Saturday, February 26, 2011

End-of-Feburary In Our Mailbox (2/15-2/26)

Saturday, February 26, 2011 with
"In My Mailbox" is a weekly event that gives book bloggers a chance share with each other what books got added to their to-be-read pile for the week. It was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Click on the link to join in on the fun!

These are the books that Leslie and I bought, won and received for review between February 15 to 26. We are so excited for all of them, especially Demonglass, Sean Griswold's Head and Ten Miles Past Normal.



For Review
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Haunted by Joy Preble
Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
Girl Wonder by Alexis Martin
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
The Liberation of Alice Love by Abby McDonald
Treasure Me by Robyn DeHart
As You Wish by Gabi Stevens
Kiss Me If You Can by Carly Phillips
(A big THANK YOU to Disney Hyperion, Sourcebooks, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury Teen, Hachette, Tor and RomCon for sending us the books.)

Won
Orchards by Holly Thompson



Bought
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
The Season by Sarah Maclean
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

What did you get this week?

Friday, February 25, 2011

ghayes ARC: 324 pages
Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: March 1, 2011
ISBN:
9780451232687
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.
As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.
And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.


Leslie's Review:
From the blurb, Falling Under sounds like your typical Fallen/Twilight paranormal young adult. While I thought those books were okay I didn't particularly care to re-read them again or continue on with the series. Falling Under was pretty much a mix of Fallen and Twilight but it was so MUCH better. It's a WOW of a book.

For the most part, I really liked Falling Under because I really related with the heroine Theia. We both live a sheltered life as shy, good girls. I never thought that shy good girls like us could be good-heroine material so I was surprised that Theia turned out to be one. Throughout the book I watched her become braver, stronger and more stubborn but still she stayed true to her good and caring self. I loved how Theia would get so annoyed with Haden (the love interest) half the time as she should because he was one of those hot and cold types--it made her less damsel-helplessly-in-love. I don't know... there's just something about these kind of heroes that you love to hate but end up falling for anyway. I rooted for these two and they have become one of my favorite hero and heroine in YA fiction.

I will admit that the plot was predictable at times but it never took away from the joy I had reading it. The plot, characters and the writing were great and exciting that I'd get so into it and couldn't put the book down. This book is awesome! It's a must-read for Twilight, Fallen and all paranormal young adult fans. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. 5 out of 5 stars
The book video of the week is Bumped by Megan McCafferty.

I've been wanting to get my hands on this book because these days if I'm not reading funny and romantic young adult, I'm reaching for a dystopian. And while Bumped was under my 2011 release radar, it's not an I-need-to-read-it book. But once I found out it's was partly inspired by Jamie Lynn Spears (intriguing!) and it's a dystopian that will make you laugh? Well, I'm sold!

Here's the trailer:


Let me know what you all think of the trailer. If already read the book (lucky duck!), what did you think of it?


And here's the blurb (from Goodreads) and book cover (just in case):
bumped
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

jenna&jonah Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Release Date: Feb. 1, 2011
ISBN:
9780802721624
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers-known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on... Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Michelle's Review:
My interest for Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance was sparked by the bubble gum pink cover and the plot about two tween TV stars being force to pretend to have a romantic relationship. It sounded like a fun read and the two main characters remind me of the stars of shows like iCarly and Lizzie McGuire and them being possibly forced in the same situation by their network.

Our two main characters in Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance were Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers (whose real name is Aaron). They're the stars of a popular tween TV series called Jenna & Jonah's How to Be a Rock Star. They are also regular fodder for the gossip magazines owing to their off-screen romance. But, unbeknownst to everyone, their "relationship" was actually one big publicity stunt to keep the ratings up on their show. In reality Charlie and Fielding/Aaron couldn't stand each other. When a rumor got out about Fielding that blew their cover and consequently canceled their show, both were forced to leave Hollywood and hide out for a while as their agents do some damage control. Left on their own and away from the public's eye, Charlie and Aaron get to see each other in a different light and really get to know one another. They find themselves falling for each other but before they can act upon their feelings, they were once again thrust into the limelight. Is it too late for a true romantic relationship between Charlie and Aaron? Is it even possible now that they are going into two different paths?

For the most part I quite enjoyed this book. There were a few parts that made me laugh out loud and a few romantic parts that made me sigh. I liked the alternating perspective between Charlie and Aaron--like in most books I've read that were written this way, I felt like I got to know and empathize with both characters a lot more than if I'm only reading from just one of their perspective. As for the pacing, I thought the first two-thirds of the book were great--I liked seeing Charlie and Aaron in Hollywood and when they were hiding out in Aaron's plantation I liked watching them slowly fall for each other. But when it got to the last third, amidst all the Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing rehearsals, Charlie and Aaron trying to prove themselves to the disbelieving theater folks, Charlie's insecurities about her acting, the Charlie/Aaron-Benedick/Beatrice parallel... I thought it got really busy and the story lost me. As for characters, I equally liked both Aaron and Charlie. The whole "opposites attract" thing they had going on was cute: Charlie was emancipated from her parents at an early age while Aaron was still has his parents though they're living in Ohio; Charlie constantly worries about her career while Aaron dreams of leaving it all behind and going to college. There were also some great back and forth banter between them. However, I thought Aaron's character was stronger, better developed. I found myself caring more about his than I did Charlie.

Overall, I enjoyed Jenna & Jonah and it was a very quick, entertaining read for me. It has a cute romance and provides us a peek into the lives of television stars and [the sometimes absurdness of] Hollywood. If you're into the fun, romantic comedy type of young adult, you should look into this book. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Mad Love along with Coffeehouse Angel HERE.

jenna&jonah Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Release Date: Jan. 4, 2011
ISBN:
9780802784506
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Michelle's Review:
Alice was the daughter of Belinda Amorous, the bestselling romance novelist dubbed as the Queen of Romance, who has been dealing with her mother's bipolar disorder for years. With her mother admitted in a mental hospital and her having to keep it a secret from the public, life has been pretty hard for the 16-year-old. Her mother's next book long overdue and her publisher was threatening to take back her mom's advance and royalty payments, Alice needed to write her mom's next book book pronto. When a strange guy claiming to be the real-life Cupid shows up demanding she write his story, he may be the answer to her prayers despite her disbelief that he's a mythological god.

Although Mad Love deals a serious topic (bipolar disorder) I thought it a quick, enjoyable read. It puts a different spin on the Cupid/Psyche mythology that I really liked and it's a nice mix of romance and real-life issues. I thought the characters were okay in the beginning but as the story went on you grow to sort of care for them, especially Alice and Errol. Alice, in particular, was dealing with a lot of stuff that you just want to hug her. The other secondary characters were okay too and provided some comedic relief--I especially liked Mrs. Bobot, Reverend Ruttles and Archibald, the tenants in Alice's apartments. They were the sort of people I would want to take care of me.

The pacing of the book was steady--there was no real surprises or plot twists. I was actually waiting for some big secret reveal or a twist in Alice and Errol's relationship but there was none. In the end, I am glad the author left their relationship the way she did as it made it all the more special. Love is one of the themes in the book and I liked that it didn't just deal with romantic love but more with familial, friendship and neighborly love. Mad Love is one of those books that I enjoyed and liked overall but it left me wanting more--more character development maybe? More emotion? I know I'm not making any sense but I just didn't feel as involved in the story or feel that deeper emotion for Alice or Errol and what they were going through. But for the most part, I thought Mad Love is a quick, easy standalone read with a feel-good message. 3.75 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 21, 2011

Q&A with author Molly Harper and GIVEAWAY

Monday, February 21, 2011 with
Today we have Molly Harper, author of the Jane Jameson series and her latest HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF is coming out in stores February 22 (tomorrow!). Please join us in welcoming her.

sselforsHi Molly! Thank you for stopping by our blog. Please tell us about yourself in 140 characters (like on Twitter).
Kentucky-born former newspaper reporter turned novelist, married to high school sweetheart, two kids/potential evil geniuses. Still in mourning for Buffy.

What are three frivolous things you cannot live without when you're writing?
-Coca-Cola, I need caffeine for those late nights.
-Melba Toast Rounds, Sea Salt-flavored. It feels healthier than eating chips.
-Something funny on TV like The Office or Glee. Or CSI: NY, for some reason, Gary Sinise being all science-y gets me going.

Your top three werewolf character crushes.
-Joe Manganiello, Alcide from True Blood. Holy Scruffy Hotness, Batman! I always thought of that character as sort of weak in the books, what with his inability to stand up to Debbie Pelt. But Manganiello helped humanize him and make his struggle more sympathetic. And hot. Really, really hot.
-James Spader in Wolf. OK, yeah, he was evil. But he was intriguing and evil.
-Seth Green as Oz on Buffy. I wouldn't really want to date him. I would just want to hang out with him and hear him quip.

sselfors Your favorite scene to write from HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF?
I've said before that the scene in which Mo helps Cooper recover from having the bear-trap on his ankle was hard to write. I was trying to balance this revelation that Cooper’s a werewolf with humor and Mo’s natural disbelief, not to mention the romantic chemistry. When I sent it to my agent and she wrote back, “Oh, my Gosh, you’ve made Cooper so hot!” And I’ve never had that reaction from her before, so I knew I had something good going. But I think my favorite scene was their first love scene. It’s very intense, aggressive and a lot of clothing gets destroyed. It's definitely a new direction for me.

What songs would be in the HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF soundtrack?
You're in luck! I posted a whole playlist of songs I listened to while writing the book. I'm trying to do this for all of my books. You can find it at http://singleundeadfemale.blogspot.com/2011/01/playlist-for-how-to-flirt-with-naked.html
Some of the music is a little grandiose, I but was writing about Alaska, a place that's open and grand and sort of dramatic. Some of my favorites from the list are Strange and Beautiful - Aqualung, Heartless - The Fray (Swing House Sessions), Black Milk - Massive Attack, Lacrymosa - Evanescence, and Apologize - Silverstein.

What's next after HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF? Do you have any current writing projects?
The sequel, THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF comes out on March 29. Then there's the release of the fourth book in the Jane Jameson series, which I hope will be some time later this year. And I'm writing two "spinoff" books of the Half-Moon Hollow setting, involving people who are connected to Jane.

Thanks for stopping by Molly! Be sure to check out Molly's website for more info on her books, herself and other updates as well as Twitter and Facebook.

GIVEAWAY time! I'll be giving away a copy of HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF to one lucky reader!

To enter, simply fill out the form:

Click HERE if you cannot see the form above.

IMPORTANT: See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. By entering the giveaway, you agree to the terms stated on that page. Good luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mid-February In Our Mailbox

Sunday, February 20, 2011 with
"In My Mailbox" is a weekly event that gives book bloggers a chance share with each other what books got added to their to-be-read pile for the week. It was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. Click on the link to join in on the fun!

We decided that from now on we're just going to do two IMMs in a month--mid-month and at the end of the month. This our mid-February book haul. Not only did we get books but we also received a few swag as well which we found were just as exciting to get.

The first half of the video are the books we received on February 14th. The book gods must have known Leslie and I both didn't have anyone special to spend Valentine's Day with so they sent us all those books to make us feel better. Haha. We were so excited that we did a vlog right then:

Bought
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

For Review
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Divergent by Veronica Roth
(A big THANK YOU to Little Brown, HarperTeen, Harlequin Teen, Penguin Teen and Simon & Schuster.)

Won
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (signed)
The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook
Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Timeless by Alexandra Monir
Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Swag
Penguin's Breathless Reads Buttons
Sean Griswold's Head bookmarks from Lindsey Leavitt
Starstruck bookmarks from Cyn Balog
Angelfire stickers and bookmarks from Courtney Allison Moulton


What did you get this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

We have the pleasure of interviewing author Suzanne Selfors today. Her latest release is Mad Love (which is next on my TBR pile and will be reviewing next week). Please join us in welcoming her.

sselfors Hi Suzanne! Welcome to our book blog! Please tell us about yourself in 140 characters--like a Twitter bio.
Mother, wife, reader, cook, gardener, dog-walker, WRITER!

If you could trade places with one of your characters in Mad Love for one day, who would you choose and why?
There could only be one answer to this question - Cupid, of course. To get the chance to be one of the Roman gods? Sign me up.

Do any of your characters in Mad Love or your other books have a quirk that is entirely autobiographical?
Hmmm. I've never thought about that. The tricky thing is, even though I've never written about myself, there is no way I can keep myself from seeping into my characters. Every author can be found within his/her writing.

How is Mad Love different from your other books?
It's darker than my other two teen books. Some of my readers will not like that. It's also quirkier. It doesn't fit easily into a category. It's different. But like my other books, it's filled with humor and hope. And lots of love.

What is next after Mad Love? Do you have any current projects?
I'm working on my next YA that will be published in 2012. I'm keeping the plot a secret but I will reveal that it's a fairy tale, with a prince, a farmboy and a peasant girl.


Here is a book trailer of Mad Love made by Suzanne's kids and it's one of the best "homemade" book trailers I've seen.

Be sure to check out Suzanne's website for more info on her books, herself and other updates. It even has a "for teachers" tab where you can download worksheets and get curriculum and art ideas for her books--me being a teacher I think that's super awesome!

Okay... GIVEAWAY time! A lucky reader is in for a late Valentine's Day treat! :D

Thanks to Kate and Bloomsbury Teen, I have a copy of Mad Love AND Coffeehouse Angel to giveaway!

To enter, simply leave a thoughtful comment below and fill out the form:

Click HERE if you cannot see the form above.

IMPORTANT: See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. By entering the giveaway, you agree to the terms stated on that page. Good luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ironwitch Trade Paperback: 289 pages
Publisher: Flux

Release Date: Feb. 8, 2011
ISBN:
9780738725826
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.
When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Michelle's Review:
The Iron Witch is about a girl named Donna whose parents were part of this secret society of alchemists that, among other things, protects humans from the fey. When Donna was seven, she was taken by the wood elves. Besides her dad dying trying to save her and her mom never being right after that night, her arms were also severely injured. The only way to heal them was by magic and, as a result of that, Donna now has silver and iron tattoos branding her arms that she hides by wearing long gloves. Along with the unusual tattoos, she also has super strength. She has lived with her aunt ever since the attack and attended the local high school until recently when she was expelled after the mean girl got her mad and her temper got the better of her (super strength + a temper=bad combination). The only person keeping Donna's life from pretty much sucking all the time was her best and only friend Navin who didn't know about her past. Until she met Xan--a hot, half-faerie boy who understood her like no one else. Then, Navin was kidnapped by the same wood elves who took her when she was young. With Xan's help, can she save Navin in time?

The first thing that caught my interest about The Iron Witch was its gorgeous cover (and it looks even better in real-life). The blurb was interesting too and it reminded me of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. I was lucky enough to have received an early copy from the publisher but when reviews started popping up, they were mix. So, with trepidation and admittedly low expectations I began reading and you know what, it's not bad. I ended up enjoying it despite the few problems I had. I'm even excited for the next book in the series.

Donna was your typical young adult heroine--likable, brave yet impulsive, stubborn and falls in love at first sight. I would have preferred that the story was told in first person instead of third person limited through Donna. As for Xan, he was also likable and was surprisingly a nice guy (I wasn't expecting him to be nice when he was first introduced)--he stood by Donna without question. It was hinted that he has a dark past and he's still a bit of a mystery and I'm looking forward to knowing more about him in the next book. The other secondary characters like Maker, who worked on Donna's arm and make magical contraptions, have the potential to becoming more interesting in the next book. There may be a possible love triangle between Xan, Donna and Navin in the next book as well.

The main plot line in the book was the kidnapping and the rescue of Navin but that didn't actually happen until the last third of the book. For the most part, it was mostly back story about Donna's past and her and Xan talking about it. The two opposing sides of the conflict (the fey and the alchemists) were also introduced. However, like other reviewers, I thought the world building was never really realized. We sort of got to know where the fey was coming from but I wanted to know more about the alchemists, their secret society, their magic, what are they really up to--they were more interesting to me. I'm hoping we'll learn more about them in the next book.

The Iron Witch was a quick, easy read. It has an interesting premise and great ideas albeit not quite carried through. But if you're into faerie books and looking for your next read, you might want to look into this book. 3 out 5 stars

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why I covet this book: I quite enjoyed the first two books in the series Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate and I am very eager to read the conclusion of the Prophecy of the Sisters series.

I'm especially curious about the "bad" sister Alice and what her fate it. I'm expecting some twists, secrets about the Prophecy revealed, action, drama and a satisfying ending where most questions will be answered.

Oh. And also for Lia and Dimitri to get married, have twins of their own and live happily ever after.


ashesashesCircle of Fire by Michelle Zink (out August 2011)
With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers.



For more info about the series, visit the author's website and Goodreads.



"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here.
It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!

Monday, February 14, 2011

waterwars Hard Cover: 240 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: January 1, 2011
ISBN:
9781402243691
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.


Leslie's Review: ***Warning: May include spoilers***
I was pretty excited to read this book because of its cool cover, then I got iffy about reading it because of the mixed reviews. But when I finally started reading it, it turned out to be pretty good. The plot line was actually interesting. I liked how the author set it in the future and besides fantastical technology, there is a worldwide drought and anyone and everyone will do anything for a glass of water. I thought that was such a unique and even more realistic futuristic setting than most dystopian books. The setting added to the excitement and vividness of the plot that whenever I stopped reading, it took me awhile to convince myself there is no drought. However, I thought maybe the author tried a little too hard to keep the plot exciting at some parts that it felt forced and didn't flow as well as it should.

The characters in this book were bit of an issue for me, though. There were so many plane crashes, bullets and wounds the main characters had to live through that I found myself wondering if anybody could really live through all that. I know it's fiction but for most of the book I couldn't believe these people were humans. Still, I admired them for all of their strength and courage, most especially Vera and her older brother Will. My favorite aspect of the book was Vera and Kai's relationship. Even though they weren't together for most of the book, Vera had to go through so much violence and physical hurt just to save Kai--I just found that romantic and I thought it was cool how it's the girl doing the saving and not the guy.

As for the writing, it's not a very strenuous book to read and can be enjoyed in a few hours. Overall, I thought this book was an okay read--I didn't have many problems with it. If you're into a dystopian that could plausibly happen in the future complete with courageous characters off on a thrilling adventure to save a friend you may like The Water Wars. 3 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WINNERS

Sunday, February 13, 2011 with
Labels:
I'm here to announce the winners for our giveaways that ended in mid-February. Thank you all for entering!

The 3 lucky winners (out of 86 entries) of the book How Sweet It Is by Sophie Gunn are...
Tara Tagli
Katie Pashalieva
Renetta Endlich


The 3 lucky winners (out of 116 entries) of the book Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt are...
Jane Cheung Dawn Cook
Ronda Noel
Neljo Mullins
**Jane already won the book on another blog. Thanks for letting me know Jane!**


The 3 lucky winners (out of 100 entries) of the books Deadly Heat and Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden are...
Edna Bonifacio
Helen Keeler
Doug Wauneka


The 3 lucky winners (out of 69 entries) of the book To Tempt a Rake by Cara Elliott are...
Melissa Roberge
Cindy Lacey
Laura King


wesleypayne
The lucky winner (out of 48 entries) of Going Nowhere Faster by Sean Beaudoin is...
Teri Crosby


Congratulations winners! I already have your info but please email me ASAP if you already won the same title in another blog: chelleyreads AT gmail DOT com. Those who didn't win this time around, don't despair. There are many other giveaways to come soon! :)


Also, FYI--

Tomorrow, February 14 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST Forever Romance and Grand Central Publishing is having a Valentine's Day Twitter Party! Some of your favorite Forever Romance authors will be there for a full day of giveaways, Q&As and fun. Just use the hashtag #4evrloveday in your tweets.
***This giveaway will run for only a week. It ends on Feb. 20 so the winner may receive their copy as close to the release date as possible.***

Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower looks really dark and filled with plenty of historical drama. My romance novel heart also can't help but be drawn to that cover. Historical fiction is not my usual read of choice unless it's being marketed as a young adult or a romance novel but when I ran across this book on Goodreads, I couldn't help but stop for a minute and look more into it. I actually found myself wikipedia-ing the names after I read the blurb:


In 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella expel the Jews from Spain, six year old Esther Sarfati finds herself traveling to Rome to join her father, a successful banker who has helped his fellow Spaniard, Rodrigo Borgia, finance his bid for the Papacy. Nine years later, as Pope Alexander VI, he repays the favor by offering Esther a place in the household of his daughter, Lucrezia, who is about to marry Alfonso d'Este, heir to the Duchy of Ferrara. Against her own better judgement, but in accordance with her father's wishes for her future, Esther converts to Christianity and enters Lucrezia's service as lady-in-waiting. Flattered by Lucrezia's favour, seduced by the friendship of her cousin, Angela Borgia and swept off her feet by Lucrezia's glamorous and dangerous brother, Cesare, she is drawn into a web of intrigue and deceit which will test her heart to its utmost and burden her with secrets she must carry to her grave. Set against the glittering background of the court of Ferrara in the early sixteenth century, this is the heart-breaking story of what happens to an innocent abroad in the world of the Borgias.

Looks and sounds good, yeah? This book doesn't come out until March 8 and thanks to Beth and Sourcebooks, I can giveaway a copy of Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower.

If you're interesting in winning a copy of this book simply fill out the form to enter:
Click HERE if you cannot see the form above.

IMPORTANT: See "Special Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. By entering the giveaway, you agree to the terms stated on that page. Good luck!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I haven't done one of these posts in a while because I haven't found a book trailer where I got really excited about the book the book trailer is advertising.

Until I found the trailer for Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King that is.

I first heard of Please Ignore Vera Dietz a few months ago when reviews started to pop up around the blogosphere. I pretty much ignored them all because when I saw that yellow green cover with a lighter I was turned off and was convinced it wasn't a book I'd like.

Then I saw the trailer, replayed it a bunch of time and fell in love with the blurb (and I'm assuming it's a blurb from the book itself) from the video just a little bit more each time. I think I'm going to like Vera's character and her voice in the book very much.

Okay, enough yapping from me. Here's the trailer:


Let me know what you all think of the trailer. If you read the book, what did you think of it?


And here's the blurb (from Goodreads) and book cover:
oncewaslost
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book We Covet: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 with
Why we covet this book: Leslie and I both want this book. The premise sounds interesting and we love that it's "part psychological drama [which I love], part romance [which Leslie loves because she's a romantic sap... okay, me too], part mystery [who doesn't love a mystery read?]." And a book that may make you think and inspire you? Well, June can't come soon enough.


ashesashesForgotten by Cat Patrick (out June 2011)
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.





"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series I am going to be doing here.
It will feature books I am very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is similar to the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. However, some of the books may already be published and others may still be in pre-order. I will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. Click on the WoW image on the left to join in!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

oncewaslost Trade Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Little Brown for Young Readers

Release Date: Jan. 4, 2011
ISBN:
9780316036030
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)

As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy into the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI, and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town goes missing, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.
In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—about God, your family, and yourself—is transformed.

Michelle's Review:
Once Was Lost was my first Christian-themed read and I really liked it. Our first person narrator was 15-year-old Samara Taylor who was going through a lot of problems including that fact that she's questioning her faith. Her family was far from the perfect one they pretend to be and while her dad, the pastor, seemed to have all the time and all the right words for those in the congregation, when it comes to his own family he's always too busy and often turns a blind eye to problems going on at home. Before her mom landed in rehab, Sam had to take care of her when she overindulged but when her mom Sam felt more alone than ever and she thinks she may be depressed. When Jody Shaw was kidnapped in town, shock and suspicion falls over the community. With her dad immersed in the helping the Jody's family and the community through their terrible time, Sam must work through her internal turmoil, convince her mom to come home and get her family back together.

Although there was the side plot of Jody Shaw's kidnapping, it's ultimately Sam's story. She was flawed, realistic and though I thought she was mature, I believed she was a 15-year-old. She felt alone and misunderstood--her friends think she's a goody-goody just because she's the pastor's daughter and they leave her behind with some of the things they do. She didn't feel the same about her religion the way she did when she was younger and felt guilty. She doesn't really have anyone to talk to and her dad was too busy taking care of everyone else. I understood Sam and I knew exactly how she felt because I went through the myriad of confusion about faith myself and I thought the author captured her inner turmoil perfectly. The questions she asked in the book, I myself asked at one point or other in my life.

I usually stay way from realistic fiction like this book and I was afraid this book was going to be sad and depressing but it wasn't at all. Once Was Lost was a thoughtful story of faith, love, family and redemption. I really enjoyed the unhurried way the author told Sam's story--it was well-paced and at only 244 pages it felt like a longer novel (but in a good way--it's more a "full meal" type of book than a snack). The ending wasn't tied up all nice and neat and some questions remained but it's hopeful and happy. If you're looking for a quick yet heartfelt read look no further than Once Was Lost. 4 out 5 stars

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How We Spent Our Saturday (Vlog)

Saturday, February 5, 2011 with
Labels:
I am still on a reading slump which is very frustrating and the pile for review books I have yet to read is looking very menacing right now. But no matter how I hard try I just can't concentrate on any book for some reason.

So I did something I have been putting off for a long time: cleaning and clearing my bookshelf. Then, Leslie, Aubrey and I took the books to the library to donate and did some browsing too. Here's video of our day:

Friday, February 4, 2011

You've probably seen this post on a few of your favorite romance blogs but I'm going to post it here again because it talks about one of my favorite fantasies--SNOW! Now, it's a fantasy because living in Hawaii I've never experienced snow in my life and I have this romantic perception of it. I envy those who've made snowmen, snow angels, gone sledding, sat before a fire while snow falls outside and had a genuine winter with snow. Right now there's a blizzard happening in the mainland and I can only imagine what that's like. I guess snow isn't so romantic when it's angrily falling and burying your house, car and lawn gnomes.

Anyway, Molly Harper, author of the the Nice Girls series, shares with us how being cooped up during an ice storm in '09 help bring about her soon-to-be-released HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF (Feb. 22).

An ice storm. Stranded in a strange, isolated place without power. Children with an unsettling ability to win staring contests. This is how horror movies start.

Watching the news coverage as cities across the Midwest are pelted by the much-touted historic blizzard, I’m having strange sympathy pangs. In January 2009, an ice storm ripped through Kentucky, taking out power and phone lines for thousands of homes, including mine. The first night I spent camped out in my in-laws’ darkened living room with my two young children, I was sure this was just a temporary blip. It was going to be a funny story we could tell the next winter. As in, “Remember that night we had to sleep on an air mattress in front of Grandma’s fireplace and cook on a gas grill in the garage?”

By the sixth night, I was no longer amused.

Over the next week, Kentuckians were cold, cranky and progressively ill-groomed. I returned to my dark, cold house to forage for supplies one afternoon, only to find my neighbor shaving his head in his driveway. I sincerely hoped that was related to the lack of electricity and not just a personality quirk I'd never noticed before. Neighborhood block parties have been stilted and awkward since.

But I managed to channel my cabin fever, before going the full fire-ax-through-bedroom-door and elevator-full-of-blood route. I started writing. Having recently published the Nice Girls books, a vampire romance series about an undead librarian in small-town Kentucky, I’d already decided that I wanted to write a werewolf story. And being isolated, in the dark, in an increasingly crowded, enclosed space, I decided to set the story in the frozen regions of Alaska.

While we waited for the power to come back on, I wrote about twenty pages of notes by candlelight. What emerged was the story of Mo Wenstein, a woman who moves across the country to escape her intrusive hippie parents and make a life for herself in the remote town of Grundy, Alaska. Cantankerous neighbor Cooper has been giving Mo a hard time about her place in her new community since day one. But when Cooper stumbles onto her porch, naked, with a bear trap clamped around his ankle, she realizes there’s more to him than a surly- though attractive- surface. A series of werewolf attacks, for which Cooper may or may not be responsible, dysfunctional werewolf clan drama, and romantic hijinks ensue.

The manuscript grew over the next few months and became HOW TO FLIRT WITH A NAKED WEREWOLF, which is due to be released by Pocket Books on Feb. 22, wherever books are sold. The sequel, THE ART OF SEDUCING A NAKED WEREWOLF, will follow on March 29.

So, while the encroaching claustrophobia is frustrating, make the best of your snow days. Use the milk, eggs and bread you hoarded to make French toast. Plow through the To-Be-Read pile of paperbacks on your nightstand. Write journal entries about the sights, sounds and emotions you’re experiencing as a blizzard survivor.

You never know. You could turn this experience into your first manuscript.

*****
Thanks to Ayelet of emailing me Molly's blog post. I'm excited to read How To Flirt. It's been a while since I've read a light werewolf romantic comedy.

Do you live in the mainland and in the middle of the snow storm? If so, please take care. Happy Friday and happy reading everyone! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If you like fairytale retelling...

Thursday, February 3, 2011 with
...we recommend:

annafrenchkiss Beastly by Alex Flinn
After embarrassing a girl in his English class, arrogant Kyle Kingsbury was turned into a beast by the girl herself who was actually a witch. Now Kyle must learn to love someone and earn their love back or he will stay beastly forever. This book is a retelling of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast and it will make you believe in second chances and fall in love with the beast all over again. A thoroughly this well-written and charming novel.
-Leslie





ellaenchanted Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Based on the fairytale classic Cinderella, Ella was given the gift curse of obedience at birth and must obey everything everyone tells her to do. But when her mom suddenly dies leaving her in the care of her father's new wife and her awful daughters, Ella must find a way to break the curse. Fairytale creatures galore, a charming prince and wonderful setting combine tell this humor-filled story. I've read and reread this book since I discovered it in middle school so many times that I lost count. I absolutely LOVE this book and it's one of my all-time favorites. If you haven't read it already, you're missing out.
-Michelle
P.S. Skip the movie and read the book.


dairyqueenThe Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Naive Ani has been betrayed by her own lady-in-waiting and is now running away for her life. Lost and helpless, Ani had to disguise herself as a goose girl at the Bayern palace. Will she be able to convince the king that she's really the princess and claim her rightful place on the throne once again? An enchanting fairytale retelling. This is my all-time favorite book (besides the Harry Potter series and that's saying something) and know you will enjoy it too.
-Leslie




Do you have a favorite fairytale retelling?



"If you like... we recommend" is a new feature we are going to do here on Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks. We are always looking for book recommendations from friends and bloggers and often scour through book blogs, Goodreads and Amazon for new reads. We know we are not the only ones. These posts will feature some of our favorite books that we feel good recommending to fellow readers. We hope you'll find them a little bit helpful.

Look for these future posts:
If you like nice guy heroes...
If you like love triangles...
If you like romantic comedy YA...
If you like YA historical fiction...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

delirium Trade Paperback: 440 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: Feb. 1, 2011 (today!)
ISBN:
9780061726828
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Amazon)

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Michelle's Review:
Delirium is set in a futuristic United States where love is seen as a disease. When its citizens turn 18 years old, they undergo a surgery that eradicates love so that they will live a life free of its pains, troubles and stresses. Lena's mother succumbed to the disease amor deliria nervosa (aka love) when she was very young and eventually committed suicide leaving behind Lena and her sister Rachel. Lena didn't want to end up like her mom and had been counting the days until she will get her operation and be cured from the disease just like her sister. Then, about three months before her operation she meets and is inevitably drawn to Alex who is unlike anyone she had ever met. Soon good girl Lena is breaking the rules and questioning everything she had ever believed in.

I am not going to go into what the book is about any deeper because it'll be a bit spoiler-y (but if you want to know more see Goodreads for other reviews) and I kind of suck at reiterating the plot but I very much enjoyed Delirium. I really liked Lena, our first person narrator, who really grew and pretty much did a one eighty by end of the book. She started meek, obedient and doing everything to please her aunt. It was great watching her come to her own, become more confident and stronger. As for Alex, I felt for and fell in love with him along with Lena. He's a wonderful hero--nice, steady, strong and perfect for her. Sigh. You root for these two to find a way to be together and have their happily ever after. Besides Lena and Alex, another character I liked was Lena's best friend Hana. I loved their friendship; Hana was the kind of best friend you want for your heroine. She was there for Lena and when Alex came in the picture, she was there for him too and wasn't putting doubts or causing more problems for them. I'm usually annoyed with the "best friend" character in young adult novels but Hana wasn't annoying. One of my favorite scenes was actually one with Lena and Hana when Lena was trying to tell her goodbye almost near the end of the book. It almost made me cry.

Delirium was my first book by Lauren Oliver and I'm very impressed (I am definitely picking up her other title Before I Fall very soon). I admit there were some slow parts in the first half of the book and I wasn't completely sold on the whole no more love thing (I just went with it and enjoyed it all the more when I did) but ultimately it's a fantastic, thought-provoking, emotional read. I thought the writing was really good, very lyrical. It took me a while to finish it because I was (and still am) suffering from an untimely reading slump but when I did--well, it's one of those books that after turning that last page you just have to lay still for a bit and absorb and reflect on what you just read. This book definitely makes you think, it puts you in Lena's shoes and feel her fears, doubts, confusion and the wonder and euphoria she felt as she fell in love. This book was filled with wonderful descriptions with many quotable passages. The next book in the series cannot come soon enough. There were many unanswered questions and while the ending wasn't one of those "I feel cheated" type of cliffhangers, it is a cliffhanger and a bittersweet one at that. 4.5 out of 5 stars

WINNERS

with
Labels:
I'm here to announce the winners for our giveaways that ended in January. Thank you all for entering!


The 3 lucky winners of the book Sins of a Highland Devil by Sue-Ellen Welfonder are...

J L Jackson
Ammy Belle
Jennifer Ryan



The 3 lucky winners of the book How To Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling are...

Carol Luciano
Judy Hsu
Jessica Meisinger



The 3 lucky winners of the book My Immortal Assassin by Carolyn Jewel are...

LeAnn Voyer
Elise Koszarek
Moonlight Gleam



Congratulations winners! I already have your info but please email me ASAP if you already won the same title in another blog: chelleyreads AT gmail DOT com. Those who didn't win this time around, don't despair. There are other giveaways you can still enter--just look on over to our right sidebar.

Also, FYI--

FREE
e-book alert: In celebration of the launch of the second book of the series Haunted by Joy Preble, Sourcebooks is offering free downloads of Dreaming Anastasia for wherever e-book (go to Amazon by clicking on the cover) are sold between Feb. 1-7.

[I don't read e-books but I'm definitely taking advantage of this so I can have it on my Ipod touch. I read great reviews about Dreaming Anastasia on Goodreads.]