Monday, February 25, 2013

Mini Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Goodreads Description:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wonder By R. J. Palacio

Performed by: Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Diana Steele

Type: Audio (Purchased)

I wasn't sure what to expect from Wonder, but I know that anyone who has read middle grade books raves about it. I think that Auggie's story is one that will speak to everyone, from kids to teens to adults. Depending on what stage of your life you're in, you will take different things from this book. I think, as a kid, it might teach you to be considerate to people and not shy away from those who are different. As an adult I kept sympathizing with Auggie's parents. I can't imagine how much strength it takes to raise a child who will be treated differently. I highly recommend Wonder to everyone!

Audio: When I saw that Nick Podehl and Kate Rudd were narrating I was excited, because I think they are great narrators. Nick is the narrator on Personal Effects and Kate Rudd is the narrator for The Fault in Our Stars. This is the first time I have listened to Diana Steele. Having multiple narrators was great, because you feel who's telling the story. I only wish that each narrator had said who was who. I wasn't crazy about the narrator's choice for Auggie's voice and I'm not sure if it was done intentionally to make him sound young or not normal. Either way I didn't love it, but it didn't take away from the story.

To listen to a sample visit Brilliance Audio.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Talking with Ally Carter

During Ally Carter's visit to Houston I had a chance to sit down with her and ask a few questions. I was thrilled to get this chance, because like I've explained before, I have been in Ally world for a while. I've read Uncommon Criminal, Double Crossed, and Perfect Scoundrels and I can't wait for more!

I love the entire family from Uncle Eddie to Gabrielle to Hamish, Agnus and Simon. Aside from the main characters are there any fan favorites that surprised you?

With every series it varies. In the UK fans love Bex, the British Gallagher Girl, which makes sense, because they could relate to her the most. With Heist Society fans love Hamish and Angus. People are fascinated with what are they doing when we don't see them in the book. So if I wanted to do another short story I could do Hamish and Angus go get a donut and people would read that, because who knows what's going to happen? For the most part people's favorites is Hale.

I noticed that some of the characters in Heist wanted to leave their current life for something new and different. In Heist, Kat wanted to stop leading a life of crime and Hale decided to leave his life of wealth after he met Kat. Is this something that draws them to each other and can you explain a little about the allure of wanting to leave their current life for something new and different.

I think it's just part of being a teenager. I don't know many teens who think "oh, exactly where I am is where I want to be". The grass is always greener. At that age, you just want to know what's out there in the world and maybe you come back and realize "I love my world", but I think most teenagers are at the very least, fascinated by what their options might be. I think that, in some way, that is a recurring theme, if not in adolescent fiction, then just in adolescences.

Your action scenes feel like movies. I can picture Gabrielle walking next to Kat and Hale across the street. So it feels very visual. What do you go through to have it make sense and not make it jumbled, because there is a lot going on.

There is a lot going on. That's something I really struggle with and I always worry about action scenes, because it's always a lot clearer to me than it is on the page. Action scenes take many, many drafts to get there and I probably spend more hours per page on an action scene than I spend on anything else for that reason. I see them like a movie and I want it to feel like a movie, because you forget you are reading and just experience the story.

I tell people it's like writing the movie in my head. That's one of the key reasons why I did third person for the Heist books. I don't think it would be possible to write a Heist book in first person, because there have to be things that Kat knows that the reader doesn't know. If the book was in first person there's no twist. We have to be able to leave Kat's perspective long enough for her to fool the reader as well as who ever they are conning or stealing from. The third person is very key in that.

Family plays a big role in your books, from the family you were born into or the one you chose. How did this come about and is this similar in your life?

Family is very very important in my life. I'm very close to my family. I have my mom and dad obviously and an older sister and both of my parents come from big families. Dad was the second oldest of eight. So lots of cousins and Thanksgiving and Christmas are very big events. One of my cousin's, her husband builds barns for a living and he actually built a barn on their farm so that we would have a space big enough for all of us when we all get together. Family is really, really huge.

It wasn't a conscious decision (to give characters a tie to family) its probably a subconscious decision. Family is always kind of a recurring theme in the heist genre in that your crew is your family. If you look at Leverage and Oceans 11 the crew is your family. And what research I did about the heist world is that it's very much a family. You have that sort of grandfather/son/grandson relationship. It's not by blood, but by who you work for. In Heist it's how many degrees you are removed from Uncle Eddie.

Hale! Hale takes center stage in Perfect Scoundrels. Aside from his nickname what can fans expect from Hale?

I think probably we'll see with the next book, just them going deeper in their relationship. Kat was very adamant about going off in her own direction, but she slowly seems to be creeping back to the big family. One of the fun things about the Heist books it seems like with every new book somebody new comes into the picture and I think "oh I really like that person and I want to write that person again". I don't think it's the kind of series where everybody is in every book, but I'll be very surprised if we don't see Silas again. I think that we're going to start seeing Hale and Kat pulled more into the real world and crossing-over with the adults. As the people in Kat's family really start to treat her and see her as an equal. What that means for Hale, I don't know yet.

One of my favorite moments in Perfect Scoundrels is when Kat walks into Uncle Eddie's kitchen and all the old timers are sitting there and she has this moment where she realizes that these guys aren't as young as they use to be and they are getting ready to pass the torch and Kat realizes "oh crud, they're going to pass it to me!".

Do you think you will continue to write Heist?

I don't know. I would really like to and the publishers seem to want me to, so we just have to formalize everything. My next book is Gallagher Girl 6 coming out in September and then after that we will see.

I had to ask Ally "Is Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of Raised by Wolves, Nobody and Every Other Day, really an alien?"

Yes. She could be a robot. Cyborg is probably the best best. Jen herself says there is a non-zero chance that she's an alien. Jen says "if somebody were to come up to me and tell me that I'm an alien I'd be surprised, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised." It's just weird things. Like, if you look at her laptop the letters are not only worn off the keys, but they are indentations so she's got some kind of acid in her skin that literally burns through metal. I'll tell her "that's not normal".

I want to thank Disney Hyperion and Ally Carter for taking time out of her touring schedule to sit down and talk about her books. To learn more about Ally visit her online at

carisma_20's Ally Carter - Perfect Scoundrels album on Photobucket
Pictures from Ally Carter's event at Blue Willow Bookshop.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop

Oh how I miss the days of vampires, werewolves, zombies and the craze that brought most adults to YA. To celebrate, Gina Linko and I are taking part in the Young Adult Paranormal Giveaway Hop! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below. Remember to check the terms & conditions for all the rules of the giveaway.

About Indigo

A gift?

A curse?

A moment that changes everything. . . .

Caught in an unexpected spring squall, Corrine's first instinct is to protect her little sister Sophie after a nasty fall. But when Corrine reaches out to comfort her sister, the exact opposite occurs. Her touch--charged with an otherworldly force and bursting with blinding indigo color--surges violently from Corrine to her sister. In an instant, Sophie is dead. From that moment on, Corrine convinces herself that everyone would be better off if she simply withdrew from life.

When her family abruptly moves to New Orleans, Corrine's withdrawal is made all the easier. No friends. No connections. No chance of hurting anyone. But strange things continue to happen around her in this haunting, mystical city. And she realizes that her power cannot be ignored, especially when Rennick, a talented local artist with a bad-boy past, suggests another possibility: Corrine might have the touch. An ability to heal those around her. But knowing what happened to her sister, can Corrine trust her gift?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and YA Between the Lines for hosting this giveaway hop!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Event: Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is on tour promoting Scarlet, the next novel in the Lunar Chronicles series. Fans might be surprised that Scarlet doesn't pick up with Cinder's story, but will follow both Cinder and new character Scarlet. Marissa talks about her road to publication and when readers weren't ready to ask questions she told everyone Grimm's version of Little Red Riding Hood. The teens in the audience were embarrassed and most of the crowd laughed. There were a lot of readers, authors and book bloggers at the event. If you have a chance to meet Marissa go! She is such a fun person!

carisma_20's Marissa Meyer album on Photobucket

Monday, February 18, 2013

Audio Review: Monstrous Beauty

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Type: Audio Book Purchase

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

As soon as I finished Monstrous Beauty my first thought was holy hell this is one dark and twisted book! I will say that, except for Gone Girl, I have not read anything that has shocked me so much. Don't get me wrong I don't hate this book and I love that Elizabeth Fama can pull such a reaction from me, but I don't like many of the characters.

The story is told in two time periods. Present day and 170 years in the past. In the present, Hester meets a mysterious guy who she feels drawn to. Just as she meets this guy strange things start happening around town, some that can only be explained as haunting. Hester starts to uncover mysteries as to who she is and how her family line might be tied into these strange occurrences.

In the past Ezra falls in love with a creature named Syrenka. A lot of the darkness I blame on Syrenka, because if she had not fallen in love with Ezra none of the crazy things in this story would have happened. Syrenka's selfish actions caused a lot of pain. I didn't relate to her at any point and when she was in the story I wanted to skip it.

I love the cover, but I felt like it was a bit misleading. The cover says pretty and even a bit girly, but that's not what the book is about. I wish they would have used something darker or that represented both Hester and Syrenka.

There are a lot of mature subjects in Monstrous Beauty including rape and multiple murders. I think Monstrous Beauty is a good read, because Elizabeth Fama is an amazing story teller. If you like darker novels with a mysterious twist then this is the book for you!

Audio: Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorite narrators. Katherine is the narrator for both Ashes and Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick. Katherine has won a number of awards. She did a great job with the present story as well as the past. I think having a talented narrator really adds to the experience of listening to a book.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Audio Review: Not Quite Dating

Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee

Type: Audio book provided by publisher

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Oh where do I start? I guess with Jack the love interest. During a bachelor party in Vegas Jack’s ex-girlfriend shows up to try and get back with him. She made it clear that she only wants him for his money and explains that any other women will have the same motives. On the way home from his trip he stops at a diner and is attracted to Jesse, the waitress. He tells his friends he is going to pretend to be poor and win the girl over. Jesse is not only a waitress, but a single mom and when Jack asks her out she says she’s looking to date a guy with money and not some dreamer. Ah this is where Jack should have walked away. Of course he sticks around and tries and tries to win her over. I couldn’t stand Jesse and really she just wasn’t good enough for Jack. Not because she’s a waitress, but because she thinks it’s ok to say I want to marry a man with money. Cough Cough GOLD DIGGER Cough! If you think that dating a guy who isn’t rich is a problem well find a better job and work your way up. I wasn’t crazy about her son’s point of view either, because I felt it was just to add to the poor single mom. Jesse later decides that she and Jack should be friends with benefits, without running the idea by him. When he proposes, she says no. Realizing she wants him in her life (insert eye roll) they hook up again and then there is a big misunderstanding and Jesse runs out. I really wanted Jack to see that Jesse was too much trouble and move on with his life. I have never disliked a main character as much as I disliked Jesse.

Audio: I wasn't crazy about Amy McFadden as a narrator. Her male Texan accent was pretty bad. Amy also over pronounces a lot of words and you can tell she is reading and not feeling the novel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For the Love of Swoon Hop

Oh I spend my days swooning over guys in books. What? Don't act like this isn't normal. So to celebrate I'm giving one lucky winner a signed paperback copy of Heist Society by Ally carter, a very swoon-worthy book! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form. Remember to check the terms and conditions for all the rules of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Book Hookup for hosting this giveaway hop!

Charity Fantasy Calendar

Have you heard of Charity Fantasy Calendar? I was recently contacted by Lauren Zurchin about it and wow! I love when people come up with creative ways to fund raise and she had me at YA authors. I hope you take some time to visit Lauren's website and her Kickstart project!

My name is Lauren Zurchin, I'm a professional photographer and managing editor for fantasy and science fiction blog. I recently launched an ambitious project: photographing fourteen of the world’s most famous fantasy authors in custom hand-crafted costumes, and putting the photos together into a fantasy calendar for charity. The authors involved are Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Christopher Paolini, Gregory Maguire, Tad Williams, Patrick Rothfuss, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Lauren Kate, Lauren Oliver, Maggie Stiefvater, Gail Carriger, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

This project is huge, and with the support of these authors I've taken to Kickstarter to raise the bare-minimum funds needed to make this project a reality. Every author involved in the project has offered limited edition exclusive items up for grabs -- prizes that are only offered this one time and never again.

About the charity aspect:


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson

Type: EGalley via Net Galley

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

The Madness Underneath picks up shortly after The Name of the Star. I can say fans of Maureen Johnson will not be disappointed. Rory is sort of floating through everyday life. She's back with her parents after the Ripper attack. Rory is wasting her days away watching t.v. and sleeping. The only time Rory leaves is when she goes to see her therapist. Rory's parents are concerned, but don't know how to approach the subject without pushing her. When at home Rory discovers that the Ripper attack left her with a unique gift.

That gift sets her life back into motion. Rory returns to Wexford Prep and hopes life can go back to normal. Only with so many secrets Rory finds herself lying to everyone around her.

Rory really seems most at ease around Steven, Boo, and Callum. Steven, the serious one, really wants Rory to consider a normal life. He tries to make her see that choosing to do what he does means never telling anyone about your job. Also with Rory's gift she is a valuable asset and can be used by others.

Johnson keeps some of the creepy factor in The Madness Underneath with the mysterious deaths around town, but the story is more focused on Rory's state of mind and where her future is headed. There are some things I never saw coming and can't wait to discuss with everyone. In the mean time I'm ready for book 3!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Day with: NetGalley Concierge

Welcome to my new monthly feature "A Day With" where I invite someone in the book industry to walk us through their day. A Day With was inspired by Harper Bazaar’s “24 Hours With” it’s a monthly article in which a designer will talk about their daily routine. I hope you enjoy this new monthly series of posts!

Thanks so much for inviting us to tell your readers what really goes into being a NetGalley Concierge! Being a part of the NetGalley team is such a great experience—from the people we work with to the books we help spread the word about. It’s a lot of work to make thousands of books available for request to professional readers, but we all love the job so much. It’s difficult to explain in an hour-by-hour breakdown, since so much of our day depends on what’s scheduled beforehand and what new surprises are sent our way. Here are the things we do every day:

·         9am:
o   Pour the coffee and say our good mornings to each other. We’re a really tight-knit team and bounce ideas off of one another all day!
o   We send out a daily welcome email to new members who signed up the day before. It includes tips and tricks for filling out a profile so publishers know who has requested a title and how to navigate the site.
o   We all dive into our inboxes right away to answer publisher and reader support, which comes in throughout the day and, sometimes, throughout the night and weekends too!
§  Example reader questions—will you please reset my password? This file is not downloading, can you help? (If you ever have questions, please check our Knowledge Base and click the “Contact Support” link if you can’t find an answer to your questions!)
§  Example publisher questions—how do I upload a new file for my title? Can you help me test a widget so I can invite my contacts to view the book?
·         10am:
o   Draft and send out newsletters to promote new titles to our members, in the genres they like most. This involves designing the email, getting final approval from the publisher, sending it out to members and sharing via Facebook and Twitter. We also confirm that the newsletter was sent for the publisher(s) and compile information about how well the email was received once it has been out in the world for a while. Here are some recent examples of messages we’ve sent to members who are opted in to receive them (make sure you are, too)!

·         11am:
o   Train new publishers on how to use the site—we show them how to set up new titles, upload their files, manage all the requests that come in, how to invite people to view the file, where to view feedback that is submitted, and how to manage the account overall. This isn’t just for new publishers, though! We often do refresher courses for our publisher clients, especially if they have new publicists/marketers who are just being introduced to the site.
·         12pm:
o   Assist in NetGalley development. We’re continually enhancing the NetGalley site, and the Concierge Team needs to test new features before they’re available to the whole community! For instance, you may have noticed the new title rollovers that were recently introduced when you’re browsing titles in the catalog.
·         1pm:
o   Social media fun time—we love our readers and we love interacting with them on a daily basis. We make sure to monitor our Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day to see what our readers and publishers are saying, and sometimes add your comments to our Tumblr! We also have social media campaigns such as our weekly Feed Your Reader Fridays where we ask our community a book-related question before the weekend. So keep an eye out for our outreach in 2013!
·         2pm:
o   Hundreds of new titles are created in NetGalley each week! We help publishers with file imports, test the files when needed, and notify publishers of errors. When we can, we also assist in troubleshooting file issues.
·         3pm:
o   We’re always looking for new, exciting ways to help start buzz about new books. We spent a lot of time brainstorming with our publishers on how they can incorporate NetGalley into their campaigns, as well as working with industry partners like Publishers Lunch, EarlyWord, the ALA and Library Journal (just to name a few!).
o   We also attend some of the major trade publishing events each year, like BookExpo America and the London Book Fair, so we spend a lot of time planning for those events, scheduling meetings with publishers, and promoting titles that will be at the show to our members.

·         4pm:
o   Often, members of the Concierge Team will go to a publisher’s office to meet with the publicists and marketers in person. Sometimes we walk them through training for a specific area of the site, but most often we’re there to discuss promotions they are working on and help them connect with the NetGalley community.
·         5pm:
o   Wrap up daily support. As I mentioned earlier, support is ongoing! We’re answering emails as quickly as we can all day to help members and publishers have the best NetGalley experience possible.

Whew! As I said, it’s a lot of work but we love helping get books into the hands of professional readers like you who are helping move the meter on book discovery.

I want to thank the NetGalley Concierge Team for participating in A Day With! To learn more about NetGalley visit

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Audio Review: Zitface

Zitface by Emily Howse

Type: Audio book provided by Brilliance Audio

Zitface is a really fun coming of age story. Olivia is a teen juggling school, friends and starring in commercials. I like that Olivia is really down to earth and seems to breeze through life, that is until she gets her first period and with it comes acne. She doesn't just get small zits here and there, but very large zits that will leave scars. Being young with acne is hard, but having acne and starring in commercials doesn't mix. Olivia's agent sends her to a dermatologist and wants the quickest treatment no matter what the side affects may be.

Olivia lives with her mom since her parents separated and I like that Emily House didn't make the parents the bad guys. Yes, the adults make more than a few mistakes, but Olivia doesn't act like a bratty kid. I will even go as far to say that Olivia is more mature than some of the YA protagonist in other novels.

Zitface is a great story about friendships, family, and making big choices. I would recommend this to tweens, but adults will also enjoy Zitface just as much.

Audio: Narrator Kate Reinders does a great job! She sounds young which fits Olivia and reads at a great pace. Kate Reinders has read on a number of YA novels including books by Robin Wasserman, Elizabeth Scott, and Kody Keplinger.

To hear a sample visit:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Romance is in the Air Hop

It's almost time for Valentines Day so what better way to celebrate then with a giveaway! One lucky winner will get a paperback copy of Shiver with a signed book plate and a signed hardcover copy of Linger! All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form. Remember to check the Terms and Conditions for all the rules of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Rachael Anderson for hosting this giveaway hop!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Guest Post: The Power of a Choice by Kasie West

I'm thrilled to welcome debut author Kassie West! Kassie is the author of not one but two novels this year. Pivot Point will be available February 12th 2013 and The Distance Between Us on July 2nd 2013. When Kasie and I talked about guest posting I gave her a few ideas and she picked is the power of choice. Help me welcome Kasie West!

The Power of a Choice by Kasie West

Everyone’s life is made up of a series of choices. Essentially we choose every aspect of our lives. We might think other people ultimately make our choices for us (our parents, our teachers, our bosses, all of whom seem to control our lives) but in the end, we are the ones completing or not completing assignments, listening or not listening to rules, dragging our feet or pushing forward. We wake up every day with choices lined up before us that we are responsible to make. And maybe most of our choices are mundane. Boring. Like, do I clean my messy house (no) or do I check twitter five hundred times a day (yes). These choices probably don’t have major negative consequences (unless I get a surprise visitor and I wanted them to think I was a clean person and not a messy slob). But every once in while there comes a choice that can change everything.

Addie, the main character in my book, has a really cool power. When faced with a choice, she can see two outcomes. Recently in a Publisher’s Weekly review of Pivot Point, the reviewer ended their thoughts with this line: “…and the book’s fascinating exploration of how life can change with one simple choice.” I loved this line. Taken down to its simple form that is the essence of the book. Choice. How it can change things. How it can shape a life. Choice is powerful.

I was telling my publishing story to a group of women last month and one person (after finding out Pivot Point was the sixth book I’ve written) asked, “Why did you keep trying? Why didn’t you just stop?” That’s a good question. Why didn’t I just stop? Give up? I made a choice. I wanted this. I had a desire and I was going to see it through. For me, it was about doing something I loved. I read several inspirational stories during the ‘trying to get published’ years. And a quote that kept me going was: Published authors are just writers who didn’t quit. (I totally slaughtered that quote because I am making the choice now not to Google the real quote. Hopefully there will not be lasting consequences for this.) I believe this is true. The only sure way not to get published is to quit…..or to stalk publishers. You probably don’t want to stalk publishers.

That choice of not giving up has paid off. I’m exactly where I want to be. Addie from the book may have the cool power to look into the future and base her decisions off what she sees. But choice, in general, is a power we all have.

Kasie West writes YA. She eats Junior Mints. Sometimes she goes crazy and does both at the same time. Her debut novel, PIVOT POINT, will be published by HarperTeen on February 12, 2013, followed by its sequel in 2014. She also has a contemporary, The Distance Between Us, coming out in the Fall of 2013 with HarperTeen. Her agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

To learn more about Kasie visit:

Friday, February 1, 2013

February What I'm Reading Now

Happy New Year Everyone! Here is my schedule. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Currently Reading:

This one is just for fun so I'm reading it really slow
Currently Audio Book:

Next Book:

Next Audio:

Finished Reading: