Thursday, March 31, 2011

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

"Just listen," Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. 

"Stay," he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love--music--even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? 

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters. 

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make. 

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: April 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from library. 
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository
My rating: 5/5

If I Stay is the compelling tale of a girl who has everything to live for, until something out of her control happens to take away everything she holds dear, leaving her with a choice to make. A choice that will affect not only her, but all of those around her. 
If I Stay is a raw, real read. One that takes a look at the big picture and forces you to watch unblinking as Mia is faced with a drastic life-altering decision to make. From the beginning, Mia draws the reader in, as does her whole family. They all are portrayed so vividly that they could be considered real people, and not just characters in a book. The warmth and love of Mia's tight-knit family can be felt through the pages, and it is this love, and this warmth that make this read so poignant. Mia is a musical prodigy from a family of musicians, however she goes against the mainstream by playing cello. She is definitely her own person, and though she may not have many friends, the relationships that she does have are solid. The characters are all realistic and vibrant. Mia's parents, and younger brother, Teddy, come to life, as do Adam and Kim. Their characterization makes Mia's choice so much harder. 
I don't think I can do this book justice. It is amazing, phenomenal, and it is probably one of the only books to make me sob. I'm not one to cry while reading, but this book is so gut-wrenching, and so bittersweet that you can't help but feel emotional. Watching the turmoil that Mia is going through, and realizing the extent and depth of the decision that she has to make is hard. Just writing up this review is bringing back the emotional side of me that doesn't often get to see the light of day. I encourage everyone to read this book. I think there is something in it for everyone, regardless of age. 
All in all, a book about the horrible situations life hands us. Mia's story is one that should be read. If you are looking for a tear-jerker, look no further. If I Stay is a poignant, mesmerizing and bittersweet read. If If I Stay is any indication, we are in for another heart-wrenching ride with Where She Went when it releases.

Facts of interest: If there is passage that I particularly love from the books I read, I'll share them after the review. I'll also add a comment about songs that came to mind while reading. Specifically for If I Stay I found that I couldn't get Stand by Rascal Flatts out of my head. Did you find any songs running through your head while reading If I Stay?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The End of Marking Time - C. J. West

Gifted housebreaker, Michael O'Connor, awakens inside an ultramodern criminal justice system where prison walls are replaced by surveillance equipment and a host of actors hired to determine if he is worthy of freedom. While he was sleeping, the Supreme Court declared long term incarceration to be cruel and unusual punishment and ordered two million felons released. The result was utter chaos and the backlash from law-abiding citizens and police departments reshaped the United States. Felons now enter reeducation programs where they live freely among the population. At least that's what they think. In reality they are enslaved to an army of counselors and a black box that teaches them everything they failed to learn from kindergarten through adulthood. Michael believes he's being tested by the black box, but what he slowly begins to realize is that everything he does is evaluated to determine whether he lives or dies.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

Title: The End of Marking Time
Author: C. J. West
Genre: Adult Fiction, Futuristic, Crime thriller
Publisher: 22 West Books
Publication Date: May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from author. Many thanks goes to C.J. West for sending me a copy of his book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 3/5

This review contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.

The world is a far different place when Michael wakes up from a coma. He had been on his way to prison when he was shot, and from there, he ended up serving most of his time while in a coma. When he wakes up, the rules have changed and there is no "prison" anymore. Rather, there is a black box and anklet to track his every move. He is to be rehabilitated, and based on his response to the rehabilitation procedures, he will be allowed to go free, or he will be terminated. 
This new futuristic justice system has its flaws, but for the most part it works on the first time offenders. Repeat offenders have to deal with stiffer penalties, and relinquish all control over their lives. Michael, for the most part, is set with these offenders, and he is told that he will have to go to school courtesy of the black box, and learn how to read, as well as participate in activities from other classes if he has a chance to ever lose the ankle monitor. 
Michael is a conflicted character as the only way he knows how to earn his keep is to continue breaking and entering houses, but what he doesn't realize is that everything he says or does is monitored, and his actions even outside of his new apartment are being graded. As Michael learns about the new system, and all it encompasses, so we too learn about it. Michael is an affable character, one with a penchant for resorting back to his criminal ways, but he does start to realize that he needs to straighten up. He learns to read, and enjoys it. He meets the son he never knew he had, and he relates his story with a straightforward appeal as he informs the reader of his past history, and how he may or may not have been predisposed towards the criminal lifestyle he has lived. It is heartening to see that he wants to better himself, and that the system could work for him. 
Alas, my real and only complaint with this book is just how the system worked for him. With everything stacked against him, it was unfortunate how the book turned out. Going with this new justice system, and his newfound appreciation for straightening out, Michael was well on his way towards a new life, but the sudden reveals at the end of the book lacked belief, and certain characters seemed overly whiny. I would have found the ending more believable if it had been laid out more like the same format as the rest of the book had been. Unfortunately I found it quite rushed, and therefore it lacked the quality and detail that Michael's story had been given from the beginning. I sympathized with his character, and though I didn't agree with how he obtained some of the information for his quest, I didn't think he deserved the judgement he received. 
Overall, Michael's story is a unique one; of a futuristic criminal system that terminates those who are deemed unable to be rehabilitated. The opening pages drew me in instantly and I became invested in the outcome as I found Michael trying to better himself. This is one of those books that will resonate long after it is read, and I think fans of crime thrillers will find it an enjoyable, thought-provoking read. For what it's worth, I would have pushed the green button based on the fact that I thought he was showing signs of redemption and I didn't think he was a lost cause.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blog Tour: When Colors Bleed - Estevan Vega - Character Interview with Casey and Thomas

Today, both Casey and Thomas are here answering a few questions courtesy of the When Colors Bleed blog tour hosted by Kari from A Good Addiction. If you haven't heard of them, they are the main characters in Estevan Vega's short story Baby Blue, which is found in his When Colors Bleed anthology. You can read my review for When Colors Bleed here. I hope you enjoy the interviews!


Welcome, Casey and Thomas! Thank you for being here!

What are some of your favourite things to do? 

I hang around downtown a lot. Blue Back Square's kind of nice. You get a lot of yuppie d-bags from Nordstrom there, though, so I try to stay as invisible as possible. None of that, "Hey, how's it going?" kind of crap. I hate that fake stuff. But whatever, there's this cool movie theater. It thinks it's a classic cinema or something, tries to be all fancy, but it's legit. Wish I had to someone to go to it with me. Oh, and there's this cool little art gallery downtown too. I've seen it, like, a million times, but I just don't have the guts to walk through the front door for some reason. I mean, I like art, but I'm not the starving, cut-my-wrist-on-Tuesday afternoon kind. Wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea. Man, now that I think about it, my life is filled with potholes. Social life zero. Unless you count the occasional stroll downtown or stumbling into a frat party once in a while. Whatever.

Did you ever think you'd meet someone like Thomas? 

To be honest, I've met so many kinds of odd folks at the store. The thing about rich people is they wanna be understood, you get me? They want someone to listen to their b.s. story and tell them how good they look, even if they look like a blimp. They smile but underneath, it isn't real. It's like they practice it in front of a mirror or something. Thomas wasn't like that. He was strange, but he wasn't a weirdo. He came in like a calm storm, you know? One second, I think I have him all figured out, and the next, he's doing something that surprises me. I think I like him.

If you had the ability to change one thing in your past, what would it be? 

Dad leaving. My mom was wrecked by the divorce, even though she was the cause of it. I hate that, how people start World War III then they're oh, so sorry that the nukes went off. Well, stupid, maybe you were a domineering psycho. Maybe nobody likes you. Maybe you should just shut up and stop forcing your opinions down other people's throats. (cries) Dad loved her, though. Hell if I know why. But he did. It's like that weird, opposites attract garbage you hear people talk about. Like me and Thomas, I suppose. He's not even in my atmosphere, but there's something there. If Dad didn't leave all those years ago, I could talk to him, get all girlie, but he's not here. He's not here.

What are your inspirations? 

Art. My mom thinks I'm destined for a heartbreak. I dated a bass player back in high school. Total moron, but I'm secretly holding out for an artist. They see the world differently, have different, sometimes stranger reactions to the same old crap we see everyday, or don't see, right? They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, they say it for a reason. I'm not, like, a groupie or anything. I just think artists have the capacity to understand the world a little better. They're not blind to feelings like a lot of us have become.

Between us, do you like the powder blue suit? 

Yeah, it's got balls. I think the fact that it's ugly and strange sort of makes it beautiful. It only takes one person to think something's beautiful for it to be beautiful. Someone kind told me that once.


What first drew you to the store Casey worked in? 

I've been there a hundred times. Never really liked it, but it was a place someone very close to me shopped at. If you cared about someone, wouldn't you take an interest in their interests? Nevermind. No particular reason brought me there, I suppose. But once I was there, once I met Casey, I had to come back.

How did putting on the powder blue suit make you feel? 

Okay. Normal. Like I was myself again, like I could be healed.

Is there anything in your past that you would change if you could? 

Oh...I don't know. I suppose there are things we'd all like to go differently from time to time. Hearts we wished wouldn't break. Things lost we wished could be found. But that isn't how things are, you see. You don't get second chances. You don't get to be reborn, not here. When something is taken from you, it doesn't just come back because you wish it so. I could paint a thousand sun rises, but somehow I fear the sun will always set in my neighborhood.

Did you ever think you'd meet someone like Casey? 

Casey is such a beautiful creature. Delicate but strong too. I don't think she knows how strong she really is. But did I ever think I'd meet someone like her? I guess that would be no. I didn't. Every so often someone stumbles into your life, or you stumble into theirs. Perhaps a rhyme and a reason are to blame for this orchestration, but whatever the purpose, you are brought together, for a time, to see something you didn't see before. I saw something in Casey, something beautiful, something tragic.

What type of art inspires you, and what is your favourite to create or paint?

I am a fan of so many different art styles, you see. I paint some, but don't let anyone tell you I'm a true artist. I've got nothing on Da Vinci or Michelangelo. They knew their brush strokes better than anyone. For me, it's about painting the world as I see it. This place isn't always how you think it is. You must understand the millions of perspectives circulating all around us at different times. So unique, so palpable, if we could only express them. I try to do that with an image, the way a photographer takes snapshots of a beautiful life. I'm a snapshot kind of man. I live in the moment, however lovely or terrible, and that becomes my home until the painting is done.

I'd like to thank you both again for being here today and answering my questions! 
Thank you, Estevan for sharing a bit about Casey and Thomas with us! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog Tour: ...Then I Met My Sister - Christine Hurley Deriso - Author Interview

Today, ...Then I Met My Sister author, Christine Hurley Deriso is here answering a few of my questions. This post is part of Teen Book Scene's blog tour for ...Then I Met My Sister. You can follow along with the tour here
If you were in Summer's position, what would you have done? Would you have done anything differently?

I don't know if I would have been brave enough to make the decision Summer makes at the end of the book regarding the journal. I'm more guarded than I'd like to be, but living vicariously through Summer was tremendously cathartic and liberating. She made me stronger and wiser.

What would some of Summer's favourite books be? What books would she identify with?

She'd love the angst of The Catcher in the Rye or the edgy, funny family-bashing of author David Sedaris.

What music would Summer identify with? Does she have a favourite song?

Elliott Smith's "Going Nowhere" was kind of the soundtrack in my head as I was writing the book. I think Summer would love it.

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

"Deriso Wins Pulitzer." (A girl can dream.)

If you could meet a character from any book ever written, which character and book would you choose and why?

Hmmm ... maybe Jim from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I loved his sense of humanity amid the most inhumane of conditions.

Love those answers, Christine! Thank you for being here today! I'm going to have to run out and refresh my memory on Jim! He sounds like a great character to meet! 

If you want to know more about ...Then I Met My Sister, watch the trailer located above or you can visit Christine's website here. Doesn't the trailer make you want to go out and read the book right this minute? It sounds absolutely fabulous! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading, and anyone can play along!
  • grab your current read
  • flip to a random page
  • select two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
  • try not to include spoilers!
  • please let us know the author and book so we can add them to our TBR pile!
I've been holding off on starting this book for some time now, as I really wanted to savour the read without any interruptions. It is a high fantasy novel with YA cross-over appeal. Anyway, I'll get on with the post. Today's teaser is taken from Progeny (The Children of the White Lions #1) by R.T. Kaelin.

"It almost looks like the shape of a person. But it's wrong, somehow. The shoulders are too wide and the arms are too big. And where are the legs?" He let out a strained chuckle. "Listen to me! 'Where are the legs of the giant wave of water?' If I wasn't staring at it, I would think it was another one of Father's stories." pg. 9

I can't wait to delve further into this one! It's living up to my expectations so far. If you don't hear from me for several days you will know that I haven't been able to put it down!

Leave me your teasers, and I'll go check them out!

Happy reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blood of My Brother - James LePore - Blog Tour Review

When Jay Cassio's best friend is murdered in a job clearly done by professionals, the walls that he has built to protect himself from the world of others begins to shatter. Dan Del Colliano had been his confidante and protector since the men were children on the savage streets of Newark, New Jersey. When Dan supports and revives Jay after Jay's parents die in a plane crash, their bond deepens to something beyond brotherhood, beyond blood. Now Jay, a successful lawyer, must find out why Dan died and find a way to seek justice for his murder. 
Isabel Perez has lived a life both tainted and charmed since she was a teenager in Mexico. She holds powerful sway over men and has even more powerful alliances with people no one should ever try to cross. She desperately wants her freedom from the chains these people have placed on her. When Jay catapults into her world, their connection is electric, their alliance is lethal, and their future is anything but certain. 
Once again, James LePore has given us a novel of passions, intense moral complexities, an irresistible thrills. Fille with characters you will embrace an characters you will fear, Blood of My Brother is a story about a quest for revenge and redemption you won't soon forget. 

Title: Blood of My Brother
Author: James LePore
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication Date: December 28, 2010
Format: Softcover
Source: Received from publicist for Pump up Your Book blog tour. Many thanks goes to Tracee for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Amazon.
My rating: 4/5

Jay Cassio and Dan Del Colliano have been inseparable friends since they were five years old. They survived the Newark riots together, and continued to look out for one another throughout the years. Now, Dan has been murdered, and Jay is on a mission to avenge his friend's death. 
What he soon learns, is that Dan may have been a pawn in a much larger, dangerous game; a high stakes game of money laundering, drugs, and corruption at the highest level of government. Jay will do anything to avenge his friend's death though, even if it requires his own. His pursuit of justice will take him from his old New Jersey neighbourhood to the coast of Florida, and the streets of Mexico. 
Jay is a fully rounded, three dimensional character. His background has been hardship after hardship. When his parents died in a plane crash he retreated into himself, and it was only Dan who was able to bring him back to life again. Dan has been everything to Jay, a friend, confidant, and protector. When he is brutally murdered, Jay is horrified. His case is still open, but no one is working on it, and so Jay takes it upon himself to uncover Dan's last moments and avenge him. Jay is emotionally distraught, and Blood of My Brother shows just what lengths a man, or anyone, will go to, to avenge the death of a loved one. The mystery deepens further though as Jay finds out the FBI is involved, but he is only given the runaround. When more deaths start piling up, Jay can only assume that he'll be next. His voice, his emotions, and his being are all indicative of someone who will do anything to avenge his beloved friend. However, everything is not black and white, and there are many varying shades of gray. Those who work for the police department, or in other positions of power may be corrupt as well, and this book shows the nuances between those characters who have crossed the line, and those who are holding their ground. With a full cast of characters it is easy to become lost not knowing who is who; however, LePore juggles all of his characters and the various threads of his plot with skill, leaving the reader appreciative of the journey they are taking alongside the main characters.
Isabel Perez is another character who garners attention, and it is only a matter of time before her destiny becomes entangled with Jay's. They are a well-matched pair, both reeling from the loss of someone close to them, and the bond they forge while on the run is strong. They will need help from various friends, and each other, if they are to achieve their ultimate goals. 
All in all, this is a fast-paced, enthralling, and thrilling read. Definitive characters, and an action-packed plot make this an enjoyable and fast read. The addition of Jay's past memories throughout only strengthens the book and shows the magnitude of the bond he had with Dan, making his decisions all the more credible and heartfelt. Fans of James Patterson's Alex Cross series will enjoy this read, though it is a bit heavier than Patterson's work. LePore is definitely one to look out for in the future. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In My Mailbox -57-

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.

I may have gone a little book crazy this week while at Chapters, BUT in my defense, they had a really good sale on the teen and kids section in the store. Twenty percent off and with an irewards card thirty percent, so I may have indulged a little bit. Oops. 
For Review
1. Those That Wake - Jesse Karp
3. A Hard Death - Jonathan Hayes
4. The Breath of God - Jeffrey Small
6. The Organ Grinder - Sara Curran-Ross (not pictured, e-book)
7. Hickey of the Beast - Isabel Kunkle (not pictured, e-book)
8. Broken - Susan Jane Bigelow (not pictured, e-book)

Many thanks goes to Thomas Allen & Son, Mark from HarperCollins, Leyane from FSB Media, Justin Gustainis, Sara Curran-Ross, and Teen Book Scene (Isabel Kunkle, and Susan Jane Bigelow) for the books I received this week for review. 

All of the book titles have been linked to their goodreads profile.

1. The Iron Queen - Julie Kagawa
2. Shimmer - Alyson Noel
3. A Touch Mortal - Leah Clifford
4. Darkest Mercy - Melissa Marr
5. Angelfire - Courtney Allison Moulton
6. Taken By the Others - Jess Haines
7. Serpent's Storm - Amber Benson
8. Haunted By Your Touch - Jeaniene Frost, Shayla Black, Sharie Kohler
9. This Side of the Grave - Jeaniene Frost
10. Rogue Angel: False Horizon - Alex Archer

I seriously bought ten books this week? Gulp. Didn't realize I had picked up that many! (Apparently I learn to count when IMM time comes around.) Ah well, book love is book love. :)


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

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jekel Loves Hyde - Beth Fantaskey

Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents' rules--especially the one about never opening the mysterious old box in her father's office. But when her dad is murdered and her college savings disappear, this good girl is tempted to peek inside, because the contents just might be key to winning a lucrative chemistry scholarship.
To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize but to save Tristen's sanity. Maybe his life. As things heat up in the lab, though, Jill's accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and will compel her to risk everything--even Tristen's love--just for the thrill of being. . . bad. 
From the author of the hit novel Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side comes a tantalizing story about what happens when Jekel loves Hyde. 

Title: Jekel Loves Hyde
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: May 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository
My rating: 4/5

Jill Jekel has always been known for being good. It's as natural as breathing to her. When she is invited to join a chemistry competition with the illustrious Tristen Hyde they are given the option to replicate the famous "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" experiment or come up with a new one. Jill's parents have forbidden her to go into a locked box that her father kept in his office, but when Jill learns that he spent all of her college savings before he was murdered, she is tempted to look inside the box to see if there are any notes that could help win this competition for her. She enlists the aid of Tristen Hyde. He is elusive and has secrets of his own, but if they work together, they may be able to solve Tristen's secret as well as Jill's financial woes. However, the myths behind the original experiment may prove all to real, and once Jill gets a taste of a certain formula, she might not want to return to her former way of life. 
Jekel Loves Hyde is an exceptional book that gives a face-lift to the old tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With our present-day cast we see what lengths one will go to, to fill their insatiable appetite for all things bad, as well as what draws someone towards redemption. Jill and Tristen are likeable characters, and I found their conflicted emotions added to the storyline. They both are so different, but chemistry is everything. It was neat to see Jill go outside of her comfort zone to do things she normally wouldn't do. I especially liked the bit of mystery added to the storyline. It had some surprising twists, ones that I didn't see coming until they were happening. 
All in all, an intriguing tale with history potentially repeating itself. I think those who enjoy paranormal and contemporary reads will enjoy this one. It's a solid story with engaging characters and a few surprises to keep it lively. I know I'll definitely be reading more of Fantaskey's work in the future. She makes chemistry seem like fun, and that is not an easy feat! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Interview with "Solid" Author, Shelley Workinger

I have Shelley Workinger, the author of Solid and the upcoming Settling here today with an interview. Thank you for being here, Shelley! To learn more about Shelley and her books you can visit her website located hereWithout further ado, I'll get right to the interview!
 What was your inspiration for “Solid”?

I first dreamed the romantic scene that is now Chapter 12. I have wild and vivid dreams regularly, but my thoughts kept coming back to that one and how those two people could’ve ended up in that setting. “Solid” moved from the hypothetical realm into print mainly because of my personal feeling that tweens and early teens seem to get so overwhelmed by their required reading that some lose interest in pleasure reading entirely. It seemed natural for me to take the idea that had been nagging at my subconscious and flesh it out specifically for the those young girls in an effort to bring them back into the booklovers' fold by offering a fun and fast story.

If you found out that your genes had been manipulated and you had superpowers, what would your superpower be and why?

I’d want to be able to change minds. I don’t think we can solve the most serious problems of the world until we can change thoughts, perceptions, and misconceptions. Some people are evolving in their thinking, and some people have broken bad historical patterns, but how amazing would it be to flip someone’s mental switch and have them instantly see the metaphorical light? That would truly be saving the world.

If you were put in the same circumstances as Clio, what would you do, and would you have done anything differently?

It’s funny – some people have complained that if this actually happened, Clio and her friends would run right out and save the world. Really? For me, at least at this point, their abilities are not fantastic – like flying or mind control – so it’s not even obvious what they can do. More importantly, the tag line on the front of the book (What if you discovered you were the product of a secret genetic experiment?) is not just a teaser – it’s the basis for the tone of the story, which asks what would you – or me, or the average person – realistically do in this situation? I feel the most natural reaction would slow, rather than rash. And since we’re such social creatures, I think the priority would be to bond as quickly as possible with the others (like survivors of a disaster) so that you have someone to explore the craziness with.

If you could meet any character from any book ever written, which book and character would you choose and why?

Death from “The Book Thief”…though not any time soon. I felt an almost kinship with that character/narrator and his dry humor, his wry take on what he sees, and his inability to understand senseless loss. Every time I read, Five hundred souls. I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases…It was only the children I carried in my arms, I cry buckets. Such an honest, beautiful, tortured character.

Does "Solid" have a theme song?

Not really, but it has a playlist:

“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
“Take Me Back to New Orleans” – Cowboy Mouth
“Strange and Unprepared” – Copeland
“For You I Will” – Teddy Geiger
“You and The Night and The Music” – Jamie Cullum

Settling” has twice as many songs as music becomes more relevant.

What would the front page headline of a newspaper say about you? What wouldn’t you want it to say?

“I Just Wanted to Meet Ellen.” I would love my story to be one of great success grown by own hands that I can then do something with. I would not want to be part of any headline involving trials or crimes, as wrongful imprisonment is probably my worst fear.

What’s up next for Clio and her friends? Any teasers you can give us?

Well, like the title says – Clio and the others are settling into their new lives and, just like when a foundation settles, there are going to be cracks. Abilities will evolve, secrets will come out, friendships will be tested, and – oh, yeah – there’s a killer on campus. 

Thank you for that teaser, Shelley! Settling sounds absolutely fabulous! I can't wait for it to come out! I also really like your choice of superpower! Thank you again for answering these questions!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Colors Bleed - Estevan Vega

WHEN COLORS BLEED is a collection of short stories by the author of ARSON. This collection features three unique stories with universal themes of love, loss, and regret. Watch the colors bleed.
(Synopsis taken from goodreads.)

Title: When Colors Bleed
Author: Estevan Vega
Genre: Adult Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Estevan Vega
Publication Date: March 7, 2011
Format: E-book
Source: Received from author. Many thanks goes to Estevan Vega for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Amazon Kindle, Nook, Smashwords.
My rating: 4/5

When Colors Bleed is a compilation of three short stories by Arson author, Estevan Vega. The stories included are, Baby Blue, Vanilla Red, and The Man in the Colored Room. Each tale features the main character questioning themselves and their surroundings. The themes and emotions portrayed throughout are those of love, loss, and regret. It's up to you to see what colour is bleeding through each page. 
Baby Blue gives us the story of a 23-year-old girl, Casey, who is working in a department store. She forms an unusual relationship with one of the men who frequents her workplace establishment. 
Vanilla Red chronicles the madcap world of a nameless character who is locked in Block C. His  reasoning or lack thereof entice the reader in to see what truth he brings to his bizarre and twisted story. 
The Man in the Colored Room brings us to the concluding story. It follows the foibles and recollections of a man, Colin, who finds himself placed in an architecturally perfect room. When he finds that he is no longer alone in the room, his questions, and new reality dawn on him, and the reader.
Vega has this smoky yet soulful quality to his writing voice that draws the reader in to his work. It perfectly complements the story as it unfolds. All three of these short stories are compelling, and they question the reader in various ways. The pattern to each story has this rhythm and blues feel, and it really makes this an enjoyable read. Each character questions their situations, though some seem perfectly comfortable in the skin they are in. Others want more from the life they are living. Regardless of the outcome, they all are realistic individuals. 
All in all, these stories only whet the appetite for more from Vega. This is the perfect addition to any library. I know I'll be waiting impatiently for Vega's next body of work, be it another short story compilation or the follow-up to Arson. Vega is one to watch. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox -56-

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.

This week's IMM actually covers the last two weeks. I'm not sure why I'm even up at this time. (It's 3am according to Daylight Savings Time. Lovely. Ah well. I had a great book week this week! Totally squee'd when I saw these show up!
For Review
1. Relic Master: The Dark City - Catherine Fisher
2. Where She Went - Gayle Forman
3. Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma
4. Wolfsbane - Andrea Cremer
5. Unnatural - Michael Griffo 
6. Leverage - Joshua C. Cohen 
7. Shadow Walkers - Brent Hartinger 
8. Ada: Legend of a Healer - R. A. McDonald
9. Blood of my Brother - James LePore
10. A World I Never Made - James LePore
11. The Hate - S.L. Pierce (e-book, not pictured)
12. When Colors Bleed - Estevan Vega (e-book, not pictured)
13. The Summoner - Layton Green (e-book, not pictured)

Many thanks goes to Vimala from Penguin Canada, Michael Griffo, Joshua C. Cohen, Brent Hartinger, Teen Book Scene, Connor from House of Lore, Tracee, S.L. Pierce, Estevan Vega, and Layton Green for the books I received this week for review.

1. The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss I have this weird feeling this book is already on my shelf somewhere. I think I need to go looking and catalog my shelves. 
2. Black Diamond - Laura Wright (e-book, not pictured)
3. Fireblood: A Legend of the White Dragon - Melanie Nilles (e-book, not pictured)
4. Promise - Kristie Cook (e-book, not pictured)
5. Purpose - Kristie Cook (e-book, not pictured)
6. Soul Quest - Amy Jones (e-book, not pictured)

Smashwords had a deal on quite a few of their e-books this week. I believe the promotion ended March 12th, but quite a few of the books were free or half price so I picked some up. 

If you haven't already, feel free to check out the giveaways listed on my top right sidebar (or click the book titles). You could win a copy of Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton (International) or a signed copy of A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler (US/Canada).

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

Happy reading everyone! I hope you all have a great day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Blue So Dark - Holly Schindler - Blog Tour Review

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose is hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist  and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since her dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked--and together may offer an escape from her fears. 

Title: A Blue So Dark
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Format: Softcover
Source: Bought
Tour: This review is part of the Teen Book Scene blog tour. You can follow along with the tour here. Aura's character interview was posted this past Tuesday, and you can find the interview as well as the giveaway here.
Look for it: Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5

Aura has had to take care of her mother ever since her father left. Life isn't easy, especially knowing that her mother is schizophrenic. Both Aura and her mother are extremely creative, and they are drawn to art like a moth to flame. The only thing stopping Aura from immersing herself in her artwork is the fact that being creative may lead to being crazy. Knowing that she may have inherited the "crazy" gene, she tries to stay away from art, and anything creative. When her mother's condition starts spiraling out of control, Aura will finally have to reach out to someone to get help. 
Aura is an exceedingly realistic character, and her love for her mother, Grace, shows throughout A Blue So Dark. She cares and tends for her mother, most often having to trick her into eating. She also tries to show her what is real, and what is just an illusion when her mom is having an episode. She's absolutely mortified that people might find out, but what makes things even worse, is that if  something happens to her mother, or she gets locked up, what is going to happen to Aura? Her father seems to have washed his hands of his first family, and Aura doesn't know who to turn to for help. Aura tries to show her friend, Janny, what is going on, but Janny is dealing with issues of her own and doesn't want to help. I enjoyed reading about the relationship that they had, but I found there wasn't enough background on their friendship in the beginning. Once we find out just what Janny is dealing with, things are put into perspective, and you can see why she may not want to help Aura at first. Regardless of my first impression of Janny, I found that her friendship with Aura strengthened throughout the book and she showed her true colours. 
Aura explores the differences between "crazy" and "creative", all the while reeling the reader deeper and deeper into her story. Her struggle with schizophrenia, creativity, and her mother makes this a heartbreaking book of discovery and self-discovery. Her father, out of the picture, should never have put her in the position that he did. His new family, and new life alienate her even more. 
All in all, a touching and mesmerizing story that realistically details what it is like to live with a parent who has schizophrenia. The love, and loss entangled throughout make this a truly moving read. I'd definitely recommend this book to those looking for a contemporary read. This is as real as it gets.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

A major new talent tackles the complicated terrain of sisters, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home.

There is no problem that a library card can't solve.

The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from-one another, their small hometown, and themselves-might offer more than they ever expected.
(Synopsis taken from Penguin.)

Title: The Weird Sisters
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication Date: January 20, 2011
Format: ARC
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Bronwyn from Penguin Canada for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Look for it: Penguin, Amazon, Book Depository.
My rating: 4/5

The Andreas sisters are all heading back home for one reason or another. The main reason they want you to believe is because their mother is ailing, and they are coming home to care for her. The actual reason for each sister's homecoming is much more secretive. They are all running from a past that has been less than stellar, and are hoping to recharge, while they figure out what to do with their lives. What they don't realize is that every sibling is headed home, so the Andreas household is full again. With a father who speaks in Shakespearian phrases, the whole family must have a healthy relationship with books, and specifically, Shakespeare's works. This coming of age novel is sure to entertain as the sisters realize that this might be the crossroads they are looking for to improve their lives for the better. 
Rose, Bianca, and Cordy are all exceptional characters and their nuances made each of them shine in their own way. Though I found myself identifying the most with Rose, as we are both the oldest siblings in our respective families, I couldn't help but identify with Bianca and Cordy as well. They are well-rounded characters, flawed, and most of all, human. With their return to the family home, they learn more about the bond a family has, and how they are there for each other, regardless of past grievances. I especially enjoyed the voice of the novel as it wasn't just one sister talking. It seemed like I was the fourth invisible sister which made it seem like I was privy to information that the other sisters weren't aware of at times. 
The other aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the whole family loved reading. They could pick up a book, read it anywhere, and if one family member set it down for any length of time, they might not get it back before the rest of the family had finished reading it. The Shakespeare quotes were excellent as well, and I found it interesting to see how they communicated with each other in Shakespearian verse. 
Many of the thoughts and comments throughout the book resound with a familiarity for those with siblings. Most of them could be applicable to life in every family, especially a family of readers.
All in all, an exceptional, coming of age debut that chronicles the lives of the Andreas sisters, Rose, Bianca, and Cordy. Many will enjoy the similarities between the siblings and their own respective families, and they will most likely love the comments about reading and family. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone, especially as the book states, "there is no problem that a library card can't solve".