Friday, September 30, 2011

Feature and Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (#5)

Paranjunkee's View and Alison Can Read host Feature & Follow Friday. This is a meme where bloggers just starting out can gain followers (and so can the rest of us!).

Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?
Matched, of course! I believe a movie is the work, but something so good by Ally Condie should be shared with as many people as possible. I'm excited to see dystopian books played out on the big screen...can't wait for The Hunger Games!

Jen at Crazy for Books does the Book Blogger Hop so we can check out each other's blogs every weekend.

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”
here for 2010-11 list in PDF format. You can also click HERE to view past years and choose from any of those titles!

Mine is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. How can this book not impact your life in some way? I read it 12 years ago; I still remember it. Anderson knows how to connect with her readers. Rape is one of worst evils in the world, and it is important to let our teens know it is not okay. Also, victims of rape need a support system-- something out there that tells them they will survive this and their feelings of shame and guilt are natural ones. I can't believe my home state, Missouri, is also home to the parents that challenged this well-written and powerfully moving book for "soft pornography" and text that "glorifies drinking, cursing, and premarital sex." Have these parents lived in the 21st century lately? Are they going to write MTV to request a station ban from the air?

Check below for my 100 followers giveaway and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

100 Followers Giveaway (The Space Between and Lola and the Boy Next Door) and Author Interview


This is our first giveway! Yay for 100 followers!

Up for grabs is Alexandra Sokoloff's The Space Between, which she will so kindly provide to one lucky winner. It's full of fast-paced suspense. Check out my review of her book here.

When 50 people enter this giveaway, I'll throw in another prize: Stephanie Perkins' hotly anticipated Lola and the Boy Next Door. Just think: Anna and the French Kiss was a romance that some bloggers have called their favorite book of the year, so this will be amazing.

  • The giveaway ends at midnight on Oct. 14th. Should 50 people happen to enter, the winner will get his or her choice of one of the two books. A runner-up will get the other.
  • The competition is open internationally.
  • Make sure to leave a comment about the following author interview and Sonia Gensler's interview here. In the comment, include your e-mail address and total number of entries with links to your blog post about the giveaway, status, and/or tweet. 

All About the Author (#1): Alexandra Sokoloff
I had the wonderful privelege of interviewing Alexandra Sokoloff, the very down-to-earth author of The Space Between.

Questions about you:

1.  You’ve acted, directed, written movie scripts and adult fiction. What made you want to write young adult fiction?

"It was more that I wanted to write this particular story. But I've always been drawn to write about teenagers and the issues of that age. I was a high school teacher and I've also worked with incarcerated teenagers in the Los Angeles County lockup camps; it's a magical and also troubled age. I read young adult all the time, myself; I think some of the best writing around these days is in YA - there's just not all that much out there that's on the darker side of thrillers, the kinds of stories I was always looking for as a teenager. I was always a little on the dark side...!"

2.  You adapted this story from your award-winning story “The Edge of 17.” How closely are the two related?

"The setup is exactly the same, but of course with a book I had much more opportunity to develop and explore the actual world that Anna is encountering in her dreams. The ending changed because I realized there was a way out that I hadn't considered when I was writing the story. And that made me realize I had to write a sequel, too, at least one, because there's a lot more going on than I ever guessed."

Questions about your book The Space Between:

3.  Was it hard to write Anna as a character with no friends?

"The hard part technically was that she doesn't have a friend to talk to, so she's inside her own head a lot. But I wanted to portray a girl who really is that isolated; when I was teaching high school I knew students like that. High school can be a truly lonely place when home is as crazy as Anna's is. It's just reality."

4.  Mandy is an interesting character, and readers don’t see many little people in novels. What was your inspiration for her character?

"That’s a complicated question. I didn’t plan her, she just appeared in the story, which really startled me. She scared me and fascinated me. Obviously she has ties to archetype all cultures have of a magical dwarf, a guide from another dimension. She was such a fascinating character to me that she was one of the main reasons I wanted to expand the short story into a book, and now that I’ve done that I still want to know more – I will be focusing the sequel more on her: where she comes from, who she really is. But the reality of her is also based a little on Billy Barty, the famous little person actor. I performed with him in the first professional show I ever did on stage. I was just eight and had never met a little person before, much less a film star little person, and he had an amazing power, charisma and mysteriousness that obviously left a huge impression on me."

5.  Tyler and Anna are connected because they share the same dream. Because Tyler is from the popular crowd and Anna is not, would they have ever been friends if it weren’t for the dream?

"No, I don't think so. I don't think Anna would have had the courage to talk to him if it hadn't been a life-and-death situation. Her concern for him - and for the rest of the school - is what makes her able to put her shyness aside. And Tyler is so caught up in what he's dealing with, himself - I just don't think he would have noticed her."

6.  This novel shed light on the plight of veterans post-war, especially Gulf War Syndrome. Did you have to do a lot of research on this topic for the book?

"I was aware of GWS from the news and because of a friend whose father had symptoms; then I did research to see what the history and politics of it are."

7.  School shootings have increased in number over the last few decades. How did you decide that would be one of the focuses of the novel?

"I've always wanted to do a story about a school shooting - again, it's part of my longtime fascination with the dark side of the teenage years. It's what can happen when a teenager slips through the cracks."

8.  There are several mathematical and scientific formulas in this story. How hard were those to figure out and create or adapt for the story?

"Brutal! I'm not a math/science person. But that's a lot because I had a predatory teacher like the one who sexually harasses Anna in the book. But there are concepts in quantum physics, like the many-worlds theory, that are just way too cool not to write about. I hope I made it simple enough for people to grasp the general idea, and imagine the possibilities."

On writing:

9.  What advice would you give a first-time suspense writer?

"You know, I teach and write and blog about this; it's hard for me to say just one thing about suspense writing! But the bottom line is - write the book that you would want to read, and look to your favorite writers to see how they create the effects that work for you in the books you love."

I have two blog posts about it that sum up some of my best tips about writing suspense:

Creating Suspense:
Creating Suspense, part 2:

10.  What genre would you never consider touching with a ten-foot pole and why?

"Hah, great question. I can't see myself ever writing a "sweet romance". As you've probably guessed, I'm not a "happily ever after" kind of person. I don't believe there's any real happy ending for anyone until we actually take a hard look at the problems all around us, especially the problems of children and teenagers, and DO something about those issues."

For more information about Alex and her other works, please visit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#6): Hollow

It's another Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A time for us to bond over books soon-to-be-released. Here's what I'm looking forward to:

"Welcome to the house of Hollow.
In a dystopian future, sixteen year old Leah Munro has been sold to a rich woman in a crippling mansion. Soon Leah discovers that there is something mysterious going on around the home, and with the help of three other girls, she attempts to uncover what is truly happening... what lies beyond all of the plexiglass windows and the hideous screams in the middle of the night? Leah will soon find out."

Cover: Gorgeous! Red hair is in right now.
Plot: Interesting; love a good dystopian read. Sign me up for haunted houses.
Release date: May 8, 2012

Okay, I might be waiting awhile.
What are you waiting on?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#5): Trafficked

Jill from Breaking the Spine hosts Waiting on Wednesday, where we share the novels that we've already marked down the release dates for on our calendars (that's just how much we want to read them!).

After watching the movie Taken, I've been aware of how much human trafficking actually occurs around the world.

This looks like it will have an extra helping of suspense:

"Hannah is an ordinary teenager growing up in Moldova until her parents are killed in a terrorist bombing. While she’s still mourning the loss, she gets an offer that sounds too good to be true: a job as a nanny for a Russian family in Los Angeles.

At first, it seems like her luck has finally turned around, but life with the Platonovs quickly spirals into a nightmare. Lillian, the mother, forces Hannah to work sixteen-hour days cleaning, and won’t let her leave the house. Sergey, the father, is full of secrets. And they refuse to pay Hannah.

Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah has become a modern-day slave. And the more Hannah unravels this family’s terrible secrets, the more her life—and her family back home—are in grave danger. Desperate and lonely, she reaches out to the boy next door. But in the end, the only one who can save Hannah is herself."

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Graffiti Moon

School has come to an end.
"Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes."

-Good Reads

  • Publisher:  Random House Children's Books
  • Date of release: Feb. 2, 2012
  • Page count: 264
  • Format: eBook
  • Unique elements: Told from three different perspectives (one is in verse)
  • Would appeal to: Fans of Sarah Dessen, lovers of romance, artists
Favorite Quotes:

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. Poet too but mainly Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers. An artist who paints things like that is someone I could fall for."

"Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that's the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones."

"I liked that he had hair that was growing without a plan. A smile that came out of nowhere and left the same way. That he was tall enough so I had to look up at him in my dream sequences."

"He didn't have to make me feel so stupid. It's not like I said I'd do it with Mr. Darcy. Actually, I have said that before, but that was a longish time ago when I didn't have the maturity I have now."

"I felt like I needed to run but my skin wouldn't let me. I had this urge to throw cans at the windows so I could hear a noise that sounded like escape."

Warning: Once you pick up this book, you won't be able to put it down.

It lived up to all its hype.

First of all, if you read the quotes, you can tell Cath Crowley has a talent with words. She strings nouns and adjectives together in ways you'd never quite think of, but they always make sense.

The dialogue is truly believable. I was amazed at how effortless and real it was between all the characters.

I absolutely love Jazz, Lucy's best friend. She's everything Lucy's not: psychic, fiesty, fun, and outgoing. Jazz loves a good time. The pair of Daisy and Dylan are pretty funny as well. I like that there are several couples in the book out for an all-night adventure. There are heart to hearts, a party, a trip to a casino, a few near death experiences.

One of my favorite scenes is when the three girls go up to the three guys at Feast. The three girls have a chat in the restroom, then it's the boys' turn. I've never seen it happen, but I'd love to make some guys (or one) feel so uncomfortable that they have to step away and discuss the night's plan.

Graffiti is portrayed as a true art form. The images that Crowley thinks up are beyond creative and they were absolutely made for Shadow's character. I haven't seen much graffiti, but apparently in Australia there are places where it has been legalized.

I did find it interesting that everyone's parents let them out all night to celebrate the end of year 11. The girls didn't even have to check in. It must be nice for teens to tell their parents not to wait up.

I liked that Lucy rode her bike everywhere and wasn't worried about whether her helmet with the lightning bolt was uncool. Also, Lucy and Ed each have an older mentor for a boss who has taught them so many life lessons. I've never read a book where one of the characters works in a glass blowing factory (such a great touch!).

Final verdict:
Through alternating points of view, Crowley has created an addictive narrative about future plans, hopes, and dreams. A story about finding love, celebrating friendships, and honoring the dead. A tale about art as an expression of one's soul. It solicits laughter as much as reflection.

*Thank you Random House for an advanced reader's copy of this book.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (#4)

Kristi at The Story Siren hosts this weekly meme where bloggers share their new books for the week.

So I'm taking a bit of a break from requesting titles at Net Galley, checking library books out, and purchasing new ones until I get caught up on my review list. But Jason Letts, the author of a new dystopian trilogy, was kind enough to send me a copy of the ebook.

"Spencer Nye is a modern girl. As modern as you can get in the year 2102. She’s devoted to her idol, Cleary Mintz, and she longs to be something greater, to do something important. Well, now she’s finally getting her chance! She and her friends have uncovered a plot to kill followers of Cleary, and Spence knows she has to stop it. Turns out the plot extends farther than she ever could have imagined, and she’s got to become more than she is to be the difference she wants to be. Is it all worth it?" -Mother Lode blog

If you click here, you can sign up for a free digital copy!

Hope everyone has a week full of losing themselves in books. My Grafitti Moon review is coming later today, so stay was AMAZING!

What's in your mailbox?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Top 100 YA Reads

Amy at Following the Reader posted this list of Top 100 YA Reads today. Of course, I had to see how many I'd read (and then sort of brag if the number was super high--unfortunately, it's not). She couldn't find the original blogger or source, but the list seems right from what I know and have read of current YA lit. Anyway, here is the list, with my reads bolded. I've underlined ones on my TBR list. It's hard not to make comments, but I'll attempt to refrain! And I've only seen the movie of some of these.

If you want to repost this, it's kind of fun:) I didn't cheat or anything (some of the books I started but stopped).

Okay, I just changed my mind. Totally making comments on the ones I've read. Remember, the key phrase was "attempt to refrain." I'm calling it now-- fail.

1.    Alex Finn – Beastly

2.    Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones (liked much better than her novel Lucky)

3.    Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4) (girls in spy school= epic shennanigans) 

4.    Ally Condie – Matched  (cannot wait for Crossed, cannot wait for Crossed)

5.    Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

6.    Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills

7.    Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

8.    Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)

9.    Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)

10.  Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

11.  Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)

12.  Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)

13.  Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

14.  Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret

15.  Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)

16.  Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)

17.  Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3)

18.  Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)

19.  Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)

20.  Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)

21.  Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)

22.  Ellen Hopkins – Impulse (my 1st of her books, hooked me)

23.  Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

24.  Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply

25.  Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)

26.  Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere

27.  Gail Carson Levine – Fairest

28.  Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)

29.  J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) (yes, I'm a little bit of a disappointment) 

30.  James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)

31.  James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

32.  Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why (oh my gosh, please read this) 

33.  Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)

34.  Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

35.  John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

36.  John Green – An Abundance of Katherines

37.  John Green – Looking for Alaska

38.  John Green – Paper Towns

39.  Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)

40.  Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)

41.  Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)

42.  Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)

43.  Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)

44.  Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

45.  Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)

46.  Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)

47.  Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) (laugh out loud hilarity) 

48.  M.T. Anderson – Feed

49.  Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)

50.  Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

51.  Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)

52.  Markus Zusak – The Book Thief (amazing, definitely cried three times)

53.  Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger

54.  Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

55.  Mary Ting – Crossroads

56.  Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)

57.  Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)

58.  Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

59.  Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

60.  Meg Rosoff – How I live now

61.  Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

62.  Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)

63.  Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road

64.  Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

65.  Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

66.  Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4) (great series for both genders; so creative)

67.  Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion

68.  Neal Shusterman – Unwind

69.  Neil Gaiman – Coraline

70.  Neil Gaiman – Stardust

71.  Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book

72.  P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

73.  Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)

74.  Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

75.  Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick; Norah’s Infinite Playlist  

76.  Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

77.  Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

78.  Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks

79.  S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)

80.  Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip

81.  Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride (fun beach read) 

82.  Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key (didn't like the ending, but still, good romance) 

83.  Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever (my first read of hers...Will is dreamy) 

84.  Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

85.  Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)

86.  Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3) (good during the last third; too hard to get into)

87.  Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days

88.  Shannon Hale – Princess Academy

89.  Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)

90.  Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

91.  Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)

92.  Stephanie Meyer – The Host (wow, better than Twilight...what an imagination)

93.  Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4) (fabulouso, have a few problems with book 4) 

94.  Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees

95.  Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3) (first book extremely slow, third was my favorite because the main characters from the first two meet) 

96.  Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3) (Are you on board the Hunger Games train yet? If not, it's time.)

97.  Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

98.  Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)

99.  Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)

100.            Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

I think Divergent by Veronica Roth will be on this list soon. Also, Delirium by Lauren Oliver. My favorite book by Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby, wasn't on here either:(

Are there any you think should be on this list that are not?