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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Welcome to the 74th annual Hunger Games. “And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

The dreaded Hunger Games. North America as we know it is no more. In its place is Panem, and its twelve districts ruled by Capitol.

But it wasn’t always that way. There used to be 13 districts, but the thirteenth district made the fatal decision to rebel against the Capitol. Thus it was destroyed, and to punish the rest of the districts, Capitol created the Hunger Games. Each district must send two tributes between the ages of 12 to 18 to the Capitol every year for the games. The twenty-four tributes are paraded around and interviewed on TV before they are set loose in the arena. Inside the arena the possibilities are limitless. The goal? To be the last one standing. To the victor goes a life of ease, wealth, and glory. To all the losers—death. There will be various geographical and environmental challenges facing the tributes, but the greatest challenge is the other tributes. The entire ordeal is broadcasted for all of Panem to see—to see their own children kill each other for sport.

Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, possibly the poorest of the twelve districts. She lives in the Seam, a poor mining community but helps her family pull through by hunting illegally with her friend Gale. Trading their game, they manage to survive and get the food and necessities they need. Katniss was pushed to take extreme measures to ensure survival after her father died, leaving her mother completely stricken. But with her young sister Prim to feed and look after, Katniss knew she had to do something so her family wouldn’t starve. Becoming proficient with a bow and arrows, Katniss became a hunter and gatherer in the woods beyond the fence, where she met Gale. But her skills do not stop her from being entered every year to be a possible tribute for the games.

The seventy fourth Hunger Games draw near, and Prim will be entered for the first time. Katniss already knows the drill, and has her name in the drawing far more times than Prim, since she had to put extra slips in so her family could get food and oil. But luck is against Katniss and despite having only one slip in the drawing, the girl tribute selected from the large glass bowl is Prim. Desperate the save her sister and spare her the horror that goes on in the arena every year, Katniss steps up to take her sister’s place.

Fate is not kind to Katniss that day; the boy tribute is Peeta, the baker’s son—someone Katniss actually knows. But there are no volunteers to replace Peeta, so the two are shipped off to the Capitol where they’ll be prepared for the games. With volunteer tributes from several districts that are trained for the Hunger Games, Katniss knows the chances of winning are pretty slim. But Katniss knows she has to try, because Prim and her mother are still waiting for her at home.

Despite all the hunting Katniss has done, and all the preparation she is given before she enters the arena, Katniss is not ready to face the horror, barbarism, and cruelty in the arena. But there is something else waiting for Katniss in the arena—something Katniss is in no way ready for.

The Hunger Games was an amazing book! All the reviews that I read were true—I could hardly put this book down! The Hunger Games is direct, no-nonsense, and a truly enthralling book. It captures your attention and never lets you go! It was an absolutely fantastic book and I can hardly wait for more! I highly recommend this book to all readers; you won’t be disappointed! It’s well worth a read and The Hunger Games will leave you wanting more!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash

At the conclusion of the previous book in Jennifer Banash’s The Elite series, new girl Casey was left in a bit of a jam. Frenemy and queen bee Madison Macallister was brutal to Casey at a party, but luckily, Casey’s crush, Drew, came to the rescue. The good news? Casey and Drew have been going strong ever since. The bad news? Drew is still Madison’s ex…and Madison wants him back. How long will Drew and Casey last?

Madison Macallister has been a bit of a wreck on the inside ever since Drew started dating Casey, or the hopeless “frizzy Midwestern freak,” as Madison sees her. But despite all the comfort shopping she is doing, (which, by the way, cost quite a pretty penny) Madison cannot get over the fact that Drew Van Allen would dump her—the hottest girl in the school—for fashion-disaster Casey! Nevertheless, Madison has been carefully keeping up her composure, not letting anyone know just how much the whole business is effecting her, not even her two best friends—after all, the queen bee of Manhattan’s Upper East Side has a reputation to maintain! But cool composure or no, Madison is out for revenge…

And what better revenge is there than success? Madison seems to have hit the jackpot; she is spotted by a totally hot modeling agent and offered a possible modeling contract! Soon Madison’ll be the star on every billboard and will be featured in countless ads! She’ll hit the hottest runways for the best designers and be the new ‘it’ girl. But should anyone really expect any less of Madison, the girl that has it all—well, almost has it all? But no matter, Drew will come groveling back to her soon enough when she becomes the hottest model around! Vengeance will be hers, and her standing as the social queen will be completely solidified!

But Mad isn’t the only one with issues. Her two best friends, Sophie and Phoebe, have their own drama to deal with. What Sophie has always believed in might not be true, and Phoebe has issues of her own concerning her love life.

The world and family Sophie has always believed in is about to be shattered. Nothing is like what it seems, but some secrets should never be revealed... And poor Phoebe is torn between what she wants and what’s right. But who says she has to please everyone?

You should never take anything for granted, but unfortunately, some people just have to learn it the hard way! But one thing’s for certain; there’s plenty of trouble brewing for all of these Upper East Side teens!

As you know, life in the posh and drama-filled Upper East Side is never easy! Hold onto your Hermes scarves and Coach handbags, the Bram Clan is back for more action and drama!

Fans of Jennifer Banash’s The Elite will love this second book in her series! Once again, Ms. Banash captures emotions wonderfully, and lets her excellent characters develop even more, showing their true colors and giving us readers a further look into their minds and privileged lives! Ms. Banash has already got me looking forward to book 3: Simply Irresistible!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

New Year's Resolutions!

I was tagged by Vanessa of What Vanessa Reads to share at least 3 of my New Year's Resolutions!

1) To not procrastinate as much! I’ve gotten better, but every now and then I still procrastinate and feel like slapping myself later for doing so!
2) Get into better shape. (Despite doing several varsity sports, I’m can be lazy sometimes and need more discipline with my workout schedule!)
3) Enjoy life. Sometimes I forget to stop and enjoy the small things in life. :(

I'm tagging...
1) Bibliophile Support Group
2) The Page Flipper
3) The Book Muncher
4) Linda Gerber

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Owly by Andy Runton

Andy Runton presents two heartwarming stories in Owly: The Way Home and The Bittersweet Summer. Big hearted and well meaning Owly helps all little critters in need. Even though some run off fearing him to be a large predator, this sweet owl continues to help everyone in need. He eventually makes some good friends and saves a little worm during a rainstorm. The two become close friends as Owly nurses him back to heath and sets out to help the little worm get home. (“The Way Home”)

In his other adventure, “The Bittersweet Summer,” Owly meets a pair of hummingbirds and learns that although he loves his new friends, they cannot stay in such a cold place through the winter. They leave Owly for a few months, but perhaps they will return when the weather is warmer!

I loved this first book on Runton’s Owly series! A definite recommendation for young readers and even older readers! This caring owl and all his adorable friends will appeal all readers! These sweet little illustrations tell adorable and wonderful stories and convey a good lesson on friendship even though Runton does not use words!

Don’t forget to check out Owly’s Tiny Tales as well!

An enjoyable collection of short stories in comic-form, featuring Owly, Wormy, and their friends!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Far From You release celebration and contest!

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -

Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -

Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO enteries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan

~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott

~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones

~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas

~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield

~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack

~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch

~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Faketastic countdown!

A fan of Alexa Young's novel Frenemies? Well, the next book in the series is hitting bookstores soon!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tid bits

Life has still been a bit hectic for me lately, but hopefully things'll settle down soon. Anyway! The holidays are almost upon us--anyone have snow yet?

But I managed to take some time to visit some blogs lately and just wanted to point out a few posts I read, books that sound great, and a neat contest or two:

  • A great review on PAPER TOWNS by John Green over at And Another Book Read
  • An interview with the lovely Melissa Walker over at Reviewer X's blog
  • The Book Muncher has reviewed Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' new book, PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY.
  • Congrats to the Story Siren's 1st Birthday!! She's also hosting a contest with lots of fantastic books to giveaway!
  • Just Blinded Book Reviews has posted a review for VIDALIA IN PARIS.

I just finished In Too Deep and am working on my review, so keep your eyes out for that! :)

Oh, and don't forget, I'm hosting a giveaway here on The Book Vault too! Check here for chance to win a copy of FRANCEY by Martin Dubow!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giveaway! Francey by Martin Dubow

Here's another chance to win Francey by Martin Dubow!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Francey, and all you have to do to enter is watch this video Mr. Dubow has created for Francey and leave a comment on youtube.
Check out the video here.

After you comment on youtube, just comment on this post with your:
- name
- email
- and the name you commented under on youtube

that's it!

And if you'd like an extra entry, post about this giveaway and comment AGAIN to this post with the link!

This giveaway is open to US residents only, sorry!
Please enter by January 14th, midnight EST!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I <3 your blog take 2!

I just got nominated again (x3!) for the I <3 Your Blog award! Thanks guys! This is really touching. :)

Thanks to the people who nominated me:
Ashley of Ashley's Bookshelf
Megan of Simply Books
Renee a.k.a. The Book Girl

& thanks to all you visitors!!

See my nominations here! Thanks again!! =D

Monday, December 1, 2008

Forever Changes by Brendan Halpin

Brianna Pelletier is, simply put, a math genius. She’s a brilliant AP Calculus student (whose thoughts often drift to interesting calculations) that could easily get into MIT. But that doesn’t matter—because Brianna has cystic fibrosis.

Or does it?

Brianna is accustomed to her daily routine; her father must pound the mucus out of her lungs bright and early in the morning. She knows her life will be short lived and that she can hardly live a normal life with her condition. But as a new school year starts and Brianna enters AP Calculus, her perspective just may change.

With a quirky teacher who has a colorful past and interesting new ways to look at various mathematical theories, Brianna might have to start looking at things a new way.
As fellow AP Calculus student, Adam, finds out with a bit of research, their math teacher, Mr. Eccles, was formerly part of the band Love. After Adam burns CDs of their music for Brianna to hear, Brianna finds comfort in the band’s lyrics. Calculus has also proved stimulating for Brianna in a different way; she beings to contemplate infinity, and the different possibilities numbers provide. Can she still make something of her life? Can she learn to live again?

Forever Changes is a fantastic and inspiring novel that I really recommend! All the characters are well developed and have their own, believable and loveable quirks. From Brianna’s loving father, to nerdy but well-meaning Adam, to Brianna’s crazy but fun loving friends and the interesting but inspiring Mr. Eccles, amazing characters surround Brianna as she goes on an incredible journey when the desire to live is reawakened in her.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Top 8 Winners!

Sorry for the delay!! Things got so hectic I didn't get a chance to post the winners! But here they are now (courtesy of a random # generator):





Just Blinded Book Reviews

Congrats! And many thanks to all who participated & to those who posted about it!
Thanks for all your responses--I loved reading them! :)

If the winners could just drop me a line at bookvault @ w/ their name and mailing address asap, that's be great!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winners To Be Announced Tomorrow

The Top 8 contest winners will be announced tomorrow! Sorry for the delay--I got a lot more entries than I expected, so I need to finish counting them all up!
Thanks to all for entering! :)

Oh, and I realized that I've been tagged for a playlist meme, unfortunately, when my computer crashed, it took my playlist down with it. And I don't have an ipod or mp3 player, so you'll have to forgive me for not participating! But if anyone would like to take part in this meme, consider yourself tagged :)
(Check here or here for details)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Hey guys!

I'm sooo sorry for the lack of updates. Life has been so much more hectic than I expected it to be and I've been bogged down with work and whatnot. Once December is half done, I think most things will be back to normal for me. But I'm hoping to get my review of Forever Changes up soon, as well as In Too Deep, Hottie, and a few other books I'm currently trying to finish up.
I should be getting my own new computer soon which will also make things so much easier!

But in the meantime, don't forget to enter my contest for 5 signed copies of Top 8 before Nov. 16th!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An interview with Coert Voorhees!

Recently, I got a chance to interview the awesome Coert Voorhees, author of The Brothers Torres! Check out my review of The Brothers Torres here! If you still haven't read The Brothers Torres yet, grab a copy some time! It's a fantastic and honest coming-of-age novel about Frankie Towers, younger brother to local soccer star, Steve, as he steps out of his brother's shadow!

1) Where did you get the inspiration for The Brothers Torres?
I wrote a short story a while back in which two kids play with fireworks in the back yard, and because it was a short story, I had to end it. Unfortunately, it ended poorly for the characters, and they were no longer friends at the end. A few years later, I picked the story up again and decided that I didn’t like the fact that the characters weren’t friends. So I imagined a world in which that ending never happened. What if they stayed best friends up through high school? What would their world be like? How would they have changed? And The Brothers Torres pretty much came from that starting point. There’s still a bit of that original short story in chapter two of the book, actually.

2) Were any characters based on any one you knew? Any part of the book on events that happened in your own life?
Most of the “true” things in the book are related to the setting, or to descriptions of people, of the food, etc. I went to soccer camp once with a kid who had only one eye, though. He used to take it out all the time, put it in people’s soup, wash it off in his mouth. That’s where Zach’s eye tricks came from.

3) Will there be a sequel to The Brothers Torres?
That’s a good question. I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a sequel, but tell it from Zach’s point of view. That way we could learn more about him at the same time that we pick up on the next part of Frankie’s story.

4) Do you have a favorite New Mexican dish? (Is it the same as Frankie’s, by any chance?)
Indeed, Frankie and I share a weakness for the stuffed sopaipilla. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at making them, although I don’t have a deep fryer with a temperature gauge, so my sopaipillas aren’t as light and fluffy as I’d like.

5) Favorite Shakespeare play?
I’m a big fan of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played Oberon in college—shaved my head, wore leather, had tattoos drawn all over me, and decorated my head and face with 22 different piercings—so I’m partial to that one.
6) Do you have a favorite place to write? Favorite place to read?
I generally alternate between my house, a bubble tea place, and a coffee shop. When I find myself getting too comfortable in any of those places, I know it’s time for a change.

7) Do you listen to music while writing?
I listen to music, but I can’t just listen to any music. Generally, I listen to house or electronica concerts/podcasts I’ve downloaded. They’re two hours long, have few words to distract me, and have a continuous beat that keeps me going.

8) Favorite YA books & authors?
I like Pete Hautman’s Godless a whole lot. I just read E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I enjoyed tremendously, and not just because the protagonist is named Frankie.

9) Favorite things/hobbies you like to do in your spare time?
I like to ski and scuba dive, but it’s been a while. I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos and the Universidad de Chile soccer team, but I’ll pretty much go to any live sporting event. I try to get on my bicycle for a long ride as often as possible.

10) Do you have a favorite word?
I like the word “Defenestrate,” both for how it sounds and for its meaning: to throw someone or something out of a window. In Spanish, I like the word “espectacular,” which tends to roll off the tongue.

11) Any advice for aspiring authors?
My only advice is this: if you write, you’re a writer. We tend to want validation from other people before we take ourselves seriously as writers, but if you’re serious about it, then it doesn’t matter what other people think. Put your butt in the seat, do your work, and have confidence in yourself.

12) Is there any specific question you would have liked to answer?
Nope. Thanks a lot!

A few This or That questions just for fun!

Cooking or eating out?
Cooking, mostly. At least I try.

Coffee or tea?
Decaf or Half-caf coffee.

Movies or TV?
Definitely used to me movies, but since my son arrived, it’s TV shows on DVD.

Hot dog or hamburger?
Burger, for sure, preferably from my wife’s restaurant, Becks Prime

Coke or Pepsi?

Vanilla or chocolate?
Vanilla ice cream. Chocolate pudding.

Cake or pie?
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Ice cream or sherbet?
Rainbow sherbet whenever possible. My wife makes fun, but I love it.

City or country?
City close to mountains. Otherwise, country.

Winter, Spring, Fall, or Summer?
Late spring.

My thanks to Coert for a great interview! Now I definitely have to try a stuffed sopaipilla!

Keep you eyes open for a Brothers Torres-related contest soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I <3 your blog!

Thanks to the lovely Ms. Rachael (aka The Book Muncher!) for her kind words again!!

The Rules:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Lenore of Presenting Lenore Lenore has great posts in general! Book reviews, blurbs, recommendations and other interesting tidbits! And don't we all just love the adorable pictures of Emmy?

Liv of Liv's Book Reviews I just love Liv's Bits 'n' Pieces interviews with authors!! That, along with some great reviews keeps me checking back at her blog often to see what's new!

Beth of Books and Love One of the first blogs I came across as I ventured into blogs featuring book reviews, and I've been checking her blog ever since! Beth is such a nice person with great reviews!

Carol of Bookluver-Carol Carol has great author interviews, reviews, and not to mention neat reviewer interviews!

Chelsea of The Page Flipper Chelsea writes some really detailed reviews that makes me really want to read those books! Not to mention that she's a fellow YABC demi-goddess and writes great reviews for YABC too!!

Kelsey of Reading Keeps you Sane Kelsey writes honest reviews that are to the point! And a very fitting title--reading definitely keeps me sane!! (Love the new layout, btw!)

Just Blinded Book Reviews First off, what a cool blog title!! Yet another site that I keep returning to for new, fantastic reviews!

Linda Gerber Ms. Gerber does plenty of interesting "ramblings" as she sometimes calls them, and has plenty of generous giveaways and some fantastic release parties!

Aella is a lovely person who has plenty of book reviews on great books!

And although she nominated me, I really do love Rachael's blog as well!!
of The Book Muncher Because she's just a wonderful person with a wonderful blog! Rachael posts so many great reviews and keeps adding more and more books to my TBR list!!

And an update on what I'm up to...
My computer crashed (yes, I know, again). My elderly IBM apparently decided it was through working for me and I now (or at least for the time being) must make my updates from other computer(s), which, needless to say, is not quite as convenient. I hope to get a new computer sometime soon (pity about my files, I hadn't expected my old computer to give out quite so soon) but school work and the like have been keeping me really busy as well. But I am reading! Or at least trying to, in between calc problems ;) And I am trying to keep up my reviews! Once December comes around, I think things will have settled down a bit, and hopefully I will find myself in front of a brand new, shiny, computer that isn't prone to crashing!
I have a few interviews and reviews on some great books to come!

Oh, and did I mention that I finally got a Facebook? :) If you have a moment, look for me there & friend me if you'd like!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Top 8 Contest!

Thanks to Scholastic, I have 5(!!) signed copies of Top 8 to give away to you all!!

Check out my review of Top 8 here & my interview with author Katie Finn here!

[EDIT] Sorry guys! I completely forgot to mention that this contest is only open to people in the US! So sorry!! Thanks to Ellie who brought this to my attention! [/EDIT]

A quick blurb for Top 8 (courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
Madison MacDonald is seriously freaking out
Madison MacDonald
Putnam, CT
Status: Single?
About Me:
Everything in my life was working out. I had my three best friends, a brand-new boyfriend, and the lead in the school play. Aside from that history paper I hadn't started, things felt perfect.
Then I returned from spring break to find my Friendverse profile hacked. Someone clearly out to ruin me had spilled the most damaging secrets - AND posted the worst photos of me ever taken - online.
Now my boyfriend and I are broken up, half the school hates me, and I'm in deep trouble.
Get my boyfriend back, figure out who could have done this, and clear my name!
Also, pass history.
Want to win a copy of this great book? Just comment on this post with your name, email address, and your favorite social networking site!

Want an extra entries?
1) Post about this giveaway on your blog, myspace, etc. somewhere people can see it, and send me/comment with the link! (1 extra entry)

2) Know the answers to these questions? Drop me a line at for 2 extra entries! (hint all answers can be found either in my interview w/ Katie Finn or my review of Top 8!)
- Where did author Katie Finn grow up?
- What color is main character Madison's computer?
- Where did Madison vacation with her family?

Please put "Top 8 Contest" in the subject line!!

Please get all you entries/extra entries in by November 16th (midnight, EST)!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Savvy Girl by Lynn Messina

Lily may be life-guarding on a beach with cute guys during the summer, but her best friend Chrissy Gibbons has really hit the summer jackpot—she gets to intern for the hippest, coolest magazine that so many people love: Savvy! Despite having to do some mundane things during her internship internship, there are some definite perks: parties, cute guys like Michael Davies, and meeting ex-supermodels like Jessica Cordero.

To top things off, Savvy is holding a contest for the interns to determine who the first teenage Savvy columnist will be! Chrissy knows she’s the perfect candidate for the job, but she doesn’t have to worry about that yet, right? I mean, she has all summer to write her entry column. In the meantime, Chrissy would rather be setting up “chance” meetings with Michael and hitting the hotspots with Jessica at night!

But when Chrissy bails out on Lily over and over again so she can attend parties of famous designers and other star-studded events with Jessica (and stagger into her home at unearthly hours, more than a little buzzed) Chrissy might be turning into someone completely different. She wasn’t the kind of person to ditch her best friend all the time, and definitely wasn’t the kind of girl to stumble in drunk past midnight without letting her parents know where she was. But all of those things Chrissy used to care about seem to be tossed aside without a second thought when she gets constant invites to attend classy parties with Jessica.

Surely Lily understands why Chrissy can’t turn down these fantastic parties, right? Doesn’t Lily have that cute guy Graham to hang out with, doesn’t she? And Chrissy can hardly turn down Michael when he wants to hang out with her!

But is all this glitz and glamour really that good for Chrissy? She’s come to work more often hung over than not, and she’s already caught Michael hitting on hot girls at the parties she brings him to, more than once. She’s become a rebellious party girl who’s lost her good sense and put herself above her friends and family. And with the summer quickly drawing to a close, Chrissy better shape up and think of what to write, or she may miss out on a great opportunity to become a Savvy columnist—and may even lose her best friend!

At first Chrissy didn’t act and sound mature enough to be a seventeen year old, but that quickly passed. Savvy Girl was a very realistic novel with, in my opinion, well crafted and believable characters. After becoming a Savvy intern and getting invited to a few bashes, Chrissy acted like most sixteen-year-old girls would after hitting a few high-class parties and meeting cutes guys for the first time. All the same, it was nice to see her grown up and learn more than how to file papers during her summer internship and adventure!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An interview with Katie Finn!

Check out my interview with Katie Finn, author of Top 8, which I just reviewed recently! A big fan of Facebook or other social networking sites? This might be the book for you!

Onto the interview:

1. What inspired you to write Top 8?
Well, at some point a while back I realized that I was completely addicted to my social networking sites. And I noticed that it was changing the way my friends and I were communicating. So I started thinking about how a story could be told using the framework of one of those sites – and then the story just came from there!

2. Did you base any events or characters from Top 8 on events that happened in your own life/people you actually know?
Not in any big ways -- I just used some small details. For example, I based the two towns in the novel, Stanwich and Putnam, on my hometown of Greenwich , Connecticut . And Madison shares my taste in books and theater. Also, I have a friend who is obsessed with all things French, so the character of Lisa was a little nod to her. The thing that was probably the most directly taken from real life was the Jimmy and Liz stuff. Two of my friends went through an ugly breakup and were constantly changing their MySpace names to insulting, revealing things, like Jimmy and Liz do in the novel. I remember at the time thinking, “I'll have to use this someday…” J

3. What's your favorite part about being an author?
I have LOVED getting feedback from readers! It’s just the best thing ever. I’ve gotten lots of comments, and it’s just so amazing to hear from people who’ve read your work.

4. Any least favorite parts of being an author?
I have to say, I really like most of it so far! But there are definitely days where the writing is a struggle and I sit in front of the computer for hours with no success. That's not any fun, and too many of those days in a row can start to feel discouraging. But it's all part of the process.

5. Any favorite YA books?
Sooo many! This is going to have to be a very abbreviated list; otherwise it would run on for pages. But I LOVE Sarah Dessen, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, and Shannon Hale. I also love the books Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe and King Dork by Frank Portman, and I just finished Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, and really liked it. I also love David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.

6. Who was your favorite character to write about in Top 8?
It came as a surprise to me, but I really enjoyed writing Kittson. I had really not been expecting that. I think her character definitely became more prominent because I had such fun writing her.

7. What kind of computer do you use when you write? (is it bright pink like Madison 's?)
I wish! You can actually get your computer painted pink, and I really thought about it a few years ago. I guess putting it in the novel was my way of trying that out. I write on a Mac PowerBook that’s currently on its last legs. I desperately need a new one. Maybe I’ll get that one painted pink… J

8. Are you working on any other YA novels at the moment?
I am! I’m about 1/3 of the way through my new novel. It’s a little darker than Top 8, and with a main character who isn't quite as confident as Madison – she’s a little more like Schuyler, come to think of it. I don’t really want to go into specifics yet, but I’m having a lot of fun with it right now.

9. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Read and write as much as you can. I think there’s no better way to learn. Also, plot is important. I have an unfinished, 500-page novel in a drawer, because I realized at some point that it was just my characters talking to each other and wasn’t actually going anywhere. Now, I like to know my beginning, middle and end before I start writing. But mostly, the best advice I can give is to just sit down and write! Writing is like anything else -- you only get better with practice.

Brief BIO:
Katie Finn grew up in Manhattan and Greenwich , Connecticut . She now lives in Brooklyn and only checks her MySpace and Facebook three—okay eight—times a day. Friend-request her at or write on her Facebook wall!

Thanks to Ms. Finn for taking the time out to do this interview! I hope you get the a new computer of whichever color you'd like! :)

& Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of Top 8!

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Too Deep trailer!!!

Check out this fab trailer for In Too Deep!! Jennifer Banash's long awaited sequel to The Elite will be available in book stores in January! Don't forget to pre-order your copy!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Top 8 by Katie Finn

Madison MacDonald is just your average teenager; she attends her local high school, hangs out with her friends, has a (new!) cute boyfriend, and is part of the popular Friendverse network that just about every teenager has a profile on. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary until the day she gets back from vacationing in the Galapagos with her family only to find that her Friendverse profile has been hacked and utterly changed.

Unfortunately for Madison, the damage goes beyond the new bad songs posted under her ‘favorites’—her hacker has been writing nasty comments to and about her friends! Some awful secrets have been revealed about pretty much everyone Madison knows and more than a few unflattering pictures of Madison and others have surfaced as well! With only a handful of friends left on her Friendverse profile (and goodness knows how many in real life!), her boyfriend convinced that she broke up with him, people left and right hating her, and the class couple broken up, things do not look good for Madison.

The good news is that her three closest friends believe that she was hacked and did not write all those revealing comments herself, but the bad news is that not many others believe her, and her boyfriend, Justin, is now dating someone else! Many people are hurt by what Madison’s hacker posted about them—harsh comments that Madison knows that she may not have said to their faces, but did say behind their backs to others, or at least had thought to herself. Madison wants to know who did this (and her boyfriend back)! The hunt for Madison’s hacker is on!

Despite making a list and doing a bit of investigation, Madison doesn’t get very far. However, she does met this cute guy who she had actually previous met during her vacation in the Galapagos. But she mustn’t think about him, after all, she’s still trying to get Justin back! When most of her leads don’t get her very far, it looks like Madison might have been looking in the wrong direction all along…

I found this book rather predictable, but Top 8 does have some good morals/lessons behind it. It’s definitely more hurtful to speak about people behind their backs, and it’s a good thing that Madison learned a few lessons and matured a lot by the end! The format of Top 8 with the Friendverse profile and comments views was great as well! It really enhanced the story!

I also really like the title—it really fits for this book, but isn’t too ordinary or common, and after reading this book, I think it might have a bit of foreshadowing to it as well!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Book Trailer/An upcoming read!

Check out this trailer for The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones by Helen Hemphill, which is due to hit bookstores in November!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sleepless by Terri Clark

Ever since she foresaw her friend’s murder and alerted the police, Trinity has been dubbed the “Dream Girl.” Although the police had arrived too late to save her friend, they apprehended the murder. Although Rafe was caught, Trinity can hardly rest easy—Rafe was deemed mentally insane, and thus, could not be thrown into jail. Instead, he was put into a mental institution instead. But Trinity knows that Rafe was not ‘mentally insane’, a psychopathic murderer, perhaps, but not insane. But with the help of a slimy lawyer who would do anything for money, Rafe got away with just going to a mental hospital. Things don’t get any better when the lawyer who got Rafe out of a prison sentence’s son, Dan, shows up at Trinity’s front door. He says he wishes to apologize, and promises to help her if she ever needed it. Even after hearing him out, Trinity still finds him hard to believe, despite the fact he vehemently claims that he is against what his father does.

Trinity tries to live as normal a life as she can, but it’s hardly easy when she has disturbing dreams that often foretell something. She’s been purposefully aloof for her whole life, not getting close to anyone because of her fear of being rejected as a crazy girl with weird dreams. However, her best friend, Coral, wants her to open up and live a little. Go out for some fun and parties, have a boyfriend, and enjoy the summer. But Trinity is too used to her seclusion, and hardly wants to venture out.

But that is all about to change…

When Trinity suddenly gets dreams about Rafe plotting his next murder, she freaks out—because Rafe is after her now. With her mother away on a trip and Coral away at soccer camp, Trinity impulsively calls Dan and asks him for help. The two flee Trinity’s home to a motel, trying to figure out their next step. Trinity’s fears are confirmed when they find out that Rafe has escaped from the insane asylum. After some thought, Trinity and Dan start digging around for some leads, hoping to find Rafe before he finds Trinity and kills her. But it’s all easier said than done, especially since Trinity is not the only one who can dream walk.

Rafe also possesses dream walking abilities, and appears multiple times in Trinity’s dreams, apparently drawing power from his pain as he cuts himself. He tries to reach Trinity physically in her dreams, but Trinity narrowly evades capture. Having shunned her abilities all her life, Trinity hardly knows the extent of her powers. As Dan and Trinity try to learn more, Trinity tries to say awake so Rafe cannot harm her while she is sleeping. But with time running low, and Rafe’s powers seemingly manifesting, Trinity may not have much longer to live if they cannot find a way out of this psychopath’s murderous path!

I liked how Trinity grew and matured as a character, trying to get over her guilt of not being able to help her friend and believing all her life she was a ‘freak’. I don’t want to give too much away, but the quote from Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility,” comes to mind when I think of Trinity’s ability, which could go real far if only she would embrace it and not shy away from it! Though it would be understandable for any teen to want to shun an unusual and unnerving ability like Trinity’s and want to be like a normal teenager!

Sleepless was a well written, suspenseful story that’ll keep readers hooked from page one! With a thrilling plot and a nice touch of romance, Sleepless will keep readers up late to finish this action-packed novel. Trinity’s fear was especially well expressed and believable, helping take readers on an exciting ride throughout the whole book! I really enjoyed reading this novel and will really look forward to Terri Clark’s future novels! Fans of Wake by Lisa McMann will love Sleepless!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover

After a long year at school, summer school would sound less than appealing to plenty of students. “Enthusiastic” would not describe Benjamin Holt’s reaction when his parents announced that he would be away all summer—at school. Luckily, his best friend Andy will be going along. Though the pair may seem normal on the surface, Benjamin and Andy have telekinesis abilities. They’ve been using this gift to their advantage from a young age; from levitating frogs to reading each others minds.

Though most kids lack these special abilities, Benjamin has had them since childhood and has grown up in a family that also possesses these special talents. His two brothers levitating toy cars is perfectly normal for Benjamin, but when a mirror in his house suddenly starts talking, even Benjamin is taken by surprise. Benjamin is soon teleported to summer school—and one summer vacation he’ll never forget!

Benjamin is stunned to find that there are a lot of children and people that also have supernatural talents, such as telekinesis, telepathy, telegnosis, and advanced science. He is enrolled into different classes to help hone his abilities where he makes new friends like Iva, Heidi and Gary.

Benjamin learns that he is a telegen, a human with special abilities. In fact, all the people teaching and attending the summer school are telegens! And the surprises for Benjamin don’t end there—the summer school itself is currently on Lemuria! Lemuria, like Atlantis, is a “lost continent.” Both are sunk beneath the ocean and are virtually unknown and uncharted by humans. Before, they were just like any continent: above sea level and accessible. However, because the people of Atlantis were exploiting and enslaving humans, the telegens of Lemuria tried to restore the balance by subduing the trouble makers and encasing Atlantis in a shield that did not allow them to leave the city. As a final precautionary measure, they sunk both Lemuria and Atlantis deep into the sea.

Now telegens from Lemuria are placed all around Earth as agents, making sure everything on Earth is fine, and that Atlantis was still under control. But lately, the shield around Atlantis has been weakening, and their own agents have been getting out and infiltrating humankind once more. Is it right to keep a whole population captive just because there were trouble makers in the past? Or are the telegens of Lemuria doing the right thing and protecting the human race? There are some that would give anything for the shield to be lifted from Atlantis so they can dominate the humans, but others wish to keep their abilities secret.

When Benjamin and his friends wander off one day, they discover a hidden passage that leads them to The Emerald Tablet. Their fateful trip down the secret passageway would change their lives forever—Benjamin holds the balance of two worlds in his hands, as well as the power to raise the two sunken continents. He and his friends are linked by the Tablet into an Alliance, and they must find the three keys of the hunter before their dark nemesis does, or the worlds will be doomed. But fate always offers two choices, will Benjamin free the world he knows is being unwillingly held captive, or will he restore the balance so that humans can remain ignorant of the telegen’s existence?

I really liked the idea behind The Emerald Tablet as well as the Alliance’s exciting adventure—both were very creative. Although I thought some of the characters were a bit 2-D (or at least I would’ve liked to see them a bit more in the story and get to know more about them!), it will appeal to many young readers! The Emerald Tablet is a great start to P.J. Hoover’s new series and the surprising twists and turns will leave you wanting more of Benjamin’s adventures!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A BFF Novel: The Guy Next Door by Carol Culver

All may be going smoothly for the rest of the kids at Manderley Prep, but Maggie seems to be the only exception. Maggie’s parents are going through a divorce and the two are all too eager to express their rage and hatred for the other to Maggie. The worst thing is? Maggie’s dad is refusing to pay for her chorus’ spring competition trip to Hawaii! On top of that, the school’s fencing club has been cancelled, and fencing was the one sport Maggie loved and excelled at.

Already short on funds, it doesn’t help that Maggie wants to get invisible braces since she’s too afraid to smile with her teeth covered in metal braces. Surrounded by kids of wealthy families, Maggie’s too ashamed to let any one other than her closest friends know of her financial troubles. The main reason she wants her smile back? Ethan Andrews. Ethan’s always been the “guy next door” that Maggie hung out with throughout her childhood—until Maggie fell for him. But since Maggie’s parents are divorcing, Maggie has moved with her mother to rented home and her old house is being sold. With her less than extraordinary looks and her metal-filled smile, Maggie hardly catches Ethan’s eye. But that could all change, if only she could figure out a way to go on that trip to Hawaii and find the courage to make the first move!

With a few tricks up her sleeve, a bit of scheming, and her talented and caring friends, Maggie just may make her way to Hawaii, and make her way into Ethan’s heart!

The Guy Next Door is a light-hearted, romantic YA read. Although I have not read the rest of the novels in Carol Culver’s BFF series, and may be missing a bit of background information, I didn’t find The Guy Next Door confusing and it still made for a nice read. This novel (especially the plot) wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary, just cute romantic YA novel. But it does portray a typical teenager’s high school experience quite accurately, as well as Maggie’s feelings and her crush. Overall, it was realistic and believable, and I did like how the POV switched so we could get a peek into both Maggie’s and Ethan’s minds and thoughts—it definitely enhanced the story!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

When most people hear the stories on TV talk shows about young kids getting kidnapped and abused, most ask why they didn’t get help. But just how easy is it to get help? How easy is it away to get away after suffering abuse after abuse, to both mind and body?

Alice was abducted when she was ten years old by a man named Ray during a field trip. Her life was never the same again. For years she was abused by him, forced to do indescribable acts, beaten, and threatened constantly. She is not allowed to go to school, but instead stays at a dinky apartment with only yogurt to eat. She wasn’t Alice at first, but Ray has threatened to kill her family if she does not obey him, and he has molded the formerly carefree little girl into Alice, his perfect little girl. Now she is fifteen, she is a malnourished shell of her former self, constantly hoping for the ultimate release from her sufferings—death.

But Alice is taken by surprise when Ray orders her to find a new, younger girl for him. He wants a new Alice, a new girl he can mold, abuse, and break. Could this be Alice’s chance freedom? Can she really get away? Or will Ray kill her? Or will Alice actually help Ray complete his inhumane plans, destroying the last shred of humanity and sanity she has left?

Living Dead Girl is undoubtedly a haunting book that will stay with you. It was shocking and sickening how cruel one human could be to another. The tone in Living Dead Girl was powerful and realistic, which was probably the most shocking thing of all—this situation could be possible, and that such unfortunate have happened before. I feel as if I’m at a loss of words on how to describe this powerful, shocking, and disturbing book and do it justice! Living Dead Girl is an unforgettable novel that was written amazingly well—the characters had such realistic personalities and the story was just conveyed and expressed through Alice phenomenally!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

Julie may look like an ordinary kid on the outside, but she is anything but. Her mother is Rapunzel, yes the Rapunzel, who was locked in a tower and forced to let her hair down so her mean witch step-mom could visit her. But that was years ago, and Julie’s mom, along with other fairytale characters have escaped the Wild.

The Wild was responsible for all the classic fairytales; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and all the rest, but there was a price to pay for these classic stories; the characters were trapped in their stories, doomed to forever play their parts, eating porridge, testing chairs, and running away from bears, over and over again. Once the story ended, the characters had to begin again—they had no choice and were forced into their roles, doomed to such for eternity.

But then Rapunzel rebelled, and along with her, a group of other fairytale characters. After much toil and trouble, she finally broke free, along with her fellow characters, reducing the formerly engulfing and controlling Wild to a small vine-like creature. Then Julie was born, after the Wild was defeated, but Rapunzel’s husband had never made it out alive.

So Julie had a good childhood; her mother ran a local hair salon, her grandmother (the witch of Rapunzel’s story) guards the wishing well by her motel (for a wish made in the well could cause the Wild to grow and regain its strength), Cinderella (Cindy) gives rides to Julie every now and then, and Puss-in-Boots is Julie’s ‘brother’. Sure, Snow’s seven dwarves can be quite a nuisance sometimes when they’re over for dinner, but Julie has her mom, and her best friend, Gillian, who knows Julie’s secret.

But Julie’s mom rarely ever talked about what happened in the Wild, why her father did not make it out, and how Rapunzel got out in the first place. The Wild is just an annoying green lump under Julie’s bed now, eating up Julie’s shoes and transforming them into various magical objects.

Things go smoothly for a while, until one day Julie finds her mother gone, and runs into her room, only to find that the space beneath her bed is empty—the Wild is gone. Seeing a strange green object growing and taking over the town, Julie realizes that the Wild has gotten lose somehow, and is trying to regain its old powers and old characters. As her attempts to find her mother prove futile, her mother’s friends try to whisk her away to safety, but Julie needs to find her mother, so she and her friends will not be forced to endure the same fairytale stories over and over again.

Plunging into the Wild, armed only with the fairytales she remembers and a backpack filled with the magical objects the Wild had created during its residency under her bed, Julie is off to find her mother. But can she make it through the Wild’s paths, which are full of traps and dangers? Or will the Wild trap her in a fairytale of her own, making her a prisoner of the same plot and events over and over again?

There is only one way out: the Wild must be stopped. But can a twelve-year-old match up against all the foes of fairytales and the Wild’s plans? One thing’s for certain, if she cannot find her mother and a way to escape the Wild, Julie may be stuck in a story of her own—forever.

Into the Wild was a very creative novel! I loved how different classic fairytale characters were given new personalities and included into this great plot! Into the Wild was a very fun and action-packed adventure that made for a very enjoyable read that I would recommend to all fantasy lovers!

Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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I receive review copies of books from publicists, authors and publishers for an honest review. I do not receive monetary or other compensations for posting reviews.