Saturday, July 31, 2010

In My Mailbox: July 31

I've got a special edition of In My Mailbox for you today. My husband did a beautiful translation in Spanish. If you speak Spanish, let me know what you think!





For Review:
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Enter the t-shirt contest!)
Matched by Ally Condie

From Author:
Mistwood by Leah Cypess (SIGNED)

From Paperback Swap:
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
I'd Tell You I Love You but then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Friday, July 30, 2010

Retro Friday: The Princess Academy

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out-of-print, etc.

Princess Academy
By: Shannon Hale

PRINCESS ACADEMY is one of the rare books that I have read multiple times. Every time I read it I get something new from the experience.

I think that one of the strongest parts of Shannon Hale's writing is her character development. I fall in love with every single one of her characters every time.

Miri shines in this novel. I think that if there were a literary character that I think best represents me, Miri would be it.  I too, am a mountain girl.  I live in Utah, high above sea level. I grew up in a very small rural town where the people worked very hard on farms, dairies, or orchards.  Miri is smart, and eager to prove herself. Yep, me to a tee.

I am a total sucker for the best friend love. I think all of us know that real love begins with a deep friendship, not from a smoldering look shot across a biology class.  At least the kind of love that lasts.  Peder is a perfect fit for Miri.  He also has dreams and desires beyond the quarry and mountainside.  He accepts Miri for who she is and loves her ambitions.  When others were hesitant of Miri's "crazy ideas," he believes in her.

Along those lines, Britta is everything a best friend should be.  Britta is a culmination of the traits possessed by many friends that I had over the years: self-sacrificing, kind, positive, supportive, and unconditional.  Miri in turn is just the confidence boost that Britta needs. In fact, it seems that Miri has an uncanny ability to notice the good things in everyone around her, including those that cause her pain.

This is a book for a younger demographic. However, I find myself falling in love with it every time I reread it.

Oh, and I know I've said this many times.  Shannon Hale is so wonderful. Makes me love her stories even more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ask HTMiLy (4)


How do you get the "You might also like" pics under each post?

This is so super easy. All you have to do is go to the LinkWithin Website and it will show you how to set it up. This is a great widget, I get a lot of click to other posts from it.


How to have numberings on comments? What should I change in the HTML?

That isn't too complicated to do. I found a tutorial at Bloggerstop.net that should explain how to do it pretty simply.

Okay it is not about design, not about HTML but about posting a "short" link when you want
to have someone come check out a post. Rather than posting  example (here is my post: http://draft.blogger.com/home) how do you just shorten this URL in the comment to a few underlined words like Here is mine and it will click over to the blog site post?

jackie b central texas


I am assuming that you want to know the code for how to make links in comments. So that when you post this:
Here is my post
It looks like this:
Here is my post
All you have to do is type in this code:
<a href="http://yourlinkhere.com">Here is my post</a>
Obviously, you will change the text in red to the link and text that you want to show up.

Got a question for me? Fill out the form!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CSN Preferred Blogger Program

Remember when I did a giveaway of a bookcase awhile back on the blog?

Well, I was lucky enough to be selected as a CSN stores preferred blogger, which means this time I get to review a product.

CSN Stores has a crazy awesome selection of small appliances. One I know that many of my readers would be interested in is a coffee maker. Of course, if coffee isn't your thing (like me, I'm a crazy non-coffee drinker), there are thousands of other items to choose from.

I already know what I'm going to get though. You'll have to wait for the review to find out!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld: Review

Pretties
By: Scott Westerfeld
Copy received from Paperbackswap.com
July selection for Tell Me What to Read


Synopsis (From Goodreads): Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.


My Review (contains spoilers from the first in the series Uglies):  It's been awhile since I read UGLIES. I was afraid that I had forgotten most of the important parts of the series. Luckily, the book seemed to flow seamlessly, and most of the things that I had forgotten came back. Oh, and my review of UGLIES was absolutely no help. Man I sucked at writing reviews.



The more I read of this series, the less I like Tally. I can't really put my finger on it, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that she lets things happen to her rather than taking control of the situation.  I really liked the new love interest, Zane. I would have almost preferred the story to be told from his point of view.


I was a little turned off by the introduction of new words. There seems to be a consistency in dystopian novels that as culture changes and evolves, so does the language. I have to admit that I have yet to see a story that I feel does this well.  The words used in PRETTIES are unfamiliar and sometimes comical. They were more of a distraction to the story, I felt. But, I know some readers will appreciate the new words and the changing of cultures that they symbolize.

The climax of this story was wonderfully done. In fact, I loved this book from about halfway through on to the end. Without giving away too much of the story, there is a very interesting subplot that involves taking anthropology a little too far.  I vastly preferred this subplot to the one involving Shay. Shay became less interesting to me in this novel because she seemed so bent on revenge and jealousy. I didn't know quite how to relate to her.


I felt like this novel was just setting up for the third novel, and almost could have been skipped. I did like the addition of Zane. Learning about his past was interesting, and I really would have liked to learn more. That being said, I am interested to read the third novel, but really just felt like this one had little to offer on its own.


My Rating:
 
Profanity: None
Sexualty: Mild; only kissing and general tension
Drugs and Alcohol: Mild
Violence: Mild

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading (hosted by Sheila at Book Journey), is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

This weekend I had a wonderful vacation at Bear Lake, ID. Thanks to everyone who participated in my impromptu #whereisem Twitter giveaway. I was sad to return home on Monday to my hot desert home.  Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the day:

Those are my sisters holding Abigail. She is their only niece, so of course they love to hold and spoil her.

I've got two contests going right now. (I know, I swore I wouldn't do any contests for awhile after my blogiversary thingy. But, I just love to give people things)

Design a t-shirt for Nightshade. This one involves a little more creativity, but I'm really excited about the entries I'm already receiving.

Win a paperback copy of Girl in the Arena. This was one of my favorite books from last year. Go read Lise Haines' guest post and leave a comment.

Now on to what I'm reading:


What are you reading this week?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox July 25

In My Mailbox
Hosted by: The Story Siren


It's been awhile since I've done one of these, what with vacations and all.  But, I am excited to show you what I've received over the last three weeks.

For Review:

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (October 5, 2010)  Scott Westerfeld is coming to the Provo City Library in October.

The Exiled Queen (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima (September 28, 2010) Cinda emailed me after reading my review of The Demon King and asked if I wanted a review copy. I've started reading this one and I think I like it even better than its predecessor

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart (August 24, 2010) I've heard really awesome things about this book. I can't wait to dig into it!


Won in a contest:

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White (March 2010) I won this SIGNED copy from Shelli at Market My Words. This has a beautiful cover, and I'm so excited to have a copy. It also came with some bookmarks that aren't shown.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (October 2010) This copy came from Goodread's Giveaway program.  I already have a copy (oops) and so I'm having a t-shirt design contest for my extra copy.

Bought:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (October 2009) Had some drama with Amazon to get this to me.  My first one came back damaged due to poor packaging. But, they overnighted me a new one. My husband read this in one day and can't wait to get his hands on my copy of Behemoth. I can't wait to get this one signed in October!

Not Pictured The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (July 2009) Had to have a copy of this one. 'Nuff said. I didn't get a picture of it because I lent it to a friend already.


Received from Publisher:

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel (August 3, 2010) This is a finished copy. It has a wonderful sparkly quality to it. However, the vampires contained in THIS novel are in no way sparkly.

From Paperbackswap.com:

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen I got this one from the library awhile back but never read it. I'm on the search for a wonderful Sleeping Beauty retelling. If you know of one, please suggest it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Got Books? Giveaway

http://gotbooksevent.blogspot.com


Welcome to Emily's Reading Room for the Got Books? giveaway!
While you're here, be sure to enter to win a copy of GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines
This book is perfect to read while you're waiting for a copy of MOCKINGJAY!

Today I am giving away two prizes to two winners:
ARC (Advance Review Copy) of Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Synopsis: When Lenah Beaudonte, a 500-year-old vampire queen, wakes up a human teenager at an ultra-cliquey prep school, she must choose between embracing the humanity she’s always craved and saving her new friends from her vicious coven. The first in a sizzling new YA series.

Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?

Paperback of Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan has a secret: She's living with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violinist and composer. To Cassie, he's an erratic, self-centered bully.

Dino has always been difficult, but as he prepares for his comeback concert, something in him begins to shift. He seems more high-strung than ever, set off by any little thing. He stops sleeping, starts chain-smoking. And he grows increasingly paranoid, saying things that Cassie is desperate to make sense of, but can't. So she does what she thinks she must: She tries to hide his behavior from the outside world. Before, she was angry. Now, she is afraid.

Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino's first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian she knows she's doomed. She tries everything to keep away from him, but is drawn to him in a way she's never felt before. It should be easy. It should be beautiful. It is not. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain. But this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.
As the novel crashes through two irreparable events and speeds toward its powerful end, one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred.


Open to US Residents only
Ends July 24 12:00 AM
Fill out the form below indicating which book you would like to win. Comments will not be accepted as entries
Winner will be contacted by email and will have 72 hours to respond
.
 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lise Haines Guest Post and Giveaway

Lise Haines
By: Lise Haines
Author of GIRL IN THE ARENA  (Review)

I was talking with a 16-year old girl the other day who lives in a pretty chill suburb. In fact, it’s so chill, so safe, that it’s been named the most boring town in its state. And I asked her to answer this question: If you were going to rate the world on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the most peaceful place imaginable, 10 the most violent, and you had to rate our planet as a whole, what number would you give it? She thought for a moment and said: “Eight. I wouldn’t want to lie to you. It’s definitely an eight.”

Last night, I saw INCEPTION and honestly, I can’t wait to see it again. I’m a movie addict and this one is visual perfection. I love the idea of dreams within dreams. And it’s cool that it conveys a message about confronting our demons. But there’s something else that’s undeniable about this film. Around all the gorgeous visuals and beautiful faces and dream weaving, there’s a whole lot of straight-up violence.
It makes me wonder if we’ve always had this much violence running amok in our subconscious life; if only a full measure of violence leaves us thoroughly entertained; if this is just part of big movie making now; if this is about paying tribute to other films like Blade Runner; if all of the above are true; or if I’m just taking things too seriously again. I do that sometimes.

When I was first working on GIRL IN THE ARENA, I was one of those people who had to turn away from most graphic/violent movie scenes. I’m not like that now. In order to understand the neo-gladiator culture I began to write about, I had to keep my eyes open. I didn’t understand, for a long time, why I was writing about such a violent world. In fact, I kept thinking the whole thing was pretty nuts. Hunger Games didn’t exist then, and I continually asked myself why I was writing this crazed book.

Finally, I just got excited about working in unfamiliar territory, where I was taking a lot of risks. And eventually, I began to understand that I was saying something about the impact of violence on our culture, especially on the way young women relate to, and interact with, a violent world. As I’ve written before, some of this came from the fact that tens of thousands of young American women have gone off to fight in foreign wars in the last decade. And if you add this to the intensity of some of the video games, what we see on the internet, 9/11…

So, after I saw INCEPTION, I began to think about my conversation with the 16-year old. If the world is an 8 to her, it really makes you think in a whole new way about what it’s like for a young woman in Afghanistan or the Gaza Strip or Somalia. I’ve trained myself not to look away like a whole lot of people, and for so many of us, the way to do that is to numb out a little or even a lot. And sometimes, we use that numb feeling when we watch the news, in order to know what’s happening but to not get entirely crushed by it. All of this makes me wonder how you would rate the world on a 1 to 10 violence scale, and exactly where you think we’re headed.

LISE HAINES is the author of three novels, Girl in the Arena, published in the US and the UK (Bloomsbury) and in Turkey (Alfa-Artemis Yayınevi); Small Acts of Sex and Electricity (Unbridled Books), a Book Sense Pick in 2006 and one of ten “Best Book Picks for 2006” by the NPR station in San Diego ; and In My Sister’s Country, (Penguin/Putnam), a finalist for the 2003 Paterson Fiction Prize. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and she was a finalist for the PEN Nelson Algren Award.

Haines is Writer in Residence at Emerson College. She has been Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, and her other teaching credits include UCLA, UCSB, and Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She grew up in Chicago, lived in Southern California for many years, and now resides in the Boston area. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Author Website
Publisher's Website

Win a paperback copy of
By: Lise Haines

Synopsis:  It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arenaLyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through.  Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family.  Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator.  Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.

To Enter:
Must be a US resident 13 or older
Leave a comment on Lise Haine's Guestpost
Fill out the form below or by clicking HERE

Contest ends 7/31, 11:59 PM MST

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas: Review

This Gorgeous Game
By: Donna Freitas
Received from publisher for review

Synopsis (From Author's Website): Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor.

But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?

My Review: What a haunting, frightening, and all too true story of the abuse of power and reality of being stalked.

First of all, you should read the review Angie did at her blog, Angieville, because it sums up pretty perfectly how I feel about this book.

The emotions packed into This Gorgeous Game are breathtaking. Donna Freitas masterfully shows us each agonizing detail of Olivia's life after she wins Father Mark's writing contest. It makes me wonder if Ms. Freitas has had some kind of personal experience related to stalking.

I want to share a few lines that were particularly poignant.
Before Father Mark returns to whatever wisdom he was about to offer me, his ever-willing supplicant, on the plotting of the short story, I blurt, "So do you know Jamie Grant?" I do nothing to hide the enthusiasm and interest in my voice because I assume Father Mark will get a kick out of the fact that I have a crush and because I am also imagining that this revelation might break the ice, that I can be the schoolgirl with a crush and suddenly Father Mark will laugh an appropriately fatherly laugh and give me advice about college boys like I am his daughter, feeling protective and expressing concern about the fickle boys who attend his university, like any other father who is not also a Father would.

I assume wrong.
I loved this passage because it is one sentence. One long sentence full of hopes, dreams, and desires. And it is cut short by the short, rude, and soul-crushing sentence that follows.

It is not often that a contemporary novel really stands out to me. This book was a very strong exception. Olivia was good. She is a good girl who does not deserve what happens to her. Frankly, even if she had been a whiny brat, she wouldn't have deserved what happened to her.

And, the perfect foil for Father Mark is Jamie. Jamie is the one that shows Olivia the goodness in men. Thank goodness for Jamie.

My Rating:
 


Profanity: None
Sexuality: Mild
Violence: None
Drugs and Alcohol: None

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nightshade T-Shirt Design Contest

I received a second copy of NIGHTSHADE in the mail yesterday. And since I really don't need two ARCs, I started brainstorming on Twitter how I was going to give it away. Once Andrea Cremer got in on the planning, we came up with a contest I know you are going to love.

Design a NIGHTSHADE t-shirt

Contest Overview: Entries can be submitted from July 20 to August 3 August 8. Entries can be submitted by filling out the google form at the bottom of this post OR by clicking HERE.  Andrea Cremer will judge the entries and choose the winning design, and it will be announced on August 10.

Prize:
One winner will receive an ARC of NIGHTSHADE and their winning design printed on a t-shirt. BONUS: Winner will also receive an ARC of MATCHED by Ally Condie
 


Rules (Please read all carefully before submitting an entry): 
  •  Open to US residents only. Unless you would like to pay the shipping costs or have a US address that you can ship to.
  • One entry per person
  • You must provide a valid email address. If we are unable to contact you within 72 hours of winning the contest, another winner will be chosen.
  • Design Rules:
    • You must use your own original artwork. Even stock images or the cover is off-limits for this one because of copyright laws, unless it is creative commons or you have the rights to it.
    • Submissions must be a hi-resolution .jpg or .png uploaded to your own image hosting site. All designs become the property of Andrea to use as she chooses.
    • ETA: If you don't feel like you have creative skills, feel free to do something just with text. Whatever you want to do is fine.
  •  All entries must be submitted by August 3, 2010, 11:59 PM MST
Synopsis:

While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack's world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches' War that surrounds them all.

Visit Andrea:
Website
Twitter

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: Review

The Knife of Never Letting Go
By: Patrick Ness
Copy received from my local library

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he's going to have to run...



My Review: This book was highly recommended by Holly at Book Harbringer. According to Holly, the Chaos Walking series was one that she wanted to shout about from the rooftops. With a recommendation like that, how could I resist?

This novel was billed to me as a dystopian novel. I'm not sure I agree with that. See, this story takes place on another planet. In my own personal definition of dystopia, things are still going on at Earth.

The first line of this novel is probably one of the best I've ever read. It sets up the story so beautifully, and immediately catches your interest:
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.
The Knife of Never Letting Go keeps a fast pace; however, initially I found it hard to get into. Much like The Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines, this book had a unique writing style. Whenever "noise" was mentioned, it was in a different type-face than the rest of the story. Todd doesn't know how to read, thus his language is poor and rudimentary. I spoke to one person who never did finish this book because she couldn't get past the fact that the dog spoke.

But, I stuck with it. And I'm very glad I did. About four or five chapters in, the book took an unexpected twist.  Once that major twist happened, I got sucked in. Todd was an amazing character. He has the innocence of youth and a deep desire to do good. In many ways his upbringing has left him with some prejudice that he has to overcome.  In his world, everyone knows what everyone is thinking. Patrick Ness makes you really appreciate the wonderful gift that is the solitude of our own thoughts.

This book ends in a cliffhanger that I was not pleased with. I am not a big fan of books that end in a way that there is no way the story resolves until a sequel comes along.  With that said, at least all the other books are out, so I won't have a long wait for the rest of the series.

If you like science fiction, you will enjoy this book. Readers who like interesting typesetting and a visual aspect to their books also have a good chance of liking this book. I don't know that I would recommend this book to all readers. But, if you are feeling daring, definitely pick it up.

My Rating:

Profanity: Mild
Sexuality: Mild; a few references here and there in some of the men's "noise"
Violence: Moderate
Drugs and Alcohol: None