Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekend Plans & Bloglovin'

Tomorrow (technically today now), my husband turns the big 3-0. As part of the celebration, we're going out of town to his old college town to par-tay with my best friends, his sister and her husband. I doubt I'll get to answer any e-mails, but I will be back on Sunday. Any and all e-mails will be responded to then.

But, before I go ...

I started an account with Bloglovin'. I'll do more with it when I get back, but I wanted to actually put the address up here so you guys can follow me. If you have one, please add me or notify me so that I can follow you back.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: Warped, by Maurissa Guibord

Maurissa Guibord
Hardcover, 352 pages
Delacorte (1/11/11)
Rating: (Avg 4.0)
Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. It's very unique and a definite attention grabber for me. Then, while reading the blurb, "unicorn" stuck out like a sore thumb. Although I knew from the beginning that an actual unicorn would take a small role (ie- not many scenes) in the book, there is still a unicorn in the story. My inner ten-year-old demanded that I read it. I wasn't disappointed in the least. In fact, I was surprised at how dimensional the story was and how fascinating everything seemed to weave together.

Tessa is an incredible character. Her willingness to defy pretty much anyone to help William was a great feat for her. I also loved her witty dialogue. Some of the most enjoyable parts for me was when she talked to herself as she tried to psyche herself out of doing something. In some stories, this can get tedious and dull, oftentimes making the character look weak. For Tessa, it was the opposite. It was almost endearing. Speaking of endearing: Tessa's friendship with Opal was flawless. Opal was that best friend that every girl needs in her life - completely trustworthy, bluntly honest and always there for you no matter what. I am so sick of reading about a best friend that turns on the main character... it was refreshing to see the opposite in this. William de Chaucy was yet another extremely strong character. He was arrogant a first, but quickly redeemed himself. His protectiveness over Tessa, even when he knew who she had been and what she had done, was very sweet. His character, as well as the interaction between him and Tessa, seemed very genuine and never forced. I loved watching the love blossom between the two. The Three Fates and Gray Lily also played extremely important roles in the story. They were all incredibly written, each with a voice of their own - each bringing their own intrigue into the story. Gray Lily was a wickedly evil antagonist who you couldn't help love to hate.

Although I could go on and on about the characters, I have to say that Warped was definitely a plot-driven book for me. I'm amazed and awed how flawlessly Maurissa put together the past and the present in the story. The scenes of the past enhanced your knowledge of the present at just the right points so you understood what was going on, without all of the chaos of getting scenes mixed up and you don't leave the story feeling completely dazed and confused. The ending twisted my emotions up into a ball into the very last moment, but in a good way.

All in all, I loved this book. If you're a YA reader who is a fan of fantasy, this is one you'll have to pick up.

Find Maurissa Guibord Online
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Purchase Warped
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: The Liar Society, by Lisa & Laura Roecker

The Liar Society
Lisa & Laura Roecker
Paperback, 358 pages
Sourcebooks Fire (3/1/11)
Rating: (Avg 4.5)
Kate Lowry didn’t think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, who died mysteriously a year before, she’s not so sure. When the emails continue, Kate is forced to confront her school’s resident druggie, a sketchy administrator, and even her own demons.

As Kate moves closer and closer to the truth, she teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not so)shining armor–the dangerously attractive, bad boy, Liam and her love-struck neighbor, Seth. The three uncover an ancient secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school with the power to destroy them all.

But the truth doesn’t always set you free. Sometimes it’s only the beginning.
You know what I miss? I miss those fun little high school mystery books that I used to read when I was a teen. The ones where you're just as clueless as the MC, so you're having to figure out and guess right along with the main character. You know what I'm talking about, right? Well, fortunately for us, Lisa and Laura Roecker have brought that back with their debut novel, The Liar Society.

Set in a boarding school, this book has all of the potential to be a run-of-the-mill boarding school book where the main girl is popular with all the hot guys, but the mean girls don't like her and all she wants is a true friend... yadda yadda yadda. Yet again, the authors surprise us by taking the boarding school premise and making it so much more than that. We have a main character who's distraught by her best friend's death and, when receiving e-mails from said dead best friend, she does everything in her power to try and find out what the friend is trying to telling her. What ensues is a story full of adventure and mystery, with a hint of romance and wit added right along with it.

Kate is a wonderfully written MC and I love that they make her such a powerful female in this book - she's got the looks, the attitude and the wit. Plus, there's this sense of undying loyalty for her best friend in the book that just makes me all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I think Kate and her two sidekicks, Liam and Seth, are an amazing trio that work well together. Seth is that guy next door that you can always depend on and Liam is that bad boy that makes your little heart go pitter-patter. Their dynamic together is nothing short of amazingly perfect. I also liked that some of the characters weren't as shallow as they seemed as first and were developed extremely well through the story where it wasn't necessarily told that they weren't as horrible as you thought, you actually saw through their actions how they truly were. Of course, there were some jerks.. but it might surprise you who those jerks really are. Or not.

This is definitely more of a character-driven book, but the plot was not lacking in any way. I loved the use of the flashbacks to show Kate's relationship with her best friend Grace before she died. I also loved the boarding school with all of its rich history and detail. Kate's quest to find out about her friend is endearing and the ending is unexpectedly bittersweet. However, there is closure and a definite hint at another book to follow - one that I will definitely be picking up as soon as it becomes available.

Find Lisa & Laura Roecker Online
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Buy The Liar Society
Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

{Happy Release Day!!}

Monday, February 28, 2011

Author Interview: Ramona Wray & Giveaway!

Ramona Wray
Website | Blog | Facebook

Ramona Wray's Books
Hex: A Witch and Angel Tale [Review] [Buy]

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Romania, but I haven’t lived there for a long time. I like to travel a lot which is why my six year old son knows his way around a number of airports. I love art in any form, as long as it’s not pretentious. I used to dance, but I don’t have time for it anymore. I love to run.

Being from Romania, have you ever flirted with the idea of writing about vampires? Would it be something that you may try out in the future?

Oh, I’ve written about vampires alright - a great, beloved novel over which I slaved for quite a while. Sure, vampires make fascinating characters. I might write about them again, in the future.

Could you tell us a little bit about your novel, Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale?

Sure. It’s the story of an outsider, seventeen year-old Lily Crane, who has the “power” to “see” into people’s minds simply by touching them. This makes her terribly unpopular and, to some degree, feared by many people. No touching means no boyfriend, no friends, no normal relationships. But everything changes when the hottest guy in school asks her to prom. Then a newcomer shows up in town, and he’s very interested in our girl, too. There’s a lot of drama, unexpected trips to eighteenth-century England, and a dark past that’s looming over the trio, threatening Lily’s life.

I’m not going to say more because I don’t like spoilers. Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale is a good story - surprising and funny. I hope everyone will like it.

Your trailer for the book is amazing. Did you create it yourself? Also, what was the inspiration behind the trailer?

Yes, the trailer is my baby. It was a challenge I guess - I wanted to see if I could do it. The inspiration came with the music, which was the first thing I found and loved on the spot. The pictures and the slides came after. I loved it! Making the video was like solving a puzzle, finding the right pieces and sliding them into place. It was so much fun.

Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale is your first published novel but not the first novel you’ve written. Have you considered publishing your other novels?

Not until recently. For a while I thought I wanted my vampire novel to be published, but then I changed my mind. Publishing a book and promoting it is a full time job. I wasn’t in the right place for it before.

Young Adult seems to be the preferred genre for not only teens, but adults - especially women - as well. Why do you think that is?

Same reason Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet so young - youth is inspiring. It’s what makes the world go round. The emotions, the naivete, the purity of feeling - these are precious and inspiring notions; they make the sun shine a little bit brighter.

What are some of your favorite YA reads?

Okay, I just read “Delirium” and I was blown away. I think Lauren Oliver has created something epic here. I can’t wait for the sequels! Otherwise, I have a few favorite authors. Jenny Downham’s “Before I die” was a revelation. Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Annette Curtis Klause, Sarah Dessen, Sarah Rees Brennan - I read and re-read them constantly. Greatest YA writers of our time.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your book and/or yourself?

I wanted to make the book as accessible as possible for the readers which is why, from next week, Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale will be available at at the brand-new price of $8.64. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no definitive plans for it to be released in Australia or the UK. I’ve been getting lots of emails about this and I’m terribly sorry for not having better news.

Lastly, I want to thank those readers who have sent me their thoughts on it. Their feedback never fails to brighten my days. Thank you!

As a part of this interview, Ramona was kind enough to offer up a copy of her young adult novel Hex, A Witch And Angel Tale.

To Enter:
- Follow the link below.
- US only.
- It isn't required, but I strongly urge you to follow Ramona on Facebook. She's a delight to talk to and loves keeping in touch with her fans!
- Contest ends on Sunday, March 6 at midnight EST.

!! Click HERE To Enter !!

Review: Hex, by Ramona Wray

Hex, A Witch And Angel Tale
Ramona Wray
Paperback, 254 pages
Source: Author
Rating: (Avg 4.0)
Like most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life. So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed.

Obviously, the first thing you're going to notice about this book is the cover. You're either going to think, "Oh my God, that's the cutest cover EVER!" (like I thought), or you're going to think, "Wow... what a frilly pink cover." Either way, you can't deny that it's not an eye catcher. But if you're really expecting a frilly story to match the cover, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Why? Because Hex: A Witch and Angel Tale reaches deeper than just a fun, young adult book. But if you're looking for a story rich in action, well-written characters, plot, romance and suspense; well then, you've come across the right book!

I don't know what I was truly expecting from this book. I think when author Ramona Wray asked me to review her book, I was thinking it'd be a fun and fluffy read. What I didn't expect was to be so completely swept up in Lily's story. Lily is one of the strongest females that I have come across in some time, but she's not without fault. While she's smart, strong-willed and witty as ever (her one-liners had me crying, I was laughing so hard!), she's still confused and vulnerable. She knows that there are connections with Ryder and Lucian, but she doesn't know what those connections are and has to figure it out for herself throughout the story.

Ryder and Lucian are also both strong characters. While both are mysteries at the beginning, you get to know them better as the story is told. Both of their fates are twisted together with Lily's and it was nice to see that they both took steps into determining their own fate, not completely depending on Lily to do everything herself. While the idea of a love-triangle was flirted with between the three of them, I'm impressed at how well it was tackled. For once, we don't have a weak girl indecisively flitting back and forth between the two guys. No, we have a girl who makes a decision and, while some things that come to her attention may confuse her and make her think she made the wrong choice, she never strays. She sticks by her decisions and her feelings, and doesn't sway just because she's being led to think that it's the right thing to do. Because of this, I wanted to jump up and scream a hallelujah! Finally, an author gets it. Yes, you can have a girl that's chased after by more than one guy without making her seem completely careless with the guys' feelings, leading both of them on while she "finds herself" or whatever excuse they use these days.

The past and present in this story is intricately weaved together seamlessly, giving you just the right taste of what's going on to help you understand what needs to happen in the story. Twists and turns are around every corner in this book. Between the action, the backstory and hilarious commentary, this story will have you flipping anxiously until the very end. And just when you think you know what's going to happen, BAM! You get hit with a curve ball that you don't see coming. The conclusion of the story is bittersweet, yet perfect. I couldn't see it ending any other way. This book far exceeded anything that I could have anticipated when picking it up. I am absolutely enthralled by it.

My sincerest praises go out to the author who is not only a great person to talk to, but an incredible storyteller with a very promising future in writing. She is definitely one that I will continue to follow.

Find Ramona Wray Online
Website | Blog | Facebook

Purchase Hex: A Witch And Angel Story
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