Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fated (Soul Seekers, #1) by Alyson Noël, Book Review

The first book in a magnificent new series about a girl who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead by #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël.

Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

Title: Fated
Author: Alyson Noël
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Rating: 4/5

I am a huge fan of Alyson Noël! I fell in love with her writing when I read the Immortals series, and I have been hooked ever since.  Noël has the ability to transport her readers into parallel worlds that are hard to forget once you finish the book, which she exhibited in the Immortals and Fated followed in its footsteps. 

Fated tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl named Daire Santos who travels from place to place with her make-up artist mother working on movie sets.  Daire has a glamorous life and is constantly surrounded by the rich and famous--but she wants more.  After a string of paranormal accidents, Daire is shipped off to live with her estranged grandmother in dusty Enchantment, New Mexico where she discovers that she isn't the normal teenage girl she thought, but a powerful Soul Seeker destined to defeat her evil enemies and save the world from death, darkness, and destruction.

Let's talk about the plot...I LOVED it.  Noël was inspired to write the Soul Seekers series after doing research for the Immortals series, and while some of the themes in Fated were similar to the ones in the Immortals, Fated is totally unique and exciting!  The characters in Fated was pretty much the only thing that disappointed me.  I felt as if so much development and focus was on Daire and Paloma (Daire's Seeker grandmother) that the supporting characters (Dace, the love interest; Cade, the villain; and Xochitl, the best friend) were kind of left out.  They felt kind of one-dimensional for me, but the Soul Seekers is a four-book series, so I'm sure Noël will develop them in the future. Even though she didn't receive as much development as I'd hoped, I still loved Xochitl--she is really sweet, and I wish she was real!  The setting of Fated is, as stated above, Enchantment, New Mexico which consists of adobe houses, coyote fences, dusty plains, caucuses, and tumbleweeds...and that's pretty much it.  At first glance, the desert may seem like a dull setting but Noël had tons of mystical forces at work, and the drab desert was instantly turned into a fantastical landscape.

I really enjoyed Fated, and I hope you do, too!

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Summer Essentials Blog Tour

Professional ghost hunter Stacey Graham’s new book, The Girl’s Ghost Hunting Guide, will help pre-teen readers identify the creepy crawlers from the spooky spirits, the howling winds from the haunting phantoms. A paranormal investigator for over 20 years, she has as much experience with ghosts as she does with skeptical teenagers – she is the mother of five daughters.
The Girl’s Ghost Hunting Guide is filled with workbook pages, ghost stories, quizzes, sidebars, and interviews with ghost hunters, this illustrated guidebook gives girls the tools to safely explore the unknown using everyday household items and teaches them to rely on their own strengths, deductive reasoning, and senses to discover the paranormal beings among us. Part practical, part educational, and all-around fun Graham introduces tween girls to a world beyond our own. Check out Stacey’s website for more information: 

You can also check out the Phantom Party Guide here:

In the first book of the series, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings, Jade discovers she is even more different than the typical teenage girl. She is a mermaid! After her dad swears her to secrecy, Jade must risk her blossoming romance with Luke and friendship with best friend Moe in order to rescue her mermaid mother from her captures …all by herself.

In Real Mermaids Don’t Hold Their Breath, Jade begins her summer confused. I mean, more confused than wondering whether today will be a “leg day” or a “tail day”. Jade’s got even bigger problems this time around. It’s been three weeks since her Mom (incidentally also a mermaid) returned to the ocean and Jade has no news of her whereabouts. Plus, and more importantly, it’s been twenty-one whole days since Jade first kissed her mer-boy Luke and now—nothing. NOTHING.

Will Jade’s Mom find the enchanted tidal pool that will allow her to become human? And if she does, what will happen then? And WHY is Luke acting so weird? Boy Drama plus Water Drama? It’s going to be a choppy ride.

Now that you've learned a little bit about Jade, read on for more about Hélène...!

Top Five Summer Splashin’ Activities
Discover Hélène’s favorite summer activities – all involving water of course. Make sure to get your swimsuit ready!

I grew up on a small island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean so splishy-splashy summer activities are some of my favourite things to do.  Here are my top five summer splashin’ activities!

I am so bad at surfing and have only ever managed to stand on my board about three times in my life but it is so much fun to get out there and catch a few waves even if you’re like me and all you can manage is getting up on your knees. This day, it was only 13 C/ 55 F and the water was even chillier. Thank goodness for wet suits!

My family and I stay at an ocean side cottage every summer and try to schedule our stay during the annual Sandcastle Building Competition. We came in FIRST last year and plan on defending our title again this summer. Jade the mermaid has even been known to make an appearance!

Creatures of the sea have always amazed me (obviously!) so if you ever get the chance—don’t pass up an opportunity to go whale watching. It’s so magical!
Last time, we even discovered a sea cave. I wonder what’s hiding in there…

4. RACE!
I joke that I once came in 141st in a race with 140 competitors and that’s not very far from the truth. I am slow. VERY slow. But I love competing in races at least once a summer. These days I usually do walking half marathons (my best time is 3:01 hrs—a glacial pace) but I’ve also been known to do short triathlons. Swimming is probably my worst leg of the race but it’s a great way to cool down for the biking and running part. This is my ‘I’m so glad THAT’S over’ face.

Yup, you read that correctly. When you live within driving distance of a dozen hockey arenas like do, there’s nothing like loading up the back of the truck with Zamboni snow and dumping it in your front yard for an instant pile of chilly summer fun. Snowball fight!


You can find Hélène on
Twitter, Facebook and on her Website.

*I would like to thank Stacey Graham (author of THE GIRL'S GHOST HUNTING GUIDE) and Hélène Boudreau (author of REAL MERMAID'S DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS and REAL MERMAID'S DON'T HOLD THEIR BREATH) as well as Sourcebooks for including me on this blog tour--I had a lot of fun, and will definitely be trying out some of those Summer Splashin' Activities!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Underworld (Abandon, #2) by Meg Cabot, Book Review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, the dark reimagining of the Persephone myth begun in ABANDON continues ... into the Underworld.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn't dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it's for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they've come back as Furies, intent on vengeance . . . on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there . . . and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there'll be no escape.

Title: Underworld
Author: Meg Cabot
Publisher: Point
Pages: 320
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5

Underworld picks up right where the first installment, Abandon, left off.  We last saw Pierce and John escaping into the Underworld together to save Pierce from the Furies who want to see her dead--for good this time, but Pierce is convinced that the Furies are going to harm her family and friends back on the earth plane where they live unprotected, in the realm of the living.  After much pleading with her true love John, he agrees to help Pierce rescue her cousin, Alex, after receiving a macabre video on her cell phone (aka "magic mirror").  Pierce and John return to the earth plane on a daring rescue mission...and then all hell breaks loose.

I absolutely adored the first novel, Abandon, and Underworld did not disappoint me.  From page one, I was hooked by the mystery of John's past and the love that he and Pierce share.  I enjoyed the fast-paced action and adventure--there was never a dull moment in Underworld.  Whether encountering evil, demonic Furies or vengeful, psychotic grandmothers, Cabot continually kept the ball rolling, and I was thrilled until the very end.

There was a lot of character development in Underworld--in the first book, Pierce was adjusting to her life after dying, coming back to life, and being shipped off to live with her mother in Florida after a mysterious accident in Connecticut, and Pierce seemed much more mature and intelligent in this book.  Pierce is one of my favorite heroines of all time--she's smart, independent, and brave, and that's what makes her so appealing to me.  John Hayden, Pierce's immortal boyfriend, also grew up a lot in many ways--I enjoyed how Cabot combined real-life characteristics of modern day relationships with the traditions of nineteenth-century affairs (which is the time area in which John lived before being named as keeper of the Underworld.)

I highly recommend the Abandon trilogy for fans of paranormal romance, or simply anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, thrilling love story retelling one of the darkest Greek myths of all time--the myth of Persephone.

Buy Abandon (Abandon, #1):
Barnes & Noble

Buy Underworld (Abandon, #2):
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kirsten Miller Interview-6/12/12

1. Tell me about your books The Eternal Ones and All You Desire. How did you come up with those story angles or ideas?
I always describe these books as thrillers about the mystery of love. They’re rather dark, twisted tales in which most of the heroes and villains believe they’ve been reincarnated. The  series began with a single thought: What if we’ve lived other lives?
I wouldn’t say I’m a believer, but I do think reincarnation offers an interesting explanation for a remarkable number of life’s little mysteries. . . .Why do we feel instantly drawn to certain people—and repelled by others? Why do some of us long for places we’ve never visited? How can little children possess unusual talents or inexplicable phobias? Why do some people believe they were born into the wrong bodies? Why do we all experience déjà vu?

But there was one little “mystery” I was particularly keen to address in the Eternal Ones series. Why do so many of us believe in love at first sight?

2. How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (YA-lit)?
I didn’t set out to write YA books. I still don’t feel like I write books for a particular audience. I always write to amuse myself. It’s the only way I’m able to stay interested in my work. Writing can be a grueling endeavor, and if I’m not personally interested in the story I’m telling, I know it’s going to come through in my books.

3. What kind of research did you do for this series?
I guess you could say I spent my whole life researching these books. I’ve been fascinated by the subject of reincarnation since I was a kid. I’ve read countless books on the subject. So when it came time to sit down and write this series, I really didn’t need to do much additional research.

4. What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
When I’m feeling inspired, I can write for eight to ten hours straight. When I’m not feeling inspired, I force myself to stay put until I’m feeling inspired again. (That’s the hard part.)

I write at a desk in my home office. I always wear earplugs so my concentration won’t be broken. One of my biggest splurges in recent years was purchasing a top-quality desk chair. If you sit on your butt for eight hours a day, a good chair is essential. I drink copious amounts of coffee and almost always forget to have lunch.

When I’m working on a book, I try to write a thousand words a day. Sometimes I manage to surpass that goal, and sometimes I fall short. But I always follow the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given . . . I don’t call it a day unless I’m at a place in the story where I know exactly what happens next.

5. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The isolation.

6. What’s the best thing about being an author?
Meeting and hearing from readers. Never be afraid to send your favorite author a note. It helps us remember why we do what we do.

7. What are you working on now?
I have two books that are at different stages of the editing process. And I’m just getting started on a new novel (my seventh). I’m a big fan of ghost stories and horror novels, and this new book will be a bit of both.

8. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Writing isn’t supposed to be easy. So don’t get discouraged if a story or book is making you suffer a bit. That’s part of the process. Sometimes the hardest books to write are the most fun to read.

9. Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
Michael Chabon (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh), Philip K. Dick (collected stories), Angela Carter (Wise Children), Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre)

10. What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Q: What are the three most inspirational things you’ve seen in the past year?
A: The masks on the mannequins at the Alexander McQueen show at the MET. The clove of garlic that was hurled at my bum by the ghost that shares my apartment with me. An untitled work by the painter Mark Rothko at the Museum of Modern Art.

11. If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
I Made It All Up

Flash Questions:
1) If you could trade places with a person for a single day, who would it be and why?
Anyone who can really belt out a tune. But I’ll go left-field and say Debbie Harry back in the Blondie days. The lady had some serious style. And I bet she had a really good time.

2) What was the last movie you saw?
I watched Dream House last night. It’s a ghost story (though not a terribly good one) and I considered it research for my next project.

3) What is your biggest TV addiction?
Any show about Bigfoot. And Downtown Abbey. Ha.

4) Guilty pleasure?
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to refuse to feel guilty about enjoying any of life’s little pleasures. Particularly cheese.

5) Fruits or veggies?
Avocados. The missing link.

6) Favorite childhood toy?

7) What did you have for breakfast this morning?
What I always have. A Cliff Bar and coffee.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bloody Valentine (Blue Bloods, #5.5) by Melissa de la Cruz, Book Review

The Blue Bloods have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift, and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even these immortal vampires, has total control. In Bloody Valentine, a companion novella to the best-selling Blue Bloods series, author Melissa de la Cruz delves deep into the love lives of the all-powerful vamps from New York’s Upper East Side – Schuyler and Jack's passion for each other, Mimi and Kingsley's tangled romantic history, and even a possible cure for Oliver’s heartbreak in the form of a witchy new girl.

In both prose and verse, Bloody Valentine reveals the undying love, the hope and devastation, and the lust and longing that have defined the Blue Bloods throughout history. Prepare to be swept off your feet.

Title: Bloody Valentine
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 160
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4/5

I've been a long-time fan of the Blue Bloods series--Melissa de la Cruz is one of my favorite authors, and I love her rendition of the ancient myth of vampires.  Bloody Valentine is a Blue Bloods novella, which takes place in between Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods, #5) and Lost in Time (Blue Bloods, #6). I really enjoyed seeing Oliver's heartbreaking journey as he tries to heal his wounded heart over Schuyler, and how Allegra and her brother Charles handled living in an elite Blue Blood society at a New England private school in the year 1985, and most of all: the bonding ceremony of Schuyler van Alen and Jack Force.  Bloody Valentine isn't a neccessary book in the series, although it does make the story as a whole seem more complete.  If you're a fan of the Blue Bloods series, I highly suggest that you read this novella.

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare, Book Review

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.\

Title: City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 541
Release Date: March 24, 2009
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

Cassandra Clare is a writing goddess! Oh my gawd, wow! Clare, like her works, are a very rare find, and City of Glass, was certainly no exception.  I loved everything about this book--the plot, characters, pacing, setting, EVERYTHING.  The plot was totally unique and never done before, the characters were all smart, strong, and empowered--I loved Clary's dedication to her mother by going in search of the antidote that can bring her out of her slumber once and for all, and Jace's witty and cynical remarks.  I also really enjoyed Alec, Isabelle, and Simon as characters--without supporting characters like them, the book would not have been the complete package. Aside from plot and characters, the setting was rich and beautiful and I could feel the trees, water, and cobblestone-lined streets in Idris--I could see the glass towers of Alicante.  I definitely recommend the Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, and City of Lost Souls) to anyone and everyone who loves to read--whether you enjoy paranormal romance or not, you will fall in love with Clare's urban fantasy creation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Silence (Hush, Hush, #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick, Book Review

The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

Title: Silence
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 438
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5/5

The third book in the Hush, Hush saga picks up three months after the second book, Crescendo, left off, with Nora waking up confused and disoriented in a cemetery with her memory of the past few months wiped clean.  Throughout the course of the novel, Nora must not only piece back together the remnants of her life, but put her sleuthing skills to use and investigate who kidnapped her--and why.

I really enjoyed the suspense, action, adventure, and romance in Silence.  I didn't really like Nora as a character because she complained a lot throughout the book and treated her "best friend" badly, and that really turned me off from her as a character.  I loved Patch, Nora's fallen angel boyfriend, and Vee, Nora's best friend--she was totally hilarious and sweet, and made me wish she was real so we could go shopping, eat doughnuts, and drink coffee at Enzo's (Silence book reference).  And strangely enough, I kind of liked Marcie Millar, Nora's arch-enemy, in this book--Nora was being really annoying and whiny, and Marcie was more than ready to put Nora and her attitude in place, and I really like that aspect of Marcie.

I definitely recommend this book because of the action, adventure, and romance--and oh my god, what a cliffhanger!  I'm definitely keeping my eyes on the shelves for the fourth and final book in the series.

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble

Night Star (Immortals, #5) by Alyson Noël, Book Review

After fighting for centuries to be together, Ever and Damen’s future hinges on one final showdown that will leave readers gasping for breath. Don’t miss this explosive new installment of the #1 bestselling series that’s enchanted millions across the world!

Haven still blames Ever for the death of her boyfriend Roman, no matter how hard Ever’s tried to convince her it was an accident. Now she’s determined to take Ever down…and destroy Damen and Jude along the way. Her first step is to tear Ever and Damen apart—and she has just the ammunition to do it.

Hidden in one of Ever’s past lives is a terrible secret about Damen—a secret that illuminates new facts about her relationship with Jude, but that’s so dark and brutal it might be enough to drive her and Damen apart once and for all. As Ever faces her greatest fears about the guy she wants to spend eternity with, she’s thrust into a deadly clash with Haven that could destroy them all.

Now it’ll take everything she’s got—and bring out powers she never knew she had—to face down her most formidable enemy. But in order to win, she must first ask herself: is her own survival worth dooming Haven to an eternity of darkness in the Shadowland? And will learning the truth about Damen’s past hold the key to their future?

Title: Night Star
Author: Alyson Noël
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 302
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Source: Bought
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5

It took me three tries before I was finally able to read Night Star from beginning to end because it felt so very tedious and repetitive.  I wanted to escape into the world of the Immortals, but I just could not get into this book until after the first 50-60 pages.  After that, however, the plot began to gain momentum and I got through this book pretty quickly.  I was pleased with the exciting, fast-paced ending that left off on a humongous cliffhanger, and character development.  I feel that with every Immortals book, the heroine, Ever Bloom, becomes more strong and independent in both her physical/mental abilities, but also stronger as a person and that liberated independence written very well.

I loved the romance--a love story that spans across countless centuries, featuring two starcrossed reincarnated lovers who must find each other through time over and over again.  What could be better?  I also enjoyed the character of Damen, Ever's soulmate--he was beautiful, charming, charismatic, understanding, and totally and completely accepting in this book--talk about swoon-worthy!

I recommend this book if you've read the previous four books in the Immortals series and are familiar with Noël's writing style and sometimes tedious prose.