Meg Rosoff at Shelf Awareness

Today Meg Rosoff is over at Shelf Awareness talking about her latest book There Is No Dog. And while I wasn't over the moon about this one, I always love getting an inside look on the author's perspective. 

And if you need yet another reason to check out the interview (i'ts MEG ROSOFF, you don't need another reason!) -- there's also a picture of Eck. 
Who is even more adorably odd than I expected him to be.

Have you read There Is No Dog yet? Thoughts?

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Funny books are something I am always on the lookout for. Call it a quest of sorts. But funny books with true cleverness, real characters and an intriguing story? Well, let's just say that combination is a little harder to find. But once in a while I get lucky and stumble upon a read with all those qualifications. Actually Hold Me Closer, Necromancer has all that and more to tell you the truth. I mean with a cover quote like the one it's gotten from Sherman Alexie you just know it's gonna rock.

Samhain Corvus Lacroix -- understandably Sam for short -- is 19 years old, a college drop-out and is currently holding onto one of the more coveted careers of fry cook. And while not totally sure what he wants to do with his life, Sam is happy to go to work, hang out with his best friend Ramon and his co-workers Brooke and Frank and maybe add in a game of potato hockey now and then. However, it's the potato hockey that starts all his troubles when a flying spud damages the car of one Seriously Creepy Guy. Turns out Seriously Creepy Guy (aka Douglas) is a powerful necromancer and he doesn't take kindly to another necromancer (that would be Sam) crossing into his turf unannounced. Previous to their encounter, Sam had zero idea that he too was a necromancer but that doesn't mean squat to Douglas who has given Sam a measly week to join up with Douglas. Or else.

My friends, this is seriously one awesome book. In fact, as I was flipping through trying to decide on a tasty snippet to share with you I found myself reading through whole chapters all over again. Finally I gave up and simply re-read the whole shebang once more, it's just that good. Sam is also that darn lovable. Basically he's a nerd who considers skateboarding a fine mode of transportation and video games the height of entertainment but Lish McBride manages to take all that awkwardness and does something magical with it. He's dorky but sweet and so scared out his mind by all the crazy being thrown his way (understandably) but through it all he remains loyal and by the end has truly come into his own. Plus, the kid has some side-splitting one-liners. No joke, I laughed myself silly over this book even during the totally creepy parts. Like the time Sam watches Douglas raise a dead man for the first time:
The finished body was a man, maybe midforties, with a receding hairline. His suit looked a little dirt-stained, but all in all he looked like your average American businessman. Except he was dead. And not just soul-dead like most cublicle workers, but acutally dead.
"Go ahead," Douglas said. "Ask him a question."
"Why is a raven like a writing desk?" The zombie stared back at me blankly.
Douglas glared at me. I heard Brid stifle a giggle from inside the cage. Good to know I wasn't the only one who'd read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. How come I couldn't meet a nice, naked, well-read girl until I was kidnapped and thrown into a cage?
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is somewhat of an odd duck (sorta like our man Sam) but it's one truly awesome book. And to help tide me over until the sequel comes out next fall (thank you publishing gods!) there's even a free novella about Sam's Harbinger Ashley on Amazon that you'll want to check out for sure. 

series reading order:
~ Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
~ Necromancing the Stone (Sept. 2012)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy review
The Book Smugglers review
Forever Young Adult review
Good Books & Good Wine review

book source: bought

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lanini Taylor

There are certain books that call to me. It all starts with a tickle when the buzz begins to build around the blogosphere, then a few of my trusted bookish friends simply rave about the book in their reviews and I'm definitely hooked. And hey, a stunning cover doesn't hurt matters much either. Such is the case with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It was basically only a matter of time before I picked up this gorgeous book. Really, I am powerless in the face of such an premise:
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
This book -- oh, this book is so good. It's utterly intricate and builds to a level of sophistication that made me fall in love from page one. I honestly want to sit down and reread it all over again just so I can go back and smile at all the subtle clues to Karou's unique story that Laini Taylor delicately inserts along the way. It's just that deftly woven. Karou's gorgeous depictions of her artistic life in Prague and her time spent travelling the world over as a messenger from Brimstone - the head of her own personal demon 'family' - could not have entranced me more.

Each character is something special: chimera, seraph, and human alike. Such artistic descriptions of Karou's beloved 'monsters' contrast with the fierce solider-aspect of the 'angels' she encounters. They each have their moments of kindness and brutality but Taylor is quite capable at liberally dosing them all with plenty of wit and sarcasm to keep the story from becoming too heavy.

And if you think the angel and demons trope has been done to death, well, think again. Taylor's mythology is haunting and beautiful and unlike anything else I've ever read. Due in part to her striking language usage (I was all but eating up sections of dialogue and descriptions) this is one truly expertly crafted book. I honestly don't know anyone else who writes like Laini Taylor. She is the definition of Clever. I've been meaning to track down her earlier books for ages but Daughter of Smoke and Bone makes me want to grab them like NOW. Lucky us it's planned as a trilogy. I simply cannot wait to enter Karou's world again.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Harbinger review
Chachic's Book Nook review
The Crooked Shelf review
Good Books & Good Wine review
Janicu's Book Blog review

book source: Paperback Swap

The Hour of Dust and Ashes by Kelly Gay + Giveaway

As far as urban fantasy series goes, the Charlie Madigan books deserve all kinds of love. I was first attracted this is exceptional series by their dynamic covers (I bow down to the genius of Chris McGrath) and have kept coming back for more after spending some time with Charlie and her family. Truly these books have so much going for them: a loyal and determined heroine, unique mythology, and a cast of quippy characters.

**SPOILER WARNING** You know the drill folks. We're onto the third book in this first-rate series so, you know, spoilers for the previous books contained herein and all that.

Special Forces Detective Charlie Madigan has never been one to sit back and let others handle her problems. She's more of a confront them head on and beat them until they lie shivering in a corner type of gal. Unfortunately that tactic isn't working too well for her at the moment. Charlie's currently juggling a precocious magic-wielding daughter who thinks a hellhound makes a excellent pet, a sarcastic revenant currently residing in her ex-husband's body (and in her house), some curious new DNA which is giving her wicked yet unpredictable magical abilities, and a very new and very unexplored relationship with her longtime siren partner Hank. Charlie's most immediate concern however is the safety of her younger sister Bryn whose inadvertent addiction to the off-world drug ash has left her susceptible to possession and even death after other ash addicts begin to commit suicide. As a last resort (frankly the only option she has left) in helping her sister, Charlie agrees to a plan that will most likely kill her if she doesn't play it safe. Too bad she's never been particularly good at toeing that line.

Well. Seeing as we are now onto book three, The Hour of Dust and Ashes certainly ups the ante as far as tension goes. Despite the non-stop action, most of my favorite scenes are the ones that focus more on Charlie's relationships. I simply never get tired of her interactions with the swaggering revenant Rex or her feisty daughter Emma. And as far as Hank is concerned, let's just say that Kelly Gay gets the sizzle juuusst right in that department.

Even though I spend every first 50 or so pages of Kelly Gay's books trying to remember the complicated names and belief systems of the opposing Elysian and Charybdon races, I am still all kinds of fascinated by the heaven/hell mythology she has created. Especially as Charlie visits Charybdon (yeah, that would be hell) for the first time in The Hour of Dust and Ashes. Suffice to say, it's one skeery place. Though our girl Charlie fits right in. I really don't see this series going stale any time soon as Ms. Gay still has so much to explore in terms of cultures and relationships. I for one want to be there with Charlie as she gets a better handle on it all.

And holy crap! Hank!! My lips are sealed on that front, but all I can say is Charlie really has her work cut out for her in book 4. Want. Now.

Thanks to Pocket Books, I have one copy of The Hour of Dust and Ashes to giveaway. Open to US residents only, giveaway will run through September 12, 2011. Fill out the form below to enter.

series reading order:
The Better Part of Darkness - my review
The Darkest Edge of Dawn - my review
~ The Hour of Dust and Ashes

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Books and Things review
RT Book Review

book source: review copy from the publisher

Patrick Ness on Shelf Awareness

Patrick Ness is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I've been anxiously awaiting his latest, A Monster Calls, and truly loved his entire Chaos Walking series (as did the critics - Monsters of Men won the 2011 Carnegie Medal - I mean, did you listen to his amazing acceptance speech?). Today Shelf Awareness featured this unique author on their Maximum Shelf page with an interview and lots of insights into his books. Some fabulous stuff is there. Go check it out. And then go read his books.

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

I've said this before but it bears repeating: Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry novels are pure bookcrack to me: fast-paced, tension-filled and utterly entertaining. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have been dying to get my hands on her latest book, Chain Reaction, which follows the youngest Fuentes brother, Luis. Especially since I was able to meet the hilarious Ms. Elkeles at the RT Book Fair last April. She mentioned then that she had set up Luis as a good boy who falls for a 'bad' girl - and I have been anxiously awaiting the story ever since.

As the youngest of three brothers Luis Fuentes knows what he wants in life: to someday work for NASA as an aerospace engineer. Which means he's got to work hard at school and stay far, far away from any kind of trouble like his two brothers got into. Luis is all set to see his dream come true when his mother decides to move back to Fairfield, Illinois which means Luis is now surrounded by memories of his past - and the Latino Blood gang. Also there to distract Luis is the prickly Nikki Cruz who, despite her Mexican heritage, wants absolutely nothing to do any guy from the south side of Fairfield - especially Luis.

Oh Luis! How I was hoping to fall for your story! Instead, I came away from Chain Reaction feeling as if the book had only been half-way written. Like I had ended up with the cliff notes version. It's almost as if in the midst of all the family secrets revealed, dangerous gang fights, and tying up of loose ends that Ms. Elkeles forgot to finish developing Nikki and Luis to their fullest potential. The story simply felt too stilted and predictable to be satisfying. Which doesn't make sense at all because Simone Elkeles proved with Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction that she is genius at taking a formulaic story (bad boy meets good girl, sparks fly) and making it special. Neither of her two previous novels could ever be classified as campy or contrived, but that's the vibe I got from Chain Reaction.

For example (but without going into spoilery details) I have NO idea how Luis could ever think he needed to 'stick close' to the LB gang in order to 'protect' his family. Really? Doesn't he already have two prime examples in the form of his brothers Alex and Carlos on Why It's Always Smarter To Stay Away From Gangs? He's supposedly the smart Fuentes brother but all I saw was one stupid choice after another. And aside from one or two honest confessions, it seemed like the boy spouted lies continually - especially to Nikki, which frustrated me to no end. Numerous times she tries to explain to him that lies are a definite deal-breaker yet Luis continues to keep the truth from her. And in the end, it doesn't really matter to her! I suppose lust (since I never saw them develop any sort of real relationship) can make up for a lot of things. That's just one of my frustrations with Nikki and Luis as a couple.

Sadness. I wanted to love this book so much more than I did. I guess I'll just have to go and comfort myself with a much needed rereading of Perfect Chemistry.

series reading order:
Perfect Chemistry - my review
Rules of Attraction - my review
~ Chain Reaction

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Books Complete Me review
Confessions of a Bookaholic review
The Irish Banana Review

book source: review copy from the publicist


So I'm busy trying to finish reading The Help in my spare moments (ha!) before seeing the movie with some friends tonight when these two lovlies showed up today.

My self control just isn't that good people.

Minimalist Fairy Tale Posters

The cleverness kills me.
Thanks to Julie for the heads up.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth always knew her family was holding onto generations worth of secrets but she never imagined she'd get a first-hand glimpse at them. It's her beautiful cousin Charlotte who has been prepped to become the next time traveller in the Shepherd family but instead it's Gwen who is suddenly disappearing from school into the 18th century without a clue of what to do. Enter the Guardians and her fellow time-traveler Gideon de Villiers (with eyes to die for ladies) who whisk Gwen off to a life of fabulous period dresses and mortal danger lurking in nearly every year she visits.

I really have no idea how a book in which so little happens could be so much fun. It must be the effortless inquisitiveness of Gwyneth and her best friend Leslie as they attempt to unravel the many, many mysteries of the new life Gwen has been throw into. Despite Gwen being completely unsure of her new role in all this time-travel business, she's not all 'boo hoo! poor me!' - she's actually excited to wear the clothes, see the sights, and get the answers to her questions! I just love me a proactive heroine. Plus Gwen and Leslie's friendship is plain awesome. Leslie is never jealous of Gwen's new 'talent,' frankly she's her biggest fan. And in turn Gwen doesn't forget about Leslie amidst all the drama of her new life. Leslie is still the first person to hear all about her crazy experiences. So very, very refreshing for a YA novel.

If that weren't enough, Ruby Red also offers up a centuries-old secret society (insert misogynist tendencies which I'm sure Gwen will only be too happy to break down), a fantastic Evil Mastermind who gives me the shivers, SECRETS, and the possibility of true love. That's a winning forumla right there my friends. It's no wonder Kerstin Gier's Ruby Red is a German bestseller, the plot is twisty and imaginative with plenty of intrigue and the characters are clever and entertaining. And I want the sequel, Sapphire Blue, like yesterday. Perhaps I could convince Gwen to let me use the famed chronograph to read the translation a bit earlier. I think in this case, she'd make an exception just for me.

series reading order:
~ Ruby Red
~ Sapphire Blue (Spring 2012)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom review
Charlotte's Library review
Mostly Reading YA review
The Story Siren review

book source: provided by the publicist

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

Oh Jane Fortune! How do I love thee!!

Just so you know I did go into this retelling of Persuasion, my all time favorite Jane Austen novel, with a hefty does of wariness. I mean, nothing could come close to imitating the original on this one, right?

Here's a quick synopsis via Goodreads:
Jane Fortune's fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family's money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she's ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston's prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and father. Instead, she has devoted her time to running the Fortune Family Foundation, a revered philanthropic institution that has helped spark the careers of many a budding writer, including Max Wellman, Jane's first—and only—love.

Now Jane has lost her luster. Max, meanwhile, has become a bestselling novelist and a renowned literary lothario. But change is afoot. And in the process of saving her family and reigniting the flames of true love, Jane might just find herself becoming the woman she was always meant to be.
Truth be told, Laurie Horowitz did a fabulous job of updating my beloved Persuasion for the modern world in The Family Fortune. The Fortunes are decidedly Boston Old Money with connections and oodles of spare time to devote to their favorite pastime: themselves. Of course when financial disaster strikes, the family must retrench* and a whole new world is opened up for Jane. Morphing Anne Elliot into Jane Fortune, an almost-forty year old trustafarian who spends her days editing the Euphemia Review, was pure genius in my book. And once again my heart broke over and over for Jane as I watched the world pass her by. Truly I don't know how such a passive character could ever win me over, but she does. Perhaps it's her eventual determination to take control of her life little by little in order to carve out her own bit of happiness away from her rotten family.

My only complaint with The Family Fortune happens to be a somewhat large sticking point: Max Wellman (the reinvention of Cpt. Wentworth). Throughout most of the book, I ached with Jane as she silently pined for her lost love and then as she was 'reunited' with him only to watch him date other women. To say I was building up their eventual reunion would be a complete understatement -- I was expecting true fireworks people. Sadly, there was no grand moment of love rekindled. Not even an impassioned letter from Max! **cue extreme sobbing** Just simple, no nonsense decisions. Which does go along with Jane's character but I was just hoping for something a teeny bit more swoon-worthy. But honestly? I still love this book for Jane's transformation alone, even if her happily ever after wasn't as blissful as Anne Elliot's. I'm thinking any true lover of Persuasion will think so too.

*I always thought the 'reduced circumstances' bit in Persuasion was hilarious because yes, the Elliots have to retrench, but they still are gentry and have means -- albeit reduced. I mean, they are spending the winter in BATH (a resort town) for goodness sakes! Anyways, Horowitz does a nice job of calling Ms. Austen on this in The Family Fortune. 
"From what I hear, he is really crazy about you, Jane."
"That's ridiculous. Does he know about our 'reduced circumstances'?" I asked.
"Honey, the Fortunes in reduced circumstances live better than ninety-nine percent of the population -- but that's not it. He has money. He's not interested in your money."
HA! My thoughts exactly.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Harbinger review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes review
Janicu's Book Blog review
Steph Su Reads review

Interview with Jennifer Echols

Today I am thrilled to welcome the tremendous author Jennifer Echols! Her latest book, Love Story, was released just last week and although it wasn't a big hit with me, I still am a major, major fan of her earlier novel Going Too Far. So needless to say I was thrilled when Jennifer kindly agreed to answer some questions about Love Story and writing in general.
How would you describe the writing process for Love Story? Were Erin and Hunter fully formed in your head from day one or did their story evolve along the way?

I always write blindly and randomly for about 150 pages, then figure everything out, then write the rest of the book by filling in the blanks, knowing exactly where I’m going.

Love Story is about a girl who wants to become a romance novelist. Did you dream of writing in a particular genre yourself? Which one?

Early on I wanted to be the next Hemingway. I think most English majors are taught to think this way. Also, when I was growing up, my mother had an extremely snobby attitude toward romance novels, as if that was the worst, most damaging thing I could read--even though she was handing me her Mary Stewart books! But at some point I realized that even though I was trying to write more literary fiction, the part of my stories that interested me most was the romance. I decided to concentrate on that. And happily, my mother has lost her snobby attitude, because I have introduced her to Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jennifer Crusie.

Of all the characters you've ever written, which one do you love or connect with the most? The least?

Lori in The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer is the character most like me. I was pretty frustrated with my editor when I started The Boys Next Door because I had gone around and around with her about the idea. So I just wrote exactly what I wanted to, so there. I thought it was funny and I really didn’t care whether anybody else thought so or not. When I sent it to my critique partner to read, she wrote me an e-mail that said, “OH MY GOD YOU HAVE WRITTEN YOURSELF!”

I feel some connection with the bad guys in my stories. As a writer you have to understand where they’re coming from or they won’t be believable. But the villain I have disliked most is Zoey’s father in Forget You. A lot of readers have picked up on this and mentioned it in their reviews. He is cold but scarily familiar.

Recently you announced that you have quit your job as a copyeditor to become a full-time writer (Huzzah! Congrats!). Maybe this is a bit premature, but are you now feeling the pressure to produce even more books or are you just reveling in the absolute freedom of being able to focus on your writing full-time?

Thank you so much! Honestly, I have always written a lot faster than the publishing industry wanted to go. For instance, I wrote Going Too Far in 2005, and it was published in 2009. I wrote Forget You in 2007, and it was published in 2010. My hope is always that I have a contract to write something new, but typically what happens is that I have deadlines and stress and write non-stop for several months, and then it’s all over and I am depressed and write something I’m not sure will ever sell and become convinced that I will never publish a book again. I hope that will not happen on March 1 when I finish writing the last of my books currently under contract, but I’m reasonably sure it will.

Are there any books out there you find yourself recommending over (and over) again? 

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt...and I haven’t yet read Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, but I’m dying to, and it’s gotten a starred review from Kirkus. It’s coming out a week before Love Story, on July 12.

Free White Cat Download

If you haven't had a chance to start into Holly Black's a-MAZ-ing Curse Workers series, then I seriously recommend that you take a moment and go sign up for the Random House newsletter which will give you a free audiobook version of White Cat, book one (here's my review of White Cat and Red Glove). It's narrated by Jesse Eisenberg and is awesome stuff. Happy Wednesday.

Quick Harry Potter Recap

Anyone else planning on going to see the very last Harry Potter tonight? Well if you didn't find yourself with enough time to reread all seven books beforehand, head on over to BuzzFeed for the complete Harry Potter series in comic book form. Truly, it's amazing how the artist Lucy Knisley manages to capture each book in one poster. My favorite bit has to be the pat on the head and 'Good boy' from Dumbledore at the end of each book.

Faves of 2011 (so far): The Books

I'm a little late the party (I am woefully behind on my google reader), but after stopping by Inkcrush yesterday and checking out Nomes' awesome Faves of 2011 (so far) lists, I just had to join in all the fun. This set-up is especially perfect for me since I have been an extreme slacker of late and haven't sat down to write full reviews for many of the unforgettable books I've read recently. In all total, for the first half of 2011, I have read 78 books - not a good as last year, but hey, I did just have a baby...

So I'm a week late, but here are my picks for The Books.

Favorite book read so far in 2011
This one is toughie so I chose two:
Chime - I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love, adore and cherish this book. Really. Briony and Eldric are superb and the narrative style is simply unforgettable. 

The Piper's Son - Melina Marchetta is a genius. But of course you already know this, right? Tom is so much more than what you expect and my love for him is boundless. I just want to spend a day with him and Tara and Francesca and Georgie and really the entire Mackee family. Read this one. You will cry. And laugh. And then you'll hug it. 

Most powerful book - A Solitary Blue
Jeff Greene and The Professor fumbling around each other trying to figure out what it means to be a family. I hadn't read the incredible Tillerman Cycle until this past year and once again I am stunned by Cynthia Voigt's brillance.

Brilliantly funny - Magic Slays
One of the many things I love about Kate Daniels is that she always ready with a blindingly witty retort for His Furriness at a moment's notice. Their banter is priceless and is a major selling point for Magic Slays.

Best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read - Unsticky
Another one that I could not get out of my head. Grace and Vaughn have issues upon issues but I still wanted them to be more than just okay by the end. This book is one heck of a emotional ride, but one I promise you won't want to put down.

Most beautiful story - The Piper's Son
Switching from Tom and Georige's perspective does unimaginable (good) things for this book. Two different people at different (yet crucial) times in their lives just trying to make it through the next day. 

Delicious rainy day comfort read - Stealing Heaven
Dani's reluctant acceptance of the goofy Greg could not be any sweeter. These two just put a big 'ole grin on my face. 

Adrenalin-fuelled, unputdownable award - Red Glove
Holly Black writes some incredibly twisty-turny-cross-and-double-cross cons. The entire book was one surprise after another but never in an 'i'm trying too hard to fool you' way. Cassel is one sharp dude.

The beautiful prose award - Chime
Unlike any other book (or author) out there, Chime has this crazy, forceful yet subtle way of pulling you into Briony's story. I was effortlessly caught up in the Swampsea and the mythology of the creatures there. Simply incredible.

Most atmospheric and vivid setting and M
ost original and imaginative - Eon
Take elements of historic China, add a bit of Dragon mythology, a cross-dressing girl, some truly nefarious Evil Doers and a empire on the brink of collapse and you basically get the idea of the awesomeness of Eon. Fantastic storytelling that kept me up till the wee hours of the night.

Best under-appreciated, hidden gem book and I
-had-no-idea-I-would-love this-so award - Seeing Me Naked
So not your average chick lit novel. Family DRAMA, a lovely relationship and endless descriptions of mouthwatering desserts. Plus witty banter. Love.

Most haunting story - Stolen
The tale of what happens when a 16 year old is kidnapped by a guy who has been watching her for years and is taken to the Middle of Nowhere Australia. Nothing is black and white in this one - not even my possible Stockholm Syndrome.

Series that I’m loving
Magic Slays (Kate Daniels series) and River Marked (Mercy Thompson series) - It's a major tie between these two. They both feature worlds and characters I simply cannot get enough of. 

Most memorable voice award - Chime
I've already mentioned this but Briony is unlike any other narrator you will ever encounter. Her humor and feelings of self-doubt are brillant. 

Completely Awesome Premise Award - Tiger and Del books
I'm going to cheat here and award this to the entire Tiger and Del series which begins with Sword Dancer. It flips every gender convention on it's head by featuring a female sword master fighting her way thru a mans world. But it's told from a chauvinistic (at least at first) male perspective. Clever, clever.

Would make the best movie - 84, Charing Cross Road

I know this is a bit of a cop out since they already made it into a movie, but hey, I simply adored it.

Want to re-read already - The Piper's Son & Chime

I think I've gushed about these two enough already...

Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer

Ever since having this baby, I've been devouring contemporary novels at an alarming rate (I promise I'm reading, just not reviewing much - slacker that I am). I'm not particularly sure why this genre speaks to me right now, perhaps it has something to do reading about women facing challenges with humor and hoping some of their wit (and experience) will rub off on me... Whatever the reason, I found the perfect read in Liza Palmer's Seeing Me Naked. It came highly recommended to me by both Angie and Chachic and I only have to thank them for pointing me towards this fantastic book. Cause Seeing Me Naked is a complete winner.

Much to her father's disappointment, Elisabeth Page deliberately selected a career as far removed from his own (Ben Page! The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author!) as possible. She became a pastry chef. Despite Elisabeth's obvious success working at one of the hottest restaurants in LA and her brother Rascal's celebrated author status, the pair continually find themselves falling short of their father's ideal of success. But the strain is starting to wear and Elisabeth is ready for something to give when she inadvertently finds herself giving cooking lessons to a recent LA transplant, Daniel Sullivan, who just happens to be utterly clueless in the culinary department. As a UCLA basketball coach from Kansas, Daniel is utterly unlike her patrician, snobbish family and her longtime boyfriend Will, who she only happens to see once every year or so. All it takes is for Elisabeth to spend a few days with easygoing Daniel for her to realize that different is good. Very good. But old habits die hard and Elisabeth isn't sure she's ready to remove all those layers of self-protection and let Daniel see her 'naked' self.

Witty and introspective, Seeing Me Naked is not your typical chick lit fare (despite its misleading cover and title). Elisabeth is so controlled and focused on her full yet unfulfilling life that you cannot but help cheering her towards Daniel - even if her first attempts are awkwardly hilarious. I do so love it though when a couple truly brings out the best in each other, and Daniel and Elisabeth are quite the pair. Although Daniel is a large part of Elisabeth moving forward, much of the story is dedicated to the highly explosive Page Family Dynamics. Liza Palmer has crafted a deep and layered family of individuals who fight each other just as fiercely as they love one another. Even though I tore through Seeing Me Naked, it's a book I can see myself sinking into time and again, discovering something new about all those messy and beautiful relationships every single time. See, I told you it was a winner.

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
4 Girls and a Book review
Angieville review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review

book source: purchased

Thirteen Reasons Why Winners

Thanks again to all those who entered the Thirteen Reasons Why giveaway.

And the winners are...

Annie Lanning
Justine Wang

Thirteen Reasons Why Giveaway!

After enjoying an enormously long hardcover printing (four years folks!) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher has finally been released as a paperback book. To help celebrate the release of the novel and the launch of the new Penguin site,, I have two copies to giveaway today. Yay! I was absolutely riveted to this affecting story so trust me when I say you'll want to enter this one for sure. To enter, fill out the form below. Giveaway ends Monday, June 27th -- US/Canada residents only.

If you have a moment, I also recommend that you take a moment to check out the new website, a dedicated site for anyone to post reviews or feelings about the book - if you've read the book, include your thoughts there - alongside many other readers' (including yours truly). Here's what the publisher has to say about the site:
On May 12, 2011, Penguin launched the 13RW Project at, as a place for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why to record their thoughts, stories, videos and photos relating to the book, and to view what other readers from all across the country have shared.

A bit about the book itself or you can read my review here:
Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of a girl named Hannah Baker who takes her own life. But before she does, she records several cassette tapes explaining why and sends them to the people she feels pushed her toward that decision. The story is told from the point of view of Clay Jensen who spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah’s voice as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself—a truth he never wanted to face.

The anti-bullying anthem was published in hardcover in October 2007 by Razorbill, and quickly became a word-of-mouth favorite among teenaged readers with fans claiming, “This book changed my life.” The novel has been on the New York Times children’s hardcover bestseller list for 65 weeks, foreign rights have been sold into 30 countries and it has been acquired by Universal Pictures and will star Selena Gomez.

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Eighteen year old Danielle has never been to high school, she's never  lived in one place for more than a few months at a time, and she's certainly never been in one place long enough to make friends. All because Danielle is an expert silver thief. Thanks to her mother's training (and questionable morals) Danielle has been stealing since she was a toddler and can plan the most expert of heists. Even though she loves her mother, Danielle has never wanted the life that gives her mom such a high - a feeling that becomes even more sharp as the pair travel to Heaven, a beach front tourist town, bursting with potential targets. In Heaven Danielle does the unthinkable. Unwillingly, she begins to make friends. Spending time with the chatty Allison is bad enough but when Danielle finds herself drawn to the goofy cop Greg, she knows her world could collapse at any moment.

Why hasn't anyone told me about Elizabeth Scott before? Okay, okay. I'm sure someone has before, but goodness knows why I've waited so long to pick one of her novels up. I'm sure my reluctance is in part due to the lackluster covers. My standards are fairly high when it comes to contemporary YA novels and these headless girl covers do absolutely nothing for me. But really? Stealing Heaven could not have been more perfect! Seriously, I have the wonderful Nomes of Inkcrush to thank once again for her spot-on recommendation of this book.

I honestly loved everything about this book. I love Danielle and her astute observations of people and life. I loved her wry sense of humor and her vulnerability. Yet I also ached for her in her unwavering faithfulness to her flighty mother. And boy howdy, I also totally loved Greg! There aren't many guys who could manage to ask out a girl in front of the grocery store seafood counter and not come off looking like a total idiot.

Elizabeth Scott is a fantastic contemporary writer - I adore that she writes older characters - not just 16 year old teens. In fact (I'm sure this will get me in trouble with some folks, but here goes...), Stealing Heaven was everything I wanted Sarah Dessen's novels to be. Funny and poignant all at the same time with unforgettable characters who are just trying to figure themselves out.

So to all you Elizabeth Scott fans out there (and I know there has to be many) which of her books should I pick up next? Cause I'm definitely ready for more!

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
In The Good Books review
One More Page review
Steph Su Reads review
The Story Siren review
YA Book Reviews

book source: giveaway from Nomes -  Thank you! Thank you!

Ruby Red Winner!

Thanks to all those who entered my Ruby Red giveaway!

and the winner is...

Sabrina McClure!!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Giveaway!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Talk about your book buzz! I've been hearing some mighty good things about the German bestseller Ruby Red and am so happy to see it finally making its way to this part of the world. It's the first novel in a new time travel trilogy that I, for one, am anxious to sink into.

Lucky for you I've got one copy of Ruby Red to giveaway. To enter, fill out the form below. Giveaway ends Monday, June 13th -- US/Canada residents only.

Red Glove by Holly Black

Last year I picked up White Cat and was fairly stunned at the creative genius involved in Holly Black's latest dark noir fantasy. A few weeks ago I finally read the second book, Red Glove, in her Curse Workers series and have not stopped thinking about it since. Red Glove was absolutely out-of-this-world, I'm-hooked-for-good, I-want-the-sequel-NOW Perfection. I'm not even kidding folks.

**Please, please!! If you haven't read White Cat yet - know that mild SPOILERS follow. Much of the appeal of this series is all the crafty cons and double-and-triple-crossing that occurs, so just trust me when I say, ignorance is bliss here. Honestly though. Why haven't you read these books yet?? I'm waiting over here...
Everyone has their claws in me. Everyone.
Once upon a time, Cassel Sharpe thought he was a powerless nobody in a world dominated by dangerous 'curse workers,' people who have to ability to kill, maim, even change your dreams with just a touch of bare skin. At least until Cassel discovered that his brothers had been altering his memory in order to keep secret his extremely rare and dangerous skill: the ability to transform anything. But Cassel isn't the only one who has been damaged by his family's duplicity: his childhood friend and longtime crush, Lila Zacharov was emotionally worked by his mother to fall in love with Cassel. Now Cassel has no way of knowing if any of what Lila says or does is real. And it's killing him to keep his distance from the one girl he's always loved.

Just when Cassel figures his life couldn't become any more complicated, a pair of Federal Agents pop up, demanding Cassel's help in solving a murder (...or else) that hits a little too close to home. Knowing he's walking a fine line between his con artist family and his own personal safety, Cassel begins to pick apart the mystery that leaves even our hero, the cool and ever unflappable con man that Cassel is, out of sorts and rattled to the core.

Let me tell you Holly Black wasn't experiencing any sort of mid-series slump when she penned Red Glove. If anything, her second Curse Workers novel is better than the first: the cons are twistier and the characters prove they have much, much more at stake. Every single one of Ms. Black's characters are dang good: Sam, Danica, Barron, and goodness LILA - each one is a pitch-perfect. And then there's Cassel. Boy howdy. I could read stories about that guy all the live long day.

Cassel has got to be my favorite male POV narrator (with Split running a close second that is). Full of candor and wit, at first glance Cassel seems easy going and full of life, yet scratch the surface and you discover this freaky-scary intelligent dude who is forever scrambling to keep up with all the various Bad Guys who have him in their sights. To be honest, Red Glove is probably one of the top books I've read all year - in any genre.

*And after you've gone and devoured Red Glove, I highly recommend you check out this short story, "Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces," written from Lila's perspective on Holly Black's website. It's one freaking amazing collection of insights into Lila's character.

series reading order:
~ White Cat - my review
~ Red Glove
~ Black Heart (??)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom Review
Dear Author review
Girls in the Stacks review
Icey Books review
Novel Thoughts review

book source: my local library

"Making of Nightspell" Guest Post

Today I am so excited to welcome the incredible author Leah Cypess -- author of Mistwood and the soon-to-be-released Nightspell, which I really, really loved. Today Leah is here to talk a bit about her writing process for Nightspell - including some very awesome pictures of her writing notebooks. 
Making of Nightspell: Notebooks

This is the first of a four-part “Making of Nightspell” feature I’ll be doing as part of this blog tour. Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes of an author’s work? Ever suspect it’s not half as exciting as what goes into making a movie? Well, here’s your chance! Starting with the glamorous world of notebooks.

I write my first drafts in longhand. Needless to say, because I’m a writer, I get obsessive about what type of notebook I use. It used to be that I used all types of notebooks, but would stand obsessively at the drugstore trying to figure out which specific notebook was right for this particular story. The notebook I ended up choosing when I first started writing Nightspell – at the age of 17 – was this one:

I filled about half that notebook, and wrote myself into a complete mess. Since I couldn’t see how to extricate myself, I ended up putting the notebook away and starting something new.

Ten years later, having quit my job to give full-time writing a try, I pulled that notebook out again and went through it, trying to figure out which parts of what I had written were worth salvaging. Most of it got nixed:

In fact, out of that entire notebook, I ended up with maybe a page’s worth of actual writing I wanted to salvage. And then I started from scratch. This time, my taste in notebooks had changed, ever since a friend in law school introduced me to these awesome notebooks from Japan:

I do a lot of writing on the playground these days, and these notebooks are wonderful for that: they’re really thin and fit perfectly into a small backpack. You can also fold them open and closed several million times without having them fall apart. These are the notebooks on which Nightspell was REwritten… for the first time.

For the next part of the Making of Nightspell, check out Books Complete Me on June 3!


Many, many thanks to Leah for stopping by and sharing her notebooks with us!