Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Above
by Leah Bobet

hitting shelves Spring, 2012 from Arthur A. Levine Books

description: Matthew's father had lion's feet and his mother had gills, and both fled the modern-day city to live in underground Safe, a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers. Raised underground, Matthew is responsible for the keeping of both Safe's histories and the traumatized shapeshifter Ariel, the girl he took in, fell in love with – and can't stop from constantly running away.

But Safe is no longer safe: the night after a frightening encounter in the sewers, Safe's founder Atticus is murdered by the one person Safe ever exiled: mad Corner, whose coup is backed by an army of mindless, whispering shadows.

Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of unstable, crippled compatriots escape to the city that cast them out; the dangerous place he knows only as Above. Despite Ariel's increasingly erratic behaviour and with the odds against them, Matthew must find a way to rescue Safe from Corner's occupying army. But as his quest leads him through abandoned asylums and the dregs of urban poverty, Matthew discovers that the histories he's devoted his life to aren't true: Corner's invasion -- and Ariel's terrors – are rooted in a history of Safe much darker and bloodier than Matthew ever imagined.

And even if he manages to save both home and Ariel, he may well lose himself.

My thoughts: Okay, I know this one is loooong way off, but look at it!! And it sounds so deliciously bizarre!! I mean, characters sporting lions feet, gills, bee wings...and an army of mindless whispering shadows? This one definitely has me intrigued!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Queen of the Dead

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

publisher: Hyperion Books CH

release date: May 31, 2011

hardcover, 288 pages

intended audience: Young adult


sequel to: Ghost and the Goth (my review)

rating:



source: from publisher for honest review

Warning: description and review may contain slight spoilers for those who haven't read book one!

description: After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like. Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess. Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

Review: I love this series. Truly, I am hoping for way more than three books to it because I absolutely love these characters and Stacey Kade's writing. So very rarely do I find a book that is so fun and humorous and energetic, but still has the surprising emotional depth to make me cry. No kidding, there was part in this that I literally cried! Another thing you will hardly every hear me say is this: I loved the second book even more than the first. And yet, that is absolutely true here!
Will and Alona are just so entertaining together and their relationship is sweet with this wicked little bite to it. They are such opposites and are almost constantly bickering, but not in a hateful way. Will is this kind-hearted guy with a streak of dark intensity built up from seeing ghosts his whole life; Alona is just the same as she was in life---spoiled and always ready with the painful truth for anyone who is less than perfectly fashionable. In this book, we get to see them change a lot (especially Alona!!) as they are faced with some really personal dilemmas---Will with his father's past, Alona with her family and dealing with them moving on. Will's friend, Lily, (who those who read book one will remember is in a persistent coma from a car crash) plays a major part in this one---and it's the events that happen between Alona and Lily that have me absolutely dying to get my hands on book three!! I'm also dying to see what the cover to book three will look like---read this one and you'll know why!! There is bound to be some very significant changes. :) I can't wait! I will miss Will and Alona until then---I love the way Queen of the Dead ended. Just perfect. It claims to be a "killer cliffhanger" but I didn't find it that way...even though you know there is more, it was still came a satisfying close. There's just a lot of really good themes in this one---letting go, not letting go, self-sacrifice for someone you care about, hoping, family, love and it's unpredictablity...it's all there. Don't miss this one!

Visit Stacey Kade's website here.

Purchase Queen of the Dead: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox {68}


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!


For Review:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This one uses bizarre old photos to really up the creepiness factor to the story! So excited to read this!

Many thanks to Quirk Books!

Won:
(Thanks so much to Reading Teen for these! I had no idea I had won their awesome contest until these showed up on my doorstep!)

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Already read this one but I'm so happy to finally add a finished copy to my collection! (review here)

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
I'm already hearing amazing things about this one from readers and authors...so excited to read this!

Balefire by Cate Tiernan
Love book mash-ups! This one looks really intriguing, too! :)

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
I read this one and have a copy already, so I'll probably be passing this one on one way or another! :) Keep an eye out!

Well that's all for me! Happy reading, everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Mist
by Kathryn James

hitting shelves September 1st, 2011 from Hodder Children's Books

description: Midnight: a mist-haunted wood with a bad reputation. A sweet sixteen party, and 13 year old Nell is trying to keep her sister, spoilt birthday-girl Gwen, out of trouble. No chance. Trouble finds Gwen and drags her through the mist. Only Nell guesses who’s behind the kidnap - the boy she hoped was her friend, the cute but mysterious Evan River.

All those fairy stories Nell’s grandmother told her about girls being stolen by fairy folk are true. The Elven are beautiful as starlight, fierce as wolves, and cold as ice. And they want their world back. The fight has been raging for centuries. Nell’s grandmother should know, she’s a Watcher, the ones responsible for imprisoning the Elven in isolated iron-bound camps in Siberia. Only Evan, his fanatical older brother Fen, and a handful of Elven children are still free.

Fen, hellbent on revenge, keeps Gwen in their wolf-guarded stronghold deep in the mist. The price for her safe return? The release of all the Elven – but the Watchers will never agree. Only Nell can save Gwen.

Time is twisted through the mist: if Nell stops longer than a night and day, a hundred years will hit her as soon as she returns and she’ll be old and withered before she’s even lived. The clock is ticking.

My thoughts: Looks like this one will be UK released---thank goodness for BookDepository! :) Mist sounds amazing...Elves, sisters, a century-old war. Lots of good stuff coming in September!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

publisher: Harlequin Teen

release date: May 24th, 2011


hardcover, 480 pages


intended audience: Young adult

rating:




source: from publisher for honest review

description: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.

Review: Here's how this one went for me: The first 150 pages---amazing stuff. We meet Finlay in a sticky situation, she is a servant girl in the August-Raynes house, notorious because the masters son has a habit of making unwanted advances on the prettier servants. Finlay, who hasn't quite figured out why she has an uncontrollable dark side that likes to come out and play when she is threatened, quickly "puts him in his place" (in other words, she beats him within an inch of his life) and flees. I liked her immediately. :) In fleeing, she runs into (literally) one of the richest (and sweetest, and most humble---yes, we like him!) men in England, the Duke of Greythorne. Griffin is no ordinary man, and he houses an little band of unusually gifted characters. I loved Emily, she was sweet but tough, almost motherly, and absolutely brilliant. Sam is a dark character, very angry---but more than once he brought some good logic to the table. Jasper was a charmer...as most good cowboys are. The story was intriguing and moved along perfectly for the first 150 pages.

The last 100 pages: Fantastic! Exciting, action-packed, the mystery is somewhat solved, our hero's are victorious, and it was very satisfying while still reeling the reader in enough to pick up the second book.

Everything in between: I don't know what happened, but in between the amazing beginning and the fantastic ending...for about 200 pages, I frequently put the book down with very little intention of picking it back up. It just didn't hold my interest. Once they discovered the secret behind Finlay's abilities, there was a lot of floundering around for clues to finding The Machinist, Finlay being indecisive about where she belonged, some awkward fight/training scenes, but not a lot moving the story along.

The plot was good, but one of the main plot lines was a little too familiar to me. In trying not to spoil anything, I won't go into specifics, but the Queen Victoria storyline was very similar to an older Disney movie that most people might not have even heard of, but one that is very well-loved in our house. So eerily similar, in fact, that if I told the name of the movie, the readers who have seen the movie would know most of the ending of this book. Purely coincidental, I'm sure, but I admit it took away some of my enjoyment.

While I just barely made it to the end on this one, I am very glad I did because like I said, I really enjoyed the delivery of the ending. I also really like how the Steampunk aspect was written. With other "steampunk" books I've read, the machinery is so vividly described that it gets overwhelming and leaves no room for the reader to build their own picture. The automatons, the machinery, the Aether, and Emily's cool inventions like the velocycles and her robotic cat were all perfectly described while still leaving room for the reader's imagination. I really loved that.

It wasn't as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be, but it certainly wasn't so awful that I won't at least give the follow-up books a try. I liked the characters enough to be curious where their next adventure will take them.

Visit Kady Cross's website here.

Purchase Girl in the Steel Corset: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cover Story: Sacrifice (Crave #2)

It's been a while since I've been on Goodreads scoping out recently revealed covers, and look what I found!! So excited to see this one, I've been waiting and waiting to hear news of a sequel to Crave by Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns. I loved book 1 (see my review here), but it ended on such a breakneck cliffhanger!

Here's the cover of the second book, Sacrifice, and the synopsis---but be forewarned, if you haven't read the first one and plan to, don't read the description! :)
Gabriel and Shay are convinced that they can make their relationship work. Knowing that Shay is half-vampire, Gabriel thinks that his coven will embrace her as one of their own, but instead they view her as an abomination, a thing that doesn’t belong in either world. And they want her dead. Now Gabriel must make the ultimate decision - watch his love be killed by his coven or defy the people closest to him, the people he has spent centuries with to save her.

Sacrifice
hits shelves September 20th, 2011 from Simon & Schuster.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox {67}


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Some cool stuff this week :)

For Review:
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Can't wait to start this one--ghosts, witches, and cowboys. Can't wait.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
I read a really bizarre adult book by this author a few years ago, so I'm excited to get a taste of her YA work. No pun intended (see note below).

From the Library:
The Radleys by Matt Haig
I've seen mixed reviews of this one so we'll see what I think---that's the beauty of the library: nothing to lose! :D

Many thanks to Random House and Macmillan for the books for review. Macmillan especially won my heart by sending me this pretty little box that contained two of my favorite things: books and chocolate. :) Really, is there anything better??


New on My Nook!


Wildefire by Karsten Knight
I have an print copy of this as well, but I grabbed this from S & S Galley Grab---I love having both so I can read the book at home and the e-galley when I'm out and about. Take my Nook with me everywhere :)

Raven by Suzy Turner
I came across this when the author visited my blog. :) It looks great---family secrets, witchcraft..my kind of story! Immediately bought this from Smashwords.


Well, that's all for me! To all you lucky ducks going to BEA this week, have a blast!! I am completely jealous and can't wait to see all your loot!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Tighter

Tighter by Adele Griffin

publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

release date: May 10th, 2011

hardcover, 208 pages

intended audience: Young adult

rating:




source: from publisher for honest review

description: When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.


Review: Normally, when a book shows up on my doorstep, I crack it open immediately and read a few pages, just to get a feel for it. Well, with Tighter, I did just that...and didn't put it down until I was almost 150 pages in. This was my first experience with Adele Griffin's work, but her writing style is so unique. The prose she put to use in this story were perfect to make it the bewitching, mind-boggling mystery thriller that it is. I spent most of the story feeling exactly as a reader should with this kind of Alfred Hitchock-style thriller: enthralled, curious, but constantly in the back of my mind saying "what the heck is going on??" (but in a good way!).

The main character, Jamie, had a very distinctive voice. The choppy writing style with interwoven mother goose lines gave the reader a perfect insight into the weird, smart-assed, but definitely depressed workings of her mind. She is a lost young woman, stealing and popping prescription meds of all kinds to smooth over her emotions. The story hints at her recent past: a short lived affair with a teacher and friendships that are barely hanging on. She takes a job as an au pair to Isa, an extremely chatty and imaginative little girl. When she finds out she is a replacement to Isa's last au pair who died, and that she looks almost exactly like her, that's when the really mystery begins. She starts seeing things and hearing things in and around the big eerie house that compel her to dig deeper and find out what really happened.

The story unfolds at a perfect pace, the tension builds and builds. While some things I predicted (I had Milo figured out pretty early on), others came as pretty mind-blowing surprises. I definitely enjoyed this one and highly recommend it!

As an end note, I'll point out that this book is a retelling of Henry James' Turn of the Screw. I've never read that story so I can't compare it to the original, but Tighter definitely inspires me to give the original a try!

Read an excerpt here.
Visit Adele Griffin's website here.
The book has a website of it's own! See it here.

Purchase Tighter at: AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Starcrossed

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: May 31, 2011

hardcover, 496 pages

intended audience: Young adult

rating:




source: from author for honest review/book tour

description:

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart

Review: Here's a sign of a really good book: going about my day feeling like I can't wait to get back to it, feeling like I'm missing the characters that I've become so invested in that I can't wait to see what they'll do next---and then suddenly remembering that I finished the book and feeling sad, missing them all the more like long lost family.

Here's another sign of a really good book: Ultimate. Emotional. Roller Coaster.

Josephine Angelini is am amazing storyteller. I loved the characters she created. Her casual and descriptive writing style sinks you right into the middle of their world. It made me want to sit and joke with Helen and Claire (especially loved tiny, spunky Claire!). And sit down for dinner with the great big Delos Family and eat something yummy and home-cooked by the amazing, loving Noel (Lucas's mother). After getting to know them all, I was emotionally sucked in to this story and stuck there! It had me all over the place---laughing, angry, frustrated, worried, awestruck...and heartbroken. The love story is such a great one...how can it not be when it starts off with them inexplicably trying to kill each other? They have so much to overcome and so many uncontrollable factors working against them...I literally felt that empty hole in my chest that I vividly remember from my own teen years, when you think you love someone and start to feel it slipping away.

All gushing aside, I did have a two little cons: I admit that once or twice, I felt my attention dip---in nearly 500 pages, it's bound to happen---whether it was from a bit too much detailed description or a rehashed situation, it really didn't take much away from my love for this book. Also (and this is 100% my own personal quirk and possible reading inadequacy :D), I tend to have a little awkwardness when reading about people flying. Especially when they don't have wings...it somehow doesn't translate into my mind's eye without coming off as a little superman-style cheesy. Again, that's my own personal quirk---I'm sure not all readers are as weird about that as me!

An amazing debut, and totally lived up to the hype for me. I can't wait for the sequel!! I'll be missing these characters until then!

Visit Josephine Angelini's site here.

Purchase Starcrossed at: Amazon BN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Trailer:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

Dark Souls
by Paula Morris

hitting shelves on August 1st, 2011 from Point

description:

Welcome to York, England.

Mist lingers in the streets.

Narrow buildings cast long shadows.

This is the most haunted city in the world. . . .

Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won’t run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city. . . .

Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York’s hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy — one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York’s haunted souls?

Soon, Miranda realizes that something dangerous — and deadly — is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery — and find redemption.

My thoughts: This one is high on my must-read list this year. I loved Paula Morris's first book, Ruined---it was one of the first books to really hook me into reading YA. She is such an outstanding storyteller. Dark Souls sounds fantastic with it's eerie setting and ghosties galore! Not to mention, that gorgeous cover!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starcrossed Blog Tour Stop #2!! Win a Kindle 3 or a Starcrossed Gelaskin!

Welcome to the second stop on the Starcrossed Blog Tour!!

Hosted by
There are some excited things going on for this tour, and I'm so glad to be a part of it! Be sure to hit all the stops listed below for great author and character interviews, features and giveaways including a chance to win Starcrossed-themed Gelaskins or a Kindle 3 Wifi preloaded with Starcrossed and more!!

Today on Stories & Sweeties, I want to share with you some really cool international stuff that's been put out for this amazing book (and yes, it is absolutely amazing!! My full review will be up later this week!)

First off, I want to share with you, Helen's song! This song and video were put together by the German publishers of Starcrossed, Dressler. Check it out:



Secondly, you thought the US cover was gorgeous...well check out these international editions! Starcrossed is going to be well-dressed all over the world!! :D In order of appearance, here are the UK, German, and Spain editions!



Okay...HERE COME THE GIVEAWAYS!!
Here at Stories & Sweeties, I'm giving away a Starcrossed Kindle3 Gelaskin to one lucky winner!
Aren't they cool??

To enter simply fill out THE FORM HERE!
details:
~Open to US only or an available US shipping address.
~Contest closes June 3rd, 2011 11:59 PM PST.

☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

And now, for the KINDLE 3 Wifi Giveaway:
This one is being hosted by the entire tour! Here are the details:
Here is the piece of Lucas's letter to Helen that you will need to enter the contest! Just visit each blog throughout the tour, collect the pink highlighted word in each piece of the letter. At the end of the tour, you should have a secret message to enter at the TOUR HOME PAGE! Good luck everyone!!


Be sure to visit all the sites hosting the Starcrossed Tour!!

Monday May, 16th - Bewitched Bookworms Tour Kick-off!
Tuesday, May 17th - Becky, Stories & Sweeties
Wednesday, May 18th - Elie, Ellz Reads
Thursday, May 19th - Heidi, YA Bibliophile
Friday, May 20th - See Scoot Read Character Interview with Helen's BFF Claire

Monday May, 23th - Missie, The Unread Reader "When I'm not Writing"
Tuesday, May 24th - Savanna, Books with Bite
Wednesday, May 25th - Natalie, The Mindful Musings Character Interview with Helen
Thursday, May 26th - Heather, Buried in Books Interview with Josie
Friday, May 27th - Nely, All about {n} "Josie's Bookcase"


Monday May, 30th - Candace, Candace's Book Blog Interview with Josie
Tuesday, May 31st (Starcrossed Book Birthday!) - Kristi, The Story Siren Vlog post by Josie
Wednesday, June 1st - Small Review
Thursday, June 2nd - Jenny, Supernatural Snark Character Interview with Lucas
Friday, June 3rd - Cynthia - A Book About Nothing

Tuesday, June 7th: Announcement of the big prize winner on Josie's Blog!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox {66}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Here's what I got:

For Review:
Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson
MG - looks a like fun read!

Tighter by Adele Griffin
When I got this I cracked it open, meaning to just read the first few pages,...150 pages later...

Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson
I've been wanting to read this series forever! Now I have a good excuse to track down the previous books!

Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
I haven't read the first book, but I did see and love the movie. :) Will have to grab the first book when I can.

Huge thanks to Harper Collins and Random House!

Today is the last day to enter for a copy of The Goddess Test! Be sure to enter here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies

My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

publisher:
Egmont USA

release date: May 10th, 2011

hardcover, 320 pages


intended audience: Young adult

rating:




source: from publisher for honest review

description:High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he's achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he'll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don't mix.

Set against the backdrop of a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Zadoff's latest is a bromance, a love story, and theater story in one. The politics of love and high school collide as Adam struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light.

Review: Every once in a while, I come across a book that reminds me why I love to read. I love being in someone else’s world, seeing things in a completely different way than I’ve thought of them before. Simple things that are around us every day, things most people take for granted. My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies is one of those books. I really, really enjoyed this one. I was so engrossed in this funny little snapshot in the life of Adam Zeigler that I sat down to crack it open and before the end of the day I had turned the last page.

The theater that Zadoff presents to us is like a world and culture of its own. And for the Monclair High Theater kids, it’s the tech crew (or Techies) against the actors. Each side thinks they are better than the other. Each side thinks the other will be the death of the current production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. No fraternizing with the enemy. And definitely no dating the enemy. So, of course, you see the West Side Story-esque romance coming a mile away, but it’s so well written, so charmingly entertaining, that it doesn’t matter at all.

Adam is a great character. He’s just a normal kid, worried about girls, worried about school, completely self-conscious about zits. He is a techie all the way, and lighting is his life. Adam’s actually somewhat afraid of the dark because every time it surrounds him, he has flashbacks of his father before he died. He has to deal with that, with the jerky hot-shot Derek, who thinks he’s running the show no matter who he steps on to do it, with a funny yet sometimes overbearing best friend, and with seeing what happens when he falls for a girl that is supposedly off limits…she’s one of them…an actor.

It was fun getting a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes workings of a theater production. I never really gave a thought to how the lighting changes the whole way the play is perceived. I learned a lot from this book!

This one was just a sweet, wildly entertaining read all the way through. It’s a great story about friends, love, loss, fear, self-confidence, and standing up for yourself. Oh, and light. It’s very much about light and every person’s moment in the spotlight.

Favorite quote:

“I don’t know how to talk to women,” I say

“News flash, you’re talking to me,”

“But you’re a techie.”

“I’m a female techie. Remember these babies?”

Grace sticks out her chest.

“Remember them? I almost lost an eye,” I say.

Visit Allen Zadoff's website here.

Purchase My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies at:

AmazonBN.comBookDepository Indiebound

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

hitting shelves September 13, 2011 from Doubleday

description:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.


My thoughts: I came across this book just today. I'm not sure if it's meant to be YA or not (I saw it on both "shelves" at Goodreads), BUT I couldn't care less because the story looks amazing. A spooky circus that appears out of nowhere? Two young magicians that are groomed for a duel to the death, but they fall in love instead?? I can't wait to devour this. Check out the praise so far:

"Puts me in mind of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes lightened up by Harry Potter. This will be big."
--Library Journal

"Every once in awhile you find a novel so magical that there is no escaping its spell. The Night Circus is one of these rarities -- engrossing, beautifully written and utterly enchanting. If you choose to read just one novel this year, this is it."
Danielle Trussoni, author of Angelology

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Die For Me

Die for Me by Amy Plum

publisher: HarperTeen

release date: May 10, 2011

hardcover, 341 pages

intended audience: Young adult

rating:





source: through Netgalley for honest review

description: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

Review: I'm not a fan of the zombie trend going on right now in YA fiction. I'm the first to admit that as soon as I hear the word zombie, I will more than likely skip along to the next selection. Luckily, going into this book, I had no idea what the paranormal aspect was. Even more luckily, these were zombies like you've never imagined them before. :) As a matter of fact, even though they are referred to as such in the story, I wouldn't even consider them the same fantastical creature. No rotting flesh, no brain-feasting. Amy Plum has expertly created a whole new undead and reanimated being. These were zombies that even I could fall for.

Really enjoyed the character development. When we first meet Kate, she has been uprooted and moved to Paris with her sister, Georgia. After the death of their parents, she is pretty much drowning in grief, hesitant to rejoin the world just yet, while her sister deals with their loss in the opposite way---going out to party every night. It was interesting seeing Kate come out of her shell and, eventually, seeing Georgia learn some hard lessons. Then there is Vincent. It's not so much Vincent's supposed perfect looks that caught my attention---after all there is an overabundance of "beautiful, god-like, flawless" looking guys running rampant in YA novels. It was what he and his family did, the purpose of the Revenants. I won't spoil it, you need to read it to find out,...but their actions and reason for doing them is the thing that won me over. I also loved Charlotte, one of Vincent's "sisters". She is funny and sweet and a good friend to Kate.

This is a romantic story, and what made it even more so was being set against the fabulous backdrop of Paris. It played out like a breathtaking sightseeing tour, then made it even more beautiful and personal by the memories it sparked in Kate. We visit every corner, from the museums to the Seine, from the eerie catacombs to the Eiffel. Even the seedier dark corners of Paris play their parts.

Also worth a mention is the fact that, while we know this book is the first in a series, this book could have stood alone and been perfect. In a genre that is known for it's cliffhanger endings, Die For Me's ending was a breath of fresh air. Sure, now that I love the characters, I want more of them---but I don't feel like my satisfaction with the story relies on the sequel. It feels complete just on it's own and I love that.

While some points of this stories felt achingly familiar to other stories we've almost all read before, the imaginative and truly unique paranormal aspect of it, the amazing romance, and several intriguing twists and turns made this a story I easily fell in love with.

Visit Amy Plum's website here.

Purchase Die For Me at: AmazonBN.com BookDepository Indiebound

Trailer:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some news & announcements!

Hello everyone! Happy Monday :)

First off, I just want to point out to all the publishers and authors that happen to stop by here, that I've just completely overhauled and updated my review policy. See it here.

Secondly, I want to announce the winner of the April New Reads Giveaway:

Congrats to SMALL REVIEW!!!

She will get to pick any April release for her prize! If you didn't win, this month, no worries! Be sure to enter HERE for a chance to win a new release for May! :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In My Mailbox {65}

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we all share what we got during the week!

Some lovely stuff this week! :D


For review:
The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
This one looks really good---read the first few pages and can't wait to get to the rest!

The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Hearing great things about this one!

The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Not pictured above because I lent it to a friend who is a fellow Zafon fan! I really enjoyed Prince of Mists, so I'm really looking forward to this one! Here's the cover:

Library:
Chime by Frannie Billingsley
Have wanted to get a hold of this one for awhile!

What did you get in your mailbox? Hope everyone has a great reading week and to all you mommies out there, Happy Mother's Day on Sunday!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Shimmer

Shimmer by Alyson Noel

publisher:
Square Fish

release date: March 15, 2011


paperback, 187 pages


intended audience: Middle Grade

other books in the series: Radiance (
review)

rating:



source: from publisher for review

description: Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?

Review: This was an enjoyable read, although I like the first book in the Riley Bloom series just a bit better. After Riley's big success at her first assignment to get lost souls to cross the bridge in to the Here & Now, her, her mentor, Bodhi, and her dog, Buttercup, have decided to celebrate with a little vacation down to St. John in the Virgin Islands so she can see where her parents honeymooned. While they are there, they come across some very dark, very lost souls. One in particular, Rebecca, is full of anger at the way her life ended and likes to trap other souls in memories of their own pain and anger. Riley insists on trying to stop her, but she has to be careful not to get trapped herself!

The historical aspect of the story was fascinating, but also very sad. It seemed well researched, but I felt a little more telling than showing---I had a hard time really immersing into this story, Still, the author does a terrific job keeping Riley's actions and attitudes true to her age (12 years). She is just as snarky and stubborn as ever, and rightfully, sometimes it works for her, and sometimes it gets her into deeper trouble.

The direction that the story took in the end was really good, but I was a bit unsatisfied with where the story was cut off. For me, I would have liked to see it end either a little earlier (very vague spoiler, highlight to read: where the main part of the story gets resolved) or a little later (again, very vague spoiler:after our fearless hero takes her lumps for her disobedience---or possibly gets commended for it, who knows?). The cliffhanger is so abrupt that it felt almost like a ploy to get the reader to read the next book rather than a satisfying ending that leaves you wanting more because you love it.

If you enjoy middle grade fiction with a bit of a dark side, definitely give this one a go!

Visit Alyson Noel's site here.

Purchase Shimmer at: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound

Trailer:


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.


Wreckers
by Julie Hearn

release date: March 2011 by OUP Oxford (*see note below!)

description:
The lid gave, eventually, with surprisingly little noise. Nothing splintered. Nothing broke. No hinges flew, or even creaked, and for a second or two nothing happened at all. Then came the first scream. It blew out a candle, that scream ...'Shut the lid! For the love of God ...SHUT THE LID!' And so the box was slammed shut, hidden away, and forgotten about. But what lay within was only dormant ...waiting for the time when it would be released, and let loose upon the world. And that time was about to come ...That time is now.

This fantastic new novel from acclaimed writer, Julie Hearn, is truly unique and tells of friendship, secrets, love, hate and hope.

My thoughts: *Okay, so it says this one is already out, BUT I think it's only out in the UK and I'm unable to get it on BookDepository---so technically, I'm still waiting for this one! :D That counts, right? But doesn't it sound amazing? From what I've read, its set in the future--- about five friends who spend the night in an old creepy house on Halloween and find something hidden in the walls (pandora's box, maybe?). Sounds a bit creepy! I need to track this down! :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Traveling Book Box!!

So last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the Traveling Book Box hosted by Moonlight Book Reviews!! This was such a fun idea...here's the gist of it: A box chock full of yummy bookness is traveling around. We're talking SIXTEEN books!! When the box comes to you, you have three days to ponder over all the books and decide what you want to keep. You can keep as many as you please, but however many you take out, you have to put that many back in. So there is always 16 books in the box. So, want to see what I kept and what I put in?? Here we go!

What I kept:


Blood & Flowers was an ARC, and the story looks really good (fairies!). The other two were perfect..I've been wanting to read this series forever but I had somehow picked up only the second book in the series. Now I have the first and the third to go with it! :D

What I put in:



All three of these were ARCs...hope they find a lovely new home along their way!
I won't reveal the rest of what was in the box, that way it will still be a surprise to the next person to get the fabulous Traveling Book Box! This is still going on, so if you want to participate in this, sign up at Moonlight Book Reviews!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What's New: May Releases & Giveaway

Are you ready for this? Because May is an amazing month of YA releases!! I was floored when I was compiling this list, it just kept going, and going, and going!! If this is your first time visiting for this feature, "What's New" New Reads List & Giveaway here at Stories & Sweeties is where you'll find a full list of the new releases in YA for the month, and entry to the giveaway. At the end of each month, one lucky winner will get to choose any new release as their prize! So, look out, here it comes: the May book birthdays!!
May Releases:

{1}
Captured by Maggie L. Woods
Darkening by Maggie L. Woods
Shine by Lauren Myracle

{3}
Almost Final Curtain by Tate Hallaway
Bite Club (Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine
Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
Illusions by Aprilynne Pike
The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
Me & Tennessee by Sheridan Hernandez
Princess for Hire: The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt
Shift by Jeri Ready-Smith
So Much Closer by Susan Colasti
Throne of Fire by Rick Riordin

{4}
Spinning Out by David Stahler

{10}

A & L Do Summer by Jan Blazanin
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Flawless by Lara Chapman
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland on a Ship of Her Own Making by Cat Valente
Hidden by Helen Frost
Jane Jones: Worst Vampire Ever by Caissie St. Onge
Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson
The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Alan Zadoff
My Not-So-Still Life by Liz Gallagher
OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Then by Morris Gleitzman
Things I Know About Love by Kate Le Vann
Tighter by Adele Griffin
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl

{12}
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

{17}
The Dark City: Relic Master by Catherine Fisher
The Fires Beneath the Sea by Lydia Millet
I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Mercy by Rebecca Lim
Vampire Kisses 8: Cryptic Cravings by Ellen Schreiber

{24}
The A Circuit by Catherine Hapka & Georgina Bloomberg
Angel Burn by Lee Weatherly
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
If I Could Fly by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Lark by Tracey Porter
Putting Makeup on Dead People by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin
Something Deadly This Way Comes by Kim Harrison
The Warlock by Michael Scott
Welcome to Bordertown by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Charles De Lint, etc.
With or Without You by Brian Farrey
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

{30}
Watched by Sharde Richardson

{31}

The Ivy: Secrets by Lauren Kunz & Rina Onur
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Nightspell by Leah Cypress
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini


(links go to Goodreads)
Please feel free to email me if you notice any YA titles missing! :)

Giveaway Details: One winner will win a May Release of their choice! *see note below
• Contest ends at 11:59 PM, PST on May 31st, 2011.
• Must be 13 or older
• Open internationally. *International winners will be required to choose a book that is available through BookDepository.com.
• Please enter one time only for each monthly giveaway.

*Contest Closed!*