Thursday, April 29, 2010

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis (ATWT)

Published: April 27th 2010 by Balzer + Bray
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN: 0061799254
(isbn13: 9780061799259)

I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin…

Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She’s used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people’s deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people’s lives—especially Joy’s—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica's own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own. 

Review:

Joy's whole life was summed up entirely by pleasing others, and giving what they wanted. She did this because it was what was taught to her to do with her ability to Hear. Hearing Whispers was something the women of her mom's side of the family were born with. Dealing with the constant desires--wishes, hopes, dreams--of the people around her was bombarding when she was little. By the age of eleven, Joy could handle the Whisper's and even grant some of them. However, with her sister, Jessica, it was a totally different story. Always making Joy's life a living hell at home, Icka--Jessica--wanted her baby sister to feel the constant crowding she felt every day.
When Joy finally confronts Icka for the first time, it shocks both of them, it lights a fire to new discoveries in the family and in Joy's way of life. Instead of always trying please everyone that wants something, Joy slowly comes to terms to the revelation that she needs to please herself; and find out the truth of her gift. When she hears a stray Whisper from her sister, Joy automatically feels that something is not right and that Icka is in danger. From the very beginning, she attracted attention from an unknown follower. Always there, wondering. Then when Joy unexpectedly and indirectly knows she needs his help to find her sister, he's there along for the ride; to save her sister from killing her Whispers.

When I first started reading Whispers, I cannot deny that I had low expectations. I'd been reading one star- to two star-reviews of Whisper for a while now. When it was finally my turn to read it, I knew I was determined to see why such negative buzz was generating in the blogosphere. What I didn't expect to find was the hidden comical, slash hip referenced heartfelt read Whispers turned out to be. Frankly, I don't know what some reviewers were thinking (though I respect their opinions) but this was a brand new view between a not-so-hidden family struggles that still had problems underneath mom's bubbly exterior. Whispers centered on a gift/curse that came with spontaneous headaches when someone was trying to block their Whispers from others. The constant issues between the sisters were extremely enticing to my senses of being an only-child. And the frequent flashbacks in the beginning were a bit disturbing when I wished the book to move forth with main action of Joy's story, but really were building up the history of Joy and Icka's relationship through their years. Having a seventeen-year-old sister who knew how to ruin Joy's birthday parties, left some mystery when she was really absent for her fifteen's. Through many people's Whispers, new and broken friendships, and heart wrenching memories, Whispers goes through a tale of one Hearer's new identity found when another stopped pushing it her toward it. By the end, you get to read Joy's new found bravery and her true love for her sister.
With funny phrases like "hiccough", and some really weird encounters with another being that may be dealing with something more wrenching than her own gift, Joy's tale will suck you in. So deep that you'll be screaming profanities at your front door when the ice cream truck drives by, vainly hoping they'll stop blaring their corny jingle so fing loud.

Recommended to all ages. Since I'd never forewarned any against this before, I'll start now: there is some profanity in the novel, and a slightly crazed scene at the end. But if you're like me, you'll love every word of it! Buy this now that it is freshly on bookseller's shelves, and spread the word of what you think you'd Whisper about the most.

Grade: A

LiLi
center

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Penitence


Published: April 29th 2010 by Grove Creek Publishing (Releases Tomorrow!)
 
Paperback, 322 pages

ISBN: 1933963832
 
(isbn13: 9781933963839)
 
Book Two. Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open? 
 
 
I read the first book in this series, Heavenly, and absolutely loved! Check out my review here. Also, if you've also read Heavenly, enter Jennifer's contest for a copy of Penitence by posting the trailer below on your site.

LiLi



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tithe by Holly Black (A Modern Faerie Tale)

 
Published: August 30th 2004 by Simon Pulse
Turtleback, 331 pages
ISBN-10: 0689867042
ISBN-13: 978-0689867040

Welcome to the realm of
very scary
faeries!
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Newcomer Holly Black's enormously powerful voice weaves teen angst, riveting romance, and capriciously diabolical faerie folk into an enthralling, engaging, altogether original reading experience.

Review:

One would to describe tithe--the word, not the whole book--sacrifice. From the very beginning, you experience the challenged world of Kaye's life; looking after her mother, keeping a full time job and dropping out of school. When she grew up, she saw faeries that were her day-by-day entertainment. Spike, Gristle, and Lutie-loo. After moving and staying in no-where particular, she hasn't seen her friends--both human and faerie--in years. After one evening out with her old school friend, Janet, an epic change in her daydreams leads to a series of unexplainable actions until Kaye finds out the truth her faerie friends have been hiding for far too long. With these revealing secrets, soon Kaye acquires a new view for the color green, saving a knight from the Unseelie Court from a untimely death becomes more troublesome then she ever thought a favor to be. 

Tithe was set to be a dark, distractingly addictive read that'd consume you within the prologue. The small poems at the beginning of every chapter were a nice touch. I had to stop myself every time I read one, and think how it cooperated perfectly with what was going on in the chapter at that time. Kaye is a powerful character that takes everything that is thrown at her with a fluidity you'd envy in the hardest times. With a very unusually destructive-thinking friend, Kaye sets out to some very fearless adventures to get some answers of her purpose in the Unseelie/Seelie Court debacle.
Black's writing style is one I can admire because unlike many other authors, instead of staying stuck in one scene for endless amount of pages, she moves forward in the story and doesn't linger. From Kaye's point of view, the meetings with both faerie Queens and their courts had an impressive sense of imagery with due to both creatures and scenery alike.
The ending was comfortingly perfect after such a moving plot; just a wrap-up that let's you know there's going to be future stirrings of that faerie world.

Recommended to readers that enjoy dark, engaging novels with cheery and twisted faeries!

Grade: B+

Favorite Lines/Quotes:

'Her mother bent close, the smell of whiskey and beer and sweat as familiar as any perfume to Kaye. "Cigarette kiss," her mother said in that goofy way that was embarrassing and sweet at the same time, touching the tip of her cigarette to the red tip of Kaye's and breathing in deeply. Two sucks of smoke and it flared to life.'

Poems I enjoyed:

"For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror we can just
barely endure,
and we admire it so because it calmly disdains
to destroy us."
-- Rainer  Maria Rilke, "The First Elegy," Duino Elegies

"A word is dead
When it is said
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day."
--Emily Dickinson, "VI. A Word."

" Better to reign in Hell, then to serve in Heav'n."
--John Milton, Paradise Lost (Book I)

LiLi

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (2)


  a novel in e-mails, blogs and tweets

Published: June 22nd 2010 by Hyperion

Paperback, 160 pages
ISBN: 1423135288
 
(isbn13: 9781423135289)
 
Claire is a #hopelessromantic. Lottie is determined to set up her BFF with Mr. Perfect. Will wants his #secretcrush to finally notice him. Bennett is a man with a plan.

Claire can’t believe it when her dream guy starts following her on Twitter. She never thought he noticed her, and suddenly he seems to understand her better than almost anyone.
But the Twitterverse can be a confusing place, especially when friends act differently online than they do in person. Things get even more complicated when Claire realizes she’s falling for someone else, the last person she ever would have expected….
Told in an innovative format combining tweets, emails, and blogs, Tweet Heart is a contemporary romantic comedy that will set your heart atwitter.
 
I just thought this would be a super cute read to flip through. Hopefully, I can get an interview with the author soon. (I will email you back, Elizabeth.)
 
What do you think?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

URL Change!

I just made a slight change from http://lilibethramos.blogspot.com/ to http://chicareader.blogspot.com/! I think this was long over due--and I'm glad I finally got to it! Please everyone make a note of this for whenever you wish to visit my blog. It's less letters now and makes more sense, and is memorable. Especially to all the authors/publishers out there that visit my blog, take notice of this change!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Winners for The Iron King and The Owl Keeper Giveaways!

Ending the giveaway for the release of The Owl Keeper early, I've got the results for both The Iron King and The Owl Keeper Giveaways.

The Iron King: 48 entrants, 117 entries!
Winner is...
barbrafl
Congrats!


The Owl Keeper: 45 entrants, 94 entries!
Winner is...
Nikki @ Bookizzle
Congrats!

Winners have been contacted and are expected to respond in the next 72 hours, or else other winners will be chosen. Thanks to all that participated and I will have another giveaway posted soon.

LiLi

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Character Interview with Artemis Rose Eccles (The Owl Keeper)

First off, I have to compliment you on your name: Artemis Rose. Wow, that is definitely a show-stopper. Anyways, welcome to ChicaReader, Rose! Now to get down to business, how would you describe your first encounter with Max by the owl tree? What did you think when you saw his golden-eyed, fragile silver owl?

Hi LiLi. I like my name too, it’s very special because I’m named for the moon goddess Artemis who was strong and brave, like I am, except the real Artemis knew how to shoot arrows (but maybe one day I’ll learn how to do that too). When I very first saw Max I thought: who is this scrawny scared-looking kid wearing the weird hat with a bobble and earflaps? I knew he was upset to see me there and I thought well too bad because I go where I want in the nights and nobody can stop me.

But I also realized this kid was special, because he was out in the night, not like most people who’re afraid of the dark. Then I saw this owl up in the tree and it didn’t look too good because its wing was sticking out funny and its eye was only half-open. But its wings were all shiny and silver! Max kept saying it was some old barn owl, but I knew he was just trying to trick me.

Throughout your journey with Max, I noticed you tended to have a whole mess of adventures together. What were some of your best times during those beginning thrilling times?

Lots of our adventures were really scary and we had some pretty close getaways, so they were good and bad all at the same time. But I had fun kicking over Mrs. Crumlin’s basket of muffins and stomping on them and seeing her face go red – she was so mad! It was fun, too, trying to figure out the owl’s message and all that stuff about the prophecy. And even though I was scared out of my wits, I loved the way we left the fortress when the wolf chased us (but I’m not telling you any more about that because you have to read the book to find out what happened!)

How was life growing up with a rebellious father and having a hard time trusting anyone anywhere you were?

Both my parents were secret rebels against the High Echelon and I think that’s very cool. My father always told me to be a free spirit and to think for myself. He said it was important to trust my instincts and not believe everything people told me just because they were adults—especially if I thought they were, like, spies or worked for the High Echelon.

If it's not to painful could you tell us something you remember about your mother before she was falsely incarcerated?

I remember we were hiding out in a place called Tattersall Heath and all around were cornfields and orchards and red-gold wheat and junked tractors and there was this shut-down theme park and my mom and I walked around it and there was this ride she said was called a merry-go-round and she lifted me up on one of the painted horses and we laughed and laughed.

When you heard Max's tales about the Owl Keeper, what was your initial feeling/reaction?

I’d never heard of an Owl Keeper before and I thought Max was just making it up. I told him too bad the Owl Keeper’s not real because we could use somebody around here like that. But he kept saying the Owl Keeper was real so I told him that the Owl Keeper better hurry up and help us because things were falling apart left and right.

Most importantly, how was it that you could cope so well it seems--since you were always the tough one--with the spurts of blindness in the final journey?

Hey, did you forget my name or what? I’m Artemis, the goddess of wild things who was totally fearless and shot her enemies through the heart with arrows! I can handle anything because I’m super tough and I never, ever give up. (On the other hand, I guess you could was glad to have my friend Max along when things got really bad)

And finally, how do you feel about Max? What changed about you when you really got to know him?

Well, Max was pretty lonely and he didn’t know a lot of things because he was stuck inside his house all those years with that old biddy guardian and he was totally clueless about what was going on with the High Echelon and everything. But Max was so kind to his little owl, and that really got to me, and the more I hung out with him, the more I started to think he was kind of mysterious.

Then we ran into the forest and even though Max was scared to death he did lots of brave things and didn’t give up, and he helped me out when things got really bad. One time we thought wolves were going to get us and Max said if anything happened would I remember that we were friends. That was so cute! Like we were olden-day friends and we’d be friends forever.

Any last hoots? (Or should I say barks? Growls? Hmm...)

If you ever get a new dog, especially a shaggy black one that barks a lot, and you don’t know what to name him, then I know a great name: Helios. Helios was a sun god who drove the chariot of the sun and I can’t think of a better name for your dog.

Bye LiLi!

Thanks for the kindred anecdotes, Rose!

LiLi 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones

 The Owl Keeper
Published: April 13th 2010 by Delacorte Press
320 pages
ISBN13: 9780385738149

Maxwell Unger has always loved the night. He used to do brave things like go tramping through the forest with his gran after dark. He loved the stories she told him about the world before the Destruction—about nature, and books, and the silver owls. His favorite story, though, was about the Owl Keeper.

According to Max’s gran, in times of darkness the Owl Keeper would appear to unite owls and sages against the powers of the dark. Gran is gone now, and so are her stories of how the world used to be. Max is no longer brave. The forest is dangerous, the books Gran had saved have been destroyed, and the silver owls are extinct. At least that’s what the High Echelon says. But Max knows better.

Maxwell Unger has a secret. And when a mysterious girl comes to town, he might just have to start being brave again.

The time of the Owl Keeper, Gran would say, is coming soon.
Review:

With only memories of his Gran, small treasures that were sneaked past Mrs.Cumlin's inspections, Maxwell Unger lives through the night and dark of the High Echelon's world. Getting monthly injections of grotesque liquid was a result of Max's allergy to "sun particles." The stories of silver owls and Silver Prophecies are practically forbidden to speak. So is Max's Gran's death. With the slow deterioration of his memory, Max tries to visit his owl tree and his silver owl every night. One night he finds a girl under his tree. A peculiar one, at that; raggedy clothes, wild dirty hair, and as thin as a chopstick. Crowding an aggressive attitude, Artemis Rose Eccles is like no one Max had ever met before. Speaking almost a foreign language, Rose endears Max with her crazy antics of the liars in the High Echelon. When the slow realization of the truth of Rose's remarks grows to be too much for Max, a slew of adventures and a final journey to the Frozen Zone are the only solutions that sought to defeat the impending Darkness sweeping the land. Will the end result be what Max and Rose were hoping for all along, or will there be too many near-death experiences to get to their destination in time?

The Owl Keeper is the mesmerizing tale of a young, weak boy that blooms into a brave and powerful Night Seer, with the help of Rose--his best friend, his silver owl and some memories of Gran and a better time. Reading through the best friends' adventures in the gloominess of High Echelon territory was entertaining and kept you interested till that final journey to find the Owl Keeper. Reading about all of the crafted, ugly-looking creatures in The Owl Keeper was intricately satisfying because of its detail. Rose and Max learn to appreciate each other in more ways than one; and upon that a very unique friendship. With a poem of a prophecy hanging over there heads, the pair try to break down its meaning in order to end at their desired destination. Through their fantastic views of the forests and chilling woods, you will keep wondering in your mind what will happen next, and will they get through this.

The Owl Keeper was set in Max's point of view of the situations around him, but with one switch I believe that the author could have made this book great in any--and I do mean any, even little Miranda's point of view. However, since I don't ordinarily read MG books, it took me a while to really get into the story. With other readers or frequenters of MG novels, this most likely may not happen; if you don't frequent MG novels, you might experience a little difficulty in the beginning, all there is to do is wait for the good parts, because they are there! Brodien truly knows what she's doing with the her characters, the only mishap is that she needs to work a bit on the magic storytelling. From time to time, the pace and some details of the story made me question the authors choice for choosing such a young male lead. However, I do believe that may be a bit biased since I used to young adult novels. In the end, Max really showed the side of his childishness and bravery all in one. The Owl Keeper really is an enchanted, mystical read that you won't want to miss. I'd love to know what happens to Max after the last page.

Grade: B

Check out The Owl Keeper's trailer below. I loved everything about this trailer!



LiLi

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guest post: Christine Brodien-Jones on Revising Your Manuscript

The “Alien Relic” That’s Your First Draft

~by Christine Brodien-Jones, author of THE OWL KEEPER

I remember being handed back a short story in high school with a B scrawled in red ink across the top of the page and the words: “Needs more work.” What was that supposed to mean? I was baffled. I’d spent at least two or three weeks working on it! I had no idea, back then, that writers revised. For me revision was a foreign concept. You wrote a story and presto! there it was, for people to read and admire. Besides, I was way too busy with other things to go back and rewrite a story I’d written for English class.

Years later, I’ve become one of those writers who looks forward to editing and revising. I love this process! In fact I have to resist the urge to rewrite every page of my novel as I’m writing it. That’s what Kurt Vonnegut used to do. His method was to revise every page until he got it exactly right and the book was a polished gem. (Somehow I don’t envision that happening with my books!)

After finishing your first draft, the smartest thing you can do is take time off. Your mind and imagination, argues Stephen King in ON WRITING, have to recycle themselves—at least in regard to what you’ve just written. Put the draft away for at least six weeks and write something else. When you finally open the drawer and see your manuscript looking like “an alien relic bought at a junk-shop or yard sale where you can hardly remember stopping,” you’re ready to tackle it again. Read through the manuscript in one sitting, if possible. This can be a “strange, often exhilarating experience, “ because it will be like reading someone else’s work: “This is the way it should be, the reason you waited,” King explains. “It’s always easier to kill someone else’s darlings than it is to kill your own.”

While reading over the manuscript, ask yourself these questions: Do the first few pages pull the reader in? Does the action flow smoothly from one chapter to the next? Is the plot compelling? What about the overarching story: have you left out important details that the reader needs? Does the ending make sense? Will it satisfy the reader? Go back and revise these major structural points.

Once the main elements of the book are established, it’s time to eliminate unnecessary details and keep the action moving. Avoid overlong descriptions, but don’t skimp on interesting details. Make the dialogue snappy. As you go through the book, paragraph by paragraph, find ways to improve your prose. Polish your sentences. Find just the right words to create strong visual images. What I’ve learned over the years is this: believe it or not, even in a novel, every word counts.

Finally, ask yourself: Do the lead characters jump off the page? Are the stakes high enough? Check the beginnings of each chapter for “hooks” and the endings for “cliffhangers.” Get rid of unnecessary scenes that don’t move the story forward. Look for inconsistencies, and words repeated too often or appearing too close to each other. Get rid of all typos and grammatical errors. Beware of overusing vague adjectives and adverbs; instead use specific terms.

Outside readers, such as trusted friends or members of a writers’ group, can be extremely valuable, offering objective viewpoints and suggestions for improvement you may not have considered.

One of most thorough revision checklists I’ve ever seen was written by author/literary agent/blogger Nathan Bransford. You can find it at: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/06/revision-checklist.html. For those of you with a first draft sitting in a drawer, waiting for it to morph into an “alien relic,” I highly recommend consulting this list. 


Thanks for the essay, C!

LiLi

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Character Interview with Max Unger (The Owl Keeper)

I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Maxwell Unger from Christine Brodien-Jones' The Owl Keeper.
Look below to see what he had to hoot:

Hey Max, from the beginning to your present, how has your perception of Rose changed?

When I first saw Rose under the owl tree, looking all wild and acting kind of superior and everything, I was scared out of my wits! Rose was so bossy and annoying, and I never knew whether I could believe anything she told me. I didn’t even know if I could trust her! What if she was a spy for the High Echelon? But now, after our long scary journey together, we’re the best of friends, and I’ll do anything to protect her, just like my silver owl. I guess you could say Rose is my best friend in all the world (even if she still gets a bit bossy sometimes). I think she’s totally brave and amazing.

Have you always hated Mrs. Crumlin's cooking, and is there a dish that at least tastes slightly edible before you found out the truth?

Everything Mrs. Crumlin cooked was always burned and had a weird texture and made my stomach do flip-flops. She was always trying out these disgusting radio cook-show recipes. I guess when I was younger I sort of liked her griddlers, that is if I poured enough golden-eye treacle over them to drown out the metallic taste…

You say that you love the night, what are some basic things you like about it?

I love everything about the night: the way the dark wraps around me like a cloak, climbing the owl tree and sitting in the dark with my owl, gazing off into the forest (which can be a bit scary sometimes). I love the smells in the night, and sometimes the sound of a distant bird or animal (though, sadly, there aren’t too many left). I love the light of the two moons shining down and the way the cattails whipped at my legs and the overarching branches of trees against the sky.

What's one memory you can remember about a time when you went hiking with your gran in the woods?

When I was little I’d go tramping off into the night with my gran; back then the forest wasn’t so dangerous. My best memory is of us going deep into the forest, where I found a certain kind of fungus that glows in the dark. It was really cool and I was so excited I started jumping around and accidentally stepped on it. I started to cry, so to cheer me up, Gran told me a story about an Owl Keeper and these magical creatures, the silver owls. It was the first of many times that she told me these tales of how the owls were freed from a dark spell and about the Owl Keeper who, in times of darkness, gathered silver owls and Sages to fight the powers of evil.

How does it feel being so young and having to adjust to a fated destiny?

It’s kind of hard. Sometimes I think: why can’t I just be an everyday all-American kid hanging out with my friends after school and going to friends’ birthday parties and stuff? But I’ve always known, deep down, that I wasn’t meant to have, like, an ordinary kind of life.

Any last hoots?

I just want to say that if you’re looking for a pet, owls are the best pets in the world because they’re mysterious and loyal and they cough up owl pellets that sometimes contain interesting things.

I’m happy to meet you, LiLi, and I hope you like owls as much as I do. (:


Thanks for stopping by, Max! Pleasure to hoot with you. ;)

More about Christine and The Owl Keeper:

LiLi

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Author Interview: Christine Brodien-Jones (The Owl Keeper)

The Owl Keeper
I had a chance to interview Christine this week to promote her latest release The Owl Keeper, since I'm dedicating this week to her novel.


1) What were the first aspirations you had for The Owl Keeper?

I started writing THE OWL KEEPER two months after 9/11, when the world seemed bleak and hopeless, and I think in the back of my mind I wanted to write a book about hope. I also wanted to write a book that children would love – the kind of fantasy that I loved reading as a child.

2) What first got you interested in the theme of owls in general?

Owls are night creatures, with an aura of mystery about them. In certain societies they symbolize wisdom, the ability to see things that are hidden. In others they represent good fortune, magic, sometimes even death. Owls are very powerful birds: stealthy predators that attack without warning. They’re also eerily beautiful. I loved the idea of owls with silver feathers and creating a myth around these fabled, magical creatures.

3) What's an anecdote of a fun experience you had while writing this novel?

One fun thing I did was adopt a rescue barred owl through the Adopt a Wildlife Ambassador Program at the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine. I chose the barred owl because she reminded me of Max’s silver owl in THE OWL KEEPER, except this owl is much bigger!

Her name is Bianca and in 1995 she was hit by a car and suffered a broken wrist. They couldn’t release her into the wild, so she lives at the center. Over the years she’s been a foster parent to other barred owlets and travels with programs to educate the public. I’m hoping to go visit Bianca this spring!

4) If--and I mean this as inoffensively as possible--The Owl Keeper wasn't published, what would you be doing right now?

I’d probably be working on another book! Or re-writing The Owl Keeper to make it better! I can’t imagine a life without writing. However, if I wasn’t writing, the next best thing would be to pack my carry-on bag and take off, ideally to Europe or South America. I’ve found that exploring different corners of the world fires up my imagination; travel is a great way to discover new ideas and delve into myth and history.

5) With all the great feedback your released novel is getting, what would you hope your next novel to exude from readers?

My next novel is very different from THE OWL KEEPER; however it still has the elements of adventure and magic and terrifying situations. The book is set in the Sahara Desert, in Morocco, and there’s a feisty young heroine who finds herself in strange and harrowing circumstances. My hope is that young readers who loved THE OWL KEEPER will enjoy this book too.

6) Any guilty pleasures outside of the writing/reading business done at home? (Eg. spending time at the park, travel)

I love listening to music and sharing good times with a few close friends, and spending time at our old country house in Deer Isle, Maine. I adore the summer when I can hike, sail, kayak and go rowing on Gloucester Harbor. Winters my husband Peter and I travel to Buenos Aires where we study Spanish and tango.

7) What are some of your favorite books that you like to go back to from time to time?

All the whimsical time-travel books by Edward Eager, including “Knight’s Castle” and “Magic by the Lake” – I devoured those as a kid and they inspired my writing; I also love the illustrations by N. M. Bodecker. Other books I read when young and still go back to: Susan Cooper’s THE DARK IS RISING series, Ursula K. LeGuin’s EARTHSEA trilogy, Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS, the odd sci-fi fantasies of British author John Wyndham.

8) Now that The Owl Keeper is published, what are some of your future goals in the writing industry?

As I said earlier, I want to write books kids will love to read – books that stir their imaginations, with heroes and heroines they can identify with. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than getting books into the hands of young readers – especially reluctant ones – and having them fall in love with books and the amazing power of stories.

The short answer is: I’ll keep writing books for young people.

9) After the whole process to get The Owl Keeper out in the world, do you feel relieved? Successful? Why?

I’m amazed and thrilled, to begin with, that this book is out there at last. I feel incredibly grateful to all the people who made THE OWL KEEPER happen – and they were many! – especially my agent Stephen Fraser and my editor Krista Marino, who both loved the book and believed in it. I suppose, too, I feel a certain relief that the book is finished and out there: now I’m free to let go and move on to the next.


10) To finish things off on a light-note, how would you describe The Owl Keeper to young readers debating on picking it up?

Well I’m not sure how “light” this will be, but here goes:

Have you ever felt afraid or alone? Ever kept a secret too dangerous to tell? Max Unger, hero of THE OWL KEEPER, has always loved the night. He used to be brave, exploring the forest with his grandmother after dark. But the forest is dangerous now, his gran is gone, and Max is alone and afraid. He misses Gran's stories about the silver owls and the world before the Great Destruction. And…Max has a secret: one he doesn't dare tell.

What if you’re a kid and there are no adults you can trust? What if you find yourself in a scary place? That’s where Max finds himself at the start of this book. But Max has a hidden strength deep inside him and, when faced with impossible circumstances, he sets off on a quest that he doesn’t completely understand, taking his silver owl and friend Rose with him. THE OWL KEEPER is a quest of hope, a story of friendship. It’s also about conquering one’s darkest fears.

If you enjoy impossible quests and underdog heroes, this book is for you.


Thanks for the interview, LiLi, it’s been fun! (: 

 It was great to have you, Christine.

If you haven't entered for a chance to enter for your own ARC of The Owl Keeper go here.
Thanks for stopping by!

LiLi

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Owl Keeper Release Giveaway!

Celebrating the release of Christine Brodien-Jones' novel The Owl Keeper, I am giving away an ARC of the novel and some very unique swag. Not only will the winner receive business cards, bookmarks and postcards but also a small hand-painted owl from Argentina.


Just fill out the form below to enter! Ends April 20th at midnight EST. US residents only!

LiLi

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Winners: The Unwritten Rule Giveaway!

Factoids: 48 entrants, 93 entries! Congrats:

Krista

Andrea C.

Jenna

Sherry S.

Eleni (I know her! ;)

All chosen courtesy of Random.org. The emails have been sent and expect a reply in the next three days. Thank you to all the entrants for participating; it is because of you lovely people I get to host these fabulous giveaways! If you haven't entered my current contest for a copy of The Iron King and some signed Shadow Hills swag, please do so here!

LiLi

When Mike Kissed Emma by Christine Marciniak (ATWT)

Published: July 23rd 2009 by The Wild Rose Press
Paperback, 176 pages
ISBN: 1601545452
ISBN13: 9781601545459

Emma Landon has a plan: she's going to be in the high school musical and sing the most romantic song possible to her boyfriend. She's not looking for the lead, just a decent part where she and Trevor can dance together on stage. The plan starts to unravel when she gets the starring role, and playing opposite her is not her perfect boyfriend, but the school loner, Biker Mike. When Mike kisses Emma at the school dance, everything changes. Emma must figure out what is more important-the way things look or something deeper.
Review:

Emma could only described as a goody-two-shoes that does what she's told. Going to a school that wears pleaded skirts and having a caring boyfriend seems to suit Emma just fine. When the school musical roles are auditioned for, Emma just knows she'll get the part of Lisel and Trevor will get Rolf in "The Sound of Music". So when the director soon announces the cast roles the day after, why is it that Emma gets the lead and the horrid Biker Mike as her love-interest? Soon Emma finds herself spinning non-stop in the whirlwind of self-discovery and an important lesson of "tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are." The link to the her revelation is none other than Biker Mike, who brings along the concept of don't judge a book by it's cover. 

Reading about her friends through her point of view, Emma brought insight into several relationships that she has; clearly making the read see the ways she views her friends. An achingly annoying quality that she had she how she knew what her friends were doing was wrong in every which way, but just stood back and let it happen. That's what brought When Mike Kissed Emma into the it's highlight points and it's unfortunate downfall. I say this because as well as Marciniak wanted this novel to be, it just wasn't as enlightening as the significance of the novel portrays it would be.

I can't say that I'd recommend this novel, because it seemed like I forgot the story as I put the book down.

Grade: C-

LiLi

Giveaway: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I've got a paperback copy of The Iron King to giveaway! Ends April 18th @ midnight EST. US participants only, sorry!
I've added some swag to the mix, Shadow Hills magnets, buttons, & bookmarks (signed)!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Published: March 16th 2010 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 336 pages
isbn: 0061779814
ISBN13: 9780061779817

Inside jacket flap:
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.
Review:

At the young age of eight, Violet found her first dead body. Dead human body, that is. What she didn't know then but soon learns, is that the little girl she found was the very beginning of the serial-killing spree that was rampaging her small Washington town. Through Violet's youth, she and her "gift" had grown accustomed to each other. Comfortable, in a way. The strange feelings that Vi was starting to experience for her best friend that she'd known since they six years old. Somewhere along the line these feelings develop into the real deal. When they go to a party as a kind of end-of-summer kick off, they don't anticipate the dead girl's body Vi finds in the murky lake water. Besides Violet's immediately family, Jay is the only one who knows about her "gift" to sense dead bodies, and their killers.

I've heard nothing but great praise for The Body Finder and expected to find this suspenseful tale with a romance mixed in. That was what I found, in the end. However, I didn't think to anticipate that the two plot lines were going to try fighting for dominance every chance they got. In the beginning, it started off as a predictable tale about a girl who could sense the dead that were murdered. I even guessed that one of her family members had to be in law enforcement before I even read the part about her uncle being the chief of police. (I swear I'm psychic.)  I have to say that I can't immediately agree with the high marks other reviewers have said about this novel. Derting's writing just seemed to have me on edge quite some bit of the time, not fully chalking that off to the story's "suspense." Nonetheless, my favorite part was the mysterious tale of the serial killer, and those short chapter-interruptions for a brief monologue for the killer was brilliant. I just wish that the author had stuck with that throughout the whole novel instead of splitting it down the middle. And I mean this quite literally. Right around the center of the novel's core, the flow of Violet's tale seemed to veer off a bit and catch up with the romance between her and Jay. Their romance while stimulating at times, but seemed forced, strained. And at different points in the ending, downright corny and cliched. What a disappointment. I had so many hopes that The Body Finder would be unlike any novel I had yet to read. It was, just not in the way I had thought. The last chapter where Derting seemed to be trying to clean up the mess, left me unsatisfied and with a slight after-taste in the back of my throat.

On a lighter note, I loved the subtle dark aspect the author pulled off with Violet's small animal backyard-graveyard, I just couldn't get past the fact that the story did not pull me in.

Grade: B-

LiLi

Check out Naughty Book Kitties! The Kittens that Review!

So, if you read the first couple of posts on my blog you'd see that I tended to refer to my best friend Emily a lot. (Love you, Em!) I met Emily in Kentucky when my cooky parents made a terrible career move and decided to me to Kentucky Fried Chicken--I have no idea how many people said that to me when I told them where I was going to for the next year. This was around the summer of 2008, I believe. Anyway, back to Em. I was a newbie in uncharted waters when I started an all girl's school in Louisville. (Did you know it was not pronounced, Louis-ville? Why did no one warn me??) Emily arrived as the new girl a couple months later, I believe. I pretty much thought she was a psycho like me. When I saw her carrying around a Sarah Dessen novel, I was like "whoa." Where'd this chick been all my life? Nah, I'm kidding. I wasn't very impressed with Dessen at all before Em got me to read some of her work. Goes to show how we bonded after that. Around that time was when I started to really, really find an appreciation for books I didn't know I had in me. However, I know some people will be sad (or glad) to hear this but it did start with the Twilight Saga. That's when I discovered my love in YA Fantasy; and when I read The Host, Sci-Fi as well. Back to Em and how fabulous she is. I love Em, deeply. We got in trouble so much for our constant laughter in class, we cracked even more just looking at the teachers' faces. I would make fun of her laugh and she'd make fun of my braids and we'd laugh and laugh and laugh! Good lord my stomach always hurt at the end of the day. With Em around all the time, I found a confidence in myself and our bond in reading, that I was amazed I didn't cry (much) when I left Kentucky Fried Chicken. Did you know that even when we could see each other everyday, we'd log onto our Yahoo! accounts and video chat for a couple hours. Or should I say video laugh? Because I do remember one time when she couldn't figure out what was wrong with her microphone thing and she could still hear me. Well, I was talking non-sense to her and trying to make her and her sister laugh while she'd try to make signs to communicate with me. All of a sudden--and I laugh while I write this--I look up at my computer screen and I see a cat. A blow-up of a cat's underside, and I scream my head off, while trying not to laugh at the same time. I can see Em's head peaking around the cat, smiling while pointing at me and trying to hold back a laugh. Damn did that scare the crap out of me! I remember it so vividly that I still want to smack Em for it. Okay, enough talk about how we met, on to how she's copying me. Lol, just kidding! I'm glad you're making a blog, Em. Oops, well, you guys would have found out anyway. I now have the thumps-up from Brent--the dude who's watching over Em for me--to spread the news about there new blog:  


Damn Em, you really nailed it this time. Eh, I still love ya. Okay, right now Brent and Em have three book reviews already posted and they wanted me to spread the word about it:
&

Before you go over there, help me to convince them to write bios about themselves, Brent and Em, we need to know more about you personally dammit. (We need some secrets to be read!) Kidding. About the secrets, not the bios.

Side-note: I take the place of their Book Fairy and am proud to help them in anyway possible. They know this but I just wanted to state it here too. However, I sure they'd probably tackle me virtually if I stopped anyone from sending them books, so if you'd like to donate any used/new books for their reviewing cause, email (me) them here:
naughtybookkittens(at)gmail.com

Now go over there and spread love (follow them and comment)!

LiLi

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Winners of The Dark Divine Nail Polish Giveaway

Stats: 8 entrants! Winners:
Congrats!

Emma M.

Melissa C.

Anne J.

Thank you to all who entered and if you haven't entered to win a copy of The Unwritten Rule in my latest giveaway, go here. I'll be contacting the winners who'll have til April 6th to reply and send me their addys. 

LiLi

Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Published: May 18th 2010 by Simon Pulse
Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN: 1416991824
ISBN13: 9781416991823
Torn between two destinies?

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?
Review:

Descending from a line of French female werewolves was not the news that Claire was expecting to find out about on the weekend of her sixteenth birthday. That sort of ruined the birthday buzz pretty quickly, especially since at her pool party she had just made sure that she captured Matthew Engle's attention. See that wouldn't be to big of a burden to bear except that he's Dr. Engle's son--as in the scientist that is so desperate to get into the Lycanthrope Researchers International that he claims he's "curing" werewolves while he's really half-killing them, as Claire later finds out from her oh-so-helpful mother. Diving into the werewolf life feeling almost completely alone as to what her potential and possibilities may be, Claire is finding it harder and harder to lie to the people that she cares about. She thinks she catches a break when one of the pack members Zahlia takes pity on her and tries to teach some skills that werewolves from their pack inhabit. Getting the occasional helping hand does not, in the end, help Claire against the new trouble that arises.
In the course of just over the two first months of Claire's true nature revealing, the plot slowly builds to climax into its conflict of Dr.Engle's doing. With his false beliefs of safety spreading around the community, Claire knows she has to find the real werewolf behind the killings. Knowing that something was wrong, Claire sought out help from the one place she was sure to find out but came up short when her pack members express resignation rather than determination.

Claire knew that getting into a forbidden relationship with Matthew was probably the worse thing she could have done, and in the end dragging him into harm's way. However, in doing so, what exactly did Claire risk for their lives? Did she really think she could trust Matthew after all her lies?

It is hard to write this review without revealing too much because it seemed like the only eventful parts are worth telling. I have to be honest and say that a lot of the introductory/beginning of the story was slightly dull and was seemed smothered in the sense of keeping it safe. As if, Johnson's didn't want to take a chance. Since the starting out of the book obviously deals with Claire's werewolf-nature being revealed I would have expected more of a shocking outcome or maternal view from her mother, Marie. I disliked Marie's frigid-like behavior till the plot really started picking up around the middle of the novel. It slowly shows how Claire learns just how hard it is to be a werewolf in such an anti-werewolf town.
While I appreciated the significance of Matthew's character in the end, I do not believe that his character was as well developed in his relationship with Claire, other than their mutual view on how wrong his father is. Also, Lisbeth's character as Claire's live-in nanny (so to speak) was refreshing and left you guessing at other false predictions you may have about this book's certain mystery. Another thing I quite couldn't believe was the happy note the book ended on. It took me by surprise, and I did not expect it at all. I may sound a bit corny here in saying that I undoubtedly love happy endings, and this one was one that I will have to look back on. The reason I gave this book such a high rating was because of its non-failing way of getting the reader sucked in enough to follow through to the end. And by the end, I believe the readers will not be disappointed.

Grade: B-

This Advanced Readers/Reviewers Copy was sent to me from the publishers at Simon & Schuster.


LiLi

Thursday, April 1, 2010

10 Children's Books Every Business Student Should Read

So this in-depth database blog comes up to me and says, "We just posted about 10 children's books every business student should read and we'd like you to mention it on your blog." I think, why the hell not? It does peak my interest and who doesn't like children's books, like Charlotte's Web? In Accredited Online College's top ten, I choose my fave three:

1. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper, Here's what they had to say in perspective of this children's book: "This classic children’s book tells of a train hauling toys and other goodies to a village at the other side of a mountain, but it has broken down. The train tries to get help from larger engines, who just pass him by. Finally, a smaller engine takes up the cause, but discovers he may have taken on more than he can handle. Through determination and perseverance, the little engine makes it up the mountain and delivers the train to the village. Any business student can see the simple, yet powerful message imparted in this book–determination and the power of positive thinking can overcome any obstacle."

2. Charlotte's Web by EB White "Most consider this classic tale to be about Wilbur, the pig rescued by a young girl from her father’s ax. A closer look shows that the true protagonist and heroine of the story is the title character, Charlotte. Charlotte is a spider who saves Wilber’s life a second time when she comes up with the idea of spelling out Wilber’s magnificent qualities in her web. Each time she advertises something special about Wilber, his fame grows. Any business student studying marketing will quickly recognize a successful advertising campaign. Charlotte kept her resourceful solution creative by changing the words she used each time. This book provides a glimpse into clever marketing and the benefits of loyalty to the customer."

3. The Story of the Three Little Pigs "Just about everyone has heard the story of the three little pigs and their attempts at building a wolf-proof house. However, the extended version of this popular fairy tale describes the third little pig as a shrewd thinker always one step ahead of the competition. After the failure of the first two pigs, the third pig builds his brick house, to the chagrin of the wolf. The wolf then sets out to trick the pig out of his house in an effort to eat him. The pig, however, always stays one step ahead of the wolf, which ensures his survival. Just like the pig and the wolf, a smart business person needs to know how to stay ahead of the competition in order to keep her business alive."

What I liked most about their post about these children's books was how they mentioned how each book has its own subtle significance toward the life of business--of course--and the links that directed each of the titles to articles that were opinionated by people whose lives were touched by these books. If you'd like to read more about them and Accredited Online College's description, read their post here.

LiLi