwater kingdoms in the world."

I enjoyed this book as much as Forgive My Fins. I found the second book in a trilogy isn't as strong but this one is good. Lily, mermaid princess, will become a "normal" girl on her birthday. With Quince by her side, she can do anything.
But when an angry cousin and a childhood boy friend surface in Lily's town, she must choose who she is and where she belongs.
Still love the "mermaid" slang words! Ms. Childs does a great job in descriptions, world building and characters. I enjoyed watching each person grow and change, especially the cousin.
Cute, sweet, story that any girl age 10 and up would enjoy. I read this book in just over two hours.
(I predict a love triangle in the next book.)

Rating: PG
S: No
L: No
V: No

25% test (p. 65):
"...and disappears out the cafeteria doors. Her interest in Brody is a little too interested for my peace of mind.
Before the human food lessons, I have to make one thing very clear. I will not let my final act as royal princess end in a bonding disaster that can only bring trouble to my kingdom.
As soon as Brody's out of sight, I say, "No."
Doe looks innocent. "No what?"
"No Brody," I explain. "Absolutely, unequivocally no."
She shrugs. "Whatever."
I'm not sure if it's an I-don't-really-care-about-him-so-no-big-deal shrug, or an I-like-him-and-and-I-don't-really-care-what-you-think one. Or maybe it's a you're-not-the-boss-of-me shrug.
"Dosinia," I say, not willing to let this go," this is serious. You can't mess around with Brody. I don't know if I told, but he accidentally found out the truth about me a couple of weeks ago."
"So?" she asks in a bored tone.
"So he didn't take it very well. He acted like a jerk and I had to--"
"Ancient history." She reaches down and grabs a lip gloss from her briefcase, swiping it perfectly across her lips without a mirror.
Grrr. I can envy her makeup skills later; right now I'm trying to make a point. "You can't mess with an human, Doe. The risk is too high. Think of what's best for the kingdom."

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ender's Game Movie Trailer

YIPPEE! Ender's Game will be a movie sometime in the next year. LOVED this book!
This is a fan-made trailer:


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

From one of the all-time bestselling authors of science fiction and fantasy writing comes an excellent resource for beginners or pros. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card covers topics such as the creation of worlds and alien societies and the use and rules of magic, topics specific to the genre. Learn creative science fiction and fantasy writing from one of the masters.


I don't know why it took me so long to get to this book. I love to learn more about this craft I've chosen. Card teaches The Mice Quotient: "All stories contain four elements that can determine structure:

Milieu
Idea
Character
Event

While each is present in every story, there is generally one that dominates the others.
Which one dominates? The one that the author cares about most. this is why the process of discovering the structure of a story is usually a process of self-discovery. Which aspect of the story matters most to you? That is the aspect that will give you your story's structure."
Great ideas in this book that will help any writer.