Thursday, August 30, 2012

My computer died!!!

I have to cancel Speed Dates today because my computer died on me. I'm very sad and hoping the Apple Genius folks can fix it. But I'm not talented enough to do an entire post on a tablet yet. (I have to say, I like computers so much better than a tablet...) Sorry, all my speed date friends. Next week? Hopefully, by then, I'll be a bit ahead of the game with school (which is totally kicking my butt at the moment and probably will most of the year) and my computer will be repaired! Fingers crossed. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pushing the Limits Read-A-Long: Week 5 (The End!)

This fabulous event is hosted by Candace Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and Bewitched Bookworms.
Please check the intro post about the “Rules” and the Grand Prize.
Get a copy: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound |Book Depository
Find Katie McGarry:  website | Facebook | Twitter
And… for those who would rather win a copy and join the discussion later, we have a finished copy for you to win.

Schedule:


DON'T FORGET: Join @KatieMcGarry for a chat on 

Tuesday August 28th at 9 PM EST. Use #PTLChat 


1. By finally returning to her art, Echo is working through her issues and taking control of her life. While she’s not ever going to return to her previous “normal”, she uses her art as a way to work her way to a place where she’s more comfortable with herself. How do you deal with the issues and stresses of your life?

I have a bunch of different ways to deal with my stress (and teaching high school can truly be stressful! Especially when it's your first year and you're in charge of running both the yearbook and newspaper--eep!). First off, there's nothing wrong with a frosty adult beverage (as long as you're of age). Second, hanging with my two dogs is a serious stress reliever. Third, relaxing with a good book *always* brings down the stress level. 

2. Once Noah gives his brothers and their soon-to-be adoptive parents a happy ending, he decides to get his own by winning Echo back. Why does he think stealing her file is the best way to do it? Any other (better) suggestions for the poor boy?

Oh, Noah. I think he has the best of intentions here and wants to provide her with some closure but...not the best plan. Really, if he'd just talked to her, I think she would have flung her arms around him and taken him back immediately. Oh, and roses. Roses and chocolate--that's always good.

3. Echo finally uncovers the terrible truth of what her mother did to her. Now that we know the truth, do you think Echo’s father did the right thing by covering up the incident and keeping it from her? How do you think he should have handled it?

Echo's father once again tried to do what was best and, in my opinion, kind of screwed the pooch. Yes, he wants to protect his daughter from the horrible incident but, since Echo doesn't know about her mother's issues and what she did that night, Echo doesn't know to be wary of her mother. The therapy was a good thought but Echo's dad should have used to as a safe place to tell Echo what happened. Maybe he thought it would shatter Echo's mind to know and he just couldn't risk it. 

4. Mrs. Collins plays an integral role in helping Echo and Noah find a new normal and happiness in their lives. Tell us about someone in your life who helped you, someone who changed your life, was there for you, or offered help/comfort when you most needed it (or when you didn’t know you needed it).

I've been seriously blessed to have many people of this caliber in my life--both past and present (and, hopefully, in the future!). I was at a turning point in my life about twelve years back--I hated my job (a career path I thought I'd love) and I was pretty miserable. My best friend encouraged me to try something different, saying there was nothing wrong with starting fresh. She inspired me to get my teaching certificate and forge a new career path.

5. Another major truth is revealed when Echo’s father finally opens up to his daughter and tells her about her mother and how his relationship with Ashley evolved. Knowing this, how do you feel about Ashley now? And what did you think when you learned the name of the baby?

I can see how Echo's father fell for Ashley. In her simple, air-headed way, she was there for him when he most needed a shoulder (et cetera...) to lean on. She's still a complete dingbat and it's still shady that she was the babysitter but I don't dislike her quite so much. The baby's name...eh. Not sure about that. It's a sweet gesture but, because there were still such hard feelings all the way up until Echo actually saw the kid, I don't think it was the right time (yet).

6. Echo and Noah ride off into the sunset together. *happy sigh* If you had the chance, who would you ride off with and where would you go?

I'm going to let my geek flag fly and say, if the Doctor (#10, of course) happened to stop by in his Tardis and asked me to roam around the universe with him, I'd leap into that phone box so fast his head would spin. We'd go everywhere (running, of course. With lots of dramatic music.) and everytime.



Author Interview: Debut Author Tom Pollock

So, guess who I have on my blog today? Yep, it's that adorable Brit and debut author, Tom Pollock! For those of you lucky to meet him in New York at BEA, I'm a bit jealous (British accent? Check. Intense stare? Check). Though he's a man of few words on his blog, he was kind enough to open up a bit here.

Tom Pollock: "Inventor of monsters. Hugger of bears.  Represented by Amy Boggs at the Donald Maass agency. I write fantasy, and I write about fantasy. Come say hey on twitter: @tomhpollock"

Well, that's the bio on the contact page of his website, anyway. Goodreads has a bit more: "Tom is a long-time fan of science fiction and fantasy, and has failed spectacularly to grow out of his obsession with things that don’t, in the strictest sense of the word, exist. He studied Philosophy and Economics at Edinburgh University. He now lives and works in London helping to build very big ships. The City’s Son is his first novel."

I reviewed THE CITY'S SON here on Friday and, I have to say, wow. Incredibly creative, gritty, and intriguing YA urban fantasy novel. Check it out! Anyway, on with the interview:

How did you create and develop the amazing world and world-changing power struggle that exists right under the noses of “normal” Londoners? (You’re probably asked this all the time but the people want to know!)

First up, I'm really glad you liked the world. The London of the Skyscraper Throne evolved as a kind of 'just-so' story for the modern city. It came from me walking around London with a speculative eye, wondering what darker and more magical histories could explain the things we see everyday. So for example, in Beth and Fil's London, when your train stops on the track for a while for no apparent reason, it's because the train's spirit, its Railwraith, has broken loose and is rampaging around causing havoc. Likewise, the cranes on the horizon look a bit like skeletal fingers, so I wound up with Reach - the Crane King, who literally has them as part of his anatomy.
Beth, Pen and Fil had it rough in The City’s Son. Could you give us a hint about what might happen in The Glass Republic, the second in The Skyscraper Throne series?

What can I tell you that won't be too spoilery? Well, The Glass Republic delves into the city inside London's reflections, ruled by the proud and ruthless Mirrostocracy. The main character is Pen (who's kind of in the Best Supporting Actress slot from book one). Like you say, she kind of went to hell and back in the first book, but she's on a long arc for the trilogy, and I think this is the book where she comes into her own. I'm excited. :)

What's your writing process -- how do you go from the idea to writing that final draft?

I'm deplorably inconstant, but it's kinda cyclical. I start out planning, just to reassure myself that it's going somewhere, then I get all over excited by the ideas in the plan, so I start writing before its done. Then I go completely off the rails, my cats eat the plan. I pants it for a bit. I get stuck, I shout at my computer screen. I yell, I cry like Dawson. I eat pizza and I go back to planning. I try and write a thousand words a day, and I fail at that modest ambition a great deal.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d share with an aspiring writer?

I was reading Nick Harkaway's (excellent non fic) THE BLIND GIANT and he mentions the fascinating phenomenon of Neuroplasticity. Our brains reshape themselves, so we can do the things we do more efficiently and easily. Even at the biological level, we're creatures of habit. This is a slightly rambling lead-in to me giving the old cliched advice: 'If you want to be a writer, then write. Right?' But it really is the best counsel, because you do literally, make yourself a writer by writing. You mould your brain.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered since stepping on the writing path?

How staggeringly, grin-inducingly awesome it is being edited. Smart, passionate people start engaging with this idea that only previously existed in your own head. It's the moment when it goes from a solo effort into a team-sport, and despite being hard work, it's just the biggest thrill.

Who or what inspires you?

Oh wow, everything really, people, the city, other books, TV shows, Parkour. The city, especially the city. It's a laminate of compressed stories, concentrated lives. Simultaneously an artifact of human endeavor and a thing of sufficient scale to inspire the same kind of awe as mountains. I love it.

Where do you do the majority of your writing?

Out of the house. It's the only way I can keep my relentless inner procrastinator in check, plus keep my cats from introducing their own dadaist prose to the books by walking on the keyboard. I go to cafes and public spaces, put a film soundtrack (Inception is especially ace) and go.

Quickies:
What’s your biggest distraction when writing?
The merciless availability of chocolate
What are your favorite books of the year so far?
Published this year? It's close run thing but probably China Mieville's bonkers train novel Railsea For books I read this year, but that were published earlier - David Almond's Clay is just superb. Creepy, uplifting and terrifying.
Favorite TV shows?
The West Wing, The Wire, DeadWood. I've got a weakness for 'W's evidently.
Travel Time! What countryies would you love to visit?
I've traveled around a fair bit, but I've never made it to Russia, or mainland China. I'd love to go to both.
Dog person or cat person?
I am plaything for my cruel feline overlords.
Chocolate or caffeine (or both)?
Chocolate. Top tip: whenever I start on a new book it's a good time to buy shares in Cadbury's.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Beautiful and brutal: THE CITY'S SON by Tom Pollock

YA Urban Fantasy
480 pages, hardcover
Available September 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Filius, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Filius opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.

But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that
Filius’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Filius raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.

Positive: The city that that lives beside (within? beneath?) London. There's a war going on right beneath Londoner's noses. Reach, the god of cranes, wants to be king and he's willing to tear apart London to do so. Filius, son of the current (and missing) ruler, must step into her shoes and keep his mother's throne safe. But the humans who share the same space as those who support Reach and those who back Filius are completely clueless.

Positive: The creatures of this world. Rampaging ghost trains who transport the memories of past travelers, a creature who reconstructs itself from garbage each day, a barbed wire woman who steals humans to speak for her, and groups of "people" made entirely of glass and light...oh, the creatures of Pollock's world are creative, disturbing, and stunning all at once. And then there's Filius, the crown prince of this world who's more human than the others but, at the same time, he's got incredible strength and durability and an odd, oily skin that sets him apart.

Positive: Beth and Filius. Filius is unlike any person Beth has ever encountered and she's desperate to find out more about him. His life--running through the streets, colluding with unusual creatures, fighting to maintain his mother's crown--seems so much better than hers that she willingly suspends her disbelief and runs away to be with him, I didn't really feel that there was a romance between the two. Despite their attachment, the two didn't have much chemistry.

Wish: That Pen's troubles weren't *that*. I didn't feel what happened to Pen, Beth's BFF, at the school was necessary to facilitate her development into what she became later on--it seemed a bit too overly-dramatic and could have been cut altogether. Her life was challenging enough, I felt. (Sorry to be so mysterious but...spoilers!)

Overall: Twisted, creative and unique, THE CITY'S SON is a feast for your imagination and an intriguing start to a new series (with no cliffhanger! An ending that satisfies while teasing readers with loose ends and questions...fabulous).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Speed date with Eleanor: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard

Thursday is Speed Date Night. What's a Book Speed Date? It's a quickie review--about 150 words or so--of any genre book. If you want to join in the speed dating fun, sign up in the Linky below. The speed date is all about "meeting" new books.

YA Historical Paranormal
388 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

I wasn't sure about this one (more zombies--a bit yawn-worthy lately) but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Eleanor's mother made me want to tear my hair out (sooo annoying) and several of the other characters were rather stereotypical and flat but Eleanor herself was a determined and intriguing young woman (of marriageable age, of course). I liked her spunk and ability to sneak away from her overbearing mother to play detective (I rather hoped she'd flaunt society's rules altogether but she was too genteel for that).

Mixing together historical setting, mysterious zombie hunters, a missing brother who may or may not be involved in the zombies rising, and a string of gruesome deaths then adding in a rainy day and a comfy couch makes for one happy reader.




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on...COLD DAYS by Jim Butcher

Oh, Harry, Harry, Harry. How did you get yourself in such a fix? Enslaved to the Queen of Air and Darkness, forced to do her bidding forever? I was really hoping when you got murdered and came back that you'd have weaseled your way out of that terrible deal you made. But things can't be that easy, can they? *sigh* And your cover's not really doing much for me, though it looks like all the others. But you know I'm going to buy this book no matter what so I guess it doesn't really matter if it appeals. Of course, actually putting it on Amazon and IndieBound so I can pre-order it would really help.

Urban Fantasy Awesomeness
?? pages, hardcover
Expected publication: November 27, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group

After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…

His soul.

(Nooooo! Not his soul!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Authors ARE Rockstars: Rae Carson (plus a fabulous giveaway!)


Rae Carson IS a rockstar--and here's why:
  • While I absolutely adored THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, I loved it even more after reading her fantastic post, "Weighing in on weight"
  • Even though she's clumsy and unathletic (or so she claims), she jumped into cheerleading as an awkward adolescent and flag football as an adult with a vengeance, striking a blow for clumsy chicks everywhere
  • She writes beautifully imperfect characters, characters in terrible positions with few options, and characters readers can really get behind
  • I really enjoy her sense of humor, which shows through in her writing, and her overuse of the word "dude"
  • Geek allusions FTW
  • She's writing a magical romantic fantasy set during the Gold Rush
About Rae Carson in her own words (short version): "I’m a nerd. I write young adult novels full-time. I live in Columbus, Ohio with my husband and two stepsons." (From her website)

How Star Wars influenced The Girl of Fire and Thorns
By Rae Carson, rockstar author

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (well, okay it was a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1977 in Hayward, California), something amazing and magical happened to me:

I saw Star Wars.

My review HERE
Never had a story enraptured me so completely. From the moment the Imperial Star Destroyer cruised inexorably and gloriously across the screen, to the final celebratory hero’s welcome (the whole audience cheered!), my eyes were as big as saucers and my four-year-old heart full to overflowing.

As we left the theater that day, I knew three very important things: 1) The Force was strong with me. 2) Luke Skywalker and I were meant to be together forever. 3) I wanted more, more, more stories about magic and mages, princesses who lead rebellions, and farm boys with epic destinies.

Over the next decade or so, I sought to fill the Star Wars-shaped hole in my heart and found great success, first through extensive make-believe. I dressed up as Princess Leia for Halloween two years running. I made lightsabers out of sticks and aluminum foil. I tried to make my little brother do my chores through the power of the Force.

As reading supplanted make-believe, I found wonderful Star Wars read-alikes with Lloyd Alexander, George MacDonald, and J.R.R. Tolkien (I read Lord of the Rings four times), and later with Terry Goodkind, David Eddings, and Robert Jordan. But my appetite was too ravenous for the pace of publishing, so I did what every geeky teenager in my situation does: I drew a map, sketched the faces of my merry band of quirky but lovable characters, and sat down to write the Best Novel Ever.

The Best Novel Ever featured a beautiful space princess with shiny hair buns, a handsome and morally ambiguous space pirate with a heart of gold, and an ingénue with boy-next-door good looks who was destined to become a mighty warrior.

Comes out Sept. 18th--and it's fabulous!
I was only a few (handwritten) chapters in when I realized with a sinking heart that the Best Novel Ever was thinly disguised Star Wars fan fiction. So I started over with Even Better Novel, which featured a wise and generously bearded wizard, an elven prince, a handful of grouchy-but-loveable dwarves, a ring of great power…

What followed was an adolescence of working through my angst by writing an interminable series of unoriginal knockoffs. I couldn’t maintain interest in any of them. I gave up writing.

In the interim, I kept reading, and I grew up a lot. The wish fulfillment aspect of fantasy fiction ceased to appeal to me, but I remained fascinated from a sociological perspective. I loved how the tropes of fantasy fiction such as the "hero’s journey" and the "chosen one" and the "amulet of power" could all be used to say important things about our society and how their perpetual appearance in fiction reveals so much about the psychology of humanity. And when I decided to try writing again, I discovered that I no longer wanted to extend and preserve that magical Star Wars experience so much as I wanted to be in a conversation with it.

In short, I had something to say about fantasy fiction, and the best way to do that was to write a book.

So that’s what I did. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about an amulet of power, a magical force, and a rebel princess. And even though (confession!) I still try to use the Force on a regular basis, it's nothing like Star Wars. It is, I hope, a response to it. And it was written with the hope that someday, someone would read it with the same wide-eyed sense of wonder that started me on my own epic journey.

And now for the GIVEAWAY OF AWESOME (be sure to thank Rae!)

Rae Carson says, "I'm offering a paperback of THE GIRL OF FIRE and THORNS and an ARC of THE CROWN OF EMBERS for a giveaway, signed and/or personalized per winner request. Open to U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. (If someone from the UK or Commonwealth wins, I'll send the UK version.)" How's that for fabulosity?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 20, 2012

PUSHING THE LIMITS Read-A-Long: Week 4

This fabulous event is hosted by Candace Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and Bewitched Bookworms.
Please check the intro post about the “Rules” and the Grand Prize.
Get a copy: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound |Book Depository
Find Katie McGarry:  website | Facebook | Twitter
And… for those who would rather win a copy and join the discussion later, we have a finished copy for you to win.

Schedule:

Special Event August 28th – Live Twitter Chat with Author Katie McGarry!

1. At a certain moment, Echo tells Noah that she feels safe with him. Echo thinks that because of this comforting feeling, she may be able to finally have a full night of peaceful sleep. Why do you think it is important for Echo to feel safe? And why no one else but Noah has been able to provide this to Echo?

Echo hasn't felt herself in a long time so it's got to be a huge relief when she finally has some comfort that makes her feel secure. Noah seems to be the only one to provide this comfort because he's willing to listen to her and look beneath her surface.

2. Beth, Noah's friend, also has a very complex life situation plus she also does drugs. However, what grabs my attention is her mean behavior towards Echo. Why do you think Beth hates/dislikes Echo so much?

Beth has very little to comfort her in this world, except for Noah and Isaiah. Then Echo shows up and threatens that small amount of security--it's no wonder Beth gets all up in Echo's face.

3.  At some point, we finally get to know how Noah's parents died at the fire and how it started. Unfortunately, this is something that has happened before. What tips to avoid a fire (especially when there are kids at home) do you know about?

What a terrible tragedy! It completely destroyed the family and tore the brothers apart. I'll always remember in grade school when we visited the fire department and learned all about Stop, Drop and Roll! Spot the Fire Dog taught us all about having a pre-planned escape route and a family meeting place. That dog knew his fire safety!

4. Echo finally discovers more about what really happened to her the day she got her scars at her mother's place. Unfortunately, this also involved Echo's father and Ashley. What do you think about them and to what point do you think it makes them responsible to what happened to Echo? 

Even though I think it's terrible they both kept this devastating event from Echo, I also believe her father was just trying to protect his daughter (and Ashley just went along with it--poor, bubble-headed girl). He knows how much her mother means to her. It's also easier for him to sweep the whole incident under the carpet and pretend like it didn't happen. Echo's more tractable when she's confused (and he likes 'em dopey and agreeable. See Ashley.).

5. On p.303 (of ARC) Echo said to Noah: "I love you...[y]ou love your brothers more. I'm okay with that. In fact, it's one of the things I love about you. You were right the other day. I do want to be part of a family. But I'd never forgive myself if I was the reason you didn't get yours... I love you enough to never make you choose."  What do you think of Echo's decision to break up with Noah? What does it mean to you?

I think it's pretty selfless of Echo to break up with Noah, especially considering he's the only one who makes her feel safe and loved. It might not be the right thing to do but it's definitely kind of her, since she does know how much Noah's brothers mean to him. With Echo out of his life, he can focus on pulling his family together.


QUESTIONS FOR WEEK 5
(Our last week--how sad!):

Pages 317 (Noah Chapter)-end

1. By finally returning to her art, Echo is working through her issues and taking control of her life. While she’s not ever going to return to her previous “normal”, she uses her art as a way to work her way to a place where she’s more comfortable with herself. How do you deal with the issues and stresses of your life?

2. Once Noah gives his brothers and their soon-to-be adoptive parents a happy ending, he decides to get his own by winning Echo back. Why does he think stealing her file is the best way to do it? Any other (better) suggestions for the poor boy?

3. Echo finally uncovers the terrible truth of what her mother did to her. Now that we know the truth, do you think Echo’s father did the right thing by covering up the incident and keeping it from her? How do you think he should have handled it?

4. Mrs. Collins plays an integral role in helping Echo and Noah find a new normal and happiness in their lives. Tell us about someone in your life who helped you, someone who changed your life, was there for you, or offered help/comfort when you most needed it (or when you didn’t know you needed it).

5. Another major truth is revealed when Echo’s father finally opens up to his daughter and tells her about her mother and how his relationship with Ashley evolved. Knowing this, how do you feel about Ashley now? And what did you think when you learned the name of the baby?

6. Echo and Noah ride off into the sunset together. *happy sigh* If you had the chance, who would you ride off with and where would you go?




Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tiny heartbreaks: Book Breakups

After reading a glut of absolute awesomeness, I ran into a series of books I just couldn't get into. While I realize that not every book will suit me, I always go into a book with high hopes. Sadly, I had to break up with them.

YA SciFi
368 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. 

But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie. So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it. The choice isn't as simple as you think.

A cute premise, non? I mean, at some point in their life, everyone's wished to change places with someone for whatever reason (me, I'd like to temporarily switch places with Thea Harrison or Stephen King or another awesome author, if only to get a glimpse inside their crazy brains). Switching a plain, boring life for a rich, awesome-sounding one seems like it's going to be awesome...even when the reader knows everything's going to go wrong.

Sadly, I just wasn't a fan of poor Annie in either of her incarnations. She played the poor me card a bit too often for my taste especially when she had a very quirky, loving family that a lot of people would kill for. So what if she didn't have money? Of course, that's the whole point. Anyway, I couldn't connect with Annie so this one was shelved.


YA Paranormal
288 pages, hardcover
Available August 28, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

I was so confused in this story...until I finally had to stop reading. While I enjoy some mystery and twists and turns in stories, I don't want to be confused or feel like I'm kept in the dark for too long. I need to know what's going on, be driven to read on with little teases and drops of information. Don't starve me, man! I'm a greedy girl who wants to know everything (though not all at once). As in the dark as Mia is about her family and the demon possession and everything Milanese, so was I. 

While I did enjoy the Milan aspect (Call me a travel 'ho. I can take it.), it wasn't enough to keep me reading.


Paranormal Romance
400 pages, paperback
Expected publication: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley

A lapsed Wiccan, Indira Simon doesn't believe in magic anymore. But when strange dreams of being sacrificed to an ancient Babylonian god have her waking up with real rope burns on her wrists, she's forced to acknowledge that she may have been too hasty in her rejection of the unknown. Then she meets mysterious and handsome Father Tomas. Emerging from the secrecy of an obscure Gnostic sect, he arrives with stories of a demon, a trio of warrior witches-and Indira's sacred calling. Yet there's something even Tomas doesn't know, an inescapable truth that will force him to choose between saving the life of the woman he's come to love-and saving the world.

After striking out with a couple young adult novels, I tried to get over my broken reading heart with a paranormal romance. They usually do the trick but I guess I was still slumpy because this one just couldn't fix me. I think it was the priest. Sure, he's hot and questioning his faith but...he's a priest. Father Thomas. He's taboo, and I guess my Catholic background kicked in because I just couldn't accept him as the lust-worthy hero.

Then there's Indira, the lapsed Wiccan who floats back into her religion when it suits her. She keeps telling herself not to drool on the hot priest but can't seem to help herself. The premise is quite intriguing and I really wanted to like Indira and Thomas but it just didn't gel for me.


These Book Breakups are inspired by Lori at Pure Imagination (I don't know if she's the one who started this but her blog is where I saw it first so there you go!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Not just playing games: INSIGNIA by S.J. Kincaid

YA Science Fiction
444 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Positive: Teen boy protagonist. Tom. Is. Awesome. Coming from a rough home life (well, no home life, really, since he and his dad don't have a permanent residence), Tom has to survive but he wants to excel. So, when an amazing opportunity falls into his lap, he jumps at it. Tom's got a survival instinct like no one else at the academy and, even though he wants a "normal" life, he never quite lets go of that edge.

Positive: Gamer heaven. While I wouldn't call myself a serious gamer, I do like video games (Skyrim, FTW) and this world, this academy, is most definitely gamer heaven. With ridiculously realistic virtual reality, real-life battles deep in space, and fellow gamers to geek out with, gamer geekery rules at the Spire!

Positive: Politics and intrigue. Even though the teens are waging the virtual war, it is still a war which means military and political shenanigans. Companies sponsor the teens (someone's got to pay for the very expensive toys, after all), meaning plenty of money is changing hands. Tom and his fellow recruits are at the center of the battle.

Wish: A chip in my head. Recruits get a chip in their head that gives them access to All The Knowledge. Of course, it comes with some very bad side effects (like people being able to hack your brain--eep!), so it's probably a good thing this wish will not come true, at least in my lifetime.

Overall: Fabulous! I will most definitely be putting this book into the hands of my students with high praise. Oh, and even though it seems it'll be part of a series, this book can definitely be read as a stand-alone as it has a fabulous ending.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Speed date with Elvie: MOTHERSHIP by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

YA Science Fiction
320 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers 
Review copy provided by publisher via Amazon Vine for honest review

Teen pregnancy is never easy—especially not when extraterrestrials are involved. The first in a new trilogy.

Elvie Nara was doing just fine in the year 2074. She had a great best friend, a dad she adored, and bright future working on the Ares Project on Mars. But then she had to get involved with sweet, gorgeous, dumb-as-a-brick Cole—and now she’s pregnant.

Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole. She hasn’t seen him since she told him she’s pregnant, and now he’s bursting into her new home to tell her that her teachers are aliens and want to use her unborn baby to repopulate their species? Nice try, buddy. You could have just called.

So fine, finding a way off this ship is priority number one, but first Elvie has to figure out how Cole ended up as a commando, work together with her arch-nemesis, and figure out if she even wants to be a mother—assuming they get back to Earth in one piece.

Over-the-top, snort-inducing fun, that's what MOTHERSHIP is. Elvie makes a mistake (of the "Oops, I just fell on it and got pregnant" kind) and winds up on a repurposed, floating cruise ship with a bunch of other pregnant teens. She's not pleased, especially since her least-favorite person is also aboard and just as knocked up as Elvie.

Then the ship's attacked and the boy who knocked the both of them up appears as one of the rescuers and things get...weird. While the whole "aliens repopulating their species and, oh yeah, there are bad aliens out to kill them" storyline is a bit silly, no one ever said this was anything more than brain candy. 

The ending leaves something to be desired though, especially since I don't feel there's enough there for a whole series (it would have been much better as a stand-alone). But, that aside, it was a cute read.




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on...LORD'S FALL by Thea Harrison

Holy cow, y'all. This is seriously one of my very favorite series out there, and I'm drooling in anticipation of another story focused on Dragos (literally drooling over him here!) and his mate, Pia. There's such incredible chemistry between the two of them so I can't wait to see what strains their bonds and causes them trouble. Now, the cover...meh. I want me some hot Dragos chest, please! I suppose the cover has meaning, though. But I don't care. I'm shallow and want a hot man on my paranormal romance.

Paranormal Romance
304, paperback
Expected publication: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Berkley

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two mates find themselves on different paths, torn between their duty to the Wyr and the passion that binds them...

Before she met Dragos, half-human half-wyr Pia Giovanni was alone and on the run. Now, she's mated, pregnant and heading south to repair the Wyr's frayed relationship with the Elves. Being separated from Dragos is painful, but for the good of the Wyr demesne they need to figure out how to be partners, in more places than just the bedroom.

In New York to preside over the Sentinel Games, Dragos is worried about his mate, but knows that finding two replacement sentinels is essential to show the rest of the Elder Races just how strong and brutal the Wyr demesne can be. But as the games heat up, Pia's negotiations with the Elves take a turn for the dangerous, straining her bond with Dragos and threatening everything they hold dear...

Available for pre-order on Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble 

Waiting On is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

PUSHING THE LIMITS Read-A-Long: Week 3

This fabulous event is hosted by Candace Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and Bewitched Bookworms.
Please check the intro post about the “Rules” and the Grand Prize.
Get a copy: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound |Book Depository
Find Katie McGarry:  website | Facebook | Twitter
And… for those who would rather win a copy and join the discussion later, we have a finished copy for you to win.

Schedule:

Special Event August 28th – Live Twitter Chat with Author Katie McGarry!

1. In the beginning of this section Noah decides to ignore Echo because he's angry and hurt.  What did you think of this?  Have you ever experienced a friendship that went awry and they started ignoring you?

Holy cow, that's the worst feeling in the world. Senior year of college, my roommate decided I offended her in some way (she never told me how or explained any of it), started acting wonky, talking behind my back and running me down in our circle of friends. Luckily, my other friends didn't pay much attention to what she said but it made for a very uncomfortable last year. Which really sucked. So, while I kind of understood why Noah did it, I needed for him to get over it quickly and forgive Echo.

2. Noah has a bit of a false reputation.  Everyone thinks he's a big druggie and a guy that just randomly hooks up with girls.  While some of it is true to a certain extent, we see it's not really him.  Have you ever had a false reputation where people draw their own conclusions?  Do you think Noah should do something to make people not think that about him?

I think Noah actually perpetuates this rep, acting how he does. And I can't really blame him, considering how the foster care system failed him. But he needs to lose that chip on his shoulder and grow up, too.

3. Ashley finds out she's having a boy and informs Echo she will have a brother 'again'.  Echo took this very personally and was extremely upset.  Do you think Echo overreacted?  Do you think Ashley meant that the new brother would replace her brother?

I think Ashley's just a bubble-headed dingbat and didn't mean that the baby would be a replacement. Ashley's a pain in the butt and if I were in Echo's place I'd hate the chick so I don't really blame Echo for overreacting (plus, she's a teenager. Overreaction is her middle name.)

4. Echo doesn't remember what happened with her mother and for this reason she has troubles seeing her the way everyone else does.  She can't seem to not miss her and still wants to talk to her.  Do you think she should pursue finding her mom?  Do you think it will help her or do you think she would be in danger?

Well, no one else is telling her what happened, even though it seems they know, so it's up to her to find out, if she ever wants to get back her memories. Even though it's traumatic and obviously a terrible event, considering she blanked it out, I think she needs to figure out what happened, even if there is danger. If she doesn't, it'll gnaw at her and she won't be able to move on.

5. Noah doesn't trust the people who have his brothers because of his own past situations.  He decides to seek out a lawyer himself and try to get custody.  Do you think this is his best move?  Do you think there are some other options he should consider? 

I think it's a terrible move but he wants his family back together and feels it's his only choice. It would ruin his chances at a "normal" life, at a good future, but I also think it's honorable and very typically Noah that he puts his brothers and family above his own needs. What he really needs to do is stop judging everyone by his horrible past experiences and try to talk to the foster parents.

6. Echo finds out that Noah and his parents built houses for Habitat for Humanity.  Have you ever volunteered for something like that?  What is a cause that you feel strongly about?

I love that! Actually, I volunteered for Habitat in college and just a couple of years ago. It's so cool working with the people who will actually live in the house you're helping to build. I'm not usually so hands-on though, preferring to donate to groups like the WWF, North Shore Animal League, and other animal-related charities.

Visit CANDACE'S BOOK BLOG and DAZZLING READS for Week 4 Questions!



Monday, August 13, 2012

Purple Perfection: ENDLESSLY by Kiersten White

YA Paranormal
389 pages, hardcover
Available now (July 2012)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Review copy purchased

Evie's paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.

The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie's hands.

So much for normal.

Positive: The characters. Oh, Evie! You're so awesome. And Reth and Lend and Raquel and Jack (oh, Jack!) and Lend's dad and all the other supes and even the bad guys. They're all fabulously drawn, filled with depth, passion, and heart. Y'all bleeping rock!

Positive: The romance. Evie and Lend have a fantastic relationship built on mutual attraction, trust, and love. It's been hard work for both of them and even in this story, their road is not a simple or easy one. With no insta-love or all-consuming, gotta-have-him-or-I'll-die-blerg-ness (thank you, God--amen!), Evie and Lend make a fabulous couple, a model I'd like to see more of, especially in young adult novels. *waves wand* *makes it happen*

Positive: The very satisfying ending. While I'm sad to see The End, it's been a great ride, and I appreciate Kiersten White's decision to finish up this series and move on to something new. Many times, series can go on too long, limping along like a bewildered zombie, dropping body parts along the way. Better to take off its head and end it cleanly.

Wish: I'm not actually sure I have any wishes for this novel or even for the series. If forced, I guess it would be that Evie and Lend didn't have to make such a heart-wrenching decision at the end but even that was something I don't think I'd change because it added depth and character.

Overall: If you haven't read this series, what are you waiting for? There's simply no excuse for missing out on Evie and her adventures (complete with Tasey, the bejeweled pink taser!).