Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens (Around The World Tours)

Published: August 15th 2009 by Grove Creek Publishing
Paperback, 296 pages
ISBN: 1933963840
ISBN13: 9781933963846

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister's guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoe's sister darts in front of cars. Her brother's a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don't see Zoe lost in her broken life. Zoe escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoe's autistic sister. After Zoe is convinced he's legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can't last forever.
Review:

Zoe's life has been difficult ever since her little sister, Abria was diagnosed with Autism. Zoe tries to avoid her little sister but helps out when absolutely necessary--or if she got paid for it. When Abria runs away like usual under Zoe's watch she starts to freak out a bit. Until, of course, a man holding Abria appears out of nowhere and gives her such a penetrating stare that Zoe immediately feels at ease. Even though she doesn't know why. Matthias.
Going home to the unpredictable rants of Abria and their brother Luke's addiction, Zoe doesn't have an outlet for all the baggage that she carries at home except escaping to the horrendous parties that in the end make her feel pitiful. When things start to get even more out of control, Matthias, Abria's guardian angel begins to make more and more appearances. Through emotional roller coaster rides, we as readers, get a view of the inside life of familial instability, with the lessening pressure of a bit of a fantasy rush.

Reading Jennifer Laurens fourth novel, I had some expectations ready to be met once I had read one of the books under her alias JM Warwick, A Season of Eden. A Season of Eden was an incredible read about forbidden love, and as I read the summary of this book, I thought the same. However, from the very beginning I got the impression that this was going to be completely different and Laurens' didn't disappoint. Zoe's constant frustrations seemed so real and palpable, I believed I was going to start spewing off in anger myself. Filled with multiple high points in the plot, Heavenly was a jab-packed page-turner that had me opposing the necessity of sleep.While it had its slight rough edges like many books that take on many event plays in their plots, Laurens' had skillful twists and turns that made Heavenly a fantastic, sentimental read. 
My favorite character in the entire novel had to be Chase, the intelligent big-eyed geek, that shared Zoe's gift in seeing guardian angels. It seemed like he was the bit of stability Zoe could use in a sea messed with partying. Him and Matthias of course. Zoe and Matthias' romance connection starts off with penetrating gazes and soulful smiles, that soon bloom off into something more titillating.

Recommended to all, not only YA, for a romantic read that leaves you aching with a want unquenchable.
If you've read Heavenly, tell me what you think about it. And how cruel is that sneak peek of Penitence, I mean come on?

Grade: A-

Quotes:
"'Immortal bodies don't have imperfections.'"
&
"I saw him bend over. And bend over. Again. And again. Sweat broke on my skin. 'Please don't clean my car,' I shrieked. This couldn't be more humiliating."

LiLi
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott Review and Giveaway


Published: March 16th 2010 by Simon Pulse
Hardcover, 224 pages
ISBN: 1416978917
ISBN13: 9781416978916

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...
Review:

All her life Sarah has felt the co-dependence in their friendship to be the way life was always meant to be between her and Brianna. Ever since the party during the end of summer/transitioning into high school, Brianna has made it her mission to be with Ryan. The boy that Sarah likes, the boy that had asked her to the dance, the boy that was going to be hers until Brianna swooped in. Like she always does. The relationship between Brianna's parents has always affected toward the way they treat her; without affection and no semblance of love. She's always been scared of being left behind, and that is why Sarah feels so guilty. Because she knows that if she somehow told her best/only friend in the world that she was crushing on her boyfriend, her friendship would be lost forever. And that's all Sarah ever really had.

Reading through the agonizing repetitiveness of Sarah and Ryan's strained relationship was not an easy task. Going through the memories and regrets of Sarah's throughout the novel was like sniffing a Sharpie for an extended amount of time (I actually thought of this at one point while reading The Unwritten Rule) lethal but somehow irresistible. It was like that when reading the stiffness in not only Sarah's relationship with Brianna but with Brianna and Ryan's.

When one night sets off the rest of the books tone between Sarah and Ryan, it was a whirlwind to find out what exactly the characters were going to do next. I have to say that my favorite character was Sarah's father, an ex-lawyer with arthritis. He just seemed like the rock with comforting vibes spreading out from him. Anyway, The Unwritten Rule definitely had Scott's touch of reality that she slips into all her novels. Making her characters like your next door neighbors seems to be a real talent for this other. I read The Unwritten Rule entirely the same day it was sent to me, and wrote the review for it as well! That's a record, even for me. Just had to lol, it was to intriguing not to. I found The Unwritten Rule not up to Scott's best standards, however I recommend buying it for yourself and have your own opinion because Sarah's story of self-discovering is an impeccable one that wants to be heard.

I definitely recommend all to check out all of Elizabeth Scott's works, especially my favorite, Something, Maybe.

Grade: B-

This ARC was sent to me by the publishers at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review.

LiLi


Giveaway:

  Once again, thanks to the trusty publishers at Simon & Schuster, I'm able to giveaway 5 copies of The Unwritten Rule to US participants only. If you live outside of the US but have someone here that can ship it to you, that'd be fine as well. This giveaway will last through April 8th. All you have to do is fill out the form below.

Giveaway is now closed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (Other Shelf Tours)


Published: October 27th 2009 by Farrar Straus Giroux
Hardcover, 184 pages
ISBN: 0374322287
ISBN13: 9780374322281

What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie. Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right? With overtones of Jane Austen’s Emma and brimming with humor and heart, this sweet, frothy debut will be savored by readers.

Review:

When Jane returns to the Community College classes she thinks aren't necessary for her senior year at Lincoln High, she finds their might be another reason to be there altogether. Especially when that reason confronts her about not be in class lately. After a bad break-up between her best friend Em and Em's long-time boyfriend, Jane makes it her mission to find her a perfect-match; or something close to it, anyway. Cue Cam, the rugged, blue-eyed student in Jane's class that she thinks would be the perfect date for Em. Only when Em starts to get more attached than Jane thought she would, does Jane start to second-guess her decision.

Working at Wired Joe's was always a fun experience for Jane, but when her boss catches her writing in a notebook at work does Jane's little hobby become a coffee house franchise. When put under tremendous pressure, Jane makes the on-the-spot match that she immediately regrets but leads to even bigger problems than it started with. What happens when the truth about one friend's feelings are revealed?

The Espressologist was a read I'd never encountered before, and what a refreshment it was. I believed the characters were very individual, their own person. They all seemed like they had their own story to tell. Jane, especially was relatable and seemed like a fun character to be. Jane's point of view on the people around her was very realistic and desperately funny. I like how Springer really got into giving her characters individual personalities. The only real flaw I found when I finished The Espressologist was that I believed it was either cut off too soon or just needed to have a better wrap-up ending.

Recommended to young teens that'll enjoy a light, refreshing read on a cold day.

Grade: B

LiLi

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Dark Divine Blog Tour

Everyone, please welcome Bree Despain--author of her debut novel, The Dark Divine--as she travels through the blogosphere to celebrate her release. ChicaReader is one of the many lucky tour spots that get to host Ms. Divine for a day. I have the delight to present you readers with an interview that Ms. Divine so graciously accepted to participate in.

1. What were your worries/delights during the process of writing The Dark Divine?

While I was working on TDD, I worried that no one would want to publish a book that delved into Christian/religious themes and paranormal mythology in the same story. But even though I thought there was a possibility that the book would never be published, I knew I had to write it. It was the story inside of me that needed to be told. I think the biggest delight has been just how well most people have responded to the story that I feared no one would ever get to read.

2. What are some [major] changes in your daily routine that were caused by the writing/publication of your novel?

The biggest change is the time commitment to my writing and also to the business side of being an author. I used to write for a couple of hours in the afternoon while my kids napped, but now that they are older and I am much busier, I’ve had to hire a mother’s helper to entertain them for a few hours a day so I can focus on my work—especially when I’m under a deadline.

3. Not saying that you dislike the original cover, but if you could design it, what would the cover of The Dark Divine look like?

First of all, I have to say that I LOVE my cover and I definitely couldn’t come up with something better myself. However, when I first sold my novel, I envisioned it having a cover that was a picture of girl’s back (kind of like A Great and Terrible Beauty) who was wearing a white dress with a bright red or purple sash wrapped around her waist.

4) What are some great reads that you've enjoyed lately that you would like to recommend to your readers? Why?

If any of my readers haven’t read SWEETHEARTS by Sara Zarr yet, I think they would really love it. I read this book after I’d already sold TDD to my publisher, but I was surprised a similarity in the two books (in a non-paranormal way). The two books are quite different, yet have a similar idea to them about a girl dealing with the reproductions of an old friend suddenly reappearing in her life.

5. What gave you the idea for the dark, murky background settings for the different eventful scenes in The Dark Divine?

Hmm, interesting question. I started writing the book while living in downtown Salt Lake City. My neighborhood was mostly comprised of very old houses, mixed in with a few new buildings, old statues, and a few churches that were built over a hundred and fifty years ago. I think I just kind of had this urbany feeling in the back of my head while I was writing.

6. How did it feel writing all the male roles in the plot that made such an effect in the story? (Jude, Pete, and Daniel, of course :))

I am actually surprised at how much I enjoyed delving into these male character’s brains. Not because they were male, but because of all the conflicts they had going on in their lives.
I used to think that I could never write from the male POV, but I am considering doing to in a future book.

7. With all your history of working with/for young teens, how do you see yourself as a writer in the next few years? Staying in the young adult genre or risking a different territory?

I love YA. It really is where my voice belongs and I love the audience. I’ve had a few ideas for some middle grade or adult books, but nothing that has screamed “Write Me!” yet. If that were to happen, I wouldn’t be afraid to try something new.

8. From the acknowledgments, you can obviously see that you have a lot of people to give props to in their helpfulness in The Dark Divine. Could you possibly say which scene it was that your writing posse helped you so graciously to revise?

Ah, the @$&% scene? That would be the one where Grace and Daniel rescue Baby James in ravine and bring him home. That scene was rewritten many more times than any other scene in the book. Each time I turned it in, my editor would say, “It’s good, but it needs to be fantastic.”

At the time, I cursed him for it, but now I am so grateful to him for pushing me to make it what it is now. So many people have told me that is their favorite scene. And I’m also extremely grateful to my writing posse for reading that scene over and over again and giving their suggestions.


From the good people of Goodman Media International, Inc., I have received some lovely purple nail polish to giveaway with for this blog tour. I have three bottles available for 3 winners that will selected specifically for their answers to this question left in the comments: Do you have a loved one you'd practically give anything to save? If it's not to personal, who is that person to you? Eg. Mother, boyfried, father, husband, brother, friend, etc.



Remember to visit the next blog tour stop for Bree Despain in the blogosphere at The Story Siren tomorrow.

Catch up on new things happening with Bree on her...
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Facebook

Become a fan of The Dark Divine on Facebook.

LiLi

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Winners of Gone!

Few tidbits about the contest first: 138 entries, 46 participants. Announcing the 5 winners of my Gone giveaway:

Anne Jolly

Mariah

Kristen H.

Martha L.

jmspettoli


All of you are being contacted and have three days to reply with your preferred address for me to send to the publishers, who will send your prize to you.
Thank you to everyone who entered and hopefully I'll have another contest soon.

LiLi

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gayle Forman coming here!!! HERE!

Had to make a quick post about Gayle Forman's If I Stay: The Musical Tour for her new paperback that's releasing soon, said to have a new cover as well, squeee! Okay, gotta chill *breathe deep*. It's in at the same place as last time so I know I won't get lost, however the parking is another issue. Anyways, Books & Books better watch out for me because there's a storm brewing if you catch my drift. :) Click on the link for more info about Gayle's Musical tour, that's supposedly not going "to be your garden-variety recite a few pages of a chapter-deal."

Forget-Her- Nots Debut Release/Author Interview!


Here’s the blurb:
When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door,Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn’t so awful after all — until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something — something magical — is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can’t seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don’t always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she’s soon besieged by requests from girls — both friends and enemies — who want their lives magically transformed — just in time for prom.

Celebrating the awesome release of Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White, we are being treated to an interview with the fabulous author herself. Let it begin...(what secrets will she uncover about herself/her novel??)

What type of environment are you in when you're writing? Eg. music, background, etc.

*I really prefer to write in absolute silence whenever I can. Otherwise, it’s hard to hear the characters talking to each other in my head. My sentences have a rhythm, too, that I need to listen for. Lots of times I read what I’m writing out loud, so it’s not very quiet. You’d probably think I was nuts if you were in the other room. :)

What were your initial hopes and fears when Forget-Her-Nots was going through the whole editing and publishing process?

*I think every writer is a tad nervous when she’s awaiting that editing letter. I was, but Greenwillow has always been very respectful of me, and I came to agree with the vast majority of their edits. Every writer also hopes her book will find a home in the hearts of many readers. Most of my ARC readers (and Publishers Weekly) love FHN, so it’s been wonderful already.

How have you been--or are going to be--celebrating the your debut release of Forget-Her-Nots?

*Woo-hoo! I’m having a really big release party at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. (I love paintings!) About 300 people are coming, including lots of teen girls I’ve taught or coached, and all my friends. OMG – that’s tonight! I can’t wait!

What was the mind set that had you inspired to start writing a novel about flowers particularly?

*I’ve always loved gardening, so when I found out about the language of flowers, I started thinking what if flower wishes came true ….

What were you thinking when you first began writing the novel?

*I was actually pretty clueless. I’d read so much for all of my life that I thought it would be pretty intuitive to put a novel together. It’s actually more like a puzzle requiring complicated engineering and architectural skills! I love it. The solutions come at the oddest times, too, like when I’m roller blading. It’s a good reason to exercise.

What are some lessons/experiences that you've been through, that you'd like to share?

*Oh, gosh. I think I’ll do that through my novels. I don’t want to give all my material away. The most important piece of advice I can give everyone is to grow and give more flowers. They bring peace, happiness, and beauty to the human condition. (Now I’m really starting to sound like the teacher I once was!)

Miscellany:

What are your top 5 favorite movies?

The Princess Bride; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Ten Things I Hate About You; Henry V; Pride and Prejudice.

What flower do you favor the most?

It’s very hard to choose! I love them all, but especially Siberian irises, the scent of gardenias, dogwood trees, lily of the valley, and bleeding hearts.

If you were stranded living in a small cabin surrounded by endless snow cutoff from any communication, what would be essentials that you would ensure you have to survive?

That sounds like my winter!

Water, chocolate, pen & notebook, and a few Russian or Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels that would take me a very long time to read and reread. And Earl Grey tea with milk, please.

This is where I gush about nervousness over the questions I created. This is what she nicely says to calm my psyche down:

*You did a great job! Fun and different questions. Thanks so much for having me!

Now since I am participating in Amy's blog tour of flower-love-spreading, I was required to choose a flower of my favor so I chose *cough* Lily of the Valley....duh! Plus they're kind of a contradiction toward all flowers every where, look below to see what I mean:

Aren't they just the darnest things?!! According to The Language of Flowers they are supposed to represent the return of happiness, where as I would spread to you followers that love to read the crap I type to cheer you up from any past pains that you've recently suffered. Bless your wide eyes for reading this!

I thank Amy for being with us on her release date, now I shall sign off with a command: Read the blurb above and tell Amy how awesome she is in the comments...GO!

LiLi

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken (1 ARC Tours)

Published: March 23rd 2010 by EgmontUSA
Hardcover, 368 pages
ISBN:160684038X
ISBN13: 9781606840382

Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.

Review:

Growing up in a town where there's been a drought for over ten years, you wouldn't blame Sydelle for wanting to explore and escape the entrapment of her village, Cliffton. Palmarta--their country--has been a somewhat peaceful place, if you could ignore the cruel trades with Salvala for water in turn for sand. Their country is overlooked by their surrounding countries, but they have the power that Astraea gave their wizards and they are prepared to fight. That is, according to the Sorceress Imperial. While many admire the Soress and are saddened by their kings passing, they see what the Soress plans to do, and that is to go to war with Salvala.
Being a weaver is not Sydelle's only power, however, she does not know that till Wayland North comes along and forms a type of kidnapping in the pretense that he knew Sydelle wanted to escape her village in the first place. Some believe that there are other motives for North's "kidnapping". When Sydelle becomes North's assistant when it comes to his wizardry, most people are certain of it. Why would North choose Sydelle to be his guide to travel across the land and see the Soress? Why her? These questions run through Syd's mind every time they are together, but once she finds out the truth she's almost better not comprehending the semantics of it. Oh yes, North had other motives, but will it lose him his first assistant? Will the betrayal be to disastrous to ignore?

I loved this novel, it had its quirks because of North's and Syd's dysfunctional, combative personalities but it was worth the end result. Throughout the plot of the novel, you get to experience all of North's difficulties through Sydelle's eyes. Look through and find the deep emotions she feels toward him and his mysterious motives. Sydelle power is to weave and create! She knows this, but through hidden conversations and eavesdropping is when she realizes the full extent of the power of creation that lies within her body. The conclusion of the novel was very heart-shattering with its betrayals and misconceptions, but at the very end is when Bracken reveals her ultimate genius in fiction creativity. Brightly Woven could be described as a joining of sorts between two differently miraculous personas depending on the threads of a friendship that soon turns into something so more stupendous.

Recommended to YAs, big and small, you just have to read it to get your own take on this novel.

Grade: B+

LiLi