Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Release date:
May 3, 2011

One choice

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties . . . forever.

Or, one choice can transform you.

In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals, and unexpected romance.

I've definitely been intrigued by Divergent since seeing the synopsis. I noticed that a lot of bloggers have been getting this title lately, and suddenly I've been seeing a lot of people on Twitter talking about how great it is. I just checked, and all of my of my GoodReads friends who had read this book have given it 5 stars. Will I be pre-ordering, stalking my mailbox until it arrives on my doorstep?

You bet.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hot Brits Thank Yous!

Hot Brits has come and gone, but before we return to regularly scheduled blogging, I wanted to say a few thank yous.

I don't believe I ever mentioned who created the fantastic graphic, but it is not my own work. Like my blog design, it was created by Jessica of A Fanatic's Book Blog. I highly recommend turning to her for all of your design needs.

A huge thanks goes out to Allison of The Allure of Books and Misty of Book Rat for their guest posts, as well as Tara of Fiction Folio for sharing her thoughts on The King's Speech.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who commented on the Hot Brits post and entered the giveaways. If you'd like to win North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and the mini-series on DVD, you have until Friday. Just click here!

Thanks for participating in this event with me. I haven't decided whether or not it'll be back next year, but I'll keep you posted. Happy reading!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (25) and What Are You Reading?

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Across the Universe water bottle
For review:

This Vacant Paradise by Victoria Patterson

Sean Griswold's Head bookmarks from author Lindsey Leavitt
The Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
My Life, the Theater and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski (Review to come closer to book's May release)
Falling In Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen (My review)
Currently reading:

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money In Your Pocket and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha
What I plan to read:
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Angelfire by C.A. Moulton

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Comparative Analysis of Swooning Over Hot Brits

Greetings, fabulous readers. I hope you all have enjoyed Hot Brits week! Today, it draws to a close. You've seen reviews, giveaways, gushes, but you've also seen top swoon-worthy moments from myself, Allison of The Allure of Books and Misty of Book Rat. So now it's time to see what we all love--what you should pick up--and what maybe didn't get the attention it deserved.

I think Jane Austen are two words that come to mind when one hears the phrase period pieces, and she definitely played her part in this week's festivities. However, I also noticed that no clips from Emma or Mansfield Park got any love. I'm not sure why this is, as I've neither read the books or seen any adaptation of either one. Also, I'm the only person who really picked on A Room with a View. I think that one may have been overlooked because it is a slightly later time period than some of the pieces I chose to focus on. Lastly, I noticed Downtown Abbey got no love. I haven't seen it, but I have heard (from trusted sources) that it's good. Is this because of its newness?

It seems that the three films/mini-series that got the most love are the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, the Pride and Prejudice mini-series and the North and South mini-series. I love how for the 2005 P&P we all picked different moments, and in my opinion we pretty much picked out the best scenes of the whole film. Yet I think the fact that three bloggers, each with distinct taste, picked on this adaptation says something about how awesome it is. As for the P&P mini-series, it has Colin Firth. How could you not expect us to find something to swoon over there? Misty and Allison both gushed over North and South, and I need to explain myself here: I would have, but I was still only halfway through the mini-series by the time my post went up. I've watched the last scene of that adaptation about 7 times in the last 48 hours. Oh, and by the way, during the "look back at me scene," I think I heard my heart break for Mr. Thornton.

So those are our favorite moments in summary. Do you agree with our overall choices? Are there any moments that should have gotten more recognition than they did? Let me know in the comments!

Review of Falling In Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen

Falling in Love with English Boys
Sixteen-year-old Catherine Vernon has been stranded in London for the summer—no friends, no ex-boyfriend Adam the Scum (good riddance!), and absolutely nothing to do but blog about her misery to her friends back home. Desperate for something—anything—to do in London while her (s)mother’s off researching boring historical things, Cat starts reading the 1815 diary of Katherine Percival her mom gives her—and finds the similarities between their lives to be oddly close. But where Katherine has the whirls of the society, the parties and the gossip over who is engaged to who, Cat’s only got some really excellent English chocolate. Then she meets William Percival—the uber-hot descendant of Katherine—and things start looking up . . .

I decided to pick this up since it was pretty much guaranteed to have adorable British boys . Falling In Love With English Boys is not a serious read, but a fluffy romance with quirky characters. While it certainly doesn’t fall under my all time favorites, this is a perfect book for someone who wants to escape in a faraway romance.

Cat is dragged overseas by her mother, who is spending her summer working at the British Museum (which is awesome, by the way). This story is a bit like Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly in the sense that Cat finds a historic diary and the narrative alternates between the past and present day. I wasn’t a big fan of Cat--sure, it was fun reading about all of the chocolate she ate, but she was a bit whiny for my taste and didn’t seem to have any real interests of her own. The internet speak in her blog posts also tended to be annoying.

I was, however, a much bigger fan of Will. His character was more well-rounded as a person, and his gentle mockery towards Cat was charming. It was frustrating that it seemed like every time he and Cat had a real substantial conversation, it would be summed up in bullet points, instead of fleshed out in detail. I think that would have made me like him even more.

When the ending of this book finally rolled around, the whole thing felt rushed and a bit contrived. I wanted more emotion than I wound up getting. More details. I did love that Jensen acknowledged how oblivious some boys can be, because I can totally relate to that.

Falling In Love With English Boys was certainly a fun read that kept me turning the pages. However, I’m not sure if the blog form really worked for Cat’s narrative--it seemed like the author used the blog as an excuse to cut things short, and I think the story could have been much more romantic and powerful had several of the scenes been extended. At any rate, those who need a taste of a charming British boy should be sure to pick up this quick, quirky read.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Adaptation Corner: North and South (And A Giveaway)

I first saw the North and South mini-series some time in high school, before I had read the book. After reading the book in November and hearing Nicole of WORD for Teens gush extensively about it on Twitter, I knew it was time for me to buy the DVD and watch it again. Beautifully done and exceptionally acted, I could not ask for more from this fantastic adaptation of Gaskell’s novel.

The directors do a wonderful job of combining cinematic elements to set the tone of the novel. There is a really stark contrast between the locations. I don’t know where they filmed the scenes in Hellstone, but it’s incredibly lush and green. Milton, however, has a grey and dingy landscape. A lot of scenes in the factories incorporate fluffy, white bits of cotton floating through the air. White is a color typically associated with goodness, cleanliness and purity, so I have to wonder if the director was implying that while there is poverty and suffering in this town, it is not a place that is devoid of good. The ethereal feel of the floating cotton was a very stark contrast to all of the machinery. I also definitely noticed scenes where Margaret would be wearing white in the midst of all of the grey, perhaps sending a similar message, or maybe in her case describing how she may not fully understand the suffering of the mill workers at the beginning of the story. All of this is set against the backdrop of a largely orchestral soundtrack that is melancholy and haunting, fitting the mood perfectly.

Plotwise, this adaptation is pretty faithful. The only thing it kind of skims is why Mr. Hale wanted to leave Hellstone. I love how none of the characters personalities or the issues of social class are seriously sugar coated or altered. I remembered Margaret’s character as being somewhat weaker in this adaptation, but my memory served me incorrectly--she was strong yet still emotional. Honestly, every character was fantastically acted and played. Richard Armitage is not only gorgeous but does a wonderful job of depicting all of the changes that Mr. Thornton goes through over the course of this story.

This film is topped off with a perfect ending. I love that scene so much. It would have made my swoon worthy moments post, but I only finished re-watching the mini-series last night. I don’t know what more I can comprehensibly say about this adaptation. It is beautiful and well done in so many ways. Go watch it.

In fact, I feel so strongly that you should watch this mini-series that I am giving away one copy of the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and one DVD of the mini-series. If you’d like to win, just fill out the form below.
*One winner will receive North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and a copy of the North and South mini-series on DVD.
*Open to U.S. residents only (sorry, international readers).
*The giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on February 26th.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tara Speaks About The King's Speech

Hey guys! I hope everyone is enjoying Hot Brits week. I'm so grateful to everyone who's commented, guest posted, or entered the giveaway. It's great to see so much participation!

Today, Tara of Fiction Folio posted a review of the film The King's Speech on her blog. It may not be a period piece or an adaptation, but is a fantastic film which Tara (and I) both highly recommend.
And let's not forget the best part of the movie - COLIN FIRTH. Phew. There are not enough words to describe how completely fantastic this man was.

Check out Tara's full review here, as well as the rest of her awesome blog!

Misty's Favorite Swoon Worthy Moments.

Hey everyone! Today I have Misty of Book Rat here to share her favorite swoon-worthy moments. I hope you all enjoy her picks!

One of the great things about the great period pieces are those moments, those perfect little moments, when everything is so right it almost makes you ache. Here are my favorite, most memorable moments (from 2 versions of Pride and Prejudice, and 1 of North and South -- yes, they're all practically the same movie. You may see a theme...) Enjoy!

3. Though I am for the most part not as big a fan of this P&P adaptation, I do however love this scene. When I first watched it, I didn't like this scene, and was having an angry diatribe on-going in my head -- until the very end of the scene, when there's this breathless "will he?" moment...

2.We all love the moment where Colin Firth comes out of the water. I'm sure many a period-piece obsessed woman has had her moments of Googling "Colin Firth + wet shirt". But my favorite scene, perhaps an even better still than the wet-shirt, is this look Firth-as-Darcy gets on his face, this sort of starry-eyed bit of magic when he's thinking of Lizzie; I couldn't find a clip of that, but this is the look I'm talking about:
But yes, I'm also quite enamored of this scene, the awkwardness around the middle makes it:

I need you to understand something. I didn't know Richard Armitage from anything other than Robin Hood, where he's kind of a jack ass. (He grew on me eventually, but in the beginning...) So when I first sat down to North and South, I was fully prepared to continue in my dislike of him. But of course, if you've seen it, you know he won me over, and he crowns it with this scene near the end of the movie. The look Armitage (as Thornton) gives Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) is breathtaking. He looks so completely full of wonder and love that it makes my stomach drop. It's worth watching the movie just for the build-up to that scene. (Other people praise this look back at me" scene, too, and I can find no fault with that...)

(psst! If you have Netflix, you can watch this NOW on instant streaming!)

So, every time I see these scenes, every time someone mentions them, every time I even think of them, I simply must watch the entire movie again. And when I'm done...well, I may just watch it through one more time. Just to be thorough, you understand.

So what are your favorite scenes from period pieces?

Thanks so much for stopping by, Misty! Be sure to comment with your favorite period piece moments!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Brits on the Big Screen: My Favorite Moments

Hey everyone! I hope you're enjoying Hot Brits week. Yesterday, Allison of The Allure of Books shared her swoon worthy moments. I've decided to divide my moments into three categories: Harry Potter, humorous moments and swoon worthy moments.

Harry Potter

I'm not going to post a video of a specific moment here, but instead show you two characters that always put a smile on my face.

I'll admit, my attraction to these two has diminished lately, but right when I was sixteenish they made my heart go pitter patter. I've always had a soft spot for red heads.

Humorous Moments

For this first clip, go to the 5:00 mark in the video. Now, I need to confess that I haven't read any Jeeves & Wooster novels (by P.G. Wodehouse), but I have been watching the t.v. show since I was at least five years old. I think Honoria Glossop is one of the most hilarious characters in the entire show because she's very boisterous, in a way.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, let me explain. Bertie is a a man with a very large inheritance and Jeeves is a valet. Bertie is a party boy, and his social graces are sometimes lacking. The scene between Honoria and her mother is the modern equivalent of my mom approaching me and saying, "Honey, I want you to marry this unemployed, lazy party boy for the sole reason that he is rich." Not only do I love Honoria's witty comment about Bertie being a birthday gift, I would have a similar addition to such a question, except I would also go into immediate cardiac arrest.

Of course, not all friends and relatives pushing a favorable marriage are as reserved as Mrs. Glossop. In the below clip, Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton become very engrossed in trying to figure out who has captured Elinor's attention.

I for one would be sitting there trying to create a diversion, perhaps by choking or something.

A lot of us are probably familiar with the 1985 adaptation of A Room With A View by E.M. Forster, and every time I watch the scene below (which starts a minute into the video), I can't help but giggle like an immature sixth grader. Before you start watching, be advised that this scene contains full on nudity.

And that, friends, is why carrying a parasol when you're hiking in the woods is so important. The guys decided to stop acting repressed for five minutes, and they got caught. I love seeing how differently Lucy, Cecil and Mrs. Honeychurch react to this scene, because it reveals something much deeper about how willing to let go of convention each one of them is.

Romantic Moments

Time for another moment from A Room With A View
. Passion simply takes over in this moment, and sets in motion a whole chain of events. I love the honesty in this scene. Skip to 5:20 in the video.

In case you haven't guessed, the next few moments are going to be from Austen adaptations, the first from Sense and Sensibility. I know a lot of you might disagree with me here since Elinor freaks out the entire scene, but Edward is incredibly sweet about the entire thing.

For the last few moments I'm going to focus on Pride and Prejudice. I would throw in some North and South, but I need to finish re-watching it. And I need to start Downtown Abbey.

I can't find the engagement scene from the 2005 film, but I adore the lighting in that scene. It is truly beautiful. I also love the way Elizabeth and Darcy become physically intimate but don't kiss, because it shows that they really love each other and want to savor every moment.
The proposal scene from 1995 has me in tears every time, and you can click here to watch it.

I don't think this last clip requires words. All I will say is watch where Elizabeth's eyes goes. I think she may be interested in Mr. Darcy...

There you have it. Some of my favorite moments of Hot Brits on big screens. You'll be seeing the favorite scenes of one more blogger, as well as a comparison, so keep your eyes peeled.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Allison's Swoon-Worthy Movie Moments

Hey everyone! Today I have Allison of The Allure of Books here to talk about some of her swoon-worthy moments. Take it away, Alllison!

Hey guys! I'm really happy to be here talking about some of my favorite swoon-worthy moments from British mini-series classics. Reading books like North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and Persuasion by Jane Austen is all well and good...but let's be real. Sometimes, instead of reading, it's nice to pop in a movie to get caught up in a story - and the actors. In fact, before I even talk about my favorite movie scenes, let's just take a moment to admire...
Captain Wentworth from the 2007 Persuasion adaptation - he cleans up quite nicely. This movie isn't going to make my list because the climatic scenes are kinda awkward (in my opinion). but I couldn't leave him out completely!


Okay now, let's talk movie scenes.

As far as Pride & Prejudice goes, I have a hard time picking an overall favorite between the BBC Colin Firth version and the shorter 2005 movie version. I love the way the BBC mini-series is nice and long - and sticks closely to the book. However, some of the scenes from the 2005 movie are awesome - like at the dance when Elizabeth totally sticks it to Darcy. Plus, the ending is much more swoon-worthy. My favorite scene is actually when they meet on the bridge in the morning, but the following isn't too shabby either:

A lot of people know and love Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South movie (and rightly so), but I don't think as many are familiar with Wives & Daughters. The entire book/movie is full of one of the absolute best casts of characters ever. I especially love the end of the movie because it is absolutely nothing like the book (which Gaskell didn't finish before she died anyway). Here it is (if you want, you can skip ahead to the 3:00 mark):

Here is the end of Northanger Abbey, another favorite of mine...again, a little different than the book (more romantic anyway):

Now we get to my favorite of them all: North & South. I absolutely adore both the book and the movie and have read/watched multiple times. There are two pieces of the movie that I particularly love, here is the first (which does not happen the same in the book):

And, the end...the ultimate swoon-worthy moment:

So, those are a few of my favorite movie moments. Make sure and comment telling us what you think of my list and what your favorite moments are! Thanks very much to Liz for letting me stop by!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Allison! Be sure to stay tuned, because you'll be seeing some of my own swoon-worthy moments very soon, as well as those of one other blogger.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss Giveaway

Not all Hot Brits are created entirely British. Some of them are half American, half British and living in Paris, like Etienne St. Clair from Stephanie Perkins's wonderful debut novel Anna and the French Kiss. I love Etienne because he's a character who's a mix of fun and sensitive, yet he still has his imperfections. So, since I can't give away a real, live hot Brit, I'm going to give you all a chance to win your own copy of Anna and the French Kiss.

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Want Etienne St. Clair to be a part of your life? Just fill out the form below.
*One winner will receive a finished copy of Anna and the French Kiss.
*Open internationally.
*Ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on February 19th.

Hot Brits Week Starts Now!

Happy Valentine’s Day, my wonderful blog readers. I hope that those of you who are celebrating with someone are having a fantastic time. In high school, I was pretty bitter about Valentine’s Day--I would wear all black and mope. These days, I’m just kind of apathetic about the whole thing. I’ll be celebrating with my parents and my dog, so there’s no romance for me, which is fine. However, the snow in Minnesota has been grey, it’s just now starting to warm up from below zero temperatures and I’m waiting to hear from graduate schools, so I decided to spice things up for myself. And do you know what makes me feel better about life? Period pieces.

If you told me I could get on a plane to go to England, my first reaction might be slight hesitation. I spent my junior year abroad there, and fell in love with a British guy (things didn’t work out there). I think like a lot of Americans, I had really romantic notions about England--little lambs frolicking in meadows, hot guys riding around on horseback saving women with sprained ankles, and the expectation that every literary activity and every historic spot would be a sublime experience. I will say I spent about the first week going, “WOW! EVERYONE has a British accent!” A lot of my experiences in England were great, like visiting Powderham Castle, Stourhead Estate and the countless number of museums in London. Not to mention, I made tons of awesome friends. However, it did lose a bit of its enchantment when I was there, such as when my eleven flatmates would run screamingly drunk around my flat at 2 a.m. Or when the cleaning lady would come by, scream “This kitchen is in an absolute state!” at early hours. Of course, some experiences that may have seemed really romantic on the surface, such as gazing at the ocean over the cliffs of Tintangel Castle, were a little different than expected because of our program supervisor continuously warning us not to run over the edge of the cliff (and really, who can blame him?), or the wind slapping my hair right into my eyes. Like any experience, the whole year was a mixed bag. Even though it wasn't quite a period piece, I'll always be grateful for my time abroad.

Given the conditions in Minnesota as stated above, the idea of standing on a cliff contemplating the love of my life as music swells (yes, I am thinking of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice) without the program director telling me not to fall. However, these stories also have witty commentary on society during their times, as well as lots of hot guys. Plus, there are always hot guys. And let’s not forget, YA literature also has its share of smoking British characters and locations. So I am having an entire week celebrating great period pieces, fabulous British characters, enchanting settings and faraway love stories.

Get ready for a week of talk about movies, beloved characters, a review, guest posts and a few giveaways.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (24) and What Are You Reading?

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Breathless Book Tour Swag
Ten Little Zombies by Andy Rash
For review:
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney (From Star Book Tours, which I forgot to mention in the vlog)
The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski (Not mentioned in vlog, but also from Star Book Tours)
Books signed:
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Matched by Ally Condie
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller


Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett (My review)
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
Currently reading:

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
Falling In Love With English Boys by Melissa Jensen
The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money In Your Pocket and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha
What I plan to read:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Angelfire by C.A. Moulton

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Breathless Tour Stop: Minneapolis

When I first heard rumors of a Breathless Tour, I hoped and prayed. I had read and enjoyed Nightshade, The Replacement and Matched. Upon hearing that there would be a Minnesota stop, I flipped out and immediately cleared my entire schedule for the day.

Even though the signing was at 7:00, I left my house at 2:00. Yes, I sound crazy, but I thought that it would take 2 hours to get to Minnetonka where the venue was, and I had to use the two highways most frequented by commuters to get there. Have I mentioned that rush hour starts as early as 3:00 some days? I got to the library at 3:00, with plans of meeting the bloggers behind Looksie Lovitz and Mystifying Paranormal Reviews at 4:30. I passed the time until I got there browsing in the library’s children’s section, which is beautiful and welcoming, and teen area, eventually curling up in the Dunn Bros. coffee shop in the building with a book. Once everyone else arrived, we all went to the mall across the street and got Chinese food for dinner. Tasty!

The event was held in a large meeting space at the library, and we went in at 6:30 to grab good seats. Before the event, everyone was given a poster and a folder with discussion guides on all of the books, plus there was the opportunity to grab swag. The authors arrived promptly at 7:00, along with a teen moderator. Each author said a little about themselves and their main characters, and then the floor was opened for questions. Over the course of the evening we learned lots of fun facts, about the authors, including:

All of the authors love the covers of their books. Brenna loves hers so much she can’t articulate her feelings, and Ally cried when she saw hers.

*Andrea’s writing essentials are her iPod and black coffee.

*Beth says she wishes people would ask if there are Easter Eggs in her books, which there are. For example, Amy is frozen in locker 42 because Beth loves Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and there is a character named Kaylee named after the character Kaylee from the t.v. show Firefly.

*Kirsten stayed up until 4 a.m. the night before our tour stop because a new book idea hit her.

*Neither Brenna nor Andrea writes their stories in chronlogical order, but Beth does.

*With the exception of Brenna, everyone’s book is part of a series (although she does have another book coming out).

*There will be another book coming out in Kirsten’s Kiki Strike series.

And so much more, I can’t possibly fit it all here. I will say that Beth talked about how she likes to torture her readers with cliffhanger endings, and it was quickly decided that she is ergo evil. The authors had packets of buttons to give away, and I won one for being the person to come from farthest away, aside from someone from China (who also got buttons).

After an hour of listening to what the panel had to say, it was time to get our books signed! My comrades and I decided to let everyone else go first so we could try to get pictures with the authors afterwards. Furthermore, I had a grand total of 11 books to get signed and swag, so I would have felt bad sprinting to the front of the line. The wait was shorter than I expected, and so worth it in the end. I got to chat with all of the authors a bit--fangirl with Beth over Firefly, gush to Brenna about how much I loved her book, tell Ally that I was extremely curious as to where she’ll be taking us next in her series, talk to Kirsten about how awesome librarians are and say hi to Andrea, who I met at her release party. After that, I was able to grab a group shot with the authors!
From left to right: Myself, Kirsten, Ally, Brenna, Andrea and Beth
And yes, I wore the purple cardigan so I would match Beth's and Andrea's covers. Plus, it looked nice with the other books.

Between the panel and the amazing authors who signed tons of books, this may have been one of the most awesome signings I have ever attended. I can’t stop staring at my signed books and now feel the need to read Across the Universe and The Eternal Ones ASAP. Of course, I always like to have your backs, so I did get some books signed for giveaway. However, I may wait until May and have it be a blogoversary giveaway, so keep your eyes peeled.

Thanks to the authors, Ridgedale Library and Red Balloon Bookshop for teaming up to hold an awesome and memorable event!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Visit to Another Blog

The Nerd's Wife

Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know that I'm doing a guest post on dystopia over at The Nerd's Wife today! For those of you who don't know, Arena is the wonderful blogger behind The Nerd's Wife and she writes about cooking, photography and geeking in addition to reading. Arena is super sweet and an awesome blogger friend, so I highly suggest that you pay her a visit!

Review of These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

These Things Hidden
When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn—shy, quiet Brynn—who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her.

But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister.

Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

I was instantly intrigued by the summary of These Things Hidden. How many YA books deal with a teen who just got out of prison? At its core, These Things Hidden is a well plotted story that deals with challenging issues. However, some of its finer points didn’t quite work for me.

The narration is split between four characters: Allison, Brynn, Charm and Claire. Throughout the story, we learn how they are connected. One of my core problems with this story was Brynn: I found her extremely difficult to like. I felt sorry for her because she clearly had problems, some beyond her control, but I also felt like she made minimal effort to make amends where she would. I do think that the fact that I disliked Brynn so strongly is indicative of Gudenkauf’s ability to write compelling characters.

Looking at a super rough, not well detailed outline of the plot, I would say that I enjoyed this story. But when I got to all of the details, the novel felt too much like a soap opera. I felt that there were so many plot twists that the story becomes unbelievable. However, I will say that I think Gudenkauf did a wonderful job of tackling tough issues, particularly by adding her own author’s note at the end.

I think These Things Hidden is a story with a lot of potential, but the finer details didn’t work for me. I read an ARC of book, so the final version may be different. I also think I read this book at the wrong time--I read it right after seeing Black Swan, and I think the premise of the story was too grim for me after seeing a movie that scared me so much, but I had to finish this one because I had it from an ARC tour. I invite you all to check out other reviews of this book which I’ve linked down below, because some reviewers felt very differently than I.

Other reviews:


Candace's Book Blog

Confessions of a Bookaholic

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review of Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings by Sophia Bennett

When they meet a Ugandan refugee girl who's an amazing designer, three trendy London teens combine their talents to create some kind of wonderful. A hip, cute, multiculti fashion fairy tale!

Nonie's a freak for fashion. Bleeding-heart Edie wants to green the planet. And starter-starlet Jenny has just landed a small part in a big Hollywood blockbuster. But when these trendy London besties meet a Ugandan refugee girl named Crow, sketching a dress at the Victoria & Albert Museum, their worldview gets a makeover. As they learn about the serious situation in Crow's homeland, they decide to pool their talents to call attention to the crisis. One of Crow's designs on the red carpet at the Oscars--quelle chic way to raise awareness! to "make it work"?!

Despite the old saying “Never judge a book by its cover,” a lot of readers do precisely that. When I saw the cover of Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings it looked like a fluffy read that would lift my spirits on a dreary afternoon. While this novel proved to be a fun book that any fashion obsessed reader will fall in love with, it also had much more substantial messages and themes.

The story is set in motion when Nonie buys a sweater and several skirts made by Crow, a Ugandan refuge who she knows through her friend Edie. I was quickly swept up in a story of fashion and friendship. I think any reader who’s into clothes will enjoy the descriptions of Nonie’s outfits and Crow’s creation. At first, Nonie and Jenny both seemed a little bit shallow to me. Nonie seemed to think that she was always superior to Jenny and Edie in some way, but thankfully her character wasn’t static.

Crow’s story had a few small plot holes. She spent all of her time designing, and even though Bennett did mention that her reading skills improved, it never seemed like she was doing homework, which is odd because she was in school. However, I think the most important aspect of her story was the fact that it brought the plight of other children in her situation to light. There is an author’s note at the end of the story about how you can help, but for those who haven’t read the book, I recommend checking out the websites Save the Children and Invisible Children.

Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings is the perfect balance of light and serious. Teenagers and pre-teens who love fashion will gobble this book up, and also become more aware in the process. The perfect dose of girly fun, I’m eager to read future installments in this series.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Christina Mandelski's debut novel, about a young teen juggling first love, a cake-decorating business, her dad's reality TV show, and a search for her missing mother.
This cover makes me want to drop every single thing I am doing and feed my sweet tooth like there is no tomorrow. The colors are eye-catching and grab my attention right away. Cover aside, this sounds story sounds like a perfect mix of sweetness, seriousness and humor. I can't wait to get my hands on it.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review of Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Think you know paranormal romance? Alex Flinn gives the genre a twist in this modern fairy-tale mash-up!

Johnny’s not your average hero. But a little magic changes everything. There isn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. It all starts with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess. And before Johnny knows it, he is on a mission in the Evergladws, with only a flock of swans and a talking fox named Joe to help guide him against the forces of an evil witch.

It’s pretty hard to tell from the synopsis of Cloaked what it’s going to be about, but the term “fairy-tale mash-up” is incredibly apt. There’s an authors note at the end of the ARC where Flinn talks about her love of Grimm’s fairy tales and she says “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” “The Frog Prince,” “The Six Swans,” “The Golden Bird,” “The Valiant Tailor” and “The Fisherman and His Wife” are all incorporated in Cloaked. Phew! Sounds like with all of that background, things could get messy, right? On the contrary, friends. Flinn’s novel is a fast-paced read that had me wanting to know what happened.

I have to admit that when I first started reading Cloaked, I was a little confused, but the sense of espionage surrounding the story intrigued me. It seemed like Flinn was trying to connect a couple of vastly different storylines, and I had no idea how she was going to do it. By the end of the novel, each element of the story fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There were definitely a couple of curveballs that I did not see coming, which I think is a result of not being especially familiar with any of the fairy tales included in this story. Maybe someone who is a hardcore Grimm brothers fan would fill totally different.

Unfortunately, what stopped me from really enjoying this novel was Johnny, the main character. I loved that he was a straight guy who was so into shoes. Thank you, Alex Flinn, for breaking a gender stereotype! Yet as he ventured and looked for the frog, I kept wondering when he was going to learn. He seemed a bit too quick to trust others, and after a while that got frustrating. While this is certainly understandable once or twice in any given plot, Johnny’s behavior felt too repetitious for me to feel sorry for him. He also frustrated me a bit in terms of the romance of the story, but at least he eventually caught on there. However, I thought Meg was a great character, and I adored several of the minor characters. Flinn definitely gave them some snappy one-liners.

While it may not look like it from the cover, Cloaked is a quick, feel good read. However, it may not satisfy those who know Grimms’ fairy tales really well, because they might be able to guess everything that’s going to happen. I was glad to remember some stories that I had forgotten about and escape into Flinn’s world for a couple hundred pages. If you like light-hearted fairy tale spin-offs or reading about shoes, be sure to pick this one up.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writing and Liz

I wanted to talk about my writing, so I decided to make a vlog about it. Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Review of Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Vixen (Flappers, #1)
Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.
I often develop pre-conceptions about books before I read them, and I love it when I am proved wrong and wind up liking something more than I expected to. To me, Vixen looked like a story that would be mostly 1920s cat fights with words like “flapper” and “speakeasy” tossed in periodically to make it look like historical fiction. Instead, it proved to have the right amount of drama to keep me interested interconnected with themes that will help teenagers understand what America was like in the 1920s.

The narrative is split between three characters: Lorraine, Gloria and Clara, and they all came across as somewhat selfish at first. At first this story seemed to be a 1920s version of Mean Girls. Who will bring who down first? The writing was iffy for me at first, and I didn’t know how to feel about the girls’ friend Marcus, so I wasn’t confident that I would enjoy this book.

Once I got further into the story, it become more obvious that the characters have interests people can relate to regardless of time period. The romantic plots definitely kept me reading. However, this story also delves into issues of race and social class at the time. I think it’s awesome that Larkin has provided us with an enjoyable plotline that will actually educate readers.

Vixen is a novel that will entertain readers of all ages. I’m eager not only to see where this series goes, but to read Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things for the sake of comparison. I highly recommend this one for fans of historical fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Woman In White: Halfway There

I've fallen disgustingly behind on The Woman In White but have continued reading it and enjoying it.

Collins wastes no time in jumping right into the plot. The reader is immediately presented with puzzles and mysteries, making he or she want to continue reading and find out what's going on. As the novel goes on, we hear what's happening from a variety of narrators. I particularly enjoy this because each one has such a distinct voice. This story has two elements of a great mystery novel: romance and suspense. There is a lot of in depth detail, so you have to make sure to stay alert.

I've read a bit past the halfway point by now, and at a total "OMGWTFBBQ!!!" moment of the story, so I can't wait to see what happens next. Look out for my full review soon!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prom and Prejudice Twitter Party!

Hey everyone! You may remember I recently held a giveaway for Elizabeth Eulberg's Prom and Prejudice. While the giveaway has ended and the winners have been contacted, the fun is far from over. A chance to celebrate the book's release, chat with the author and win more fabulous prizes is just around the corner!

Join Prom & Prejudice author Elizabeth Eulberg and Tirzah of The Compulsive Reader for a Twitter party Thursday, February 3, between 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. EST!
Be sure to follow Elizabeth @ElizEulberg and Tirzah @compelledtoread before the party!
Join the fun! No one expects you or your tweets to be perfect; we’re just happy you made it to the party!
  • Watch for giveaways from @compelledtoread and win fun prizes!
  • To join the party, you can use a free service like TweetChat or TweetGrid or just search #PromAndPrejudice on Twitter.
  • Ask Elizabeth questions or chat with other partygoers—just use the tag #PromAndPrejudice in all of your party tweets!
  • Please don’t post any spoilers and don’t forget to pay attention to the time zones, the party starts at 8:00pm EST.
I hope you all decide to stop by, because it sounds like it's going to be a fantastic party!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Buying Ban

It's February. The snow is gray and disgusting. I have heaps of unread books lying around my room, and lots of cold winter days. Admittedly, I've been fairly busy with graduate school applications and the FAFSA is looming in my near future. Plus, I should try and put out job applications. These prospects frighten me, but I trudge onwards.

As you can see, I'm reasonably busy these days. I keep starting at the piles of my books in my room going, "I REALLY want to read that one! Like this month! Well, okay, maybe next month. Or I could fit it in after my birthday! Yeah! No, wait..." Do you ever have these conversations with yourself? I do.

I've decided to cut back on my agony a bit. This month, I am going on a book buying ban. I know you are gasping as you are staring at you are staring at your screens, and some of you have fainted. But I'd like some quality time with the books I already own. My hope is that reading a chunk of them without buying new books will help me feel closer to reading all of the books I hope to read in this lifetime. Or not, because that number looms over 1,000. Hey, I'll at least catch up on what I own, so I can stare at my shelves and feel more accomplished. Plus my wallet will be glad. I may prolong the ban to March, depending on how it goes this month. My hope is that spending some time going cold turkey will help me keep myself in check in the future--you know, I'll finish February, say "Dang, I still have a lot of unread books," and take a minute to slow down next time I'm in a bookstore.

February in Minnesota always involves incredibly cold weather and snow that has long ago turned gray, as well as gloomy skies. So I might just be crazy. For now, I am going to make an honest attempt to read what I already own.

Are you trying to cut back on your book buying habit, even if only for a while? Let me know in the comments, because I'd love some solidarity on this one.


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