Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I am an Angelfire Newbie! (vlogs)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 with
Labels:
Dear fellow readers,
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and found a lot of bookish things under your tree.

A few weeks ago heard that Epic Reads (a YA book community run by HarperCollins) were looking for reader to be part of their "The End is Here" campaign to celebrate the release of the last book in a series.
I signed up on a whim and I got chosen! I am one of the newbie readers of the Angelfire series by Courtney Allison Moulton. So, instead of writing a review for each book, I got the idea to blog and vlog my way through the series. My first vlog:

My second vlog, in which I talk about my initial feelings about the series and my thoughts after reading the first 100 pages:

I haven't made a YouTube video for seven months until these two and I missed doing them. Hopefully, I can do a few more in the coming weeks.

I'll be talking more about being part of The End is Here because I'll be writing special blog for Epic Reads about Angelfire, doing forum posts and other stuff--and I'll most likely post about it here on our blog.

If you've read Angelfire, let me know what you thought of it.

Books and hugs,
Michelle

Friday, December 21, 2012

book cover Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: October 9, 2012
ISBN: 9780316198684

Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?
Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.
Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.
Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.


Leslie's Review:
When I first started reading What Happens Next, I didn't know what to expect. I know it's going to be about rape but the synopsis seemed vague and really didn't know how intense it was going to be. But I enjoyed Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds, which had similar themes so I went right ahead and read it. When I finished reading it, I was amazed and inspired.

What Happens Next is a character driven novel and there's not going to be a lot of action to drive the plot, but nevertheless, the one issue I had with it was that the rising action was long and dragged at times. But when I finally did reach the climax (which was like 20 pages from the end), I was enraptured once more. And then that ending was just... wow! Very inspiring. I liked that the message rang clear and true in those last few pages. It was what made the novel awesome overall.

The main character is Sid. Honestly, I had mix feelings for her: I liked that she was funny and intelligent and her insecurity was relatable. However, throughout the book, it frustrated and bothered me when Sid couldn't express her feelings and didn't seek help from her family or friends after her traumatic event. I wanted to so bad reach out to her and help her myself but instead I had to watch her feel hurt and depressed as she tried to cope. Despite all this, I rooted for Sid all throughout the book, and I felt relieved and happy for her when I reached that great ending.

As for the rape, I liked that the author didn't go into details. What Happens Next was less about the rape and more about Sid herself being a rape victim survivor and how she copes. It is also a beautiful love story, which I didn't expect at all.

I recommend this debut novel to those who loved Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds and/or like contemporary YA of this kind of theme. It explores a different kind of way of coping than Alex's in Mockingbirds but it is nonetheless inspiring and touching.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We got new books! (18)

Sunday, December 16, 2012 with
We haven't posted about the books we added to our bookshelf since the beginning of November. We're going to play catch up in the next two Sundays. This Sunday is for the books Leslie got back home on Maui.

Some of the books are for me and I cannot wait to get my hands on them when I go back home in two weeks.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (for review)

Shiver by Karen Robards (unsolicited)
Possess by Gretchen McNeil (won)
Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis (bought)
The Last Debutante by Julia London (unsolicited)
Rimfire Bride by Sara Luck (unsolicited)
Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols (unsolicited)
Gold Fire by Starr Ambrose (unsolicited)

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (won and signed!)

Did YOU get any new books? Let us know! We'd love to see your new bookshelf additions.

Friday, December 14, 2012

ARC: 224 pages 
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: 12/18/2012
ISBN: 9781440552649
 
Source of my copy: FSG
Series: Twisted Lit #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Michelle's Review:
Tempestuous is a "twisted lit" retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest but since I am not all familiar with the play I am going to refrain from commenting about Tempestuous and The Tempest.

I picked up Tempestuous because the synopsis appealed to me. Miranda Prospero, who lost her high school status as “it-girl” now works in a wiener stand at the mall. When she, her co-workers and her ex-friends was snowed in at the mall, she gets her revenge all the while being handcuffed to Caleb, the last guy she wanted to spend time with.

It’s a very fun premise and, although I had few issues with Tempestuous, it was a fun read overall.

My biggest issue was with the writing which I thought was all over the place. On some parts, it had a… what I would call a Shakespearean flavor and then, a few sentences later it turns to regular speak. The writing switches off like this throughout the novel. I found it a bit jarring and it took me out of the story.

The other issue I had was towards the end when Miranda suddenly got over her anger and forgave her ex-friends seemingly out of nowhere. Three-fourths of the novel was all about getting back at them and then bam!—which left me wondering if I missed something.

Where Tempestuous shined though were the characters. Since both the preppy kids and the mall workers were both stranded in the mall, it quickly turned into a Sharks and Jets type of rivalry. This book had whole cast of characters that, while a bit cliché, were fun to read about because of the plans and schemes they get into with Miranda in the lead.

If you are familiar with Shakespeare's The Tempest, I think you would appreciate this novel more than I did. But if you're like me and you are not familiar with play, I think you'll enjoy it anyway.

I would liken Tempestuous to one of those Nickelodeon movies with a lot of planning and scheming and a lot of running around. There was even a bit of a mystery thrown in there, which made it all the more fun. I recommend Tempestuous for a light and quick weekend read.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

book cover Mass Market: 384 pages 
Publisher: Avon
 Release Date: November 27, 2012
ISBN: 9780062064622
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Deadly Angels #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

No one knows that better than Trond Sigurdsson. In the centuries since he last went out drinking and wenching with his Viking buds, Trond has been a gladiator, a cowboy, a ditch digger . . . even a sheik. But now he's the baddest of them all: a kick-ass Navy SEAL kicking butts of terrorist immortals with the help of his hotter-than-Hades female partner, police officer-turned-Special Forces operative Nicole Tasso--whom Trond dearly hopes to "partner" with very shortly in a whole different way.
The "cop" part of Nicole tells her there's something bizarre about her gorgeous godlike teammate. But her "all-woman" side can't help wondering how great it would be to have a virile Viking in her bed. Trond has secrets galore, but Nicole feels certain she can dig them out--and really get to the heart of this powerful, unnerving stranger whom she may be risking her soul to love.


Michelle's Review:
I used to read Sandra Hill's books back in high school and I used to get a kick out of her humorous Vikings and the zany story lines. I wanted to see if something written by her today would be the same. Well, I was not disappointed with Kiss of Surrender! But this time, instead of just plain, old Vikings we instead have vangels: Viking vampire angels.

KoS is the second book in the Deadly Angels series but it can be read as a standalone--I haven't read the first book but I was able to jump right in and was not confused at all.

Basically, there were seven Viking brothers that were each guilty of the seven deadly sins. As punishment as well as to help them change their ways, the angel Michael transformed the brothers into vangels. KoS is Trond's (whose sin was sloth) story.

Fast forward more than a thousand years later, Trond is now a Navy SEAL. His new mission is to stop Osama bin Laden's sadistic son from enacting something that may be worst that 9/11. But unbeknowst to the SEALS, Jasper the king of the Lucipires (hell's equivalent to vangels) and his cohorts are pulling the strings and things could get ugly fast. So, it is up to Trond (with the help of his brothers) to make sure Jasper doesn't  win.

Trond must work with Nicole Tasso, a tough female SEAL (aka WEALS) on the mission. Trond and Nicole feel a strong attraction for each other but Trond cannot act on his attraction because it's against vangel rules and Nicole has serious trust issues because of a past abusive relationship. Oh, and Nicole thinks Trond is gay...

I didn't like Trond in the beginning because he was just so... lazy and so lifeless. But he eventually grew on me as he got less lazy and more alive and motivated. Nicole is a tough girl but with a vulnerable side and I liked her immediately. I liked the interactions between the two of them. But the best scene were with Trond and his brothers--their conversations were always so funny!

The writing in KoS is very tongue-in-cheek and quick and clever. There are plenty of ridiculousness and silliness but they were fun and had me laughing out loud and the romance was steamy as well.

Need a break from your angsty romances? Kiss of Surrender is your book.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ARC: 387 pages 
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: 1/29/2013
ISBN: 9780399256769
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Legend #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?


Michelle's Review:
I LOVED Legend A LOT. It was one of the best dystopian novels I read in 2011 (the other being Divergent) and I counted down the days until I can go back to June and Day's world.

When I got the chance to read Prodigy before the release date I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed with Prodigy (it was FANTASTIC!) but I wasn't completely happy with it either. I will explain:

One of the reasons why I enjoyed Legend so much was that there was no love triangle. I am not a fan of love triangles because they leave me frustrated and annoyed with the characters--in most cases, with main female character with their indecision and repetitive thoughts. Well, a love triangle was introduced in Prodigy. Sigh. It is not as frustrating as other [paranormal] love triangles but I wished it wasn't included at all. I think it could've worked without it.

Another thing that didn't make me happy was that for most of the novel (most of which happened within a few days) June and Day were separated. I would've liked them to be working together more.

Other than those two things, the rest of the novel made me very, very happy and dying to read the conclusion of the series.

I love the alternating perspective between June and Day. It was wonderful knowing exactly what each of them were thinking and feeling and seeing what unfolded through both of their eyes. June and Day were equally interesting so I did not prefer one over the other. It just worked!

Just like Legend, there's plenty of intrigue and edge-of-your-seat action. There was a lot of twists and turns and the revelations in Prodigy shook my perspective and what I thought was true when I read Legend. Like, the Colonies was thought of (especially by Day) as this utopia and a place to escape to from the corrupt Republic. We finally get to visit the Colonies in Prodigy and I was like "whoa!" Maybe the Republic was not as bad a place after all...

I am very excited to read the conclusion of this series. I love that the last scene of the novel did not leave me feeling very cheated but ...that revelation in the end about Day. AHHH!! I am DYING to know what will happen and how everything will turn out!

If you haven't yet, I recommend you read the Legend series. It is excellent, unpredictable and memorable.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hello fellow readers!
I am mired in papers and due dates as the semester ends. So, I have asked Jade of Real Mermaids series to share a recipe with us. If you read Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings (read my review here), you are familiar with this recipe.

Here's Jade:
___________________

Hi everyone! Jade here from Real Mermaids.


One of my favourite things about the upcoming holidays is the great treats we get to make and share. I love food so much, in fact, that I included a recipe for some of my favourite snacks in each of the Real Mermaids books.

My friend Cori and I thought we’d experiment a bit and ‘holiday-ize’ each recipe for you!

In Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings, I was stuck at my Gran’s cottage without any chocolate in sight. That’s when I turned to Google and found a recipe for a 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake. Yes! Cake in FIVE MINUTES. I added raspberries and whipped cream to this version. Holiday dessert, anyone?

Chocolate Mug Cake with Raspberries and Whipped Cream

First, get yourself the biggest microwaveable mug in the cupboard. Add:
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa

Mix it well. Then add:
- 1 egg

Mix. Then add:
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons oil

Mix. Then add:
- 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (NOT optional—at least as far as I’m concerned)
- 1 capful of vanilla extract

And… MIX!

Cook in the microwave for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will look like it’s going to overflow but don’t freak out! Let it cool for a bit (unless you want to burn your lips off) and add raspberries and whipped cream to make it fancy, then ENJOY!

Happy treats and have a great holiday, everyone!

Love,
Jade

___________________

Thanks Jade! If you have not check out the Real Mermaids series by Helene Boudreau, you really should. I don't often read middle grade but I really enjoy this one.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 22, 2012 with
11/28 - Michelle's Update: The next two weeks will be craziness with study week and then finals week. So I will be going on a short blogging hiatus and there will not be any long posts from me for the next two weeks.


Dear fellow book lovers,
Leslie and I would like to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!
It was another crazy busy week for us, as Leslie and I try to finish all our homework and projects so that we will have a schoolwork-free Thanksgiving with our family. Unfortunately, that meant blogging (but not reading!) was pushed aside for now.

But we will "see" you all next week!

<3,
Michelle & Leslie

Friday, November 16, 2012

book cover Hardcover: 424 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: September 11, 2012
ISBN: 9781442423765

Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.
Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.
The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.


Leslie's Review:
Sarah Beth Durst truly is a great writer with a great imagination and this is evident in her amazing book,  Vessel.

The setting of Vessel was beautiful. The desert world and its stories made it extraordinary and so vivid. I enjoyed reading Liyana's people's stories of their desert and their gods and goddesses. I loved learning about their world and being immersed in their culture. I also loved how the plot and conflict revolved around the setting of the story. It made the plot very interesting and refreshing. The story was very well-paced, exciting, and suspenseful. It never dragged or lost my interest.

The characters of Vessel were also fantastic. I loved, loved, LOVED Liyana. She was a magnificent heroine--strong, brave, stubborn, resourceful, intelligent, beautiful--and is now one of my favorite heroine. I admired and rooted for her throughout the story. The people she befriended and met were also very interesting, especially Korbyn and the other vessels--even though it took some time for me to to warm up to some of them (I believe they are written that way intentionally, it was just how their characters were).

When I turned that last page, I felt very sad because my time with the characters I grew to care for and love is over. Sigh.

But I loved this book so much that I know I am going to be re-reading it again and it will be just like revisiting old friends. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially if you love to read high fantasy. This book is a MUST-READ. If you have never read Sarah Beth Durst before, Vessel is a good place to start (then, you're probably going to want to read her other books). Fans of Sarah Beth Durst will eat this book up--I know I did.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prodigy by Marie Lu + Legend Prize Pack Giveaway

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 with
Hi everyone,
It's been a week since I last blogged but it has just been too crazy busy lately. I will tell you more about all the things later because right now I am here to talk about a book I am currently reading: PRODIGY!!
book cover
Prodigy is the long-awaited sequel to Legend, the must-read dystopian novel for all YA fans of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth. A brilliant re-imagining of Les Miserables, the series is set to be a global film sensation as CBS films have acquired rights to the trilogy.

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?
Prodigy begins about a couple of weeks after the ending of Legend and it is fantastic (so far since I am only about 100 pages in, but I think the awesome will continue).

About Legend:
book cover
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

About Marie Lu:
book cover
Marie Lu writes young adult novels, and has a special love for dystopian books. She likes food, fighter jets, afternoon tea, happy people, electronics, the interwebz, cupcakes, pianos, bright colors, rain, Christmas lights, sketches, animation, dogs, farmers' markets, video games, and of course, books.

She left Beijing for the States in 1989 and went off to college at the University of Southern California. In her past life, she was an art director in the video game industry, but now she writes full-time.

If you want more information about the Legend and Prodigy, check out the official website of the series, Marie Lu's author website and the Legend series Facebook page.

Giveaway
Thanks to Penguin, we have a special giveaway for you all! One (1) lucky winner will win the Legend Prize Pack:
  • A copy of Legend by Marie Lu
  • A limited Edition Prodigy Flashlight
  • A limited Edition Prodigy T-Shirt
book cover

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. Open to US mailing addresses only and ends November 30, 2012.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We got new books! (17)

Sunday, November 4, 2012 with
Happy November everyone! Umm... this is going to be a long post since this is 2 weeks' worth of books. We'll start with the YA books I got:
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (review)
<<I was supposed to review Shadowfell for Halloween but alas it arrived too late. >>
Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu (review)
<<I admit I did a crazy happy dance when I got Prodigy. I'll be reviewing it at the end of this month and we'll be giving away a Legend prize pack too.>>

I also won a copy of Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker and Dear Teen Me from Miranda Kenneally's Twitter giveaway a few weeks back. She also included some surprise swag. I reviewed an e-ARC of Stealing Parker so I was happy to get a hardcopy. All the books are signed too. Yay!

Haven of Obedience by Marina Anderson (unsolicited)
<<I have not read Fifty Shade (and I don't plan to) and I've never heard of Haven--it does not appeal to me so I'll be passing it on to my public library.>>
Where Angels Rest by Kate Brady (unsolicited)
Double Danger (A-Tac #6) by Dee Davis (unsolicited)
<<I am following Davis's A-Tac series so I am very excited to get Double Danger.>>

I got a 30% off coupon from B&N. I went to the store planning to buy either a YA or a romance novel but it was like all their titles they had I already have or they don't appeal to me at all. I ended up getting Mindy Kaling's book. First non-YA/romance book I bought in years!

Here's what Leslie got back home:
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (review)
<<The reviews for What Happens Next have been excellent.>>
Level 2 by Lenore Applehans (won)
<<OMG!! Level 2!! **happy dance**>>
An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere (review)

 Did YOU get any new books? Let us know! We'd love to see your new bookshelf additions.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

book coverE-ARC: 245 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781402271878
 
Source of my copy: publisher/Netgalley
Series: companion to Catching Jordan
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.
After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.


Michelle's Review:
I was wary of Stealing Parker at first because I was not sure I would feel comfortable about reading what basically is a teacher-student relationship despite the fact that the teacher (or assistant coach in this case--but same thing because he is a figure of authority at a school) was in his early twenties and Parker was just a few weeks shy of 18.

But I liked Kenneally's debut Catching Jordan and I am a sucker for romantic contemporary YA, so I picked it up anyway... and practically devoured it in one sitting. I really like Parker's character. I see a lot of myself in her--like her feelings about church, religion and God, that she like to read romance novels, her relationship with her dad was all me. Besides the fact that I can relate to her character, I love that she was human and flawed. She makes mistakes but she learns from them.

As for the thing I was dreading, Parker did get hot and heavy with Coach Brian and those scenes were uncomfortable to read but I felt Parker was able to keep her head. Yay Parker! However, Stealing Parker would not be a Kenneally novel if you know who Parker is going to end up with from reading the synopsis.  Other than Brian, there are a lot of boys in Parker's life and there was one particular boy that I especially rooted for and was such a sweetheart. I loved the scenes with him and Parker and it was great watching their relationship develop from classmates to friendship and to maybe something more.

Like in Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker had tough issues the main character had to sort through along with all the relationship drama. I would not call this novel "light reading" because of some heavy issues but there were enough funny moments to balance everything out. I did feel that the writing in Stealing Parker was not as fluid as it was in Catching Jordan but I ended up enjoying Stealing Parker more than I did Catching Jordan because I able to relate to Parker's character more.

If you love reading about perfectly flawed characters, you'll love Parker. Definitely check out Stealing Parker, it's an engaging and addicting read. I recommend it for readers who love reading contemporary YA with strong relationship/romance themes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Miranda Kenneally Talks About Her Inspirations

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 with
Hello everyone,
Happy Halloween for those celebrate!

We are the stop of the Home Run Blog Tour to get the word out about Miranda Kenneally's newest release, Stealing Parker. If you've read Catching Jordan or you love reading contemporary YA, then you're going to love SP--trust me because I did!

We asked Miranda: Where do you get your inspiration? Tell us about where your ideas originate. And please share with us the best advice that you've ever gotten about being a writer.

book cover
Geez, this is a pretty hard question. I get my inspiration from all over the place. From conversations I have with friends and people at work. From inside jokes with my husband. I read lots of books, and see how my favorite authors write plot arcs and characterization, and then I set out to do that too, but with my own edge. I often look through my junior and high school yearbooks to remind myself of how I felt when I was younger. I also like to read my old diaries. One time I got a book idea from a true fact under a Snapple lid. Another time I got a book idea because somebody had broken into my car!

I got the idea for the “Jerry Rice fake baby home ec” project in Catching Jordan because I remembered this time I was out on the football field in junior high, and a football player was pushing another player around in a stroller.

The best advice I ever got as a writer?
An editor told me my strongest skill as an author is writing groups of teens goofing off and talking about nothing, so now I try to have my characters bantering while doing lots of wild and wacky things while trying to move the plot forward. And I have a great time doing it! I try to write silly scenes that I hope people will enjoy reading.
Thank you, Miranda! Tomorrow I'll be posting my review of Stealing Parker (which I practically inhaled in one sitting). If you've never heard of SP, here's the synopsis:
book cover
Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan's Hundred Oaks High.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
Have a fun and safe night everyone!

<3,
Michelle

Friday, October 26, 2012

FYI: Exciting Bookish Events

Friday, October 26, 2012 with
Labels:
Happy Friday bookish friends!

Exciting bookish events are coming up! And in case you guys don't know about them, I'm going to tell you about them.

First off, (this one you all probably participate in every year--I know I do) is the Goodreads Choice Awards 2012! There will be 20 categories this year and the three I really look forward to are the YA (Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction), fiction and romance categories. The opening round starts on Tuesday, October 30 where you can write-in votes if your favorites are not in the nominees.

I am really hoping Seraphina will be one of the nominees--no, I know it will be one of the nominees in the YA Fantasy & Science Fiction and it has an excellent chance of winning (it's a excellent book!). The other YA novel that I think will be on the list for sure is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
For fiction, I really hope The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer will be nominated. As for romance, I really want to see Scorched by Laura Griffin nominated (I read it recently and loved it but it won't be released until next week Tuesday) but I'm 100% sure About That Night by Julie James will be one of the romance nominees.

The other event coming up is a Shindig online event happening this weekend--on Sunday, October 28th at 2:00 PM EST to be exact: Christopher Paolini, Stefan Bachmann (The Peculiars) and Rachel Hartman (see left) will all be talking their books and what inspires them and they'll be taking questions from readers.

I highlighted Rachel Hartman because her debut novel Seraphina is one of my favorite reads this year! I haven't read the other two authors but I've definitely heard of Paolini and his Inheritance series. I've already RSVP'd to the event and if you haven't, you can do that here: http://www.shindig.com/event/fantastical

What are your Goodreads Choice Awards picks? If you're going to the Shindig event, I will "see" you there! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with gripping reads.

<3, Michelle

P.S. Don't forget to enter our giveaways (see sidebar). There's low entries, so you all have a very good chance of winning! :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hello fellow readers,
Yesterday we spotlighted Delilah S. Dawson's The Mysterious Madam Morpho. Today, we are featuring Warrior's Last Gift by Melissa Mayhue.

book cover
An enthralling eNovella that combines time-travel, the Scottish Highlands, and a touch of Norse mythology—linking the Daughter of the Glens series with the Warriors series spin-off.

When Jeanne MacGhie had nowhere to turn, Eymer Horvesson stepped in with an offer of marriage. He asked for only one favor in return…and now that he’s dead, Jeanne will stop at nothing to keep her promise to the young warrior—even though it means turning to the one man she swore she’d never speak to again.

Eric MacNicol never expected a cavalier refusal to wed would result in his losing the one thing he truly wanted in life. When a warrior’s final request forces him on a cross-country quest with the widow, he must battle his inner demons to make the right decision this time. Only one last gift from a fallen warrior can offer them both a second chance at true love…
>>You can buy Warrior's Last Gift HERE.<< 

Enter to win an e-book copy of Warrior's Last Gift novella! Open to U.S. residents only (if you win, you will be given a code and it's only redeemable on the Simon & Schuster's U.S. site--sorry international readers). Ends October 31.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck!
Don't forget to enter to win the e-novella The Mysterious Madam Morpho HERE.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hello fellow readers,
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Sigh. But it's Monday again... However I got something that might take out of of your Monday doldrums...

Did you read Delilah S. Dawson's debut novel Wicked as They Come and is hankering for more? Well, check out the e-novella that takes place right after WaTC.

book cover
Taking place after Wicked as They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus.

An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers. Playing a hunch, Criminy hires Madam Morpho on the spot. Taking her down to meet Mr. Murdoch, the reclusive talented engineer who keeps the carnival’s clockworks running, Criminy instructs them to work together to design and build a groundbreaking new circus for the butterflies. Amid the magical ambiance of the circus and the hint of danger from Madam Morpho’s pursuers, she and Mr. Murdoch soon find that their scientific collaboration has produced chemistry of a more romantic kind.
>>You can buy The Mysterious Madam Morpho HERE.<< 

Enter to win an e-book copy of The Mysterious Madam Morpho novella! Open to U.S. residents only (if you win, you will be given a code and it's only redeemable on the Simon & Schuster's U.S. site--sorry international readers). Ends October 31.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck! Come back tomorrow for another e-novella giveaway!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We got new books! (16)

Saturday, October 20, 2012 with
We haven't done a "we got new books" post since last month so these are the books we got in October (so far?).  We're going to start with the books Leslie got on Maui.
The entire Ruby Oliver series! by E. Lockhart (won)
[[Michelle won the entire set from Random House on Twitter. We've been hearing great things about this series so we are so happy we got all four books!]]

Three romance novels also arrived on Maui for me (check out Aubrey's teddy in the background):
Twelfth Night Secrets by Jane Feather (unsolicited)
Where Angels Rest by Kate Brady (won)
'Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries (unsolicited)

Michelle, who was in a contemporary YA kick after reading Stealing Parker, hit the library. There were some awesome YA review books that arrived too:
Tempestuous (Twisted Lit #1) by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (review)
[[This one is a modern spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest!]]
Touched by Corrine Jackson (review)
7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker (library)
[[Read this one already and it's really good. 4/5 stars!]]
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (library)
One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt (library)
The Pledge (The Pledge #1) by Kimberly Derting (library)

Michelle's romance novels:
One Wrong Move by Shannon McKenna (review)
The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day (review)
Saddled and Spurred (Blacktop Cowboys #2) by Lorelei James (bought)
Wrangled and Tangled (Blacktop Cowboys #3) by Lorelei James (bought)
[[I love Lorelei James's Rough Riders series so I thought I'd give her other series a try.]]

I also bought these e-books:
Never Seduce a Scot (Montgomerys and Armstrongs #1) by Maya Banks
[[I resist buying NSaS after reading all the great reviews.]]
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (review)
[[I am reading Scorched and I am really loving Kelsey and Gage. I wanted to read more about them so I just HAD to get their novella.]]


Did YOU get any new books? Let us know! We'd love to see your new bookshelf additions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Lies That Bind Vlog Tour: Week #2

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 with
Hello everyone,
Happy Wednesday! We continue the Lies The Bind love here with video number 2 in the vlog tour. This time Lisa and Laura talk about fantasy casting the Liar Society series.

Laura's pick for Kate is Emma Roberts and I agree! I think she's very Kate. They also talk about who they would cast for Liam and Seth. My picks are Pierre Boulanger as he was in the movie Monte Carlo for Liam and Rupert Grint with an American accent for Seth.

Here's vlog number 2:


Don't forget to enter to win the Random Prize Pack that includes a copy of Lies That Bind!

Have a wonderful day and happy reading.

<3,
Michelle

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Lies That Bind Vlog Tour: GIVEAWAY

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 with
Hello bookish friends,
If you stopped by on this here blog on Tuesday you know that the Lies That Bind Vlog Tour is currently happening from now to the release week of  The Lies That Bind (book 2 in the Liar Society series) on November 6.

Yup, it's a vlog tour: Every week Lisa and Laura Roecker will be posting a video each week talking about Kate and the Liar Society series and getting into fun shenanigans. If you missed video #1 this week, go watch it now.

As part of the vlog tour and thanks to Lisa, Laura and Sourcebooks Fire we are hosting a giveaway! One lucky bookish gal or guy can win this random prize pack:

All you have to do is enter through the Rafflecopter below. This contest will end on November 6 (The Lies That Bind's release day) and is open to US only. One winner will be chosen at random.

<3,
Michelle

P.S.
Come back later this week for video #2. Lisa and Laura will dish on if The Liar Society should become a movie or TV show and who they think should play Kate, Liam, Seth, Taylor & Bradley.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 15, 2012

book cover Hardcover: 364 pages 
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: July 10, 2012
ISBN: 9780316185574

Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

WKendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art -- until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all -- with enough distance, maybe she'll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.


Leslie's Review:
Perfect Escape really delivered as it was refreshing, honest, real, and memorable. I liked its idea of two siblings--Kendra and Grayson--trying to escape from their problems by going on this road trip together and ending up learning more about themselves and each other. The plot was really interesting and well-paced. I enjoyed being immersed in Kendra and Grayson's road trip.

Having siblings of my own, I was able to relate and connect with Kendra and Grayson very well. Their honest relationship of friendly banter, arguing and disagreeing, and brotherly-sisterly moments captured what it's like to have a sibling, most especially one with difficulties--and that was what made Kendra and Grayson so real and relatable.

However, my favorite character was Grayson. Despite his difficulties, he was a great character and I imagine would've been a great person if he were real. Towards Kendra, he was nice (as much as a brother can be to his sister), caring, and protective. As an individual, he was very intelligent and truly determined in his efforts to overcome his OCD for the sake of his family. I would've love to have met him if he were a real person.

After reading Perfect Escape--my first of Jennifer Brown's books--I've decided to definitely check out her older books (and future books). I really the way she writes and her voice. I recommend this great read to anyone looking for something refreshing and honest. It really is a perfect escape.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Valkyrie Rising Blog Tour + Giveaway

Saturday, October 13, 2012 with
Labels:
Hello everyone,
I hope you are all having a great Saturday. Welcome to our stop on the Valkyrie Rising Blog Tour (hosted by Shane of Itching for Books--thanks Shane!).

I posted my review of Ingrid Paulson's Valkyrie Rising earlier today. If you haven't checked it out, you can find it HERE.

Now, I am here to share with you an excerpt from VR.

This exchange between Ellie and Tuck happened early on, during Ellie's brother's party and before they left for Norway and all the things happened. I like this scene because it sets up the relationships between Ellie and her brother Graham as well as Ellie and Tuck.

book cover
"Are you leaning on me because you're drunk?" I choked out, once the silence had stretched itself so far and thin it was fine dust coating my throat. Then I grasp for the only logical explanation. "If you're trying to make some girl down there jealous, you should cozy up to someone else. No one would ever see me as a threat."

"Why do you say that?" His grin reappeared, settling in and preparing to stay a while. And marking the return to familiar footing. The muscles in my shoulder started to uncoil.

"Because of who I am." Freshman year, Graham had thrown a boy out of a party for ignoring my polite hints. And he had interpreted my one-time plea for help as an open-door invitation into my love life. Or lack thereof, thanks to his constant interference. I wasn't supposed to know that my touch carried a social stigma second only to leprosy, but word gets back to you eventually.

"I mean, why play games? I get by just fine on looks alone." His smile was blinding, driving his point home.

"Don't forget your charming personality," I said, and my stomach flipped when his grin widened at my words. Making Tucker laugh was the best kind of rush. "I hear modesty is quite the aphrodisiac," I added.

"Listen to you." He lifted those gray eyes to meet mine. "Graham would die if he heard sweet little Ellie use a word like that. And die all over again if he thought you knew what it meant."

"Lucky he's not here," I said.

"Lucky indeed," he said slowly. "For more than one reason."

His smile was so pretty, I almost sighed out lout. Fortunately, that was all it took to remind me of the manifold dangers of dropping my guard around Tuck. Because he was softening me up. It was a dance I knew all too well, even if he usually preferred a more direct assault with me.

"What do you want?" I repeated.

"Time with you," he said sweetly. "Your undivided attention."
Awesome, right? Check out the giveaway if you haven't already:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Don't forget to check out Valkyrie Rising. And have a great rest of the weekend!

<3,
Michelle
book coverE-ARC: 242 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012
ISBN: 9780062025722
 
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Valkyrie Rising #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.
What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.
Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.


Michelle's Review:
I was very excited for Valkyrie Rising when I first heard of it earlier this year. I haven't read a lot of books about valkyries, it is set in Norway and the love interest is the heroine's brother's best friend. It sounded like a fantastic read.

And it was good. There are many things I liked about it but I also had a couple of issues with it. One of things I did like a lot was the dynamics between the main character Ellie and Tuck, her brother Graham's best friend. I really liked the back and forth banter between them and they had that chemistry. I looked forward to the moment when they finally get together. My favorite character was actually Tuck. He was charming, quick and he didn't mind letting Ellie take the lead. I really appreciated that he was steady throughout the novel and didn't vacillate between hot and cold towards Ellie as a lot of YA paranormal love interest tend to do.

Another thing I liked about the novel was the change in Ellie's character goes through. She started off as a girl that hid in her room during her brother's party but as the story went on and she learned more about herself, she gained self-confidence and got stronger. She was a great heroine--she didn't give up when the odds were stacked up against her and Tuck and she fought back but she also knew when to ask for help.

Like I mentioned above, one of the things that initially made me excited about Valkyrie Rising was that it took place outside the United States. But I did wish it made a bigger impression or it was elaborated on more because while I knew in my head that the characters were in a village in Norway, it read like Anyplace, USA. My other issue was that the story dragged in the middle. There was a lot of running around on Ellie and Tuck's part as they tried to rescue Graham but nothing happened to push the story forward.

Valkyrie Rising was a good debut novel and an enjoyable read. I do think that Valkyrie Rising will be a series but the ending did leave me satisfied. Despite some loose ends, it was not a cliffhanger ending that left me cheated (thank you Ms. Paulson!). So, check out Valkyrie Rising for its has a strong heroine, interesting secondary characters and Norse mythology. Although the middle did drag somewhat there's also enough of action to keep you reading.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Michelle Covets: The Rules by Stacey Kade

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 with
Why I covet this book: I LOOVE Stacey's Ghost and the Goth series and I am so excited to read more books written by her.

The Rules sounds really good too. And check out the cover--the girl's eyes are super freaky.

book cover
1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…
The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) comes out on April 23, 2013 from Disney-Hyperion. For more info and news about the novel, visit check out the author's website. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week 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, October 9, 2012

The Lies That Bind Vlog Tour: Week #1

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 with
Hello fellow bookaholics,
You probably don't remember but I featured The Lies That Bind as one of the "books I covet" back in July. Well, I won't be coveting it much longer because because it is coming out in less than a month!

I am very excited for the release of The Lies That Bind, book 2 in the Liar Society series. I really loved  the first book and I am so happy that I'll get to revisit Kate and her friends very soon. To celebrate the upcoming release of The Lies That Bind, the Roecker sisters (the authors) are doing a vlog each week talking about Kate and the Liar Society and getting into fun shenanigans.


If you haven't heard of the Liar Society series, it features a spunky, kick-ass character named Kate. In the first book she tried to find proof that her best friend's death was no accident after getting a strange email from said best friend (from beyond the grave?!). She teams up with hotty Liam and ginger haired Seth.

There's humor, mystery and light romance. It's like a modern, more awesome version of the Nancy Drew series.

Click on the cover to read the synopsis of book one and two on Goodreads:

<3,
Michelle

Thursday, October 4, 2012

book cover ARC: 350 pages 
Publisher: MacMillan
 Release Date: September 18, 2012
ISBN: 9780374380740

Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Birthright #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
 

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship. But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

Leslie's Review:
I'm just going to say it: SOOOOOO GOOD!! I mean, that's exactly what I thought about as soon as I flipped the last page. I LOVED it. All of it. And I already can't wait for the next book to come out.

Once again, Anya shined for me in this second installment of Zevin's Birthright series. Her character continued to be a strong and courageous heroine that I truly admire. Even though she was (as she was in the first book) thoughtless and confused at times and messed things up greatly and often, it was her imperfections that made her such an awesome, true-to-life character. I rooted for her all throughout the story and I hope for the best for her in the next book (that ending . . . *whew*).

And just like the first book All These Things I've Done, the plot was full of action and suspense. It never dragged or got cliche for me; rather it kept me interested all throughout the book. I also liked the romance--it wasn't at all overdone and dramatized, which was really great and refreshing. The romance played a rather small role in Anya's story as it focused more on her mafia family and her dilemmas with them revolving around the illegal chocolate. But when the romance was brought up, it continued to be lovely and sweet. Although not the most heroic love interest, Win continued to be a great companion for Anya (companion, as in it's Anya, and her alone, who is carrying the series--another thing I like about it). I like how he calms her down, is protective of her, is always willing to help her, and how his calm nature balances out her fierce nature. He and Anya are one of my favorite YA couples.

This is a fantastic series! If you read book one, All These Things I've Done, you're going to want to pick up Because It Is My Blood ASAP. It's a MUST READ. I can't wait for book three!