Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Inside Out News

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder will be in bookstores April 1, 2010. So today, we have the pleasure to share some amazing stuff with you.

THE TRAILER:





THE WEBSITE:
Click here to visit the site.

You can read the first three chapters of Inside Out, as well as participate in fun activities.

You can also visit Maria V. Snyder's website for more information about the books: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/.

LINKS from Reading Rocks:

Interview with Maria

Inside Out review

Poison Study review

Magic Study review

Fire Study review

Storm Glass review

Sea Glass review

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti

Grade: A

Synopsis:


Eighteen-year-old Indigo Skye feels like she has it all - a waitress job she loves, an adorable refrigerator-delivery-guy boyfriend, and a home life that's slightly crazed but rich in love. Until a mysterious man at the restaurant leaves her a 2.5 million-dollar tip, and her life as she knew it is transformed.

At first its amazing: a hot new car, enormous flat-screen TV, and presents for everyone she cares about. She laughs off the warnings that money changes people, that they come to rely on what they have instead of who they are. Because it won't happen...not to her. Or will it? What do you do when you can buy anything your heart desires -- but what your heart desires can't be bought?

This is the story of a girl who gets rich, gets lost, and ultimately finds her way back - if not to where she started, then to where she can start again.

Ratings:

Character Development: 9/10

Originality: 3/10

Overall Enjoyment: 7/10

Ending: 8/10

Voice: 6/10

Plot: 8/10

Setting: 10/10

Total Score: 51/70


Obtained: Library.


Age Appropriate? PG-13


Cussing: Yes, a huge amount of casual cussing, especially of the F-word.

Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Lots of discussion of smoking, teen drug use and drinking, and one underage drinking scene, mentions adult drunkenness.

Sexual Content: Mild.

Disturbing Images/Violence: None.


Review:

This was a touching, easily read book with a universal message and an upbeat rhythm. Indigo's life was both believable and interesting, and I had no problem being consumed by her world, despite its flaws. While I was not as utterly captivated by this adventure as I was with The Nature of Jade, another book by Deb Caletti, it was doubtlessly a worthwhile read.

Indigo was a character whom I liked but did not like. I think she is much like most teenagers. Her decisions were pretty naive, her voice was occasionally annoying, and her thought-process was unclear. But overall, she was made for a lovable protagonist whose development throughout the novel was steady and realistic.

The strong point of The Fortunes of Indigo Skye was definitely the theme of the power money has to corrupt. It was delicate but not at all hidden, almost blatantly stated for the reader at several points. It's something you cannot miss. But at the same time, I thought that it was flawlessly executed. It lacked the cheese of some other similar stories, and the emotional aspect of receiving $2.5 million at random--confusion, honor, fear, surprise, rebirth--was deeply thought-out and carefully crafted. It was not at all cliche. All in all, a charming read.

LINKS:

Deb Caletti

Nature of Jade Review


YA Trends

A comment we received has sparked my interest, and I've decided to share.

YA Trends: The ins and outs of the bookish world. We go through cycles of what books are popular, what books authors are rapidly producing, and what books we're excited to read.

So what's the trend now?

Here's what Story Love (our wonderful commenter) has to say:

"No longer are we plagued with the same predictable and worn-out stories about the supernatural. Instead, we are faced with a new generation of emotional tales that offer meaningful and valuable insight to the biggest hardships we face in life.

Death is the new trend. I'm both frightened and fascinated by the concept. What startles me more is how much I've embraced the subject and how eager I am to let myself sink into it. I think this sudden shift is something that many YA readers have been waiting for. I can only hope that us "young adults" will recognize its importance."

Stepping away from paranormal romance is definitely a breath of fresh air for me. I've grown tired of the same old supernatural love stories that follow very similar plot lines and are easily predictable. I'm ready for something new.
Is death the new trend?

Death and grief are hard subjects to write about, and to read about. The authors that successfully pull it off and weave a beautiful story are artists indeed. Reading these heart-felt stories will send readers on an emotional ride. This ride is one I think many readers are willing, even excited, to take.

However, here's what I'm afraid of: if death is the new trend, it can be overplayed just as much as the paranormals have. And if this happens, these touching stories will start to lose their impact. They will become 'just another story about death'.

So what are your thoughts? What do you think the trend currently is? Is it what you want it to be?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Teen Book Drop

I just stumbled upon this and thought it was really cool, so I decided to share in case there are other people who haven't yet heard of TBD.



Visit readergirlz site here to learn more. Mark April 15, 2010 on your calendar, and drop a book.

Interview with Henry Melton

Henry Melton is a sci-fi author, and his newest book, Pixie Dust, will be available in April. His other novels are:

- Emperor Dad
- Roswell
- Extreme Makeover
- Lighter Than Air
- Falling Backward
- Golden Girl

And without further ado... the interview:

Why should people read your books?

I would hope for entertainment. I've certainly been well rewarded in writing them. Interesting places and characters worth knowing bring me back to read my own books frequently enough, and I can always hope to share the experience. But it would be presumptuous for me to say someone should read them. The best I can hope for is other people to say that.

What do you think is most unique about your writing?

I write science fiction, and even when I venture into fantasy territory, it's still sf at heart. But in the last decade, I've really wanted 'accessible science fiction'. The people are of this day, and the landscape, at least at the beginning, is familiar. So many people I've met say they don't like science fiction because of all the 'space ships and aliens and stuff'. Well, I certainly have those tropes, but only after the reader has connected with familiar faces. I want people to feel the wonder intruding into their home-like environment, rather than be put off by tinsel and glitter.

What in your life has most inspired you to become a writer?
I've been a story-teller since grade school, inspired perhaps by early NASA adventures on the screen, but writing became part of me in the early teen years, after I was exposed to all that Norton and Heinlein had to offer on the library shelves. One day in biology class, Mr. Branch made the loose homework assignment, "Write the story of a tree." I pushed the boundaries, telling the coming of age story of an intelligent water drop, born in rain and educated by an elder that was on his way to expire via transpiration though the stomata of a leaf. The response was better than I could have imagined. Mr. Branch read it aloud in class and gave me an 'A'. I then took the same paper and turned it in as an English paper and got a second 'A' for the same work. I was hooked for life.

Tell us about your very favorite character you have ever created (or one of them).

People ask me what is my favorite book, and I always say it's the one I've looked at most recently, and it's true. Once I walk into a particular world, that's the one that's most vivid and real to me. And that's also the character that I love the most. So, since you ask me as I'm in the final days prior to the publication of Pixie Dust, I'd have to say my favorite character is Jenny Quinn AKA Tinkerbell. She's in her mid-twenties, four foot ten, and a serious brain. Doing her postgrad work in physics, and secretly in love with her professor, she's swept up in strangeness when a project in vacuum decay goes wrong and she's contaminated with dark matter. Now, her inspirations are Marie Curie, pre-Oracle Batgirl, and a whole parade of silver-age comic book heroes, and it takes everything she had has, and more, to prove herself worthy to that legacy, and to rescue herself from a very strange death. Cute and brainy. I love her.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to travel, and that certainly shows up in my writing as well. When my wife and I were first married, we decided to travel now, even when we couldn't afford it, because you never can tell when it will be too late. Thus far, we've been to all the states, Europe, and Africa, and almost all the provinces of Canada. There have been years when I've been on the road more days than I've been home, and it's still not enough. This past summer we did a 14,000 mile road trip, from Texas across Canada and back. My wife Mary Ann is a nature photographer and I have to keep buying multi-terrabyte hard drives to hold all of her pictures. I've also found a lovely little town in Labrador that is the setting of my next work in progress. It works for us.

To find out more about Henry Melton, Pixie Dust, and his other novels, visit his site, http://www.henrymelton.com/.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cover Story: Impossible

Impossible by Nancy Werlin is an absolutely phenomenal book. Great characters, gripping plot, and lots of amazingness are packed into the pages of this book. If you haven't read it yet, please do. You can also read SM's review of it here.

Synopsis:
Lucy Scarborough is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. How can Lucy succeed when all of her ancestors have tried and failed? But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents beside her. And she has Zach, whose strength amazes her more each day. Do they have enough love and resolve to overcome an age-old evil?

Inspired by the ballad "Scarborough Faire", this spellbinding novel combines suspense, fantasy, and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale.

Cover Story:

This is the hardback cover and it is simply beautiful, is it not?

My thoughts: I was in love with this cover before I even read the book. The blue color scheme is refreshing and crisp, and the water moving in on the girl is true to a climactic scene of the book. The silhouette of the girl is intriguing, and the yarn unraveling on her symbolizes Lucy's life unfolding.


This is the cover of the paperback version, and the copy I own.

My thoughts: The vivid red of Lucy's dress (true to the book) and the title is striking. The field she's standing in connects to the land she is searching for to plow. I like that the model's face is obscured by her hair, again adding some of the mystery that the silhouette did for the other cover.

In conclusion: The first cover is definitely my favorite, but both are beautiful. Which do you prefer?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Grade: A+

Synopsis:

That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I'll go wherever you go. But by dawn Ingrid, and her promise, were gone, and Caitlin was alone. Ingrid's suicide immobilizes Caitlin, leaving her unsure of her place in a new life she hardly recognizes. A life without the art, the laughter, the music, the joy that she shared with her best friend.

But Ingrid left something behind. Devastating and hopeful, playful and hopeless. In words and drawings, Ingrid documented a painful farewell in her journal--just for Caitlin. Journeying through Ingrid's final days, Caitlin fights back through unspeakable loss to find renewed hope.

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 66/70

Obtained: Library.

Age Appropriate? R

Cussing: Quite frequently, using crude words. Lots of "f---" ing
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some teen drinking and smoking, discussion of both, and subtle mentions of drug use.
Sexual Content: Some discussion, one vivid scene, teen/premarital sex, lesbian relationships
Disturbing Images/Violence: Vivid, graphic, disturbing images of suicide, self-mutilation, depression, grief, and self-abuse.

Review:

By the time I had read the first three pages of this book, I was crying. Weeping. The emotion is so raw in those first chapters that it nearly killed me. This is a book about dealing with death and suicide. The main character's best friend took her own life. Anyone who has ever loved at all can empathize with her pain. This book really brings to light all we have to lose, how much we need everyone we love. How much we need them not to leave us.

That level of emotion stayed constant throughout the book, but it became easier for the reader to bear as time passed for Caitlin and the initial shock of Ingrid's death faded. The story emerged--a beautiful story of confusion, anger, love, and grief. A story that captured the true essence of what friendship and love are made of and what it is to suddenly lose that. I will remember this book forever.

Hold Still will crush you, heal you, make you cry and make you laugh and make you fall apart. It is poetic, intense, passionate, emotional. Littered with entries from Ingrid's journal, this book is a profound journey toward recovery. The characters have startlingly realistic presences and are perfect for their flaws. Caitlin's voice is painfully truthful. Read it, and you will appreciate it.

LINKS:

Nina LaCour

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Interview with Kate Forsyth


Kate Forsyth is an Australian author of over 22 books, both for adults and children, including The Gypsy's Crown, The Starthorn Tree, and her newest book, The Puzzle Ring.
To learn more about Kate and her books, visit her site here.

If you could describe your new book, The Puzzle Ring, in three words, what would they be?
Exciting, mysterious, beautiful

How has writing impacted your life?
Its completely changed my life. I was poor, hungry, skinny, and desperately dreaming of the life I wanted, a life as a writer. Now I make my living from writing, my books have won awards and been published all around the world, and I live in a beautiful, big house with views of the ocean in Sydney (And I’m not so skinny anymore)

What made you want to include Scottish history in The Puzzle Ring?
My grandmother’s grandmother was Scottish, and she used to tell us all the old tales that her Nana told her. This meant I was fascinated with all things Scottish from quite a young age. It also suited the book. I was imagining a story about an ancient curse, and Scotland has more curses than any other country in the world. I was imagining a place where fairies and witches could still, perhaps, exist – and Scotland has one of the richest and strongest fairy lore in the world. And I wanted my heroine to go back to a time that was truly dangerous and 16th century Scotland fit the bill perfectly. Besides, it gave me a chance to write about Mary, Queen of Scots, one of the most intriguing, beautiful and tragic women in history ...

What do you think makes fantasy such an exciting genre to read and write in?
Fantasy is a genre in which all things may be possible, and so a writer has immense freedom to imagine new worlds, to play with boundaries, to reflect and comment upon our own world without sermonising, and to weave together many different strands – romance, history, humour, mystery and suspense, wonder and magic. Also, it is a genre in which plot is all important, and I love to plot (that sounds rather sinister, doesn’t it? Mwahahhahhah)

Is there a certain time or place that you enjoy writing in? An atmosphere that simply inspires you?
I can write anywhere, at any time – in the park while my children are playing, at the airport while waiting for a plane, curled up on the couch at 3am because my characters are keeping me awake with their infernal racket .... however, I most like writing during the day when the kids are at school and I have hours of blissful peace stretching before me. I find it takes me at least an hour or two to really pass into the magical place where the real world fades away and I am actually living the story, hearing in my head, seeing it in my mind’s eye, running and fighting and dancing and laughing with my characters ... then my alarm beeps to tell me its time to go & pick the kids up.

What is your very favorite character that you have ever created?
What a cruel question! How can I possibly choose? Between impulsive Isabeau who I first dreamt of when I was 16 and ruthless Rhiannon, the first woman to ever tame a flying horse? Between lovely Lewen, a man I could have married if he was real, and charming Dide (a man I could have run off with!) Between shy Briony, whose magical gifts are so subtle and strange, and strong-willed Liliana, who has such power in her words? Between Hannah, red-haired, left-handed, and stubborn, the heroine of the ‘The Puzzle Ring’ and black-haired Donovan who plays the flugelhorn like an angel? You cruel woman, I cannot choose!

How did growing up in Australia with a pet wallaby make you who you are today?
Well, having a pet wallaby was rather fun! My father was a vet, and Christabel the joey was brought in after her mum was killed by a car. She was only tiny and very sweet. She slept in a sack hanging on the back door handle, and when she put herself to bed all you could see was her tail and her hind legs hanging over the edge. My sister and I had to get up every 3 hours to feed her special milk with an eye-dropper, at least until she was old enough to eat hay and grain. At that time we had, in our suburban back yard, a horse, two dogs, four cats, an aviary of birds, and Christabel the wallaby. Feeding time was like living in a zoo! And my love for animals comes through in my books, I think – there’s usually an animal friend of some sort, from Isabeau’s elf-owl Buba, to Rhiannon’s flying horse Blackthorn, to the dancing bear and monkey in The Gypsy Crown, and the goats in The Starthorn Tree. In the Puzzle Ring is a rather malevolent cat ...

Outside of the wonderful world of literature, what do you do?
I have a husband and 3 children who rather unreasonably demand a fair amount of my time. Like most mothers, I seem to have far too much washing, cleaning, shopping and cooking to do. However, since my kids would rather play that do chores, and I’d rather write than do chores, we’ve come to a fair arrangement where we do a lot of the former and rather less of the latter. Otherwise, books are my world. If I’m not writing, I’m reading. And if I’m not reading, I’m talking about books or thinking about books or blogging about books. It’s a good life.

Other than the necessities (food, water, shelter, etc.), what things could you not live life without?
I think you left books out of your necessities of life. Other than those few things, love, friends, music, beauty.

Review of The Puzzle Ring coming soon...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler

Grade: A+

Synopsis:

Calliope (or Cal as she calls herself ) wants nothing more than to stay put, to stop traveling cross-country with her mother, sleeping in a tent, abandoning all belongings whenever they pull up stakes. Eliot misses the happy times he left behind when his father decided to open a camp for kids looking to lose weight and find Jesus.When Cal and Eliot meet by chance, they feel an immediate connection.Together they must face their isolation, the threat of yet another move, and the deepening of Eliot’s father’s obsession with money and God.

Rating:
Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 9/1o
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 65/70

Obtained: Borrowed from mi amiga.

Age Aproppriate? PG-13
Cussing: Frequent.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Many references to teen and adult drug use, smoking, and drinking.
Sexual Content: Several mild references.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Depression, child abuse, familial dysfunction.

Review:
I haven't read a book this adorable in a long time. Barkley and Hepler's joint writing is so charming and witty. Their characters were at once fascinatingly odd and darkly realistic. The story was a rollercoaster ride of colorful characters, lively events, and profound philosophies. Cal and Eliot were lovably abnormal with an incredibly interesting story. I loved it!

There was never a dull moment here. In the alternating points of view between Cal and Eliot, just enough information is revealed to keep the story moving along at a good pace. Barkley and Hepler make a good team with startingly similar writing styles that also conform to the different character's voices nicely while complimenting the other. The book was not choppy, but smooth and easy to read.

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is a fantastic book for a lazy summer day or a hectic school week when you just need to escape briefly into someone else's bizarre adventures. It may not seem like your type of book from the cover or the title (believe me, I was skeptical) but I guarantee--once you pick it up, there's no going back. It is a gift. :)

LINKS:
Brad & Heather's MySpace
Jars of Glass by BB and HH
Dream Factory by BB and HH
Heather Hepler
Brad Barkley

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wherever Nina Lies Winners

CONGRATULATIONS

to the lucky winners of Wherever Nina Lies, determined by the random number generator.

The winners are:

BOOK MAC

JEN

EMILY

Please email me, winners!

More contests coming soon...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Guest Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Guest Review by MEG


Grade: A+

Synopsis:
A sacred oath,
a fallen angel,
a forbidden love..
Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgement.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.
(From Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick)

Rating:
Character Development : 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 68/70

Age Appropriate?
Cussing: yes, but not too frequently
Alcohol/Drugs: minor references
Sexual Content: a lot of suggestions, but nothing physical
Violence/Disturbing content: yes. A kidnapping and many mentions of murder.

Review:
Buying this book was one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. It seems to be that the more indecisive I am about reading a book, the more I love it when I finally pick it up! (as with A Great and Terrible Beauty, Graceling, and The Hunger Games) And this book is definitely worthy of being placed next to these books. Hush, Hush tells the story of Nora Grey, a sixteen year old high school student. Nora meets Patch, the new kid at her school (and unbeknown to her a fallen angel). Nora is inexplicably drawn to Patch, much against her better judgment. The more she's around him, the more creepy her life gets. Between hitting a masked figure with her car, almost falling to her death on a roller coaster, and having more then one person out to get her, Nora's life gets pretty stressful. When her best friend Vee is kidnapped, the only person Nora can turn to for help is Patch. But Patch has his own agenda, and saving Vee isn't very high on the list.

I read this book in two days. The only reason I was able to put it down, was because I didn't want it to be over. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the entire thing. Nora was a strong, smart heroine who made good decisions, unlike some others (ahem Twilight). She was relate-able, which made the story so much better. Nora wasn't perfect, but she wasn't dumb. Patch, the hero of sorts, was the most amazing bad boy. The author did a perfect job of capturing the allure of "the wrong side of the tracks." And she stuck with it to the very end. Patch wasn't the sort of bad guy who sees the light and repents. Even though he eventually becomes a hero, Patch stays true to his bad boy nature. Over all, it's one of the best books I have ever read, (see above.)
Thanks for sharing, Meg!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Searching For Stories

We are really excited to start hosting guest posts by... you.
Authors, bloggers, readers, everyone... we want to hear from you.
These posts can be about anything bookish. Get creative. Photos, videos, anything that will inspire people to pick up a book.
Has a book ever changed you?
Have you shared a cherished book with a friend?
Have you watched a book change someone else?
Has a book sent you on an epic adventure?
Please, please, please, tell us about!

Do you have recipes from food in books?
Have you traveled to the setting of a beloved book?
Do you have extremely strong opinions about anything going on in the literature world that you want to share?
Do you want us to pass on some bookish news?
Do your pets enjoy reading?


These are only some questions out of many. Think about it. Get your voice out there, your story out there, we're very excited to hear it. There's no certain length or criteria, just that it comes from you and is related to books.
You rock our socks!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cover Story: Mockingjay!!



This is the brilliant cover of the final installment of the epic Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

It will be released AUGUST 24th, 2010!

Ah! I can't wait!

This lovely cover foreshadows interesting times to come. The lighter blue hues are very different from the blacks and dark reds of its predecessors, and the concentric circle pattern that appears on all three books is here broken, shattered by the Mockingjay, a symbol of rebellion and anti-government views in Panem. What does this say about the book?

Hmmm....

I have some theories myself, but I'm going to wait until I actually have my hands on a copy to disclose them. :)

What do you think about this upcoming adventure? Are you excited? Wary? What do you think the cover can tell us about the story?

Here's the synopsis:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

MEANWHILE...

Have you heard that Lionsgate is producing a Hunger Games movie that will be released in 2011?

What do you think of this? Potential cast, anyone? Are you as shocked as I am that anyone would attempt to put these awesome books on the screen?