Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases people are excited for.


Title: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial
Release Date: May 1

Summary:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past. Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart

Why I want it:

I loved Graceling and Fire, so I have been dying to read Bitterblue. I read Graceling and Fire when they were first released and have been waiting for what feels like forever to find out what happens to Bitterblue. Plus I can’t wait to see how Katsa and Po are doing and see if any characters from Fire show up. May 1 can’t come soon enough!

What are you waiting on?

-Alicia

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: YA, 14+
My Copy: ARC
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover, 384 pgs.
Release Date: 1/3/12
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Review by: Alicia
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Summary:

EXILED from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage--and her only hope of staying alive.

A HUNTER for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must learn to accept one another to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Review:

Under The Never Sky was the first book of 2012 that I read, and what a fantastic way to start off 2012 books! If the rest of the books published this year are as amazing as Under the Never Sky, then 2012 will be an awesome book year. Within the first few pages, I was totally hooked and had to continue reading.

Under the Never Sky is told from Aria and Perry’s perspectives in third person. I’m normally not a fan of third person, but I ended up really enjoying it. Aria and Perry have very different and distinct voices, so it was easy to switch from Aria to Perry.

I absolutely loved Aria and Perry’s relationship and the way it developed. The way their relationship changed and developed was very realistic, which was awesome. Aria and Perry start out hating each other, and watching that hate turn to respect, followed by friendship and finally love was a joy. It was just…perfect. Their relationship was one of my favorite parts of the book.*

The world building was extremely fascinating. Learning about Aria’s life in the pods and Perry’s life in the outside with the Aether storms had me captivated. It was really interesting to see how different the two places are. Also, there are cannibals in here. Cannibals! Reading about them was extremely creepy, but I enjoyed it.

The only complaint I have is the last chapter. And that is because I wanted details about what happened. Other than that, I loved everything else.

Overall, I highly recommend Under the Never Sky as it has become one of my favorite books. Though it has been a few months since I read it, I still think about it and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Book two, Through the Ever Night**, will be out in early 2013.

Cover Comments: Love it! I think it fits the book perfectly, but I wish they hadn’t changed the font of the title. (you can see the original font here.) I’m glad the colors are bolder though.

Overall: 5/5

*I could talk all day about how much I loved them.
**I am totally in love with the titles of the books.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: YA, 14+
My Copy: ARC
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: 2/28/12—Tomorrow!
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Review by: Alicia
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*Contains Delirium spoilers*

Summary:

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Review:

Delirium was one of my favorite 2011 books, so I have been impatiently waiting to read Pandemonium. After Delirium’s killer cliffhanger ending, I have been dying to find out what would happen next. Especially since it seemed like Alex was dead and I absolutely loved Alex. I got Pandemonium last year, but I have been pushing it off because I was nervous about what would happen next to Lena. There was a summary that said that Lena might be falling in love with someone else and that made me even more nervous. Finally, I bit the bullet and started reading it and I’m glad I did.

Pandemonium is told from two alternating timelines. In the “Now” chapters, you learn about Lena’s part in the resistance, while in the “Then” chapters, you learn about how she learns to live without Alex while joining a group of rebels. It took me awhile to get used to the alternating chapters, but eventually I came to enjoy them.

One thing I absolutely loved about Pandemonium is that even though Lena has lost Alex, she doesn’t just sit around crying. Instead, she learns to cope with her grief and continues to live and fight for survival. Lena becomes a much stronger character and I found that I liked her even more. Many new characters are introduced, from the rebels that Lena lives with to Julian, the son of a man who wants nothing more than deliria gone. Another great thing about the book is that all of the characters are fleshed out and there are many layers to each character. Out of all of the new characters introduced, my favorite is Raven, who is like a mother and friend to Lena. She has a lot of secrets that she doesn’t tell Lena, but you can tell that she cares for her. Lena’s new love interest on the other hand, I wasn’t too big of a fan of. I liked him, but not as a love interest, which probably has to do with the fact that I only want her with Alex.

Like Delirium, Pandemonium ends in a killer cliffhanger that will leave you eagerly counting down the days until the next book comes out. The third and final book, Requiem, will be out in Spring 2013. Can it be time for it already!?

Cover Comments: Very pretty, but it doesn’t have to do with the book.

Overall: 4/5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review - Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne


Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Review by: Lauren

Copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn't expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she's going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she's come home. She's even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she's the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can't trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her - and the rest of the world too.

Review: This was an amazing novel! I'm not the person that grabs all the paranormal or dystopia novels...I tend to lean more toward the contemporary side of things. However, Harbinger was packed full of suspense, history, mystery, and yes...even some romance. I'm not sure how you would classify this novel exactly, as it's a bit paranormal and takes place in a slightly dystopian future, but I suppose it doesn't matter. I just think you should read it.

Faye is an intriguing character. She is sent to Holbrook Academy because her parents just can't handle her anymore. She has hallucinations of the ocean swelling up around her, often causing her to faint when it gets too high, but this is something she can't talk about. She's just odd, off-balance, and her parents don't know what to do. Holbrook Academy isn't exactly a paradise though. It's not somewhere you would want to send any of your children, let alone kids you believe need to be helped for whatever reason.

While at Holbrook, Faye is put into a Family who spend most of their time together. Included in this circle is Kel. This is where most of the romance comes into play but it's not too much. I'm personally sick of the typical love stories and triangles, and Harbinger isn't like that. The relationship between Faye and Kel is intense, but it's also explained in a unique way...and I didn't find that it overpowered the overall story.

I can see how Harbinger can be confusing. It does keep you guessing throughout, but I didn't mind. I kept reading and I kept wanting to know more. Once things are finally revealed, the character of Faye starts to change and to be honest, it was hard to like her in the same way. She's evolving though, and it was interesting to read and go along on the ride.

Tarot cards are a big part of this book and Faye's destiny is basically written out in them. She must learn to make choices though and always see the larger picture. You might have some version of destiny or a fate, but it's not always concrete. I loved the cover, by the way, because it looks like a tarot card and it's bright and beautiful and for me, it makes me want to read the inside and see what this story is all about. It's not just a pretty cover though...I really do think it fits the contents.

Basically, I really liked this book. I think it would appeal to a variety of readers and I loved that the ending could go both ways. It seems final, as if there will be no sequel, which I like. I'm not a huge fan of series because they are hard to keep up with and it's just nice to have one, solid story. Harbinger is like that. When it ended, I felt like the story of Faye was complete. When I said I see it ending both ways, that means that I don't know for sure if there will be more of Faye or not, and I suppose I could see how another story would work its way out of this one. I'm not sure if I'd be a fan of that or not...

At any rate, try out Harbinger. I'm having my sister read it now, so we'll see what she thinks!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings


Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

Review by Lauren

Copy from the Author, All Opinions are My Own

Official Summary: Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.
 


Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.

Review: I wasn't quite aware until I started reading that these are all interconnected short stories instead of one, complete novel. This can work just fine, but for Ugly to Start With, I almost wanted things to connect just a bit more. I'd go from one story to the next and be a bit confused at times...

However, there were some stories that were interesting all on their own. The very first one, "The World Around Us" is where a "street artist from Italy charms his mother from the backseat of the family car" and he really does. He shows the mom that the world is connected more than she knows and that beauty is found at home too, no just romantic countries far away. It was a great start to the book and one of my favorite "stories."

Near the end, there is a story called "The Scratchboard Project" where Jason procrastinates and must go to the poor side of town to find a subject to draw. There, he falls for a girl named Shanice who shows him that they aren't so different after all. Just like the first story, this one gives Jason a glimpse into just how close the world can be...even if it feels so far away.

The namesake of this book is a story about a stray cat that Jason's family tries to help out for awhile. When Jason startes to become too preoccupied by its ugliness, he shuts the cat out, even ignoring the cat's desperate calls to come inside when neighborhood cats begin to beat it up. It's a horrible story...not in the writing, as it obviously affected me strongly, but by how cruel people can be. It's not just animals either. It's easy to turn away from the ugly in the world, when we're all a bit ugly on the inside anyway, regardless of our outward appearance. So yeah, it's an interesting section in the book...but it almost broke my heart, and it definitely made me mad.

I have to admit, I'm not sure this entire book was for me. I liked random stories here and there, but some of them confused me or just didn't draw me in the same way others did. If you're interested in this type of book or historical fiction, I'd give it a try!

Friday, February 17, 2012

First Come, First Serve Auctions!


Over at Bridge the Gap, I held some auctions to raise more money for my LGBT/Straight Ally scholarship called Let's Get Beyond Tolerance. I want to thank everyone for bidding and donating. However, we still have some items up for grabs so I wanted to post those here and do a First Come, First Serve set of auctions.

That means...if you want any of these books, leave a comment here with the title and your bid of either $5 or MORE. You can go up however much you want, but you must at least offer up 5 bucks for one book. If you want more than one, then that's fine...at least 5 bucks PER book and the names of the titles you want.

If you are the first person to call dibs, if you will, then you are the winner. Leave an email as well so I can contact you about donating and then getting your info to send our your prizes.

Remember: All of these auctions are to benefit one deserving person. I won't announce the amount we have for the scholarship until all items are gone. But we do have at least $300 I believe. If you want to apply or know of people that might want to apply or just would really like to help me spread the word, PLEASE DO!! Here are all the scholarship details and people can apply until March 1. If the deadline is extended, I'll be sure to post it!!

Items You can Now Bid For (Only Open to the U.S. I'm afraid) - Each item is linked to the author's website!

Cage the Darlings by Sarah Diemer

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

Yesterday's Tomorrow by Mark A. Roeder

Homo for the Holidays- Mostly Gay Christmas Tales by Mark A. Roeder

A Better Place by Mark A. Roeder

Christmas in Graymoor Mansion by Mark A. Roeder

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Secret Society by Tom Dolby

The Trust by Tom Dolby

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Girl Meets Boy Review + Song Pick!

Girl Meets Boy: Because There are Two Sides to Every Story

Edited by Kelly Milner Halls

Blog Tour, Copy from Publisher, All Opinions are My Own

Review by: Lauren

Official Summary: What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of he said/she said stories he tells it from the guy s point of view, she tells it from the girl s. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There s the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated because there are two sides to every story.

Review: When I was asked to be part of this blog tour, I didn't think twice! It's a collection of short stories dealing with relationships...but it's about more than that too. It shows that every story definitely does not have one side. There are two people involved in a relationship and the way Girl Meets Boy is set up is to show the varying sides. A male author will write the guy's point of view in a story, and then right after that the female author (or vice versa) will write the girl's point of view. Pretty cool, huh? I thought so!

I honestly loved pretty much all of these stories and the ones that might not have impacted me as much, were still good! The first set is "Love or Something Like It" by Chris Crutcher and then "Some Thigns Never Change" by Kelly Milner Halls. This was a great way to start off the book as it really does have to do with a relationship between the two narrators of the story. Crutcher writes about John who falls for dangerous Wanda, and the next story has Halls giving readers an insight into the mind of this interesting character. I should also note, in case you didn't notice, that Kelly Milner Halls is also the editor of this book!

Not all of these storys deal with love relationships between a guy and a girl. After all, James Howe writes about a gay boy and Ellen Wittlinger's story right after is about a girl...but she might just be able to help that boy find the right guy for him. These were some interesting stories! I'd actually love to see this continued on in a full book, because the stories have so much more happening than we fully get to see!

One of my favorite stories is the very last one which is actually one story with two point of views by Sara Ryan and Randy Powell called "Launchpad to Neptune." Not only did I love the set up, but I thought it was a really powerful, inspiring story that you just have to read to understand!

Great book. I loved the concept and it would be really cool to see a Girl Meets Boy 2 or even a Boy Meets Girl, if you will!

Sometimes I come up with songs that I feel fit a book and for Girl Meets Boy as a whole, I thought this one really worked.

It's called "Both Sides of the Story" by We are the In Crowd

This is not the official video, but it gives you the lyrics so I figured it was good!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mary Pauline Lowry, Author of The Earthquake Machine (interview)



Interview with author Mary Pauline Lowry, author of The Earthquake Machine

By: Lauren

Buy the book now

1.  Your first novel, The Gods of Fire, may become a movie. If you could cast it yourself, who would you pick? Feel free to talk about directors, etc. too!
Yes, my first novel THE GODS OF FIRE—based on my personal experiences as a forest firefighter--has been optioned for film. (I’ll likely release the novel THE GODS OF FIRE in late 2012 or early next year). There is already a director attached to the script. Her name is Peyton Wilson and she directed an amazing documentary called SPEED AND ANGELS, about two fighter pilots who go to Iraq.

Casting the film sounds so fun. Since the script is about the only woman on a crew of forest firefighters, there would be lots of super cute young male actors and one scrappy female lead. I’m keeping my first choice for female lead a secret, but I will say I could totally imagine GEORGE CLOONEY as the crew boss.

2.  If you had to make a soundtrack of songs for your current novel, The Earthquake Machine, what would be on it and why?



At the beginning of the film, I would put the ARCADE FIRE song THE SUBURBS because the main character RHONDA lives in a bland American neighborhood. (And also because ARCADE FIRE is my favorite band to see live and THE SUBURBS is one of the only albums I can listen to while I write).

As RHONDA runs away and swims across the Rio Grande River into Mexico, then steals a burro and rides it into the town of Milagros, I would play GRINGO HONEYMOON by ROBERT EARL KEEN because the song tells the story of a couple who crosses the border into Mexico for a day and rides burros into the town of Boquillas to drink and get high.



After RHONDA cuts her hair and dies it black so she can pretend to be a Mexican boy named ANGEL, she sets off across the desert on the burro under a full moon. I’d have the song NOBODY WANTS TO GO TO THE MOON ANYMORE by DAMON BRAMBLETT play at that point. DAMON is one of my all-time favorite musicians. (And he’s my boyfriendJ).


3.  You used to work as a forest firefighter. Talk about a different job! How did that come about and/or what was it like to work with a bunch of guys in such a job?

I went to college in Colorado and my roommate Della was training to work on an elite HOTSHOT crew of forest firefighters. I decided I wanted to give it a try (even though I’d barely ever even been camping) and so she helped me apply. I was already running marathons and lifting weights, so training for the job came naturally to me. I was lucky enough to be hired onto the PIKE HOTSHOT CREW.

Being one of the only women on a 20-man HOTSHOT crew was actually so much fun. As a representative female, I felt I had to work extra hard and be extra tough to show that women could “hang” on the fireline.  But I loved traveling all over the West, hiking and camping and battling wildfires. And the friends I made fighting fire are some of the best and dearest friends I’ve ever had.

4.  If you were able to work with any other author (dead or alive), who would you pick and what would you wish to write about?
I think it would be crazy fun to work on ROMANTIC COMEDY scripts with JANE AUSTEN. I love (in a sad way) that all six of her novels are about young women finding suitable men to marry while Austen herself remained a “spinster” all her life.

5.  Authors often wish they could just be a writer all day. Do you feel the same? What are some other "jobs" you would like to have?
Being a writer all day long is my total dream job. (Though I’d have to take breaks to go for runs and go to the gymJ). But I might like to fight fire again. I also think I’d like to be a grip on films. (Grips do all the non-electrical stuff related to lighting). I read that the writer Jasper Fforde worked as a grip half the year and as a writer the other half. He wrote 10 novels before his novel THE EYRE AFFAIR was finally published.

What I DON’T WANT to do is work a lame desk job that would make me feel like I was stuck in an 8-hour episode of THE OFFICE every day.

6.  This is mainly for my own curiousity, but you contribute to The Huffington Post. How does a "job" like that come about? What do you normally write about? Anything in particular you had fun sharing with the HuffPost readers?

I’d wanted to write for the HuffPost for a long time but had no idea how to get the gig, so I finally googled up Arianna Huffington’s email address and wrote her asking about it. She emailed me back in 10 minutes and said she’d love to have me as a HuffPost writer!

I enjoyed writing an article about indie publishing sensation AMANDA HOCKING. But my all-time favorite HuffPost piece was called ART AND ADVENTURE: A MANIFESTO FOR WOMEN AND GRRRLS.

Readers can check it out here:


I was also excited to see that musician ANI DIFRANCO reposted the article on her website. That was especially cool for me because her music and her story have always inspired me. DIFRANCO started her own record label RIGHTEOUS BABE RECORDS and she sold CDs out of the trunk of her car after shows. Through hard work, crazy talent, and the audacity to have a DO IT YOURSELF philosophy, ANI DIFRANCO became a huge success. She didn’t wait around for a record label to sign her.

7. If you could have anybody blurb one of your books, who would you pick and why?

One of my all-time favorite writers JOY WILLIAMS (THE QUICK AND THE DEAD) did blurb THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE and that was so thrilling!

I guess if I had to pick someone else to blurb my books it would be FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK because her WEETZIE BAT books, which tell the story of a super hip girl living in L.A., showed me that it was okay to see life as beautiful and magical and raw and sometimes painful.

Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,

and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.

Author bio:

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water
lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence
against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from
home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should
make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Review/Giveaway - Destiny by Laura DeLuca


Destiny by Laura DeLuca

Guest Review by Kari

Copy from author, all opinions are our own

This author is the blogger behind New Age Mama

Review: Destiny by Laura DeLuca was a great supernatural read. It’s about a teen named Gabriella, who is a witch, but can’t remember that she is one. The beginning of the book is all about getting Gabriella to remember her heritage. It’s imperative that she recalls her past before she succumbs to the evil warlock named Richard, who killed her mother. He wants to use her power for evil and tries to play on her fears.
In the beginning, Gabriella is just a normal teenage girl who is trying to get through high school. She has to deal with bullies and with a popular boy who keeps trying to get a date with her. Her world starts to dramatically change when her friend, Darron, tries to get her to remember she is a witch. Darron is a warlock who was sent by Gabriella’s mother’s spirit. Her mother is trying to protect her daughter from a killer.
 Once she accepts her destiny of being a witch, events start to occur very quickly. Richard is after both Darron and Gabriella. The two of them have to deal with an evil warlock out to get them. Friends and lives are lost and secrets begin to unveil themselves very quickly. 

This book was really well written. The characters are well developed and once the main action starts, the story is a fast read. The beginning is a little slow, but once you get into the story, it becomes exciting and suspenseful. The book can be serious at times, so it was nice to have Gabriella’s friend, Flora, there for some comic relief. She says anything that comes into her head. Flora tries to keep the mood light when darkness is surrounding them all.

Another aspect of this book was the emotions. You could feel the emotions of each character. While reading, I truly felt connected to all of the characters. It was easy to understand why they felt the way they did. It was nice to read a book that allows its characters to feel a variety of emotions. It made the characters feel more real. I also liked that the magick aspect of the book seemed to be well researched. The power may be fictional, but the rituals seemed to be very close to real Wicca. This made the story seem more believable, since it is set in the modern world.

I highly recommend Destiny to any reader who enjoys supernatural books. It is a short read that will leave you wanting more. It may be a little slow at first, but readers should not give up on it. The end truly does surprise the readers and hopefully that means there will be a sequel.

Giveaway (offered by the author)

Prize: a signed copy of Destiny and a box of incense

Open to: International

Ends: Wednesday, February 29

To Enter: Leave a comment with why this book sounds interesting to you, or simply, why do you want to win?

+4 (leave four seperate, new comments) if you spread the word about the Let's Get Beyond Tolerance scholarship.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Was Tagged - Get To Know Me

I don't normally do a lot of these blog games or whatnot, but then again, I'm not normally tagged. However, I was today and I figured I'd go ahead and play along. By the way, this is Lauren! :)

Tagged by Courtney from The Everything Soap Blog.

The Rules

  • Post these rules
  • Post 11 random things about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions that the tagger has created for you in their tag post
  • Create 11 new questions for the people you tag
  • Pick 11 people to tag and go to each person's blog that you chose to let them know they've been tagged
  • No spamming people - just let them know they've been tagged
11 Random Things About Me

1. I'm 21 years old, but I don't drink alcohol. I love sparkling grape juice though!

2. I would love to be a teen librarian, and I'm planning to go to Grad school for Library Science.

3. I have a dog named Luana. She's part Alaskan Huskey, but her name is Hawaiian. It means "happy and content."

4. I actually really love foreign films. "Life is Beatiful" is amazing, and I recommend! It's an Italian film. I also really love Just a Question of Love, a French film.

5. If I could do anything in the world (meaning I actually had the talent), I would love to be on Broadway.

6. Going along with number five...I don't have the talent to an actor/singer, but one of my goals in life is to write and have one of my own plays performed on stage.

7. I'm really bad at talking about myself, whether it's exciting news or not. My sister tends to tell people more about me than I do.

8. In my everyday life, people are often surprised that I have a brother. I do though. He's married, with a little girl, and in the Army.

9. I'm addicted to the restaurant The Melting Pot. I just love fondue. It's amazing.

10. A friend of mine has me obsessed with cupcakes, because she's always making them and with homemade, amazing icing. Yum!

11. And finally...my friends are such nerds we have "parties" with themes like Glee night, Zombie night, and Harry Potter night.

Questions from Courtney for Me to Answer

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would love to visit England. I know it's not that exciting but it's somewhere I've always wanted to go. A friend of mine is studying in Spain right now though, so visiting there to see him would be great.  

What was your first kiss like?

Okay, I'll be honest. Never had one, so I don't know yet!

What is your all-time favorite food?

Oh gosh, I don't know. I love this ham my mom makes. Fondue!! Umm...chinese food. I like food!

What is the funniest sneaky thing you've ever done?

I don't know! Good question though. How boring, but I honestly can't think of anything right now.

What do you hate doing more than anything else?

I really hate cleaning, like vaccuming or dusting. Hate it!

Who do you like talking to the most?

I love talking to my mom. She's one of my best friends. I tell her almost everything.

What is your biggest regret?

Hmm...maybe not being as open or talkative in high school. I think I did okay though. I don't really have big regrets.

What joke do you remember off the top of your head?

"Why don't you play games with animals in the forest?"

Answer: "Because some animals are cheetahs!"

It was on ELLEN yesterday!!

What's the scariest story you've ever heard?

I don't really have a STORY, but I used to be totally scared of the Blood Mary story when I was little. I thought it was real and mirrors freaked me out.

Who makes you mad more often than anyone else?

I don't know, my immediate family and close friends all make me equally mad at times. I think it's just part of being close to people!!

If you had a million dollars, what's the first thing you would buy?

I would buy something for my mom. She doesn't really shop for herself, and she totally deserves it. So yeah, that! Or I'd treat my family to a really nice vacation!!

The People I Tag

Okay, I'm cheating. I'm supposed to now tag 11 people and come up with 11 questions for YOU to answer. I'm cheating because I'm no good at singling people out for these types of things, and it would probably take me ages to pick 11 people. LOL At any rate, if you are reading this, I TAG YOU! That means you are suckered into being tagged and now must do this. Just kidding, only if you really want too. Leave a comment here though if you do it, and I'll come check it out and leave a comment for you as well.

As for my questions for you. Answer the ones I answered! I'm curious!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Was Interviewed!

I want to thank Deborah Reber at Heart of Gold Girls for interviewing me about my business, Shooting Stars Promotion. If you want to know more about how I started, the good and bad parts, and much more...please check it out. You can leave a comment here (and I'll comment you back) but it would be great if you could comment there too so Deborah can see that people are reading. I'm sure she would appreciate it. And you don't even have to comment on my interview! There are other interviews and informative posts about teen entrepreneurs and volunteers.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark

Review by: Lauren

Copy from Publisher, But All Opinions are Mine

Out Now!

Official Summary:


Meet Jay Baker . . . or, as he is not-so-affectionately called by his opponent in the freshman-class presidential election--no comment.

A few random bullet points about Jay:
  • He is stupidly in love with his best friend, cheerleading dynamo Cameo "Appearance" Parnell.
  • He is also trying to score (points) with earthbound tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson.
  • He is fighting a losing battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • He rocks a touché array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns.
  • His family life cookie is about to crumble.

Root for Jay as he exchanges ego-blows with his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents' relationship implode, and, finally, learns to keep it real and be himself(ish).

Review: First off, I should say that not only is this book out now...but it came out yesterday, so hey, I'm only a day late on this review! In case you didn't notice...the main character's name is Jay Baker while the author is Jay Clark. I'm going to hazard a guess and say that this book was based in some part on the author's life. I don't know this for sure though, so don't go and quote me.

One of the main-ish characters in this book is a teacher, Ms. Lambert. She's an oddball of a person and definitely not your typical teacher, but she seems to always be there for Jay however she can. That's one thing I enjoyed about the book...adults are present and have their own storylines/problems. Ms. Lambert is usually just trying to keep Jay from being suspended, but Jay's parents definitely have their fair share of book time. I don't want to go too into it so I don't ruin anything for future readers of the books...but I really liked that it showed that even adults aren't perfect. They mess up too.

Jay's sister, Abby, is what you would call the Queen Bee of their high school. So while is Jay is super awkward, Abby is the cool one. She's still pretty close to her brother though, which I enjoyed. They are connected, and when things start to go crazy in their family, they lean on each other...in their own way.

Another aspect of the book that was fun to read was the blog. Yes, Jay has a blog. Well, I guess I should say that he GETS a blog, since it's not present through the entire book. I wish it was there more, but it comes about for a reason...so it makes sense.

In the end, this is a fun read. I thought some of the "issues" of the book were wrapped up a little too nicely to be believable, but the fact that it deals nicely with parental issues, bullying, relationships of all sorts, and more...I'd say it's worth it. Plus, Jay is a fun narrator. You can't help but love him. Maybe not all the time, but by the end of the day, you'll be rooting for him to win.

Now, the one other thing I want to mention that I wasn't a huge fan of was all the use of "gay." Jay is called gay and all sorts of other things by a kid named Mike. This is one of those things that does get an explanation in the end, which I liked. It kind of sucks to have a bully that seems to do so for no reason at all....not that Jay doesn't try and "bully" back just as much, to stick up for himself. At any rate, it's hard to tell if Mike really is homophobic or if he just uses the idea of Jay being gay as an easy insult. Jay isn't, but it shouldn't matter. I suppose it works okay in the context of the book but it is one of those things that kind of bugged me at times, so I figured I'd mention it.

Finally, the cover! This is the first time I've seen the final cover and I really like it. Definitely stands out more than the ARC cover I have. That tag line is hilarious too: You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll feel awkward by association. I didn't cry, but the other two sound just about right!!