Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Crash (Visions #1) by Lisa McMann

Let me just start by saying how much I am loving PulseIt, the website where you can download and read YA books for free. This time I got to read a new book by an author I've enjoyed in the past. Lisa McMann has written many novels and I've read most of them. Her stories are pretty action packed with great underdog main characters experiencing something paranormal. Here's my review of Crash (Visions #1):

Jules lives with her brother, sister, eternally optimistic mother, and depressed, hoarder father above their family's Italian restaurant. She's been in love with Sawyer, the son of the rival Italian restaurant family, ever since they were kids. Jules has been seeing something strange lately. Like a movie trailer, everywhere she looks--from billboards to computers to tv screens, she sees the same scene: a crash, an explosion, and nine body bags. One of those body bags is open and in it is Sawyer. What does it mean? Is Jules going crazy? After ignoring it for days, Jules finally slows the images down and looks for details. Maybe this is a vision and she's supposed to do something to prevent it. All Jules knows is that she can't let Sawyer die. She tries to warn him but of course he thinks she's crazy. Finally, Jules figures out the day the crash is going to happen. What she does will completely change the outcome and what happens afterwards will shock those left standing.

**Lisa McMann is a great writer of stories with realistic settings and characters experiencing strange, paranormal occurences. I loved our MC Jules and her very realistic crush-from-afar on Sawyer. Who among us hasn't had one of those crushes? And even better, who didn't crush on someone their parents didn't approve of? The rivalry between Jules and Sawyer's families was interesting and very Romeo and Juliet-esque. I wanted to know why these two families hated each other and when it was finally revealed, I was pleasantly surprised. There were times while reading though, that I felt like the story dragged. Jules's wondering what was happening to her and what she should do about it slowed the story down and made me impatient to get to the inevitable crash. All in all this was a fast, short read that had a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers wondering what happens next. 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Book Releases

Another Monday, another list of new YA book releases. There are several good ones I'm excited about so let's get started! Goodreads links are under the title.

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
**I read Kagawa's IRON FEY series and was pretty impressed. This looks promising and buzz is already circulating on how good it is.

The Program by Suzanne Young

Life after Theft by Aprilynne Pike
**I read her WINGS series (check my labels if you want to see a review) and really liked her writing. This books sounds pretty interesting and people on Twitter are saying good things about it.

The Loop by Shandy Lawson

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson
**I read the first book in this series, Ultraviolet, and really enjoyed it. 

Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer
**2nd book in the IMMORTAL CITY series.

Chosen at Nightfall by C.C. Hunter
**5th book in the SHADOW FALLS series. 

The Elite by Kiera Cass
**Book #2 in THE SELECTION series. I asked my library to order these because they are so popular. The CW might even make them into a tv show!

Thanks for stopping by! See you back here tomorrow.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: Starters by Lissa Price

I'm pretty sure this was another book I saw a recommendation for on EW. If I remember correctly, the author talked about how she only planned on doing two books to tell this story--a duology. I thought this was really cool because it seems like all you find these days are trilogies. It's hard to even find a good stand-alone book. Hooray for Price for deciding to be different. Here's my summary of Starters:

In a dystopian future, all that's left after the genocide spore are those who were vaccinated--the old and the young. Basically, everyone between 20 and 60 was killed by the virus. Medical advances allow those that are over 60 to live past the century mark. They're referred to as "Enders." Callie, her brother Tyler, and her best friend Michael--all "Starters," have no grandparents to claim them so they spend their days as squatters trying to find food and stay alive. When Callie hears about a company offering a lot of money to teens willing to rent their bodies to enders for a short time period, allowing those enders to get to be young again, she eagerly accepts. This will be her chance to get medicine for her brother and a real home for all three of them. Callie agrees to have a chip implanted in her brain and rent her body to an old lady. But the chip malfunctions and Callie wakes up living in the rich lady's home, driving her car, hanging out with her other ender friends in rented bodies, and even dating the grandson of the Senator. Then Callie discovers something horrific--the old lady wants to use her body to commit murder. And that's not all--the company and the man in charge of the renting has chilling secrets that no one could ever have dreamed anyone capable of. And just when things couldn't possibly get any worse--a renter turns up in a body Callie never expected.

**This book hooked me from page one and didn't let me go until I finished. Fast paced and full of weird science and set in a scary future, I loved Callie's story. Her voice was just what you'd expect from a 16-year-old girl who has no family except a little brother. The lengths she goes to to keep them safe is impressive. I loved the friendship between Callie and Michael and had high hopes it would turn into something more. But then when Callie starts dating Blake, the Senator's grandson, I kinda ended up liking him too. The twists and turns and revelations this book had were always unexpected and often had me gasping in surprise. The ending completely shocked me. I can't wait to read the conclusion to Callie's story when Enders comes out next year.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you have a book suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

When deciding what book to review today I realized, I don't read a lot of books by male authors. I started scrolling through my Amazon list (yes I keep a list of all the books I've read over the last few years!) looking for a young adult book written by a male writer that I had read. Well, I didn't have to look too long. I came across Every Day, which I read back in October. It too was a recommendation from EW's Shelf Life. Levithan is a popular author who is well known for writing and co-writing several very loved YA stories. Here's my summary of Every Day:

Meet A. For as long as A can remember, he wakes up each day in the body of someone else. He doesn't know why this happens, who his parents are, or if it will ever stop. He has vague memories of being a young child but doesn't know if he ever had a real, actual body or identity. A has rules in which he lives by as he goes through his strange life. He stays under the radar, doesn't get too attached to people, and doesn't interfere in the body's life. But when A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend Rhiannon, all those rules are thrown out the window. Rhiannon is like no one A has ever met before. A finds himself acting like, well, himself. Not at all like who he is supposed to be, Justin. Rhiannon couldn't be happier. Her jerk of a boyfriend is finally being the guy she fell in love with. Rhiannon and A spend the entire day together like any other happy teenage couple and when night comes A couldn't be more sad. As much as he hopes he can stay in Justin's body, he knows it won't happen. The next day A wakes up a few hours away from Rhiannon and in a new body. He quickly decides he has to find Rhiannon and tell her the truth. It takes a few days and many different bodies but Rhiannon finally agrees to get to know A better. But how can two people ever really be together if one of them wakes up a new person in a different place every day? 

**The concept of this story was one I wasn't sure I would get into. Before the logistics were explained and I got to know our MC, it just seemed strange. Once I really dove in and got used to A and his personality, I loved it! A really made you feel the difficulties of being adrift in life and how much of who we are is tied to having our own body and most importantly, family and friends. A has no one. He is all alone living the lives of other people. He tries to make things better for those people when he can--his own way of leaving his mark on the world. So as difficult as it was to watch him deceive Rhiannon, I understood. Who would believe the truth? I was so glad when A chucked caution to the wind and did just that, told her the truth. And I was even happier when Rhiannon finally accepted A for who he was. I loved how this story asked so many questions about self and identity and most importantly, how we love. Do we love the person we are with or the shell they are in?

Thanks for hanging out with me! Feel free to comment below and come back soon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Signs are everywhere...

I saw this street sign in the neighborhood next to mine as I was cutting through trying to find a faster way to HEB (stupid road construction!) I had to stop and take a picture because, what are the odds?? Maybe fate is on my side and sending me a sign...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing Tips: Log Lines and Pitches

A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet about a "pitch your book" contest on a website called Savvy Authors. The literary agent to pitch to was someone I had on my list of agents I'd eventually query so I decided to check it out. I was hesitant at first because she wanted a 5 word or less log line and a 25 word or less pitch. I had never tried to sum up my book in a log line or short sentence before and I didn't even know where to start. I researched log lines and pitches on Google and here's what I found:

A log line (most commonly used for movies) is one sentence that describes your book. Think of a movie poster. For example, for one of the Jaws movies their log line was: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water... Now you can do something like this or you can make a comparison. When I first saw the book The Selection by Kiera Cass it was always described as: The Bachelor meets Hunger Games. Sometimes those who want to hear or see your log line will give you a word count to stay under.

A pitch can be a little more flexible. Sometimes a pitch can be one sentence and other times (if the person you are pitching to says so) it can be longer. They may give you a line limit (like 3 lines) and a word count to stay under (in my contest it was under 25 words). A pitch needs to cover your main character, the major plot, or, what's at stake, and end with the reader wanting to find out more.

I worked on it for a few hours and for my novel I am Caraway, I came up with this:
5 word log line: The real reason faeries vanished. 
25 word pitch: In the year before the Norman Conquest, one girl, in love with the faerie prince, learns she is fated to save mankind from faeries.

Well, I ended up not winning ): But that's alright. Savvy Authors has plenty of pitching opportunities going on all the time so I'm sure I'll enter another one again soon. Here's a link if you're interested: http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/content.php

Hopefully this helped you a little if you're trying to figure out pitches and log lines. They can be tough, trust me! It's really hard to sum up your book, especially if you've never had to before. But when you go to writer's conferences these are things you'll need to have handy. Plus, if you get lucky enough to find representation, your literary agent has to use things like log lines and pitches in order to get editors interested in your book and hopefully buy it. So, pain in the butt they are it seems they're also a necessary evil in the world or writing. 

Good luck! Feel free to comment below and check back again soon for more tips and reviews!

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Book Releases

It's new release Monday and I have a few titles that just came out that I though I'd share with you. Their Goodreads links are here as well.

Taken by Erin Bowman
I've read some advanced praise for this and it seems like it might be a good read. 

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting
The last in her BODY FINDER series, I have seen a lot of people on Twitter happy with this book or excited to read it.

What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Breenan
This is a new novella series that these two authors started. It branches off from Clare's MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and INFERNAL DEVICES books and centers around the very fun character Magnus Bane. Super excited about this one.

True by Hilary Duff
The last of her ELIXER trilogy, I've heard a lot of people are happy with the way this story ends.

Thanks for stopping by! See you back here tomorrow.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review: True by Erin McCarthy

While browsing Twitter the other day, I came across a tweet saying Goodreads had a free download of Erin McCarthy's new adult book novel, True, available for a short time. I decided to try it out. It was my first new adult title and while it took me a bit to get used to the more mature nature of the story, I ended up really liking it. Usually when you read young adult books the sex that's in them is very subtly described and not something that happens often. That doesn't seem to be the case with these new adult books. The sex is very descriptive and in the case of True, the main focus of the story. Here's my summary:

Rory is a twenty year old college student on her way to becoming a doctor. She's a bit socially awkward, an introvert, honest, and oh yeah, she's also a virgin. But not by choice or principal. She just hasn't had anyone interested in her that way. When her roommates hear this, they decide to help Rory out. Unbeknownst to her, they enlist bad boy Tyler to sleep with Rory. But Tyler isn't quite the bad boy he seems. He knows he's no good for Rory. He comes from a broken home and a druggie mother and all he wants is to finish the EMT program and take his younger brothers out of the hell their mother puts them in. But the offer to get to know Rory better is too tempting. Tyler has been interested in Rory for quite some time. They start spending time together and pretty soon they both realize they are falling in love. When Tyler's home life threatens to destroy everything will they do the smart thing and stay away from each other or will they let their passion and love rule out?

**This book started out as a bit of a shocker to me. Casual sex is being had around our twenty year old college girl main character. I had to stop for a second and go, ok, twenty isn't that young and casual sex is very common. Not in young adult books but in new adult books and definitely in college. Once I got past this, I started to get into the story. It had great pacing in the beginning. We learned about our characters and Rory's dilemma and started to get to know her love interest. But after a little while, during the time Rory and Tyler were getting to know each other, the story started to drag a little. Sometimes I was like, "Just have sex already!" I really liked Rory and her friends and Tyler turned out to be much more than originally thought. All in all, for a free read, this story was great. The sex described was tasteful and the problems the couple faced realistic. New adult is a genre I could get used to and one I hope to read more of.

Thanks for stopping by! See you back here soon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Adult Books

Recently I have been seeing a lot of tweets and articles about an emerging genre called "New Adult." Interested, I started doing some research on just what this means. What I've found is people describing it as a bridge genre. It closes the gap between young adult fiction and adult fiction--the time period where the main character or characters have moved out of their parent's house and are living on their own for the first time. This is typically the college years and early twenties. The characters are experiencing their first adult jobs and relationships and the sex is often more descriptive than in young adult novels. The characters are learning the life lessons that go along with not only more adult relationships but also the difficulties of being on their own, navigating early adult life, and the responsibilities that come along with all of this. 

Now there aren't a whole lot of agents and publishers out there that are embracing this genre, if you can even call it that right now. Most people submitting new adult manuscripts are being told to make their MC either younger or older. New adult is a gamble for publishers because it's just that, new. There's not a clear audience for it yet and they argue that many adult books feature MCs that are in their early twenties--there isn't a need to start drawing lines at ages and giving a cut off for when YA ends or when NA should end and adult should begin. Publishers and agents are still figuring out if NA is just a market trend or if it's a genre that's here to stay. After all, it wasn't that long ago that young adult books even got their own section in book stores and libraries. So because of the hurdles NA authors are facing, those penning NA stories are going the route of self-publishing rather than traditional publishing. A few authors have gotten lucky in this department and have had a lot of success. So much so that they've been able to broker some lucrative print book deals too. 

Personally, I think new adult books are great. As an adult who loves YA, every once in a while I get the urge to read something a little more grown up. New adult fits that desire for me. And now that I have started a new manuscript, I've been thinking about it even more. For some reason I tend to write books that don't neatly fit a mainstream audience. My first completed manuscript is a young adult historical fantasy. Faeries in the year 1065 England...not everyone's cup of tea. Now I've started something that I may be able to market as YA but might actually better fit as NA. I've read a few new adult books and I have to say, I like this genre and I hope it sticks. I hope that by time I'm ready to submit, it will be even more accepted.

To finish, I thought I'd include a link to Goodreads. It's a list of some popular new adult titles. These have had great success and film rights on at least one have been optioned. 


Let me know what you think in the comments below. Have you read any NA books? Do you think it needs it's own section in bookstores and libraries?  

Thanks for stopping by! Check back with me on Saturday--I'll have a review of an NA book I just finished reading and I'll let you know what I think.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

When I grabbed this book from my library, I was desperate for something to read. I had a bunch of books on hold that I was waiting on and I needed something to tide me over. For me, not having a book to read is unacceptable. I need to have the option available whether I'm in the mood or not. I was itching for some good historical fiction and this one caught my eye. I don't remember studying too much on Cleopatra in school and she is such an interesting historical figure that I thought, what the heck. After reading the back jacket I saw that this book wasn't even about Cleopatra--it's about her daughter. Even better--a fresh perspective! Here's my summary:

Cleopatra Selene is the only daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony. She's hailed as a princess and is training to become the next priestess of the goddess of Isis. When her parent's biggest enemy, Octavianus, storms the island of Pharos where they live, the worst happens. Selene watches as her beloved father dies in front of her. She only gets moments with her mother before she too is taken away. Not long later Selene hears the wails of the other priestesses and knows her mother is dead. Rather than staying alive and fighting, Cleopatra gave her life over to Octavianus. Selene and her brothers are quickly taken away and marched through their home streets in chains. Then Octavianus puts them aboard his ship to Rome to live at his palace as prisoners. On the voyage over, Cleopatra loses one of her brothers. Once they get to Rome, she is quickly separated from the other. Selene does everything in her power to remain true to her heritage and does whatever she can to plot and plan with her mother's advisors to take back control of Egypt. She wants to be the great queen her mother was. But what price will she have to pay to accomplish that? Her best shot is to ally herself with Octavianus' nephew, Marcellus. But then something unexpected happens--Selene falls in love with another one of the prisoners, Juba. But Juba has his own plans for his future that don't involve following Selene back home. So should Selene follow her heart and forge a new path with Juba or should she try to uphold her mother's dying wishes--that she become the next great queen. Just when the fight for her life and her future can't get any more dangerous, Cleopatra is betrayed by someone she thought she could trust. And the future she ends up with isn't at all what she expected.

**I can probably gush over this book all day. I had no idea I would be so interested in such an ancient time period but I was. Selene's character is one of the toughest female protaganists I have ever read. What she endures--the loss, the struggle to keep her family together, the fight to make her mother proud--made me cry more than once. I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet and tender first love between Selene and Juba; it felt authentic for who they were and the time in which they lived. Although Selene doesn't get the happy ever after you really want for her, what she does get is something almost as good. My only complaint was that there were a lot of minor characters in the story but I saw the need for each of them to be there. And Shecter had a complete cast of characters list in the opening pages that was a nice flip reference. What was after the story was cool too. Shecter's author's note was filled with additional interesting information on those involved and she even provided resources you can go to for more learning. Cleopatra's Moon is a great read that I can't recommend enough!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below and come back to see me soon!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I often read the "shelf life" section of EW.com for book reviews and author interviews and never once have I been disappointed with a book they've recommended. Cinder was one of those books. When I saw it, I thought: "oh great, here's another retelling of Cinderella. And with cyborgs? Seriously?" But since EW has never steered me wrong I decided to give it ago. Needless to say, EW was right. Here's my summary:

Cinder is a cyborg. She and many other androids live among the humans of New Beijing. Cinder is also a mechanic. She spends her days fixing what's broken and hanging out with her only friend, a full on robot. She puts up with her awful stepmother's constant berating and ordering her around. You see, her stepmother blames her for her stepsister's illness. But illness is everywhere in New Beijing. People are disappearing and dying all the time. When Prince Kai comes to Cinder and asks for her help fixing his android, Cinder immediately gets pulled into palace politics and intrigue. But she wants nothing to do with all the lies, secrets, and betrayals that are all too common among the royals. And try as she might, Cinder can't seem to ignore her growing feelings for Kai. But what chance could she possibly have with the Prince? Then Cinder learns Kai may have to marry Queen Levana. She's the ruler of the Lunars, those who live on the moon. When Cinder intercepts a transmit from a girl named Scarlet, she learns that the Lunars and their Queen aren't all they seem. But what is it they want?

**I enjoyed this book so much. The New Beijing Meyer has created is filled with science and technology and the characters are dynamic and full of life. Cyborg or android, you don't even notice her writing is that good! The slow growing of friendship into love between Cinder and Kai is sweet and realistic. While there were many aspects similar to the original Cinderella, Meyer goes far beyond the fairy tale to create a unique story that is much more modern and relatable. The next book in the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet (yes that's Little Red Riding Hood!) is sure to be a big hit.

Thanks for stopping by and reading another review. See you back here again tomorrow!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Upcoming Young Adult Book Festivals

I decided to do this post because I think book festivals are so much fun. They're a great place to meet authors, especially local ones. You can get your books signed, hear interesting speakers, score some cool swag, attend workshops, and enjoy the company of fellow book lovers. I put together a list of some upcoming young adult book festivals I've found that are all in Texas. I'm hoping to attend a few myself. Bear in mind this is not a complete list and feel free to leave me a comment if you know of more.

Teen Book Con--Houston, TX: April, 20th 2013

YAB Fest--Round Rock, TX: May 11, 2013

Austin Teen Book Festival--Austin, TX: September 28, 2013

YAK Fest--Keller, TX: January 25, 2014

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

I originally heard of this book when a lot of people on Twitter started talking about it. Then Literary Rambles did an interview with the author. I read the interview and loved what the author had to say about how she came up with the idea for her story and what it was like writing the characters. I knew I wanted to read this book and was very excited when my library ordered it. But then I saw a tweet that Pulseit, the website I recommended on Friday, was offering a free reading of Let the Sky Fall! Score! I signed up with the website and started reading. Here's my summary:

Vane Weston is a "miracle child." He survived a category 5 tornado that killed his parents and didn't have a scratch on him. But he has no memory of his life from that day or before. He was quickly adopted and moved across the country where he has a great relationship with his new parents. But every night he is haunted in his dreams by a dark-haired girl. Vane doesn't know if she's real but he feels connected to her. So much so that he can't seem to have a successful date with any other girl. Then one night, determined to have his first kiss, he instead gets caught up in a wind storm and meets Audra. She tells him she is his guardian. Vane is not human. He, like Audra, is a sylph--an air elemental. Sylphs can control the wind, understand it's languages, and shape it into a weapon. Audra needs Vane to start training because the Stormers, the people who killed both their families, are coming for them. Vane has to learn the 4 languages of the winds. He is the last West and if he can master all the wind languages he will be the most powerful sylph. He will take his place as King and hopefully defeat Raiden, the Stormer who is slowly killing all the guardians. But in order to teach Vane what he needs to know, Audra must unlock Vane's memories--memories that once he get's back, might forever change the love he feels for her. And Audra doesn't want this; she's falling in love with Vane too. 

**I loved this book! Messenger has created a story unlike anything I have ever read. The sylph mythology is unique and interesting and the way she writes about the air is like poetry. Vane is your typical teenage boy that just wants to be normal and kiss girls. And Audra is so realistic that I felt like I knew her! She's experienced some tough things in her life but instead of wallowing she put up a wall up and became the best guardian she could be. I loved how dedicated she was to her job and to Vane. I thought her character was made even more interesting in that she didn't even realize she had feelings for Vane. We got to see her discover that and come to terms with the things her feelings have made her do and the consequences of acting on those feelings. And Vane was so sweet in letting Audra figure everything out and deal with her demons. He pushed her just enough to get her to realize how she felt but not so much that it caused her to close up even more. I can't wait to see where Vane and Audra end up in the next book and to learn the repercussions of all the events that transpired in Let the Sky Fall.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below and I will see you tomorrow.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I picked this book up because the cover was cool and I love the title. 'Unbecoming?' What could that mean? My best guess was that some girl was either going to go over the edge insane or over the edge psycho. I read the inside flap and was intrigued but it was vague so I didn't know what to expect. When I finished all I could think was "Wow! This book was awesome!" Like all the other summaries out there, I can't give you too much information because it would completely ruin it for you. Here's my summary:

Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital and has no memory how she got there. She quickly learns she was involved in an accident with her friends and that they are dead. Mara however, is unharmed. Quick witted, observant, and not afraid to speak her mind, Mara deals with her PTSD and the hallucinations that go along with it and starts trying to figure out exactly what happened to her and her friends. She feels there's something more going on with why she was unharmed and why she can't remember the accident. Slowly though, the details begin to emerge in bits and pieces of memory flashes. And all the while, Mara is falling in love with Noah. He's the perfect counterpart to her shock-value sense of humor and the two of them together balance each other out in a way that is good for them both. Together they discover what happened to Mara and her friends. What they find will completely turn their world upside down.

**So this is one of those books I started reading thinking I'd take my time and read it over the course of a week. Well, I was wrong. Once I got past the first chapter it was like, BAM! Mara drew me in and didn't let go. Hodkin brilliantly creates a world that is believable and full of major and minor characters that are so well drawn you can't help but love them all in their own way. The love between Noah and Mara will have you at times laughing out loud and fanning yourself. When I got to the end and learned just what the big mystery was, I was blown away. Not very many books surprise me and that's saying a lot since I read like 7 books a month. This book shocked me with it's surprise ending. It is completely unexpected and will have you clamoring to get you hands on the next book to find out more. Book 2 in the Mara Dyer trilogy, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, is already out and I need to read it ASAP!

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment below and come back Sunday for another post!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

YA Book Giveaways

There's not a whole lot out there right now but what is looks pretty good. Here are a few links:

YA Book Central: http://www.yabookscentral.com/component/content/article/25-info/10186-this-months-giveaways. Their website says they'll be adding more as the month goes on so check back weekly. Also, I've started Let the Sky Fall and it is awesome!

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/tag/ya?id=ya. They have tons so scroll through the pages and see what interests you.

Pulseit: http://www.pulseit.com/. I discovered this one from Twitter. Just sign up with their website and you can read books for free! They have a different one every week or two. (This is how I'm reading Let the Sky Fall)

Literary Rambles: http://www.literaryrambles.com/2013/04/erin-bowman-interview-and-taken-giveaway.html. Love this site! They are very generous with their giveaways.

Good luck! I hope you win something!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My First Query!

Last month I set a goal for myself to have queried at least one agent by the end of April. I love the month of April. Spring is in the air, Easter comes (usually), my daughter has her birthday, and both of my anniversaries (yes I have two!) are all in this month. I thought I'd be a little superstituous and use some of these happy days to query agents. Well, today is one of those days! My husband and I have been married 9 years today!! When he got home from work he stood next to me while I hit the "send" button and queried my first agent! While I knew nothing would happen right away expcept for maybe an automated response, I was still super nervous and excited. I plan to send two more queries on my daughter's birthday on Thursday and the final two of my top five on my other anniversary on the 22nd. Even if nothing ever comes of my book and all the agents send me big fat rejection emails, I am still so proud that I got to this point. I wrote a book and I put myself out there. To those who know me, this is a huge deal. I'll let you know how it goes!

Here's the picture my hubby took right before I hit "send."

Thanks for stopping by! Check back tomorrow for some YA book giveaways.

Monday, April 8, 2013

New Book Releases

So I decided to add another type of post to my blog. Each Monday I will give a list of newly released YA books that I think are worth giving a read and that are generating some buzz. This is not a comprehensive list of all new releases, just the ones that caught my eye. I'll give you the link to the books' Goodreads pages so you can see what they're about, see what others are saying, and add them to your "to read" list if you agree with me.  

The Sweetest Dark by Shanna Abe

**Haven't seen anything about this but the synopsis looks promising. Magic, England, mystery boys and maybe dragons? Mysterious and fantastical and right up my alley!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
**There's been a lot of buzz about this one. Winters has been doing a blog tour so she's done several interviews and contests for advanced copies of her debut book. There's been a lot of high praise from other authors who've already read it too. 

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

**I read the first book in this series, Grave Mercy, not thinking it would be as good as it was. I tore through it pretty quickly. Dark Triumph is told by a different main character and is already getting a lot of praise for being just as good as the first. 

Rise by Anna Carey

**This is the last book in the EVE series and while I haven't read any of the other two, I might have to pick them up. A lot of people I follow on Twitter have been raving about these books and their conclusion, Rise.

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

**I read Armstrong's previous trilogy, the DARKEST POWERS trilogy, and I really enjoyed them. They're quick reads that are full of action. When her DARKNESS RISING trilogy started I knew I'd like them. This is the final installment and it promises a great conclusion.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you like my new post idea. See you back here tomorrow!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

I decided to read this book after I read an interview with the author on EW. In the article, Sepetys talked about how every time she did a book signing tons of people would show up mistaking her book for another with a similar title (yeah, you know the one!). She didn't mind though because most of those people, who not surprisingly were men, stayed for the reading. She figured even mistaken publicity was still publicity. Once I read this book, I immediately had to tell everyone I knew about it. Here's a summary:

It's 1939 and the Russians are invading Lithuania and forcing its citizens into labor and prison camps. Lina is a fifteen year old Lithuanian girl living a normal, happy life. She has a little brother she loves and a mom and dad she gets along great with. Everything seems fine until Soviet officers invade her home. They're told Lina's father is already on his way to a men's prison camp. With only minutes to pack, Lina's mom takes her kids aside and tries to prepare them for the horrors of what will surely lie ahead. Then Lina and her mom and brother are put on a crowded train where they spend months traveling across the country. They don't have showers or bathrooms and it doesn't take long before sickness and lice and all other manners of atrocities settle in. Constantly having to fight for their lives, food, and doing everything they can to stay together, Lina grows up quickly and does everything she can to try to find out if her father is still alive and where he is. She's hoping if she can get word to him, he'll find a way to save them. Eventually, with most already dead, Lina and her mother and brother end up in Siberia. The conditions there are not far from those of a Nazi concentration camp and the prisoners aren't treated much differently, only given the barest of clothes and shelter and food to survive. In the end, Lina learns that there are some things no one can ever take from you. She holds on to her art, her dignity, her hope, and her desire to live and doesn't let anyone change who she is.

**This is one of those books that you have to really prepare yourself for before reading. It's not a love story, at least not one between a boy and girl. It's more of a love story of a people for their country. Many die and the conditions described will not only horrify you but will also make you cry. Lina is strong and brave and you can't help but admire how she handles all that happens to her. As the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee, Sepetys writes this story in a way no one else could--with honesty, attention to detail, and a lot of heart. Lina's story will stay with you long after you are done reading it.

Thanks for checking out another review! Leave your comments below and I'll see you back here soon.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

In honor of the recent release of Fox Forever, the conclusion to the Jenna Fox Chronicles, I thought I'd review the first book in the trilogy--The Adoration of Jenna Fox. My sister insisted for a long time that I read this book. Since I wasn't sure I was in to sci-fi, I hesitated. When I finally did read it, I was blown away. This books is one of my all-time favorites. Here's a summary:

Seventeen year old Jenna Fox wakes up after being in a coma for a year. She has no memory of her life before the accident that put her there. She's in a secluded house with her grandmother and mother and rarely does her dad make an appearance. Through re-told stories about her life and home videos, Jenna slowly starts to piece together who she was before she lost all her memories. But she also realizes that her parents aren't telling her everything about what happened to her. When Jenna discovers the truth--the lengths her parents went through to save her from death, she is horrified. Jenna has to learn how to cope with her new life and deal with the emotional toll of parents who loved their child too much to let go. She begins to question what love is, what it means to be human and what place bio-medicine has in the ethics of humanity. 

**I can't say how much I love Jenna Fox, the book and the girl. The emotional journey Pearson takes you on in learning just who Jenna is will make you cry more than once. It's impossible not to put yourself in Jenna's place and feel what she feels. The question of bio-medical ethics is a very real one that many authors have explored but none have done as well as Pearson. You will ask all the questions you should, like: How far is too far to save your child? What does it really mean to be human? Is it possible to love someone too much? Where do we stop in trying to play God in medicine? As a mom it was very easy to see why Jenna's parents did what they did. But getting Jenna's perspective, actually living the journey with her, took the whole situation into that gray area of right vs. wrong. This is definitely a book I recommend you read. The follow up books, The Fox Inheritance and Fox Forever were stunning as well.

Thanks for reading! As usual, feel free to comment below.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

When I first found these books at a local bookstore, I knew I had to read them. I wanted something similar to Twilight--vampires and romance and theses promised just that. I loved this series! Maybe even more than Twilight! I'm not going to give a complete synopsis for each book since that's too hard to do without giving anything away. So here's an overview of the series:

Rose is a dhampir, a half-human half-vampire. Her best friend Lissa is the good kind of vampire, a moroi. Dhampirs are the protectors of the moroi. They go to private vampire schools with the moroi and learn how to fight and protect them against the bad vampires, the strigoi. All moroi vampires posses some kind of elemental magic. Lissa is different. She possesses a type of magic never before heard of--spirit. When Lissa and Rose are in a car accident with Lissa's family, Lissa unintentionally uses her spirit power to bring Rose back from the dead. Now Rose is what they call shadow-kissed--she's psychically connected to Lissa. Rose can feel Lissa's emotions and even see what she sees. This serves them well when Rose finds out that someone is trying to kill Lissa. Rose convinces Lissa to run away with her and live among the humans until the threat is gone. Rose is able to keep the two of them under the radar until Dimitri shows up. He is one of the fiercest dhampirs there is. He takes Rose down and gets her and Lissa back to Vampire Academy. There the two girls have to face the consequences of leaving and Rose has to catch up on her training so she can graduate and be chosen to protect Lissa. In the meantime, Rose can't help but fall for her calm, in control and also super hot dhampir mentor, Dimitri. When the worst happens and strigoi attack the campus, Rose loses someone very important to her. This person is turned into a strigoi. Rose takes off across the world on an impossible mission to save the person she lost by killing them. Along the way she's kidnapped, escapes, meets an Alchemist (people who help conceal vampires) and even learns who her father is. In the end, will she be able to kill this person she loves so that they don't have to immortally live out the life of a strigoi? Or will she try to find another way to save them? 

**Richelle Mead is an awesome storyteller. While some writers will create a main character that they say is strong and can kick butt, Mead does more than just say this about Rose. She shows it time and time again by constantly putting Rose into situations she has to fight her way out of. Rose's arc from a bratty, disobedient teen to a mature adult is so much fun to read. She's sassy and sexy and tough yet somehow also very relatable. Lissa and Rose's complications from Lissa's spirit use and Rose's being shadow-kissed is interesting. The threats that keep coming whether it be from the strigoi or from inside enemies will keep you turning the pages. But most of all, Rose's relationship and love for Dimitri will have your at turns crying and rejoicing. This is a must read series that gives a different take on vampires. It's actually more of a story of friendship and love and the lengths we'll go to to protect those we care about. And even better: they're making a movie due to come out sometime next year!!

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sick Days

Taking a couple of sick days to get me and my daughter over a stomach bug. Check back Thursday for a new post. Should it be a book review or a list of current YA book giveaways?...hmmm...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Writing Tips: Synopsis

Oh the dreaded synopsis. I'll admit, when I was compiling a list of the top 5 agents I wanted to query part of my decision making process was eliminating (for now) the ones that wanted a synopsis. I was having a hard enough time editing my manuscript, getting my word count down, and drafting the query letter--I wasn't ready to take on another task that everyone said was really hard. Once I got the aforementioned completed, I started researching what a synopsis was. I knew I'd have to do one at some point so may as well get it over with. Here's what I learned:

Basically a synopsis is a one page (can be more--depends on the agent/editor) overview of all the major plot points and characters of your manuscript. You don't have to worry about getting it in the right voice--in fact, the dryer the better. And you don't want to be vague. Agents and editors want to see that you can properly develop and tell a story from start to finish. That's right, you need to put in your synopsis how your story ends. Put characters names in ALL CAPS on the first mention, tell the setting, and make sure to name your stakes. They need to see what motivates your main character to do what they do. Only put sub plots in if they drive the main plot and keep your minor character mentions down to around 5. 

Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised at how hard this actually is. Surprisingly, I had an easier time with the synopsis than I did the query. The dry, tell it like it is formula of the synopsis was easier for me to do than the voice-filled, give them some but leave them wanting more approach of the query.  

Here are some websites that helped me craft my synopsis:






Well, that's all for today! Thanks for stopping by and feel free to comment below. See you back here tomorrow!