Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rock This! Thursday with Eilis O'Neal

How long have you been writing?
I've been telling stories since I was a little girl. When I was three, I told my first original story. It was just three sentences long—about a frog that cried frozen tears because winter had come—but it actually the beginnings of a real story, in that it had a conflict and something of a resolution. After that, I spent a lot of time telling stories to my mother. She would write them down, then type them up on our typewriter, and we'd give them away as gifts to family members. They tended to have silly titles like, “A Cat, a Girl, and a Hippo Go to a Party and Then Sing a Song.”

I tried to write my first novel at 12, but I only got about thirty pages into it. I actually finished a novel at 15—a summer romance about a girl with a boyfriend who rode a motorcycle. Between that book and The False Princess, I wrote two other books, both fantasy novels for adults.

You're walking down the street - what song is following you?
This week, it’s “Speechless” by Lady Gaga. Not sure why. That and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” though by way of the Glee cast. I know why I can’t get that one out of my head, though. I wrote a parody version of it with my husband last week for our roleplaying group, and now the parody, with its Atlantean demons and flaming swords and one very large Scotsman, is warring in my head with the original for supremacy.

Love me some Journey! (And loved Glee's version as well.) I know with writing there are always difficulties and days where you just want to throw in the towel. Who was the most difficult character to write in The False Princess?
There's a character named Mika who was actually a bit difficult to write. I introduced her late in the book, and I needed to convey a lot about her in a short time period, had to compress a lot of character information into a short space. Luckily, her personality is pretty forceful. She's prickly and opinionated, though, at the same time, she doesn't like to give a lot of herself away. Even those personality traits made her a harder to write, because I wanted the reader to really like her in that short time period. And Mika doesn't make that as easy as, say, Kiernan, who's instantly likeable.

When writing your debut novel, did you have a playlist? If so, could you share a few songs with us?
Actually, I'm one of those people who has to be in a pretty quiet room to write. I envy writers who can listen to music, because I just can't do it. (I tend to get wrapped up in songs and start singing along.) So, unfortunately, I didn't have a list of songs that helped get my in the mood to write The False Princess in particular.

A lot of songs tell a story. What's one song you think would make an interesting book?
There’s a traditional folk song from the 17th century called “Bedlam Boys” or “Tom O’Bedlam.” It has to do with madness and Bedlam hospital in London. It also mentions fairies, giants, spirits . . . There’s something very haunting in the tune, and when I first heard it at a Celtic concert I wrote the title down on a scrap of paper and took it home with me. I think there’s a fantasy story in there, and I’m just waiting to figure it out enough to write it. As for more modern songs, I’ve always been very taken with Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah.” It conjures up such vivid pictures, and, again, the tune sets a mood inside me very quickly. I think there’s a story there, too.

You've been given two golden concert tickets to see any band/singer from any decade. The only catch is that you have to take a character from The False Princess. Who are you taking and who are you two going to go see?
I’d like the see the Beatles, probably in their early-ish days. And I would so take Kiernan with me for that. His attitude reminds me, in a lot of ways, of a lot of the early Beatles’ songs—fun, a little silly, really catchy, but with an underlying seriousness. And I think he would have so many witty observations to make about the girls crying and tearing at their clothes in their excitement over the band. Of course, he would also probably have those girls falling all over him in a matter of moments . . . .

What are some of your all-time favorite reads?
Do you have all day? Seriously, there are so many books that I love, that are really a part of me and that have been a big influence on me as a writer. A lot of them are YA fantasy books. A short list includes Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness books (strong female lead and my first book-boy crush; seriously, I still sort of want to marry George Cooper), Diane Duane's Young Wizards series (a unique magic system and another strong female lead), so many of Robin McKinley's books (wonderful language and storytelling), Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series (cemented my love of all things British), and Madeleine L'Engle's books (more strong, smart girls).

Have you experienced any 'rock star' writing moments since you've been published?
There's a great group in Tulsa (Booksmart Tulsa) that hosts a lot of writer events here in town. They offered to host a launch party for the book, and so, of course, I took them up on it. I wasn't sure how many people would show up, though, seeing as how this is my first book. But it turned out that a lot of people showed up—in fact, it was standing room only. When I got up to start my reading/talk, I saw that there were people standing in the back and all along the sides of a not-so-small room. That felt utterly crazy to me—really awesome, but also a little scary. I really hadn't expected it to be SRO-- especially not when the microphone had gone missing and I had to employ my high school speech and debate skills of projection!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox

Just one book in my mailbox this week that I got from Harmony's Radiant Reads :)

Entangled by Cat Clarke (Goodreads)

Let me just say I love this cover for the hair alone. All through high school I had bright red hair, and this makes me miss it. What did you guys get this week?


Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Released: January 2011
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.


You may have been like me and looked at this book thinking it would be just another light cute romantic type of spin on Cupid. But I was really surprised (and in a good way!) to find that this story had much more depth to it.

Alice is your typical teenager who's living the normal type of life. She lies to everyone saying her best-selling author mother is working on her next novel or out of the country for research. She makes sure no one knows that her mom is actually in a mental institute due to her bi-polar issues. She doesn't attend public school because she has to keep up with all her mother's stuff, and the only friends she really has are the tenants in the fourplex she manages in her mother's absence. Okay, so maybe she's not a normal teenager, and she's definitely got more stress placed on her than anyone should ever have. If things weren't enough for her she has some guy claiming to be Cupid that needs her to write his story before his time is up.

A lot of the book focuses on Alice and her growth from trying to accept her mother's disease and the life she has now. I loved the voice of Alice. She really pulls you in. I absolutely loved Errol's story and learning more about his past. The friendship that Alice and him build is realistic even if ya know, he's not exactly human. If Selfors was to ever write the story of Errol, I would buy a copy of it! There was also a side romantic relationship with Alice's crush, Tony. I think it played in very well with the story, and added to the growth that Alice goes through. Plus Tony was pretty awesome. The neighbors, the ones that know Alice's secret with her mother, were great side characters. Alice definitely had a lot of people looking out for her even if she didn't realize it.

The only fall back is that while this novel started out really good, and the spin on Cupid seemed to start flowing, a good portion of the novel deals with Errol (aka Cupid) trying to convince her that he is the real deal. It got a bit repetitive that she didn't realize this for half of the book. Besides some of the novel slowing down, I overall really enjoyed this real. This is the second book I've read by Selfors, and she's definitely becoming an author to look out for!

Don't forget to check out my interview with Suzanne here!

Amazon | Goodreads | Website


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rock This! Thursday with Gillian Philip

You’re walking down the street – what song is following you?
I used to have a flatmate, back in the days when a Sony Walkman was the hottest thing around (that’s how old I am!), and she had a tape specially for walking down the town’s main street. I loved it and used to borrow it, so I always remember the first track on that – which was Aztec Camera’s ’Oblivious’. I still think it’s the best walking song ever.

I’ve always been a big fan of life soundtracks. What are some songs you think can in some ways describe your main character, her life, etc?
I’m a big fan of soundtracks too – I hate not having one for a book, and when a story is still at the stewing-in-my-head stage, I look for music that will suit, and play it over and over again to get in the mood. The Opposite of Amber had quite a retro soundtrack – it wasn’t deliberate, but Ruby’s sister Jinn turned out to have a sentimental and nostalgic streak, and was keen on really old songs from the fifties and sixties (which were before even my time!). I realised that only when I heard Gene Pitney on the radio singing Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa, and it struck me quite clearly that it was Jinn’s favourite song. And because Jinn is such a mother figure to Ruby, her music is very much the soundtrack to Ruby’s life, too. My playlist included Spanish Harlem by Phil Spector, and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys – and some cover versions like the Killers’ version of Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, and Mary Coughlan’s cover of Ain’t Nobody’s Business (which is a song I love)... but there were a few newer tracks too. Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs, that was a no-brainer... and that version of Roxanne, from Moulin Rouge, when they do that fabulous tango...

What was the first idea that sparked The Opposite of Amber?
I remember I was stuck on another manuscript, so I’d decided to spend the evening watching TV. And there was a documentary on that gripped me – it was about five women who were murdered in an English town in 2006, but it wasn’t interested in the perpetrator or his bizarre motives, only the women themselves, their lives, their families. I didn’t want to write about those women – I can’t/don’t do true crime – but I wanted to write a story about a woman like them, a woman whose life had spun out of her control, and the effect of that on her loved ones. I also had a what-if thought... what if one of the women was murdered for different reasons? What if there was more to one of the killings than sordid psychopathy?

We’re always up for new music. What are five songs we should be listening to?
Tough one, because I’m not very up to speed with new music! I recommend the Peatbog Faeries – really wild traditional music from Scotland but brought way up to date and beyond. Let’s see... Biffy Clyro’s When We Collide. Paolo Nutini singing almost anything, but especially New Shoes. KT Tunstall’s Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Amy Macdonald’s This Is The Life.

Is this the first novel you’ve written?
No – I’ve lost count of the novels I’ve written! Written and published, of course, that’s different... The Opposite of Amber is the second novel I’ve written for Bloomsbury – the first was Crossing The Line – but I’ve also had two books published by Strident (Bad Faith and Firebrand). Firebrand is a fantasy, so a bit of a departure – it’s the first in a series of four. And I’ve written four short novels for Evans, an educational publisher; and I ghostwrite the Darke Academy series for Hothouse Fiction, under the pseudonym Gabriella Poole. I’m just about to start the fourth instalment of those.
There were also some unpublished romantic novels, many years ago, but we’ll draw a veil over those!

Your favorite band?
Oh another tough one... depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes it’s Eels. Sometimes it’s Snow Patrol. I like Gnarls Barkley, or Cee Lo Green on his own... But my all-purpose favourite for most occasions is the Pet Shop Boys.

If you could have one day to spend with any musician – living or dead – who would it be and why?
Ian Dury. I love clever lyrics and he had such a fantastic way with words. Also, I think he’d be terrific company.

How did you come up with the title?
It was a belated title – the working title was completely different. It happened when I was editing and rewriting, and adding a short prologue. When I read it back, that phrase ‘it’s the opposite of amber’ leaped out at me – it was a little bit quirky and obtuse, much like Ruby, who coins it – and I realised that it was the right title for the whole thing. It has a kind of double meaning in the context of the book, too, and I like those kind of titles.

Do you have a certain process you do before starting a book – outlining, brainstorming, etc?
I wish I did... I’ll get an idea and let it stew for a while in my head, adding bits here and there. But when I sit down to write, I generally have little or no idea how it’s going to pan out. I just go with the characters, and fly by the seat of my pants. I like the uncertainty, and it makes life interesting, but it can be nerve-wracking.

Have you experienced any ‘rock star’ writing moments?
Just the other day! I was shortlisted for the Royal Mail Award, which is the biggest children’s book prize in Scotland. I didn’t win, but the ceremony was fabulous. There were about 500 students there, and it had a circus theme, so there were acrobats, jugglers, clowns, fire-eaters... and then the shortlisted authors were brought on one by one, to roars and applause. That was definitely a rock star moment!
Otherwise – well, I have been tempted to drink a bottle of whisky and smash my laptop, but I’ve never actually done it...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Crossed by Ally Condie
Release Date: November 1, 2011

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky— taken by the Society to his certain death—only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander—who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart—change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

I really enjoyed Matched and with how the first book end - I am DYING to know what is going to happen between Cassia and Ky. I really love this cover too which Cass breaking out from the bubble.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Author Interview: Cara Chow

How does it feel being a debut author?
Being a debut author is somewhat like being a debut mother. During my pregnancy, the OB medical staff called me “Mrs. Chow.” The moment I went into labor, the OB and pediatric staff started calling me “mom.” Suddenly, I lost my name and became identified, not as an individual but by my role. My sense of purpose expanded, but so did my sense of responsibility. I had to stretch rapidly to accommodate this new role while trying not to tear. The process has been joyful, stressful, and unpredictable.

As a debut author, I feel a similar sense of heightened joy, stress, purpose, and responsibility. The first time I got a candid email from a teen reader, I felt a strange cocktail of honor and anxiety. I always wanted my book to touch people in a deep place, but when that actually happened, I felt intimidated by my own success. Because my book features Chinese-Americans, people expect me to be a spokesperson for my ethnic group. This especially became the case after the publication of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who doesn’t proclaim to be an expert. Because I wrote literary fiction, as opposed to genre fiction, people also expect me to be articulate and profound 24-7. People have approached me during book signings, asking me to write something “profound” on their book. They seemed to expect that I should exhale vapors of insight and sweat pearls of wisdom every moment of the day. The person they saw seemed so much cleverer and wiser than the person I knew myself to be. Before the publication of Bitter Melon, I wanted to succeed for myself. Now that I have an agent, publisher, and publicist on Team Bitter Melon, I push myself even harder because I want them to be successful too because they deserve it.

What's one thing you want readers to take away when they read Bitter Melon?
Frances’s and Gracie’s behaviors may be difficult to understand at first glance, but as readers read further, the economic, cultural, and psychological factors influencing their attitudes and actions become clearer. People’s behaviors are the result of powerful external factors, as well as free will choice, and it is important to keep that in mind as we perceive others.

Do you ever base any of your characters or situations in your novels on people or experiences you've had?Yes, of course! Our own lives are the richest source of information and inspiration we have. Who else can tell our stories better?

We're always up for new music. Tell us five songs we should be listening to.

I’m not the best person to be consulting for cool music right now. I used to listen to the radio in the car (I live in the LA area, so I spent a lot of time in the car). I had a CD collection at home. I also worked at a physical therapy office that played music all day in the background. Now that I am home with my son, I no longer work at the physical therapy clinic, I spend very little time in the car, and due to our home remodel, most of my CDs are in boxes in the garage. These days the only songs I ever hear are songs for small children.

You're walking down the street - what song is following you?
Twinkle twinkle little star . . . (I sing it with a little more RB flavor.)

You've been given two golden concert tickets to see any band/singer from any decade. The only catch is you have to take a character from Bitter Melon with you. Who are you taking and who are you two going to go see?
I think I’d take Nellie with me to go see Madonna or Lady Gaga. I think she’d have a really good time there, jumping up and down and whistling in her hot pink, jaguar print jogging suit. On the way home, I bet she’d sing all the songs loudly and get the words wrong. Then I’d invite her to the opera or symphony.

Is there any genre you don't see yourself ever writing?

Ironically, several drafts into the writing of Bitter Melon, I was talked into adding a romance to the plot. In fact, one of the ways I entice readers to buy the book is by telling them that there is a forbidden romance in it. At the rate I’m going, my second book could be the Asian-American Jane Eyre!

Have you experienced any 'rock star' writing moments?
Alas, Bitter Melon has no wizards or vampires, so the paparazzi are not waiting outside my front door, and I am able to shop at Target unaccosted. I do get touching fan mail and nice reviews though, so I am quite happy with my thimble of fame!

Wanna know more about Cara Chow? Check out her website here!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie.


Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
Carmen by Walter Dean Myers 
My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff 
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle 
Family by Micol Ostow 
Hourglass by Myra McEntire 

--Thanks to Egmont and HarperTeen for sending --


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 
So Many Boys by Suzanne Young 
Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han 
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker 

I think this is one of the best mailboxes I've had in a while! What did you guys get this week? Make sure to leave a comment so I can go check out your post :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rock This! Thursday with Jenny from Wondrous Reads

I'm super freaking pumped that Jenny from Wondrous Reads is here to hang out with us! If you don't know, Jenny is a super blogger. She is very sweet, and I wish there wasn't that big freaking ocean between us because I'd love to hang out with her sometime!

 Why did you start blogging?
I wish it was a more interesting story, but it isn't. I used to post short reviews on Amazon, and one day I came home from work (also book-related) with the idea to start a blog so I could have them all in one place. And here we are!

You get such amazing books in for review! What have been some of your favorites in the past 2 months?
I do get brilliant books for review, and I appreciate each and every one. I really do. When I first started blogging, I never even knew review copies existed! Anyway, these are my favourite review books from the past couple of months: Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins, My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Grace by Morris Gleitzman, Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry and The Pain Merchants by Janice Hardy. And I have to mention a couple that I bought myself, as they're my favourite reads of the year so far: Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari and Soulless by Gail Carriger. Both amazing!

You're walking down the street - what song is following you?
That's a hard question. Probably 'Chocolate' by Snow Patrol.

Has reading a book ever changed your views on life?
Yes, a few times. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari have all made me rethink my own views on death, loss, family and living in the now, so to speak. Each one has touched me in different ways, and I don't think they'll ever leave me; The Book Thief especially. I think about that book every day.

Who is your favorite singer or band? Why are they your favorite?
Jimmy Eat World are my all-time favourite band, and they have been since the summer of 2001. They were the first band I ever saw live, and I just love them. Their lyrics are so meaningful and well-written, and their music has been known to make me cry. You should all check them out if you haven't already! After Jimmy Eat World, my favourites (in order) are: Coheed & Cambria, Brand New, Snow Patrol and Florence + the Machine.

If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
Oh wow, I have no idea. None at all. Ermm... [10 minutes later]... 'Living on the Hellmouth: How Vampires Changed My Life'. I would like to have that on my bookshelf. Please arrange this Amber!

Dude, I LOVE that title. I'll see what I can do about this :) Is there one song out there you've overplayed worse than a Top 40 station?
'Bleed American' by Jimmy Eat World. Let's just say it woke me up every day for around 3 years back when I used my CD player as an alarm clock.

What is your favorite book about or centered around music?
There honestly aren't any that are coming to mind. I know I own books about music, but I haven't read them yet. I'm thinking I should probably start with Stephanie Kuehnert's!

Yes, you really should. Stephanie's books are the bomb dot com. You've been given two golden concert tickets to go see any band from any decade. The only catch is you have to take a character from a book. Who are you taking and who are you two going to go see?
Haha this is a great question. I've never seen Linkin Park live, though I absolutely love them. So I'd go back to 2001 for the Hybrid Theory tour, and I'd take Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty. I reckon he'd like them. ;)

Awesome choice! I am a music whore who usually choices songs over bands. (Except for when it comes to Seether, of course.) What are 5 songs that we all should go listen to right now!
These are my favourite songs at the moment, and you should all go listen to them. A few can be found in various US TV shows ;)

The National - 'Lemonworld'
White Lies - 'Holy Ghost'
Bruno Mars - 'Marry You'
Morning Parade - 'Under the Stars'
Julian Casablancas - '11th Dimension'

Since you started your blog have you experienced any 'rock star blogging' moments?
When I met John Green last year, he asked me if I was "Jenny the famous blogger". I'm told my face was a picture of shocked excitement. I don't think I'll ever top that!

That is one kick ass blogging moment! Thanks again for stopping by, Jenny! For those of you who haven't been by her blog, don't forget to swing by!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 29, 201

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket — a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Released: September 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pages: 377
Source: Bought
Challenge: The Contemps

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.


This was such a good read! Denise Jaden did a fantastic job of weaving in different elements of a teenage life, death, and a glimpse at a cult-like experience. Because of that last part - this was definitely different from what I've read before in the contemporary genre.

Brie faces one of the biggest aftermaths of someone's death: Regret. We've all experienced it. No matter how close or unclose you were with someone you knew that passed away, you always wish maybe you would have just hung out a little more, got to know them just a little bit more. With Brie, she never really knew her sister. Sure she knew her Christian sister. The one that drove her nuts, but after her death, she notices there was a lot of things she had missed out on. Memories flood her mind, brining the reader so much closer to Brie and the mystery of Faith's death.

Denise Jaden does something very tricky with her writing. She has the super writer's ability to lure you into the story without even realizing how hooked you are. Each chapter seemed to give just enough questions to make me keep turning the pages, wondering what exactly went on while Faith was alive. The characters in this book are so well developed. I loved how Jaden weaved in all these different personalities like Tessa and Alis into Brie's life. The three of them were the biggest odd trio, but yet, she made them fit perfectly together.

The only part I had trouble with was the middle. There was a great build up to the truth, but it started to drag just a bit. I do wish more was talked about with exactly what Faith was into while she was alive because I always find it fascinating how certain groups can suck a person in.

If you are worried that this book might come off as preachy due to it having religious type context, please don't let that discourage you from picking this up. This book was no way preachy or pushy on anything.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren and was influenced by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie


A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner by Gabrielle Burton


Rhymes with Cupid by Anna Humphrey
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick


True Colors by Kristin Hannah
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin 

Funny thing about the copy of A Touch Mortal that I got in. The night before it came in the mail, I had ordered one from Amazon. So by next week I'll have 2 copies of this. If anyone trades books and A Touch Mortal is something you want to read - shoot me an email (justyourtypicalbookblog(at) with what you want to trade.

That's it for me this week. What did you get?


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rock This! Thursday: Sounds from the Page with Sean Keefer

I love music. I’ve been a guitar player for years.

I love to write. I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I’ve been a guitar player.

I always thought I’d have a CD/album/whatever you want to call it out before I ever even thought about publishing a book, but things don’t always turn out the way you want. Not that I’m disappointed. I continue to work on my first musical release, but while I do, I have a novel out that people are reading and seem to like. (For the curious it’s called The Trust.)

The book is a mystery/thriller set in Charleston, South Carolina. When I wrote it, I wanted to blend in my love of music which, I found, wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

I could have taken an interesting approach and have provided a “Suggested Listening” preface to each chapter, but I thought that a bit transparent. I also avoided the temptation to any sleuthing musicians.

I’ve seen some interesting things in the way of music in books. One author made a reoccurring theme the existence of a list of his 100 greatest albums of all time. It wasn’t a key part of the plot, but it was something the characters revisited a number of times through the book.

As I read the book, I simply had to know the list but all I got was teasers.

The story was compelling, but what I remember most is that in the final scene when the loose ends were being tied up one of the characters offers up to the main character an envelope. The envelope contained the list and the book ended with albums 1 through 100. Neat use of music in a book without a single note being played from the page.

As neat as this approach was, I needed and wanted something else.

So I came up with something different.

One of the scenes in the book takes place in an empty, abandoned bar. There’s a storm, literally, coming and our main character is getting ready to open a door not knowing what is on the other side.

I wanted to create a certain feeling and as I was writing this section of the book, I started to hear music in my head so I transferred it to the page.

The main character is alone in the bar, he hears a song from down a long dark hall. The music is repetitive and unnerving, but he knows the song which is actually a bit comforting. Comforting yet disturbing at the same time. The song repeats, heightening the tension as the main character makes his way down the hall towards the front of the bar.

Suddenly he’s knocked unconscious.

He awakes, tied to a chair in a spotlight. He’s still in the bar. The song continues and amps up the tension and since the same song is playing, he has no idea how long he has been out….

When I wrote this, blending it all together allowed the main character to be comfortable but confused. Familiar, but unsettled. He knew the song, knew it was repeating. It was playing when he was knocked out and was the first thing he heard when he awoke, but he had no idea how long he had been out. Confusion all around and exactly what I needed.

I was able to accomplish this and, from what the readers tell me, I was able to create a good deal of suspense and the tension by weaving in a simple song.

If it wasn’t for music and being able to literally play a song from the written page, I would have had to tell the reader what they were supposed to be thinking; however, with a little music, I created a feeling that will be there for everyone that reads my book (a lot of people I hope) but that will be a feeling that each reader will (hopefully) interpret for themselves.

So as long as you’re here, why don’t you read an excerpt from The Trust or even buy a copy of your own. Visit my blog – The Trust Blog.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mortal Instruments Trailer!

Is it April 5th yet??

Waiting on Wednesday

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Release Date: September 2011

Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

I saw this on The Story Siren's In My Mailbox post, and the moment she said fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman would like this, I was sold!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
(Summer #1)

Released: May 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary - Series
Pages: 276
Source: Bought

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad.

They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


The Summer I Turned Pretty is a great example of why I love contemporary novels. Diving into this book, I was hesitant as I always am when a bunch of people tell me I'm going to love it. At first I was curious of all the back story that is there every other chapter or so. Did I really need to know about events that happened to Belly when she was younger? Yes, actually, I did. If there wasn't the back story, little snid bits of what has happened in summer pasts, I don't think I would have been able to enjoy the characters. There is such a transition for all of them and you can see such growth not only in Belly, but the other boys - Conrad and Jeremiah.

Speaking of Conrad. Oh, Conrad you have me smitten by your protective, distant, and loveable ways. You can practically feel the pull between Belly and Conrad both even when other people (like poor Cam and annoying Red Sox Girl). In another way, I was completely swooning over Jeremiah too for his hilarious attitude and his strong friendship with Belly. Jenny Han is such a wonderful writer. She made all of these characters, their actions, and feelings completely come alive. It made me yearn to go to a place like Cousins. I felt like I was Belly in so many of the situations she was put through. I also liked how she included both groups' mothers - Susannah being my favorite.

If for some crazy reason you were like me, and haven't picked this book up yet, I suggest going out and getting it NOW. Also don't be a fool - get the second book or you'll be like me, anxiously waiting for it to come in the mail!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

In My Mailbox

Oddly enough, I didn't get one Young Adult read this week. The lovely people at HarperCollins sent me a surprise adult fiction package. Two of the books are books in the middle of series, but one is teh first one that I'm going to read. If you've read any of them believe, tell me what you thought!

Mosh Potatoes by Steve Seabury (Publisher)
- I'm thinking of using this cookbook for a week straight and doing a sort of vlog type review for it to show you how everything turned out.
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (Publisher)
The Bone Yard by Jefferson Bass (Publisher)
Dark Prince: Special Edition by Christine Feehan (Publisher)

Love Finds You in Camelot, Tennessee by Janice Hanna
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi from The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Released: March 2011
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: Teen Book Scene

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town.

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.


There are so many great debuts coming out this year, and Like Mandarin is no exception. Grace's character is one of the best examples of a wallflower. She's super smart, has a lot going for her, but you she can't seem to crack out of her shell.  It doesn't make it easier when she has a little sister who is the apple of her mother's eye due to being in many beauty pageants and having a voice like an angel. Due to how Grace is, Mandarin, the mystery of her and how she acts is very alluring.

Maybe because I know of a few people like Mandarin, I had a love/hate relationship with her character. But because of how Grace was, I understood why she was so desperate in trying to keep their friendship together. Mandarin is definitely a character who you never know what she's going to do next. As the story grows, you can see how much in some ways Mandarin is a good person deep down when it comes to Grace, but also how much she relies on her too. 

This book was such a wonderful story of friendship, trust, and the downfall of both. I was very impressed with Kirsten Hubbard's writing.  She's one of those authors who make words flow together look extremely easy when we all know it's not. Not only did she do a great job of bringing characters to life, but she wrote the town where I could understand why Mandarin was so desperate to leave it. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book Hubbard writes!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Contemps Challenge: Post Your March Reviews!

Hey guys! Wow, can you believe we're already in the third month of the challenge? CRAZY!

What is the Contemps Challenge? Click here to find out more details!

Remember: This challenge is ONLY for the 20 books released by The Contemps. Click here for a full list of all 20 books. You can also post ANY reviews you made in 2010 :)

Prize: 3 surprise books and/or ARCs and swag!

Open to US addresses only! There is no official sign up so no need to worry about that - just link those reviews up!

Note: If the linky box below doesn't show up for you, please post your link review in the comment section. Thanks!