Friday, April 29, 2011

Two Moon Princess Tour: This and That with Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Synopsis: In this coming-of-age story set in a medieval kingdom, Andrea is a headstrong princess longing to be a knight who finds her way to modern-day California. But her accidental return to her family's kingdom and a disastrous romance brings war, along with her discovery of some dark family secrets. Readers will love this mix of traditional fantasy elements with unique twists and will identify with Andrea and her difficult choices between duty and desire.

Top Ten List

Diet or Regular? Regular
Pizza or Pasta? Pasta
Duck or Chicken? Duck
Fingers or Toes? Fingers
Sandals or Sneakers? Sneakers
Walk or Run? Walk
Noise or Silence? Silence
Fair or Circus? Fair
All or Nothing? All
Mother or Father? Mother
Morning or Night? Morning
Forest or Beach? Forest
Pen or Pencil? Pencil
Eyes or Smile? Eyes
Winter or Summer? Summer

Win a copy of Two Moon Princess!
Open to US Residents only
To enter, fill out the form below:
Contest ends May 6, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano: Review

By: Lauren DeStefano

Format: Hardcover, 358 pages
Published: March 2011, Simon and Schuster
Source: ARC from publisher, ebook from publisher
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge; E-book Challenge; Dystopia Challenge

Summary (from Goodreads): 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 limted time she has left.

My Review:  This book touches on so many subjects that are fiction taboo: slavery, polygamy, and teenage pregnancy. I was nervous when I started the book, because it would have been very easy for the story to be very, well, not suitable for teens. I was pleased that even with the mature themes, this is a book that I'd be comfortable giving to my sisters.

When you read this book, you'll be left thinking, 'what would I do in this situation?' Rhine is obsessed with freedom. Amy from My Friend Amy compared Rhine to Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I absolutely agree.  She will do anything to get free and return to her brother. She knows that she doesn't have much time left, and even though she has access to anything she wants, she is deprived of what she needs. They say that money can't buy everything, and that is certainly the case for Rhine. Her basic needs are taken care of. She has food, entertainment, everything. But instead of just living up short amount of time that she has left, she chooses to focus her energy on getting free.

My biggest complaint about the story is that there were some serious problems behind the science that brings about this disease. I had a hard time coming to grips with the idea that genetic engineering is to blame for everyone dying. However, the story was compelling enough that I was able to overlook some of the science.

I am very excited to read the rest of the series. If you like dystopian fiction, pick this one up.

My Rating:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Armchair BEA 2011

So, Book Expo America (BEA) is like the mecca of the publishing/book blogging world. It's the who's who of books. Authors, bloggers, publishers, and media all unite to talk about the books coming up this year that are going to rock.

For the past two years I've read blogs and felt the extreme sting of jealousy for those that could attend BEA. And by a stroke of luck (or a patient husband, however you slice it), I got the go-ahead to go this year.

However, I know that many of you won't be able to go. Finances, conflicting schedules, or other things get in the way. So, last year, a few bloggers got together and formed Armchair BEA. Basically, you get to participate in activities virtually. Last year it rocked. We had a twitter party, blog interviews, discussions, etc.

This year we are back. And it's going to be bigger than ever. I'm excited to announce as well that I'm going to be an on-site correspondent this year and bring you all the action directly from the floor of the Javit's Center.

If you'd like to participate, the registration form opened up today. So, head over to the website and sign up!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Bargains

I have to stop buying books.

I've got a shelf packed two deep filled solely with books that I have not read. Many of these are books that I have bought.

However, I feel justified in my purchases because even if I haven't read the book, I do like being a resource for my friends to borrow books.

You aren't buying that excuse? Well, okay then.

If you would like to buy some books, I rummaged through some bargain book bin and found a few YA treasures for you.

All of these links are affiliate links. I will make a small profit if you click through and buy anything from Amazon from these links. However, it's a SMALL profit. I ain't doing this for the money folks.

Amazon Bargain Books

Barnes and Noble Deals

Fade (Wake Trilogy Series #2) $3.58 (Barnes and Noble link)

The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison $3.58 (Barnes and Noble link)

The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer $3.58 (B&N link)

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carty $5.38 (B&N link)

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott $5.38 (B&N link)

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott (hardcover!) $5.38 (B&N link)

Free E-Books
There are also some free kindle and nook books that you should get your hands on ASAP. Even if you don't have an e-reader, I would buy some of these. You never know when you will cave and buy one, and they can just sit in your library until then. I'm just here to help.

Wings Free with Bonus Material (amazon link)
Wings Free with Bonus Material (Barnes and Noble link)

Reaper by Rachel Vincent (amazon link)

13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material by Rachel Vincent (Amazon link)
13 Little Blue Envelopes Free with Bonus Material by Rachel Vincent (Barnes and Noble link)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Emily's Reading Room #RocktheDrop

In honor of Support Teen Lit day, I joined in the fun that was Rock the Drop hosted by Readergirlz.

Here's the gist on Rock the Drop: you get books you love, and drop them somewhere for an unsuspecting reader to find.

I chose Cloaked by Alex Flinn and Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh as my drops. And where did I drop them? Why, my favorite place, The Provo Library.

Blood and Flowers got a spot on the table by the YA section.

Cloaked got a spot in the juvenile fiction section on some comfy pillows.

I put a bookplate and a note in each one indicating that they were totally up for grabs. I also emailed the super awesome programs coordinator at the Provo Library and let her know that I'd be dropping a couple titles off at the library and she said that she would let the circulation desks know.

Ever since I've dropped them off, I've been dying to know who picked them up. Well, whoever they are, I hope they enjoyed them.

Did you rock the drop today?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: Review

Between Shades of Gray
By: Ruta Sepetys

Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Published: March 22nd 2011 by Philomel Books
Source: ARC from Publisher
Challenges: 2011 YA Historical Fiction

author website | facebook page

Summary (from Goodreads): Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

My Review: I've been recommending this book all over the place since I read it.  It is incredibly hard to push a book about the mass deportations and murders carried out by Stalin in the 1940's. The reason being that many people just don't know that this happened. It's not taught like the holocaust is in US high schools. I took an AP European History class and it was really only brushed over in our curriculum.  However, my parents took it upon themselves to make sure that I knew about the atrocities committed by Stalin and his regime.

This book will break your heart. You will be shocked and horrified by the lack of humanity showed by the Soviet Union. People die. They are ripped from their families. Treated like animals.

What amazed me most was the desperate attempt by those that were being held captive to hold on to their dignity. Especially on the part of Lina's mother. I can't even imagine the courage that would be necessary to keep your children calm and comforted during this horrible experience.

Most of what I read is for entertainment. I recommend books because I like them. This book I recommend because it is a story that needs to be told. Because knowledge is power, and we as a society should do all we can to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

My Rating:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blogger Confidential: The Hardest Review


Have you ever been faced with an issue while reading or blogging and thought: I wonder what other bloggers think about this?  No matter what genre or audience you blog for, we all face the same problems.  Are you a publisher or author wondering what goes on in a blogger's (and by extension a reader's) head?

Blogger confidential is a series of 12 questions asked to 11 bloggers about the nitty gritty details of blogging. Everything from what prompts a blogger to pick up a book, to what happens when a book doesn't live up to its hype.  This series was inspired by Wastepaper Prose's Author Insight series.

If you feel inspired by any of these questions, leave your answer in the comments, or create your own post!

This week's question:

Which reviews are hardest for you to write? Reviews for books that were great, awful, or somewhere in between? Which are the easiest?

"I find reviews of books that I absolutely loved hardest to write. I end up saying the same things over and over, which really doesn’t equate to a helpful, meaningful review. I also babble when I’m excited, which makes the first drafts of those reviews terribly confusing and disjointed. Reviews of books that I didn’t like are easiest to write because I just pick out the characteristics that didn’t appeal to me. These reviews are generally shorter, which helps." Sara from The Hiding Spot

"The hardest reviews for me to write are for the books I couldn't stand, but had a connection in some way with the author. I like to be constructive, but I also don't like to sugar coat things. So, when these situations happen (they have a few times) it's difficult because I don't want the author to take what I say personally."

The easiest are usually the books in between and sometimes the one's I really liked. With a book that's just middle of the road, it's easy to pick out the pro's and con's with little struggle. Those reviews I can type up, let be and come back to when I'm just about to post and make sure everything looks how I want it to." Danielle from There's a Book

"Well, I would say the "somewhere in between" reviews are the hardest to come up with content for, but the awful ones are the hardest to press "publish" on! :) If I love a book, I can't wait to sit down and type out what I loved about it and share it with the world!" Andye from Reading Teen

"The hardest reviews to write are unquestionably the ones for books that reduce me to a sticky puddle of undying affection. For some reason it’s much harder to write a coherent review when my reaction is deliriously happy than when it is underwhelmed. When I sit down to analyze it, my mind naturally gravitates toward pinpointing what went wrong in the reading matchup that was me and that book. When nothing went wrong and everything was bliss, it’s harder to delineate the salient points that made the whole thing so great. That said, sometimes the words just flow and everything is in synch. I think it often depends on my frame of mind and what other distractions are calling my name. So I try to wait to write the review until I can give it the attention it deserves." Angie from Angieville

"The awesome books that I love and want everyone to read. Those are the hardest. How to write them without sounding gushy or fan-girly." Pam from Bookalicious

"I find it harder to write reviews for books I love. Gushing is for twitter, it doesn't belong in reviews....not much anyway. Sometimes everything falls into place and you love a book without being able to pinpoint specific reasons why. Easiest....plain awful writing. Then it becomes an issue of not sledgehammering the poor author." Adele from Persnickety Snark

"Books that are awesome are the easiest to write as well as books that are really awful. It's those ones that are somewhere in between that have me staring at the computer screen with a blank stare on my face." Natasha from Maw Books

"The reviews that are hardest to write are the ones where I loved the book. I get tongue tied and have fewer words to describe how much I loved the book. I often feel like I can't adequately describe my love, whereas it's pretty easy to describe my dislike or indifference. I guess this is why I use caps and italics and lots of exclamation points in reviews of books I love!" Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?

"Honestly, the reviews that are the hardest to write are the ones that do not leave a lasting impression. I may have enjoyed parts, I may have disliked parts, but when it comes time to review, it is hard putting everything into words. The easiest are probably the ones that I dislike or did not finish. Generally, I find that I have a lot to say. But I want to make sure that when writing the review that I am respectful to the novel and its author, and try to find at least a few positives." Kate from The Neverending Shelf

"Reviews for mind-blowingly amazing books. How are you able to express your love for it without it digressing into a brainless rave? Without it sounding like every other review for an amazing book out there?" Steph from Steph Su Reads

"The somewhere in between books. Often these are the forgettable books and they make little personal impact. It's hard to come up with anything to say about them." Amy from My Friend Amy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Review

Anna and the French Kiss
By: Anna Perkins

Format: E-Book, 372 pages
Published: December 2, 2010; Dutton
Source: Purchased for Nook
Challenges: 2011 E-Reader Challenge

Author Website | Author Twitter | Author Blog

Summary (from Goodreads): Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

My Review:
Who would have thought that a book so simple could be so captivating?

I have a story to tell you all that should explain why I liked this book so much. One time, I was a confused, 19 year-old girl. I thought I knew a lot about life and love, when really, I knew nothing.  I was attending college at a university 30 miles away from my home, and I thought I was a big shot.  I met a guy, we hung out a lot, and a romance ensued. Because I was naive and lacked compassion, I didn't end the relationship when I knew I should have. I didn't love him, but our relationship continued because I thought that was what I was SUPPOSED to do.

My parents became concerned by the seriousness of our relationship and did all the could to knock it off course. This only furthered my resolve to make the stupid thing work.  Then, one day, my dad called me into his office (he was a professor at the university I was attending). He told me that they (my parents) had a proposal for me. They wanted to send me to college for a semester in Hawaii. My tuition and housing would be paid for. I just had to go. And I could no longer speak to my boyfriend.

I took the offer.

Hawaii changed a lot of who I was. For the first time in my life, I was in the minority. I didn't understand the culture. I couldn't go home when I wanted to. I didn't know anyone. It rained all the time. I was surrounded by the empty vast ocean instead of the high, comforting mountains. Slowly I gained friends, and had experiences that I will never forget.  I came home a different person. A better person.

That's what Anna and the French Kiss is about. Yes, there is a romance (which I didn't have in Hawaii, thankfully). There is a cute boy. But there are friends that accept and help Anna through an important and scary time in her life.  And I could absolutely relate. Although I didn't know it at the time, Hawaii was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I know I haven't talked about much of the characters or specifics about the book. But, I think that everyone who reads this book can probably relate it to some other time in their life when they felt just like Anna. Alone. Longing for the familiar and having the courage to break out and try something new.

My Rating:

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monthly Commenter Contest: April

According to my counts, last month I had 84 comments on posts last month. This is so fantastic. I love hearing from you guys, and encouraging discussion.

The winner of last month's prize, which was a signed copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis is....


I've linked to her blogger profile, but there is no email address listed. Her comment was on the post on the ASK HTMiLy post on how to create social networking icons. If you are Michelle, email me with your mailing deets so I can get you your book. If I don't hear from you within 48 hours, I'll have to pick someone else.

Now, for this month's prize, we are going to do two books. Because I honestly couldn't choose between them. And they are awesome.

First is Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. I picked this one because it is simply a story that must be told. If you don't know about the labor camps and mass deportations done during Stalin's rule, you have to read this book. It is haunting, beautiful, and so very sad.

Second is Wither by Lauren Destefano. This one is a great new dystopian that brings up polygamy, genetic modification, and passion for life. It's wonderfully written, and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Both of these books are going to be my ARC copies. However, they are in fantastic condition. I know that my copy of Wither wasn't even cracked open because I read the e-book from Galley Grab.

Now, for the fine print:

Each month I will pick a random commenter from one of the posts within the last month to win a featured book.  Each thoughtful comment you leave on a post during the month will count as a contest entry. However, the following types of comments will NOT be eligible:

  • Great post! I'll definitely add it to my TBR pile.
  • Hey! I'm your newest follower, would you check out my blog and follow me back?
  • Love your site (although I do appreciate the sentiments)
  • Generic, one or two word comments.
You don't need to write an essay, just make it evident to me that you've at least read the post, mmkay?

Only comments on posts from the current month will be eligible. Sorry, you can't comment on every post from the last 2 years. Well, actually, you can, but it won't be a contest entry.

All of these contests are open internationally unless I specify otherwise. So, comment away!

Please make sure that when you comment, that I have an email address or something that lets me identify who you are. Anonymous comments will not be eligible, obviously. But, if you have a blogger account linked or your website, make sure your contact information is either in your blogger profile or on your blog. If I can't get a hold of you, I'll pick another comment.