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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interview with Rebecca McKinnon

I have the great pleasure of having Rebecca McKinnon on the blog today! Lost Amongst the Shelves is part of the blog tour for the release of Rebecca's second book, Cantrip, in The Refuge trilogy. I have reviews of Annexed and Cantrip up this week, so go and check those out!

Before I begin with the interview, I must say that Rebecca is the sweetest! Not only did she put up with my horrible memory (I totally forgot to send out my interview questions on the right date) but she remembered that today was my birthday! So on to the questions!!

Hi Rebecca! I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for asking me to be on the tour for your second novel in The Refuge Trilogy.   I’d also like to offer you a HUGE congrats for publishing your second novel! These books have been an absolute thrill for me to read and I’ve enjoyed getting lost in The Refuge!

Thanks, Kristan. I’m really excited to visit Lost Amongst the Shelves. Also, I wanted to wish you Happy Birthday!

To start off, why don’t you give us five fun facts about yourself!

I have the ability to get hurt standing still doing nothing (which once caused me to break my nose).

Most of my best friends are characters in books.

I’m deathly afraid of moths—yes, I know it’s crazy, but twice in my life I’ve had a moth try to burrow into my ear!

As a kid, I read books while roller-skating.

I can’t buy my favorite ice cream without driving two hours. Aggie Ice Cream is made at the Utah State University creamery. While it’s not the university I went to, I’ll always root for USU—just because of their delicious peppermint ice cream!

Now, how about five fun facts about your books in The Refuge Trilogy, such as some hidden behind the scenes facts about the book, personal stories woven into the pages, crazy edits that didn’t make the final cut, etc.

When I picture The Refuge, I see it tucked high in the Rocky Mountains—probably because I was born and raised in their shadows.

The symbols used to depict Insertion and Absconding are designed in quadrants. Celtic knots that have these four sections are considered “protection knots.” These protection knots are wards to keep malicious influences from crossing through the barrier from the outside world.

Mac has become more controversial than I expected him to be. Some people love him and wish Narissa had fallen in love with him, while others think he has a hidden agenda. My view on Mac will become clear in the third book.

If things in The Refuge had gone according to tradition, Leah would be the next Council Head.

Cell phones not only work in The Refuge, but can cross over the barrier. Around The Refuge, flagpoles hide antennas. To cross into the outside world, the signal is sent through the computer link connecting the realities.

Twitter is really popular amongst bloggers nowadays. Describe this series in a tweet (160 characters or less).

A tale of adventure, choices, and different kinds of love. Narissa learns to live beyond her past and embrace the present.

Could you describe your own personal writing process? Any fun tricks or necessities you have to have in order to write?

My process isn’t very interesting, really. Generally, I have my kids playing around me while I write (which doesn’t actually work that well, but it’s what I can manage)!. I sit at the computer and go at it. For the first book in the trilogy, I did more revisions than I like to think about. I was trying to learn how to focus on more than one aspect of the book at once, but I made a pass through the book for the general story, then for details, then voice, and on and on and on. The second book I managed in three or four passes. Hopefully I’ll get through the third in two or three!

I love a great fantasy. You’ve created this incredible new realm for readers in the Refuge. How did you come about the idea for this story?

I didn’t exactly come up with this idea—the idea found me. It basically invaded my mind and wouldn’t go away. What else could I do? I wrote it down to make it stop taking all my attention.

The concept of this alternate reality that the characters reside in was absolutely mind-blowing and very creative! Did you have any difficulties with trying to relay this story to the readers?

I don’t think so—but feel free to tell me if I didn’t pull it off!

Narissa is a fantastic protagonist. I love her rebellious streak and strength throughout the series so far. She was definitely a fun read for me and by far my favorite character. What was it like creating her character? Did you model her after anyone in your own life?

I didn’t have to do much to create Narissa. She came to mind fully-formed. I did refine some things about her—and, I’ll admit, I gave her my habit of speaking without thinking.

Personally, when I read I love to picture the story like a movie in my head. If you could cast your favorite characters from the series so far, which actors would you choose?

On this one, all I can say is that I wouldn’t want anyone too famous. People would see them and picture their famous characters. If I were able to set that aside, I think I’d want Bonnie Wright to play Narissa. Christie Burke would also be fantastic!

What advice do you have for other aspiring authors? Especially Indie authors like yourself?
Work hard, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you the only people who self-publish are the wannabes who can’t get published any other way. Learn to have a thick skin, but still be able to learn from your critics.

Mostly, though, just don’t quit. I don’t care who you are, you can always be better with more practice!

Cantrip by Rebecca McKinnon

She spent the summer in The Refuge.
Now, she’s come home.
Within days she realizes:

She wants back in.

Only two things stand in her way. The sister Narissa has protected for years can’t decide if she wants to go with her. And, of course, Narissa has no idea how to return to the splinter reality.

Complicating matters, Narissa discovers she can no longer avoid the problems her unexpected trip allowed her to escape.

Through it all, there’s one thing that keeps her going. She’s not the only person to have left The Refuge.

Cantrip, the second book in The Refuge trilogy, takes off exactly where Annexed ended with a major cliffhanger. In this book, Narissa is back in the real world, but this time Damon has followed her. Where Annexed ended with a lot of unresolved conflict, Cantrip begins the steady resolution to some of the major relationship kinks between Damon and Narissa. This is especially important because Damon is now in the real world and must solely rely on Narissa to survive. It was very fufilling seeing that relationship reversal where Narissa is now Damon's protector.

With this second book we delve deeper into the personal life of Narissa and her family dynamics. There are a lot of screwy things festering on the surface of the relationship between Narissa and her mother. NEVER have I loathed a character quite as much as Narissa's mother. It was to the point that I would physically want to slap that woman upside her head! Hearing her try to pimp her daughter out and promote promiscuous behavior really gets under your skin throughout the entire book. So kuddos to McKinnon for envoking such strong emotions toward her character!

The development between Narissa and Damon is also present in this book. We see their love deepen even more as the story progresses. Their's is very sweet and kind, not the steamy firey passion that we normally see in YA stories (although there were some moments when things heated up) but I enjoy reading about their relationship. Sometimes you really don't need that 'stick your tongue down your throat, fire burning in my stomach, rip our clothes off' moments. Its the sweet gestures, like cooking dinners, protecting little sisters and understanding each other's boundaries that really strengthen the relationship.

Of course, no book is complete without a little suspense! I really liked following along with Damon and Narissa's struggles trying to find their way back to The Refuge. There was a lot of digging and researching that really leaves the reader on edge. I kept flipping through the pages, dying to find out when (or if) they'd ever make it back! It was killer! This story has been fun to follow along with and I'm eager to learn what's in store for the third and final book!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Annexed by Rebecca McKinnon

Friends or family?
Desire or responsibility?
She thought she'd made her choice.

Now, finding herself trapped in a world splintered from her own, Narissa is determined to return home. Learning that the means of crossing between realities has been lost, she vows to find the elusive gateway.

Narissa doesn't plan to make friends. She certainly doesn't intend to fall in love.

Faced with the decision, will she choose the life she wants, or return to the world where she belongs?

This book had a very interesting premise to it. Narissa is a teenage girl, uprooted from her troubled home life and annexed into another realm called The Refuge. Here, a small plot of Utopia is runned by The Council and life is much simpler. While trying to find a way back home to her younger sister, Narissa emerses herself into The Refuge, becoming a type of 'foster child' to a loving family and undertaking certain responsibilities in the town. Unbeknownst to her, Narissa begins falling in love with life at The Refuge, along with a certain council member, that makes her decision to stay or leave that much harder.

I really enjoyed the originality of Annexed. The book was very creative as it centered around this alternate universe, reminiscent of The Village. At the Refuge, life is much simpler and people (for the most part) much kinder. However, the Council is very involved with the everyday runnings of its people, instilling unnatural fears, such as swimming in open water and internet access, into the town as an undermining way of controlling them. Its a very seedy government that opens a lot of questions to the reader and leaves you wondering what they are trying to hide.

I appreciated how the main character, Narissa, was bold enough to stand up to the Council. Personally, I would have expected anyone to be cowering in fear after being transported to the Refuge, but Narissa holds fast to her own beliefs and isn't one to be bullied. She's definitely a strong character with even stronger beliefs. I found it a little questionable how easily Narissa adapted to her new life in the Refuge however. With such a drastic life change, it seemed a bit unrealistic how fluid the transition was for her. Its hard to believe anyone could be THAT strong.

The relationships Narissa builds with other characters was executed perfectly. Particularly the progression between Narissa and her love interest Damon. Everyone knows that one of my greatest pet peeves is insta-love, so it was refreshing to see Narissa and Damon build their relationship first. It was really sweet to pick up on the small clues of Damon's feelings while reading Annexed, such as him building Narissa a desk and decorating her work space. It was like being a new relationship myself: denying the other person's feelings at first and then having that big 'ahaa' moment when he reveals his true feelings.

This book has definitely been one of my favorite Indie reviews so far. The story is engrossing and well planned so that every detail has its own purpose. There is plenty of romance, mystery, and emotion tucked away in the pages of Annexed that is sure to fill any book lover's imagination. The creativity and originality of the story is inspiring and leaves the door wide open for a thrilling series.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Must Read Monday (6)

Fans of Fiction
Second win! I'm very excited that my Ella Enchanted was a hit!

This meme is hosted by the lovely Jenna from Fans of Fiction. Please go and check her blog out, she's a total sweetheart! The rules are simple, just create an acrostic puzzle about your favorite book from the week's genre. This week the theme is...A book that made you laugh out loud
A new adventure for Jasmine Kiss, leads her to a blossoming
Music career with the band, C-side.
Playing the guitar, she must impress her new bandmates or be
Left homeless on the streets in California. An
Intense attraction to fellow bandmate Sean and a house
Full of guys leads to a few awkward encounters (To say the least!)
Insane parties, packed gigs, and a job at a psychic's shop 
Encompass some of the madness of Jasmine's new life, but her
Dreams of making it in the music business are too real to give up.
I feel like I've been talking and tweeting about this book a lot lately, but its just so good. And hilarious!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Follow Friday (9)

As always, its time for another Follow Friday. This wonderful meme is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. Each friday two blogs are featured in an effort to expand one's blog. Go and check out both of these sites to learn more!

Question: It's Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for - blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

There are so many bloggers that I've been so lucky to come into contact with since starting my blog 3 months ago. You all have been so wonderfully sweet and made this experience that much better. I really have loved getting to know you all through your blogs. There are a few bloggers in particular that I've loved getting to know.

Michelle from Book Briefs was one of the first bloggers to ever email me. We communicated back and forth and she's been so sweet with answering my blogging related questions. It's really so cool knowing that a blogger with such a large following takes the time to welcome and help those of us just starting out!

Jenna from Fans of Fiction has also been another favorite blogger of mine. She's a complete sweetheart with a lot of similar tastes in books as I do. I've loved emailing back and forth with Jenna and continuing to participate in her meme Must Read Monday. (You all should totally check it out!) She's the blogger I've gotten to know the most and I'm so happy she started this blogging friendship.

Before I even started my book blog I used to follow Amber from Just Your Typical Book Blog. She was one of my few followers when I had a personal blog and have loved her reviews since the beginning. She's absolutely hilarious and never fails to make me laugh with her witty remarks. Her reviews are always honest and she's never lead me astray with a book recommendation. She's another big name blog who still has time to talk with a newbie. I'm so excited that after two years she still remembers me and can freely email with her like old friends.
Lastly, I've been emailing with Rebecca from Reading Wishes after meeting her on Goodreads. She started her book blog up around the same time as I did so it was really fun going through the same technological troubles together. We both bounced ideas and woes back and forth with one another while getting our blogs up and running. It's also really exciting to be able to communicate with book bloggers from around the world with the same love as you do (Rebecca is from Australia).

In the case of books, I'm thankful for each and every book I've been lucky enough to read and enjoy. They are a true passion for me and have open my eyes to another world of imagination.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

A zombie spin on a New World Victorian age? Yes, please! As you all know zombies are my not-so-secret pleasure, so I will jump at the chance to read anything having to do with the Walking Dead. This book, however, was a little outside the normal realm of my zombie-loving self. In Dearly, Departed, the zombies aren't mindless cannibals (or at least all of them aren't) and they all aren't bad. Instead, there are good zombies working as secret soldiers for the government and bad zombies who are fast moving monsters out for blood. It was a little hard to wrap my head around the good zombies, who are essentially just the same as the living good guys, except for the part that they're in fact dead. It was different, but cool, and I liked that Habel stepped out of the box with her zombies.

What made this story so endearing for me was the good zombies. They were essentially treated like expendable military weapons, but accepted their fate and untiringly grueled through their despicable treatment in order to do good and rescue the main character Nora. I loved how pure and goodhearted they were, especially Bram, who sounds like the most delicious zombie ever. He was that gentleman with an edge- just enough sweetness with that alluring dash of spice. His inner struggles with falling for Nora were amazing and the tension between the two was so palpable throughout the story. I love when you get that feeling from a book, where the relationship feels so real and you're screaming at the characters to just admit how they feel for each other. It's how I know that I'm really invested in the story.

My only real issue with this book was the lack of zombie pandemonium. There were some great zombie infestations into the city of living that caused utter chaos, which I absolutely loved. There was action and zombie fight scenes and death, which was all great and just my cup of tea, but being such a die-hard zombie fan I was looking for a little more. It was like the book was just at the edge of zombie greatness, but just didn't have that last exta 'umph' to push it over. For example, Nora's friends are trying to escape the zombie hoards in the city and find temporary refuge in a museum before Nora and the good zombies come to rescue them. Instead of having some major rescue/flight sequence, the scene just felt kind of skimmed over. I woould have just liked a little more zombielishess detail showcasing the panic and confusion and fear.

Despite that one minor detail, I absolutely loved Dearly, Departed. How much better can a book get, with zombies, action, romance? It's literally all there. This book was both plot driven and character driven, with a story that will such you in and characters that will infect you. The originality and creativity of this story were stellar with just enough gasp-worthy moments to keep you hanging on. I definitely deem this book a page-turner that is so hard to put down because the story is just that compelling. If you're like me, and a zombie lover, then you'll be sure to fall in love with this book as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

I haven't done one of these in a REALLY long time, but figured I'd get into the festive mood a little bit early. This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The Top Ten this week is....Top Ten Authors You'd Like to Invite to Thanksgiving!

First off, kuddos to any of these authors if they could survive Thanksgiving with my dysfunctional family. But, I'd love to have them all over anyway!

1. J.K. Rowling- This is a give in. I think I'd invite her over and just keep feeding her so she'd never leave. And then we'd talk Harry Potter all night long. How EPIC would that be?!

2. Sarah Dessen- Another all time fave of mine. I was lucky enough to meet Sarah on her tour for Along for the Ride. I don't lie when I say she's the sweetest lady ever! I would try to cook up some Southern style food for her (I know she loves deviled eggs) but being from the North and an awful cook I'm not sure how that'd work out. (That's my sister, friend and I meeting Sarah!)

3. J.R. Ward- She's an adult author, but I'm in love with the BDB so she'd have to come to dinner. I'd love to pick her brain on the series and haver her tell me more stories about Rhage and the boys. If I can sneak some info on Thor's upcoming story, even better!

4. Stephanie Perkins- Because who wouldn't want the creator of St. Clair over for dinner?! I think I'd incessantly ask questions about Anna and St. Clair and beg for her to tell me more stories about that wonderful boy. Then I might try bribing her with some Frech croissants to learn a little more about her third book!

5. Richelle Mead- Another amazing author of a fave series of mine. I think I'd sit her next to J.R. Ward so that the three of us could have a paranormal discussion over some mashed potatoes or something. Then I could gush all about Adrian and my love for him.

6. Stephanie Meyers- I'd invite Stephanie over to basically plead with her to write the sequel to The Host. I'd throw in some homemade dessert as some incentive. How funny would it be to see her sweat it out with the author of those badass BDB vamps too? Sorry, sparkles just don't do it for me.

7. Cassandra Clare- Again, I think I'd have to figure out some great bribery foods so I can get my hands on some MI and ID info. She's absolutely wonderful at creating some of the most realistic dialogue and witty remarks in her stories so I know conversation with her would be a blast.

8.Carrie Ryan- What's Thanksgiving without some zombie talk? I'd so have Carrie Ryan over so I could have someone to nerd out with over zombies. Her series was incredible and had two of my favorite elements: romance and the walking dead. So of course, her invite is a must.

9. Veronica Roth- Could she bring Four with her? No serious, I'm in love with that character. She'd be another author that I'd bribe with some turkey just to get info on the sequel. I'd also love to hear more about the upcoming movie. Maybe cast my vote on some of the prospective acotrs?

10. Suzanne Collins-Last, but certainly not least, you have to have the author of The Hunger Games for dinner. I'd probably sit there awe struck with Suzanne, and bumble around like a fool, becuase I just love her writing so much. If I could manage a conversation, I'd go insane with questions about how she came up with one of the coolest stories I've ever read.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Must Read Monday (5)

Fans of Fiction
This meme is hosted by the lovely Jenna from Fans of Fiction. Please go and check her blog out, she's a total sweetheart! The rules are simple, just create an acrostic puzzle about your favorite book from the week's genre. This week the theme is...Fantasy

An Enchanting tale of a cursed girl,
   ELla is born with the 'gift' of obedience.
   ALways obeying orders, Ella is desperate to rid herself of this curse.
     An evil stepmother and sisters destroy Ella's hope of true happiness.

      Escaping their rule is difficult, but Ella is determined to
   FiNd Lucinda, reverse the spell, and gain her independence.
      Creepy ogres, magical elves, and a dashing Prince are all met along
     tHe way, but Ella is determined to break this
    bAll and chain.
      Never forgetting her own strength, Ella
      Takes charge of her own destiny and proves that
      Every girl deserves a fairy tale and sometimes the
      Damsel needs to save the Prince.

This book has been a favorite of mine since I read it back in middle school. It's one of the sweetest fairy tales! And what girl can deny a 'Happily Ever After' with Prince Charming?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (10)

Double Digits baby! I've finally reached my tenth IMM post!!!! There were a few weeks I skipped when I didn't receive any books, but it's still pretty dang exciting to reach number 10. Anywho...IMM is a meme hosted by the ever wonderful Kristi at The Story Siren and has bloggers showcase what books they bought or received over the course of the week. Basically, its the best way to make me insanely jealous!

This week I bought Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi:

I also forgot to mention last week that I received Anomaly by K.C. King for review. I'm just finishing up this ebook and hopefully will have my review posted later this week!

Ok that's it for me this week. My birthday is coming up on the 30th so I'm hoping I'll have an epic IMM for you all that week. I've been dropping hints like crazaaaay! Send me your IMM links in the comments and I'll be sure to check them out and comment.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray

In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

I like reading stories that are different. It's tiresome seeing the same plot used over and over. That's one of the reason's I enjoyed this book. Although the story involves werewolves, a popular paranormal creature, its in a way that I never would have expected, on the Titanic. Now some may think it disrespectful to create such a fantasy aboard a tragic story, but Gray did a wonderful job keeping to the truth of Titanic's voyage and demise. It was evident with this story that a lot of research and time went into preserving the authenticity of the Titanic, something an author and reader can appreciate while reading this book.

Another refreshing aspect of this book was the characters. Tess is an older teenager, 18 years old, and so her maturity and independence reflects her age. I enjoyed reading about an older character for once in a YA book. The romance involved with this story is very much like Jack and Rose's story from the movie except reveresed, with the poor maid falling in love with the wealthy aristocrat. Forbidden romances have always been a guilty pleasure of mine and so I found myself getting lost in Tess and Alec's taboo affair.

One might find it farfetched to read a story with werewolves on the Titanic. I had some difficulty at first, but when you realize that this is FICTION and just a story, its easy to get lost in the paranormal and romance set on such a historically tragic voyage. As can imagined, there are some thrilling sequences of events, involving both the werewolves, their history and the ship, that amp up this story. A lot of the story is involved in the history of the werewolves and their reasons for being on the ship. I found their background to be very creative and inventive. I do wish that there was more focus on the Titanic's sinking as a lot of the story was a buildup to that event. It seemed like that last night on the ship was a little rushed in comparison to the rest of the trip. In all fairness though, an overly dramatized version of that night isn't always necessarily needed, and in the case of the Titanic's sinking sometimes less is more.

Being a history buff with a love for historical fiction I did enjoy this story and give it 4 out of 5 stars. There's plenty of romance, thrills and heart wrenching moments that will keep any reader at the edge of their seats. The ending definitely has the element of surprise which will catch you off guard. If you can keep an open mind going into this story you will definitely be satisfied with its outcome.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Follow Friday (8)

It's Friday and time for another Follow Friday hosted by the ever wonderful Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. The rules for the meme are up on both sites and I urge you to check them out! This particular blog hop works in trying to expand and promote up and coming blogs. This week's question is...

Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for Christmas!

Dear Santa,

I promise I've been a very good girl this year and any naughtiness I may have taken part in I can totally explain. If you find it fit not to leave me piles of coal then I would love a few cool books. You wouldn't even have to wrap them, just pile them up Santa Baby! I'd really love Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. It's been on the top of my wishlist forever. Its also the perfect season to curl up with some Will. And Santa, if you could get your hands on some arcs (Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, and Fever by Lauren DeStefano) I promise I'd stay at the top of your 'Good List' all year long.

With love and chocolate chip cookies, 


Dirty Little Secret (5)

Dirty Little Secret is a weekly meme hosted by the Under the Covers. Every Thursday we get to know other bloggers and our readers more intimately by asking them a question hoping to reveal their dirty little secrets. We hope that you will all join us!

To participate in the meme all you need to do is:

1. Be a follower of Under the Covers.
2. Create a post in your blog taking the meme image and copy instructions.
3. Answer the question we propose! This can be done in any way you like, post a video, write a post etc.
4. Then add your link below.

Non-bloggers: We want to hear from you as well!!! Let us know your answer in the comments!

We hope you join us and let us know your Dirty Little Secrets!

This weeks question:

"Which paranormal creature do you wish would 'come out of the closet' and reveal themselves to the real world?"

Can I cheat and say all of them? I seriously have a soft spot of all of them after reading so many paranormal books. If I HAD to chose one though I would have to go with Vampires. And not the sparkly ones. I'm talking actual sexy vamps like from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I was really close to saying zombies for my answer, but I'm thinking that would be pretty disasterous. So, if I could have a vampire like Rhage on my arm I'd be set.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Amplified by Tara Kelly

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .
My list of ultimate favorites just got a little longer after reading Amplified. This story is an incredible mash up of music, independence, romance, and all forms of hilarity. It follows recent high school graduate Jasmine as she breaks free from her overbearing father and for once in her life follows her own passion, playing guitar. Of course this means she's completely lost, trying to find a place to live, a band to work with and a job to pay for everything, but thats only half the battle. Throw in some mixed signals from the hot bass player, the critical eyes of her dream band and an extreme case of stage fright and you could call this book 'the next big hit'.

Kelly did an amazing job creating this very real and relatable character of Jasmine. She's a good girl who's just always wanted to have a choice for her own. Any person could relate. I ecpecially loved the girl because she takes the initiative to do something for herself once, even if its the scariest and most impossible decision ever. The girl has guts and that made me respect her even more. On top of the stress of trying to make it on her own, she never once pulls a 'whiny girl' moment. She's strong and fierce and makes me wish that when I was that young I could pull something like this off.

The story itself was perfect. The progression of Jasmine being welcomed into the band was very realistic and the troubles of trying to fit in and please everyone was to be expected. I loved that Kelly didn't just write about a band practicing or a band playing a gig. She acutally incorporates the nuances and chemistry of music into the writing. And for someone who couldn't tell you the difference between a guitar and a bass it was incredibly cool to read. The music itself felt like another character; the passion behind it was so well written that it comes alive on the pages just like it does for music-lover Jasmine.

The band itself was another fantastic aspect of this book. Each character held their own individuality and no one fell to the background. Despite being vastly different from one another, they all gelled really well together and made up a hilarious rag-tag family. One of my top favorite things about this book would be the chemistry and banter back and forther between the group mates. They pick on each other and joke around and make you laugh at their hysterics. It was great and totally made me feel like one of their groupies.

With all the fun of this book, there were definitely some depressing undertones to balance everything out. The struggles Jasmine faces to make her father understand her decision were heartbreaking and the strain in their relationship is evident. Then, the rollercoaster ride between Jasmine and Sean would kill any girl's last nerve as well as melt her heart. It's enough to drive me crazy. Although Jasmine gets her happy ending, this book showcases the difficutly of making that tough choice to follow your dream and that sometimes happiness isn't some cake walk. I definitely give this book 5 out of 5 stars and think everyone, music lover or not, would fall in love with this story!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

Why didn't I read this book sooner? This story was a terrifying ride through the darkest corners of urban legends. It preys on your nerves, triggering that under the skin itch when your mind knows something isn't right. With each turn of the page my heart beat louder and louder, trying to figure out whether Cas was going to survive his latest mission, killing Anna. The story behind Anna was both sadly devastating and outright creepy! In the beginning, when first meeting her ghost, I was completely terrified. Blake really knew how to put in just the right amount of detail to get your heart pumping. It may have been the fact that I was reading this while home alone, but I was actually scared while reading!

I'm not lying when I say I have a high tolerance for scary stories and movies. I get a rush out of being scared and therefore it isn't easy to spook me. However, Blake is able to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with Anna's story. There are several terrifying elements throughout, between Cas's initial meeting with Anna to finding out the mystery behind his father's death. The gruesome details behind each scene paints such a horrific and creepy feel that was enough to scare this hardcore horror fan. I cannot give enough praise to the attention to detail that Blake has with her writing style. Every word flows throughout this book and has signficant meaning to the story. Each scene is vital and makes you pay such close attention to the story! It will hook you in!

I loved the relationships throughout this book. The dialouge is so relatable and real, giving a paranormal read the most realistic feel. I can't stand it when I'm reading a book and a character will have a line that you know no normal teenager would ever say. That is definitely not the case in this book. The conversations, despite being about ghosts, were so real. Each of the characters shone in all the situations set forth, even the secondary ones. It was amazing how Blake was able to make me root for everyone, the popular and sometimes bitchy girl Carmel, nerdy Thomas, and even the ever terrifying Anna. Their characters were so individualized and real that despite being in the background of scenes, they really shone through.

I highly recommend this book to all fans of scary stories. This book really delivers a great scare and heartfelt romance entertwined with some crazy ghost hunting. I therefore give this book 5 out of 5 stars and am dying to read its sequel, Girl of Nightmares. I'm seriously hoping for some retribution for Anna and a happy ending for Cas.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games Movie Trailer

Ok, watched it like a million times already and get goosebumps on top of my chills. This movie is going to be beyond EPIC. I'm so wishing March was here already! Who else is freaking out with me?!

Must Read Monday (4)

Fans of Fiction

Hey everyone, sorry I missed last week's MMM, but I'm back and ready to participate again this week! This meme is hosted by the lovely Jenna from Fans of Fiction. Please go and check her blog out, she's a total sweetheart! The rules are simple, just create an acrostic puzzle about your favorite book from the week's genre. This week the theme is...A Book so Powerful it Changed you in Some Way

I have the PERFECT book for this:

                    Suffering from the loss of her older sister June, Harper
             embArks on a trip cross country with June's stolen ashes
           discoVering there was more to her older sister than she ever knew.
                 WIth Harper's best friend and mysterious new guy Jake, she slowly
              learNs what it is to live without June. The hole in her heart
         slowly Gets smaller, but the ache is constant for Harper.

           And Just when Harper thinks she knows her sister, she finds out the real
                 hUrt and truth behind a girl she never really knew.
                   Now Harper must come to terms with June's final wish and
                  sEe that sometimes the pain is too much to carry alone.

I absolutely fell in love with this book and urge you all to at least check out it's proper summary on goodreads or look up my review in my blog's archive.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

Another week another IMM hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I guiltily went on another book buying via Amazon (darn their discounted prices...but not really). I'm counting on these books holding me over for a bit, but I've already finished three. Good thing my birthday is coming up! Thank goodness for birthday lists =)

Fateful by Claudia Gray
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The Deepest Cut by J.A. Templeton
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

That's it for me...and my wallet. Let me know what you all got this week and leave the links below so I can come check them out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Follow Friday (8)

As always, its time for another Follow Friday. This wonderful meme is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. Each friday two blogs are featured in an effort to expand one's blog. Go and check out both of these sites to learn more!

Question: In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran's Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

Its a strange realization, but I've only known one soldier my entire life, and I regret to say that I hardly knew him at all. My grandfather was in the Navy for almost his entire life and served on bases all around the world. Most notably, he fought at the Bay of Pigs Invasion when the US tried to invade and overthrow the Castro dictatorship in Cuba. It breaks my heart knowing that I don't have any solid memories of my grandfather, he passed away when I was barely three, but I cherish the stories I've heard about him both as a man and a soldier. So, I see him as my favorite hero, but consider all the men and women serving or who have served in the military to be heroes and have the deepest respect for the sacrafices they have made.

Ok, so I totally didn't mean to go all sentimental over here! I would love to hear who you all wrote about for this post! Send me your links in the comments. Happy Follow Friday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Borrowing Abby Grace: Girl Steals Guy by Kelly Green

As Abby has learned, she is now a Shadow, sent to inhabit the lives of strangers in trouble. Dropped into the life of a gorgeous senior with a heartbroken best friend, Abby is instructed to “reunite the lovers” by her cute but maddening Guardian, a 19th century ghostly teenager named Will. Now Abby must navigate high school keg parties, football games and power couples, only to discover that love and revenge are sometimes the same thing.

In the second episode of Borrowing Abby Grace, Abby is slowly coming to terms with her role as a Shadow. She is now inside the body of Michelle, a gorgeous teen who's best friend, Heather, has recently undergone a tumultuous break up. In this life, Abby must reunite the lovers with the support of her guardian, Will. Will, who's snarky remarks and undeniable good looks are starting to make Abby think a little more about him. All the while, Abby is trying to come to terms with being a Shadow and the fact that she can't remember her real life or if she'll ever be able to go back.

With the second installation of this series, Abby has developed a bit more into her role. She's still the smart and sassy teen, but she's slowly coming to terms with being a Shadow. She's growing and understanding what she needs to accomplish and has become a bit more confident in the job. It almost feels as if she embraces the Shadow, while still feeling a hole of her own life. I felt much more sympathetic for Abby this time around. It's evident she has an old life, as memories start spotting up, and she's missing this life she can't remember. I'm also dying to know the status of Abby's life, as she's starting to question whether or not she's dead. (I'm crossing my fingers she's still alive!)

I loved that we see a spark starting to develop between Abby and Will. Will is her only constant companion on these journies, and has been doing his best to help Abby on her missions. His dashing good looks and witty remarks makes him such a charming guardian that I know I would have a hard time not taking a second look. Abby is starting to realize Will's hottness and is even questioning her own feelings for him. The pace of their relationship is perfect!

Just as in the first episode, the story is a great mystery. As I said in my last review, I adore the fact that we're sharing in the mystery and confusion, never knowing where we're going next. The clues stack up in just the right places, so you can't figure the mystery out until the very end. It's genius how nothing is ever given away too early! I swear, I can't figure out each mission until Abby does! This all holds true in Girl Steals Guy, even moreso than The Shadow, because the reveal was even bigger and more surprising. I was definitely left with an AHHHHAA moment at the end of this read. Again, I recommend these episodes to a middle grade audience or those who love a thrilling mystery. They're very fun and fast reads that are sure to get the gears in your brain turning making any reader feel like a true detective.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Borrowing Abby Grace: The Shadow by Kelly Green

Sent to repair the lives and loves of teenagers on the edge of disaster, smart and sassy Abby Grace has everything going for her, except one thing: a body.

Could you imaging waking up, in the back of a moving van, with no recollection of who you are or how you got there? Terrifying, right? This is the case for Abby, a teenage girl with a very interesting secret. Abby is a Shadow, a being capable of entering another's body and literally taking over in order to solve that person's disasterous dilemmas. In this first story of the Abby Grace eseries, Abby finds herself in the process of being kidnapped and must struggle not only to save herself, but figure out just who she really is.

The author of this eseries, Kelly Green, was sweet and gracious enough to request this review, and I'm so glad she did. This story is a a fast and fun read. Each ebook is relatively short, this one only being 58 pages, but that allows the reader to get caught up in the story right away. Green made a wonderful comparison to this story as being a modern day Nancy Drew, and I couldn't agree more. The mystery and intrigue is palpable as you get caught up in secret after secret, dying to know how Abby is going to solve any. You're thrown into the thick of the story, right along with Abby, which I found to be an amazing writing tactic. It truly feels like you're sitting right along with her, just as lost and confused as to who she is and what mystery she is supposed to solve. With each clue that is unveiled, I was left wondering where this trail would lead us next!

In this first ebook, Abby has taken over Brooke's life, and must try and figure out why someone attempted to kidnap her and where her missing brother, Paul, has been taken. It was really thrilling, following Abby along while she collects clues and tries to unravel each mystery, all while the very cute ghost, Will, tries to steer her in the right direction. I loved Abby's character, she's smart and sassy with an edge to her. Although in a very stressful predicament, she doesn't come across as weak or whiny and therefore I never once was annoyed with Abby. I found her internal dialogue to be witty and hilarious and there were several times that her responses left me either smiling or laughing. Abby was sincerely a very enjoyable character who was so easy to connect with!

I recommend this series to a middle grade audience or for those who love a good mystery. They are definitely fast reads, but the stories are engrossing and leaves you questioning what really is happening to Abby Grace. Green does a fantastic job at giving you just enough detail to leave you wondering right along with Abby, a great exemplification of the author's writing style! There were a few surprising twists as well, that really shakes the story up too! In the end, Borrowing Abby Grace leaves you satisfied and with a sense of accomplishment that you could solve the mystery right along with Abby.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

It's back! I haven't had an IMM post in like two weeks so I've got a couple of books to update on. This meme is hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren and allows bloggers to share what books they received or borrowed over the course of the week. (Or in my case, two weeks).

Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

Received for Review:

Kevin's Point of View by Del Shannon (Thank you Del for sending me this and signing it!)
Borrowing Abby Grace by Kelly Green (Thank you Kelly!)
Annexed by Rebecca McKinnon (Thank you Rebecca!)
Cantrip by Rebecca McKinnon  (Thank you Rebecca!)

I'm actually part of the Blog Tour for Cantrip! My date is November 30th which is awesome because that's my 23rd birthday. So make sure you check back then for my post during the tour =)

What did you all get in your mailbox this week? Leave links and I'll come and check them out!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday (7)

Follow Friday time!!! This meme is hosted by the very lovely Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.  This is a wonderful feature which brings bloggers together in an effort to expand their blogs. Go and check it out and follow away!

Today's Question is something new, an activity. We want to see what you look like! Take a pic with you and your current read!

Ahhh that's me! Reading Carrier of the Mark right now (if you couldn't tell by the picture). Leave your comments below and share your Follow Friday links! I'll make sure to check them out =)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

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.

A huge weakness of mine is comparing books of similar genres. It's awful and I've been wrong to do it before (see my review of Divergent) and it normally just bites me in the butt. This was the case for me when reading A Beautiful Dark. Having read reviews for this book previously I already knew going in that this was a book about Angels and automatically I thought of the Hush Hush series (a favorite of mine!) Now, you can see how trying to compare any book to this series is completely unfair, and unfortunately it didn't live up to such high expectations.

A Beautiful Dark centers around Skye, an orphaned teenager experiencing strange occurrences such as flashes of silver eyes and destroying thermostats without touching them. Growing up, Skye has been oblivious to what she truly is until meeting 'cousins' Devin and Asher. These guys are strangely competitive when it comes to winning Skye's attention and we soon learn that they have their personal and strategic reasonings why.

The storyline itself wasn't the problem for me. It wasn't very original, but it wasn't poorly executed either. I enjoyed the struggles of light vs. dark (not necessarily good vs. evil). The background plot of how Skye came to be was really creative and definitely added a quality of mystery as to what sort of powers and which side of the battle she'd choose.

For me, the issue of this story had to do with character and relationship development. I loved Skye and her best friend Cassie, their friendship was portrayed perfectly. I especially loved the balance between laid back Skey and drama filled Cassie. Their bantering back and forth was hilarious! However, when it came to Skye and her love triangle with Asher and Devin I was left wanting a little more. Maybe it was because everything took place in this one book and therefore seemed a little rushed, but I found it very disheartening how Skye so easily fell for not one guy, but two. I did like that Skye had a lot of inner struggles between the two guys, it made everyting a bit realistic, but her wishy washy feelings for the two for most of the book bugged me. I can't entirely blame Skye though for not being able to pick between Devin and Asher, if it wasn't for Devin's complete lack of personality, I probably wouldn't have been able to choose either which is a shame because I love being sucked in to a good book relationship.

The ending of the book is what saved this story for me and brought this book up from 3 to 4 stars out of 5. Davies was able to pull the story together and create such a chaotic mess between Skye, Asher, and Devin that really got the blood pumping and wheels turning in my head. Jsut when I thought I knew what was going to happen, everything just blew up in my face. I love when a book can surprise me it was just frustrating that I got hooked at the very end! I will be checking out the sequel to learn more about Skye, Asher and Devin!

Dirty Little Secret (5)

Dirty Little Secret is a weekly meme hosted by us at Under the Covers. Every Thursday we get to know other bloggers and our readers more intimately by asking them a question hoping to reveal their dirty little secrets.  We hope that you will all join us!

To participate in the meme all you need to do is:

1. Be a follower of Under the Covers.
2. Create a post in your blog taking the meme image (code above) and copy instructions.
3. Answer the question we propose! This can be done in any way you like, post a video, write a post etc.
4. Then add your link below.

Non-bloggers: We want to hear from you as well!!!  Let us know your answer in the comments!

"Zombies are attacking your house! What do you grab first?"

 Easy. It'd be my puppy, Jack! This is a picture of him at 7 months (he's 3 years old now) but he's got the same puppy mentality as the day we got him. There's no way I'd leave him behind. He's my baby! So I'd grab him first and then then hide out somewhere so the zombies couldn't get us. I've read the zombie survival guide, so wherever we went, I'd destroy the stairs and fill the sinks and tubs with water. And then probably cower like a baby.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1st Giveaway Winners Announced!

I want to first off, thank everyone who took the time to sign up for my blog's first giveaway! There were an overwhelming amount of tweets and blog posts that just blew me away, so thank you all. Now on to the two winners!!!

Drum roll please.......

Congrats to Lynn H. and Anna B.

You both have been emailed and will have 48 hours to get back to me with your information. If I do not hear from you in the allotted time a new winner will be chosen.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter and I will be sure to host another giveaway soon!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Now for a little Teaser Tuesday! This meme, hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

"I'm not upset." I said it too quickly. Asher looked at me strangely, and I knew I'd been caught in a lie.
"Could have fooled me. You know, if you don't tell me, I'm going to have to make my own assumptions." He gave me an evil grin. "And they won't be good." (pg. 119)

Ok, so I know I cheated this week and used more than two sentences, but this was dialogue and it wouldn't have made any sense if I didn't include as much as I did. I'm loving this book so far, especially Asher, who is just one of those guys who knows how to get under a girl's skin.