Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Where She Went

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Date of Release: April 5, 2011 

Goodreads Description: It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other. Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Why am I waiting? I thought I had featured this one already but I was wrong apparently. Anyway, I loved If I Stay and the character of Adam, so I'm super excited that this one is from his POV and am looking forward to seeing what has been happening in Mia and Adam's lives since then. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Author Interview: Katie Kacvinsky

As part of the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event held by Casey from The Bookish Type and Danya from A Tapestry of Words, Katie Kacvinsky, the author of Awaken, is here today to answer some of my questions. 

A bit about Katie (as quoted from Goodreads): Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon. 
As a debut author, how long did it take to write and publish Awaken, and what was the process like?
This could be a really long winded answer, but to summarize it, it only took a couple of months to write a draft of Awaken. It was one of those books that spilled out of me; my characters took over my mind and pretty much wrote it for me. Once I had a solid draft polished, I started looking for agents. I spent almost as much time looking for agents as I did writing the manuscript! When I found representation, we pitched it to publishing houses and it took a few months and we had several rejections. I had interest from one house and even rewrote the first seven chapters and they still stalled. When Houghton Mifflin read it, they jumped on it. I remember my editor called me on a Friday to tell me how much she loved the book and they had a written offer by Monday. I was ecstatic because that’s what I wanted – a publishing house that loved my book and didn’t hesitate on signing it.   

How did you come up with the world and inventions present in Awaken?
I tried to put myself in Maddie’s shoes and see the world through her eyes. I imagined inventions that I think would be cool in the future, like cars that can drive underwater (I’m surprised they aren’t available yet).  I just extrapolated trends I’m seeing around me. 

Given a choice between living in the present or living in your world of 2060, which would you choose?
Well, since my future is a dystopia, I guess I’d prefer the present. Not to be dreadfully cynical, but I think we’re heading for a scary future. We spend more time on the computer every day. President Obama plans to make wireless internet available to 98% of households around the country. That’s great, but it also shows how digitalized we’ve become. If you’re not part of the new digital age, you might as well drop out of our culture. It’s like pushing a drug – I don’t think people realize the internet is a drug and they actually offer rehab for it now.   

Maddie has a bad habit of biting her nails. Tell us about a bad habit that you have.
I have a coffee habit but I’m in hardcore denial that it’s bad. I like to think of it as just a nice morning routine and ignore the fact that I’d probably have a migraine by noon if I didn’t get some caffeine in my system. 

Maddie's mom passes down her favourite books to Maddie. What are some of your favourite books that are worth passing on?
Oh, so many. I have a shelf full of my absolute favorites and some of them are: Cannery Row, Slaughterhouse Five, The World According to Garp, Jellicoe Road, Pride and Prejudice, The Alchemist, Fahrenheit 451, The Unforgiving Minute, Weetzie Bat, Romeo and Juliet, Blue Like Jazz …
Who is your favourite character from Awaken and why?
Justin is my favorite. Even though Maddie is the protagonist, I think the story is just as much Justin’s as it is hers. He has his own feelings to wake up to. He is also the foil against everything technological. More than anything I admire Justin’s perseverance. He won’t back down until he gets what he wants and I think that’s one of the most attractive traits a person can have. 

Do you have any writing projects currently planned for the future?
Yes! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt signed my next book, First Comes Love. This book rocks my world. It's young adult, but it's general teen fiction (instead of sci-fi). I hope to do a sequel for Awaken. Justin and Maddie's story has so many unresolved issues - it definitely needs to continue. Fist Comes Love is angst teen drama and the love story is ... wait for it ... legendary. (Had to steal a line from How I Met Your Mother. Thanks Barney).

A big thanks to Katie for taking the time to answer my question!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Author Interview: Angie Smibert (and Giveaway)

As part of the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event held by Casey from The Bookish Type and Danya from A Tapestry of Words, Angie Smibert, the author of Memento Nora, is here today to answer some of my questions. 

A bit about Angie (as quoted from her website): I was born in Blacksburg, a once sleepy college town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian; organic chemistry had other ideas. But I always had stories in my head. Eventually, after a few degrees and few cool jobs - including a 10-year stint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center - I wrote some of those stories down. I’ve published many short stories, for both adults and teens. My first novel, MEMENTO NORA, will be hitting the shelves in April 1, 2011.

What was the inspiration behind Memento Nora?
The story grew out of a question (or series of questions, really). I was reading about some current research into post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). (Yes, I am a geek.) Scientists are testing drugs to help break the grip that traumatic memories have on PTSD sufferers. The drug in the study helped the memories fade into more “normal” memories. I asked myself what if the drug actually erased those memories - and what if you could get that drug as easily as you could a skinny vanilla latte. I started building the story, the world, and the characters from that point.

Art plays an important role in the lives of Nora, Micah and Winter. Do you have a background in art and what type of art is your favourite?
Nope. I’m no artist, but I’ve hung out (or worked with) many.  My favorite type? I’m fond of impressionist painters - and kinetic sculpture. Really, I like an art that speaks to you in some way.

To remember their stories, the kids all create a comic book. What do you think is the appeal of graphic novels? Oh, and if you do you read a lot of graphic novels yourself, what is your favourite book/series?
I chose for them to do a comic because underground comics have a long history of being subversive. In the 60’s and 70’s, for instance, artists and writers put out political (and other) comics just using pen, paper, and mimeograph (or other type of duplicating machine).  I think graphic novels and comics are engaging and accessible yet the powers-that-be might not take them very seriously. That allows the writer/artist to say a lot. One of my favorite graphic novels - Maus by Art Spiegelman - started out in an underground comic magazine. The graphic novel is only one ever to win a Pulitzer.

How much research did you have to do to figure out how the pill would work?
I did do a fair bit of research. In fact, Memento Nora started out as a short story that appeared in Odyssey, which is teen / tween science magazine. So I had to get the science right.

From the three characters of Nora, Winter and Micah, which one is your favourite and which one are you most like?
It’s not fair to make me pick a favorite! Okay, I will admit I have a soft spot for Winter. I wouldn’t say, though, I’m really more like one character than another. Every writer puts a little bit of themselves in each character.  However, I will say that I wouldn’t have been in Nora’s clique in high school. 


A huge thank you to Angie for taking the time to answer my questions! Oh, and for those of you who want to read Memento Nora, I have an ARC of it to give away.

So, read the rules below, and then fill out this FORM:
  1. This giveaway is US/Canada only! 
  2. You do not have to be a follower to enter.
  3. You must be over the age of 13.
  4. This giveaway will end on April 18, 2011 at 11:59 PM.
  5. I am going to be picky about making sure your entries are tallied correctly. Save me some time and you won't feel my wrath ;)

Review: Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

From Back Cover: On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget. So Nora goes with her mother to TFC - a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take the pill that will erase it. But at TFC, a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember. With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories call Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Angie Smibert’s Memento Nora is a short but tightly woven debut that will leave readers thinking about issues such as violence and terrorism, medicalization, consumerism and the role that governments and corporations play in society.

The novel is told from the perspective of three teenagers, Nora, Micah and Winter, each of whom has their own reason for collaborating on Memento. Aside from having their own unique story, the characters also had very distinctive voices, which I really liked. I would have been able to tell who the narrator was even without the heading showing whose viewpoint I was reading from.

I also thought that the ending was well-done though I was surprised by it. In hindsight however, I should have seen it coming! I definitely hope that there’s a sequel because I’d like to know what happens to Nora, Micah and Winter now.  

Memento Nora will be released on April 1, 2011 by Marshall Cavendish.

Comments About the Cover: Although it’s a little too dark to see the features of the model clearly, I like that it’s hard to see her because she becomes more indistinguishable from other girls. Memento is distributed secretly and the identities of Nora, Micah and Winter as the authors must remain hidden in the book. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received courtesy of Casey from The Bookish Type and Danya from A Tapestry of Words as part of their A Cornucopia of Dystopia event.


For those of you who are curious: We are very far from creating a pill that can make people forget traumatic memories. Not only would this pill have to be selective for certain memories but it would also have to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. Using vectors however, a group of neuroscientists have been successful at selectively ablating fear memory in mice. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Instructions for a Broken Heart

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Instructions for a Broken Heart
Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date of Release: May 1, 2011 

Goodreads Description: Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

Why am I waiting? I love contemporary novels and this one sounds like it'll be a good but funny one. I can't wait to see what Jessa's best friend is going to make her do! Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's set abroad. I'm hoping there's going to be a hot Italian boy to drool over ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (14)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.
For Review: 
Dreamwalk by Sarah MacManus (thanks to Sarah MacManus)

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (thanks to Kari from A Good Addiction)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: I'm Not Her

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: I'm Not Her 
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date of Release: May 1, 2011 

Goodreads Description: “For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy …” Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will? Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor.

Why am I waiting? Sarah Dessen is one of my favourite authors and the description mentions that this one will appeal to her fans. Also, I love books that deal with disorders or diseases because I find it very inspiring when characters learn to confront the reality of having an illness and then overcome it. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

From Inside Jacket: Madison Kasparkova always thought she understood how Karma works. It's that mysterious, powerful force that brings harmony to the universe. You know - do good things and you will be rewarded, do something bad and Karma will make sure you get what's coming to you. A sort of cosmic balancing act. But when Mason Brooks, Maddy's boyfriend of two years, gets caught tongue-wrestling with Miss Perfect Body Heather Campbell, and absolutely nothing happens to either of them - except that they wind up the hot new couple of Colonial High School - it seems like Karma has officially left Maddy in the lurch. That's why Maddy and her best friends, Angie and Jade, decide to start the Karma Club - a secret, members-only organization whose sole purpose is to clean up the messes that the universe has been leaving behind. Whether they're modifying Heather Campbell's acne cream as part of "Operation Butter Face," or righting a few wrongs when it comes to Angie's and Jade's own slimy exes, they know they're just doing what Karma should have done in the first place. They're taking care of one another. Sometimes though, it isn't wise to meddle with the universe. Because it turns out that when you mess with Karma, Karma messes back. Now Maddy must find a way to balance her life for good, even as everything around her seems to be toppling to the ground.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Karma Club by Jessica Brody was a light and engaging read with an original plot and a message that tells you to beware of messing with karma.

Brody did a great job with characterization because not only was Maddy a relatable protagonist but her two best friends, Angie and Jade, were solidly developed as well, and therefore each of the girls had their own distinct personality.

I also really liked the emphasis on friendship in The Karma Club. Maddy, Angie and Jade, are constantly there to support each other and when Maddy comes up with the idea of the Karma Club, she makes sure that justice isn’t only exacted on the people who have humiliated her but also on those who have hurt her friends.

It’s easy to understand why Maddy starts the Karma Club. I mean, who wants to wait around for the universe to give the person that screws you what they deserve when you could restore the balance by yourself right away? The schemes that the girls originally come up with are funny (although a little childish) but it soon felt to me as if Maddy, Angie and Jade didn’t care about what they had to do to get revenge or how their actions would affect other people’s lives.

The other thing that bothered me was that things were wrapped up a little too neatly at the end. However, Maddy is finally able to comprehend how karma works and learns that you don’t want to use karma to get back at others but to spread good in whatever way possible.        

The Karma Club was released in April 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Comments About the Cover: It’s a cute cover and I like that the girl is hiding behind a book because the Karma Club is a secret and all its operations are written down in a notebook.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (13)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.

For Review (via NetGalley): 
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin (thanks to Hyperion Book CH)
Mercy by Rebecca Lim (thanks to Hyperion Book CH) 
Hereafter by Tara Hudson (thanks to HarperTeen)
Die For Me by Amy Plum (thanks to HarperTeen)
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (thanks to HarperTeen)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Wake Unto Me

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Wake Unto Me
Author: Lisa Cach
Publisher: Speak
Date of Release: March 31, 2011 

Goodreads Description: A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt - not to mention a princess for a roommate! - all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school. There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School. And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Why am I waiting? It feels like I've been waiting forever for Wake Unto Me! This is one of the debut novels I'm most excited about because it has so many elements that I love/want in a story. Haunted castle, hot guy (who also happens to be a ghost), a French setting - check, check and check! Plus, look at the cover ...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

In My Mailbox (12)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.
For Review: 
Griffin Rising by Darby Karchut (thanks to Darby Karchut)
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (thanks to Harlequin Teen via NetGalley) 

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

From Back Cover: The small town of Cryer's Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn't that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain. When a second student goes missing - someone close to Kendall's heart - the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall's not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she's losing her grip on reality.. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school - messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there - Kendall decides that crazy or not, she'd never forgive herself if she didn't act on her suspicions. Something's not right in Cryer's Cross - and Kendall's about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I was a little hesitant to start reading Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann since I didn’t really like Fade and especially, Gone. However, Cryer’s Cross was a quick and creepy read that was hard to put down!

The protagonist, Kendall, was very well-developed and was easy to relate to because she’s an average girl. She helps out her parents on their farm, plays soccer and aspires to get out of her small town. But, Kendall also has OCD and the reader can clearly see how it affects her daily life. What I found really interesting was that despite all the negative effects of having OCD, McMann ultimately chose to make Kendall’s OCD beneficial for her.    

To be honest, I was actually expecting Cryer’s Cross to be scary but I don’t think that’s an accurate description of it. For about half of the story, the only really frightening thing about Cryer’s Cross was that two kids had mysteriously disappeared in a very small town and the passages of “We” that were interspersed between what was happening to Kendall. The pace of the book though picks up when Kendall becomes the next target of “We” – I managed to figure out who “We” was before Kendall – and the tone becomes more ominous. In the end, chilling and disturbing are probably better words to describe Cryer’s Cross. 

Cryer's Cross was released in February 2011 by Simon Pulse.

Comments About the Cover: Call me slow, but I couldn’t figure out what the picture was initially (it’s a desk and chair – the overhead view threw me off). After figuring it out though, I love that the title is inscribed into the desk since in Kendall’s school, a desk full of messages has a very important role to play in the story. I also really like the eerie feel of the cover because of the dark colours that are used.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Hunt of the Unicorn

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: The Hunt of the Unicorn 
Author: C.C. Humphreys
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date of Release: March 8, 2011 

Goodreads Description: Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy. Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls - into that other world. Suddenly the line between fantasy and reality isn't so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each of them seems to have an idea about her - that she's a hero, a villain, dinner! But Elayne has a few ideas of her own. She wants to overthrow the king; she wants to tame the unicorn. She wants to go home! And she's willing to become both hero and villain to do it.

Why am I waiting? I'm a sucker for books with gorgeous covers and so added this one to my wishlist right away. I'm also a fan of unicorns but the fact that there's a tapestry in this one kind of reminds me of Maurissa Guibord's Warped (which I haven't read yet). Hopefully the story will be different enough.