Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
goodreads [] amazon
publisher: Roaring Brook Press
publishing date: March 30, 2010

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.
Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Gaia carries an encoded ribbon from her parents, and its secrets hold vital information about certain advanced children who were "birthmarked" by tattoos. The Protectorat, who safeguards the population within the wall, needs Gaia’s code and its genetic counterpart to offset the hemophilia that plagues the Enclave.

Sgt. Grey, a young, handsome guard of the Enclave, is used by the Protectorat to manipulate Gaia and gain her cooperation with decoding the ribbon. As Sgt. Grey faces his own complicated past and Gaia recognizes the moral ramifications of her actions, they take desperate steps to escape.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

One word: Dystopian. That's pretty much enough to sell me, because I will admit I am a big dystopian fan. They're always so interesting and different! And Gaia sounds like a wonderful character. Just her name shows power.

- Alex

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review by Alex- Candor

Lauren's away for the day, so no Tech Tuesday this week either. Sorry folks! To make it up to you, I give you a review!

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, he's found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages. He's got them all fooled: Oscar's the top student and the best-behaved teen in town. Nobody knows he's made his own Messages to deprogram his brain. Oscar has even found a way to get rich. For a hefty price, he helps new kids escape Candor, Florida before they're transformed into cookie-cutter teens. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor, and Oscar's carefully-controlled world crumbles.

First Impressions: Veeeery interesting. There's a reason why I featured it in a WoW post, after all.

Candor is the seemingly perfect utopian town. Families are on a list for ages, to to be able to get a house there. With the Messages, everyone can become perfect. A former gangster can be turned into a staight-A student. Yaay brainwashing. Let's lose ourselves and our differences that make us special, all to become 'perfect' little clones.

The concept of Candor is so interesting. I guess it's not the first brainwashing novel ever, but for me it is. It's mind blowing and different. And, as Lauren said in her review, very saddening. To read about all these poor teens, who could very well be you or me, have their desires and wants erased and replaced with Messages... Heart breaking.

That idea is so powerful. Sadly, I found that Candor didn't delve into it and the science behind the Messages as much as I'd like. I mean, it's done well, but I'd have loved to found out still more. The reasons for Candor, Oscar's past, are explained nicely, but I wish there was more meat on the Messages themselves.

The writing is short, precise. It's not superfluous or needlessly long-winded. It's military, and probably how a boy would think. I'm assuming. The clear writing makes the novel read quickly and makes it easy.

Oscar is an interesting character, as is Nia. Their 'love' happens awfully quickly though. I'm not really sure that it is love, but it's true that Oscar believes that he loves Nia, and so will do anything for her. This, perhaps, is his problem.

I loved the ending. It's surprising and different. It's -spoiler- like the ending of Genesis to me. A huge twist that left me shocked. When I finished Candor, I had to sit for a couple minutes to process it all.

Final Impressions: A really fascinating look into what society would be like if we were all brainwashed. However, I wish some things were more delved into. Candor is a unique and different novel to interest both girls and boys.

Add to Shelf: Yes. And actually, Candor just came out on the 22nd, so I'd suggest checking it out!

Note This! Nia is an artist, and so was Oscar's mom. But Oscar's dad has made it so art isn't appreciated in Candor. Art pretty much is illegal- grafiti is a huge no-no. Can you imagine a world without art?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Aaaand we have winnahs!

It's taken a little bit of time for us to get the winners posted. So sorry about that! (coughbecauseLaurenwastoolazyandwouldn'tpostcough) But, we have them now!

In case you all didn't know, this contest is for an e-book for Eyeleash by Jess C. Scott! Winners also get a beautiful postcard, so lucky them! Alright, well, I know you're all begging to know who won...

... and so out of our 16 entries...


YAAAY! Will be emailing you all shortly for your addresses, which we will then pass on to Jess! :D Congratulations to all four of you who won! And for those who didn't, well, we're hoping to hold another contest soon. You know, that 100 followers contest that we promised way back when. That'll come. Hopefully soon. Lauren and I just have to get our act together first.

- Alex

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In My Mailbox (17)

Again! The previous week's got deleted on account of my frazzled nerves. Oops. Oh well. This week, I got tons of good books! :D Very excited. Because there's so many, you don't get pictures. Sorry! I did link to Goodreads at least.

After by Amy Efaw. (very interested in)
Jumping off swings by Jo Knowles.
Crash into me by Albert Borris.
Last Christmas : the Private prequel by Kate Brian. (addicted to the whole Private series)
Beautiful disaster : a Privilege novel by Kate Brian.
Privilege by Kate Brian.
A sweet disorder by Jacqueline Kolosov.
Secrets of truth and beauty by Megan Frazer.
Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz. (Seems good but... scary)
Cold hands, warm heart by Jill Wolfson.
Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody.
Giving up the V by Serena Robar.
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund. (very excited to read. Killer unicorns!)
Blood promise by Richelle Mead. (already read and adored)
Funny how things change by Melissa Wyatt.
Radiant darkness by Emily Whitman. (Love greek mythologies!)
Doing it by Melvin Burgess.

signed copy Boy Toy by Barry Lyga (won in a contest held by Miss Remmers. Thanks!)
signed ARC of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (won in a contest held at Reading In Color. Also thanks!)
Death by Denim by Linda Gerber (won in a contest at Darby Speaks. So of course, thanks!)

None bought. Quite the restraint. But with all those library books, I really don't need to be buying any books. So that's my week in books, folks. How about all of you?

IMM brought to you by Kristi at The Story Siren, who in turn was influenced by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

- Alex

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review by Alex- Coffeehouse Angel

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

From the author of Saving Juliet comes a romantic comedy that is good to the last drop. When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother’s coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over. Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions. And he won’t leave until he can reward Katrina’s selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire. Now if only she could decide what that might be . . .

First Impressions: Heard quite a bit of good things about Coffeehouse Angel. Sounds cute, interesting. Just the right thing for my mood (which was down as I was in my first weeks of school.)

Coffeehouse Angel did not disappoint me. It's every bit as cute and just as easy to relate to as I thought. For a light novel, it also provides quite bit of insight and sensible passages. For example,

"Our main focus as teenagers, according to just about everyone, is to jam-pack our lives with activities so that we can get into an Ivy League college and therefore succeed in life. Because that's the way it works. Weak application = crappy college. Crappy college = crappy job. Crappy job = crappy life. In other words, poverty, alcoholism, obesity, and depression. It's enough stress to make your hair fall out." - p. 14-15

The book just lightly taps into some of the deeper wonderings of a teenage girl.

The main character, Katrina, is someone all girls probably feel like at one point, or relate to in at least some small way. She's the average nice girl-next-door. She doesn't have any special 'thing' like her two best friends, and no matter how hard she tries, she doesn't seem to excel in anything. Katrina can be a little meek and annoying, but I think her overall goodness makes her a wonderful character.

I was actually surprised that the focus wasn't always on the guardian angel and wishes plot. Sure, there is that, and Katrina is given wishes (who go to others by mistake) like fortune and fame. But the novel's more about growing up and discovering who you are on your own, not by some magic. I didn't feel as if I was ever really able to understand Malcolm, the guardian angel, nor some of the secondary characters, as much as I wished. Katrina is well formed, but some of the other characters remained a bit of a mystery. The novel's relatively short, however, so it makes sense that not everything could be perfect.

While Coffeehouse Angel doesn't have an oustanding and original plot- and angel coming and giving someone whatever she desires (actually, pretty sure I read a series of books as a child with that exact theme)-it's the details that make it wonderful. That the novel takes place in a little town called Nordby, a Scandinavian town in the middle of the US. That Katrina's an orphan, the fact that she works at her grandmother's coffeehouse. That she really is just friends with a boy. All the little details add up and make Coffeehouse Angel a delightful novel to read.

Final Impressions: A wonderfully amazing pick-me book. Coffeehouse Angel is filled with kindness and heart, perfect for a quick read. If you love cute contemporary books like this, definitely pick this one up. Even if you don't generally like these types of books, Cofeehouse Angel may change your mind.

Add to Shelf: I'd say yes! Although I'd maybe wait until it comes out on paperback- it's 276 pages, it's not really that thick to be worthwhile to pay for in hardcover. Still, try to borrow this one if you can as soon as possible- from a friend or the library.

Note This! Katrina's grandmother owns a small, old fashioned coffeehouse, and is slowly going out of business as the next door's new coffeehouse takes all the customers. So quite a bit of the novel revolves around Katrina trying to save her coffeehouse- and therefore her life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review by Alex- Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

First Impressions: Catching Fire has got to be amazing. It's the sequel to the Hunger Games, for god sakes. It's pretty much THE most anticipated YA book of 2009.

Catching Fire does not let down. I wouldn't say it's better than The Hunger Games, because I prefer the latter more, but Catching Fire is indeed amazing.

There are many twists, turns, and of course suspense and action. I won't go into details in case some of you (losers is too harsh, but really, if you haven't read this series, you are seriously missing out) haven't read this.

Katniss shows just how strong she is. While she wavers at the beginning on who's "side" to be on, she ultimately is determined and tough. I am now a Katniss fan. She can be naive and as Peeta, says, pure, in a sense, but she's made of awesome strength. She doesn't seem very decisive with the big stuff (meaning who to side with and which boy to pick) but she's good at surviving and doing what she must.

Going onto the aforementioned boys.... Gale and Peeta. Personally, teams Peeta. I can see the attraction to Gale, him being strong and brooding and all that manliness, but Peeta is adorable. Sweet and loyal, protecting and good. He's easy to be with and easy to talk to. He has a way with words. He's just.... aaaaw.

I found Catching Fire less powerful than The Hunger Games. While Catching Fire is much broader in range, and deals with bigger issues, I thought that it had less of an impact. This is my personal opinion, of course. The Hunger Games was so horrible in that 24 kids were forced to kill to the death. Catching Fire is also horrific, but it isn't quite so focused like THG. Catching Fire deals mostly with the revolt and Katniss's love triangle. There's lots of other stuff in between, but it seemed to pale in comparison.

I hate not being able to say the huge twist in the middle. Maybe others were able to see it coming, but I sure wasn't. Complete surprise. I had to reread the passage, just in case I misread it. But even that huge event didn't quite have as much an impact as The Hunger Games. While amazing and brain-exploding, it just seemed less powerful.

I did love the new addition to characters. Finnick, a previous Games winner, is devastatingly handsome and charming. Katniss's stylists come back and are as usual their silly and trivial selves. There are lots of new additions to characters, and we learn a lot about older characters.

Final Impressions: I compare this a lot to The Hunger Games and how it just doesn't quite live up to it, but Catching Fire is still wonderful. It was able to make me stay up all night to read. And, I need the third book NOW.

Add to Shelf: YES! Of course!

Note This! Have you wondered about the names? The book's mentioned how Katniss is a weed that can survive and thrive. Peeta = pita bread. Bread, being the baker's son. Gale, I was actually able to find on a name meaning site. Gale means "a stranger", which seems pretty accurate, as the reader still doesn't find out much on Gale. Maybe in the next installment. And Finnick reminds me of water... maybe?

- Alex :D

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review by Lauren - Jumping Off Swings

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her.

Touched her.

How they begged for more.

And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For awhile anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their "one-time thing" is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions.

No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.

First Impression: I was interested in reading this, intrigued by the change in characters and the plot, but there wasn't anything grabbing me and pulling me in.

So no, I didn't love Jumping Off Swings. It was a good book though, there was more than one thing that I did enjoy, but nothing I loved.

First was the change in character. We have four people, all different, connected in various ways to this pregnancy. Ellie, of course, is having this baby, and she has enough problems as it is. Caleb, who's been in love with Ellie for years, is simply adorable. I'm pretty sure most guys are not quite like Caleb, but he was a cutie. There's Corinne, Ellie's best friend who's always there for her, but is completely different, and finally Josh, a one-night thing that broke Ellie's heart and is totally confused by the whole "I'm-about-to-be-a-dad" thing. They each had their own issues to face relating to the pregnancy and I liked being able to experience each one from their own point of view.

The chapters were short & a little brief, alternating between characters, and I will tell you, it was a fast read. I got through it in a little less than two hours. This, I found, made the story kindof whiz by, but I don't think it would have worked to drag it out. There simply wasn't enough. I think what really gets you about Jumping Off Swings is just the emotion behind it. Being the same age as Ellie, it really hit me just how hard it would be to get pregnant at my age and have to deal with all that kind of stuff. I can't imagine it.

Final Impression: It made me explore an idea I hadn't really thought about much/hadn't really taken the time to think deeply about. This also coincides with a French presentation I had to do last week about abortion - so that got me thinking too. There was nothing incredibly amazing, but I liked the different dimensions it brought.

4/6 shelves.

Waiting on Wednesday (18)

I actually found out about this author and book from my previous WoW post! So think of this as a bit of a continuation. ;)

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
(No cover again. Gosh darnit.)
Publishing date: Fall 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
author site / author blog / author twitter

book description:
Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated.

Now, doesn't that sound so interesting? I do get tired of paranormal after a while, where everything seems to blend together, but Paranormalcy sounds different. I mean, there's actually and agency to contain paranormals! Sounds like there's a mystery in there too. :D No one wants a world that's normal! How boring. Gotta add a little spice and paranormals. ;)

Paranormalcy sounds just a little bit like Wake by Lisa Mann. Just a wee bit. (I think this is the influence of Coffeehouse Angel... xD) That the heroines use their powers to do something for the governement/agency/police/whatever. Society maybe? Anyway. That is a very good thing because I love the Wake series.

And I also like the name Evie. A mix between the pokemon and V for Vendetta?

2010 better come soon! :D

- Alex

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review by Alex- The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
-summary not copying and pasting properly. But you should all know what the Hunger Games is about. If you don't, you live under a rock.-

First Impressions: This is actually a reread, so I would have a fresh memory for reading Catching Fire. So of course I already know The Hungers Games is amazing.

So yeah. The Hungers Games is amazing. The plot it out of the world, and the suspense is sure to keep you up at night. I read it in... a day? The characters are all interesting and unique and well formed. And-and-and- what more is there for me to say?

Okay I'll really try.

Katniss is such a strong and wonderful heroine. She willingly nominates herself to play in The Hunger Games to save her little sister Prim from having to. She's fed her family for years after her dad died. And she does well in The Hunger Games.

I lovelovelove the plot of the novel. North America has been destroyed, and now there's the Capitol, the big advanced center where everything is perfect (think Uglies trilogy, Pretties world) and around that, 12 districts. Each district produces something, such as coal or agriculture. Generally, the districts are poor and no where near as fancy or well off as the Capitol. A while ago, the districts revolted and lost. As punishment, the capital has the Hunger Games each year. 24 teens must enter an arena and fight to the death. As horrible as that sounds, it's really interesting to read.

Toss in a love triangle, a fiesty heroine, a constantly drunk advisor and previous Hunger Games winner, and lots of blood and gore, and you get a brief idea of The Hunger Games.

There's something about The Hunger Games that's impossible to put down. It's compelling. It's... amazing. There's a reason everybody raves about it and it's one of the top books of 2008.

Final Impressions: Still just as amazing as the first time I read it. If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for? READ IT NOW.

Add to Shelf: Of course! I just bought this book to own. :D I suggest you do the same.

Note This! Nothing much that I can think of... Or you can think of that as too many things to pick one. ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Updates! (from the better blogger)

Hey there, it's your favorite blogger, Lauren.

Alex is super lazy.

So she won't post any of her reviews.

So instead, you guys get REMINDERS. (not fun, I know, but go tell her that) and I swear to God if she edits this post...

First off, we have a contest ending tomorrow!

And guess how many entrants there are!

So your odds of winning, I'm gonna say, are pretty good.

Want a copy of Eyeleash by Jess C. Scott? You know you do! So just go here and enter! Do it. please?

EDIT BY ALEX: I am not lazy. Simply swamped by homework. And crazy tired. I accidentaly deleted the IMM post. That's how insane I'm getting. So if you've noticed that the IMM is gone, now you know why. And yeah, I also say enter our contest.

LAUREN: We'll bake you a cheesecake or something...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review by Alex- Silver Pheonix

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved-despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family-to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying-a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

First Impressions: Preeeeetty cover. That was way back when the cover was first released though. And then when a copy came for me from the library, I was quite excited. Beautiful cover + interesting description = excited Alex.

Silver Phoenix is very exciting, to say the least. The beginning's a little slow, but it picks up from there, and then it's just a wild roller coaster. Ai Ling runs away, is attacked by scary monster, is saved by Chen Yong, and from there, the true adventure starts.

The two words that pop into my head to describe Silver Phoenix, are EPIC QUEST. Really, that's what Silver Phoenix is like. Ai Ling and co. battle one monster, to then meet a friend who helps them, who then are directed to go slay an evil monster, who then are helped by someone else, who then fight another monster and get lost in a mystical realm, etc. etc. until this comes to the final big boss. The baddie of them all who is holding Ai Ling's father hostage and so who Ai Ling must slay. There's of course back story that makes Silver Phoenix seem a little bit more like a novel and less like a Mario game.

I really like the asian elements of the novel. It's a historic China I guess? I think it's supposed to be Chinese? Or based on China at least. There's the old political set up with the empire and kingdom. And... other stuff.

Silver Phoenix reminded me of Mulan in someways. Mostly, the strong heroine who fights and is super brave. The buff young guy who helps the heroine through her journey. The sidekick(s) for comic relief. The fighting back to the empire. Silver Phoenix adds more though, with other realms, mystical gods and godesses, and special powers. Yeah, Ai Ling has special powers. She can read minds and do all sorts of fancy magic with her brain. It's not really delved into, on how her powers work, which is a bit of a disappointment.

The characters are all unique and interesting, although at times I found them to be a little flat and cookie cutter. Maybe that's just me. The writing's smooth and flowing. It sounds very... olden dayish. Which is a very good thing because it wouldn't have the same tone otherwise.

A favourite part of mine of Silver Phoenix is the different realms. For example, one place that is ahead of the times of the world of Ai Ling. Ahead of our times now. Each person is a hermaphrodite, both male and female. They're intelligent and inventors. The coolest thing: a carriage that flies and is steered by one's mind. Can I just say I want one of those so badly?

Final Impressions: Still think it's very exciting and interesting. The model on the cover started to scare me though. It's her expression. But overall, Silver Phoenix is a dazzling read full of fight scenes and sword stabbing, blooming love, and females full of strength.

Note This! There are many books on mythical creatures in the world, that both Ai Ling and Chen Yong have read. As a child, Ai Ling snuck many peeks at her father's old books of beasts. Ah, a character after my own heart. ;)

Add to Shelf: I'd say yes. Maybe wait until it's on paperback though.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Look! Bookish News!

or We have a few news we've recently stumbled upon, and think may be interesting to others.

The first (found by Alex): The Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming to life in Universal Studios!

Watch the video below for more information and an animated map of what the world will look like.

Doesn't that look SO COOL? I really want to go! The Youtube video isn't actually the full video. I couldn't find the embed of the whole thing. You can watch the whole thing here though. Expect an appearance of Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy for all you living under a rock) in the second half. Listen for the magical music upon his entrance.

The world of HP will be at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. And it's supposed to open in spring 2010! For more news, you can visit the site. I really recommend going to look at the site, because there's lots of neat stuff, like news and pictures.

The second: a change on name in Shiver & a trailer
[Actually, this is old news, but Lauren just read Shiver and discovered this, so it's here.]

So I, Lauren, just finished reading Shiver and shame on you if you didn't read my review. Lol it's ok. You can find it here.

I then went on to do a bit of research on Maggie Stiefvater's sequel to Shiver, Linger, here and found this: (concerning Sam, the main character)

"The more observant of my readers on my Livejournal blog have noticed that the main character from SHIVER has changed names. This is sort of eerie, since I hadn't realized I'd babbled about them enough to realize the names weren't the same, but the fact is, it's true. Sam Roth (which is, for the record, the best name ever) the character from SHIVER who becomes a wolf for the winter, is now Lee Spence.

That sentence, my friends, is the result of 16 hours of baby name book searching, thousands of calories of cookie dough consumption, silent raging, not silent raging, denial, googling, and finally, acceptance.

Because this agony is something that other authors will probably have to go through and because it gives me an excuse to look at a photo of Lee Pace, I'm going to tell my sordid little naming story here.

So. This all started way back when my werewolf story was only a twinkle in my eye. I'd had the dream that sort of laid down the premise, but only two of the characters (neither of them main characters) came with names in the dream. (And one of the two names in the dream was "Robert de Niro" so I had to change it anyway). I can't start writing a novel until I have the Perfect Names for my main characters, so I was in the brainstorming phase. I wanted something sort of timeless, soft-sounding, and inherently sad and emotastic. Which brought me to Sam, partially because of the way that Meg Ryan said, "Oh, Sam," in Addicted to Love, after she's torn his heart into little tiny pieces and feels bad about it, but is stuck in the floor, so she can't do anything but watch from afar and say:

"Oh, Sam."

I just thought . . . whooo, shivers. I imagined the scene where Grace, the other main character, first sees him as a person after years of obsessing over him as a wolf. And when she asks his name, he says, "Sam." And I knew that was it.

Except it wasn't. Because there is this author y'all may have heard of, Stephenie Meyer, who apparently has also written about werewolves. Who knew?That's sarcasm.

Anyway. So apparently, she also had a wolf character named Sam. Who knew?

That's not sarcasm.

I'd read TWILIGHT, but it's been a few years, so I'd completely forgotten that there was a werewolf named Sam in it. And my editors had too. And my crit partners. And basically all of the folks that had worked on the novel since last fall when I first began writing it. But not someone at the Scholastic sales meeting. And not, my editors reasoned (once they had this brought to their attention), the hoards of passionate TWILIGHT fans who had the demographics of every TWILIGHT character stenciled onto their arms with glittery pink ink. Sorry, sparkly. Sparkly pink ink. So at the very end of the editing process, after I'd lived with my characters as Sam and Grace my editors said that "Sam" had to go.

I sputtered and begged and pleaded and finally googled "sam werewolf," where I was greeted by one gagillion hits to Team Jacob and Sam Uley, The First Werewolf Named Sam. And I hung my sad head in defeat, because my editors were right, as they often are. Which meant that my favorite bit of dialog in the entire novel had to completely change:

"Grace,” I said, very softly. “Say something.”
“Sam,” she said, and I crushed her to me.

This was when the silent raging began. Because I knew I had to do something, but I didn't want to. I still had a sequel to write, after all, and I was going to have to live with a not-Sam for another 95,000 words. It wasn't just SHIVER that was riding on this name change, it was the fate of the sequel, LINGER (probably LINGER), as well, and probably my entire sanity as well. My critique partner, Tessa Gratton, spent about 8 hours IMing me back and forth, sifting through hundreds of names, looking for the perfect replacement that would ellicit the same emotional response in me as "Sam."

The catalog copy deadline was, I should add, bearing down on us at this moment, giving us about two days to come up with a replacement. At that point, I think my mood was best classified as "angry/ morose drunk."

Examples of angry/morose drunk exchanges? This is sort of a montage of conversations that occured on Day Two of the Great Name Debacle.

DAVID (editor) to me and ABBY (other editor): How about Daniel? I've always been partial to Daniel.

ABBY to me and DAVID: Daniel is nice.

ME to TESSA: Daniel! Daniel!? Why do they keep saying Daniel to me in my hour of need? Have they not heard Elton John?

TESSA: There, there. How about Jonah? It sounds emotastic.

ME to my DAD: I need something other than Sam, even though Sam is the most perfect name invented.

DAD: Why, again? Because there's this other sampire in TWILIGHT?

ME: Werewolf.

DAD: But 'sampire' is funnier. How about Jack?

ME: Why was I ever born?

Eventually, I really buckled down, hit the stacks, and finally came back to the first name that had occured to me at the beginning of the Great Name Debacle: Lee. It was soft, reminded me of blue jeans, inherently emotastic, and moreover, was the name of the actor who I think of when I think of what Sam/ Lee looks like: Lee Pace. (cue audience reaction: awwww). So now I had Lee Roth. Like Kate Winslet's character at the end of Titanic, I was sad, but triumphant. I told my art critique partners about the name change.

One of them, my friend Nicole, said, "um, Maggie, have you, um, googled 'Lee Roth'?"

I did.

Those of you who were born slightly before me will probably already know what I found. Sigh. So, with a nod to irritating rockers who have ruined a generation of fictional "Roths", I changed his last name to Spence.

So there you have it. The story of how Sam Roth became Lee Spence and everyone lived happily ever after. And the other day, I actually said "Lee and Grace" all by myself, without accidentally saying "Sa-Lee" first. So maybe there is hope for me yet. "

All I can say is that I'm devasted. LEE? LEE? arg. the pain.

So what do you guys think of the name change?

oh, and Maggie did the entire trailer for Shiver (including the gorgeous music :)). I loved the book. So check it out!

Friday Facts (5)

First off, sorry about forgetting about this last week lol. Here's a brief recap of what happened.

Saturday Morning, MSN:
Alex: Hey.
Lauren: We forgot Friday Facts.
Alex: Oh. Want to do it now? It's Saturday but...
Lauren: No.

Lauren's always the lazy one.

So this week's topic is music. Our favorites :)

Oh, and Alex has lost her iTunes so she may have some difficulty with her input. Sorry...

TOP 5 MOST LISTENED TO SONGS OF ALL TIME: (these can be old so don't judge kay?)

  1. Forget It - Breaking Benjamin
  2. Heartland - Celtic Thunder (lol it's a good song.)
  3. Seaside - The Kooks
  4. Eyes - Rogue Wave
  5. The Call - Regina Spektor
- Uuuh. No idea. My Itunes is gonegonegone. But probably something like Boys Like Girls, Tegan and Sarah, Imogen Heap and... yeah. Lots of old stuff.



  1. Seaside - The Kooks
  2. Lon Dubh (Blackbird) - Julie Fowlis
  3. Don't Stop Believin' - Glee Cast
  4. Candy - Paolo Nutini
  5. The Blower's Daughter - Damien Rice
  1. Don't Stop Believin'- Glee Cast
  2. Gold Digger- Glee Cast
  3. Bust Your Windows- Glee Cast
  4. On My Own- Glee Cast
  5. Can't Stop This Feeling- Glee Cast
(seeing a pattern here? Since I have no Itunes, I just listen to YouTube Playlists which involve songs in Glee with some 500 days of Summer songs thrown in.)



  1. Belle & Sebastian
  2. Celtic Thunder (you cannot judge until you listen to them. they are so good lol)
  3. Kate Nash
  4. Coldplay
  5. Stars
  1. Stars
  2. Kate Nash
  3. Tegan and Sara
  4. Imogen Heap
  5. Regina Spektor



  1. Paolo Nutini
  2. Damien Rice
  3. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's
  4. Chris Garneau
  5. Glee Cast
  1. Everyone from Glee
  2. I am pulling a blank.
  3. There are others.
  4. But without Itunes, I am lost.
  5. So yeah.



  1. But I'm not a miracle and you're not a saint
    Just another soldier on a road to nowhere
    Amie - Damien Rice

  2. I was perched outside in the pouring rain
    Trying to make myself a sail
    Then I’ll float to you my darlin’
    With the evening on my tail
    Candy - Paolo Nutini

  3. And if you'da took to me like
    A gull takes to the wind,
    Well, i'da jumped from my tree,
    And i'da danced like the king of the eyesores
    And the rest of our lives woulda fared well.
    New Slang - The Shins
Because blogger is being annoying, you don't get anything from me. Just google Don't Stop Believin' lyrics and there you go.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Thunks (10)

Welcome to the September 17th version of Thursday Thunks!
(which we always seem to post on Wednesday)
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!
This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the number one thousand twenty seven and the color of leaves in the fall.

1. My daughter (aka Demon #1) informed me the other day that her hugs were worth a million dollars. Would you give up hugs - giving and receiving - for the rest of your life, for a million dollars?
Alex: Sure! I'm not a big hugger/touchy feely person to begin with. For a million dollars, I'd give up hugs. There's still snuggling and kissing and shoulder nudges. Plus with this H1N1 going around, we all should not be hugging. Tapping elbows is the way of the future!

Lauren: Dropped on her head as a baby.

2.Have you ever been bitten by a member of the canine family?
Alex: Aah... I don't believe so. But a dog has stolen my undergarments before.

Lauren: Haha no.

3. What is your favorite color of jeans?
Alex: Blue? Dark wash. Not hugely into the insanely bright colours.

Lauren: Dark, dark, dark. I hate that they fade over time.

4. What is something that has changed in public schools that you wish was the norm when you were in school?
Alex: Uuh still in school. So it's not really applicable.

Lauren: Same.

5. What is your news source?
Alex: Book blogs! That is for all book news. Otherwise... the msn home page and my family/friends.

Lauren: I listen to the radio when I get reading in the morning, then we have the news on during breakfast.

6. What sort of people do you think read your blog?
Alex: Wonderfully amazing people of course! :D

Lauren: Only the cool ones.

7. If I told you that I had a headache, you would say..........???
Alex: That sucks. Maybe take an Advil and sleep it off?

Lauren: Go take a pill.

8. You go to a buffet style restaurant, what is the first food you put on your plate?
Alex: Mashed potatoes. And fries. And any other potato-like foods because I love me those deeply.

Lauren: Salad lol. Because it comes first.

9. If you were stranded on a desert island.... no, we aren't asking that again. Lets put a twist into this. Would you volunteer to be dropped off on a desert island, to be picked up in a month? And you don't get to bring those 3 items, either.
Alex: Why would I volunteer? Do I get money? Something in payment at least? Because if not, no way. Peace and quiet is not worth that much.

Lauren: Psh no.

10. When the sun sets, what are you usually doing?
Alex: At home. Doing homework or more likely, procrastinating from doing homework. This means you, blog!

Lauren: Something mildly pathetic.

Review by Alex- Kiss of Life

Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters
**Spoilers for Generation Dead**
The phenomenon that's been sweeping the country seems to be here to stay. Not only are the teenagers who have come back from their graves still here, but newlydeads are being unearthed all the time. While scientists look for answers and politicians take their stands, the undead population of Oakville have banded together in a group they're calling the Sons of Romero, hoping to find solidarity in segregation. Phoebe Kendall may be alive, but she feels just as lost and alone as her dead friends.Just when she reconciled herself to having feelings for a zombie — her Homecoming date Tommy Williams — her friend Adam is murdered taking a bullet that was meant for her . Things get even more confusing when Adam comes back from the grave.Now she has romantic interest in two dead boys; one who saved her life, and one she can't seem to live without.

First Impressions: Read Generation Dead when it first came out and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to Kiss of Life, but in no hurry. Read for Zombie Week (and so this review is crazy late).

Kiss of Life picks up after Generation Dead. And there's lots of stuff going on. Adam got killed saving Phoebe and became a zombie. Tommy and Phoebe's relationship disintegrates. Phoebe is spending most of her time with Adam, who, despite all of Phoebe's and his family's attention, doesn't seem to be able to do much. At the beginning, it takes all his effort to move a hand, to form a single word.

And then there's the whole zombie society. It's zombies vs. humans out there, with a flimsy wall in between. There's no outright war, but zombies have no protection in any laws, being not alive. Tak, and some of the other zombies, are trying to fight back in little ways. They take pleasure in flaunting their zombie-ness and don't try to fit in with the humans. They strive to stick out. They plan to make a difference. But they're awfully creepy...

I really like the whole circumstances, I guess you can say, of the novel. The social issues that arise, all the problems, when teens start coming back from the dead. This is what makes the Generation Dead series stand out. There's starting to be quite a few other YA zombie books out there, but none quite like these. While others tend to be light and humourous, or dark and creepy, I find GD and Kiss of Life walk that fine line between. The best of both worlds. It's really really interesting, how even though I'm doubtful that zombies will ever appear, how relate-able the issues presented in the novels are to every day life. Social prejudice, guilt, being different and standing out, making a statement, trying to make a difference, dealing with high school, coping with bullies, etc. etc. etc. Nevermind all the love problems and triangles.

A down side I find, is the writing. The novel is written in multiple perspectives. Phoebe and Pete (the bully who killed Adam) in third person, Adam in disjointed first person, being the primary narrators. The problem is that the reading is so slow. The zombies speak like "And... you... are nothing like... me." I don't know about you, but when I see "...", I automatically slow down. Of course the speech is necessary for the whole zombie-ness, but I still think it detracts from the reading. Kiss of Life is a thick book, at 410 pages, and it feels even longer, which isn't always a good thing, with all the pauses.

I do however, think that the writing in Adam's point of view is really good. At first it starts off really disjointed, with phrases being short and generally not full sentences. But as the novel progresses, and Adam slowly regains some of his control, the narration gets a little more put together.

Final Impressions: Overall, didn't disappoint. A little slow, especially with the zombie pauses in speech and thinking, but mostly able to hold my interest.

Note This! Tommy blogs in the book, and in real life. There's actually a blog called mysocalledundeath. Check it out here! Whee. I love books that incorporate reading, books, or blogging!

Add To Shelf: Maybe. I'd wait for paperback though. Or take out from your library and see how you like it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (17)

Anna and the Boy Masterpiece by Stephanie Perkins
(no cover. D:)
tenner bio / author website / author Twitter
publisher: Dutton
publishing date: no clue. Sometime during 2010

A very short synopsis of the novel:
It's about a girl. It's about a boy. It's about Parisian boarding school, almond-scented macarons, famous cemeteries, and cinemaphiles. It's about heartache. And it's about true love.

And I found some facts about the book, taken from the author's website!

(1) It's a young adult novel.

(2) Hopefully it has some funny bits.

(3) There is kissing. Of course.

(4) Most of it takes place in Paris.

(5) There is an HBM.* (Well, more like an HBM plus.)

(6) It’s called Anna and the Boy Masterpiece.

(7) It's contemporary and realistic. In other words, no vampires or magic. Or magic vampires.
(8) It's set in a boarding school.

(9) It wasn't (originally) intentional, but several important scenes occur on stairs. Though I shouldn't have been surprised when it happened, because the inspiration for the entire story came from a dream (ack, yes) in which I saw a beautiful boy sitting . . . on the steps of a semi-famous monument.

These steps. This monument.

(10) The main character's name is Anna Oliphant.

The Boy Masterpiece himself remains — for now — a secret. But a good one, I promise! And I don't mean a secret like he's a werewolf (see #7, above). He's a secret, because I'm in love with him, and I'm still greedy and protective.

AND there's going to be a companionship novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Now, there's not a lot to go on. And I believe the novel is still in revision. But but, look at the synopsis! It takes place in a boarding school. I love boarding schools! And Paris sounds so beautiful. It's a love story without any paranormal too. I am in want of a good contemporary read. And well... it just sounds great! :D

- Alex

Review by Lauren - Shiver

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

First Impression: Well, FIRST impression was simply upon viewing the cover, which is gorgeous, so right away I was excited. After reading the jacket description, I was even more excited. Although I am not keen on more Twilight stuff, which I'm sure goes for most of you guys, the ressemblances I could see did not turn me off the book. It seemed like an adorable plot.

It definitely was.

Shiver is a love story. The difference was that it didn't fall into a cookiecutter layout. We start out with love - they've both been in love with the other from a distance for years - and having it grow. I loved that there was never any uncertainty, no stressing over affections. This is similar to Twilight but it was also different. It seemed less intense, more humain. More like Bella's relationship with Jacob - which also works because the book is about werewolves. For those of you who hate Jacob, Sam is not Jacob. He is beyond adorable though.

The conflict of Shiver is that once the weather becomes colder, the human werewolves become wolves until it gets warm once again. Their time spent as a human grows progressively smaller as the years pass, and Sam has reached the point where he will no longer turn human again. The book is Grace and Sam's desperate struggle to keep him human while time runs out.

Final Impression: I loved Shiver. It was refreshing and gorgeous (as is the cover). One of those books you want to just keep with you at all times. It feels like how I felt about Twilight before the whole craze - back when there was only one book out and no one had heard of it. It was that book you absolutely adored and wanted to share with everyone. There is intensity, but it's also refreshing and light.

Add to Shelf?: Yes but it will probably be for Christmas. I'm low on money at the moment lol... A really good book for its genre.

5.5/6 shelves - I feel as though I've been too lenient with my shelves lately. I'm getting picky. This could easily be a 6/6 though so I'll tag it under both lol. I'm torn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tech Tuesday (4)

Welcome to the fourth installment of Tech Tuesday! Our first video may be familiar to some, I dunno. It's become a bit of an internet phenomenon. This is the first part of A Very Potter Musical. Personally, I find it... interesting. Some love it, some hate it. It's up to you, but I figured I'd share it.

Our second video, once again, is going to be a book trailer. This weeks book trailer is for Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. I loved the book, but be warned: It is a HUGE bowl of cheesiness. If that's not what you're looking for, you've been warned. The casting in this video makes me laugh too :) So enjoy!

Hope you all had a great Tuesday!


Review by Alex- The ABCs of Kissing Boys

Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens.

This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

First Impressions: Seems a little weird, but fun and cute and light, which was in the mood for when I read it. And at only a little over 200 pages, it would be nice and fast.

So The ABC's of Kissing Boys has a really confusing premise. Lauren explained it here, in her review, although there's still perhaps a lack of clarity.

Parker loses all her friends when she doesn't get moved up to varsity. Awesome friends right? So to get her friends back and to get on the varsity team, instead of staying on the JV with -gasp- freshman, she hatches this plan. This involves kissing a graduated hottie from the school to impress her soccer coach. Somehow, Parker enlists the help of her younger neighbor, Tristan, who's dad is in some big dramatic fight with Parker's dad. Tristan is going to teach her how to kiss.

Parker plans for this to just be learning and nothing more. No feelings or strings attached. But somehow... this doesn't go exactly like she thought.

I have to say, Tristan is adorable, and oddly mature for his age. He's definitely years ahead of Parker, although to be fair, Parker does grow up in the end. She learns a lot about friendship, about leadership, about hurting and healing others, and of course, how to kiss.

People find out about Parker and Tristan's agreement though, and as an attempt to smooth things over, they decide to pretend they're dating and in love. And so Parker and Tristan are perceived as a pair of star-crossed lovers, like Romeo and Juliet. a) their dads hate each others guts and b) that huge significant age difference; a freshman is a huge no-no, even if he is pretty good-looking. I thought this was a fun angle to it. And everyone knows star-crossed lovers are the best kind of lovers. (We all know what a huge hit Twilight is.)

Final Impressions: Pretty much the same as my first impressions. The ABCs of Kissing Boys isn't a groundbreaking novel in any means, but it's perfect for a light predictable read to make you feel good and happy no matter what.

Add To Shelf: If you have the extra bucks, then why not. I wouldn't say rush out and buy this one, but it's worth it. And it's softcover! :)

Note This!* Each chapter starts with a kissing tip for each letter of the alphabet. So the second chapter has "Butterfly Kisses" for B, and the third chapter has "Caterpillar Kisses" for C, etc. I didn't actually notice this until the very end, but it's really neat. And must have been difficult to think of words/phrases for those little used letters like Q and X!

*Note This! is a new addition to the review system. It won't be there for every review, but if there's some interesting little fact that we think is worth mentioning, it will be in there. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Review by Lauren - Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and 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 herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

First Impression: Pretty excited. Alex gave me this book yesterday, told me it was getting awesome reviews, and that it was similar to Twilight. I stayed up late into the night finishing it.

So, in case you hadn't figured out, Hush, Hush is about fallen angels. But not exactly.

The book isn't quite as much like Twilight as you'd think. Yes, Nora meets Patch in her biology class, and yes, he is dangerous with some weird secret, but I didn't find myself making too many comparisions beyond that. The dynamic between Patch and Nora, first of all, is completely different. It's not at hugely passionate novel, and there are no vampires :) The fallen angel plot line was a creative change that I really liked.

I definitely enjoyed Hush, Hush. It was well paced with a good mix of romance and actual story. Even though we all know Patch's secret, the plot wasn't incredibly easy to figure out... Not that there were huge shocker moments, but it's hard to really figure out his motives until they're explained.

Final Impression: Not a disappointment. I will admit, I was hoping to feel a little more adoration for the book after finishing. It wasn't an all time fave, but it was a really good book. So...

Add to the Shelf?: Once this one comes out (October 13), I might be buying it :) This feature is seeming to be pretty useless lately... I'm adding every book I read. Trust me, it's a lucky streak.


Reading Next: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In My Mailbox (16)

This was a week in contests! Somehow the mailmen brought 5 packages all in one day. This furthers my belief that mailmen like to hold out on you. Or they're all secret book lovers and take the packages of books to read themselves...


Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She''s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora''s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and 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 herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

I've only read good reviews about Hush Hush! Very excited to read this. (After Lauren since I just lent it to her...) Won from Boy With Books!

Top Ten Uses For an Unworn Prom Dress by Tina Ferraro
Sophomore year, Nicolette Antonovich was dumped two days before prom by the hottest guy at school. As a result, she became the proud owner of one unworn, perfectly magical pink vintage dress. But Nic is determined to put that night behind her for good. She''s a junior now- older, wiser, and completely overwhelmed by a new set of problems: (1) The bank's ready to foreclose on her childhood home. (2) Her father''s too busy with his "replacement" daughter to care. (3) Her best friend's brother is an eternal thorn in her side. (4) Her best friend isn't exactly the rose attached to that thorn. (5) Rumors are flying around school that could get her kicked off the volleyball team, which would (6) ruin all chances of a college scholarship. (7) She still likes the boy who dumped her in the first place. (8) And what in the world do you do with an unworn prom dress, anyway? Strangely, it's getting to the bottom of this last dilemma that just might hold the answer to all Nic''s problems.

Received from author. After reading The ABCs of Kissing Boys, we're quite excited.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf - her wolf - is a haunting presence she can?t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human -- until the cold makes him shift back again. Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It?s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears and the temperature drops, Sam must fight to stay human or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Won from Kate at The Neverending Shelf! Thanks Kate! Heard lots of good things about Shiver.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Mirandas disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroidknocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter,Miranda, her two brothers, and theirmotherretreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.In her journal, Miranda records the events of each desperate day, while she and herfamily struggle to hold on to their most priceless resource--hope. Includes a teaser to the companion novel, The Dead and the Gone.

Same as above. Very interested in this one.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Scarlett Martin is the third of four children in a family that has a most unusual collective profession. The Martins live in and manage a not-quite-posh-anymore hotel in New York City that dates from the 1920s. When Scarlett turns fifteen, she is given charge of one of the hotel's twenty-seven rooms: the Empire Suite. Into this room moves Mrs. Amberson, an aging C-list starlet who has returned to New York to write her memoirs. Soon, Scarlett is taking dictation, running around town with Mrs. Amberson, and getting caught up in her Auntie-Mame-meets- Bianca-Jagger adventures. In the midst of all this, Scarlett falls in love, or so she thinks, and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light.

Won from Books Make Great Lovers. Thanks so much!

The Bought (and the borrowed):

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor tohis or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before?and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this stunning novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

I actually got 2 copies of this book. One I ordered from Chapters and another my mom picked up at the library on Express the day before. I lent out my bought copy soon after and kept the library copy to read yesterday! Finished it, and so expect a review soon. This is a re-read because I also bought Catching Fire at the same time. :D

So that's what's in my mailbox. What about all of you?

And of course, IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, who was influenced by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie!

- Alex

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review by Alex- Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Fire, Graceling's prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells. Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.

Wondering what makes it a companion book/prequel? Fire takes place 30-some years before Graceling and has one cross-over character with Graceling, a small boy with strange two-colored eyes who comes from no-one-knows-where, and who has a peculiar ability that Graceling readers will find familiar and disturbing...

Gee, another book Lauren's already reviewed! I actually did read Fire first though- Lauren's just faster at posting reviews than me. :/

First Impressions: Prequel! To Graceling! By Kristin Cashore! You can probably tell by my exclamation marks that I knew it was going to be amazing. I'd previously read reviews that said Fire is even better than Graceling, and I loved the latter, so Fire had to be wonderful. Plus, we got the wonderful UK cover which I'm absolutely in love with. (Lauren prefers US which is why she put the US cover on her review. She's weird. BUT this means I get to keep the UK version, so whatever.)

Ah, but Fire. It's indeed wonderful.

Fire starts out with a bang, with lots of action and excitement. I found the middle to be slower, but no less thrilling. Fire as a book is completely enthralling; I couldn't bear to put it down for anything. I devoured it, which recently, I haven't done to any book. (Darn school.)

Fire as the character is a monster. But she doesn't use her powers needlessly, she isn't cruel about it like her father, who amused himself by torturing and manipulating others. No, Fire feels and cares for other people. For a human monster, she's a lot more human than quite a few of the actual human characters in the novel. Fire is strong, brave, fiery like her hair, and just an overall amazing main character! Really, she should be the role model for girls all over, instead of... certain others.

Fire is the best type of fantasy out there. Hugely entertaining to read, while thought-provoking and easily relate able to modern life. There's many subtle messages on strength, belief, loving others, etc.

The only that disappointed me in the novel was the lack of relationship to Graceling. Fire isn't even set in the same world as Graceling! There's one character cross-over, but he doesn't play as much of a role as I thought he would. Still. That doesn't make Fire any less of the novel it is.

My heart broke and soared with Fire. Seriously. When Fire was heart-broken, I was devastated. When she was happy and in love, I couldn't feel anything else at all but cheerfulness. That's how deep Fire will pull you in.

Final Impressions: The writing is stunning. The characters are fabulous. The plot's well paced and always interesting. Really, you need to read Fire, especially if you're one of the many to love Graceling.

Add to Shelf: Of course! I'd say, pre-order it. Fire is worth it.

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