Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Release Roundup: July 30 - August 6, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.

July 30

Everblue by Brenda Pandos

Best friends share everything with each other. Or do they? Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Frances Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Spending time with her best friend Tatiana, dreaming about kissing Tatiana's twin brother Fin, and swimming competitively are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college. But when Tatchi fails to return home after a family emergency, and no one knows where the family has gone, Ash chooses to do something drastic to find them.

Ashlyn is about to discover what she’d thought to be true her whole life, wasn’t, and the truth, too fantastical to imagine. Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, secrets that will change Ashlyn's life forever.

August 1

Across the Great Barrier (Frontier Magic #2) by Patricia C. Wrede

From New York Times #1 bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede, the second in the series of magic on the western frontier.

Eff is an unlucky thirteenth child - her twin brother, Lan, is a powerful seventh son of a seventh son. And yet, Eff is the one who saved the day for the settlements west of the Great Barrier. Her unique ways of doing magic and seeing the world, and her fascination with the magical creatures and land in the Great Plains push Eff to work toward joining an expedition heading west. But things are changing on the frontier.

There are new professors of magic for Eff and Lan to learn to work with. There's tension between William and his father. And there are new threats on the frontier and at home. To help, Eff must travel beyond the Barrier, and come to terms with her magical abilities—and those of her brother, to stop the newest threat encroaching on the settlers.

With wit, magic, and a touch of good pioneer sense, Patricia C. Wrede weaves a fantastic tale of the very wild west.

Ravenwood by Andrew Peters

Who holds the seeds to save a sky-high world?

Arborium is at risk, the sharpened blades of rival Maw poised to saw off its bark and branches. What can a poor plumber's apprentice armed with little more than a monkey wrench do to stop the chopping?

Carved into a massive, mile-high canopy, the forest kingdom of Arborium stands upon the tallest of trees. Within them, 14-year-old Ark holds the lowest of jobs: unclogging toilets. He's already up to his elbows in gunk when he REALLY steps in it. He overhears a plot echoing through the pipes: Maw, a ruthless glass-and-steel superpower, is scheming to wield its axes of evil to strip Arborium of its wood — a natural resource now more precious than gold.

The fate of a kingdom in the filthy hands of a plumber boy?

Plunged into danger, Ark must make the treacherous climb down to the darkest roots of RAVENWOOD if there's any hope of rescuing his threatened tree home!

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter

"The Luxe" meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra's daughter.

Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony—the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she's ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus's household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies—until she reaches out to claim her own.

This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.

Stir It Up: A Novel by Ramin Ganeshram

A Trinidadian-American girl’s dream is challenged by her family...

Thirteen-year-old Anjali's life is rich with the smell of curry from her parents' roti shop and an absolute passion for food. More than anything, Anjali wants to be a chef who competes on a kids' cooking reality TV show. But Anjali must keep her wish a secret from her family, who thinks Anjali's passions are beneath her. Thank goodness for Deema, Anjali's grandmother, whose insight and love can push past even the oldest family beliefs. Woven with recipes that cook up emotions and actual culinary recipes that make food, this novel is as delicious as it is satisfying.

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.

Misfit by Jon Skovron

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

Author Jon Skovron takes on the dark side of human nature with his signature funny, heartfelt prose.

Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer

Every teen girl fantasizes about having a double and best friend rolled into one-an alter ego with whom she can trade places, allowing her to disappear. Samara is a troubled and lonely adolescent, prone to cutting, who desperately craves both intimacy and escape from her unfulfilled life...until she meets her reflection, Dee, the seeming answer to all her problems.

With dual and dueling points of view, Eyes in the Mirror provides a perspective on one girl's life never before seen in YA fiction: her own and from her freer, wilder reflection.

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel

Something on this island is up to no good...

When Reese is forced to go on a boating trip with his family, the last thing he expects is to be shipwrecked on an island-especially one teeming with weird plants and animals. But what starts out as simply a bad vacation turns into a terrible one, as the castaways must find a way to escape while dodging the island's dangerous inhabitants. With few resources and a mysterious entity on the hunt, each secret unlocked could save them...or spell their doom. One thing Reese knows for sure: This is one Bad Island.

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

Welcome to York, England.

Mist lingers in the streets.

Narrow buildings cast long shadows.

This is the most haunted city in the world...

Miranda Tennant arrives in York with a terrible, tragic secret. She is eager to lose herself amid the quaint cobblestones, hoping she won’t run into the countless ghosts who supposedly roam the city...

Then she meets Nick, an intense, dark-eyed boy who knows all of York’s hidden places and histories. Miranda wonders if Nick is falling for her, but she is distracted by another boy — one even more handsome and mysterious than Nick. He lives in the house across from Miranda and seems desperate to send her some sort of message. Could this boy be one of York’s haunted souls?

Soon, Miranda realizes that something dangerous — and deadly — is being planned. And she may have to face the darkest part of herself in order to unravel the mystery — and find redemption.

August 2

The Marked (Delacriox Academy #2) by Inara Scott

Dancia's back at Delcroix, but this year, everything's different. Dancia's Talented, and her powers have earned her an invitation to join Delcroix's real raison d'etre --the Program. Dancia's wanted to use her powers to help people all her life -- and now Delcroix is going to give her the training she needs to use her Talent for good. At least...that’s what the school says she’ll learn to do with her powers. Her cuter-than-cute boyfriend Cam insists that it's true, and so do all the other students. But there's still a little voice inside her head that wonders -- if the Program's so great, why did her almost-only-a-friend- Jack run away rather than join? And why would the school be getting attacked by angry ex-students? Dancia's a loyal student...and a loyal girlfriend. But if finding out what's really going on means talking to Jack, well -- it's a risk she just might have to take.

Eternal (Immortal #3) by Gillian Sheilds

This third book about the Mystic Sisterhood at Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies is another romantic thriller with paranormal elements and deep mystery. This time our heroine is Sarah Fitzalan, the dependable, faithful friend to Evie and Helen, her sisters in the Mystic Way. But this term Sarah finds that their friendship is tested to the limits. Evie is turning her back on the Mystic Way after the sisterhood laid her beloved Sebastian’s soul to rest; Helen is distracted; and a new girl, wild child Velvet Romaine, seems set on stirring up more trouble at Wyldcliffe. Sarah struggles to keep the sisterhood together as the threat of attack from the dark coven looms.

All Sarah has to keep her going is her connection with her earth powers and a promise she cannot break. Must she sacrifice herself for the sake of her friends and sisters? Will her sisters join her, or will help come from unexpected sources, like her Romany ancestors, and a love she’d only just dared hope for?

Between by Jessica Warman

Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead.

She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.

In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn't abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she'd been running much more than normal, and that she'd all but stopped eating. Liz's mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried Liz was following in her mother's footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out. . . .

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Warman comes a shocking mystery, a heartbreaking character study, and ultimately a hopeful tale of redemption, love, and letting go.

Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

Coming of age in a hospital bed—a deeply affecting portrait of a teen's journey through a TB sanatorium in the 1940s

On the prairies of Canada during World War II, a girl and her two young siblings begin a war of their own. Stricken with tuberculosis, they are admitted to a nearby sanatorium. Teenager Marie Claire is headstrong, angry, and full of stubborn pride. In a new strange land of TB exiles she must “chase the cure,” seek privacy where there is none, and witness the slow wasting decline of others. But in this moving novel about fighting a way back to normal life, it is the thing that sets back Marie Claire the most—the demise of her little brother—that also connects her with the person who will be instrumental in helping her recover.

Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2) by Sara Shepard

My perfect life was a lie.

Now I’d do anything to uncover the truth.

Not long ago, I had everything a girl could wish for: amazing friends, an adorable boyfriend, a loving family. But none of them know that I’m gone—that I’m dead. To solve my murder, my long-lost twin sister, Emma, has taken my place. She sleeps in my room, wears my clothes, and calls my parents Mom and Dad.

And my killer is watching her every move.

I remember little from my life, just flashes and flickers, so all I can do is follow along as Emma tries to solve the mystery of my disappearance. But the deeper she digs, the more suspects she uncovers. It turns out my friends and I played a lot of games—games that ruined people’s lives. Anyone could want revenge . . . anyone could want me—and now Emma—dead.

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

August 3

Dark Parties by Sara Grant

My Review

Sixteen-year-old Neva has been trapped since birth. She was born and raised under the Protectosphere, in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. A shield "protects" them from the outside world, but also locks the citizens inside. But there's nothing left on the outside, ever since the world collapsed from violent warfare. Or so the government says...

Neva and her best friend Sanna believe the government is lying and stage a "dark party" to recruit members for their underground rebellion. But as Neva begins to uncover the truth, she realizes she must question everything she's ever known, including the people she loves the most.

Circle of Fire (Prophecy of the Sisters #3) by Michelle Zink

With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers.

August 4

Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman

From the acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs comes a fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe's spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother's jealousy and her best friend's mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido’s little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone's doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.

Drawing on firsthand experience from her travels to the Andaman Islands, Padma Venkatraman was inspired to write this story after meeting natives who survived the 2004 tsunami and have been able to preserve their unique way of life. Uido's transformation from a young girl to tribal leader will touch both your heart and mind.

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

Sixteen-year-old Aggie Winchester couldn't care less about who's elected prom queen-even if it's her pregnant Goth-girl best friend, Sylvia Ness. Aggie's got bigger things to worry about, like whether or not her ex-boyfriend wants to get back together and whether her mom will survive cancer.

But like it or not, Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of an unfolding prom scandal, largely because her mom, who is the school's principal, is rumored to have burned prom ballots so Sylvia won't be elected queen. Aggie's own investigation makes her wonder if the election could be dirty on both sides.

I read and reviewed Dark Parties a while back for Cornucopia of Dystopia and really enjoyed it, so I recommend checking that out when it hits shelves this week! I also recently finished The Near Witch and will be reviewing it tomorrow (and interviewing Victoria Schwab soon) -- it was AMAZING. Definitely pick it up on Tuesday. There are a couple others coming out this week that I need to read -- Misfit and Between -- I'll try to get to them in the next few days. I also really want to get caught up on the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy since the last book is coming out. So many books, so little time!

What new release are you most excited for this week?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In My Mailbox: July 25 - 31, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

For Review:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen!

Coming September 20, 2011!

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen!

Coming September 27, 2011!

On the night of Skye's seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites--like fire and ice--Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move--only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can't help falling for, and Devin, who she can't stay away from, the consequences of Skye's choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen!

Coming September 6, 2011!

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Thanks to Chelsy at Big Honcho Media!

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Sacrifice (Crave #2) by Melinda Metz and Laura Burns

Thanks to Melinda Metz and Simon & Schuster!

Coming September 20, 2011!

Gabriel and Shay are convinced that they can make their relationship work. Knowing that Shay is half-vampire, Gabriel thinks that his coven will embrace her as one of their own, but instead they view her as an abomination, a thing that doesn’t belong in either world. And they want her dead. Now Gabriel must make the ultimate decision - watch his love be killed by his coven or defy the people closest to him, the people he has spent centuries with to save her.

Soul Thief (Demon Trappers #2) by Jana Oliver

Thanks to Jana Oliver and C.J.!

Coming August 30, 2011!

Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them…

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.

But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever…


Shimmer (Riley Bloom #2) by Alyson Noel

Thanks to Kristin at My Bookish Ways!

Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?


Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

When I saw the new HarperTeen titles on NetGalley, I almost had a fit. I've been dying to read all of those! I'm also really excited to catch up on the Caster Chronicles in time for Beautiful Chaos on October 18. I'll be hosting a giveaway on August 15 for the first two books in the series -- so keep an eye out! And Supernaturally finally came out! Squee! I'm almost done, and it is AH-MAZ-ING. Unsurprising, right? Kiersten White rocks my socks.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa Schroeder (The Day Before) & Giveaway

Lisa Schroeder is a native Oregonian which means her childhood summers were spent camping, fishing, reading books (of course!) and playing in the sun, when it finally came out. These days, Lisa spends her summers, and every other part of the year, sharing all of the wonderful things Oregon has to offer with her husband and two sons. She is the author of numerous books for kids and teens, including CHASING BROOKLYN (Simon Pulse, 2010) and IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES (Aladdin, 2010).

Which character came to you first – Amber or Cade? What sparked their story in your mind?

Amber came first, though I didn’t know much about her when I started writing. I’m very much a discovery writer, so I take a couple of seeds of ideas, and start in and see where they take me. As Amber began packing that morning for the day, I thought, hmmm, what’s she going to take with her? It was then that I discovered her love of jelly beans and that she was a drummer.

When I started writing, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on in her life that would cause her to want to get away for the day. All I knew was I wanted to write a book that took place over 24 hours, the day before a girl’s life was about to change forever.

How do you think you’d react if you found yourself in Amber’s position?

I think I’d be really pissed off and scared to death. And I honestly can’t imagine doing It – getting on that plane and going to a place unknown.

Amber has fantastic taste in music. Do her preferences reflect your own? If you had to pick a theme song for The Day Before, what would it be? Why?

She’s a big fan of Pink, and I love her too. She also loves White Stripes, which is probably an obvious choice because of the female drummer, and while I enjoy a couple of their songs, I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan or anything. The other reference in the book that comes from my own tastes is Matt Nathanson. I LOVE him. They’re in Cade’s car at that point, and I could totally see Cade being a Matt Nathanson fan, because Cade is a singer/songwriter I think Matt is one of the best singer/songwriters out there today.

Both Cade and Amber are talented musicians. Do you play any instruments? Are there any you wish you could play?

I wish I could play the guitar. I recently took some lessons, but my hands are just too small and it’s really hard for me. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking piano lessons – we have this beautiful piano in our house that my in-laws gave us, and no one plays it. I can dink around on it, and play melodies by ear, but I am seriously considering taking up lessons in the fall.

What’s your favorite jelly bean flavor? Do you have any calming quirks like Amber’s jelly bean habit?

Oh, hard question. Favorite flavor. Um, I’ll go with tutti-frutti. As for calming quirks, since I was a little girl, I’ve twirled my hair around my finger to calm myself. I still catch myself doing it on occasion.

Cade and Amber play a game where they test one another’s knowledge of popular movies. Are the movies they mention favorites of yours? How did they fit into the story – did you have the particular movie in mind as you crafted the scene, or did you find movies to match the moment?

A couple of them would probably make my top twenty list, yeah, like “Say Anything” and maybe “Footloose”. Mostly, the movies came about as I was building that scene and I’d try to think of a movie that fit the moment. It was pretty fun, actually, and it felt a little bit like I was playing the game with the characters too. I did work at putting one movie in there – “Before Sunrise” – because I wanted this to be almost like a teen version of that movie. So that was one I worked a little harder at putting in there.

Have you ever written a story in prose? Do you find verse easier or more challenging? What would you say to a potential reader who might be wary of a verse novel?

My middle grade novel, IT’s RAINING CUPCAKES, is in prose. And my next YA will actually be in prose as well, though there will be a bit of poetry sprinkled throughout. I think both have their own challenges, really. With the right story, verse comes easily for me. I don’t know why that is, and I’ve stopped trying to figure out why, I just go with it.

It makes me sad that people are wary to try a verse novel. What I want people to know is there is still a story there. I mean, story is always my number one priority. The verse will never take away from the story, but instead, add a little something special to it. The language, the line breaks, the poetic devices – all of it helps to create an atmosphere I can’t get with regular prose. I know not everyone will like it, but I wish people would be so quick to judge it before they give it a try.

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

I am not a fan of macaroni and cheese. This is one reason why I adore Cade.

If you had one day to spend however you wanted, what would you do?

I would probably go to either the beach or Central Oregon and take a walk along the river. I’m pretty sure the day would involve being around water in some way. I think water has such a calming effect, you know? One of my favorite things to do is walk along the beach and then sit on a blanket and read a book with the beautiful ocean in the background. Sounds pretty heavenly, doesn’t it?

Thanks so much for having me, and for your wonderful review of THE DAY BEFORE!

For more about this author, please visit:


Thanks to the amazing Lisa Schroeder, one (1) winner will receive an adorable sand dollar necklace (like the one Amber has in the book!) from this etsy seller, AND a signed copy of The Day Before!

Please follow the instructions! A lot of entries so far haven't.

To Enter:
  • Leave a comment on anything in this interview (please include your email address so I can contact the winner) *required
  • Link to my review of The Day Before (and mention this giveaway) somewhere -- on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc -- and leave a direct link in your comment *required
  • Following is not required, but appreciated
  • US Only -- the necklace will be shipped by me, and the book will come from Lisa
  • Ends 8/5/11 at 11:59 pm EST
  • Please review my giveaway policy

Extra Entries:
  • +1 for each additional place you share the review/giveaway
  • +1 for a thoughtful comment on my review
  • +1 for every place you follow Lisa Schroeder: Website | Facebook | Twitter (leave relevant screennames)

Thanks so much to Lisa Schroeder for taking the time to answer my questions, and for providing this awesome giveaway!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

When Ashline's sister rolls into town, it's rarely a good sign -- but this time Eve's more out-of-control than ever. In the aftermath of her visit, Ash leaves town to escape the tragedy she left in her wake. Blackwood Academy is supposed to be a fresh start, free from chaos and pain. Unfortunately, a mystical force has drawn Ash -- and others like her -- to this secluded school among the redwoods, and Eve may not be the nastiest thing stalking them from the imposing forest.

This debut is eerie and intense, steamy and mysterious. From page one, Wildefire flies into action, sucking readers up in a vortex of legend and imagination. Karsten Knight draws together strands from a smorgasbord of different mythologies, spicing things up with a few invented creatures of his own. These are not run-of-the-mill supernaturals, and their variety and scale give the novel an epic feel. The forces at play are as deadly as they are majestic -- shown in stark detail through flashbacks and visions. This tale is dark and dangerous, in a delicious, edge-of-your-seat kind of way. From the first explosive page to the final astonishing revelation, just when readers think they know where this story is taking them, Wildefire yanks them away in another startling direction.

The high-octane energy is due in large part to Ash. Ashline Wilde is hardcore and sarcastic -- and maybe more than a little angry. Her larger-than-life personality and razor sharp repartee jump off the page and grab readers by the throat. Though she's got the typical teen drama -- cheating boyfriends and ill-timed detentions -- her family dysfunction really steals the show. When her motorcycle-riding, hell-raising, runaway sister blows through town, she stirs up more than just trouble. Ash and Eve take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, and their struggle fuels the emotional core of the novel. Though it's easy to villainize Eve, Knight takes care to show the ties that bind the two sisters -- making their choices less black and white, and Ashline's struggle more wrenching.

Unlike so many heroines, Ashline has more than a studly boyfriend on her side (though she has one of those too). The group of friends she gathers at Blackwood is diverse and dynamic -- from aloof but alluring Raja, spooky and ethereal Serena, roguish but romantic Rolfe, to nerdy but loyal Jackie. Though they may initially seem like stereotypes, the ragtag gang will steadily grow on readers as they face their demons (both real and psychological). The characters feel so alive, like real teens -- even though they're so much more.

Knight's style is effortless and unobtrusive, painting vivid scenes without getting in the way of his story. The novel's irreverent wit and brisk pace never give readers a moment's boredom, carrying them along on the smooth surface of its prose -- which stands in sharp contrast to the cosmic consequences hanging in the balance. Wildefire will draw readers in with its otherworldly opening, pull them along through midnight monsters and would-be mercenaries, straight into surreal psychics and smoldering romance -- and leave them begging for more.


Disclosure: I received an advance galley of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

This novel hit shelves Tuesday! Click here to purchase Wildefire by Karsten Knight.

Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight upcoming releases we're anxiously awaiting!

Coming January 3, 2012!

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature—or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

This synopsis is just so dramatic -- eleven minutes, heart stopped beating, brain stopped working, dead. It pulled me in right away. Then, just when you think it's going to be a ghost story, ta-dah! She's alive! And with some freaky new abilities, no less. I'm intrigued by whether this Troy Varga is something more sinister than a happenstance ally -- I mean, how likely is it that two people with these crazy coma-induced abilities will just run into each other by chance? This sounds like a very haunting and emotional story, and I can't wait to check it out! Plus, I adore debut authors.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love Story Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a copy of Love Story by Jennifer Echols! Special thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing the prizing!

The winners are...

Tiffany Drew, whose favorite love story is Romeo and Juliet!


Erin @ Let's Evaluate, whose favorite love story is Allie and Noah from The Notebook!

Congratulations winners! You've both been contacted. I hope you enjoy Love Story!

Teaser Tuesday: The Candidates by Inara Scott

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I spun around, not recognizing the voice behind me. Then my mouth dropped open. It was the dark-haired kid I had crashed a car to protect. Except now he looked anything but scared. ~p. 50

This book is a lot different than I expected, and I'm intrigued to see where the story goes. Also? Gorgeous cover.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer

***Contains spoilers if you have not read Nightshade***

Calla Tor never thought she'd find herself in the Searchers' lair -- her sworn enemies and supposedly vicious killers -- and she definitely never expected them to make her an offer she couldn't refuse. As Calla finally begins to accept the truth about her masters and the only world she's ever known, she's faced with a crucial choice, one that will cost precious lives, define her destiny and alter the course of the ancient Witches' War.

In Wolfsbane, Andrea Cremer introduces readers to a new facet of her rich mythology, as well as a whole host of new characters. The Searchers' magic is a perfect complement to the world that began in Nightshade, and it is thought-provoking to contrast them with the Keepers. Though they are less cruel and vicious than their counterparts, there is still something a little unsettling about the Searchers, with their vague explanations and miltaristic hierarchy.

However, it is fun to watch their family-like and much more lighthearted banter, and a huge relief to see women in power rather than brutally repressed. The world of the Searchers could not be more different from that of the Keepers, and it is fascinating to see the two halves blended into one complex, spellbinding whole. The Keepers truly bare their ugly fangs in this installment, making it even darker than its haunting predecessor. Cremer holds no punches as readers are thrown headfirst into a centuries-old war.

Several familiar faces make an appearance in Wolfsbane, including our heroine Calla. Though Calla is still a fierce alpha in battle, she seems more timid and much less self-assured in life. Her self-doubt and guilt cause her to waver back and forth, rather than being the confident, powerful leader we met in Nightshade. Though it's understandable, considering the massive shift in her worldview, it is still frustrating to see her brood over things that clearly weren't her fault. Several other characters also seem to have lost their way, making surprising and sometimes heartbreaking choices.

Shay, on the other hand, really comes into his own -- no longer the meek and weak human, but an assertive hero. If Calla can once again find her place in the world, the balance of their relationship will be perfect and enduring. Cremer really cranks up the sexual tension, and Calla's heart is wrenched in two even more forcefully now that her fate is in her own hands. However, I personally find Ren's appeal baffling. His troubling behavior from book one escalates to a crisis level in the sequel, and I'm nervous to see how Cremer ultimately resolves his plotline.

Though the narrative drive is less clear than the march toward Samhain in Nightshade, there is plenty of action in this second installment, as well as a lot of crucial history. The thought and care that Cremer put into the backstory of the Witches' War is what makes this series so compelling. The Searchers' cryptic comments and drawn-out explanations are exasperating for the first half of the novel, but when the intricate history finally falls into place it is stunning. Still, Cremer leaves readers with more than a few questions. It is clear that a vast universe of history and lies, magic and secrets lies at the heart of these novels, and its many mysterious pieces are strategically placed in each installment to reveal the magnificent whole.


Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

This novel hits shelves tomorrow! Click here to purchase Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Release Roundup: July 24 - 30, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.

July 26

Vanished by Sheela Chari

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Sheela Chari's debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Keek is not having a good summer. She and her boyfriend have just had their Worst Fight Ever (on the subject of her virginity, nonetheless), she’s been betrayed by a best friend, her parents are splitting up, and her mother is on the other side of the country tending to Keek’s newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. Oh, and Keek’s holed up at her grandmother’s technology-barren house with an abysmal case of the chicken pox. In Keek’s words, “Sofa king annoying.”

With her world collapsing around her, Keek’s only solace comes from rereading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and typing on an old electric typewriter. Keek—whose snappy narrative voice is darkly humorous and hysterically blunt—must ultimately decide for herself which relationships to salvage, which to set free, and what it means to fall in love.

Love and Other Things I’m Bad At: Rocky Road Trip + Sundae My Prince Will Come by Catherine Clark

What’s a girl to do when there are two guys who seem like The One?

Just when Courtney has found the Best Boyfriend Ever (aptly named Grant Superior), she has to leave him to go to college, because apparently the universe doesn’t want her to be happy. Now that she’s three states away, what’s going to happen to her Superior relationship? And what about that cute guy she works with at college? No, not him. Him. Definitely getting in the way with his cuteness. But not distracting Courtney enough to make her stop wondering what exactly happened between Grant and her best friend, Beth, back home. Why can’t dating be as easy as eating a healthy vegan diet? Not that she’s ever managed that, either, but still.

Will Courtney ever figure out how to get this love thing right?

The Wizards of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

Oona Crate was born to be the Wizard's apprentice, but she has another destiny in mind.

Despite possessing the rare gift of Natural Magic, Oona wants to be a detective. Eager for a case, she is determined to prove that logic can be just as powerful as wizardry. But when someone attacks her uncle--the Wizard of Dark Street--Oona is forced to delve even deeper into the world of magic.

Full of odd characters, evil henchmen, and a street where nothing is normal, The Wizard of Dark Street will have you guessing until the very end.

The Babysitter Murders by Janet Ruth Young

Everyone has weird thoughts sometimes. But for seventeen-year-old Dani Solomon, strange thoughts have taken over her life. She loves Alex, the little boy she babysits, more than anything. But one day, she has a vision of murdering him that's so gruesome, she can't get it out of her mind. In fact, Dani's convinced that she really will kill Alex. She confesses the thoughts to keep him safe, setting off a media frenzy that makes "Dani Death" the target of an extremist vigilante group.

Through the help of an uncoventional psychiatrist, Dani begins to heal her broken mind. But will it be too late? The people of her community want justice . . . and Dani's learning that some thoughts are better left unsaid.

Summer Storm by Kristina Dunker

A sunny summer's day at the lake turns awry when Annika's cousin Ginie disappears. Just a short while ago, the two of them had been sunbathing by the water's edge with Annika's friends Steffi, Rüdiger, and Jonas, but now Annika and the others are scurrying about in the pouring rain looking for Ginie.

Finally, the police are alerted and the nervous tension mounts. Although they have been close friends for many years, rather than being supportive they start blaming and accusing each other. Gradually, disturbing stories begin to surface, things Annika had no idea about, and finally Steffi says out loud what everyone has been thinking all along: is it possible that Rüdiger, who seems so reserved, has done something to Ginie? At first Annika refuses to believe it, but all the evidence points to him as the culprit. And although Rüdiger is shocked that of all people his closest friends should suspect him of such an awful thing, he does nothing to clarify the situation.

Meanwhile, as Annika has discovered that there are a few skeletons in the closet of her supposedly happy family, she feels that she must speak to Rüdiger on his own...

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died...

"Touch of Frost is an intriguing start to an exciting new series!" —Award-winning author Jeri Smith-Ready

". . .surviving high school means staying alive!" —New York Timesbestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks

Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2) by Andrea Cremer

When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer—one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack—and the man—she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

So many great books coming out this week! I just finished Wolfsbane yesterday and am about halfway through Wildefire, so I'll get both of those reviews up this week. I'm also SO excited Supernaturally is finally coming out! I'll definitely be getting that one the day it's released.

What new release are you most excited for this week?

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