Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (34)

In My Mailbox is all of the awesome stuff we've received in the mail for the week and is hosted by Kristi The Story Siren.   

This week has made me want to tear out the little bit of hair I have left! I know you guys havn't heard from me since Monday because my internet's been in and out all week. Luckily I was able to get a new router tonight so I'm back. Anywho here's what I got:

 ~Chime by Franny Billingsley
 ~Illusions by Aprilynne Pike (Woohoo!!)
~She Said/She Saw by Norah McClintock
 ~Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
 ~Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
 ~Pretty Bad Things by C.V. Skuse

So book wise it has been a pretty good week!

Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger

Publication Date: January 3, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:

Jasbir, a.k.a. Jazz, has always been a stellar student and an obedient, albeit wise-cracking, daughter. Everything has gone along just fine--she has good friends in the "genius" program she's been in since kindergarten, her teachers and principal adore her, and her parents dote on her. But now, in her junior year of high school, her mother hears that Jazz was seen hugging a boy on the street and goes ballistic. Mom immediately implements the Guided Dating Plan, which includes setting up blind dates with "suitable," pre-screened Indian candidates. The boy her mother sets her up with, however, is not at all what anyone expects; and the new boy at school, the very UNsuitable hottie, is the one who sets Jazz's blood boiling. When Jazz makes a few out-of-the-ordinary decisions, everything explodes, and she realizes she'll need a lot more than her genius education to get out of the huge mess she's in. Can Jazz find a way to follow her own heart, and still stay in the good graces of her parents?

My Two Cents:
Jazz just wants to be a normal teen that makes her own mistakes on her own terms....which is exactly what she does. She is Punjabi and Sikh. Her parents are pretty strict and want her to live a life of a good Indian girl. In other words...don't embarrass them. So far Jazz has made her parents proud but when she first lays eyes on Tyler R. at school all of that goes out of the window. She decides she'll do whatever it takes to have him.
There's also the story of her Aunt Kinder who has been abused by her ex-husband who's now trying to take her daughter away. Apparently her parents had arranged that marriage after seeing her in a "compromising position" with who she felt was her soulmate. Jazz finds this story heartbreaking and devotes her time and a chunk of this book trying to get them two together.

After being seen hugging her good friend Jeeves, Jazz' parents decide to arrange a guided dating plan. This pretty much involves them setting her up with suitable Indian guys. When she gets set up with Mit, it's not exactly love at first sight but works for the both of them. This leaves her more time to devote to Tyler R. There were many time I wanted to grab Jazz and just shake her because she was doing some crazy things that made me gasp.

It also brought up some underlying issues regarding Indians and West Indians that I didn't even know existed. The rules for the Punjabi girls/women were also put out there. I can imagine it must be pretty difficult to live the life of a typical American teenage girl with all of these rules you have to follow.

This was a refreshing book to read. There were no drugs or poverty issues involved therefore giving us a different story. One that makes me smile instead of cringe.


Monday, February 21, 2011

This or That with Cris Beam

Let's give a HUGE welcome to Cris Beam who is the author of I am J! I must say that this is one of my most anticipated books for this year so I'm excited to have her. Today she's doing what is called This or That. Here goes:  

Apples or Bananas

Bananas, definitely. They’re just funny by nature. Nothing funny about an apple.  

The Spa or the Gym

If I could afford it, I’d say the spa. That’s like asking “chocolate or wheat germ.” The gym is just a necessary evil.  

Historical fiction or Paranormal

Historical fiction, for sure! Real life is spooky enough.  

Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt

Um, I guess Brad Pitt, because he gets to be with Angelina. And Tom Cruise is into Scientology, which is pretty paranormal if you ask me.  

Pink or Purple


Vintage or Modern

Both. Preferably together.  


Mac all the way. I’ve been an apple junkie from the beginning. Like I said in #1, apples aren’t funny, but they make a mean computer.  

Fast Food or Home Cooked

Home-cooked, quickly.  

Superhero or Villain

Superhero, with villainous streaks. Actually, they’re often the same character just plopped in different circumstances.  

Lady Gaga or Madonna

This one’s tough; I love them both. Madonna’s an icon, and Gaga’s still becoming, but they both break boundaries for the mainstream in really important ways.  

Hot Dogs or Hamburgers

Hamburgers. I live in New York, where the hot dogs kind of freak me out.  (LOL I agree!)

Harry Potter or Percy Jackson

Harry Potter, though it’s about time for a female protagonist to come from a lineage of wizards or gods!  

Dogs or Cats

Ouch. I have both, adore both. Water or air? You need both to survive.  

Skinny Jeans or Sweats

Sweats, I guess. Skinny jeans: not-so-cute on the not-so-skinny. I vote for hoop skirts! 

Coffee or Tea

Coffee! Preferably a latte in a slightly chipped bowl next to a good book with the afternoon sun streaming in. 

 About Cris:

Cris Beam is an author and professor in New York City. She is the author of Transparent, a nonfiction book that covers seven years in the lives of four transgender teenagers, which won the Lambda Literary Award for best transgender book in 2008, and was a Stonewall Honor book. Her young adult novel, I am J, was released by Little, Brown in March 2011, and a nonfiction book about the state of foster care in the U.S. will be released by Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt in 2012. She teaches creative writing at Columbia University, New York University, The New School, and Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chopping it Up with Tammar Stein

Today we are joined by Tammar Stein, who's here to talk about her newest title Kindred. Here's a little about her:

Tammar Stein is the award-winning author of the young adult novels Light Years and High Dive. Her third novel, Kindred, will be published February 8, 2011.

Tammar has lived in Israel, Italy, Germany and all over the United States. She currently lives in Florida with her family and bilingual dog. When she’s not working, chances are she’s reading, or day dreaming, or slapping at mosquitoes, or washing the dishes that seem to breed and multiply while her back is turned. Okay, not really. Really, if she’s not working, she’s reading. 

Describe Kindred in 10 words or less.
Someone. Is. Watching. 
What exactly is a bilingual dog?
That gets more questions than anything else! My husband and I adopted our black lab when we lived in Germany. She was 11 months old and already trained in German commands. She understands English, but even after all these years, nothing gets her attention like a German command. 
You've done a lot of traveling over the years. Where is one place you haven't been that you'd like to go?
Oh, there are just too many places to pick one! After reading Eat, Pray, Love I am now set on visiting Bali. I’d love to travel and live in Japan. Prince Edward Island in Canada sounds amazing. Shall I go on? New Zealand. Fuji. Thailand. Seattle and the Oregon coast. Peru. Argentina. My bucket list is quite long. 
There's been so many "angel" books being released lately. What would you say makes Kindred different?
I haven’t actually read the angel books out there. I started working on KINDRED almost four years ago. There were lots of vampires around, but no angels. And it’s not that I set out to write something “different.” I just had this scene flash through my mind of a young woman visited by an angel and honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that they could have a romance. It’s an archangel. They’re terrifying! 
What book have you ever faked reading?
What an embarrassing question, I’m an English Lit major! But I have to admit, I have never been able to get through Moby Dick. [blush]
Do you see any of yourself in Miriam?
Sure, I do. We’re not the same person, obviously, but her struggle to do the right thing, wanting to take care of people, and her self doubt, I’ve experienced all of those in my life.

 Check her out at these spots:






In My Mailbox (33)

In My Mailbox highlights all the best things we've received during the week and is hosted by Kristi The Story Siren. This week was nice. Not too many but just enough to keep my shelf in it's normal overflowing state! One day I will do a shelf tour so you guys can get a good laugh.

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is. Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.
She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.
Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

In this companion novel, seventeen-year-old Ai Ling—her powers stronger than ever—stows away aboard a cargo ship in order to protect devastatingly handsome Chen Yong during his quest to locate his father. Masquerading as brother and sister, Ai Ling and Chen Yong face demonic predators on the ocean voyage, but their biggest threat comes from the kingdom of the dead. Part supernatural page-turner, part love story, and altogether stirring, Fury of the Phoenix further heralds the arrival of Cindy Pon as a stellar author of paranormal romance and fantasy. 

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner

While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him.

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

What did you guys get??

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kindred by Tammar Stein

 Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:

Miriam is an unassuming college freshman stuck on campus after her spring break plans fall through. She's not a religious girl--when pressed she admits reluctantly to believing in a higher power. Truth be told, she's about as comfortable speaking about her faith as she is about her love life, which is to say, not at all.

Then the archangel Raphael pays Miriam a visit, and she finds herself on a desperate mission to save two of her contemporaries. To top it all off, her twin brother, Mo, has also had a visitation, but from the opposite end of the good-evil spectrum, which leaves Miriam to wonder--has she been blessed and her brother cursed or
vice versa? And what is the real purpose behind her mission?

 My Two Cents:

The first thing I read when I have a book I know nothing about is the back cover. Well I read the back summary for this one and saw questions. Usually by the time I finish reading a book, I know the answer to those questions. Not in this one. I still have those same questions. 

Miriam is approached by Raphael and is given a mission to save two people. Well she kinda sucks at it. Suddenly she begins to have bowel movements frequently and is getting pretty sick. By the end of the book I have no idea what's the deal with her health. Is she suddenly cured? Is she going to die?

This was also very religious and filled with scriptures that didn't even help her complete her missions. Another issue I had was I figured Raphael would be a big part of his book but nope.  Miriam's love interest was pretty much the only thing that made a bit of sense, except how she met him. Normally she's pretty quiet and innocent. With him she suddenly becomes a sex kitten that's flirty and oozing sexuality. Strange. Miriam's brother Mo is another mystery to me. So apparently he's working for "the other side" but what happens with that?? I have no idea. He's staying out late, he has money but no job. I still don't know how.     

It just seemed like the author just decided that the book should just end so all of the issues we'd been reading about will suddenly be swept underneath a rug never to be spoken of again. I like to feel some sense of closure when I close a book. This actually confused me even more. This was definitely not the best "angel" book I've read. It was jumpy and felt unfinished.



Friday, February 18, 2011

When I'm Not Writing:Neesha Meminger

 Today we are joined by Neesha Meminger, author of Shine, Coconut Moon and her most recent, Jazz in Love. Here's a little about her:

Neesha was born in Punjab, India, where she lived until she was almost five. For the next twenty years, she was in Toronto, Canada until she moved to the US. She spent her childhood escaping into novels by authors like Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, S.E. Hinton and Paula Danziger. Her biggest wish was to project herself into these novels.
As a teenager, Neesha began writing her own stories. In the next decade or so, her writing would appear in anthologies, journals, the Village Voice, and various online magazines.

Neesha holds a BA in Film and Media Arts from Ryerson University in Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School For Social Research in New York City.
Her independent films have screened at international film festivals, she has taught literature and creative writing courses to undergraduate freshmen in New York, served as a board member for many arts and cultural organizations, and counseled women and youth in crisis.
SHINE, COCONUT MOON, her first novel, made the Smithsonian's Notable Books for Children list and was selected as one of the top 100 books of 2009 by the New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age. The novel was also nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association as well as the online CYBILS award.
Neesha lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.

When I'm not writing, I'm either reading, or (in the summer) swimming. But mostly, what I really love to do is hang out with friends. I'm a talker and I love cozy heart-to-hearts. I can stay up all night talking and sipping hot drinks with a friend, or I can meet someone for brunch and just hog the table for hours (unless the wait staff start giving us dirty looks). I also love nesting at a restaurant after dinner with my partner-in-crime, or good friends. It's that social connection that I am magnetically drawn to. It's the reason social networks online are such a distraction for me when I'm writing! I love connecting with people and if I'm online while writing, I never get anything done. Too busy chatting. When I was in fifth grade, the teacher called my parents in to have a serious conference on how "we could all work together" to stop me from chatting in class! :D

 Check her out at these spots:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Audio Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Publication Date: November 28, 2010
Narrated by: Ryan Gesell and Tara Sands 
6 Hours, 40 Mins
 Summary from Goodreads:

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

My Two Cents:
The premise of this book is original and immediately intrigued me. I LOVE the fact that it is set in New York where I live. Having the Strand as the place where it all starts made my heart flutter. The Strand is pretty much my second home. So this book really had my attention. The beginning was fast moving and humorous. However when I got into the middle and towards the end I started to care less and less about them meeting...or not. I found myself heavily sighing when it was Lily's turn to narrate. Her voice was pretty high-pitched and I think too "sunny". Lily's character annoyed me as well. Her thoughts made her seem more like 13 rather than 16. Dash is what kept me listening. Period. He's snarkalicious and I love it. He's soooo New York! He has a smart mouth and he's not afraid to use it. He even dresses like he's from NY with his fedora hat, colored shirt and jeans. The only thing he's missing is the blazer. I know usually anything goes out here but Lily's style of dress and language didn't give me the NY vibe at all. 

The minor characters also helped get the book moving along. Boomer, Dash's friend has the most annoying voice but I love his energy and innocence. Lily's Great Aunt Ida was funny and seemed like the type of old lady I'd like to hang out with.

The romance didn't really cut it for me. Lily seemed like an innocent little kid while Dash was mature and saw the world as it was. Their relationship seemed like they could make good friends but then after a while it seemed like he'd make a good older brother for her. His character seemed like he didn't really like her in the same way that he still liked his ex-girlfriend Sophia. Things were a lot sultry for those two while for Dash and Lily things seemed playful and maybe even a bit awkward at times.

Again, this audio book was not bad and neither was the writing. However I can't say I loved it. It was just something I could go either way on.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (32)

In My Mailbox highlights all the good stuff we've received throughout the week. It is hosted by Kristi The Story Siren. I didn't get too much this week, but what I did get I'm excited for!

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 Everglades, with only a flock of swans and a talking fox named Joe to help guide him against the forces of an evil witch.
Received from PBS

They found the fifth girl right after the snow melted ...the place where he left her was winter water, crazed with ice-feathers and dusted with snow. The traces from her body were gone, the ones that said his name, but she had an extra skin of ice that protected her and she looked perfect, like Snow White'. Ruby and her older sister Jinn live together on their own, just about making ends meet. Jinn is beautiful, with glittering blonde hair, and makes it her business to look after Ruby. They are horrified by, but try to ignore, the local newspaper stories of prostitutes who are murdered, their bodies eventually discovered underwater. Then the no-good Nathan Baird turns up on the scene - again - and Jinn starts to change. First Nathan moves in with Jinn and Ruby, making Ruby feel an outsider, and then Jinn and Nathan move out, leaving Ruby alone. Jinn no longer has time to look after Ruby. And it seems to Ruby that Jinn herself needs looking after. Her beautiful glittering hair starts to lose its shine. And then Jinn disappears. A deeply moving, chilling, and incredibly powerful thriller that celebrates the love two sisters have for each other and mourns the events beyond their control that will conspire to drive them apart.

Received for Review

"Hola, Jeni."
J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he'd been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn't muster a hello back, not now; he didn't care that she'd tell his mom he'd been rude. She should know better. Nobody calls me Jeni anymore.
J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

Received for Review

P.S.  I recently put up a new button on the right sidebar. I am not only a book lover but a fashion lover! Smashion is a link to my store that has new or gently used clothes, shoes and accessories. It's constantly being updated so please check it out if you get a chance. Sorry for this shameless plug *hangs head and walks away*

2011 POC Reading Challenge

POC Reading Challenge: Committing to reading books written by and about people of color. I did sign up for this in 2010 and to be honest, I'm a bit ashamed with how I did. I am determined to do better for this year and have already gotten started. To sign up yourself, click on the picture. Here are the levels:

Level 1: Read 1-3 POC books
Level 2. Read 4-6 POC books
Level 3. Read 7-9 POC books
Level 4. Read 10-15 POC books
Level 5. Read 16-25 POC books
 I will go for Level 4 this time!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2011 Audio Book Challenge

Did I tell you guys that I'm addicted to audio books?? Well now you know! I tried one back in the summer, thinking it would bore me to tears but I was actually enjoying it. It definitely adds something to the story if there's a good narrator.  Anywho, Teresa from Teresa's Reading Corner is hosting the 2011 Audio Book Challenge and I've decided to participate this year. Here are the different levels:

  • Curious-Listen to 3 Audio Books
  • Fascinated- Listen to 6 Audio Books
  • Addicted- Listen to 12 Audio Books
  • Obsessed- Listen to 20 or more Audio Books
I've decided to go for Addicted but I'm hoping for Obsessed since I can usually knock down 1 or 2 audios a week.

Pam Bachorz on Writing Dystopian YA

Please join me in welcoming Pam Bachorz, author of the new release Drought. She's here to chat with us about writing a dystopian YA novel.

Thanks for having me! I can't say I ever set out to write a dystopian book. I really just write what fascinates me and freaks me out. Ever since I was small, I've tended to be fairly suspicious of--and cautious of--authority. I will admit I like to keep a certain amount of control in my life. Less kind people might deem me a control freak. So of course my ultimate horror is to lose control at the hands of authority: to have someone else in charge of my thoughts, my freedom, my very destiny.

Coming up with ideas isn't usually the hard part , for me. It's corralling them--taking a big, BIG idea and finding the right characters and plot to serve it. I've got some story ideas that I'm dying to write, but until I can get the mechanics figured out, or find the right plot, I've got to keep them tucked away. Their time has not come!

It's awesome that dystopian stories are getting so much buzz these days. I think it gives new notice to sci-fi and fantasy concepts that otherwise might have found a smaller audience. But I'll bet you that most of those authors just wanted to write a great story. I know that is what I set out to do!

Here's a little about her:

Pam Bachorz grew up in a small town in the Adirondack foothills, where she participated in every possible performance group and assiduously avoided any threat of athletic activity, unless it involved wearing sequined headpieces and treading water. With a little persuasion she will belt out tunes from "The Music Man" and "The Fantasticks", but she knows better than to play cello in public anymore. Pam attended college in Boston and finally decided she was finished after earning four degrees: a BS in Journalism, a BA in Environmental Science, a Masters in Library Science and an MBA. Her mother is not happy that Pam's degrees are stored under her bed.

Pam draws inspiration from the places she knows best: she wrote CANDOR while living in a Florida planned community, and set DROUGHT in the woods where she spent her summers as a child. She currently lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and their son. When she's not writing, working or parenting, Pam likes to read books not aimed at her age group, go to museums and theater performances, and watch far too much television. She even goes jogging. Reluctantly.

Thanks so much for stopping by Pam! Check her out at these spots:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hidden by Tomas Mournian

 Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:

When Ahmed's parents send him to a residential treatment center known as Serenity Ridge, it's with one goal: to "fix" their son, at any cost. But eleven months of abuse and overmedication leave him desperate to escape. And when the opportunity comes, Ahmed runs away to San Francisco. There, he moves into a secret safe house shared by a group of teens. Until they become independent at eighteen, the housemates hide away from authorities, bound by rules that both protect and frustrate. Ahmed, now known as Ben, tries to adjust to a life lived in impossibly close quarters with people he barely knows, all of whom guard secrets of their own. But even if they succeed in keeping the world at bay, there's no hiding from each other or from themselves. And there's no avoiding the conflicts, crushes, loneliness, and desire that could shatter their fragile, complicated sanctuary at any moment. .

My Two Cents:

One Word: Powerful. This novel takes the reader to places they may not be ready to go. It is definitely not for the faint of heart...or cry babies like me. The characters, not just Ahmed/Ben but the secondary characters that are runaway GLBT teens are one of a kind. They are in your face, fighting for the spotlight type of characters. They refuse to be judged and they demand respect. I don't like them all but I can't help but care deeply about what happens to each of them. They each come with their own heart wrenching story.

The drugs, the sex, the abuse;it's all there. No sugar coating and glamorizing this life for these teens. The author keeps it all the way real with us readers. It shows when a teen's "coming out" can go horribly wrong. There's no long heart to heart conversation about how they're loved no matter what. We see the ugly side, where teens are sent away to be "fixed" only to get broken.

I loved that the story just continued to move. There weren't really any stagnant areas. This novel is one of the most original plots I've read in a long time. Thank you Tomas Mournian for doing your own thing. If I ever see a gay Arab I will not be shocked. I recommend this book for teens 17 and up. There is a lot of strong adult content on every page.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chopping it Up with Sara Bennett Wealer +Giveaway

Today we have the pleasure of being joined by debut author Sara Bennett Wealer!  Here's a little about her:

Sara Bennett Wealer grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (the "Little Apple"), where she sang with the choir and wrote for her high school newspaper. She majored in vocal performance at the University of Kansas before deciding she had no business trying to make a career as an opera singer. She transferred to journalism school, where nobody cares if you can hit a high C or convincingly portray a Valkyrie.
Since then, Sara has been fortunate to make her living as a writer. She started as a beat reporter, then went on to work in public relations and advertising--even theme park design. Sara lives in Cincinnati with her husband and daughters, and she still sings when her schedule allows--most recently with the May Festival Chorus, the official choir of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

1. How would you describe your high school years?

Looking back, I’d say they were a whirlwind, though when I was going through them the time seemed to creep by. I had some great opportunities in high school and had some wonderful experiences—especially with music. Socially, I remember feeling really awkward quite a bit of the time. I hadn’t really grown into myself so I sort of ricocheted from hanging with the in crowd to sticking with just a few close friends. I’m not sure how people saw me—If I had to guess, I’d say I was sort of the smart girl with a bit of drama geek thrown in.

2. Which character would you say you identify with the most?

It’s funny because I see a bit of myself in both Brooke and Kathryn. Brooke is a little more like I am today—she knows what she wants, she knows her talents, and she’s driven to succeed. Kathryn’s probably more like I was in high school – quiet, studious, a little shy even though she loves to perform.

3. What in your opinion would be the greatest rivalry of all time?

Sue Sylvester from “Glee” vs. Heather Chandler from “Heathers.” I’m going to assume that everybody here knows about “Heathers.” If you don’t, then you need to watch it this weekend.

4. Brooke and Kathryn loved singing. Do you have any special talents other than writing?

Singing! Although my voice is WAY out of shape these days. I’m afraid to sing along with the radio! I also am a top-notch, grade-A worrier!

5. What are your top 3 YA reads?

I loved Libba Bray’s “Great and Terrible Beauty” series. I’m a big fan of Sara Zarr. And… dang there are WAY too many great YA books out there. Every other book I pick up becomes one of my top reads.

6. Are you working on anything currently?

I’m revising an older novel that I’ve never given up on, hoping to transform it into something that someone will want to publish. I’ve also got three other ideas for new novels vying for my attention. I love them all and can’t decide which one to write first!

Thanks so much for stopping by Sara! To learn more about Sara and Rival check out the links below:


Now on to the Giveaway!! Enter to win this beautiful Star necklace exactly like the one Brooke wears in the novel!

  • Open to US residents only
  • Must be 13 or older
  • Contest Ends 2/23

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Publication Date: February 15, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

My Two Cents:

As I was reading this book I continuously kept saying "poor Kathryn". She really was just minding her own business and all of a sudden she's being invited to the sleepover that would change her life. Her and Brooke hit it off immediately because of their shared passion for singing. They were like two peas in a pod. Then, over a misunderstanding and plain old jealousy they become enemies.

I can't say I was crazy about Brooke. One minute she didn't want to be popular and just wanted to sing and swim. The next minute when it's convenient for her, she uses it to her advantage. Once Brooke feels that Kathryn betrayed her, she devotes her time to destroying her. For the longest time mousy little Kathryn is pretty much afraid to breathe too loud. Brooke turned the whole school against her. When is enough enough? Sooner or later the most mousy person has to stand up for themselves. I also love that the author didn't make the romance aspect extremely predictable. It was completely unexpected.

My favorite element in this book is the fact that these girls have real extracurricular activities. Brooke enjoys singing and swimming. Kathryn sings and she works on the school newspaper. I'm glad to see this since the arts are becoming a big part of schools.The author shows that not only teens have to deal with the pressures of honing their skills but also the normal sucky high school things on top of that. I can definitely relate, having danced my whole way through high school.

This was a fun, light read. This book is a mix between Glee and Mean Girls! I would recommend to any teen in the arts.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Chopping it Up with Stacey Jay

Today we are joined by Stacey Jay to talk about her newest title The Locket. In case you missed my review you can check it out here. Here's a little about her:

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor (for real) and yoga instructor.
In her very limited spare time, Stacey enjoys cooking elaborate dinners and eating them very, very slowly, dressing up in costumes with her sons, and dancing like a total freak who all but the coolest of her friends are embarrassed to be seen with. 

1. Tell us about The Locket in 10 words or less. 

One girl. Two boys. One very scary piece of jewelry. 

2. If you could rewind time what special moment in your life would you want to experience again? 

When I was not-quite-fifteen, I went to Greece, Turkey, and Romania with my best girlfriend and her family. We were there for three weeks and it was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing times in my life. I would love to go back and relive all the adventures we had. 

3. We usually get zombies and things that are creepy from your previous books. What can we expect in this one? 

“The Locket” isn’t creepy, I wouldn’t say, but there is definitely a horror element. It’s a slower build to the scary, but I’m hoping that—by the last few chapters—my readers will be as freaked as they were by my flesh-hungry zombies.
4. You've had quite a few careers in the past. What made you gravitate towards writing? 

I’ve always loved telling stories—I was very into writing and acting growing up—but as an actor I was rarely in charge of what story was being told. As a writer, I get to say who, what, where, and why, and I like that. I like being the boss. Or at least…more of the boss. Sort of the boss…sometimes. Lol.
5. What YA book are you currently reading? Any recommendations? 

I just finished BEASTLY by Alex Fllinn last night. It was a fun, fairy-tale inspired read. I’m getting ready to start FIRE by Kristin Cashore tonight. I can’t wait! I’ve been so strapped for reading time this year, and I’m way behind on my TBR pile.

6. Do you believe in fate? 

I believe in mystical opportunities, but I don’t think anything is predetermined. As human beings, we have free will and the capacity to shape our life journey and that’s a huge gift. Way better than fate.

Thanks so much for stopping by Stacey! To learn more about her check out the links below: