Tuesday, May 31, 2011

nsingh ARC: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 31, 2011 (today!)
ISBN: 978-0425242094
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Psy/Changeling #10
Synopsis
(from Goodreads):
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's exhilarating world of shapeshifters and psychics is "paranormal romance at its best" (Publishers Weekly). Now comes the story of an alpha wolf named Hawke used to getting exactly what he wants--and of the only woman who dares tangle with him.
Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.
Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would've been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.
Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other's secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…
A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna's darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…


Michelle's Review:
If you're a Psy/Changeling fan like me you have been waiting for Hawke's own book for what seems like forever. Well, the wait is finally over because the tenth book in the series, Kiss of Snow, is out and it is definitely worth the wait. I'll go right out and say that I'm rating this book 5 out of 5 stars and a fair warning, this review will contain a lot of gushing. Fellow readers, this book is sooo good!! Seriously one of the best romances and the best paranormal romance I've read this year--it met all my high expectations and I wanted to re-read it again when I flipped the last page.

Unlike most fans, I wasn't really a Hawke/Sienna shipper. Sienna did grow up a lot throughout the series but I didn't quite see her as heroine material for super sexy Hawke. But as I started reading Kiss of Snow I totally did a one-eighty and rooted for Hawke and Sienna. She turned out to be a fantastic heroine that stood on her own (which was hard to do with a bigger than life hero in Hawke). Sienna was strong, smart, confident and she didn't let the very dominant Hawke dominate over her. For half of the book, Hawke tried to resist Sienna because having already found and lost the woman who would've been his mate, he knew he was destined to be alone and couldn't give her what she deserved. But Sienna tried to prove him wrong and did all she could to drive him crazy. There was a lot of will they or won't they build up and while that might leave some readers frustrated, I enjoyed the playfulness between them all the while chemistry and tension crackled. Hawke and Sienna are my new favorite couple in the series next to Judd and Brenna.

Besides Hawke and Sienna's story there was a secondary romance between Sienna's uncle Walker and Lara, the SnowDancer's healer that was very sweet and lovely. We also get to see a lot of Judd, Brenna, Lucas, Sascha, Indigo and many of the other characters we love and have come to care for in the series. The overarching storyline of growing tension between the Psy and the Changelings continued with a skirmish towards the end of the novel with some casualties on both sides, which gives us a taste of the inevitable full-out war to come. But despite these secondary plot lines, it was still very much a romance and still Hawke and Sienna's story. Ms. Singh could have easily let the Psy/Changeling war take over the main story but she didn't and that's what I loved about this series--it continues to be a true sigh-inducing romance (take note Ms. Ward, this is how a paranormal romance series is done). The world building was as excellent as always, at every book we learn a little bit more of the world and it doesn't change here.

I most definitely recommend Kiss of Snow to everyone. However, if you are new to the series, you will not want to start with this book. To fully appreciate the characters, the world Ms. Singh has created and to avoid confusion to the few overarching storylines that build at every book in the series, you'll want to start with the first book in the series Slave to Sensation and read up to Kiss of Snow. Trust me, you'll want to read the whole series anyway. And even if you think you're "over" paranormal romances, Ms. Singh's Psy/Changeling series is one you will absolutely not want to miss.


Kiss of Snow releases today!! Go and secure you copy at your favorite bookstore.

Look out for my interview with Nalini Singh on June 6th here on the blog. You will not want to miss it!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day everyone!!

wither ARC: 358 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Release Date: March 22, 2011
ISBN:
9781442409057
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Leslie's Review:
There has been a lot of great young adult dystopians coming out lately and Wither is one of them. I had very high expectations for this book before I even opened it because of its beautiful cover--a book with a cover like that must have a damn good story to go with it. And now that I have finally read it, I'm happy to say that most of my expectations were met.

First, what I liked about the book. For a debut novel, the writing was fantastic. I loved how it was simple and understandable but at the same time deep and descriptive. Wither really took me to a future of short life spans, arranged marriages and poverty and danger lurking within the ruins of our time now. I would get so engrossed with the book that sometimes it would even take me awhile to come back to the present. I also admired all the characters of the book, even the antagonist. Like my sister, I like my characters not specifically characterized as good or bad, but rather characterized by what they do and the decisions they make. In Wither, all the characters were real and vivid and they all had their own pasts to explain why they are who they are--it made all of their actions, even the antagonist, seem not so completely black and white and I had to analyze it a little bit.

However, there were some things about this book that left me a bit unsatisfied. Since the writing was fantastic, the plot was well-paced and kept me interested that I would always feel an eagerness to continue reading whenever I picked it up again. Throughout the book, I tried to read closely for the climax of the story--I tried to wait for that unexpected turn of events or surprising discovery that will put me on the edge of my seat--until I realized that the story was over and I was still waiting for it. I wondered if I just missed it from not reading it carefully enough or maybe it was a subtle climax. Whatever it was, not feeling that rush of excitement and thrill and suspension left me a little bit disappointed. Another let down was the love interest, Gabriel. Yes, he seemed sweet and caring but was a "wallpaper" character to me. I didn't really know what to make of him because he didn't stand out and therefore I couldn't root for him. Towards the end he did somewhat deserve the title of hero for Rhine but I'm hoping he'll play a greater role in the next book to come.

All in all the book was great, especially the fantastic writing and mostly great characters. The two things that left me unsatisfied were minor and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Dystopian fans, Wither is a must-read and for those who fell in love with the cover and blurb like I did, what's between the pages did not disappoint. I can't wait to go back to Rhine's world and get lost in Ms. DeStefano's writing. 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, May 27, 2011

There has been quite a lot of buzz for Nova Ren Suma's upcoming debut novel Imaginary Girls all over the social networks I frequent: book blogs, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, where I found the book trailer:


I don't usually like many author blurbs in book trailers, just one or two is perfect, but here I thought it worked along with the music. This trailer is simple yet it gives just enough to convince you to check the book out. Here's the blurb (from Goodreads) and book cover:

abandon
Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.
Let us know what you think of Imaginary Girls. Are you intrigued by the video or the book?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Books We Covet: Historical YA

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 with
Why we covet these books: Historical young adult. Magic. Mystery. Gorgeous covers. Great authors--well, we can't speak for Mary Hooper because we haven't read any of her books but we're intrigued by Velvet's plot. But we are definitely excited for Darker Still. We really enjoyed Leanna's Percy Parker series and can't wait to read her young adult debut.


darkerstillDarker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (out November 2011)
The shadows deepen on the gaslit streets of New York City in the year 1880. Curses and spirits, demons and rituals, blood and faith, love and danger; such is the stuff of Magic Most Foul. Find your voice... or else.

It's 1880 in New York City and eighteen-year-old Natalie Stewart's quiet world is entirely turned upside down in one fell, dangerous swoop. Chosen for a fate she can hardly begin to understand, she is beset by strange whispers, nightmares, curses, a haunted painting and an evil doppelganger. A dangerous demon has trapped a young man with whom she's immediately smitten, and Natalie is the only one who can help. Her eerie destiny is made frighteningly clear.

Spirited as Natalie is, her newfound fate is a lot to handle considering she has a major disability to overcome. Suffering from Selective Mutism due to a childhood trauma, Natalie must navigate between two realities; the New York she's always known, and the haunted room inside a painting where the soul of charming, young Lord Denbury has been trapped while his possessed body roams New York unchecked. Natalie must solve the pieces of a grim supernatural mystery as it unfolds, follow an inhuman murderer into the dark underbelly of New York, reverse the curse and find her voice... or else she'll be the next casualty of a magic most foul.

For more info about Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1), visit the author's website. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.


velvetVelvet by Mary Hooper (out September 2011)
Rose is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Rose is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Rose is noticed by Madame X, a famed medium, who asks Rose to come to work for her. Rose is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Rose realises that Madame X is not all that she says she is, and Rose's very life is in danger...

A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much-loved historical writer for teens.

For more info about Velvet, visit the publisher's website. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.


What historical YA book(s) do you "covet"?
Please leave a link below so we can stop by your blog too.



"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, May 24, 2011

Enter to win a copy of Tempest Rising HERE.

flawless ARC: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 10, 2011
ISBN:
9780802722317
Series: maybe
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads--click on cover)
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

Michelle's Review:
I was really excited when I started reading Tempest Rising. I love mermaid stories but I haven't read many young adult mermaid books yet (there's been some buzz that mermaids are the next big thing in the YA genre and that makes me giddy with excitement). This book was a mix of paranormal, romance, a coming of age story and there's even a little mystery in Tempest's mother, Cecily. I really liked that we know nothing about Cecily and why she left her family to go back to the ocean. As the story builds, we learn information about her and the mermaid world along with Tempest. The underwater world, with the different creatures and their politics was also interesting and I wanted to explore that world some more.

Overall, I thought this book was a pretty good read but I did have some problems with it in the beginning, especially with the character of Tempest. Her name definitely matches her personality because one minute she wants to be comforted, held, or kissed by her boyfriend Mark or mysterious, sexy Kai or her dad then she's pushing them away or was mad at them or was running away from them. I know she was going through a lot, with her resentment towards her mother who wasn't there to guide her through the changes happening and dealing with her complicated feelings for Kai, but there were enough "PMS"-like scenes that I found myself frustrated and annoyed with Tempest's character. I kept reading though, hoping her character will get better and I'm happy to say she did grow up in the last half of the book. But while I felt sorry for Tempest, I couldn't quite care or be fully invested in her character without that initial connection in the beginning--that's just how I am with characters in books. My favorite character, though, was Kai who was mysterious, sexy and a nice, loyal guy. There was a love triangle between Kai, Tempest and her boyfriend Mark--I'm not a fan of love triangles to begin with and it drives me crazy when a heroine goes back and forth between the two guys, which Tempest did but the author did not try to keep it going just to have it. I liked the conclusion of the love triangle here because the guy that was not chosen did not end up lonely not knowing what to do with himself.

Tempest Rising ended where it was left open enough for a possible sequel but it ended quite satisfyingly. Though this book didn't quite meet my expectations, it was still a quick, entertaining read for me, especially the second half of the book when the reader was taken to the underwater world and we finally start to know more about Tempest's mother. I think paranormal romance young adult fans wanting to take a break from vampires and werewolves, will gobble this novel up. Besides its determined heroine in Tempest and its crush-worthy hero in Kai, it has action, a mystery, a lovely romance and interesting mermaid lore. 3.5 out of 5

Monday, May 23, 2011

flawless ARC: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 10, 2011
ISBN:
9781599905969
Series: none
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads--click on cover)
Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.
On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?
This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws.


Leslie's Review:
I instantly knew from reading the synopsis that Flawless was going to be a great read. And I was right--the plot was interesting and well-paced while the writing was simple, understandable and a great narration of the main character Sarah who, it turns out, I completely related to.

To be honest, I at first thought that Sarah was going to be one of those stuck-up girls who whine over the smallest flaws on their faces. But I was dead wrong about that. Sarah turned out to be a heroine I totally related to--she was intelligent, a loyal friend, studious and an awesome writer who kept herself from doing things that she wants because of her insecurities. Out of my group of friends, I'm the super loyal, obedient one and I also have my share of insecurities that keep me from doing things and going after what I want. Until I read Flawless, I thought I was alone in all of that. But by relating with Sarah and learning the same things she did in the book, I learned a lot about myself.

One of the main aspects of the plot besides true beauty was loyalty--both to ones' self and to others. In the book, Sarah was such a loyal friend to her best friend Kristen that she would do anything for her--even if it meant helping her get with Rock when Sarah had a deep crush on him. Throughout that, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Sarah for having to sacrifice her own happiness for her best friend's happiness. Yet I was also kind of upset with her for doing just that and holding herself back from going after what she wanted, thinking she wouldn't have been able to get it anyways. But that was when I realized that I would've done the exact same thing. Reading all of that and realizing that I would've done just that really got me thinking about how truly being loyal is. And when I couldn't settle on an answer, I continued to read until I reached one. And, along with Sarah, I did--I learned that your happiness is as important as the next person's happiness and everyone deserves a second chance, including yourself. So when I finally reached the end, I was glad that Sarah realized her mistake so she turned her thinking around to fulfill, not only others' happiness, but her happiness as well.

Since I really related to Sarah, this book really changed how I think about myself and others. I love how books can make you reflect on yourself and Flawless did just that since I really related so much with Sarah. It really got me thinking about how I treated myself and others and now that I know better, I hope I'll never forget it. I recommend this to anyone and everyone who is in for an inspirational read and has insecurities about themselves because this book will remind you that you're beautiful in every possible way and you deserve to be happy as much as the next person. 5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's In Our Mailbox time! Yay! We did get a few books this week but I'm going to back track and show you all the books we got last week because I did a video then but didn't get to post it last week. The books in this video we're soooo excited about, especially Die For Me by Amy Plum and She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott and I can't wait to read my Nalini Singh books.



For Review
Are You Going To Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen
Exposure by Therese Fowler
(see my review of Exposure HERE and win it HERE)
(A big THANK YOU to Sourcebooks Fire and Random House for sending us the books.)

Bought
Hourglass by Claudia Gray
Afterlife by Claudia Gray
Die for Me by Amy Plum
She's so Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Other
OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
(see my review of OyMG HERE and win it HERE)


It's BEA week starting tomorrow and Leslie and I are super envious of those who are going and get to do some serious soon-to-be-released-book collecting. It doesn't help that we have been getting a bunch of BEA emails everyday for the past month or so because we did register to go and fully intend on going. But when I asked my boss/principal for a leave of absence she said no. It's the last week of school and I have to take care of report cards, the students' records, clean my classroom, etc. For those who are going, have fun and be safe! We can't wait to see your BEA loot!

Also, I got an email from the folks at Simon & Schuster and it says that Kresley Cole, the author of the very popular Immortals After Dark series is going to reveal the cover of LOTHAIRE on her Facebook page this coming Tuesday, May 24 at 9:00 AM (I'm assuming EST). Lothaire won't be out in stores until January 10, 2012--which gives me enough time to read the series (which I own the first seven books of).

Happy reading everyone! And don't forget to let us know what you got in your mailbox this week so we can check it out too.


inourmailbox
"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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

We saw HarperTeen's Dark Days of Supernatural Summer 2011 when it came out about three weeks ago and we loved it! It was well-made, the music is perfect and it just had enough for each book that you want to know more about it. You all might already have seen it but if you haven't here it is:

It's good, yeah? There are seven books in the Dark Days summer edition and they have a bunch of different sub-genre so there's a read for everyone (all the links go to Goodreads):
Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber
Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Hereafter by Tara Hudson

We just wish the tour is coming to my state but alas, no. The two books out of the seven I (Michelle) am most excited about are Divergent and Die for Me, both of which I already have on my shelf. I'm going to read Divergent next, once I'm done with my current read. With all the buzz it is getting, I'm really excited to read it myself. Happy Friday and happy reading everyone!! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

learnsomethingeveryday Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group

Release Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN:
9780399536663
Series: none
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads--click on cover)
365 days-365 quirky, brightly illustrated, and entertaining facts.
Learn Something Every Day entertains and informs readers with illustrations representing such fun-filled facts as:
• Charlie Chaplin placed third in a Chaplin look-alike contest
• Emerson Moser, Crayola's senior crayon maker, revealed at retirement that he was color-blind
• Elvis Presley received a C grade in music class
• And much, much more!

Michelle's Review:
We don't usually review or feature books that are not young adult or romance but I made an exception with Learn Something Every Day. This book is based on the UK website of design duo Young (Peter Jarvis and Gethin Vaughn), where they post a different fact everyday accompanied by a quirky drawing to go with the day's fact. The book is exactly like the facts posted on the website except in paper form. There's 365 different facts in the book and you can read a fact a day for a year if you choose to but my sisters and I read the whole book in one sitting. It's really quite fun, especially the quirky illustrations which is my favorite part of the book. Though quite useless, the facts are fun as well because I do like my random facts (there's a reason why I follow OMGFacts on twitter). Here's a sampling from the book:
The longest beard on a woman was 14 inches long.
A whale's throat is smaller than a dinner plate.
It takes 0.0004 seconds to retrieve a memory.
Shakespeare was dyslexic.
Surprisingly, there were quite a lot of facts in the book that I already knew before reading it. For example:
The hormone that makes you grow is produced only when you sleep.
Hulk Hogan's real name is Terry.
The acid in your stomach can dissolve steel.
I was expecting more obscure sort of facts so that was a bit of a let down. But the book itself is nicely bound with colorful pages and is as heavy as a trade paperback despite it being half it's size. I'm not the type to purchase this kind of book for myself but I think it'd be a fun gift for someone who likes their random trivia or it could be a great coffee table book. Fans of the Learn Something Every Day website will certainly appreciate it. It is an entertaining book overall--my sisters and I had a good laugh at some of the facts when we read it. Visit the website for a taste of Learn Something Every Day. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We continue the week with another author interview... Today we have author Tracy Deebs! Her debut novel is Tempest Rising, a paranormal young adult novel about a girl who is half mermaid and as her 17th birthday approaches, must decide whether to stay on land or give in to the ocean. Then, she meets handsome and mysterious Kai who complicates her decision. I am currently reading Tempest Rising and really loving the mermaid aspect. If you haven't read the blurb, here it is:
tempestrising
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.
Wanna read a mermaid romance? Read on for a chance to win an ARC of this novel, but without further ado, here's Tracy...

tdeebsHi Tracy! Welcome to our blog! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks so much for having me J

I like lipsticks, going to movies, hanging on the beach, and dancing. I read just about anything I can get my hands on, though my newest obsession is dystopian YA novels. Tempest Rising takes place on the same beaches I used to wander and surf when I was her age.

Tell us us about your favorite mermaid tale (movie, book or fairy tale).
I love mermaids. Love, love, love mermaids. When I was very young (about three or so) my father brought home a VHS tape of Hans Christian Andersen’s version of The Little Mermaid (long before Disney made a version). Though it was really dark and ended with the little mermaid becoming sea foam instead of living HEA with her prince, I fell in love with the story the first time I saw it. From then on, I was all about mermaids. I watched the movie every day (and I mean every day) for three years. My mom swears to this day that she can recite the dialogue word for word. While I eventually outgrew my obsession with mermaids, when I sat down to write my first YA and was still undecided about what paranormal creature I wanted to tackle, my agent asked, “How do you feel about mermaids?” Instantly, I was right back where I started all those years ago and knew I wasn’t going to be happy writing about anything else.

Out of all the characters in Tempest Rising, who was the hardest character to write? Why?
Honestly, Tempest’s mother. I expected to really dislike her (as much as Tempest does) but as I was writing the story, her motivations became a lot more clear to me and I really had to adjust how I felt about her. At the same time, since it is a first person narrator, I had to show this while keeping up Tempest’s well-deserved anger at her.

Are the guys in Tempest's life--Mark, Kai, her dad, her brothers--based on real-life person?
Nope, not really. There’s a little bit of my dad in Tempest’s father, some of my husband in both Mark and Kai, but nope, they’re largely products of my (over-eager) imagination ;)

Do you need complete silence while writing or are you the type of writer who makes playlists or has a theme song for different scenes in your book? If so, please share with us a few of the songs that would be in the Tempest Rising soundtrack?
I’m actually a pretty low-maintenance writer (though I can hear my husband laughing at the idea of me being low-maintenance anything). If possible, I prefer a bottle of Perrier and my iPod, but that’s about it. I can write anywhere, including through WWIII, which is a good thing as I have three boys who hang out in a game room that borders my office.

I did have a playlist for Tempest, songs that I found myself listening to again and again. A few of those are:
Dirty Little Secret—The All-American Rejects
Crash Into Me—The Dave Matthews Band
Soul to Squeeze—Red Hot Chili Peppers
Secrets—One Republic
Don’t Speak—No Doubt
Something Beautiful—Need to Breathe
I Can’t Stay—The Killers
I Will Follow You Into the Dark—Death Cab for Cutie

******
Thank you so much to Tracy for stopping by our blog and answering our questions. For more info about Tempest Rising click on the cover above to take you to Goodreads. You can also go to Tracy's by clicking on her photo above. You can also read her blog and stop by her Facebook page.

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to Kate and Bloomsbury Teen I have an ARC (advance reader's copy) of Tempest Rising to giveaway to one lucky reader. Just read the giveaway details and fill out the form below 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. Comments are very much appreciated, thank you for entering and good luck!
Why we covet these books: The plot of our picks this week are very intriguing. They are unlike anything we have read before which makes both really exciting.

Our first pick this week is All These Things I've Done, set in 2083 where chocolate and coffee are illegal, there's a water shortage and paper is hard to come by. You would think it's some sort of dystopian novel but it's not. It's about a girl who is the daughter of the mafia and is blamed by the police for poisoning someone.

faerieringAll These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (out September 2011)
From the author of the critically acclaimed Elsewhere comes this brilliant novel about an impossible romance, a family living outside of the law, and the ties that forever bind us.

Chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is increasingly scarce, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine—going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until someone in her inner circle ends up poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I’ve Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and fantastic.

For more info about All These Things I've Done, visit the author's website. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.

Our other pick this week is Anna Dressed In Blood, the first in a new series. We are hearing a lot of buzz about this one, especially on Twitter. It sort of reminds us of Supernatural the television show but we haven't read anything of the like. We are so curious about Anna and why she didn't kill Cas.

secretAnna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake (out August 2011)
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athama, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

For more info about Anna Dressed In Blood, visit the author's website. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Please leave a link below so we can stop by your blog too.



"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, May 17, 2011

Yesterday I posted my review of Exposure by Therese Fowler (see it here). Today I have a special Q & A from her publicist, Kathleen, and because I also ended up with two hardcover copies of Exposure (also thanks to Kathleen) I decided to give it away to a lucky reader. I thought Exposure was a fantastic must-read for both adults and older teens and if you haven't read the blurb, here it is:
oymg
In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.

Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.

Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.

As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all.

A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s
Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.
Read on for a chance to win a hardcover copy of this novel, but first here is Ms. Fowler's interview...

afdominyQ: EXPOSURE is fiction, but was inspired by your own son’s arrest for what’s become known as a “sexting” crime. Can you tell us about that?
A: I was working on a different book when my son, who had just turned nineteen, told me that a warrant was being issued for his arrest. He’d shared a photo of himself undressed with a girl who’d asked him to send one, and when her father discovered it he called the police. Because my son was over eighteen and the girl was not, he was charged with the crime that one of EXPOSURE’s characters, Anthony, is charged with initially: disseminating harmful materials to a minor.

Life for my son and our family became very complicated very quickly, but I felt bound to keep working on that other book and meet my deadline. However, the story just wasn’t doing quite what I wanted it to do, and I was worried that it might be somehow fatally flawed.

In the meantime, the idea for EXPOSURE was taking root. I’m sure it grew from my horror and frustration with what was going on, and the effects it had on my son and on our family. I asked him what he thought about my writing a novel inspired by the situation (but completely fictional), and he was fully supportive. I wouldn’t have considered it otherwise. Since he was supportive, I wrote the story outline and took it to my editor and publisher, who gave me their support as well.

Q: A lot of people would rather put a troubling time behind them, yet in writing a novel inspired by your troubles you chose to do the opposite. Why?
A: The subject of teens and sexuality and technology and the law is a fascinating, complex issue, and one I struggled with while my son’s case was ongoing. Where should we place the blame when kids get into trouble for sexting? What’s appropriate in terms of punishment?

I’m a novelist, so maybe I’m predisposed to want to explore such questions in story terms. But I also felt obligated; as I researched the issue, I came across many disturbing news stories about these issues and the consequences for everyone involved. If my crafting a cautionary tale could help prevent even one new crisis, wasn’t it my duty to try? It didn’t feel like a choice.

Q: Did you know from the outset that the book would get published?
A: No; in fact the whole time I was working on it I was terrified that I’d made a mistake in abandoning the other book. Yes, I had my publisher’s blessing to substitute this story for that one, but I still had to meet a deadline and, as is true with any book an author writes under contract, the final product has to pass muster or it doesn’t get published and the author doesn’t get paid.

Fortunately, I met my deadline, and everyone involved was not only satisfied with but also quite enthusiastic about the manuscript.

Q: Early book reviews from people as diverse as public school administrators, booksellers, and regular readers are saying EXPOSURE is a must-read for all teens, parents of teens, and adults who care for or work with teens. This sounds like educational advice; isn’t fiction supposed to be read for enjoyment?
A: Absolutely—but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also something of value to be gained from the reading. Whether invented or true, stories have been the vehicles of lessons and warnings and inspiration for as long as humans have had the means to tell them. My philosophy about and my purpose with my all of my novels is to tell an engaging story, and to tell it about something that matters.

Q: What do you hope people will take away most from this book?
A: With EXPOSURE, I hope teen readers will gain insights that help them protect themselves and make good decisions. It’s difficult to be a teen today; there are so many messages, so many influences, so many temptations. It’s equally difficult to be a parent or educator or counselor, trying to understand and shape kids’ environments in ways that acknowledge all the challenges. I hope adult readers will gain some additional understanding of this strange new world, and take reasonable action to help children avoid trouble.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m at work on my fourth novel, which, like EXPOSURE, is a contemporary drama that also looks at societal issues. Two very close families, a tragedy in which underage drinking plays a role, questions of loyalty, questions of guilt—who, or what, is really to blame? And what will happen when the truth is revealed? It’s scheduled for publication sometime next year.

******
For more info about Exposure click on the cover above to take you to Goodreads. You can also go to Therese Fowler's website by clicking on her author photo above. There you can read an excerpt of Exposure. You can also chat with her on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY
To enter to win a hardcover copy of Exposure, just read the giveaway details and fill out the form below.

Click HERE if you cannot see the form above.

IMPORTANT: See our "Giveaway Policy" for complete rules and disclaimers. By entering the giveaway, you agree to the terms stated on that page. Comments are very much appreciated, thank you for entering and good luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Read an interview with the author and enter to WIN a copy of Exposure HERE.

exposure Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: May 3, 2011
ISBN:
9780345515537
Series: none
Source of my copy: Goldberg McDuffie/publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads--click on cover)
In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.
Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.
Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.
As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all.
A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s
Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.

Michelle's Review:
Exposure was the story of Amelia Wilkes and Anthony Winter who were high school seniors, have dreams of staring in Broadway and deeply in love. Their relationship was an open secret in school--their friends know as well as Kim Winter, Anthony's mother, who was a teacher at the school--but Amelia's strict parents do not know. Amelia and Anthony planned to tell her parents of their relationship when Amelia turns eighteen and legally an adult. However, when her father discovers naked pictures of Anthony in her computer, all hell broke loose.

Exposure was a fast-paced, intense read and I loved every minute of it. It wasn't an easy read by any means because it was so real, this can (and does) happen in real life. It was told in alternating limited third-person mostly in the point of view of Anthony, Amelia, Harlan and Kim Winter so we get to see intimately get to know the characters--their thoughts and emotions and see through their eyes the events that quickly spiraled out of control. The author did a fantastic job with the characters--I had some strong feelings about them throughout the book and I love it when an author can take hold of my emotions that way. I quickly sympathized with Anthony and his mother who took most of the brunt of the whole situation. I wanted Amelia to do something more to convince her father that Anthony was a good and innocent. I wanted to hate Amelia's father and his uncompromising belief that Anthony preyed on and defiled his daughter. I was angry and frustrated with him but I know that he loves his daughter and, as a parent, only trying to protect her, wanting the man who, in his eyes, hurt her severely punished. I definitely see my parents acting like Amelia's parents if one of us, their daughters, was in a similar situation.

There were many themes that were touched up in this book like impulsive nature and power of [young] love, family and parents' sometimes misguided protection of their children, the misuse of modern gadgets, how the media can work for and against an individual, teen sexuality and "sexting." But the one I found the most interesting was how Anthony and Amelia's private and intimate pictures of themselves, not meant to be shared with anyone but the two of them, were misinterpreted as child pornography. I started thinking about the various pictures of my siblings and I that my parents took when we were toddlers and we were unclothed (in the tub, on a blanket after a bath, etc.). These pictures cause us some embarrassment but we were babies--just the same, can they also be mistaken for child pornography?

Inspired by the experiences of the author's own son, Exposure was thought provoking, beautifully written and, yes, gripping. An author praised it as "a twenty-first-century Romeo and Juliet" and it was definitely that. While this novel is not technically young adult, it's a must-read older teens as well as adults. I cannot say enough about this novel except that you have to read it. 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today we have author Amy Fellner Dominy stopping by our blog for a chat! Her debut novel is OyMG, a contemporary young adult novel about an outspoken girl who may have to hide an important part of her to win a scholarship to attend the school of her dreams. I very much enjoyed OyMG (see my full review here) and if you haven't read the blurb, here it is:

oymg
Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.
Sounds good, huh? Read on for a chance to win a finished copy of this novel, but without further ado, here's Amy...

afdominyHi Amy! Welcome to our blog!
Thanks! So glad to be here. J

What are five adjectives that describe you when working on your WIP?
Relentless. Obsessed. Energized. Exhausted. Disciplined.

What inspired you to write OyMG? Was it based on a personal experience or an accumulation of ideas and opinions over the years?
The answer is both.

The idea/theme of the book was based on personal experience. Like Ellie, I know what it’s like to feel different. When I grew up, I was one of the only Jewish kids in my school. I understand the temptation to hide the part of yourself that you think someone else won’t like—whatever it might be.

The plot of the book was an accumulation of things. Speech and debate came from an article I read about a local high school. The scholarship issue came from researching financial aid for my daughter. A PBS program on schools with quotas in the 50s added another piece. Really, I steal things from all sorts of sources. I always tell my friends to be careful what they say: It might end up in a book.

If you can mash up OyMG and another YA novel, which one will it be and will the characters get along?
I’ve been thinking about this question and I’m raising the white flag. I can’t think of a mash up! I’m mashless. Unmashable. Mashfree. I need mash help! Anyone? Please?

Does Ellie have a quirk that is entirely autobiographical?
Actually, she does. When I was Ellie’s age, I had a lot of conversations with God. We talked, we bargained, we argued. In the book, Ellie talks to God in exactly the same way I did. I can even remember feeling a little bad for Jesus in case he was up there and felt left out.

What is next after OyMG? Will there be a companion book and we'll see the characters again?
I’ve spent so much time with these characters, if I had an opportunity to write another book about them, I’d love to. But right now, I’m excited to move on and get to know some new characters. In fact, I’ll get to introduce them to the world next year! My next book, Audition and Subtraction, will be out fall 2012, from Walker & Company. It’s about fourteen-year-old Tatum who could lose her spot in District Honor Band—and her best friend—when a new guy transfers to her school. Friendships change and romance sparks in unexpected places.

******
Thank you so much to Amy for stopping by our blog and answering our questions. Amy also made a book trailer for OyMG. Check it out:

For more info about OyMG click on the cover above to take you to Goodreads. You can also go to Amy's website, her Facebook page and chat with her on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to Kate and Bloomsbury Teen I have a finished copy of OyMG to giveaway to one lucky reader. Just fill out the form below 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.

Comments are very much appreciated, thank you for entering and good luck!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Books I Covet: YA Fantasy

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 with
Why Michelle covet these books: I love reading fantasy and books with magic. Both of my picks belong in the fantasy genre this week and there's plenty of magic in both.

First is The Faerie Ring--this debut novel is set in the Victorian Era and the heroine ends up stealing Queen Victoria's ring, which turns out to be an important part of a treaty of peace between humans and faeries. I love the cover of this novel, so dark and has a mysterious feel!

faerieringThe Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (out September 2011)
Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

For more info about The Faerie Ring, visit the author's blog. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.

My other pick this week is The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1). How epic is the blurb for this novel? It's about a princess who was born with a mark that meant she's destined for greatness but her people doubt her and she's shipped off to marry a guy much older than her. But she decides to change her life and she might save the kingdom after all. Okay. I suck at summarizing books but read the blurb below. As soon as I read it months, I know I have to read it.

secretThe Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire & Thorns #1) by Rae Carson (out September 2011)
Princess Elisa is a disappointment to her people. Although she bears the Godstone in her navel, a sign that she has been chosen for an act of heroism, they see her as lazy and useless and fat.

On her sixteenth birthday, she is bartered off in royal marriage and shipped away to a kingdom in turmoil, where her much-older and extremely beautiful husband refuses to acknowledge her as his wife. Devastated, Elisa decides to take charge of her fate and learn what it means to bear the Godstone. As an invading army threatens to destroy her new home, and everyone at court maneuvers to take advantage of the young princess, Elisa becomes convinced that, not only is her own life in danger, the whole world needs saving. But how can a young girl who has never ridden horseback, never played the game of politics, and never attained the love of a man save the world? Elisa can't be sure, but she must try to uncover the Godstone's secret history before the enemy steals the destiny nestled in her core.

For more info about The Girl of Fire and Thorns, visit the author's website. Clicking on the cover will take you to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Please leave a link below so I can stop by your blog too.



"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!
Today we are so excited to have author Holly Schindler! Her newest release is Playing Hurt, a contemporary young adult novel about a girl and a boy, both athletes and both going through a rough patch in their lives. I absolutely enjoyed Playing Hurt (see my review here) and am so happy to have Holly on our blog answering our questions.

hschindlerHi Holly! Welcome to our blog. Can you please tell us three little known facts about yourself?
1. Anyone who visits my blog knows I’m wild about my dog, Jake—but I’m actually wild about animals, period. I’ve had pets—cats, dogs—my entire life. I’ve actually only spent three years without an animal of some sort.
2. I did a very small amount of modeling as a teen—my favorite gig was modeling bouquets for a floral wholesaler.
3. I wore contacts for more than fifteen years…I ditched them around the time I turned 30; I am what I am, right?

What is one thing you can’t live without while writing?
COFFEE.

playinghurtDo you make soundtracks for your books or have music playing when you’re writing? Or do you prefer quiet?
I usually do prefer quiet—I’m such a music fanatic that it can be a really big distraction… But I am getting better about letting music propel me, rather than slow me down.

Did you find writing PLAYING HURT easier or harder than writing your debut, A BLUE SO DARK?
Neither one was harder than the other, actually. I used to think it might be hard to follow up a debut with a second novel, especially if the first got good reviews…But I actually sold PLAYING HURT before A BLUE SO DARK was released—before any reviews came in, etc. So I was just putting out what my heart wanted to put out, rather than trying to match any expectations…

Chelsea and Clint’s Favorites:
This probably dates me, but when I tried to think of Chelsea’s favorite movie, I figured she’d like HOOSIERS—a great movie about small-town basketball (which was released when I was a kid in the 80’s). Clint’s favorite movie? I think that one ought to be A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. I think they’d both have the same favorite song—“Waiting on a Friend,” since that’s the song they dance to in the novel. And food…Clint’s a burger and a beer at the lake, as he insists in the book. And Chelsea? Deep dish pizza at Hill Toppers’ in Fair Grove.

******

Much thanks to Holly for stopping by our blog and answering our questions. Here's the blurb for Playing Hurt (in case you haven't read it yet):
Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?
If you're looking for a perfect romantic summer read, look no further than Playing Hurt. You won't regret it! Check out my review of Playing Hurt to read my complete thoughts about Chelsea and Clint. If you haven't already don't forget to add it to your wishlist!

Holly also wrote A Blue So Dark. I haven't read this one yet but it sounds really good and it's on my wishlist:

playinghurt
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.


For more information on Holly, her books and other awesome stuff, go to her website, twitter and blog. She also blogs on YA Outside the Lines with other YA authors and Smack Dab in the Middle with middle grade authors. Happy reading everyone! :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

oymg ARC: 256 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 10, 2011 (today!)
ISBN:
978-0802721778
Series: none
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads--click on cover)
Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moly.
Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?
Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

Michelle's Review:
OyMG is the story of Ellie Taylor, who desperately wants to attend Benedict's Conservatory of Arts and Academics, a private school that has the best speech program in the country. Her ticket there is impressing Doris Yeats and winning the scholarship awarded by Mrs. Yeats every summer at Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp. Ellie knows she's good at her oratory event and can argue with the best of them, she just needs to show Mrs. Yeats what she's capable of. But when she finds out that Mrs. Yeats is prejudice against Jews, Ellie finds herself in a dilemma. She may be half Christian in her dad's side but she's raised a Jew and to win the scholarship she finds herself hiding her heritage from Mrs. Yeats. Is hiding one's true identity worth it when it comes to realizing your dreams?

OyMG is the debut novel of Amy Fellner Dominy and she is an author to look out for in the future. I really enjoyed OyMG because not only are we treated to relatable themes, humor, characters and situations but I love the author's writing and the overall readability of the novel--it flowed well and the author has an easy style of writing that appealed to me. I was sucked in by Ellie's predicament and I totally related--there were many times especially when I was younger (and even now when I'm older) where I hid something important about myself in order to fit in and felt guilty afterward. Really, I think everyone has been in Ellie's situation once or twice in their life. I like the different relationships in the novels, from Ellie and her zeydeh (Jewish grandfather) to Ellie and Devon (the love interest and Mrs. Yeats's grandson)--little romance between them is sweet and cute. And I like that the end is not tied up neatly, which made the novel realistic, but it was satisfying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this OyMG--it's a quick read with great characters, plot and writing. Ellie is very relatable and her character will appeal to middle-grade readers and older. I think it's a great conversation starter about religion, questions of identity, family and following one's dreams at the expense of identity. I pretty much devoured this book in one day, it's fantastic and I highly recommend it! 4 out of 5 stars