Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...
Coming January 29, 2013 - Preorder it below

It's been seven months, but I still remember the shock of Incarnate's ending. The last several chapters were so good it kept my attention while sitting in traffic headed to a John Green signing. Let me break that down for you: instead of crying and squealing and acting out other forms of hysteria at the reality of meeting one of my idols, I read this book. I can haz Asunder now, please.

Monday, July 23, 2012

When I'm Not Blogging (4)

Last Monday I went across the river and through the sugarcane to the place I call home. I grew up in a small town along the bayou, where I do not visit nearly enough. I made time last week to attend a memorial mass for my aunt who recently passed away. It was definitely a bittersweet day: sadness brought us all together, but visiting with long-lost family is always nice. Josh even got a few stories I'd never heard. I also spent some time wandering the cemetery where I used to ride my bike as a kid, saying hello to loved ones of the past as I made my rounds. Since then, I haven't been much in the mood for blogging. But I am reading. Hopefully I'll have some new posts for you soon.

Friday, July 13, 2012

TGIF - Quotes That Make Me Swoon

TGIF is hosted by the lovely Ginger at GReads! It is not a meme I have ever participated in; however, this week's question caught my eye.

You see, I am a freak for quotes. Be it from a book, a song, or a line in a movie. Nothing gets my heart fluttering more than a good line, so I had to join in on Ginger's fun this week and share a few favorites.

Quotes That Make You Swoon: What are some of the most swoon-worthy quotes you've experienced in a book?

“Kissing him, being with him like that … it was cool lemonade with a long straw, sweet and measured and pleasurable in a way that felt infinite. The thought crossed my mind that I never wanted him to stop kissing me. I could do this forever, I thought.” Jenny Han, It’s Not Summer Without You

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll quit the band, go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I’ll do that, too. . . maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, that maybe it’d be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I’d do it. I can lose you like that if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.” Gayle Forman, If I Stay

“We stood there, looking at each other, saying nothing. But it was the kind of nothing that meant everything.” Jenny Han, It's Not Summer Without You

“A hug should be a full embrace - as I wrap my arms around Tony, I am not just holding him, but also trying to lift off his troubles for a moment so that the only thing he can feel is my presence, my support.” David Levithan, Boy Meets Boy

“I want to believe there is a somebody out there just for me. I want to believe that I exist to be there for that somebody.” David Levithan, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

And another, not so swoonworthy but one I wanted to share:

“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.” John Green

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (41)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...
Clockwork Princess
Coming March 19, 2013 - Preorder it below

I literally JUST saw this cover and died a little. It's freaking gorgeous! Nevermind the fact that I've yet to read the second book in this series. I want this one NOW.

*It is not yet available for preorder on Indiebound, so I just linked to Cassie's page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Never Enough
Denise Jaden
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: July 10, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Source: Galley Grab
From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?
In the beginning, Loann is beyond envious of her sister. Her beautiful, perfect sister with the friends and the guy has everything Loann dreams of. So when Claire's ex makes a move for Loann, she doesn't mind seeing Claire retreat into herself. But when Loann sees Claire's life isn't what it appears to be, she struggles to catch Claire before she goes off the deep end.

There were a lot of things that didn't exactly come as a surprise, but that didn't really take away from my enjoyment of this novel. Despite knowing what was going to happen, I still liked seeing how it happened. There were a few cliches which induced a few facepalms, but overall the characters and their actions were pretty believable. I really liked the family dynamic, from the relationship between sisters to the ones with their parents. I wanted to throat punch Loann's mom multiple times, but even she was a character I loved to hate.

The one major problem I had with Never Enough was the same problem I had with Jaden's first novel, Losing Faith. Although I enjoyed both books and appreciated seeing the darker side of things, neither story really resonated with me. I liked both just fine and couldn't pick out many flaws, but unfortunately they weren't the kind of stories that stick in my memory.

FTC: I received an eARC of this novel from Simon & Schuster via Galley Grab in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guest Post: Denise Jaden of Never Enough

Today I have very special guest Denise Jaden on the blog. Denise is the author of Losing Faith and Never Enough, which releases this Wednesday. Happy Book Birthday, Denise! She's here today to talk about her life when she's not writing.

Besides writing, I have a fairly busy and interesting life. My husband is a personal trainer. He’s always traveling to seminars to learn the latest cutting edge techniques about performance, and we spend lots of time talking about and experimenting with everything from eye drills to herbal supplements.

My son is eight and I homeschool him. He’s just finished up the third grade, and so (hopefully) I’m still a little ahead of him scholastically, but I fear he’s catching me pretty quickly. I usually start each day with a quick half-hour of writing time, then get straight into schoolwork with my son. He loves science experiments and crafts, so we usually end up doing some fairly hands-on schooling. I also switch off schooling with my sister-in-law once a week, so my son gets to hit the school books with his cousins.

I try to get to the gym four or five days per week and head straight for the free weights. I used to compete in fitness competitions, and even competed in a couple of strength competitions in Vancouver, where I completed 31 bodyweight dips in a minute and curled a third of my bodyweight 71 times in a minute. Now I work out in the gym or go running just to stay fit. My son is involved in judo classes, and I spend a couple of hours per week with my netbook open, while watching him get thrown around on the mats.

Probably the most unusual thing in my life is Polynesian dancing. I’ve been involved with it since I was really young, and now perform with a professional Polynesian dance troupe. We meet once a week to work on new choreographies with our extremely skilled teacher/choreographer/costume designer. I used to perform more than I do now, but I’m still really involved in coordinating our group and helping to teach classes.

Aside from that, one of the most enjoyable parts of my life is the small group of friends I meet with on Saturday nights. My husband and I used to watch Friends in the early years of our marriage, and used to wish we had a close-knit group like Monica and Chandler and all the rest. We’re so very blessed, because we finally do have that, and they’re the best group of friends I could imagine.

All of this usually makes for a full week. There are always things like homeschool meetings to attend or reports to complete, and I’m sure plenty of other boring details, but in general, I really love my life and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thanks, Denise, for sharing with us a pretty big glimpse into your life! You sound like you're incredibly busy, but somehow manage to find time to write some amazing books.

Be sure to check out the other tour stops and Denise's blog for some incredible prizes she's giving away.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In My Bag (44)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
Skinny by Donna Cooner (Scholastic)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House)
(Thanks, Netgalley!)

A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young
(Thanks, Harper Collins and Pitch Dark!)
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(Thanks, Lee & Low Books and Armchair BEA!)

I totally forgot about the books I won, so those were a really nice surprise. So was Skinny since it had been a while since I requested it. I think I'm most excited for Seraphina because I've been on a fantasy kick since reading the awesome Shadow and Bone. What'd you guys get this week?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Once by Anna Carey

Anna Carey
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: July 3, 2012
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: Accepted from publisher
Series: Eve #2
When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.
I really enjoyed Eve when I read it last year, and I eagerly awaited the sequel. I haven't always loved dystopians, but I have been blown away by a few - namely, The Hunger Games and Divergent. The key for me has been great writing and great world-building, which really should be found in every genre, it just might be trickier in the world of dystopia. I thought Eve was a pretty good addition to the genre, and it's been one that I continue to recommend when dystopian fans ask for suggestions.

Once picks up where Eve left off with Eve living a relatively safe life in Califia. She misses Caleb desperately, but she knows what awaits her if she leaves her safehold. The king is still after her with warrants out for her arrest, but Eve must leave when she learns the women of Califia are only keeping her safe for leverage. That along with the fact that Caleb is injured out in the wild pushes Eve to escape. She is soon captured through a trap and brought to the City of Sand.

I am going to try really hard to get through this without any spoilers. The relationship between Eve and the king was extremely well done. It would have been easy to go in another direction, but the direction the author took left much more possibility in my opinion. I really really appreciated that. I loved that Arden found her, I loved the few friends (and enemies) Eve made in the city, and I loved that Eve was able to visit her past through actual encounters and flashbacks. I still didn't feel Caleb. I thought he honestly loved Eve and she him, but I unfortunately didn't feel the chemistry between them. I had a problem with this in book one, and I had hoped it would have improved in this book.*

There is one thing that I am dying to talk about which would be a major spoiler, so I'm going to leave it to you to highlight here: Okay so... I don't think Caleb is really dead. I think Moss told Eve this so that she would be forced to play princess and kill the king. Thoughts?? Answer agree or disagree in the comments, but try not to spoil it for anyone else!

My only complaint was that I didn't reread Eve before diving into Once. My memory was a little hazy, and I forgot a few of the characters (Arden). I would at least skim the last few chapters of Eve if it's been a while because Once takes off right where the first book ended. This is definitely not the fault of the book nor the author, just my crummy memory.

*I truly think it's a personal thing because other readers LOVE Caleb, and this didn't deter me much from the whole of the book.

FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Author Interview: Anna Carey of the Eve Trilogy

Today I have Anna Carey, author of the Eve trilogy, here for an interview! The second installment of the series, ONCE, is hitting bookstores today. I love this series and am so glad book two is finally out in the world for everyone to enjoy. In addition to answering a few questions, Anna is also sharing an excerpt and playlist for ONCE. Be sure to check those out as well!

1. Twitter style: describe ONCE in 140 characters or less.

Eve <3’s Caleb, they’re reunited in the City & OMG the evil King is out for blood. NO! NO! WHY?!?! #postapocalpticvegas #kissing #love

2. What are three things you must have for a productive writing day?

Eight hours, earplugs, and a cup of Youthberry tea by Teavana. Though eight hours may seem like a lot, I generally need a full day to get five hours of real writing done. I’ve started using earplugs when I work in public because I’m so often distracted by stranger’s conversations. Writers are thieves—don’t forget that. I’ll notice someone’s speech pattern, what they look like, and then listen for awhile as they talk about their relationship with their sister. Everyone is a character, everyone has a story. Sometimes I use stuff I’ve heard or seen. And sometimes I just need to block everything out and focus on the story I’m creating.

3. I love the EVE covers and the way they complement one another so well. Did you have any input and were you pleased with the final outcome?

All thanks and credit goes to designer Elizabeth Clark. We’d talked briefly about imagery that could be used on the cover, but the bridge was ultimately her idea. I originally thought the image was striking, but when I received the physical book I was thrilled. There’s a metallic sheen to it that you can’t see online. It adds another layer to the packaging.

4. What were some of your writing inspirations?

There’s a lot of grey, bleak post apocalyptic worlds out there, and I knew I wanted trilogy to be different. I wrote the first book in the wake of a major move, from New York to California, where I now live. The landscape is naturally gorgeous here and people, for the most part, are very environmentally conscious. At the time I was fixated on the idea that the world might thrive without us in it—that the sky might be bluer, the ocean clearer. Ugly strip malls would be covered over with ivy and roads would disappear under layers of moss. I wanted Eve’s world to look like California on steroids—a natural paradise.

5. Interviews all ask general questions you must get tired of answering. What’s one question you wish people would ask?

I don’t know that I’ll ever get sick of talking about books, writing or reading. Because the young adult audience is primarily young women, I see the issue of feminism coming up again and again in reviews and online. What make a book feminist or anti-feminist? There seem to be a million and one definitions.

6. Any plans for life after EVE?

I just finished the final book, Rise, and now I’m reading all the books I missed while writing the series. I’m currently finishing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which has so much humor and heart. I’ve just started Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. After she blurbed Once Cynthia and I became friends. I’ve seen the giant inspiration board in her office, so it’s fun to see pieces of her (and her research) in the story. I’m also in the beginning phases of a new project…stay tuned for more details!

Thanks, Anna, for stopping by bookmarked today! I wish you all the luck with you new release and am eagerly awaiting the final installment RISE.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eve by Anna Carey

Anna Carey
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: October 4, 2011
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 320
Source: BEA
Series: Eve #1
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
I know I've said this before, but I am a bit of a contemporary snob. While there are certainly examples of other genres that have rocked my socks off, I am most happy with real stories, be it gushy or gritty. That said, dystopian novels tend to pique my interest when I first hear about them but then fall off my radar. I admit to being intimidated by dystopian societies, especially when there are so few standalones amidst a sea of trilogies. They sound so darn intriguing, but I let them sit on my shelf, too afraid to invest myself in multiple installments of mediocrity. Such was thankfully not the case with Eve. Well, I did let it sit around a bit before picking it up, but I was intrigued by the first chapter and completely hooked by the fourth or fifth.

Eve is a model student, valedictorian of her graduating class, eager to move on to the City of Sand where she will contribute to the new society in a meaningful way. All is not how it seems, however, and when Eve learns the truth of what her life will be after school, she knows she must find a way out. Narrowly escaping her teachers, forced to leave her friends behind, Eve sets off through the forests in search of a rumored safe haven for women. She meets a boy along the way, who defies everything she's been taught about men. He helps her, even when it's not in his best interest, and Eve must choose which path to take - with him or without him.

Eve was a plenty likeable character, and I enjoyed her journeys - physical, mental, emotional. This was definitely more of a plot driven novel, but such is the way of most dystopian stories. The plot was very good, and I thought the world-building was interesting. It definitely had the creeper factor, which is something I like to see from this genre. Caleb didn't exactly make me swoon, but his selflessness was definitely attractive.

Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent won't find quite the same level of brilliance in Eve; however, it is a remarkable addition to the genre that is so popular. It is an engrossing, quick read that can easily be devoured in one sitting. Its sequel, Once, is available in stores tomorrow.

FTC: I received a copy of this novel from BEA 2011

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In My Bag (43)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin 

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
(Thanks to Macmillan!)

Once by Anna Carey
(Thanks to HarperCollins!)

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
(Thanks to Edelweiss and Netgalley, respectively!)

Not book related:

I'm pumped to FINALLY have all my wedding pictures in! Now I can go about choosing photos for my albums, getting prints, etc. Plus they mailed it in this fancy, super cute tin. Love those guys!

Back to the books . . . I'm really looking forward to What's Left of Me and Crewel, and I already read and loved Once. It was a great follow-up to Eve. What'd you guys get this week?
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