Friday, April 29, 2011

Review & Giveaway: The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos




The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos
Publication Date:
Dec. 2010
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Genre: YA/supernatural

The Story: With the local vampire coven decimated, Julia and Nicholas try to begin a somewhat normal life together. Bound by secrecy from a shape shifter determined to see Julia's world-saving prediction come to fruition, Julia isn't allowed to tell Nicholas the leader survived, ransacking her happiness with guilt. When Alora returns, bent on revenge, the reunion forces Nicholas and Julia to choose what they are willing to live and die for.

My Review: Wow, I thought the Emerald Talisman was exciting! I couldn't put it down. Julia is dealing with issues between her love for Nicholas and for Phil. And then comes Alora. Boy, is she a pain!! There are so many twists and turns, you won't get bored reading it! If you enjoyed reading The Emerald Talisman, you'll LOVE The Sapphire Talisman!!




Now for the giveaway part!

It's international - make sure that the Book Depository delievers to your country
It'll close May 7th
There will be 6 winners total! One winner for a copy of The Sapphire Talisman, 5 winners for a signed bookmark from Brenda Pandos.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Character Interview with Jillian from Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

 Moonglass is without a doubt one of my favorite books of 2011 so far, and I'm thrilled that today we are interviewing Jillian from the book. Although Jillian is a secondary character, she makes a big splash in the story and she's not someone you'll easily forget. We hope you enjoy the interview!

BCM: What was your first thought when Anna joined the team?
 
Jillian: The very first? Who does this chick think she is? And then, crap, she’s fast.

BCM: How has running helped you in your own grieving process?
 
Jillian: It’s the one time when I can let go of everything and just be in the moment and the motion of it. Or, if I choose, I can let my legs go on autopilot and just kinad be in my head. Sometimes I need to think, and others I just need to move. Both aspects have let me deal with the process in my own way.  

BCM: Is there any one moment that you can pinpoint when you knew that Anna would become a friend to you?  

Jillian: I knew it when we shook hands at the top of that hill. I liked that she had
enough spark in her to challenge me. I respected that.
 
BCM: Name 5 songs that are always in rotation on your iPod.
 
Jillian: 59 Sound (Gaslight Anthem), Little Lion Man(Mumford and Sons), The Fixer (Pearl Jam),
Shadow of the Day (Linkin Park), Stronger (Kanye).

BCM: If you could change on thing about your past, what would it be?
 
Jillian: I’d do the thing I’ve done a million times in my head. I’d go back and drag my sister out of that party, no matter how hard she fought me. I’d make sure she was still running with me
today. 

BCM: What do you really think of Tyler?

Jillian: I think his cockiness almost hides the fact that he’s a good guy who cares about people and does the right thing. Anna’s lucky to have him.

This interview is part of the Moonglass blog tour from The Teen {Book} Scene. Click HERE to follow along with the rest of the tour. 

Also, learn more about author Jessi Kirby on her WEBSITE / BLOG / TWITTER / FACEBOOK.


Review: The Goddess Test By: Aimee Carter

Review: The Goddess Test By: Aimee Carter
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
 Genre: Action/Adventure, Romance, Mythology

The Story: (from Aimee Carter's website)
 
Every girl who has taken the test has failed.

Now it's Kate's turn.

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...

My Review: Let's face reality: 1. I love Greek Mythology. 2. I love to read just about any kind of novel (but especially if it involves romance). 3. Combine 1 & 2 into one book, and it will probably be a big hit with me.   And, yes, I confess, that is a major factor in my review of The Goddess Test.

Kate has not had what you would call an easy life.  Her mother, who is her whole world, is dying of cancer.  Kate takes her back to her childhood home, a place where Kate has to deal with being the "new kid," suddenly the center of attention, when she just wants to be as close to invisible as possible.  Not to mention she is plagued by terrifying nightmares, and her fear of water haunts her constantly.

When the most popular girl in school invites Kate to a party that turns out to be a horrible practical joke, Kate meets Henry.  Henry offers Kate an unusual deal, and Kate accepts without knowing the full consequences of the bargain.  She soon finds herself in over her head, and convinced she is losing her mind, but she realizes quickly enough that there is no turning back now...

Carter weaves together the myth of Hades and Persephone and a modern-day love story.  I was pleasantly surprised with this book.  I say surprised because I would have been upset if Carter had attempted to "change" the myth.  Instead she brings the myth forward into the present and adds to it rather than alter it.  And she does so in a spectacular way.  The Goddess Test was amazing to read, and I am excited that this is to be a trilogy!

My Rating:



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Top Ten Ways to Recover From Being Dumped by Emily Wing Smith

Today we have author Emily Wing Smith with us. She's providing some rather helpful advice on how to best recover from being dumped. Her book, Back When You Were Easier to Love, comes out tomorrow, April 28th from Dutton Juvenile. You can buy it HERE.

Top Ten Ways to Recover From Being Dumped:

10. The standby—eat ice cream. My recommendation: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

9. Wait at least 48 hours before changing your hair in ANY way.

8. Burn stuff. Even if you’re not a pyro, it’s cathartic.

7. Leave the country. Or at least the county. Road trip!

6. Take up a handcraft. Knitting, crochet, needlepoint. Feel productive.

5. Do the Mentos-and-Diet-Coke experiment. Feel powerful.

4. Rock some Taylor Swift. Somewhere in her break-up repertoire there’s a song that defines yours perfectly. Maybe they all do.

3. Clean your closet. Febreeze anything that smells like him.

2. Visit all the places you used to go with him—but this time, go with your friends. Make a new memory at each stop.

1. Read Back When You Were Easier to Love.

Learn more about Emily by checking out her website HERE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Editorial Process of COMPULSION by Heidi Ayarbe & Giveaway

This post has got to be the coolest post EVER for Books Complete Me. Today, we have a guest post from Ruta Rimas, Assistant Editor at Balzar + Bray, outlining the editorial process for Heidi Ayarbe's newest book, Compulsion. If you have any interest whatsoever in what it takes to be an author and how the editing side of things happen, this post is going to be simply amazing for you. Needless to say, I am ECSTATIC we have the honor of posting it. Without further adieu, enjoy! 

P.S. There is an amazing giveaway down below. Be sure to check it out.

P.S.S. Click on the pictures below to get a closer look. It's awesome! 

  
The editorial process of COMPULSION by Heidi Ayarbe

by Ruta Rimas, Asst. Editor, Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books

It all began one fateful Monday morning…

August 24, 2009
Heidi’s agent sent in the project, then titled THE DOUBTING. I read the submission, which at that stage was a partial manuscript, and fell in love. I knew, just knew, that I needed to buy it, so  I shared the pages with the Balzer + Bray team, and we all agreed—this was a special story by a tremendously talented writer. We wanted Heidi to find a home on the B+B list!

So on…
September 23, 2009
I presented the project to our acquisitions team and they felt the same way—Heidi is a talent and her manuscript is superb. Later that afternoon, I called Heidi’s agent and made a two-book offer. By 7 p.m. the deal was done.

Then came the hard part: For me, it was waiting for the first draft. The hard part for Heidi was finishing a novel.

February 5, 2010
I looked in my inbox and there it was.
Draft #1: THE DOUBTING
I read the draft. And reread. And reread it again. I loved it—Heidi absolutely blew me away with the depth of Jake’s character and how his narrative made me feel like I was so in his head. When I first brought the project in for discussion, I thought it was something really special…and this draft confirmed that it truly was.

I hobbled together my notes, and…

March 18, 2010
My six-page edit letter makes its way to Heidi. It wasn’t too long of a letter (right, Heidi? Right?). But over the course of the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about the book! On the 22nd, I sent Heidi some more notes. This time, only two pages.

This first round of notes focused on the larger aspects of the story: the overall flow of the narrative, character development, relationships. Big picture things.  For example, I asked Heidi about the friendship between Jake and Mera:

Mera
I’d love to see more interaction between Jake and Mera. They haven’t been friends for so long, so why now is Jake talking to her? Maybe they are paired together on a project at school? Or, because they are neighbors, Mera’s parents ask Jake to take care of something for them?  And this forces them to interact, which leads to the very important question that Mera asks: “Are you okay?”

After I sent the letter, Heidi responded to my notes. And then I responded to her notes with handwritten ones, so that before she embarked on the revision, we ended up with a comprehensive thirteen-page document for Heidi to reference.

Here is Heidi’s response to the excerpt above, with my notes, too.



 May 1, 2010
Draft #2, and now with final title, COMPULSION

If you can believe it, as much as I loved the first draft…I loved the second one even more! In Heidi’s revision, she tightened up and deepened the relationships and reworked some of the plot (which included removing a character named JJ Rosa and one particularly gruesome burial scene). We were able to focus on smaller but important details—mom’s OCD, playing with chapter names/numbers/structure, specific scene adjustments, etc.

For example, I wrote this in my second letter to Heidi:

Mom’s OCD
I am thrilled with the way you’ve developed the relationships within Jake’s family. A stand-out job.

Regarding the mother’s OCD, I think subtly here is key, and so I suggest cutting the part on p.20. I don’t want the mother’s affliction to be overbearing or too extreme and I think that the morgue reference is a bit much. It’s the little things that she does that add up to the loads of frustration that Jake and Kasey feel.

Heidi and corresponded over email with more ideas, suggestions, questions, so there wasn’t a massive document for her reference during the revision, just bits and pieces, here and there.

June 3, 2010
Draft #3
We’re in a good place! This draft is now about the micro. That means line edits! In interest of saving time, I sent thorough electronic line edits using track changes to Heidi. We were almost there!

Here is an example of the first page of line edits:



 If you’ve read COMPULSION or seen the first page, and the opening is slightly different than what I originally suggested to Heidi in my first comment.

This was Heidi’s response to my first comment:


 Heidi and I brainstormed together and agreed—Jake would NEVER open with chapter one. It’s a number that doesn’t make sense to him because it is not a prime number. But opening with chapter two seemed off somehow, so we thought—why not throw the reader right in, get us in Jake’s head by eliminating chapter one, but opening the book with “Wednesday, 6:13 p.m.” on its own page. Then chapter two begins.

June 14, 2010
Three drafts (well, actually four, if you count the initial proposal), I submitted the final manuscript to copyediting.

And then COPYEDITS…but that’s a whole other blog post for another time.

May 3, 2011
COMPULSION is on sale!

Even though my role is integral in this entire process, it’s fascinating to me to look back and examine the evolution from submission to final book.

I’ll leave you with a peek at the opening lines of COMPULSION in each draft:

Submission:
I open my left eye, count to three, and watch as the blurry numbers take form. Then I open my right eye.

Five-oh-eight. Five plus eight equals thirteen. OK. Five minus eight equals three. OK. Three plus three equals six plus eight equals fourteen plus three equals seventeen. OK. Seventeen plus eight equals twenty-five minus five equals twenty plus eight equals twenty-eight. Fuck. Minus five equals twenty-three. OK.

Draft #1:
My ass hurts.
Nineteen people squirm on wooden benches. Seven people (two men and five women) fan themselves with JJ Rosa’s salmon-colored memorial service program; three (all men) talk in hushed voices; two women lean together, one wrapping her left arm around the right shoulder of the other; three people (two men and one woman) have their heads down, maybe praying, maybe sleeping.

Draft #2:
Tanya Reese’s Tinkerbell tattoo glitters on her pale shoulder with sparkling fairy dust. She shivers. It’s November and she’s wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt. Mom would say, “Not weather appropriate.” I don’t offer her my jacket because I can’t help but wonder how far the fairy dust goes and am thanking the Gods of fashion for this latest look.

Draft #3:
Tanya Reese’s Tinkerbell tattoo glitters on her pale shoulder with sparkling fairy dust. She shivers. It’s November and she’s wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt. Mom would say, “Not weather appropriate.” I don’t offer her my jacket because I’m not a fucking boy scout and would rather stare at the goose-bumped flesh and follow the trail of golden dust, imagining where it might lead me.

Final:
Tanya Reese’s Tinkerbell tattoo flits on her pale shoulder, blowing on a dandelion, its fluff spiraling down her back. Tanya shivers. It’s November and she’s wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt. Mom would say, “Not weather appropriate.” I don’t offer her my jacket because I’m not a fucking boy scout and would rather stare at the goose-bumped flesh and imagine where the trail of wispy dandelion seeds might lead me. Blow hard and make a wish.

I can’t believe the change from submission to draft #1 to the final. What a difference!

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. Being Heidi’s editor is a terrific honor--I am so humbled by her brilliance—and I am thrilled to have had this opportunity to share the journey that Heidi and I took as we worked on COMPULSION.

For the next week, Heidi and I are excited to answer any questions you may have about the editorial process. Please ask in the comments, and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

Ruta Rimas is an editor for Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. You can follow her on twitter, @RutaRascal.

Heidi Ayarbe grew up in Nevada and has lived all over the world. She now makes her home in Colombia with her husband and daughter. She is also the author Freeze Frame and Compromised. You can visit her online at www.heidiayarbe.com. Follow her on twitter, @HeidiAyarbe.

Giveaway:
  • There will be TWO winners: 
    • 1 person will win a signed copy of Compulsion - U.S. & Canada mailing addresses only.
    • 1 person will win a THREE page critique of their book/work in progress by Ruta Rimas - Open Internationally. 
  • Giveaways end Monday, May 2, 2011 at midnight EST.
  • Fill out THIS form to enter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Odessa (The Seraphym Wars) by Rebecca Russell


Odessa (The Seraphym Wars) by Rebecca Russell
Publication Date:
March 2011
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Genre: YA

The Story: Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.

Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest—a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

My Review: Wow, I just love being transported to another world. How would you feel, suddenly waking up and realizing your family has disappeared and the only way to get them back is by fighting in a world you never knew existed? If that's happened to you, then you can relate to Myrna! She shows so much determination to get back home, as well as to help the Seraphym win.




Hereafter ARC Winner!



Congratulations to:

Dani N.

for winning the ARC of Hereafter by Tara Hudson! 

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Happy Reading!

Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Estevan - Character Tweets & Giveaway



If your characters had twitter, what would their convos look like?


Because Andrea is not from Earth and she, probably, would not feel comfortable tweetting, I chose John, the American boy she gets a crush on when she is in California, to tweet his experiences in Xaren-Ra (Andrea's world). 


John's Tweets:

Arrived in Xaren-Ra tonight. Coolest place ever. Andrea's parents live in a castle. No kidding.

Met "King" and "Queen" this morning. Very friendly. Dress and act the part. Never out of character. Kind of spooky. Don't seem crazy though.

Andrea acts as if she hates it here. I love it though. Especially the guys practicing sword fighting in the courtyard. Have to try that.

Rode all day. Had not ridden since summer camp ten years ago. Kind of rusty. Now back in my room to change. Dinner is formal, Andrea says.

Rosa

Rosa

I must be in love. The only thing I can think of is Rosa.

Practice sword fighting today. Rosa didn't come to watch. Let's say I'm happy she didn't.

I think Rosa likes me. Can't ask her out though. Need to learn more Spanish.

Being here for a week. Mornings I ride with Andrea. Practice sword fighting in the afternoons. Quite different from my fencing in Davis.

Don Gonzalo says I'm improving with the sword.

Rosa let me hold her hand before retiring tonight. I am in love. Definitely.

Andrea and Rosa fought this morning. Andrea left. I stayed with Rosa in the garden.

No more ridding for me. I spend every morning with Rosa. The chaperon walks behind. Annoying beyond words.

Xaren-Ra is not an amusement park. So there, I've finally said it. Doesn't make it feel more real.

Xaren-Ra is another world. I am in another world. I should be freaking out. Strangely I am not. Not as long as Rosa is here.

Winter break ends today. I told Andrea I want to stay and ask Rosa to be my girlfriend. She told me to ask their father.

Talked to the King today. Too late. Rosa is engaged to Don Julian, the king of Suavia. I hate this world.

Being in my room all evening, sulking. How is it that nobody told me? Or did they and I wasn't listening?

Don Andres called me to the throne room. Great news. He has agreed to break Rosa's engagement to Don Julian. If I marry her. I said YES.

Don Andres believes I am staying in Xaren-Ra forever. Did I agree to this? I wish I had paid more attention in my Spanish classes.

Now that we are engaged, I see Rosa less than before. Makes no sense.

News from Suavia came today. Don Julian had declared war on us. Don Andres didn't hide his glee. I am to fight by his side.

Practice. Practice. Practice. With a real sword now. Not the blunt ones I used before. Don Gonzalo pushes me to my limit.

Haven't seen Andrea for days. Rosa says she is in her room.

Have been here for four weeks. I know because the moon is full again. Practice is grueling.

Saw Andrea today. She blamed me for the war and asked me to return to Earth with her. I said no. I cannot leave Rosa.

Raymond came from California. He asked me not to go to war with Don Andres and give up Rosa. Again I said no.

Andrea is gone. Nobody knows where to. Rosa gave me a memento to carry to battle. We leave in three days.


LOL Thanks John!! And Thanks Carmen Ferreiro-Estevan! So, for the giveaway, it is for a copy of Two Moon Princess! All you have to do is post a comment. Please leave your email, for example: bookscompleteme(at)gmail(dot)com.

It's USA only.
Winner will have 48hrs to respond to email with their address before another winner will be drawn.

Contest will end May 1, 2011 at Midnight EST.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

IMM - Take 40

All of us here at Books Complete Me are so excited to be a part of the awesome list of blogs who participate in the "In My Mailbox" meme. In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren so make sure you check out her book blog for a list of many of the blogs participating. She also has some helpful information on how to participate on your own blog. Click HERE to find out more.

This is a weekly meme where we will post any books (and other things) that we have received in the mail, bought, loaned from the library, etc. It's not limited to just books. It can be anything we have just gotten and are excited about.

For our IMM this week:

Nicole purchased:


City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Mindy received for review: 


What Comes After by Steve Watkins

I received for review:






The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Fury by Elizabeth Miles
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Possession by Elana Johnson
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Flawless by Lara Chapman

HUGE thanks go to Bloomsbury and Simon & Schuster for my review books this week!!

We'd love to hear your thoughts and what you received in your mailbox this week. Please leave us a comment. :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winners




Congratulations to:
Patty Kalogeroudis
She won a copy of Odessa!

and congratulations to:
Sonya (silver thistle)
She won her choice of the prize packs!!

Review: Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH
Genre: YA

The Story: As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket.

Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.


But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know.

My Review: Charlotte is an average girl in a not-so-average family. Her father is a famous writer, her mother a professor and her little brother is a genius. When she moves with her family to a new town, Charlotte doesn't get accepted into the private school that her brother gets into and is forced to attend public school. She doesn't fit in and feels out of place no matter what she does.

When she meets Amanda everything changes. Amanda is not only popular but has a thing for getting into trouble and making fun for herself wherever she goes. And she also has the hottest best friend in the entire school, Neal. Becoming friends with Amanda means Charlotte automatically gets access to him. Neal is not only hot but also a talented debater. Charlotte falls for him quickly and things heat up between them just as fast. 

Although Charlotte's academics are not looking very good, her popularity is soaring with the new friendships she's made. Unfortunately, the good times don't last forever and all the partying starts to take it's toll on her. Amanda may turn out to not be quite as good a friend as Charlotte had believed and Neal is determined to keep their intimacy a secret. 

Girl Wonder is a fun, fast read with lots of issues for poor Charlotte to work through. Her family dynamic, her friends, her school system, essentially everything in her life is handing her a raw deal but I loved Charlotte's resolve in the end. I really enjoyed this book and the crazy twists and turns it takes. There are mentions of sex, drugs, wild parties and other things some parents might not approve of, but let's face it--these things are surrounding teens today. I thought Girl Wonder gave an accurate portrayal of the temptations a teenager faces today. Overall, this was a really good book. 

My Rating




This review was written as part of the Girl Wonder blog tour with The Teen {Book} Scene. Click the graphic below to follow along with the rest of the tour.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Die for Me by Amy Plum
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Paranormal

The Story: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. 

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. 

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. 

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind. 

While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

My Review: When we first meet Kate, she's nearly despondent. In recent months she'd lost both her parents to an accident. She and her sister, Georgia, moved to Paris with their grandparents and since then, Kate hasn't done much more than read inside her new bedroom. She's become quite good at building up a wall to keep the loss from enveloping her completely. 

Her sister is finally able to convince Kate to get some fresh air and it's not long after she does that she meets Vincent. Although she feels an almost instant connection with him, their relationship isn't at all predictable. When Vincent takes her on a date, Kate witnesses something so horrific that she's tempted to never see Vincent again. Of course, she doesn't know who--or what--Vincent truly is, which adds an incredible amount of suspense to the storyline. 

I liked that Kate isn't the average YA heroine. Despite her broken heart from losing her parents, she's still a strong character. She doesn't automatically accept Vincent for who he is just because he's attractive. And even though she's falling for him fast, she refuses to rush into a relationship with him. I also loved the secondary characters of the book. Kate's sister and grandparents have a strong presence and added a strong sense of family to the story. 

Die for Me is a great new twist on a lesser known paranormal creature. It's exceptionally well written and romantic debut. I was immediately drawn into the story and enjoyed it from beginning to end. I read this book quickly and am very excited to see what happens next in the series. The atmosphere in Die for Me is vivid and breathtakingly beautiful. I loved the artistic elements that were added to the story and feel like they set the tone for what it is like to live in Paris. 

Die for Me is a riveting, sexy and just terrific. I definitely recommend it!

My Rating:


If you'd like to learn more about Amy and her books, check out here blog HERE and you can pre-order Die for Me HERE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA

The Story: (from Simon & Schuster) Lance has always known he was gay, but he's never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection--but will it be enough to overcome their differences?

Allie's been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years--but when she meets Kimiko, she can't get her out of her mind. Does this mean she's gay? Does it mean she's bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out. 

My Review: The beginning of Boyfriends with Girlfriends starts with Lance, Allie, Sergio and Kimiko all meeting for the first time. Lance and Sergio had talked online and were interested in seeing if there could be more between them. Your learn very early on that Sergio is bisexual and that Lance doesn't believe bisexuality is real. 

Then there is Allie, Lance's best friend, who is struggling with her own sense of identity. She's been in a relationship with a guy for two years and although she cares for him, she no longer wants to be with him. As her friendship with Kimiko strengthens we learn that Allie may be attracted to girls as well. Since Kimiko is a lesbian, this would suit her just fine, but only time will tell just how close their relationship will become.

As I expected, there are some sexual scenes, but nothing too over the top. Since both Sergio and Lance are recovering from heartbreak, their relationship is particularly difficult to read at times. They each had to really look inside themselves to see what they wanted from one another, and that wasn't always the same thing. 

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone gay, straight or bisexual. It was an easy read and I really liked how the characters continued to challenge themselves throughout the story. 

My Rating



This review was written as part of the Boyfriends with Girlfriends blog tour with The Teen {Book} Scene. Click the graphic below to follow along with the rest of the tour. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Guest Post with Amy Plum, Author of Die for Me & Giveaway


Yesterday we posted an interview with Tara Hudson, author of Hereafter (check that out HERE if you haven't already) and today we are continuing the Dark Days fun with another amazing author, Amy Plum. 

Amy's guest post is truly awesome! She tells us how art and writing came together in her life and it's just a great story. Plus, look for the bold words for links to see for yourself what has inspired Amy. So neat! We hope you enjoy it! 

Oh, and there's another giveaway down below. :-) 

Books and art have always been my life’s two great passions. I started reading when I was four and have never stopped. During painful periods of my childhood I hid inside books, immersing myself in their worlds to block out the real world.

And I have always loved art. But there was one earth-shattering moment where I knew I would have a particularly close relationship with it. I was probably eighteen, and was visiting the Birmingham Museum of Art. I remember two paintings specifically—an Albert Bierstadt monumental painting of Yosemite and a John Singer Sargent life-sized portrait of a woman in a black ball gown. I stood in front of them and felt my roots being ripped up from where they were and replanted firmly in the rich soil of the arts. At that moment I knew that art—and a quest for beauty—would be the basis of my life, and it has been ever since.

Those were my beginnings in books and art. But your question about writing made me go dig through some old boxes to see just when I started. I found one of my poems printed in the school paper in 1st grade. (About a turkey that didn’t want to be eaten on Thanksgiving.) A poetry prize in 3rd grade. My high school English teachers were very supportive of my writing. And in university I did a couple of movie reviews for the school’s arts magazine, but I took their rejection of my poems very hard and stopped writing for anyone but myself at that point.

I worked in a couple of art galleries after university. And then—once in Paris—I began haunting museums non-stop. I found an essay that I wrote on how Japanese art influenced French Impressionism for a contest given by the Japanese Embassy in Paris. That’s the first example I have of art and writing coming together in my life.

Finally—at age 28—I decided to leave a good job in Paris to go back to school. I agonized for a whole year over whether I would study writing or art history, and finally decided that I would do art first. If I didn’t like whatever career came from that I would return to study writing.

However, I was applying for graduate school in art history with no previous art historical training. (My B.A. was in psychology.) So to pad my application, I walked down the street from my apartment to my favorite museum, The Cluny (the National Museum of the Middle Ages) and sat down in front of a 16th-century German wood carving of the head of John the Baptist on a plate. I went to a library and did some research on it. And then I just kind of winged it, leaning heavily on my descriptive skills since I had nothing else to offer.

My writing opened doors for interviews in universities that I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting into. All of my interviewers said how impressed they were with the paper. And when I got my acceptances, I knew that could be the only reason I was offered a spot in every place I applied. Even Oxford University. In the end, I chose the Courtauld Institute, and I spent two years in London studying in their hallowed halls acting all serious and studious, but feeling like I was in hog heaven.

I focused on medieval Italian painting. And for my thesis, I was given a set of six paintings of saints that had been found in a little English country church. The National Gallery had identified them as medieval Italian. My task was to figure out where they were from, who had painted them, which saints were depicted, and what enormous altarpiece they had been a part of before it was sawn apart and the pieces sold separately. I spent months researching libraries and museums both in England and Italy. And then I wrote up a thesis giving my opinion. It was one of the most exciting endeavors I’ve ever worked on, and it involved the two things I love most: art and writing.

After my M.A. I got a job offer from Sotheby’s New York. My duties there were mostly administrative, and although I used all of my breaks to see the art on exhibition, I missed writing. I offered to write articles in my spare time for Sotheby’s website, and they published several, including one on Degas’s Dancers. After that, I organized a poetry reading for an Allen Ginsberg auction, and hosted the star-studded event, which included Paul Simon, Winona Ryder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Ashbery, and John Heard, amongst others. Lou Reed showed up to read and asked me, “Can my girlfriend read too?” (His girlfriend being Laurie Anderson, who I worshipped, so I had to pick my jaw up from the floor to say yes.) Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson hung out backstage and everyone was having so much fun that I had to finally kick them out so we could close the building down. Now THAT was one of the most thrilling combinations of the art and literary worlds for me.

After leaving Sotheby’s I did consultant work in the art and antiques world, managed an antiques business, and then began buying and selling paintings myself. When my husband and I moved back to France my plan was to buy paintings there and sell them in the States. However, just as I got started the dollar dropped precipitously and I had to close my business. That is how I found myself unemployed in the middle of the French countryside. And that is when I began to write in earnest.

Isn't this great? We think it's so cool how these two passions came together for Amy. Plus, her book, Die for Me, is soooo good.
Die for Me is released on May 10th--How would you like to win an ARC of Die for Me? Read below!

Giveaway Rules:
  • U.S. Mailing Addresses Only. (Sorry!) 
  • You are not required to follow BCM but if you are a blog follower you will receive +1 entry as a thank you.
  • Plus +2 entries for liking Die For Me's Facebook Page. CLICK HERE to like.
  • Giveaway ends at midnight on Monday, April 25, 2011. 
  • This is not required but we'd love it if you could help spread the word via twitter, facebook or your blog. 
  • Fill out the form below to enter. Good luck!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview with Tara Hudson, Author of Hereafter & Giveaway



Tara Hudson's debut, Hereafter, is a haunting and beautiful debut that you won't want to miss. We are thrilled to have her here with us today and hope that you enjoy the interview. 

BCM: You mention you got into a lot of trouble for reading books that you weren't supposed to be reading at school. Can you name a few for us?
  
TH: The biggest culprits were The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and anything by Roald Dahl.  And…um…most of Christopher Pike’s books, which were WAY too mature for my reading level at the time!
BCM: How does writing legal memos compare with writing fiction? (I was a paralegal before deciding to stay at home with my two sons, so I think I know how this answer will play out. It couldn't be more different, right?)
TH: You’re right – legal writing is so different from fiction writing!  So much sparser and more economical (or at least, it should be).  I’d argue that it’s much colder, too, although some of my attorney-friends might disagree.  However, I find that my legal background does help me choose my words more carefully in my fiction.
BCM: What are three books that you've read recently and absolutely loved?
TH: Die For Me, by Amy Plum (a fellow Harper Dark Days-er); Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; and Karen Russell’s book of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (which was a reread, technically)
BCM: What scene surprised you most when writing Hereafter?
TH: Amelia’s death scene.  That was a really hard one to write, and I ended up revising it more than a few times.  Every version took an emotional toll on me, but I’m really pleased with the results.
BCM: We know that the second book in the Hereafter trilogy is to be named Arise (I LOVE THIS!). When can we expect the second and third novels be released?
TH: I don’t have any official release dates yet, but I think ARISE will probably come out in Summer 2012, and the third book in the Hereafter Trilogy will be released Summer 2013.  Dark books for sunshiny days!
BCM: If you were a cookie, what kind would you be and why?
TH: A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup one!  A little salty, a little sweet, and, too often, decadent.
BCM: Thank you so much for the interview, Tara!
TH: You’re welcome, Cindy. :) 

We think Tara is made of awesome and, well, Hereafter is too - So we are giving you an opportunity to win it before you can buy it.
Giveaway Rules:
  • U.S. Mailing Addresses Only. (Sorry!) 
  • You are not required to follow BCM but if you are a blog follower you will receive +1 entry as a thank you.
  • Plus +2 entries for following Tara Hudson's blog. CLICK HERE to follow.
  • Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, April 24, 2011. 
  • This is not required but we'd love it if you could help spread the word via twitter, facebook or your blog. 
  • Fill out the form below to enter. Good luck!

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