Saturday, April 30, 2011

Christi's Adventures: Bumped Launch Party



Have you entered to win a copy of One Hundred Candles yet?


Tuesday, April 26th, I made the drive out to Princeton (no flat tires this time, fortunately), to attend the launch party of Megan McCafferty's Bumped. I arrived about a half hour before the scheduled start time (just enough time to hit the ladies room and purchase my books), and as I was settling in, a woman leaned over and asked, "Are you Christi?" To which I replied, "Are you Kristie?" It was my cosmic twin, Kristie from Text and Java! I was so excited to finally meet her. She's a fellow librarian in NJ and attending NJLA next week (and BEA later in the month), so we're going to have lots of opportunities to network!

Soon enough Megan McCafferty was announced!

(Not the best shot, I know, but apparently this girl with the pigtails had been waiting all day for Megan.)

She began by discussing where her inspiration for Bumped came from, and how she envisioned the book as a satire more than a science fiction novel. She then read a few pages from the middle of the book--and can I just say how much I loved hearing her read? The voices she took on for the characters were exactly the way I imagined they would be!


After the reading she took a few questions and then we all lined up to get our books signed. I'd say there were about 2 dozen people in attendance.

(me and Megan)

(Me, Megan, and Cosmic Twin Kristie)

As Kristie and I waited in line, another girl came up to me. It was Steph from Steph Su Reads! I'd commented on a post of hers, saying I'd be at the launch, and she heard my name while I was in line. She invited Kristie and I out with her and a few other bloggers in attendance. Kristie needed to get home, but I went out to dinner with Steph and her friends. I had a great time meeting new people and talking about books.

All in all it was a great evening!
Enjoy your reading!
Christi





Friday, April 29, 2011

Pearl by Jo Knowles (Banned Books Tour)

Have you entered to win a copy of One Hundred Candles yet?


Pearl by Jo Knowles
Henry Holt & Company Books for Young Readers, July 19, 2011
Read for YA Contemps Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.

Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all together. And they threaten to change everything—including Bean’s relationship with Henry, her first friend, and who also might turn out to be her first love.
As soon as I found out about this book (I believe through the YA Contemps website), it was on my list, which is obvious, if I'm planning on reading all of the YA Contemps books. But, after reading Jumping Off Swings and my #2 MAHROATLessons From a Dead Girl, I knew it was an absolute must-read. And after reading Pearl, it's official: I have a fan-girl crush on Jo Knowles.

But enough about me, on to the book. Pearl, our main character, is 15 (the same age her mom was when she got pregnant with her) and more commonly known as Bean (she thinks because her grandpa, Gus, hates her given name). Bean is the definition of social outcast. Mom Lexie wants nothing to do with her, but Gus is the most doting grandfather a girl could ask for. He does what he can to make up for Lexie's shortcomings--and then has no problem letting Lexie know that she has shortcomings. It's a tense household.

So it's no wonder that Bean and Henry become friends at a young age. Henry has his own home problems--Dad left when Henry was a baby and mom Sally hasn't left the house in years. I'm telling you, my heart was constantly breaking for these two kids, but at the same time, I was so grateful that they managed to find each other, and were smart enough to hold on to that friendship for all these years.

So the pair are sweltering through the summer, watching soaps with Sally and listening to Gus and Lexie argue--nothing out of the ordinary. Until Gus dies and Bean's world gets turned upside-down. Lexie's best friend since childhood, Claire, arrives to help out, and in a weird twist, the pair take Sally, Henry's mom, on as a pet project. No one seems to be grieving the loss of Gus, the only father figure in Bean's life, and no one seems to remember Gus as the loving grandfather she knew him to be. Bits and pieces of her mom's past get revealed, and Bean is shocked to discover that the Gus she knew and loved was not the same Gus her mother knew at all.

Jo Knowles has a gift for telling a story, and creating characters that we love, or love to hate. I read this book in less than two hours. The chapters are the perfect length--not too long, not too short, and at natural breaks in the story. And I loved the relationship between Henry and Bean! It was so innocent and pure, but with that tiny hint that it might, someday, be more. Really, their friendship is all the pair has.

Claire was the perfect antagonist, although by the end of the book I had a new appreciation for her behavior. Still, none of what happened was Bean's fault, and although I empathized with Claire, I still really disliked the way she treated Bean.

The moms were on opposite ends of the spectrum. Bean's mom, Lexie, was either out at her job, or out doing who-knows-what with who-knows-who. By comparison, Henry's mom, Sally, never leaves the house. Both moms had their faults--I get that Lexie had Bean when she was only 15, and wasn't ready to be a mom, but guess what? You are. You should try acting like it sometime. And Sally just needs to get out of her dream world. After fifteen years, it's a pretty safe assumption that her husband isn't coming back. Get off the damn couch, woman!

But I saved the best for last--Gus. Oh, how Bean loved Gus, and I loved Bean's Gus, too. But learning about Lexie's Gus caused my love to falter a little, as did Bean's. Will she be able to reconcile the Gus she loves with the Gus she never knew? And I felt cheated (as Bean did) that we never got to meet the grandmother. I felt that if she was around, this story would have had a completely different outcome.

Pearl is such a wonderful story. I hope you all put it on your to-read lists when it comes out this summer! And now I'm off to find out if Jo Knowles will be anywhere in the New Jersey area anytime soon, so I can stalk her meet her in person.

A note on the cover: I love it. Simple and understated, but meaningful. I hope they leave it just like this for the final product!

ARC received as part of a Banned Books Tour (thanks, Jen Bigheart!)
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti


Have you entered to win a copy of One Hundred Candles yet?

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
Viking Children's Books, May 3, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
When Brooke's crush, Scott, moves from their suburban town to New York City, she decides to follow him there. Living with her formerly estranged dad and adapting to a new school are challenging, and things go from bad to worse when Brooke learns that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she builds her new life, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed. And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner...
I had high expectations when I started reading this book--Susane Colasanti is one of the queens of realistic fiction, and I was hoping for a fun romance. The story was fun, and yes, there was romance. It was an enjoyable read, and Colasanti fans will enjoy it, I'm sure.

However, you kind of have to suspend belief to make the plot work, though. Brooke Knows that Scott is the one for her, but he's moving. Oh, so sad. Maybe they could exchange phone numbers or email addresses. Or...maybe...she'll just move in with her father (who she haven't spoken to in six years) so that she can be closer to Scott and then he'll Know that they're meant to be, too! Yeah, that's pretty realistic. But what I did like was that Brooke didn't get all stalker-ish on Scott once she got settled in NYC. I mean, she did have some stalker moments, don't get me wrong, but she also made some new friends, developed new interests, and just started having fun. We get the sense that Scott may have been the push that got Brooke to NYC, but living in NYC has always been her dream, and she's not about to waste that opportunity. Which is a refreshing viewpoint to read about, in my opinion.

The whole fact that Brooke is a secret genus, but doesn't possess a ton of common sense, bothered me. I get that she's against school as an institution but the whole bad grades thing was stretched a little thin for me. It was difficult for me to sympathize with Brooke when she was so obviously the only one trying to sabatoge her future with her apathy towards her eduction.

I would have preferred it if all the relationships had been fleshed out more. It seems we only get snippets of Brooke's relationships with each of her parents, and those snippets don't seem to justify the animosity she feels towards them. In addition, the whole falling out with April and Candice, her BFFs from NJ, was odd and felt rushed.

However, I loved John and Sadie, two of Brooke's new friends. Fun, independent, quirky, they saved this story. Everyone should have a John and Sadie in their life.

ARC received from publisher.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

Have you entered to win a copy of One Hundred Candles yet?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breaking the Spine to help showcase upcoming releases.

This week I'm waiting for Never Have I Ever, book 2 in The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard.


I can't find a description on Goodreads or Barnes & Noble yet, but who cares, right? If you loved The Lying Game, you too will be anxiously awaiting this new book! Never Have I Ever is scheduled for an August 2 release by HarperCollins.

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Have you entered to win a copy of One Hundred Candles yet?

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Harper Teen, April 26, 2011


Summary from Goodreads:

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was
behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
Here's another book that didn't *need* to be written--although 13 Little Blue Envelopes had an open ending, I thought it worked very well and would have been sastisfied with it as a standalone. However, I must confess that I am so glad Maureen Johnson decided to write a second book! I was so excited to jump back into Ginny's world and explore Europe with her. I don't want to give away any spoilers for those who haven't read 13 Little Blue Envelopes yet, so this will be a pretty short review. I'll just say that I loved it! England! Ireland! Aunt Peg! Richard! (I LOVE Richard!) Keith! Even Ellis! And Oliver! Who I'm still not sure about, even after finishing the book.

Just trust me, if you loved 13 Little Blue Envelopes, you will adore The Last Little Blue Envelope!! Go get it NOW!

eGalley received from NetGalley.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway from Author Mara Purnhagen!

Greetings! I am delighted that Mara Purnhagen, author of One Hundred Candles, has offered to stop by with a guest post and giveaway. Without further ado...
I think other authors would agree that the question we are asked most frequently is, “Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. I would love to be able to answer with, “the whole thing came to me in a dream, from start to finish, and I wrote it all down the next day.” If it was that easy, I’d spend half my day curled up in bed instead of hunched over the keyboard at my desk. I usually begin writing a book with the spark of an idea, a few clear images swimming in my head and a dose of faith in the creative process. 

For my third YA novel, One Hundred Candles (the second book in the Past Midnight series), I thought about the games I played during high school sleepovers, particularly at my friend Nicole’s house. We often took part in slumber party staples like “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” and “Bloody Mary.”

“One Hundred Candles” is a real (although obscure) game. It requires a group of people to sit in a circle and reveal their personal ghost stories. After each story, a candle is lit. When all one hundred stories have been told and all one hundred candles are glowing, one hundred spirits will join the group. That’s when the game really begins. Participants claim that weird things begin to happen, from doors opening to clocks chiming. It will continue (supposedly) until the circle is broken. I discovered the game by accident when I was browsing the internet for the rules to a completely different game. When I read the description of “One Hundred Candles,” I was hooked.

Although this wasn’t a game I ever played at one of my slumber parties, I thought it was a great concept for a book. Charlotte Silver, the main character, is drawn into the game at a New Year’s Eve party. The results are not what she expects. While writing the book, I kept asking myself “what if?” What if you played a game and it unleashed something strange?  What if your school suddenly became haunted? Asking “what if” is often a great way to develop new ideas for your work.

Sometimes I stumble into the idea for a book. Sometimes I pull a thread from one of my memories and reshape it into something else. And sometimes I do wake up from a dream with a single image and go from there. But they never seem to come from just one place. So where do I get my ideas?

Everywhere.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Mara! If you'd like to learn more about Mara or the Past Midnight series, you can visit Mara's website. One Hundred Candles was released by Harlequin on February 15th. Here's the summary from Goodreads:

It's taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I'm settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it's not as if Noah is anything more than a friend….
But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I've opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.
Sound like something you might be interested in? Mara has graciously offered up a copy of One Hundred Candles to one lucky winner! Simply leave a comment with your email address. You don't have to be a follower (although it's always appreciated!), and this contest is international, although you have to be over the age of 13. Contest runs from April 25 until May 9.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (31)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week! Wait til you see!!

OMG OMG OMG OMG So a while back I bid on an auction on the Children's Authors & Illustrators for Japan website. Guess what? I was one of two winners on Jo Knowles' auction! Jo graciously offered to send me a signed first edition of either Jumping Off Swings or Lessons From a Dead Girl. Now, I loved Jumping Off Swings, but OF COURSE I said I wanted a signed copy of my #2 MAHRAOT!!

So, it came in the mail, and I was totes screaming and all fan girly!
Not only did Jo sign the book, but she referenced my review and my career! And sent along a bookmark and signed postcard, too! I can't stop using exclamation points!

This means, of course, that I now have an extra copy of Lessons From a Dead Girl--and of course I'm going to share the love for this Most Awesomely Horrifying Read of All Time! Look for a giveaway soon!

I also won a contest at Julia Karr's blog, and she sent a signed XVI bookmark:
Right now I just have all of my super-special swag in an envelope, but would love some ideas for displaying signed bookmarks, etc. If you display cool swag, how do you do it? Any ideas would be appreciated!

Received as part of a book blog tour from I Read Banned Books:
  • Pearl by Jo Knowles (squee~it's Jo Knowles week! Already read & love this--my review will be up next week!)

Borrowed from the library:
  • Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser (for an upcoming review & interview)
Downloaded to my nook:
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (free at Barnes & Noble!)
  • 44 by Jools Sinclair (from the Bookish Snob Promotions for an upcoming blog tour)
What did you get?

Happy Easter!
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, April 22, 2011

Family by Micol Ostow

Family by Micol Ostow
EgmontUSA, April 26, 2011
Read for YA Contemps Challenge and A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

i have always been broken. i could have. died.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.

It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and best of all a family. One that will embrace her and offer love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.

Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” ag
ain.
Tell me that cover doesn't freak you out? Love it. At the time I'm writing this post, Micol Ostow is using the book cover as her profile picture, and it weirds me out a little every time I see it. Fun stuff, I tell you.

Now, the story. I'm only vaguely familiar with the Manson murders, but I assumed that, this being a fictionalized account, you shouldn't really need that much background info. I was able to understand the story, but, like I said, I kind of knew what I was getting into. A random teen who's never heard of Charles Manson or doesn't know much about life in 1969 San Francisco will have a difficult time relating to this story. Even after spending time reading about the Manson murders on the Internet, I'm still not sure I understand what all went down.

Melinda has a wretched home life, with a passive mother and an abusive "uncle," and makes the decision to run away. Henry (the Manson character) finds her and takes her under his proverbial wing with the rest of his "family." Now, Henry isn't some ordinary guy--apparently the women of his family feel that He's the 1969 version of Jesus Christ. See what I did there? The only capitals used throughout this entire book are Henry, He, His, Him, etc. He's that important.

I don't really get why He's so revered by this group of people. It might be because the women He's chosen are broken in some way, and this family is the closest they've ever come to a real one. It might be because Henry exudes charm and charisma, and is easy on the eyes. Or, it just might be the tons and tons of drugs everyone's doing.

Regardless, His word is law, even if it's a weird law. I totally get why and how Melinda ended up with this cult, and her voice rings true throughout the story. I'm just not sure that teens will be able to relate to her, or the plot. It's a great story for those who have some knowledge of the history, though!

ARC received from publisher.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Winner of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes!


Thank you to everyone who shared an ordinary catastrophe with me--they made me feel so much better about my own catastrophes, which happen far too frequently. Like the time I carefully created a tray of stuffed shells (which is quite the time-consuming process), carefully wrapped the Pyrex casserole dish--and then proceeded to drop the whole thing on the floor (glass, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and 2 Labradors...not a pretty sight!). Or, more recently, when I plugged  my iPod into hubby's computer--and crashed the whole damn thing (still not sure how I managed to do that).

Anyway, I had Random.org select a winning catastrophe for me, and the winner is...

Maya


Congratulations (and I hope your foot has healed nicely!)! I will be emailing you for your mailing address--you have 48 hours to respond!

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breaking the Spine to help showcase upcoming releases.

This week I'm waiting for Tighter by Adele Griffin.


Here's the summary from Goodreads:
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.
Sounds like a great psychological thriller! I actually pre-ordered this for my nook so I can read it as soon as it's released on May 10!

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson
Scholastic Press, March 1, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
From acclaimed author Blake Nelson, the story of girl meets boy...in rehab.
Madeline is sent away to Spring Meadows to help with a drinking and rage problem she has. It's a pretty intense place, but there is the weekly movie night in town--where Madeline meets Stewart, who's at another rehab place nearby. They fall for each other during a really crazy time in their lives. Madeline gets out and tries to get back on her feet, waiting for Stewart to join her. When he does, though, it's not the ideal recovery world Madeline dreamed of. Both of them still have serious problems. And Stewart's are only getting worse....

I really enjoyed this story. The chapters were pretty short, which made the story go by quickly. I found Maddie to be likable enough as a narrator. She describes herself as a hardass when she was at her worst, but we never really saw that side of her. Yes, she could be pretty mean to her friends (particularly Martin), but I think that was more because she didn't know how to be nice.

A few things bothered me about the story, though. It was a little difficult for me to not know what happens that got Maddie finally sent off to rehab. No, it doesn't really matter--the story is about recovery, after all, but I felt like I was missing a major piece of the story. I kept trying to convince myself that I didn't really need to know what Maddie was like pre-rehab, but the little glimspes that she gives us just aren't enough to get the whole picture.

Maddie's parents were the other components that bothered me. Her dad visited every now and then, and mom makes an appearence once in a while, but they are really secondary characters, and that surprises me. I don't know, they're footing the bill for Maddie's rehab (or whatever the insurance doesn't pay, I guess), but I never really see any love or affection from them. I can totes understand them being cautious around Maddie, but all those nights she's out searching for Stewart and no one bothers to demand to know where she is? I don't get love from them, I don't get mistrust from them, they're just...there.

Still, I really enjoyed this story, and watching Maddie grow from drug addict to a strong young woman. She's a powerful character.

Borrowed book from library.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, April 18, 2011

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams


Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
St. Martin's Griffin, March 15, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....
“No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.
Holy moly, was this an intense read! It was not at all what I expected (and I've purposefully avoided reading any reviews), but it was so much better than what I imagined it would be! A contemporary read with a bit of a ghost story mixed in. The whole book takes place over just one day, but what an event-filled day it is!

Carol Lynch Williams is a master storyteller. We're right with Lacey all through the story, which means that we don't really understand everything that's going on at first (like, why is Granddaddy is Lacey's room, watching her sleep? Creepy!). Telling the story this way drives us to find out more--I was cursing myself that I couldn't read fast enough! (And as for Granddaddy, well hey, it only gets creepier!) And the last twenty pages or so, oh my word I had to force myself to read them, and not just skim over to find out what happens! And there was one scene at the beginning, where Momma was getting off the bus at Winn-Dixie, where I just about burst into tears, imagining little 14-year-old Lacey watching Momma the way most mothers watch their kids head off to school. It was such a powerful passage in the story!

Borrowed book from library.


Enjoy your reading!Christi

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (30)

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!


Won:


  • Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton, from a contest over at Hooked to Books:


  • Murder Takes the Cake by Gayle Trent from a contest over at Princess Bookie:

Received from author for review:
  • Wild Child by Mike Wells
Borrowed from the library:
  • Numbers: the Chaos by Rachel Ward
What did you get?

Apologizing in advance because I won't be around to comment on IMMs today and tomorrow--Daughter and I are off on another road trip adventure!

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, April 15, 2011

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Delacorte Press, January 5, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Authors Challenge and A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?
Oh, what a sweet, sweet story this was! I absolutely fell in love with it. Poor Ari, living her entire life in the shadow of her pefect best friend Summer and her not-so-perfect older sister Evelyn. She really has nothing to call her own. Sure, she's an artist, but Mom doesn't think that will be enough. She's basically just moving through life without experiencing it.

Through an unexpected inheritance Ari is able to attend Hollister Prep, where Summer goes, and there she befriends rich loner Leigh. It's under Leigh's wing that Ari develops her own personality, as well as crushes on both of Leigh's cousins, brothers Del and Blake. The crush on Blake develops into a serious relationship and Ari is finally (finally!) happy, but of course it's not going to last for long.

And you really can't blame Ari for being so miserable, can you? I mean, her parents can't really relate to her, her sister is a 23-year-old washed up housewife married to a hottie firefighter, and her best friend is Ms. Gorgeous who can have any guy she wants. (I get that her sister suffers from postpartum, although I don't think that was a clinical term back in the 80s. Or maybe it was, but it wasn't as accepted as a diagnosis as it is today. Anyway, yeah, her bitchiness is justified, but seriously, what mother would allow her older daughter to BAN the younger one from holiday functions? Seriously? Where's the Ari love?) It is kind of strange that Ari doesn't have anyone else to turn to, but I think that unfortunately, that happens all too often in real life.

And Blake! Oh, how I loved and hated Blake! He was so sensitive and sweet and kind and patient and SO UNWILLING TO HAVE A SPINE. Summer was perfect as the not-so-perfect best friend, and I even felt for poor Leigh, who's had her own share of grief and is trying to move past it.

And this is all taking place in New York in the mid-80's! I loved the mid-80s! Even though I was really just a smidge too young to properly enjoy them. I would have loved to have been a teenager in 1980's New York; even as crime-ridden as it was and with the threat of AIDS quickly becoming a reality, I think there's a sense of innocence in that time that we haven't seen since, and probably never will again. What I loved about this novel was that the time period was vitally important, the story would be just as powerful were it set in today's world. Ari's insecurity knows no bounds.

I thought the ending was absolutely perfect for the story. I know some won't agree with me, but I felt it worked quite well. All in all, a powerful debut novel (I must say that overall I've been extremely impressed with the 2011 debuts I've read so far!) and I'm looking forward to more from Lorraine!

Borrowed book from library.


Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breaking the Spine to help showcase upcoming releases.


This week I'm waiting for As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott. I found out about it when I was visiting her web page; here's the description they have posted:

What if you woke up and didn't know where you were?
What if you didn't know who you were?
And what if, when your memories started to come back--what if they didn't match the you that you're supposed to be?
There's no cover or even a definite pub date there, but Goodreads has September 15 as release date, and this as the cover:


YAY!

Elizabeth's newest, Between Here and Forever, hasn't even been released yet, but I'm already anxiously waiting for this next one!

What are you waiting for?

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan
Harcourt Children's Books, September 19, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteen-year-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids.
Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.
I requested this book from NetGalley because it looked cute and I thought it would be a fun, quiet little read that I would enjoy. Little did I know that I would fall madly in love with it.
 
That's right. I LOVED this book. When we first meet Eleanor she's seven months pregnant and sober, so we only have to learn about her "past life" as a juvenile delinquent through her recollections. Apparently, she was a pretty wretched teen, and has been sent to juvenile detention more than once. Not a daughter you'd be proud to call your own, and if the book had started with her pre-pregnancy, I may not have fallen as hard for this book as I did.
 
But, as I've said, we only hear about that side of Elly through her memories, and she's already way preggers at the start of the book. I loved Elly and Lam's relationship at the beginning of the book. Lam could hardly be called a saint, and I cannot believe he went out partying on their wedding night, but we could see that he loved Elly in his way, and I love how he stood up for her with Jen.
 
Elly was an awesome character, too. Right away we could see that she's not a bad kid. You'd probably act out, too, if your missionary parents spend more time and attention in Kenya than on their own daughter. Elly's got a good heart and the best of intentions--she just has the tendency to listen to that good heart more than her brain. Oh, and she also has a really crappy family. Her parents have to travel to Africa to help the orphans there, but don't give a rat's ass about what their daughter is going through (and it only gets worse as the story progresses.) And her sister? Little Miss Holier-Thank-Thou? She's suffered through miscarriage after miscarriage, and wants nothing more than to take Elly's baby and raise it as her own. Because it's the best thing for the baby. (And of course her parents agree.) But Lam's parents would be happy to raise the baby as their own, too. It's like everyone wants what they think is best, but no one ever stops to consider Elly and Lam's (well, mostly Elly's) feelings. Yes, I get that she's only 16, they have no money, blah, blah, and yeah, it sucks, but NO ONE will even acknowledge that Elly even HAS an opinion, let alone will they let her voice it. Basically, everyone in this book (except Elly and maybe Leo) are selfish bastards who phrase their wants in the form of "it's for the best" so they can get what they want. Ugh.
 
And I haven't even talked about the camp! And the campers! And Lam's wacky parents. And Ziggy and Leo. And how Lam goes from being a pretty decent guy to being a complete slimeball--but will Elly realize that? And if she does, how will she react to that? And will she keep the baby? Give it to her sister or Lam's parents? Does she even want the baby?
 
I don't want to give away too much (and even though the blurb tells you there's a tragedy, believe me, you'll be thrown for a loop), but I have to say that the last third of the book was nothing at all what I expected it to be, and the last few pages? I couldn't read them fast enough. Seriously, it was that good.
 
Then, when I started putting this post together, I discovered that Pregnant Pause won't be released until September. September! That's far too long for me to wait to share my love for this book. So please, if you haven't already, get yourself over to NetGalley, create an account, and request this title!

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, April 11, 2011

Haven by Kristi Cook

Haven by Kristi Cook
Simon Pulse, February 22, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start--a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there--every student, every teacher--has psychic abilities, 'gifts and talents,' they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend--Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye--much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy--if only they can do so without destroying each other first.
I loved the premise of this story. Prestigous boarding school? Awesome. Prestigious boarding school whose students all possess some kind of super power? Epic awesome.

But then. The one thing that I can't stand makes an appearance in this book. If you know me personally, you can probably guess what this is. If you don't, I will tell you (what kind of review would this be otherwise?) But I will leave suitable space for those who haven't read Haven yet, but are planning to.
























Still with me?
























Last chance to back away....


















Are you ready?


































VAMPIRES. Maybe I'm a complete dumbass, but I really didn't know there would be VAMPIRES in this book. I thought it was going to be a book about kids with weird freaky powers. And I do not like VAMPIRES.


Not only were there VAMPIRES in this book, but I didn't really feel that these VAMPIRES were any different than other VAMPIRES in other paranormal books. Our vampire is yes, hotter than hot, but oh! So cold to the touch. And he doesn't require that much sleep. And he can't give in to his sexual urges without feeling the overwhelming need to feed. And did I mention that he can run really really fast? And OF COURSE he falls in love with a mortal who will do anything to be with him. I'm sorry, but it's just so overdone--and I don't even read that much VAMPIRE fiction.


The story (up untl the VAMPIRES) was actually pretty engrossing. I was enjoying exploring Winterhaven along with Violet, and learning about everyone's freaky superpowers, and how the school teaches the students how to control them.


Sigh. Now, I know  I'm in the minority right now, but I'm not a huge fan of paranormal books. If I stumble upon one and it's done well, then it's incredible and I'll tell anyone who wants to hear. I don't actively seek them out, though. I just can't get in to the whole vampire thing.  I despise writing reviews that aren't positive. So take this review with a grain of salt, and if you're a fan of VAMPIRES, by all means, read this book. You'll probably love this book. A LOT of people will love Haven. It just wasn't my thing.

Borrowed book from library.

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (29)

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Won from a contest over at Mod Podge Bookshelf (thanks, Gabrielle!):
  • In the Storm by Karen Metcalf (digital copy)
Downloaded to my nook:
  • Gone by Michael Grant (super-cheap--$2--at B&N)
  • Lovely by Allison Liddelle (free at B&N)
  • Wings by Aprilynne Pike (free at B&N)
eGalley received from NetGalley:
  • In Trouble by Ellen Levine
Borrowed from the library:
  • Jersey Tomatoes are the Best by Maria Padian
  • Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams (alread read--I loved it!)
  • Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
What did you get?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, April 8, 2011

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Random House Books for Young Readers, February 22, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge AND A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
In the dim light of the darkroom, I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred, so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is photogirl—sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime—and the accuser is Liz's own best friend. As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself, shifts out of focus. And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view. Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse,  Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.
Loved this book! I thought it was an excellent, powerful debut novel. The story is awesome: Liz is torn between her older brother and her best friend in a case of he said, she said. The crime being called into question happened, Liz thinks, as a direct result of her actions. She's starting to feel alienated not only from Kate, but her other friends, her boyfriend, and even her parents. Her camera is the only comfort Liz has left, until she realizes that even her art might not be enough to see her through this time.


And I have to say, I'm becoming more and more a fan of verse novels. When they're done well, they're very easy to read (this book took me just over an hour, start to finish). I have such appreciation and admiration for authors of all books, but verse novelists create a difficult task for themselves: every word counts. When using such a sparse amount of words, a verse novelist has to be so sure that the words chosen are the most perfect ones. Kimberly Marcus uses some really short verses, and some longer ones, but they're all so powerful.

Here's one of the shorter passages, just to illustrate my point (from page 87):
Panic makes its way up my spine
like ice water through a straw--
who else has she told?
Like I said, an incredible debut, and I can't wait to read more from Kimberly Marcus!

Borrowed book from library.

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Westside Books, March 2010

Summary from Goodreads:

Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail-- her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.
This was a powerful book, and quite realistic. It didn't surprise me at all to read in the author's note that Cheryl herself was a victim of sexual abuse and had turned to self-harm to cope. The cutting scenes were just that realistic for me.

I was a little conflicted by the mystery aspect of the story. The story was certainly propelled by Kenda's need to know who her assailant was, and why he's chosen now to begin stalking her. I did get a sense that too much emphasis was placed on the mystery--that once she discovered who had attacked her, she would be (almost) healed. I absolutely agree that knowing will offer up some closure for Kendra, but I don't think anyone can just simply recover from a sexual attack like that.

However, I did enjoy all of the characters in this story, and thought they were very strong. Even though she feels very alone, Kendra is actually supported by some awesome people: Sandy, a family friend; Mrs. Archer, her art teacher; her therapist (whose name currently escapes me); and Meghan, a new friend--who might become more than a friend. I also liked that Kendra was an artist, and a talented one at that.

Kendra's parents--well, they disgusted me. And that makes for a realistic story. I was better able to understand Kendra's coping mechanisms knowing that her parents (especially Mom) were utter idiots. What's that? We're having money problems? Well, of course it makes perfect sense to uproot our unstable daughter from the only home she's ever known, make her leave her friends and give up therapy! Let's do it all at once--like ripping off a Band-Aid! It'll only hurt for a minute, then you'll be fine! (By the way, I don't believe that at all. I'm a slowly-peel-the-Band-Aid-off kind of girl.)

While an emotional read, Scars is also a strong mystery thriller, and readers should be quite surprised by the end of the novel.

Borrowed book from library.

Have you entered to win a copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes yet?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interview with Amber Kizer, author of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes and GIVEAWAY!


I am delighted that Amber Kizer stopped by my little blog for an interview! Read on to learn more about Gert and her friends, and find out how you can win your very own copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes, courtesy of Amber herself! Read my review here.

I loved the realistic situations that Gert and her girls found herself in, and how honest they were with each other. Can you tell us a little about how 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes came to life? Were any of the scenes or events based on personal experience?

Gert Garibaldi just started to interrupt my writing projects. She had an opinion about everything and an editorial comment for everything else. I was tired of reading YA that didn't deal with real girls and real issues--there's still a lot of taboos among librarians and booksellers as to what girls should read about. Boys can do anything in books, but girls have a whole different set of expectations. So when Gert came along, I tried to be as true to life as possible--as if we were following her with a documentary crew instead of cleaning it up so no one gets offended. She's not for everyone--you either love her or hate her. I admire that pluck in anyone--real or fiction!


Everything that goes on in my life becomes fodder for books--there's just no other way to live. But what happens in my life didn't show up on the page recognizable to readers--think of my life as a smoothie--lots of things go in, but it looks very different once the blender button gets punched!
What would your career have been had you not become a writer?

I didn't always want to be a writer. I didn't have artistic leanings or aspirations at all. But my freshman year of college I was diagnosed with a rare nerve condition/disease that changed my world completely. In short I deal with significant pain 24/7, other weird symptoms, and my legs don't always work. So I needed a career that I could do at 3AM when I was still awake because of my legs or that I can do in spite of the restrictions my legs impose at a whim. I knew I loved books and writing could fit around bad days and doctor visits. So I began to learn the craft and the business. I am definitely where I should be, doing what I was supposed to do!
What have you read and loved recently (YA or not)?
I am currently reading TRAPPED. I loved I AM FOUR. Nonfiction I can't stop talking about are books called PEACE MEALS and THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING.Most of what I'm reading right now is research about death and dying for the third in my Meridian series, SPEED OF LIGHT, which will be released fall 2012.
Can you describe a typical writing day?
I try to write 10 news pages a day and then tackle the edits, rewrites and other projects. I usually have multiple books going at the same time, in some form, so there's a lot of juggling. Most of the time I do it from home, but when I need a break or it's tempting to work on something other than what I have to that day, I head to a local coffee shop to change up the scenery or outside when it's sunny (must take advantage of the sun here in rain country). I have walls covered in images that make me think of something in the book (those change with each book), I have white boards that  I color code and adjust as the story expands or shifts. There's a lot to the behind the scenes that readers don't see in the pages!
Would you tell us a little about your road to publication? What do you like to do when you're not reading or writing?
I'm a huge NCAA basketball fan. So this time of year it very fun. I play Wii which is a great distraction from my pain and lots of fun to play with other people. I garden, take the dog to the beach, hang out with friends, watch movies. There are kids in my life I adore--so being an Auntie is important to me too! I love to cook, people watch, go to new restaurants and exhibits.
I saw on your author info that you're a food lover and that you especially love making desserts. I love baking (when I have the time!). What are some of your favorite creations? And finally, can you tell us about any current projects you're working on?
Cakes are probably my favorite--there are photos on my website of wedding and birthday cakes. The challenges are great--the more intricate a recipe or the more steps it has, the more I like it. Of course I don't cook that way all the time! Gert Garibaldi's First Date Flutters are cookies I invented for ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME and the recipe is on my site. Cheesecakes are a specialty, peanut butter cookies...anything that goes well with black tea.

Like anyone it was a matter of doing my work, learning the craft, honing my skills and then also learning the business. Most people think being an author is one job--it's really two--the creative and the business rarely overlap. You have to be able to multitask. I have rejection letters like any published author. I wrote four books before ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME which landed me at Delacorte Press/Random House, where I am now working on books 5-7 for them!

Absolutely, the second book in the Meridian series WILDCAT FIREFLIES will be out July 12 2011 so I'm doing a lot of publicity work for that one as well as writing the third and fourth for that series (SPEED OF LIGHT and COUNTING TENS).  I'm also working on a stand alone YA novel called ECHOES OF 1492 that will be out in 2013. So there's lots and lots going on!
Thank you so much for stopping by, Amber!

Amber wanted to let you all know that readers can always request signed bookplates and bookmarks for free by emailing their mailing address to Amber@AmberKizer.com. You can find Amber on Facebook, Goodreads, and her own sites AmberKizer.com, Onebuttcheek.com, and MeridianSozu.com.

And on to the giveaway! One lucky commenter will win their own copy of 7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes from Amber herself! To enter, all you have to do is comment below on one of your Ordinary Catastrophes--as simple or humiliating as you want to get! Don't forget to include your email address.
Contest will close on April 20.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi