Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 - Steve Brezenoff - Blog Tour Review

The absolute value of any number, positive or negative, is its distance from zero.
So what's the absolute value of a friendship?
Of love?
Just how far apart are we, anyway?

LILY: "For three years, I'd been trying to hold on to Simon and pull him against me. He was a bar of soap in the shower, though: slippery as hell, and one false move--squeeze a little too tight--and he's gone. And picking up a wet bar of soap in the shower is pretty difficult."

NOAH: "Lily has these big brown eyes. It sounds corny, but they totally get me. They make my stomach and heart flip five times a piece. So I looked away quickly, because I have a tendency to kind of stare at her if I don't catch myself. It's been like that forever."

SIMON: "I never thought much would change with Lily being my girlfriend. I mean, she and Noah were the only people I hung out with much anyway, so now I'd be kissing her and fondling her and she'd be kissing me and fondling me. Not much of a difference, really."

Title: The Absolute Value of -1
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Carolrhoda LAB
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Source: Received from author courtesy of The Teen Book Scene. Many thanks goes to Steve Brezenoff, and Kari from The Teen Book Scene for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4/5

The Absolute Value of -1 opens up with Suzanne, Simon's older sister, giving an introduction of sorts. The book then is broken up into three segments. One segment each for the three friends, Lily, Noah, and Simon. Each segment gives a more detailed look at the individual characters, and what they are dealing with, and how they interpret situations differently from each other. Life can be tough when you are a teenager, and through the viewpoint of all three characters, we see just how they react to the hand they are dealt. 
Lily is a character that I can somewhat commiserate with, however I wish she would have spoken up more. She has a snarky, tongue in cheek voice, and I found that I quite enjoyed reading from her perspective. It was refreshing to read her thoughts and realize that they weren't glossed over. Her raw emotions were an honest representation of her character. 
Noah is the one to go to if you want to obtain a buzz. He has his own issues with abuse, both physical and verbal. He has the shortest segment in the book, but in no way does that mean that he is a less important character. He lets the reader in fully to see just what his situation is like, and again, there is nothing glossed over. It is heartbreaking really to see what he lives with, and how he handles everything that is thrown at him.
Simon's segment is perhaps the most heartbreaking of all. His emotions are ragged, especially with what he is dealing with. He is a character that I found myself identifying with almost immediately. His circumstances dictate that he grow up faster than he should, leaving him not knowing which way is up.
 As the book progresses we see a variety of situations glimpsed through the eyes of all three characters. The variance between them though is astonishing, as one would look at something completely different from the others. This book also goes to show you that you may think you know what is going on in your friends' lives, but you don't. Not really. 
All in all, a book that takes an unfiltered look at the hardships that circulate through most families. A well-written, and thought-provoking read. What would you have done in any of the characters given situations?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Tour: Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love - Jason Ancona, Interview and Giveaway.

I'd like to welcome author Jason Ancona to the blog today. He is here answering some off the wall questions today, all in the name of his new book, Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love. This interview kicks off the blog tour, hosted by The Teen Book Scene. You can find all of the tour details here. You can learn more about the Covert Youth Agency on Jason's website located here. Be sure to look for the giveaway at the bottom of the post! 

What did you enjoy the most about creating a team of students who investigate cheating?

The C.Y.A. wasn't created just to investigate cheating, it just happened to be the case that they were currently working on. The thing I love most about the team is that they are trying to help out other students, even though they all have issues of their own.

The sleuths of the Covert Youth Agency notice that their school is being invaded by a paranormal creature, what kind of creature is it, and how would the team react to the invasion?

The creature is E.T., who's planning to seize all of the Reese's Pieces at school. Instead of thwarting him, the C.Y.A. joins forces with E.T. to rule the universe as intergalactic spies.

Does the Covert Youth Agency have a theme song? If so, what is it?

It would be, “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,” by U2. The three members of the C.Y.A. all have a void in their lives, and they yearn to fill it.

What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you?

I don't think I'm front page material. It would have to be something shocking, or tabloid fodder. “Jennifer Aniston caught sneaking out of Taco Bell with Jason Ancona.” He says, “They're just friends.”
Honestly, it would be cool if the headline read, “Jason Ancona, author of the Covert Youth Agency series, has just sold movie rights to X,Y,Z studio for a three picture deal.” And even cooler if I'd actually get to write the screenplay. That's what I first started writing. You may have noticed my novel is very dialogue heavy. Working on getting better at writing books.

What kind of tree would you describe yourself as, and why?

If I were a tree, I'd like to be an apple tree so people could bake pies from my droppings. Cinnamon apple pies for everyone.

Thank you Jason for answering these questions, and being here today! 


Jason has graciously provided an e-copy of his book, Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love up for grabs to one lucky winner. Thank you, Jason! 
I'll make this one easy to enter. It is INTERNATIONAL. Just comment on this post with your email address to enter.
Contest ends October 15, 2010. Thank you! :) 
Contest has ENDED. Thank you to all who participated!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Post by Jilliane Hoffman on Protecting Your Child From Cyber-Monsters.

I recently read and reviewed Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman. I enjoyed the book, and found it all too real. When I was approached to post this guest post I jumped at the chance, as I think it is a topic that we need to know more about. It is all too scary and startling to realize how easy it is for a "cyber-monster" to gain access to your children. Thank you Jilliane for being here and bringing this topic to light! 

Protecting Your Child From Cyber-Monsters
By Jilliane Hoffman,
Author of Pretty Little Things

Last December, New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that more than 3500 registered sex offenders had been purged from the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace in the state's first database sweep for sexual predators.

That's 3500 caught, convicted and registered sex offenders who'd actually used their real names when they signed up for a Facebook or MySpace page. That's not counting all the deviants that haven't yet been busted, pled to a lesser charge, had charges dropped, never registered their emails with their probation or parole officers, socially communicate using an alias, or live outside the Empire State. With that in mind, consider this sobering statistic: According to the Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM), the average sex offender offends for 16 years before he's finally caught. In that time span, he has committed an average of 318 offenses and violated 110 victims.

Wow. Now just imagine who your kids may be chatting with online.

The explosion of the Internet over the past decade has spawned fertile hunting grounds for sex offenders. Kids, and particularly teens, live their lives instantaneously and out loud on social networks, where every detail from where they'll be hanging out that night to who they'll be with and what they'll be wearing when they get there is posted for all of their "friends" to see. And those friends are not just the traditional bunch of kids you've known since elementary school. Social networking sites and chat rooms have literally opened up a whole new cyber-world to children. Online, they can be "friends" with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people from all over the globe, most of whom they've never met outside of a WiFi connection. And of course, as the tragic headlines constantly remind us, in this faceless cyber world not everything is kid-friendly and not everyone is who they say they are.

There are over 665,000 registered convicted sex offenders living in the United States. According to a study commissioned by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in every seven kids has been approached by a sexual predator online. That's 13% of children who use the Internet. Sex Offenders no longer need to leave the comfort of their living rooms to find and "groom" fresh victims. Rather, with just the click of a mouse, they can mingle in chatrooms, send and receive child pornography, and, of course, purview the walls of Facebook and the posts of MySpace like they might entrees on a dinner menu, replete with helpful personal information and pictures. Just ask the detectives who work online undercover or the producers of Dateline's popular To Catch a Predator -- in this fast-moving cyber-world, a predator can be anyone he wants to be: A twelve year-old boy, Jay-Z's agent, a modeling scout, a fourteen year-old girl. And teens, being the invincible bunch they are, always believe they'll be able to spot a poser or a predator a mile off on the computer, when the truth is they can't -- oftentimes until it is way too late. They've already been groomed.

Back in the mid 90's, in response to the headline-making abduction of eleven year old Jacob Wetterling of Wisconsin, and the sexual assault and murder of seven year-old Megan Kanka by her neighbor, a repeat child sex offender in New Jersey, the feds enacted a series of laws designed to warn the public of the presence of dangerous sex offenders and heighten community awareness on an issue that was literally moving in right next door to Joe the Plumber. Each state was charged with establishing a sex offender registry and implementing a community notification program. The theory behind which was simple: Knowledge is power. If a sex offender is going to be out and about in the community, people -- and more particularly, parents -- should arm themselves with information about their identities and whereabouts so as to better protect their kids. Without promoting vigilantism, making yourself aware of the scum living in your zip code that your children might very well come in contact with and warning kids appropriately can be a very effective crime-fighting tool. But in today's world, where every kid has a cell phone in their pocket and a computer in their room, it's just not enough.

My daughter was in the fourth grade when a fellow eleven year-old classmate was approached on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) by a 43 year old sexual predator who went by the screen name of "rooster69" and claimed he was a 16 year-old boy. It wasn't until he asked one of the little girl's friends to send him nude pictures that one of the children finally spoke up. I thought I had more time to ready myself on the dangers of the Internet. I was wrong.

So what's a parent to do? How can you make sure your kids are Facebooking with fellow thirteen year olds and not forty-three-year-old convicted sex offenders? I'm a big believer in the real world. Show kids the headlines. Let them read the stories of teens who disappeared or were assaulted after meeting up with someone they met online. The stories are out there, and there are plenty of them. Check out for a real eye-opener. Then talk to your kids about limiting the amount of personal information they post, particularly addresses and schedules; inappropriate posts and pictures; the new horrible growing fad of sexting; and finally, limiting the amount of "friends" they have and just what those friends are able to see. And as a parent you have to know of what you speak. So if you don't have a Facebook or MySpace yourself, you better thoroughly check it out. And if you do allow your kid access to a social network, it should be a number one rule that he or she "friends" you with unrestricted access, so that you can monitor what he or she is doing.

Then make sure you do just that.

© 2010 Jilliane Hoffman, author of Pretty Little Things

Author Bio
Jilliane Hoffman was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami between 1992 and 1996. Until 2001 she was the Regional Law Advisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, advising special agents on complex investigations including narcotics, homicide, and organized crime. Pretty Little Things is her fourth novel, following the international bestsellers Retribution, Last Witness, and Plea of Insanity. She lives in Florida.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Twitter.

In My Mailbox -36- and the Smart Chicks Kick It in Brampton!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.
For Review
1. Dust City - Robert Paul Weston
2. Virals - Kathy Reichs
3. Knight Angels: Book of Revenge - Abra Ebner
4. Freefall - Anna Levine

Many thanks goes to Vimala from Penguin Canada, Abra Ebner, Anna Levine, and The Teen Book Scene for the books I received for review this (and last) week. 

1. Take Me There - Carolee Dean (signed)*
2. Rogue Angel: The Dragon's Mark - Alex Archer
3. As Lie the Dead - Kelly Meding
4. Ransom - Lois Duncan
5. Shadow Hills - Anastasia Hopcus (signed)*
6. Split - Swati Avasthi* (ARC given to me by Kari from A Good Addiction, did not buy it.)
7. The Van Alen Legacy - Melissa de la Cruz (signed)
8. Girl Stays in the Picture - Melissa de la Cruz (signed)
9. Radiant Shadows - Melissa Marr (signed)
10. Nevermore - Kelly Creagh
11. Whisper - Phoebe Kitanidis (signed)*
12. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins*
13. Sleepless - Cyn Balog*
14. Stranded - J.T. Dutton*
15. Immortal Beloved - Cate Tiernan

*All books denoted with an asterisk were given or purchased from Kari of A Good Addiction. She was kind enough to get a few books signed for me. In that regard, thank you very much Kari! I can't wait to read the books, thank you for mailing them out! (Isn't she awesome??) :D

Firelight swag courtesy of Sophie Jordan for her street team. I'll be handing these out around here and giving some away on the blog. :) 

Speaking of Firelight, Sophie Jordan has a contest up and running on her website. She has a TON of books up for grabs, so you should definitely check it out! You can find the contest here.

Smart Chicks Kick It in Brampton!

I was super happy that I could go to this event! I brought my bag o' books, my camera, and my fiance. He helped hold the books, and also took some pictures! Thank you Duane, you were a very patient man during that looong wait in line. :D I would LOVE to thank all of the authors for being there! It was a pleasure to meet you all! In order of appearance, Margaret Stohl, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Melissa de la Cruz, Jeri Smith-Ready, Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, and Alyson Noel. Kami was listed on the roster of attending authors, but unfortunately she wasn't able to be there. I hope you are feeling better soon Kami! :) 
Chatting with Margie.
Chatting with Jen, Melissa and Jeri. Spent too much time chatting with them so I couldn't say too much to Melissa Marr. Especially didn't get to say that I LOVE Seth (and all of her books!) :(
Yes, the books you see on the table are all mine. :) I was bad, Kelley signed 4 of my books instead of the limit of 3. ;) Thank you Kelley!
Didn't get a chance to talk to Alyson either, though she signed Radiance for me. They were pushing us through quickly so the authors wouldn't be late to the Teen Read Awards ceremony! Duane also mentioned that he didn't get a good picture of Alyson... I didn't realize that meant I didn't have any other pictures of her! :( I like her hair though! :)

Other news?

Anyway, I think that is it for me this week... all of the current contests on the blog are listed on the sidebar. The Wind Warrior giveaway names will be drawn in the next few days and passed along to Cynthia. (I will be getting mailing addresses at that time in the event that any of the people who entered on my blog win one of her grand prizes.) She will then compile the 5 names picked from each blog and will announce the grand prize winners. Good luck everyone! :) 

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours? 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blog Tour: Thomas and the Dragon Queen - Shutta Crum - Interview

I would love to welcome Shutta Crum to the blog today. This interview is part of her blog tour through The Teen Book Scene. You can follow along with the tour here. My review can be found here. More information pertaining to Shutta Crum, and her books, including Thomas and the Dragon Queen can be found at her website here. She is also hosting a giveaway for an autographed copy of Thomas and the Dragon Queen on her website. 
What is your favorite line from THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN?

I really enjoyed writing the humorous bits of THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN. One of my favorite lines is the one where Princess Eleanor admonishes the dragonlets by saying, “It is not mannerly to chew on the breeches of guests.” Hah!

Does Thomas have a theme song? If so, what is it?

If Thomas had a theme song, it would have to be (Dream) The Impossible Dream, don’t you think? After all, he went out on what seemed to others to be an impossible quest. While I don’t see Thomas being completely like Don Quixote, he is a dreamer, and stubborn. And he is so soft-hearted. So Thomas does have some of the same qualities as the Man of La Mancha.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest . . .

If Thomas had to choose between saving the princess or saving his kingdom, which would he choose and why? (Or could he do both?)

Hard question! But, of course, the heart of any story is always in the personal and particular. (E. E. Cummings said, “there’s nothing so something as one.”) So if there had to be a choice, he’d save the princess. A kingdom can be retaken at a later date. A life must be saved when circumstances demand it. Besides, Thomas is a romantic at heart . . .

What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you?

“Local Kid Makes Good!” I was a good student in school, but not at the top of my class. I was not into athletics, or a member of the cool clique. I was pretty much your average middle-class, hard-working kid. But like Thomas, I was a dreamer and stubborn. When I decided to write for kids, I didn’t give up. It took me two and a half years, and more than three hundred (!) rejections (on approximately twenty different manuscripts) before I got my first acceptance. The local kid "made good” because she developed a thick skin.

What kind of tree would you describe yourself as, and why?

Hmm….if I had to be a tree, I’d be the kind that cedar waxwings congregate in. Perhaps that’s a cedar. (LOL!) At any rate, I LOVE cedar waxwings. They’re chatty, friendly, travel in groups and sit and preen while gossiping in the branches. They’re also beautiful birds, silvery-sleek with elegant black masks—as though they are all attending a masked ball. They remind me of the French aristocracy before the revolution, barely deigning to recognize a mere human that might stroll beneath a tree they’ve gathered in. So what does that tell you about me as a tree— not much. But if I could be reincarnated as a building, I’d be the Palace of Versailles before the French Revolution full of giddy ladies-in-waiting and dashing young rakes.

I love your answers, Shutta! Thank you so much for stopping by today! :) 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thomas and the Dragon Queen - Shutta Crum - Blog Tour Review

A kingdom is at war.
A princess has been kidnapped by a dragon queen.
A brave squire volunteers to set out on a quest to rescue her.

But there's just one small problem. He's Thomas, the shortest of all the squires. With little more than a donkey, a vest, and a sword, Thomas will have to use all of his courage and determination to battle a beast with many heads, reach a forbidden island, and rescue the princess from a most fearsome dragon--and an even more fearsome fate!

Part thrilling adventure and part enchanting fantasy, sprinkled with charming black-and-white illustrations, Thomas and the Dragon Queen will delight young readers from start to finish. 

Title: Thomas and the Dragon Queen
Author: Shutta Crum
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
Source: Received from author courtesy of The Teen Book Scene. Many thanks goes to Shutta Crum for sending me a copy of this book for review, courtesy of Kelsey from The Teen Book Scene. This book was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
My rating: 5/5

Thomas wants more than anything, to be a knight, and to help serve and protect his kingdom. When the princess is taken by the Dragon Queen, Thomas jumps at the chance to rescue her. He will have to overcome many obstacles to finish his quest. 
Thomas doesn't look his age because of his short stature. He wants to become a knight, but due to his height, he has a hard time finding people who will take him seriously. He befriends a knight, and becomes his squire. 
I found Thomas and the Dragon Queen to be a heartwarming read, as it portrays an outlook that each and every one of us is special in our own right. Thomas doesn't let his size deter him, and is quite resourceful on his quest. He manages to overcome every obstacle in his way, albeit, sometimes not in the way he expected. 
All in all, this is a cute read that I think young readers will love. I think that they will identify easily with Thomas, and enjoy all of his escapades. An excellent book, well written, and illustrated beautifully. A must read! Who wouldn't want to save a princess from the Dragon Queen? 

Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman

Thirteen-year-old Lainey Emerson is the middle child in a home police are already familiar with: her mom works too much and her stepfather favors his own blood over another man's problems--namely Lainey and her wild older sister. When Lainey fails to come home from a night out with friends, her disappearance is dismissed by the Coral Springs PD as just another disillusioned South Florida teen running away from suburban drama and an unhappy home life. 
But FDLE Special Agent Bobby Dees, who heads up the department's difficult Crimes Against Children Squad (CAC), is not quite so sure. Nicknamed "The Shepherd" by colleagues, he has an uncanny ability to find the missing and bring them back home--dead or alive. After a search of Lainey's computer and a frank talk with her best friend reveal the teen was involved in a secret internet relationship, Bobby suspects she may be the victim of an online predator. And when chilling evidence of other possible victims is sent to a local Miami television station, he fears she may not be the only one. 
The faceless monster from cyberspace, who has gone to remarkable lengths to stay invisible, now seeks a captive audience. And it's Bobby Dees he wants watching. Haunted by the still-unsolved disappearance of his own teenage daughter, Bobby will find himself pulled into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the most prolific killer he's ever encountered. But will he be able to save Lainey and the others before it's too late? 

Title: Pretty Little Things
Genre: Adult Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Anna from FSB Media for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4.5/5

Pretty Little Things starts off innocently enough. Lainey is babysitting her younger brother, waiting for her mom to get home. She has been secretly talking to a guy online while her mom is at work, and she's falling hard for him. He's a jock from a local high school and she can't believe that he is interested in her. Little does she know though, that he is not who he appears to be, and when he suggests they meet up, things will never be the same again. FDLE Special Agent Bobby Dees is called in to sign off on her case and say that by all appearances it looks like she's run away. On closer inspection though, Bobby realizes that she may be a victim of an online predator. Even more harrowing, she may not be the only victim.
Pretty Little Things definitely is an eye-opener. It's an excellent novelization of a terrifying truth. You really don't know who you are inviting into your house through your computer. The premise is all too believeable and frighteningly realistic. 
Lainey is every girl, well, she could be. She is insecure, trying to find her way, and just trying to survive a new high school away from all of her friends. I felt immediately drawn to her, and found myself hoping against hope that everything would turn out okay for her. She is the type of character that you can't help but want to take care of. 
Bobby Dees is a credible character as well. He is weary. Being involved in the Crimes Against Children cases has left him worn out. Notwithstanding, his daughter being declared a runaway the year prior has also taken it's toll on him, and his marriage. He is an absolute diamond in the rough though, as he gives each case his all. I found myself admiring him, as it must be difficult to maintain that job as long as he has. The absolute dedication he gives to finding Lainey, and the other girls, is amazing. He won me over as well. 
All in all, this is an astounding read. Thankfully, some of the imagery is left to the imagination, as otherwise it would be almost too grotesque a read. It was quite captivating, and is a real page-turner. I'd definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy thrillers, suspense, or psychological thrillers. It was written exceptionally well, and I can't wait to read more from Hoffman. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blog Tour: The Absolute Value of -1, Steve Brezenoff, Guest Post, and Giveaway.

Today I would like to welcome The Absolute Value of -1 author, Steve Brezenoff here. This post kicks off his blog tour with The Teen Book Scene. The tour will move to Kari's blog tomorrow, and you can follow along with the rest of the tour here. To find out more about Steve, and The Absolute Value of -1, you can check out his website

What books (2-3) would each of the main characters personally identify with, or love?

Simon: He reads a few books during |-1|, so I’ll start with The Sun Also Rises, which he says he loves right in the pages. It’s great because the protagonist, Jake, had . . . well, an inability to act with his love interest. I won’t say anymore about that, except that Simon isn’t exactly one for swift action in the face of tragedy, either.
Simon also reads Franny & Zooey, but I think The Catcher in the Rye is probably his preferred Salinger work. Let’s face it: Holden Caulfield and he have a lot in common: uncommonly strong affection for their sisters, a tendency to objectify the opposite sex, and being sort of obnoxious, tiresome, depressed jerkwads!
And speaking of doing something, here’s . . .

Noah: I don’t know that Noah is likely to pick up a book, honestly, but if he were forced, he’d first probably go for The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The kid’s kind of a horn-dog, so we’re being honest here. And hey, most teen male readers gravitate to the nonfiction section, right?
Along similar lines, I can imagine him grabbing a copy of The Art of War by Sun Tzu—anything to give him an upper hand in society would be his thing.

Lily: She’s a math whiz, so she couldn’t possibly resist John Green’s masterpiece (IMHO) An Abundance of Katherines. I can imagine her enjoying the mathy epilogue more than the novel itself, even!
I also think Lily might be into Hamlet. I mean, she loves Simon, so it stands to reason she’d love the most melancholy, emo-est “protagonist” of all time, right? (I put that word in quotes because a protagonist should traditionally do something, rather than sit around thinking and crying. I think that sums it up.)

It looks like they have quite the eclectic taste in reading material! I think I'll be picking up a few of these books to see what they're all about! What a great list! :) 


I'll keep the rules short and sweet. 
Comment on this post with your email address for a chance to win my copy (gently used) of the Absolute Value of -1 and a couple of bookmarks. (Thank you, Steve, for providing me with this copy and the bookmarks! :) 
Feel free to include what YOUR favourite book is in your comment. :) 
Giveaway is open to the US and Canada only. (Sorry to those of you who are international!) :(
Giveaway ends October 8th, 2010.
Giveaway has ENDED. Thank you to those who participated!

Friday, September 17, 2010

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? Clary would love to spend more time with her best friend, Simon. But the Shadowhunters won't let her go. Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, and certainly evil. When the second of the Mortal Instruments is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor suspects Jace. Could Jace really be willing to betray everything he believes in? 

Title: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Book #2)
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 25, 2008
Source: Own
My Rating: 4/5

The hunt continues for Valentine in this, the second installment in the Mortal Instruments series. Clary, Simon, Jace, Isabelle, and Alex are back along with a host of old and new characters. 
This installment ups the ante and brings more surprising twists, as well as more questions. This book is definitely action-packed and secondary characters are now brought to the forefront. We also get a more detailed look at the Shadowhunter world. 
Clary is still getting used to the idea that she is a Shadowhunter, but she has to learn quickly if she wants to stay alive. Surprise revelations from the last book make this one more interesting in regards to the dynamics of several relationships. It's intriguing to see what is going to happen, and what boundaries have been laid down. What happens when certain boundaries are crossed? Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out. Quips fly when Jace and Simon are together. Their banter is witty and amusing and keeps the story moving when the action is low. 
All in all, City of Ashes is an absorbing read. It is full of exhilarating action, and just the right amount of slow scenes to have you wishing for more. This is definitely an excellent follow up to City of Bones.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scars - Cheryl Rainfield - Blog Tour Review and Giveaway

Kendra hasn't felt safe since devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse began surfacing, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail--her abuser's identity. Kendra knows someone is always watching, following her and leaving menacing messages, and making her fear for her life. Kendra cuts to relieve the pressure; it's how she copes, along with her brilliant, expressive artwork. Her mother is too self-absorbed to listen, so Kendra finds support elsewhere: from her therapist and her art teacher; from Sandy, a family friend who encourages her painting; and from Meghan, a friend and maybe more. Will they ever learn the truth about Kendra's terrible secret? Scars is the story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.

Title: Scars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Westside Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2010
Source: Received from author courtesy of The Teen Book Scene. Many thanks goes to both Cheryl Rainfield and Kari from The Teen Book Scene for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
My rating: 5/5

Scars tells the troubling story of a young girl's struggle with cutting, and her resurfacing memories of childhood sexual abuse. The more Kendra remembers, the more she learns about her abuser's identity, but the memories leave a devastating trail of knowledge in their wake. Kendra's coping mechanism from the memories is her use of cutting, and her emotional and expressive painting. 
I can't begin to fathom the immense strain and psychological damage that abuse survivors have had placed on them. Following Kendra's story, and her use of cutting to help her cope; it seems almost right for her to cut. It bleeds away the pain, and makes everything go away for awhile. This is a mindset that a lot of people have. As the book progresses, we see that cutting is a dangerous method of coping, and one that causes more harm for Kendra. She has already suffered so much abuse from her abuser, that it is painful to read that she is inflicting still more abuse on herself. Unfortunately, too many times we see the results of cutting end in tragedy. 
Kendra was a mesmerizing character. Her fear is palpable, as is her struggle with cutting, wanting to heal, and her hope of finding happiness. She is expertly written and I found Rainfield's heart pouring through all of the facets of Kendra's character. 
Rainfield's writing is expressive and detailed, bringing an understanding to the reasons that one will take to cope with stressors brought on by abuse, as well as the need for structure that does not involve cutting. 
All in all, a book well worth reading as it brings to light the harsh reality of abuse, and what it means for those who have been abused and have to deal with the long lasting ramifications. Unfortunately, many don't receive the help they need to turn from using cutting as a coping mechanism, to a safer outlet for their emotions. 


Cheryl Rainfield has graciously offered a signed copy of her book, along with two bookmarks, for a giveaway. All you need to enter is to comment on this post with your email address stating you would like to be entered. 

Contest is US/Canada only. 
Contest ends October 1, 2010.

You can follow along with the rest of the tour here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In My Mailbox -35-

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren every Sunday. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that lets everyone see what books you have received or bought that week.
For Review
1. Eon - Alison Goodman. Many thanks goes to Vimala from Penguin Canada for sending me this book for review. 

1. Sweep Vol. 1: Book of Shadows, The Coven, Blood Witch - Cate Tiernan
2. Born to Bite - Lynsay Sands
3. Crusade - Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
4. Restoring Harmony - Joelle Anthony

Don't forget to check out all of the current contests being hosted here. The birthday giveaway is in full swing, you can find the post here. Author Cynthia Roberts is hosting a blog tour giveaway. The giveaway is huge, and you can win one of 5 phenomenal prizes. You can enter on my blog here. To find a list of all of the participating blogs, look here. Author Scott Nicholson has kicked off his blog tour, with a Kindle up for grabs. His tour stop here is set for October 7th, but you will have more chances to win if you follow along with the tour. You can find a list of all of the participating blogs here.

That's what I received in my mailbox this week, what did you get in yours? 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blog Tour: Firelight - Sophie Jordan - Excerpt

Hello all! Earlier this week, Firelight released, and today I have an excerpt from the book to post for Sophie Jordan's blog tour! You can find all of the tour details here. The next stop will be hosted by Katie over at Sophistikatied. You can find Sophie's website here for more information about Firelight, and the rest of the Firelight books.
This excerpt is taken from an uncorrected proof. 

The bell rings, and I’m on my feet with everyone else.
Ferret Eyes turns to me and introduces himself. “Hey.” He nods slowly, giving me a full appraisal. “I’m Ken.”
“Hi,” I manage, wondering if he somehow thought his “double the pleasure” remark won me over.
“Need help finding your next class?”
“No. I’m good. Thanks.” Stepping past him, I hurry to my locker, head down.
Tamra’s waiting for me. “How’s it going?” she asks brightly.
Her smile slips. “You have to be open to it, Jace. Only you can decide to be happy.”
I work the combination, mess up, and try again. “Enough with the psychology please.”
She shrugs and fingers her iron-flat hair. It took her an hour in the bathroom to accomplish the feat, but she saw it in a magazine and wanted to match the picture. My own red-gold hair trails down my back in a frizzy, crackling mess. Wild with static. Like the rest of me, it misses the mist.
I survey her, so chic in her snug red top, dark jeans, and knee-high boots she bought over the weekend at a thrift store. Several guys walk past and do a double take. She’s at home in this world, not suffering any of my unease, not even pining for Cassian anymore. And I’m happy for her. Really. If only her happiness wasn’t my misery.
“I’ll try,” I promise, meaning it. It’s not like I want to ruin this for her.
“Oh. I almost forgot.” She digs in her satchel. “Look. They’re having tryouts for next year’s cheerleading squad.”
I glance down at the bright orange flyer in her hand and wince at the cartoons of tiny pom-poms and somersaulting, short-skirted girls.
She waggles the paper. “We should try out together.”
I finally get my locker open and swap out textbooks. “Nah. You go ahead.”
“But you’re so”—her amber gaze sweeps over me meaningfully—“athletic.” She might as well have said draki.
I shake my head and open my mouth to stress my unwillingness, then, stop. My flesh shivers. The tiny hairs at my nape prickle in alert. A textbook slips from my fingers, but I don’t move to pick it up.
Tamra lowers the flyer. “What? What is it?”
I stare over her shoulder, down the crowded hall. A warning bell peals, and everyone’s movements become frenzied. Lockers slam and the soles of shoes squeal against the tiled floor.
I remain still.
“Jace, what?”
I shake my head, unable to speak as my gaze darts over every face. Then I find him. See him. The one I sought before I even realized it, before I even understood . . . The beautiful boy. My skin snaps tight.
“Jacinda, what is it? We’re going to be late to class.”
I don’t care. I don’t move. It can’t be him. He can’t be here. Why would he be here?
But it is him.
He leans against the lockers, taller than everyone around him. Twirly hair Brooklyn plays with the hem of his shirt, shamelessly leaning into him, glossy lips moving nonstop. He smiles, nods, listens as she chatters, but I sense that he doesn’t really care, that he’s somewhere else . . . or wants to be. Just like me.
I can’t look away.
Honey brown hair falls over his brow carelessly, and I remember it darkly wet and slicked back from his face. I remember the two of us alone in a cave, his hand on mine and that spark that passed between us before his face became so stark and angry. Before he vanished.
Tamra sighs beside me and twists around to see. “Ah,” she murmurs knowingly. “Yummy. Too bad though. It looks like he’s got a girlfriend. You’ll have to set your sights on someone else—” Facing me, she gasps. “Jace! You’re glowing!”
That jerks my attention back. I glance down at my arms. My skin blurs in and out, shimmering faintly, like I’ve been dusted with gold.
The draki in me stirs, tingling, yearning to come out.
“God, get a grip, jeez!” Tamra hisses, leaning closer. “You see a hot guy and start to manifest? Have some control.”
But I can’t. That’s what Tamra never understood. When emotions run high, the draki surfaces. In times of fear, excitement, arousal . . . the draki comes out. It’s the way we are.
I look back at Will and pleasure whips through me. And beneath it, fear at what his being here means.
My sister grabs my arm and squeezes almost cruelly. “Jacinda, stop it! Stop it now!”
Will’s head lifts with the suddenness of a predator scenting its prey and I wonder if hunters are really human at all. If maybe they aren’t just as otherworldly as the draki. He looks around, searching the hall as I struggle to get myself under control. Before he sees me. Before he knows.
My lungs start to smolder, the familiar burn catching the exact moment his hazel eyes lock on mine.
The slam of my locker jars me and I tear my gaze off him. To Tamra. Her hand presses flat my locker, her fingertips white where they dig hard into the metal.
The last bell sounds.
With a quick dip, she grabs my books off the floor and drags me toward the bathroom. I glance over my shoulder as bodies empty the hall in a rush of unnatural scents. Perfumes, colognes, lotions, hair sprays, gels . . . they clog my senses. Here, nothing feels real. Except the boy staring after me. He watches. His gleaming gaze following, stalking me like the predator I sense in him. He moves away from the lockers in a loping, catlike motion.
My draki continues to stir, awake and alive at the hungry way he watches me. My skin quivers, the flesh of my back tingling, itchy where my wings push. I keep them buried. Buried, but not dormant.
Tamra’s hand tugs harder, pulling me. And I lose sight of him. He’s swallowed up in the flurry of humankind around me, like so many moths bumping and dancing around a light, congesting the hallway.
But I still feel him. Yearn for him. Know he’s there even when I no longer see him.

© Sophie Jordan. 

Doesn't this make you just want to go out and read this book? I know I am definitely interested in reading this as soon as I possibly can! I hope you enjoyed this teaser! :)