Saturday, July 31, 2010

In My Mailbox {27}

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

I had a fantastic book week. The hubby and I got on a crazy used-bookstore kick and found a ton of them this week in Concord and Monterey. Got a few for review, bought a few new, too. Here we go:
For review:
Firelight by Sophie Jordan (from HarperTeen--YAY!! Thank you!!)

Literally jumping up and down excited and doing the happy nerd dance when this one came in the mail.
Every Little Thing in the World by Nina De Gramont
I've been dying to read this one since its release, and was so happy to get an email form Nina offering me a copy! She even signed it, which is awesome!
Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
Searched everywhere for this one..finally found in the children's section at Barnes. Go fig. The cover is gorgeous, though!!
Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
no explanation needed, I think :)

Used bookstore finds:
got all of these for around $50, and they are all in almost new condition!
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Have you read this one?? If not, you should, it's one of the most mindblowing books I've read.
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
I received a copy of this author's new book, Z, last week, so I thought I would grab more of his work when I saw it!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Been wanting to read this series!
Epoch by Timothy Carter
The cover on this one got me. So cool :) The back cover is even cooler!
The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
Don't think this one is actually YA, but its about punk fairies and came with a high recommendation from Neil Gaiman. That was enough to sell me on it!
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
I saw the movie preview for this one a few days ago and it looks like such a sweet story.
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Another that barely needs explanation. I've been reading rave reviews of this forever.
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
This one looks fascinating, and of course, I love a good fairy tale retelling.
Incantation by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman, one of my all-time favorite authors of both Adult & YA books.
Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde
Another cover that got me. Love the red and the butterflies. Story sounds great, too!
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Retelling of Rumpelstilskin. Looks amazing. Couldn't resist.

So what did you get this week?? Be sure to check back in a few day when I'll be announcing the winners of the Book Birthday Bash contest!!

Contest Reminder and Applause for Lauren Kate!!

Just poppin' in with a few random things!

First off, today is the last day to enter my Book Birthday contest for a chance to win a copy Linger, Shadow Hills, Sleepless, or Siren!! I'll be cutting this off at tonight at midnight PST. Click HERE to enter before it's too late!

Secondly, I want to give a huge shout out to one of my favorite authors who is using her powers for good!! :) Lauren Kate, author of Fallen and the upcoming Torment (can't wait!!) is running the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training in two months! Now, as most of you who have been reading my blog for awhile have heard me mention before, I'm a leukemia survivor myself---okay, well, still fighting the fight,...but I'm almost there and determined to win!! So, seeing my own favorite writers participate and give back with things like this strike a particularly special chord with me. :) AND you'll never believe what she came up to help raise money for her fundraising goal: She is auctioning 40 signed copies of her books to the first 40 people who donate (actually I think she tweeted that she's got 20 more books to add to that!). She's even including a few copies of Torment!! Check out her post about it here, and I definitely encourage everyone who can to donate to this awesome cause---I know my life would be very different without organizations like the LLS and Team in Training and all the money they raise for leukemia and lymphoma research! And to Lauren, thank you so much for what you're doing!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Guardian of the Gate

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

release date: August 1st, 2010

hardcover, 340 pages

intended audience: Young adult

Other books in the series: Prophecy of the Sisters
(link goes to my review)


description from goodreads:
The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

Review: I'd been looking forward to the continuation of this story since turning the last page of Prophecy of the Sisters. It felt like a long, torturous wait, but in the end it was worth every second. Guardian of the Gate not only lived up to the amazing story that was started with Prophecy--- for me, it surpassed it. All of the same beauty was there, the sweeping Edwardian surroundings, the charming manners and propriety. The same mystery and magic---but as the adventure continues, its seems that all the best parts of the story leap forward and intensify!

Lia's quest takes off like a shot, as she races against time to find the missing pages of the book her father left her and the missing keys that she needs to bring an end to the prophecy and close the gate forever. She is joined by her friends from the first book, Sonia, Luisa, and Edmund, but she is forced to hold back at fully trusting even those closest to her because the souls working for evil can overtake anyone at any time. This story had more of a fantasy feel to as Lia and her companions travel to a land called Altus where the other sisters of the Prophecy live, and she must find her aunt to help her locate the missing pages. It is a completely different surrounding than the dark and dreary Edwardian London, and it change everything for Lia! You really get to see her character develop in ways you'd never expect at the beginning of the story.

The synopsis is a little deceiving regarding the turn in the love story between Lia and James...I don't want to ruin any juicy plot points, but I will tell you that the love story that is there is so much better this time around! While the first book concentrated more on discovering the prophecy and had very little to do with a love interest for Lia, the romance in this installment is almost at the forefront of the story and is part of what drives the plot along. It was heartfelt, intriguing, and exciting! I loved it!

The official release date for this one is August 1st, BUT this one is already out in the wild, on shelves and shipping from everywhere! The wait for the third book in this series is going to be another torturous one! I'm already excited to see how this story will end!

FTC Disclosure: Received from the publisher for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New blog on the block :)

I'd like to welcome a brand new YA review blog to the community! Introducing Mary from Sparkling Reviews! She is just starting out and already has some pretty great stuff going on at her blog! Click on her banner below to visit and welcome her to our great community of YA book reviewers!!

She also has a 20 Follower Giveaway going on right now! Its going until Aug 10th and once she reaches 20 followers, she will add 2 books! For every 10 followers after, she will add one more book! You can enter here!

Congrats on your new blog, Mary, and welcome to a great community! :)

Waiting on Wednesday: Favorite Authors Edition

"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.

Two of my favorite YA authors have new books or series coming out next year and I'm beyond excited to read them!!

Cryer's Cross
by Lisa McMann

release date: February 8th, 2011 by SimonPulse

Description from Goodreads:
The small town of Cryer's Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing - someone close to Kendall's heart - the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall¹s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school - messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there - Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something's not right in Cryer’s Cross - and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

The Gathering
by Kelley Armstrong

release date: April 12th, 2011 by HarperCollins

Description from Goodreads:
Maya lives in a small medical-research town on Vancouver Island. How small? You can’t find it on the map. It has less than two-hundred people, and her school has only sixty-eight students—for every grade from kindergarten to twelve.

Now, strange things are happening in this claustrophobic town, and Maya's determined to get to the bottom of them. First, the captain of the swim team drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. A year later, mountain lions start appearing around Maya's home, and they won’t go away. Her best friend, Daniel, starts getting negative vibes from certain people and things. It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret—and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy: Her paw-print birthmark.

My thoughts: Both great authors, and both saw a great series to an end earlier this year: the Dream Catcher series by Lisa McMann and The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong were both awesome! All the more reason to count the days down to these new releases!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Author interview with Stacey Kade!

Have you read Ghost and the Goth yet?? If not, you really should. It's a fun book. If you haven't had a chance to read my review, you can find it here. I was lucky enough to be able to interview debut author Stacey Kade and get the scoop on this great book of hers!! Thanks, Stacey!

Describe Ghost and the Goth in your own words.
For me, it's always a story about a boy and a girl. In this case, it's a weird boy and a dead girl, but you get the idea. :)

Will we get to see any more of Will and Alona? If so, when will the sequel be out?
Yes, absolutely! Book two, title is still be determined, will be out next summer. And then the third book will be out in summer 2012.

Did you hang out with the Alona crowd or the Will crowd in high school?
The Will crowd. In some ways, he is an easier person for me to understand because his experience in high school was more like mine--minus the ghosts, of course!

Can you tell alittle about how you got interested in writing?
I've been writing for a long time. Even before I could write for myself, I would dictate to my mom who would write it down for me. I have always loved starting stories, but I didn't know how to finish them. It wasn't until I got to college and was REQUIRED to finish a short story for a class that I even knew I could do it.

Tell us about your ideal writing space.
Lots of natural light, a comfy chair, my laptop, and my giant Roswell poster (from the Season Three promotion) for inspiration. :)

How would you describe your writing style?
Oh, boy. I don't know. Let me say this: I aim to be funny and kind of sarcastic while commenting on some aspect of life. Whether I achieve that every time...well, that's more up to you guys to decide! :)

Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading right now?
I have too many favorite authors! Jane Austen is my favorite "classic" writer. My mentor, Linnea Sinclair, writes fabulous science fiction romance. But I have dozens of authors that I "autobuy" whenever they have new books coming out. Next up on my stack to read is an ARC of Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin. Love her books!

What kind of books did you love to read as a child/teenager?
Anything with a paranormal or science fiction twist to it. I liked the strange stories! And mysteries.

Which of the characters that you've written is your favorite?
Nope, I can't choose. Sorry! I love all of them, though some are easier for me to understand than others.

Fun questions:
Favorite snack while writing?
*Sigh* Raw cookie dough. I know, I know. It's terrible for me and really bad for my keyboard. So I just try not to buy it because if it's the house, I'll eat it!

Favorite movie?
Oh, it's hard for me to choose! I love movies almost as much as I love books. But I will say this, it's summer and my favorite summer movie is Disturbia.

Favorite flower?
Tulips! They're just happy flowers. :)

Favorite band and song?
This fluctuates for me, depending on what I'm writing.

Favorite teacher from your school years?
I have two, actually. Mrs. Koshinski, who taught me to keep a writer's journal, and Mrs. Buske, who was the first person outside my family to say that she thought I had a talent for writing.

Like cupcakes? More cake or more frosting? :)
I do like cupcakes. My favorites are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and I like an equal balance of both cake and frosting! :)

Be sure to check out Stacey's website!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In my mailbox {26}

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 this week! Ordered a few from Barnes, found Wintergirls and Carrie Pilby (I'd never heard of this one but the cover is so cute and sounded like a fun story) at Safeway of all places for 25% off, and found The Magicians and Poison Apples (which I had also never heard of but sounded fun) at a second hand store while searching for formals for a Trash the Prom Dress session with my daughter. "Z" came for review this week (thank you, HarperCollins!) Look at the eyes on Siren! They are so eerie in person, but in the photo, it caught the flash in a funny way and she got a little red-eye! I was so excited to get my own copies of Shadow Hills and Linger...I loved them both!!For review:
Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner
Poison Apples by Lily Archer

What fun stuff did you get? Do show me!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Cover Story: House of Dead Maids (CREEPY!)

Ok, this has to be one of THE CREEPIEST covers I have seen in a long time. Really. I may have nightmares with this cover girl coming at me. And still...I can't WAIT to read this book! :) Out September 14th,2010 Description from goodreads:
Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. He is determined to keep Seldom House as his own. Though Tabby tries to befriend the uncouth urchin, her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Excerpt from author's site:

A black dress next to my black dress. Gray hands reaching for mine.

The old looking glass in the beaded frame returned only a suggestion of features. I longed to see my new clothes, and as I stepped into the passage, I was just turning over in my mind where I might have seen a better mirror. When first I caught sight of the small figure in black, I thought it was my reflection.

She stood very still in the dusky passage where the light was poorest. Like me, she wore the black dress that proclaimed her a maid of the house, but whereas mine was new, hers was spoiled by mildew and smears of clay. Thin hair, dripping with muddy water, fell to her shoulders in limp, stringy ropes. This was my companion of the night before—and she was dead.

The child who will become Heathcliff is already a savage little creature when Tabby Aykroyd arrives at Seldom House to be his nursemaid. But the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many.

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces that surround the house, she tries to befriend her uncouth young charge, but her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff has already doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday : Plain Kate

"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.

Plain Kate
by Erin Bow

release date: September 1st 2010 by Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic Press)

Description from Goodreads:
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.

For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

My thoughts: Love this cover and its sounds like an amazing adventure story!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Cover Story: The Lost Saint

Bree Despain has just revealed the cover to the next book in her Dark Divine series!! Looook!

Absolutely gorgeous!! I hope that this one will be made with accompanying nail polish as well, because I LOVE that color!! She is also having some cool contests at her blog that lead up to the book's release in December so be sure to check that out!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review: Sisters Red

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

release date: June 7th, 2010

edition: Hardcover, 328 pages

source: library

intended audience: Young adult


description from Goodreads:
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Review: I love a good fairy-tale retelling. Loved Ash, really liked Beastly, and though I haven't read the book, I am over-the-moon in love with the broadway show, Wicked. Sisters Red was definitely no exception. I actually wouldn't call this a retelling. More like a complete re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. It was brilliant.

From page one of the prologue, you jump into the excitement and eerie mood of this tale. You meet two little sisters, Scarlett and Rosie, and see them being approached in their front yard by a man you just know is pure evil from the moment he slithers up. By the end of the prologue (the prologue, people...not even having gotten to the first chapter!) I was hooked. The writing throughout was excellent and the plot flowed perfectly.

This is set in modern times, and at first my head refused to wrap around that! The girls, both in their teens, lived in the woods in their grandmother's cottage, so my mind imagined them in the time of Grimm fairy tales. In the next breath, you see them roaming the city in jeans and tees, and going to community centers for origami was a shock to the brain! But this setting added edge to the plot, as the girls roam the city streets with their concealed Fenris-fighting weapons, sporting a red cloak and a flirtatious walk to entice the wolves to themselves. The fenris are transformed into perfectly gorgeous men to lure girls into the woods or down dark alleys where they change back to wolves and attack. Scarlett and Rosie let themselves be lured away, before revealing that they have trained their whole lives to fight and kill these monsters! I would love to see this book made into a movie---the fight scenes would be amazing!

The relationship between the sisters is very intense and special. They have always felt that they have one shared heart. Scarlett, who is older, lives her life with the need to protect Rosie and other young girls from the Fenris, so much so that she has completely sacrificed herself to that mission. She is marked from head to toe with her battle scars and she is missing an eye. You see her lament her stolen looks at times throughout the story and other times she just sees it as a small price to pay to have kept her sister safe. It's what drives her and makes her live for the hunt. Rosie, on the other hand, is conflicted between owing her sister her life and wanting more. She feels obligated to fight by Scarlett's side, but she isn't driven to it like her sister is. Plus, she is suddenly looking at their life-long friend and fighting partner, Silas, with new eyes. Yes, there is actually a beautiful and sweet romance woven into this tale of bloody battles with wolves!

I've heard some say this was a little predictable, and while I do admit that on a particular important plot twist, I literally shouted out, "I knew it!", it was more out of satisfaction that my suspicions were confirmed than disappointment that I'd predicted it. It didn't lessen my enjoyment of this story in the least bit.

Pick this one up and soon! I very highly recommend it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In My Mailbox {25}

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

Goodness, am I already on my 25th IMM post?? Well, this week I have only one lonely book to show...but its an awesome one so it makes up for it!! This is one of my most anticipated sequels of the year and I'm so excited to dig in!

For Review:
Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

Now this is actually scheduled to release in just a few short weeks on August 1st, BUT did you know---Amazon is already shipping theirs!! Go order one already!!

So what was in your mailbox this week??

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two Really COOL Trailers!! Halo and Perchance to Dream

For those of you out there who, like me, loved Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream, I just found this awesome trailer on Lisa Mantchev's blog!! The pop-up book is just amazing, and it's so neat to see this prop from the story come to life!! Also, the pretty music in the video is by Kenneth Zink (which, if I'm not mistaken is the son of Prophecy of the Sister's author, Michelle Zink! What a talented family!). Take a look! It's pretty breathtaking!!

Another trailer hit the web today---the trailer for Halo. I cannot WAIT to read to my copy of this, especially after seeing this gorgeous trailer!!

Waiting on Wednesday - Please Ignore Vera Dietz

"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.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz
by A.S. King

release date:
October 12th 2010 by Knopf BFYR

Description from authors site:

---Is it okay to hate a dead kid?
---Even if I loved him once?
---Even if he was my best friend?
---Is it okay to hate him for being dead?

Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, or even the police. But will she emerge and clear his name? Does she even want to?

An edgy, gripping story, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

My Thoughts: I really liked A.S. King's first book, Dust of 100 Dogs, so I am really looking forward to reading this one!
She's an incredible storyteller, and this plot definitely sounds intriguing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Linger

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

release date: July 13, 2010

hardcover, 368 pages
(reviewed ARC from Around the World Tours)

intended audience: Young adult


Description from goodreads:

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past...and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves...and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love--the light and the dark, the warm and the cold--in a way you will never forget.

Review: Aah. Some fictional worlds are just a joy to step back into. On this second visit into Mercy Falls, Maggie Stiefvater delivers a story with every bit of enchantment as Shiver. The flow of her words never ceases to amaze me.

In Linger, we not only get to see through the eyes of Sam and Grace, but we get to see deeper into the mind of Isabel and what she has is going through after the events of the last book. I really ended up liking her a lot more than the first book! Also, a new character is introduced, Cole. He is one of the new wolves and has an intriguing background story all his own. It added a little kick the story---he was not the nicest of guys and had a pretty wild pre-wolf life, so it was interesting to see where his character would go in the story. Linger is full of romance and wanting, a few rolls get reversed, and some of the Shiver plotlines are brought to light and expanded on.

Grace's parents were infuriating this time around. Even as a parent myself, it was hard to see their side. I mean, yeah, I would be furious to find a boy sleeping in my daughter's room, too, but then again, I have not spent her entire life doing my own thing and fully neglecting her! You have to be a pretty awful parent to not know that a boy has been sleeping in there for months in the first place! Of course, my opinion might be a little jaded because I'm rooting for Sam and Grace's love to pull thought it all!

The story is once again told in alternating points of view, and while I do love that format, especially for this book, I did find that once or twice when stopping in the middle of a chapter, I had to backtrack a little to figure out who was talking. That is minor, and doesn't take away from this wonderful story at all. The ending is quite a cliffhanger, and has me absolutely crazy excited for the conclusion of this amazing story!! Forever comes out in July 2011---it's going to be a torturous year of waiting!!

previous books: Shiver (links to my review)

Author's website:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Book Birthday Bash & 200 Follower Giveaway!!

Its almost July 13th!!! What the heck is July 13th, you ask?? Well, I will tell you! FOUR of the books that I have been eagerly counting down the days to their releases are hitting the shelves on July 13th!! And to celebrate Stories & Sweeties hitting the 200+ mark for followers, I'm giving away one copy of each book!!

Happy Book Birthday to these lovely books!

The Prizes:
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Sleepless by Cyn Balog

This will be open internationally!! There will be four lucky winners: First winner will choose their book, then the second winner will choose one, and so on and so forth until they are all claimed. A few extra entrants will be chosen at random to receive some cool Shadow Hills swag! :)

To enter fill out the form HERE. Being a follower is not required, but my old and new followers will receive 5 extra entries!

Contest closes on July 31, 2010. Good luck, everyone, and thanks so much for following here at Stories & Sweeties!

Interview with Cyn Balog!

There's another fantastic book birthday going on this Tuesday, and that is Cyn Balog's Sleepless!! This was a wonderful, sweet story that I'm sure everyone is going to love! You can see my full review here. Thanks, Cyn, for stopping by to answer a few questions!! :)

Describe Sleepless in your own words?
SLEEPLESS is about a Sandman who falls in love with a mortal girl whose sleep he controls. Actually, my agent came up with that. I tried to come up with a blurb and it was long and winding and made no sense, so I just go with what he says.

Can you tell alittle about how you got interested in writing?
When I was five I started writing "books" as soon as I learned to read and write. It just came really naturally to me. So I've always been interested.

Tell us about your ideal writing space.
My ideal space would be in a cottage with a big picture window overlooking the ocean, with sea breezes wafting in, the sound of waves crashing, and a glass of icy lemonade nearby. Do I have anything close to it? Right now I am writing on the dining room table and the sun is right in my eyes, and someone upstairs is screaming, so no!

What was your inspiration for Sleepless and the characters in it.
When the idea of writing about a sandman first presented itself, I jumped on it because it sounded like something that hadn't been attempted much. One of the characters, Eron, is based on my grandfather. There others I just threw a bunch of characteristics together...

How would you describe your writing style?
My main focus is really trying to get an authentic voice down. In first-person, it's really important, and I don't want to be the same character in every book I write. In FAIRY TALE, the main character was a little obnoxious and self-obsessed, because she is a psychic, and I thought that in my high school, any person who was a psychic wouldn't be ostracized... she'd be the most popular girl in school because everyone would want to know his or her fortune! In SLEEPLESS, Julia is scarred by a past incident and so she feels very unsure of herself. I think the main character in STARSTRUCK, though, the book I just finished, is most like me. Always finding a way to crack a self-deprecating joke.

Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading right now?
I love the Hunger Games trilogy more than anything. I also never read Harry Potter when the rest of the world did (I am generally 10 years behind all the trends), and so I'm doing it now and loving it. I have a lot of favorite authors... Agatha Christie, Stephen King... generally I love really dark stuff, especially dystopian, which is nothing like what I write.

What kind of books did you love to read as a child/teenager?
I read everything I could get my hands on. The children's section of my library had maybe 10 books in it, so I read a lot of adult stuff.

Which of the characters that you've written is your favorite?
Eron is so adorable and clueless. He gets transplanted on earth after 100 years so he's chivalrous and unsure of today's world, and writing scenes where he dealt with that was so fun.

Did you have any trouble sleeping while writing Sleepless? :)
Well, yes, considering the first draft was terrible. It was really terrible because I was having horrible morning sickness while writing it and all I could think of was doom and despair. And consequently the draft was the most hopeless, depressing piece of garbage you could imagine! So I decided to rewrite it, which I did in 3 weeks. All that rewriting, combined with being in my last trimester and huge as a house... massive case of insomnia.

Fun questions:

Favorite snack while writing?
Twix bars. Mmmmm. But I have been known to eat an entire box in one sitting so I don't keep them around.

Favorite movie?
It's a toss-up between The Goonies and Swing Time with Fred Astaire. I know, they're sooo alike.

Favorite flower?

Favorite band and song?
I really don't listen to much music these days! I prefer complete silence!

Favorite teacher from your school years?
Mrs. K. She taught my composition class Senior year. She read one of my books and gave me an A+++++++ on it.

Like cupcakes? More frosting or more cake?
Oh yes, bring on the frosting! The more the better!

Check out more about Cyn and her books on her website:
and her blog:

Grab a copy of Sleepless this Tuesday, July 13th!

Be sure to check in here tomorrow for a chance to win Sleepless, along with three other fantastic books that come out this week!

In My Mailbox {24}

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

Ok, didn't have much time for book shopping this week---the Fourth of July is a big to-do around this house so between that and work, it's been a busy week! I did get two tour books and bought one. Heartless was a tough book to find, I kept looking in YA sections, but silly me, it's not kept in the YA section! My local Barnes had it hiding in the religious fiction...and I have no idea why! Nothing that I've seen about it so far has had anything to do with religion, so I guess I will have to read it and see. It does involve dragons, though, so I'm pretty excited about it.
I cannot wait to dig into Crave. It sounds amazing! The guy on the cover looks so intense with his gorgeous purple eyes! And its about a girl with leukemia, and from the sounds of it, her stepfather is giving her blood transfusion from a captive vampire! As a fan of vampire fiction and a gal whose had her share of blood transfusions, I am all over this one!!
I'm about 3/4 of the way through Low Red for my review this week!

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin (Around the World Tours)
Crave by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz (Book It Forward Tours)
Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bought)

Show me what you got!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Interview with Anastasia Hopcus!

Shadow Hills book birthday is almost here! Just a few days away! If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend can read my full review here. I'll tell you one thing---it was awesome! Debut author, Anastasia Hopcus, has stopped in to answer a few questions about herself and her wonderful book! Enjoy!

Describe Shadow Hills in your own words.

Shadow Hills is a Young Adult mystery with a paranormal twist. After the death of her sister, my main character, Phe, has been having cryptic dreams, much like the ones her sister had before she died. Phe decides to go to Devenish Prep, the boarding school that her sister mentioned in her last diary entry, but Phe soon realizes that the secrets of Shadow Hills are even darker than her own.

Can you tell a little about how you got interested in writing?

My mom started reading to me when I was very little, and fiction has always fascinated me, whether it's books, tv shows or movies. As a teen, I worked on writing screenplays, but after high school, my focus turned more to the acting part of film. Eventually I got back into writing, and this time it was novels, which seemed to be a better fit for me than screenplays were.

Tell us about your ideal writing space.

Since I can get distracted very easily, my ideal writing space would be quiet, clean, and organized. In my home office, I've pretty much got the quiet part down, and I'm working toward the clean part, but the organized part may just be a pipe dream. ;)

What is your inspiration for Shadow Hills and the characters in it. Along with the main characters, one of my favorites was Toy---was there a specific inspiration for her?

The prep school was sort of based on Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, MA, as far as its structure, curriculum, and the location. The town of Shadow Hills is just my own conglomeration of many of the beautiful places I visited in the Berkshire area, but it's not really modeled after one specific town.

Almost all my characters have one or two aspects of my personality and often a few aspects of my friends' and family's personalities, as well. But the only character who is really inspired by one certain person is, funnily enough, Toy. Being a girl and being really good with computers is all her, but a lot of her other interests--collecting music on vinyl, graphic novels, Frank Kozik toys--- are the same as my boyfriend Brent's.

How would you describe your writing style?

I would hope that people find it readable, as that's what I aim for. I'm not a fan of really dense narration, and I really enjoy writing dialogue, which I think comes partly from my original interest in screenwriting. So I hope dialogue is one of my strengths, too. I really love lyrical novels and greatly admire that kind of writing style, but the most important thing to me is that my book is a fast, fun read.

What kind of books did you love to read as a child/teenager?

When I was a kid, I really loved Anne of Green Gables and the Alice books by Phyllis Naylor (though, regrettably, I haven't read the most recent ones). When I was a little older, like middle school and high school age, I really enjoyed Rob Thomas' young adult novels and Francesca Lia Block's whole Weetzie Bat series. My copy of Dangerous Angels looks like it's been through a war.

Which of the characters that you've written is your favorite?

The person I would most want to hang out with is Phe. She's easy to get along with and fun. But my favorite girl character to write is probably Adriana. I tend to over-analyze and think about the future impact of everything I do and say, but Adriana just does and says whatever pops into her mind. It's really fun to write without an inner censor like that.

I also really love writing Brody because even though in the beginning, he might come off as dumb or a one-note slacker, there really is so much more to him and his background and personality, and I really enjoy exploring that.

There was some great music mentioned in Shadow Hills---were you listening to it while you were writing?

Pretty much all the music mentioned in Shadow Hills is stuff that I myself love and listen to, but, as I said earlier, with my tendency to get distracted, I really have to have it silent as I work. I truly envy those people who can listen to songs as they're writing, but I start dancing and singing along, which isn't very productive.

Fun questions:

Favorite snack while writing?

I don't really eat while I'm writing. I'll get so involved in a scene that I don’t realize I'm hungry, but when I finally do, I often pop a frozen dinner into the microwave, only to go back to writing, where I'll get wrapped up in a new chapter and totally forget about my food. By the time I get it out, it's a congealed, cold mess that no one would want to eat.

Favorite movie?

That's really an impossible question for me to answer since I have so many, but the tops would be any of the early John Hughes movies, such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles. I also really, really loved Garden State and Adventureland. But probably my most recent favorite movie is Kick Ass.

Favorite flower?


Favorite band and song?

Again, this is a really impossible question for me to answer. But I'll give you my favorite songs of two of my many favorite bands: Wonderlust King by Gogol Bordello and The Sweat Descends by Les Savy Fav.

Favorite teacher from your school years?

Mr. Van Dyke, my fourth grade teacher. Spacy became my nickname from him because I was always daydreaming, but he was the most challenging, fun, and interesting teacher I had in elementary school.

Check out more about Shadow Hills and Anastasia at her website:

Look for Shadow Hills on bookstore shelves this Tuesday, July 13th!

Also, check back here in a few days, where I'll be giving away four awesome books that release this week---including Shadow Hills!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

In My Mailbox {23}

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

Well it was definitely a great book week!! I got some prizes, a tour book, an awesome trade, and a fabulous surprise that had me jumping up and down and doing the happy dance!

For Review:
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (Yay!!!! Thank you, Feiwel & Friends!)

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Thank you, Mary!)

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Around the World Tours)

Prizes: (thanks, Rachael of BookLove:Teen!)
Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
Emily the Strange by Rob Reger, Jessica Gruner & Buzz Parker
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
The Order of Odd Fish by James Kennedy
(not shown--oops!) Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Read a great review of Audrey, Wait this week from April of Good Books and Good Wine, saw it on the library shelf and just couldn't pass it up!

So, what did you get this week?
To all my friends in the US: Happy 4th of July!!