Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me CONTEST

So today, December 31, is my birthday. I'm now 18 years old and legally an adult! Which is scaring the crap out of me. But I love my birthday and I love getting and giving presents, so I thought I'd have a contest.

Besides these being by two amazing authors that I know, they are also two of my favorite books that were released this year.

Prizes: ONE winner will get a signed hardcover of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, a signed hardcover of Ash by Malinda Lo, a Hush, Hush poster, AND assorted swag--some of which are signed.

To Enter: Simply fill out the form below. And if you're feeling nice, I'd love it if you left me a comment wishing me a happy birthday--but feel free not to. I promise I won't beat you or anything if you don't.
Open To: EVERYONE!! Since its my b-day, might as well go all out! :) Told you international peeps to watch out!
Ends: 1/10. Midnight, Pacific time.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays + Leave a Mark Update

Happy Holidays everyone. Whether this is Christmas day for you or not, I hope it's great. I'm planning to see Sherlock Holmes later. So excited. Anyone else seeing a movie today?

The Leave a Mark auctions are over...sadly, our last book was unable to participate this year but we hope to have them next time around. The full total will be posted here and over there so keep an eye out to see what we raised this year. Thanks for helping everyone.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review: Secret Society by Tom Dolby

Title: Secret Society
Author: Tom Dolby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pgs: 343
Release Date: Out Now

Review by: Alicia

Summary (from author's website):

An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The son of one of New York's wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn't ask to be society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything. Even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown, and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they're forced to get on the nape of their neck.

Once they're part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It's all perfect--until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.

Tom Dolby makes his teen fiction debut with this riveting novel about a dangerous Society so secret that once you get in, you can never get out.


This book was interesting, as in I-did-and-didn't-like it. Also I got confused a few times, which I didn't like. The book kind of reminded me of Gossip Girl, in the sense that it was written in third person, there were multiple narrators, and it favored the teen partying and designer clothes genre. Which I did like for the most part, but it was a bit too much sometimes.

There were four main characters: Phoebe, Nick, Lauren and Patch. I liked all of them except for Patch. Ugh. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stand his character. He drove me nuts! I absolutely hated his character and was kind of hoping he'd end up dead because of the (incredibly stupid) things he did. So, from that, I was disappointed with the way things ended up for him at the end of the book.

Lauren was an ok character. She was a bit annoying at times though. I did feel bad for her on some things, and liked the fact that she changed during the book. I loved her jewelry designs (even though I never saw them, only imagined them) and if they were real I would definitely buy them.

Phoebe and Nick were my favorite characters. Although, I liked Phoebe more than I liked Nick. Phoebe's art sounded interesting and I loved the way it was described--I could totally picture it. She was also the easiest character to relate to, and if I had been in the book, my reactions would have been the same as hers. I didn't blame her for being suspicious of the Society the whole time, because I would have been too.

Nick's club parties didn't really do anything for me. They were another thing I found annoying. Half of the time I felt sorry for him. Especially with everything about his family and their connection to the Society. His relationship with Phoebe though? I absolutely loved it. It was sweet, slow and romantic, although it took a bit too long!

The Society was definitely interesting. I must say that I loved all of the things, although more than half of the book involved some sort of a party that the Society was a part of--which kind of annoyed me. I loved that the entire thing had roots in Egypt. Egyptian history is one of my favorite things, and it made the story more interesting.

The ending was surprising for me. I didn't see some of the things coming about the Society. Even though I was iffy about the book, I will read the sequel(s).

Cover: I like it. I like how they show the tattoo and I love the hair clip in the girl's hair.

Overall: 3/5

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents) Review

The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents): Second Edition
By: Gina Misiroglu

Book From: Sent by Online Publicist to review

Review by: Lauren

The entirety of this book is questions and their answers. You can go to a specific section to find what you are looking for such as Outer Space, People Around the World, or All About My Body. Once you do, you will find all sorts of questions that kids might wonder about (or even yourself) and then the answer for it or a good way to answer it if the question deals with God or Heaven.

This book is not only for kids or their parents though. Sure, they are often known for asking "why" or "what's that" but I know I liked going through the book and finding out all sorts of information on various topics. After all, who doesn't wonder about the ways of the world and those in it sometimes?

A few questions you can find:

-how does an x-ray take pictures of bones?
-how is they body able to bend?
-why are some people blind?
-what is stress?
-does it hurt to die?

and so so sooo much more. I'd definitely recommend picking this up if you are known to have questions, have a little one, or are homeschooling as it would make a nice tool for class.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A FAVORITE Author of Mine...

One of my favorite authors is Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors) and he has a new book out called You Better Not Cry. It's a memoir full of short stories about his horrible christmas past. If you know anything about this author, it's bound to be full of amusing stories so I can't wait to read it this holiday season. You should too!
Anyone else going to pick up a copy or enter the giveaway? Who is already a fan of Augusten (and did you read the book already)?

Book Trailer:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy

According to news reports, actress Brittany Murphy has passed away. You can even read a couple nice notes Ashton Kutcher left via twitter about it:

This is terribly sad to hear as she was a young woman with no apparent illness that I know of. I believe they are saying she suffered from cardiac arrest, but I can't know for sure.

I just wanted to offer my sympathy to those that knew her during her life.

Photo: I do NOT own

Dream Sacks Review: Comfy and Cute!

Dream Sacks Review by Lauren

This review is a long time coming so I do apologize to the company for that but I hope people enjoy the review and will check out the site.


Dream Sacks is a company that sells a variety of items out of bamboo. Yes, I know that word probably conjures a really uncomfortable image but it's not. I was sent three clothes items and they are oh so soft. Believe me!

I got a short-sleeved brown shirt for a baby, a long-sleeved blue shirt for a baby, and a short-sleeved gray top for me. The baby items were given to a friend of mine for her son and they are adorable. The tag is on the shirt, so there is no physical tag for extra comfort which is great for everyone but especially babies with sensitive skin.

The only problem I really have with the clothes is that 95% is bamboo but 5% is made of spandex. This might be fine for some people but for me, it was a bit of a problem for my shirt. Babies should be fine with this and it will still be cute especially under something but with my body shape, the spandex part of the shirt curved around me too much and showed off all the areas you would rather hide...girls will understand just be wary of that.

However, they do have a lot of other items like I said before from towels to bedding to robes and it all looks so fabulously comfy! I would LOVE to have a robe from them.

Picture proof:

FTC: I was sent two baby shirts and an adult shirt to review from Dream Sacks but this is entirely my opinion.

12 Blogs of Christmas Giveaway: Day 9

On the 9th day of Christmas, Shooting Stars Mag gave to me:

1. A $10 gift card to Borders!

I know most people are giving a book and I might throw one in there or something extra, but I think a lot of you will enjoy picking out your own book so I figured this would work! :-)

Open To: U.S. only (sorry, but the Year's Worth of Books Giveaway is International)

Ends: December 31st

Prize: $10 gift card to Borders

How to Enter: What is your New Year's Resolution? (You MUST be a follower. This is a little treat for all those who support me...but you CAN become a new follower if you really like the blog and want to follow)

+1 if you post this somewhere (leave a NEW comment)

To find all the other giveaways and see who is next:

Thanks to Ellie for letting me help out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Secret Santa Number One!

I participated in two secret santas this year...I got one of my gifts and I HAD to open it. This one was for The Mommy Files Secret Santa.

My partner was Becca from Becca's Backyard and she sent me some really cute items. I wish I had a picture but if this is going to be posted any time in the near future, it's best if I leave that out (Sorry, Becca!) but all my gifts were great and I really really appreciate it. It was nice to get to know someone new as well.

Oh, and Becca...your gift IS in the mail and my other secret santa, it's out there too whenever you get it but this one is a secret since THEY don't have ME. :) I hope you all both enjoy what you get though.

Candy Cane Pens- always need pens!

A magnet from Santa Barbara- so awesome. We love magnets from other places and it's already on my fridge now. AND I love the show Psych and that's where it's meant to be located, so yay!!

Chocolate Penguin: I say it's a I hope that's right. Regardless, I LOVE chocolate and since I love penguins too it's extra special!!
Penguin Pictures, Images and Photos
Thank you again Becca!! I loved the card too!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

HELP! Want to Be My Critique Group?!

So I'm working on a new story at the moment but I have a finished one as well that I'd really like to get some feedback on. I don't know where to go from here with it so I'd love if one or more people could take the time to read it and give me their thoughts...should the point of view change, scenes taken out or added in, etc? I'd just love to know where to go from here so I don't feel like it's a complete waste of a story because I do like the overall idea and want to make it more complete.

I did win Harmony's PAYA auction for a 25 page manuscript critique which is great so I will be getting that, but who knows what that will say and it's still only the very beginning...I want the whole thing read over. So anyway, I'll love you for life if you want to help out and I can try and read your work too if you have something sitting around. I can't promise I can help much, but I need a critique group and you all are the only ones I know of that love the types of books that I love and write.

So anyway, get in touch. Leave a comment here and I can email you or you can email me here: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

Marked Up 2010 Book?!

Who wants a 2010 book before the new year? And who wants it to be MARKED UP by the author? Yes, well, you can go and bid on that right now. All the money goes to First Book and you'd be helping a great cause while getting something really fun out of it too.

And if you entered the Year's Worth of Books giveaway, then you WANT those extra entries. Read over at the blog for more:

Go go go!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spanish for Beginners: Inside and Out Review

Whistlefritz: Spanish for Beginners
Inside and Out DVD

Review by: Lauren

As someone who just took their first college semester of Spanish, I do think this is a good DVD for the younger generation to begin learning Spanish since it's almost required in most grade schools these days to have the class.

The DVD is not-

-something you put on for your child to teach them the language on their own

The DVD is-

-a great tool for teachers and parents who are teaching their child Spanish to use to get them better acquainted with the language.

The DVD is full of songs and people that help you learn. However, I didn't like that the whole DVD is nothing but Spanish as it does make it imperative for certain things to have already been learned...which I suppose makes sense if you follow the DVD's in order (this is not the first one). In this edition, you learn the words for up, down, behind, in front, some counting, some food names, and a bit more.

Something I did like was that the DVD comes with a pamphlet to give you the English/Spanish words for what you learn inside the movie as well as the lyrics to the songs so your child can sing along.

This is definitely a great tool for grade school teachers and students learning Spanish if they want a new, fun way to learn this language.

Hush Hush Auction Ending + Question for 2010

The auction for Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick comes to a close tonight at 11:59 EST. If you don't follow that time, the post will read 8:59 EST when it ends. I hope that makes sense.

Sorry for the short notice but please follow the Leave a Mark blog so you know when the auctions are up. There should be two more left for this year so get to bidding!


Thanks to Becca and everyone else who donated a marked up book. And thanks to YOU for bidding and donating money. Leave a Mark will be back in 2010, so who do you want to see mark up a book? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review/Video: Crash Into Me

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
By: Lauren
Also Reviewed for:
Book From: ARC was given to me by Teens Read Too to review


Owen blames himself for something he can't change. After a few suicide attempts, he meets Jin-Ae, Frank, and Audrey online and they form a bond, a friendship, a pact. The four of them set out on a road trip to visit the graves of several suicide victims such as Kurt Cobain in Seattle. At the end, they promise to all kill themselves in Death Valley, California. But during the trip, what will change? Will Owen find the happiness he yearns to have?


Crash Into Me is a very intense and emotional debut from Albert Borris. Owen is a sweet kid that is just trying to make his way through life but thinks he has nobody to turn too. This starts to change as he meets the three other teens, especially Audrey who becomes his very first girlfriend. One of the things that I enjoyed about this novel was that you could relate to the teen's feelings of worthlessness and unhappiness even if yours never amounted to the same pain.

suicide Pictures, Images and Photos

Crash Into Me is one of those books that reads fast, with a slightly predictable ending, but is still worth reading. I thought I understood these kids from the beginning and the story they had to tell but Crash Into Me proves that wrong. Owen's life, especially, reveals a twist near the end that has you understanding him even more.

My song pick for this is "Survive" by Rise Against

Warning: Does contain cussing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Year's Worth of Books Giveaway! Open to ALL!

Year's Worth of Books Giveaway!

Yes, you read that right. ONE winner will get 12 books (that is one book for each month in 2010). Most, if not all, of these will be 2010 titles. I will keep adding to the list until we have at least 12 books but I have most ready to go so I want to get this posted.

2010 Authors: If you have an ARC or will have one in January and want to be part of this giveaway, please email me. lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

If we don't get 12 books for 2010 titles, I will add some older titles to the list so again, keep checking back and follow the blog for updates.

Now to enter:

-Leave a comment with the book(s) you are looking forward too in 2010 (don't have to be YA...)

+1 if you follow the blog (leave a NEW comment saying that you follow or it won't count)

EXTRA (+ who knows?)

At the end, I will pick one or two random posts during the contest period and give everyone who commented there an extra point into the giveaway so comment when you can or wish! It might pay off!


Of course, this is what you most want to know. So is the prize pack. This means four more books will be added by the end of the contest!

1. Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook
2. By The Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
3. Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
4. The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
5. Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
7. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
8. Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham

Starts and Ends:

December 8, 2009 to January 8, 2010 (it's a Friday!)

Open To:

EVERYONE! This will be an International contest as I figured it's the fairest way to do things.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review: Diaper Bag Buddy + Site Info

Diaper Bag Buddy Review
By: Lauren


This is such a fun product and very helpful! You can see the case and items inside in the photo above, or check out the site if not. The wrapping around the diaper bag buddy comes off so you have a white case that is about as big as a glasses holder so it's very handy for a purse or bag and won't take up much room.

You get some shampoo and body moisturizer, little bandaids, a one-time only thermometer, tush wipes, and aloe vera gell. These are definitely all things you should have one hand so it's great for anyone who is around babies whether you have one yourself or not. I think the thermometers and band aids are especially good for daycares or babysitters to have.

I actually babysat my friend's baby a few weeks back and we ran out of wipes since we didn't have any but the ones she had for us. We ended up getting a whole new box but this would have been great had we been out and needed them right away since the pack includes three tush wipes.

The site is nice to look at and I really love all the products they have, such as a medi buddy or kit for any child. Always good to have on hand! They even have a first aid kit for your pet. As a huge animal fan and a dog-owner, I think this is great and I'm glad it's available to others. So now you know about it and can check out the site for some last-minute holiday shopping!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paranormal State Goes on Tour + Giveaway



Tuesdays on A&E are about to get spooky. On December 15th at 10PM ET/PT, hit original paranormal series, “Paranormal State,” returns for its fourth season on A&E.

A&E continues to chronicle the case files of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS). In the new season of the dramatic real-life series, Ryan Buell, the director/founder of PRS, and his team of investigators delve into other worlds to solve their most severe client cases. The team uses a cache of resources including Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recordings, client interviews, video documentation, cutting-edge technologies, old-fashioned research and the help from outside experts such as renowned psychics and demonologists.

Leading into the season four premiere, fans will have an opportunity to meet Ryan Buell and PRS team member Sergey Poberezhny as they travel across the U.S. in search of America’s most compelling paranormal experiences on the first-ever “Paranormal State” Tour. From Nov. 30-Dec.11, Ryan and Sergey will travel coast-to-coast in a branded “Paranormal State” tour bus, taking the show on the road and visiting fans in 10 cities to gather first-hand accounts of the supernatural. The best stories will be profiled on the tour’s interactive website

The “Paranormal State” tour will travel to the following major U.S. cities and locations:

November 30, 2009 – San Francisco, CA – Embarcadero Center

December 1, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA – California State University, Fullerton

December 2, 2009 – San Diego, CA – Horton Plaza

December 3, 2009 – Phoenix, AZ – Arizona State University

December 5, 2009 – Austin, TX - Highland Mall

December 6, 2009 – New Orleans, LA – Harrah’s Casino

December 7, 2009 – Tampa, FL - University Mall

December 8, 2009 – Atlanta, GA – Atlantic Station

December 10, 2009 – Philadelphia, PA – University of Pennsylvania

December 11, 2009 – New York, NY – Madison Square Park

“Paranormal State” premieres Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 10PM ET/PT following the season premiere of “Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal” on A&E.

Enter to win a Paranormal State Prize Pack from A&E that includes:

o Paranormal State: Demonic Investigations DVD

o Paranormal State: The Complete Season 3 DVD Set


Open To: U.S. Only

To Enter: Why do you want to win?

Ends: December 31

Extra: if you follow (leave a NEW COMMENT)

Visit the official site to learn more for information and exclusive content from the series.

Clip from the show:

Review: Ripley's Believe it or Not

Ripley's Believe it or Not: Seeing is Believing
Review by: Lauren

I don't think anyone needs me to really explain what Ripley's is about but in basic terms: it's a book full of extraordinary facts, achievements, and information. The 2010 book is definitely a good coffee table book to have in your house or to give someone for the holidays. I know a lot of people out there want to buy books for people but not everyone is into reading, so think about grabbing a copy of this! It'll suit most people's tastes as there is a variety of information on various topics.

My least favorite parts have to deal with animals as this book is full of colored photos and I happen to get freaked out easily by certain things, so I try and skip those sections. However, I absolutely loved the many facts that dealt with people. For one thing, there is a family has three children who all have the SAME birthday. No, they aren't triplets...they are actually different ages but all born on the same day. How crazy is that?

There is even a couple photos of real snowflakes that are just beautiful! I don't think I'd ever seen one up close like that and it's just crazy when you see the design. So amazing!