Friday, March 23, 2012

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

The Probability of Miracles
Wendy Wunder

Hardcover: 360 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (December 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1595143688
ISBN-13: 978-1595143686
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

The Probability of Miracles was one of those that I developed an appreciation for and had a connection with because the whole cancer issue is close to my heart and ended up liking the book, but...that's where it ends. It was just a decent read. For some odd reason, I felt like I couldn't get a grasp on the main character. She was all over the place for me, and she would constantly contradict herself; it ended up driving me nuts.She'd stick to saying and thinking that miracles and believing and magical wonders are just fantasy, not something she could put her trust in. That was understandable after all she'd been through, but she'd deny that those things could happen so much so that it became obvious she didn't believe herself. A bit too "Thou doth protest too much" type of thing. Then, of course, by the climax she does a whole 180 on herself and I'm left a little dizzy with all the different attitude changes. The only characteristic I could truly admire about Cam is that she does genuinely love her family and try to make it so everyone around her doesn't just think about her as the sick girl. Her makeup and background was one of my favorite character outlines ever; it was so original. This Samoan teenager who's father recently passed, who's mom dances in the Polynesian hotel exhibit in Epcot, likes to work in the hotel's kitchen, who has a terminal diagnosis of cancer and a little Norwegian half-sister, is somebody new to me. And I liked that.

So basically her doctors tell her "Your life is over", and her mom decides it's time to do something a little more drastic, like take the summer off to live somewhere that births miracles daily. There Cam runs into the "catalog kids"--model lookalikes--who become her friends and she starts to slowly take matters into her own hands to make her last few weeks in such a cool beach-side environment to die for. While the plot does take a while to take off because the road trip included making two stops to Cam's best friends in North Carolina and her grandmother in Jersey, there were more and more characters that affected Cam's life exponentially. I did not by any means like Cam's friend, Lily, who was also terminal because the brief instance where her character played a significant part she acted just like Cam offhandedly described, like a spoiled child. I didn't get her appeal whatsoever. 

Asher, the quiet team player, has the pleasure of seeing Cam's crazy family up close since they are staying at his house while he lives in the nearby cottage. Even though Ms. Wunder includes the basics of who Asher is, his personality and appeal besides his good looks is a bit nonexistent. And when Cam was right--as she usually was about everything--about his secret pleasure, I was stunned. It came completely out of left field. She predicted it because she thought she had him figured out but overall, The Probability of Miracles when a little extreme at times. I kept asking myself, "Why take things so far?

The pros that outweighed the cons for me mostly had to do with the crazy shenanigans that Cam did in Maine, and Promise, Maine in general. After reading this book, I would seriously consider convincing my mom for a lengthy road trip just to see the beach, the purple dandelions and flock of flamingos. I loved the author's descriptions of the scenery and her upfront and humorous writing style.


Source: ARC Trade


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Winner: Here by Denise Swank

Factoids: 10 entries, 10 entrants...

Congrats to...

Victoria Z.

Thanks to all who entered in the giveaway!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cover Buzz for Virtuosity!

Show some love for the author of Virtuosity, Jessica Martinez...

I was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. As a child I played the violin, read books and climbed trees incessantly. I went on to study English and music at Brigham Young University, and since then have been a high school English teacher, symphony violinist, elementary school teacher, violin teacher, and mother. I currently live in Orlando, Florida with my husband and two children.

Onto some Hardback Virtuosity Truths...

Hardback                           Paperback
Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall...
  1. I am the last person in the world to see that my cover looks like an iTunes ad. When someone pointed it out, I was like, “Hmm, yeah. You’re right. Am I about to get sued by Apple?”

  2. The model on the cover is Asian.

  3. It’s actually the second cover my publisher created. The first was beautiful, but much darker, almost paranormal looking (to my eye), so I’m thrilled with the modern feel of the cover they went with.

  4. My editor, because she’s awesome, asked me which dress I liked best for the cover shoot. No comment on whether or not she went with my favorite.

  5. As a teenager, I wouldn’t have touched the color pink with a stick. (Anybody else remember grunge?) I’ve recovered. Now I love pink and even wear it occasionally, which is good because my second book has a pink cover too.

More buzz about Ms. Martinez's second novel...

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep, and the secret that tears them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly's thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands them both in serious trouble.

Amelia's not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to…but the situation is even worse than either of them realizes. Amelia has no choice but to give up everything--her friends, her future, her dream--in order to cover for Charly’s huge mistake.

Amelia doesn't understand how her sister could have done this to them both. What she doesn't know is that Charly is hiding a terrible secret—one with the potential to change everything.
Thank you, Jessica, for sharing some tidbits behind your debut's cover!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Teen Book Scene: Marni's Awkward Past

Introducing the author of Awkward, Marni Bates...

My autobiography MARNI (part of HCI's Louder Than Words series) was on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List. I then signed a four book contract with KTeen and my first YA novel AWKWARD comes out January 1, 2012. In my free time I can be found reading romance novels, rollerblading, singing really loudly (and off-key) in public and . . . watching copious amounts of television.

Onto Marni's book recommendations to her past self...

Marni at age 5: The Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osbourne because Jack and Annie are awesome. Hmm . . . I was obsessed with King Arthur and would read anything magical I could get my hands on. I can't remember any of the specific titles though. My mom read novels aloud to us and she recorded herself doing it. I fell asleep every night listening to my mom read The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. I didn't understand a huge chunk of them as a little kid, but I'm so glad I had that experience growing up.

Marni at age 11: I fell in love with Gordon Korman. Some of my favorites are no longer in print (a travesty of epic proportions) but Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road?, No More Dead Dogs, and The Twinkie Squad are all easy to buy. The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom, I Want to Go Home, and Who is Bugs Potter? are worth the effort to track down.
So. Freaking. Good.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews is another must read. It completely changed my world view as a kid.

Oh, and I grew up with Harry Potter, which was a really special experience. I felt like the two of us were aging together and even though I'm still miffed that I didn't get my owl, I adore those books. I highly recommend the series, just don't read the final epilogue. It's . . . how should I put this? Grrr!!!

Marni at age 16: Time for some books about girls kicking butt! I love Tamora Pierce! I think she does a fantastic job of writing strong female characters who have important things to deal with (like, you know, saving the world) and who don't rely on men to protect them. Strong heroines are my favorite and Tamora Pierce provides quite a collection of them.

Meg Cabot also writes some really great female leads. Sometimes her heroines start out a little on the weak side, but it's nice to watch them become increasingly assertive and confident. My favorites have to be the Mediator and the 1-800-Where-R-U series. Suze and Jess deal with these crazy intense situations and yet they remain classy and strong. And the guys? Let's just say I've spent more than a few hours swooning over Jesse and Rob.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing but one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. It's a brilliant account of a girl dealing with the aftermath of rape. This novel isn't one you should pick up lightly, but if you think you can handle it, I highly recommend it. Definitely changed my life.

More recent finds: Ally Carter's The Heist Society. Erica O'Rourke's Torn, Jennifer Estep's Touch of Frost, Brigid Kemmerer's Storm (Not yet released), and Nina Berry's Otherkin (Not yet released). All excellent female driven stories that you won't want to put down. (Side note: I only recommend really nice authors, the type who will probably tweet you back if you track 'em down on Twitter. Personally, I find reading a great novel even more rewarding when it's written by a genuinely kind individual. So let's support them by buying their books!)

Marni at age 20: Okay, my recommendations for 16 year olds definitely apply to 20 year olds. In fact, the two are so hard to separate because I really think it depends on the maturity of the reader. So definitely check those out!

That said, I also love romance novels. And even though I started reading them my sophomore year in high school, not everyone feels comfortable with some of the steamy scenes at that age. For those of you who are interested, I want to recommend some real winners.

Tessa Dare. Her books are funny and sexy and absolutely irresistible. My personal favorite has to be A Night to Surrender and I am eagerly awaiting A Week to be Wicked. She's just . . . brilliant. And she's also super sweet in real life. We've chatted over Twitter a few times and I'm making real progress with my fangirl-ing. I now only nearly hyperventilate.

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Victoria Dahl . . . okay, too many fantastic authors for me to provide a detailed account in one blog post. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) does an excellent job of honoring excellence in the field, so you should check out RITA winners (and nominees) for more ideas once you've read everything I've listed.

Oh, and did I mention Awkward by Marni Bates? I'm pretty fond of that one too. Not that I'm biased or anything . . .


Mackenzie Wellesley has spent her life avoiding the spotlight. At Smith High, she's the awkward junior people only notice when they need help with homework. Until she sends a burly football player flying with her massive backpack and makes a disastrous - not to mention unwelcome - attempt at CPR. Before the day is out, the whole fiasco explodes on YouTube. And then the strangest thing happens. Suddenly, Mackenzie is an Internet sensation, with four million hits and counting. Sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes, she even catches the eye of the most popular guy at school. And that's when life gets really interesting...

Thanks to Marni and Teen Book Scene!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winners: Two copies of Cobbogoth

Factoids: 17 entries, 7 entrants...

Congrats to...

Stacy W. and Holly H.

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway! For those who didn't win, make sure to check out my other giveaway going on right now for Here by Denise Swank.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Teen Book Scene: Cobbogoth Teenage Garage Sale

Introducing the author of Cobbogoth, Hannah L. Clark...

Hannah L. Clark was born and raised in central Utah. She has been creating stories since age four, but used to record her earliest adventures on tape, "DJ Style," on account of the difficulties she faced as a dyslexic. In 2006 she earned her Bachelor's Degree in English from Utah Valley University and shortly thereafter began seriously writing her first novel, Cobbogoth. Hannah currently lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband, Michael and their son, where she actively seeks to inspire kids and adults by speaking about her experiences of becoming an author in spite of her dyslexia.

Favorite Quote: "Whatever you think you can or can't do, you're right." -Henry Ford

Onto the author's own teenage garage sale...

No Doubt: Tragic Kingdom CD - $5

Delta High School Rabbit Mascot Uniform (I was the first female mascot in our school. I believe I started a trend.) - $15

Half used bottle of Old Navy perfume - $2

Tie-dyed quilt made by me - $10 (it was my first real sewing project and was a little pathetic, but worked great for sleeping on dirty bus floors on my way home from track meets)

Track spikes - $15

Beatles Anthology cassette tape collection I got from a boy in 8th grade - $5

The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes audio collection - $10

My old paper route carrier bag - $2

My 10-speed bike “Rusty” - $5 (My dad got it from Good Will and fixed it up for the paper route I took on as a 12-year-old)

Favorite copies of—which I would never even think about selling in real life—Jane Eyre, Little Women, and Great Expectations.

Finally, knowing my mom, she probably would’ve turned the yard sale into a full on event and made her town-famous spud nuts, (donuts with mashed potatoes in them—you just have to try them to understand), jubilee-jumbles, and divinity to sale for $.50 apiece.

To seventeen-year-old Norah Lukens, the Cobbogothians were just a myth. But after her archeologist uncle's brutal murder, and being asked to translate one of his old research journals for evidence, she begins a journey to discover the truth for herself.

Chasing the myth her uncle was obsessed with, Norah learns that his murder was a cover up for something far more sinister. If she hopes to save others from suffering the same fate he did--including the peculiarly magnetic James Riley--she must head to Iceland in order to find out the truth once and for all.

If she succeeds, she'll gain the one thing she's always longed for.

But if she fails, not even the gods can help her.

Thanks to Hannah and Teen Book Scene!