Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review - The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson -
5 out of 5 stars

Summary via goodreads.
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two.

Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

First let me start by saying I'm reviewing the UK version of this book. The UK version has a soft, leather-like cover and is bound like a journal. It features color photos of all the poems in their locations (written on trees, candy wrappers) and I understand the US version doesn't have that, which is a shame because I think it really elevates the book into a piece of art.

I loved this book. Although honestly, it took me a while to get into it. I love poetry, and poetic writing, but for whatever reason I found I had to sort of adjust to the way Lennie spoke. Once I did though, I was hooked. So if you start it and like me aren't fully sucked in immediately, stick with this book. It's worth it!

I loved how complicated, and messy, and beautiful and painful this story was. It has to be one of the best, most honest, and realistic portrayals of grief that I have ever read. I loved that Jandy Nelson didn't shy away from the raw emotions Lennie and Toby felt. Lennie and Toby's need to be close to the thing Bailey loved the most (each other), combined with her need to be comforted physically and emotionally is real and heartbreaking to watch. You want to shout at them and you want to give them a hug.

At first, Joe is almost too perfect, and a lot of times I find that unappealing, but just when you think Joe is so good he can't be real, his shell cracks (or really, Lennie finally takes a moment away from her own drama to really see him and what's going on around her) and Joe becomes as three-dimensional as everyone else.

I loved the strong family dynamic and that at the same time, Lennie, her grandma, and uncle didn't know how to be a family without Bailey. The subplot about Lennie's mother, the world-adventurer, also added depth.

Lennie's poems, found scattered around town add an emotional touch. They're placed perfectly, often revealing things that she won't admit to us or herself. I can't say enough how beautiful, and okay, cool it is to see them in the book they way they were written in the book. If you're worried this is a verse book, it's not. But the poems are definitely essential and often, very moving.

I think a lot of people would call this a "quiet" book and in many ways it is, but it's also a powerful, emotional, sensual even, story filled with tiny earthquakes, that shake Lennie to her core and force her to rebuild from scratch. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is a beautiful book about loss and love and choosing the life you want to lead.

Cover: As you can see, I have the UK cover posted above. I really really did not like the US version. So much so (and this is just me being weird) that I didn't want to read the book despite all the good reviews. When I found the UK version at The Book Depository I was stoked. (Plus I got it for only $6!)

Writing: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tangled Fiction - The Full Story!

Yesterday over at Tangled Fiction (the collaborative short story blog I belong to) we posted the final part to our creepy first story, The Importance of a Strawberry Tart. So if you've been waiting to read the whole thing, now's your chance! Here's a sneak peak at part 4.

“Shh,” Georgia hissed. She followed it with a whispered, “the diners are here. In the kitchen. We have to get to the children.”

Read the whole story at our blogger blog or at our livejournal community.

Next Tuesday we'll post the beginning of an all new story started by me! (Ack!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Classically Clueless

Recent reads like The Sky Is Everywhere and new releases like Jane have brought to my attention the fact that I am woefully under-read when it comes to the classics. I want to fix that. The problem is, I have no idea where to start! I have just four books on my Classics To Read list:

Great Expectations (currently reading)
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
Pride and Prejudice

Shut up. I know. It's embarrassing!

So what else is a must read?

Here's some classics I have read.

Catcher In The Rye
Mansfield Park
Crime and Punishment
Billy Budd
All Quiet on the Western Front
A Doll's House
Romeo & Juliet
As You Like It
The Scarlet Letter
The Good Earth
Fahrenheit 451
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Chronicles of Narnia
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Crucible
Death of a Salesman

Monday, September 27, 2010

It Gets Better

Last week, Stephanie Perkins posted something that really got my attention. It was about Dan Savage and his It Gets Better Project which was started in response to the suicide of fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas who was bullied at school because he was gay.

You can read an article about the project here:
Showing Gay Teenagers a Happy Future

As part of the project, Dan and his partner of 16 years, Terry, created a video where they share their own experiences with being bullied and how they made it through. And the one message they want to get out to gay teens is IT GETS BETTER.

I am not gay, but as you know if you read my post last week for #SpeakLoudly, I did NOT have a positive high school experience. I was miserable, depressed, not cool, and there were many days I wanted to just curl up in a ball and stay that way forever. But this is what I want to tell you, IT GETS BETTER. I swear to you it does. Junior high/middle school/high school is one of the hardest things you'll ever go through and when you come out on the other side, you'll be a true survivor.

Stephanie said this, and I want to say it was true for me too. The day I graduated high school, literally, THE DAY, my entire worldview changed. It was like a thousand pounds were lifted from my shoulders when I realized, I never have to go back there again. I promise you, if you stick it out, you will feel this too. IT GETS BETTER!

If you know someone who is struggling right now, please share these links, and if you've survived high school, share your story with someone that needs to hear it!

Dan and Terry's video:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox - 42

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Thirst Volume 3 (The Eternal Dawn) by Christopher Pike
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review - The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger -
4.5 out of 5 stars
(release date )

Summary via goodreads.
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Here's how I can explain how I feel about this book. I started it on a Saturday afternoon. I had plans to see a movie that evening and I was about 2/3 in when reluctantly put the book down to go. The entire time I was watching the movie, I kept thinking about Bianca and Wesley. I needed to know what happened! I fidgeted through the rest of my evening and then as soon as I got home, even though it was after 11pm, I grabbed the book and read until I'd finished.

So yeah, THE DUFF is a surprising page-turner! It's also surprising in its depth. It could've been easy to take this idea and focus only on the fun and sexy parts (and there are some very sexy parts), but there is so much more to the story. Both Bianca and Wesley are complex characters with a lot going on in their lives. They're real people who do and say things we might not like all the time. I love that in many ways, Bianca and Wesley should both be unlikable, but they're not.

Bianca's world is fully realized, and all the characters feel like real people. I love the way this book shows that everyone has problems that they're hiding or trying to deal with on their own. No one's life is perfect. This extends beyond Bianca and Wesley to minor characters like Bianca's friends and family.

As the story unfolds we come to see why Bianca is the way she is. And even better than that we see Bianca come to understand why she is the way she is. This to me is one of the best aspects of the book. Bianca begins to examine her own life and the way she sees herself and how that has impacted her decisions. She begins to open up, and take risks. She realizes that she can't handle everything on her own.

I know some people will get hung up on the sex angle, but there is so much more to this book.

For the most part, I totally loved this book. I had maybe one small issue with Wesley at the end of the book, but it's spoilery so I won't go into detail, and I can live with it.

Fair Warning: This book has swearing and sexual content. In my opinion it's not overly explicit but it definitely goes beyond kissing on the page. If that's not something you want to read, you've been warned.

Cover: LOVE the cover. Bianca looks a lot like the way I pictured her here. And the bubble blow just adds personality. I have an ARC of this book that I picked up at BEA and the cover isn't as cool as the final. I also love the colors on this one. The whole thing just really works as a whole. I would pick this up in the store in a heartbeat.

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Plot: 4.5/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Universe Always Knows

A recent Note From The Universe:

You know, almost anything you feel you "have to" do, like cleaning and washing, can become a chore, even a drudgery; while those things that remain optional, like Disney World and Twister, can seem far more inviting, even fun.

So, as you go down the path of life, particularly when it seems you must force yourself through the motions, it just may help if you pause and give thought to the countless souls who'd give most anything for the option of even your "chores."

Life... it can sometimes be like one of those really, really "good problems," huh?

I got this in my email while slogging through what feels like the most painful and tedious and frustrating revision of my writing life. It made me realize that a year ago, I would've killed to have a finished draft of a novel complete with expert revision notes and people eagerly waiting to read it.

So... I guess it's all about perspective, huh?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Review - Freefall by Mindi Scott

Freefall by Mindi Scott -
4 out of 5 stars
(release date October 5, 2010)

Summary via goodreads.
How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .

I really liked this book! I don't have a whole lot to say beyond that, which sucks, I know. But I really liked this book a lot!

I love boy narrators, and I think Seth is one of the most realistic male voices I've read in a while. Seth is believable and relatable as he deals with the death of his best friend and the realization that due to his hard partying lifestyle, he might not have seen his friend and the things around him as clearly as he thought he did.

I love that Seth tries. He tries to find what's broken in his life and fix it, even when it's scary. I love his relationship with his family and Rosetta as well. It's appropriately complicated and his emotions and confusion about everyone in his life is right on. I especially enjoyed watching him grow as his budding relationship with Rosetta also grew.

What's great about this book is that all of the characters are fully realized and feel like real people. They're complex, particularly Rosetta and Kendall (who I think was my favorite character), and no one can be labeled as all bad or all good. The world of FREEFALL is also beautifully realized. I could really see the small Pacific Northwest town and get a sense of the types of people that lived there. (Plus, I always give bonus points to a character living in a trailer park and not being a cliche stereotype.)

There isn't a lot of "action" in FREEFALL but it still kept me flipping the pages, wanting to know what was going to happen next and how it all ends. If you like contemporary fiction, I highly recommend this book! Even if you think you don't like boy narrators, or "quiet" books. FREEFALL is a great debut and I look forward to seeing what Mindi Scott has coming next!

Cover: I think this is a really cool, eye-catching cover. I love the colors, the simplicity, and the sense of movement, and best of all, I think it's a cover a boy would not be embarrassed to be seen carrying.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3.5/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Monday, September 20, 2010

Finding My Courage to #SPEAKLoudly

If you haven't seen it around this weekend, there are a lot of great posts (as well as the twitter hashtag #SPEAKloudly started by Paul Hankins) going around about this article where a man is claiming that the book SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, a book about a girl coming to terms with rape, is akin to soft-core porn. He is making similar statements about TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler, a book about grief and growing up, (and one of my favorites of last year.)

There have been some great posts on this by Laurie and Sarah, as well as Myra McEntire, CJ Redwine, and Veronica Roth. People are finding the courage to speak loudly and openly about why SPEAK is important and I realize now that by not doing the same, I'm taking away the chance to help someone else feel, at the very least, less alone.

So, here goes. I want to say first off that many people take issue with the fact that Mr. Scroggins considers himself a good Christian, and feels that those who allow these books in schools are not. And there have been some very eloquent posts on that topic. This is not the issue I have with Mr. Scroggins. I consider myself a spiritual person. I don't attend church regularly, and I'm more interested in Buddhism than I am in western religions. I don't feel I can judge. Only God knows Mr. Scroggins' heart.

What's important to me is that no girl ever feels that society thinks her rape was okay because it's just sex. And that the sin in it was her "allowing" it to happen. What's important to me is that girls who have been raped have access to stories that mirror their own, proof that they're not alone, and examples of how to keep going when it feels like she'll never get out of the hole her rapist dug for her.

I am a rape survivor. I was seventeen. While the details are mine to keep, I can tell you that there was nothing soft-core porn about my experience. And to anyone who can read about a brutal attack on a young girl and claim it's sexual, all I can say is shame on you. Shame. On. You.

There is more at stake here than sex education. Books like SPEAK and the upcoming THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney, save lives. It's that simple.

I wish these books had been out when I was in high school. I wish someone had explained to me that I didn't deserve what happened. That it was wrong, and it wasn't my fault. And that I wasn't the only one it had ever happened to. I wish they'd told me not to believe the people who claimed that I was a slut and somehow worth less than other people. I wish someone had told me that I had the right to stand up and tell what happened to me. And that the perpetrators should and could be punished. I wish someone had told me that I would eventually come out on the other side of the long dark tunnel of my rape and survive. That's what these books, and so many books like them do.

I wish these books were required reading for every teen, so that boys might better understand the aftermath of their actions and choose differently.

I find it hard to understand anyone who feels these stories should be kept away from the people directly involved. Rape is awful. Of course we don't want it happening in our society, but it DOES happen. Ignoring it, or refusing to address it won't make it go away.

I bought my copy of Speak today to show support. If you agree with what I've had to say, do something to show your support today too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox 41

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin - Signed ARC. (Thanks Adventures in Children's Publishing!)

Virals by Kathy Reichs

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Five (minus four)

So yeah I could only come up with one thing for today, but it's a winner!

I think this might be the most awesome book ever. I'm totally going to use it to spice up my ms! Some of my favorites:

- "His gaze was as soft as a caress." (Who cares if it makes sense? It sounds pretty!)

- "The smoldering flame she saw in his eye startled her." (It would startle me too!)

(Thanks to Awful Library Books for making me aware that this book exists!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting Emotional

One of my favorite writing quotes is:

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."
-Robert Frost

I think it's so true. If I'm writing a scene that's supposed to be emotional but I'm not feeling anything, I know it's a flop. If I can't connect to it, and I have all the insight into the characters and events involved, how will anyone else be able to connect?

On the flipside, sometimes I'll be writing and suddenly I'll notice that my shoulders are all hunched up and I'm holding my breath, or my eyes are on the verge of tears and I'm surprised because I was so emotionally involved in what I was writing and what was happening to my characters that I didn't even notice I was upset too. These have been the scenes that my CPs responded to with the same kind of emotions I felt while writing them and it made the pain of having to put them on paper so worth it!

Sometimes I put off writing an emotional scene because I know it's going to be difficult to get through. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!

I know JK Rowling said she cried after she wrote the chapter where Sirius Black died, and again while writing key scenes in Deathly Hallows. And those were definitely emotional for me as a reader.

I always wonder how authors get through the scenes that hit me so hard I have to put the book down. Like in THE HUNGER GAMES when Rue died.

What about you, do you ever get emotional while writing? What are some of your favorite emotional scenes you've read? (No spoilers!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tangled Fiction Teaser Tuesday

"At times, late at night, when she lie awake listening to the peculiar sounds coming from the children’s wing, Georgia wasn’t even certain they were children at all."

Part Two (written by me, ack!) of our first ever collaborative short story, The Importance of a Strawberry Tart is up so I thought I'd post a teaser. Read part two in its entirety on the Tangled Fiction blog! And at the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Monday 4

Boo. The song I want to link to today is too new. It's not available on the net.

It's Breathe Again by Sara Bareilles from her new album Kaleidoscope Heart and it totally inspired a Shiny New Idea.

Oh well, here's a song by Sara that's on the playlist for Imaginary Heart. Love this song!

Gravity - Sara Bareilles

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In My Mailbox - 40

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Freefall by Mindi Scott

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review - Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Grace by Elizabeth Scott -
3.5 out of 5 stars
(release date September 16, 2010)

Summary via goodreads.
Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

The world of this story is fascinating. In some ways I loved the way Elizabeth Scott gave us hints about what happened to make the world the way it is in the story. It's very organic, and just enough is revealed to allow you to understand what's happening and the dangers Grace faces. But at the same time, it left me wanting more. Much more. And I'm torn between whether that's really great or kind of frustrating.

GRACE is (again) a fascinating look into the mind of a girl trained to die. Not only is she meant to die, but because of her heritage, she's raised to believe she is worth less than even the other girls trained alongside her. Shunned by her family and much of the community Grace grows up secretly resenting her place in the community and her mission.

I loved the moment when Grace chose to live. I especially loved the way that decision affected her as she slowly came to understand the true ramifications of what she'd done. GRACE delves into some deep thoughts about responsibility, courage, and asks what's worth fighting for? Worth killing for? Worth dying for?

What's great is that while getting somewhat philosophical, GRACE still manages to keep the tension high. It's a testament to Elizabeth Scott's skill that a several days long train ride kept me on the edge of my seat!

Overall, I thought GRACE was a great story filled with mind-blowing revelations, relatable characters, and really interesting worldbuilding. I liked the ending but at the same time I wanted more. I wanted to spend a little bit more time getting to know Grace and Kerr and their world both before and after the end. Still, GRACE is a quick read that will definitely stick with you.

Cover: I like the idea of the cover - the clouds superimposed over the face relate well to the story - but the muted orange color is sort of drab to me.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3.5/5

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Friday Five

I am addicted to starting my mornings with lots of coffee and Sugar Free French Vanilla Coffeemate. I ran out yesterday morning and I went to two stores and neither of them had the Sugar Free! I had to try Sugar Free Vanilla Caramel. It's just not the same. As you can see I live a difficult life full of trials and tribulations.

Tangled Fiction the short story blog I'm a part of launched this Tuesday! Catch up on part one of our story, The Importance of a Strawberry Tart, before I post part two on this coming Tuesday, September 14th!

I SO want to spend my weekend watching season 3 of the BBC show Ashes to Ashes but I have a revision deadline to meet. No tv this weekend for me. *sigh* I DCI Hunt.

I can't believe summer is over already! How did this happen?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who Are You Writing For?

YA Author Hannah Moskowitz had a really interesting post last week that I highly suggest you check out. It asks the question what are we, the YA writing community doing to YA? Are we letting our own (mostly adult) loves, insider knowledge, and community closeness dictate what kinds of books for teens get written and published? Have we become so insular that we can't see outside of ourselves to what teens REALLY want to read because we're so focused on the kind of YA that we want to write and read?

It's a fascinating post that touches on things I had never really thought about, but I'm thinking about them now. The first question I asked myself after reading this, was, do I do any of those things? I think, subconsciously, as writers, the more we become involved in the writing community, and examing written works with a writer's eye, the more we begin to think strategically, (as in, well, there's 5 mermaid books coming out next year so I need to do something different) and the more we try to push the envelope (as in, Wow! That book with 4 first person POVs was awesome! I wonder if I could do one with 6!).

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, and more than that, I don't think it's something that can be consciously controlled. Creative ideas spark creative ideas in creative people. Greatness inspires dedicated people to push themselves further. But I was struck by a point Hannah made, she said:

"...a teenager who loves vampires wants to read more about vampires. She doesn't give a shit whether it's out or not. So is our perception of a "saturated" market affecting her?"

And I thought, this goes back to the idea that as writers, we should write the stories that call to us, not the ones we think are going to sell, because we don't know. And now she makes that even clearer by pointing out that we may be doing our intended audience a disservice by putting aside the book they want to read just so our peers won't say, "You're writing another vampire book?" Or a contemporary, or an angel book, or whatever. Which is a shame, because peer pressure is one of the worst things about being a teen. And I think Hannah's right. We shouldn't dictate what's "cool" for teens. It's not possible anyway. If we decide "the next big thing" and force it down teens' throats, they will simply stop buying books until they find one that does feature stuff they like.

Partly because of her knowledge of the industry and involvement in the YA community, Hannah, a teen herself, said she worries that she doesn't know what teens want anymore. I had to ask myself if I knew, and then I had to be honest and say, I don't, not in the trendy way, anyway.

I write YA because it's where my heart lives. The stories that come to me almost always feature teens trying to figure out where they fit in life, who they want to be. I remember my teen years and how I felt, what I feared, and what I wanted, very clearly, and I write for that girl. She's my BS detector. She's my emotional guide. I hope that some things about being a teen don't change, and that what I write will resonate. I believe that if you stay true to the character and you're emotionally honest people will connect with your work whether it features the latest "cool" trend or not.

What about you? Have you read Hannah's post? What do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tangled Fiction Is Here!

"The children had been playing with dead things again, which was only distressing because it was a Tuesday."

Part One of our first ever collaborative short story, The Importance of a Strawberry Tart is up on the Tangled Fiction blog! And at the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community!

Come check out the creepy little story started by Natalie C Parker. Part Two will be posted by me (gulp!) next week.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Music Monday 3

I'm working on a playlist for this shiny new idea I have. I think it will be my NaNoWriMo project if I don't get a chance to work on it before then. I'm so excited because I'm finally using a song I have loved forever. Every time I hear this song it just makes me think of driving and since my SNI involves a road trip it's perfect! I've been waiting for a story that fit this song. (I'm a dork, I know!)

Maybe Tomorrow - Stereophonics

Am I the only one that gets excited about songs for a playlist that no one will ever really hear?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In My Mailbox - 39

Just one book this week if you can believe it!

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Five

I'm SO excited for Undercovers! I've missed Alias. Yay spy shows!

In case you missed it I've joined forces with 3 awesome YA writers to form a collaborative short story blog Tangled Fiction. The first part of our monthly story posts on Tuesday and it's pretty creepy!

I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit that I'm kind of excited that Camp Rock 2 premieres tonight. It's no Glee but it will hopefully tide me over til Glee starts!

Speaking of Glee, I'm SO HAPPY that Jane Lynch won the Emmy for her role as Sue Sylvester. I think she's genius.

The song I can't get out of my head this week is:

I Am - Christina Aguilera

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review - Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton -
4 out of 5 stars
(release date - November 15, 2010)

Summary via goodreads.
Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

TYGER TYGER reminded me of the books I read when I was a kid, and I mean that in the best possible way! It's a classic fantasy-world adventure story like The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland with a modern, more grown-up twist. And just like the books that I read when I was little, I also learned a lot. TYGER TYGER is a wealth of fascinating information on Irish mythology, goblins, Irish Travelers and more.

Right from the beginning, TYGER TYGER is interesting and different. Teagan is not your average girl. She works at a zoo communicating in sign-language with apes after school, she's got her entire educational career planned out. Her family isn't average either. From her little brother's uncanny musical abilities, to her Irish Traveler mother who writes and illustrates creepy children's books about goblins.

Teagan's life is going pretty great until her mother agrees to take in Finn - a totally crush-worthy Traveler who speaks with an Irish accent despite having grown up on the streets of Chicago. Teagan and Finn's attraction is instant, magnetic, and literally, electric.

But Finn's arrival brings trouble. Finn's claims that he's the Mac Cumhaill of legend and that the creatures Teagan's mother paints are real are unsettling. Suddenly Teagan and her little brother are seeing strange creatures doing terrible things. And then tragedy strikes and one thing becomes clear. The goblins are coming. It's up to the three to journey into the world of her mother's stories on a rescue mission.

I loved so many things about this book. The yearning between Teagan and Finn, the world-building and the secondary characters. Teagan's Chicago is a realistic and gritty place. No one gets off easy. Being a Traveler isn't romanticized. And this is what makes TYGER TYGER so great - it's believable.

If there's any negative for me with this book, it's that I'm personally not a fan of cliffhanger endings, even in a planned trilogy. That's a matter of personal taste, but I would've liked a bit more resolution. Still, the set up is well-done and there's a promise of more adventure, and a deepening of the overall mystery. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book!

Cover: I like the colors a lot, and the sense of warmth and magic coming from the tree but the picture is a bit... fuzzy for my tastes. It was hard for me to tell at first what it was. After reading the book, it makes more sense why it is the way it is, but it didn't totally draw me in.

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clearing Out My Shelves Mega Giveaway!

These are my bookshelves*:

I KNOW, right?
*Actually, this is just one set of shelves. I also have another built in and two more bookcases filled with old school YA, books on craft and filmmaking, research books, and believe it or not, books for grownups(!)

As you can see, I'm running out of room. And I want to celebrate the launch of Tangled Fiction! Soooo...

I think this means it's time I give some books away! And boy do I have A LOT to giveaway! I'm giving away a total of 16 books! Some of them INTERNATIONAL!

First, I'll be giving away three themed grab bags of books:


Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E. Pearson
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
When It Happens by Susan Colasanti
The Naughty List (ARC) by Suzanne Young


The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey


Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
Hearts At Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
The Pace by Shelena Shorts
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith

TWO lucky winners - one GUARANTEED to be INTERNATIONAL - will be able to choose any 2 books from My TBR Pile and/or any book I've read so far this year! (See books I've read in 2010 in the left sidebar.)

- You must be a follower to enter.

- Grab bag prizes are available ONLY to those with US or Canadian shipping addresses. Sorry, but shipping several books at once overseas is REALLY expensive.

- Winner Choice Prize is available to anyone living in a country The Book Depository delivers to. See list here.

- Contest ends at 11:59pm EST September 30th, 2010

You CANNOT enter by commenting!
To Enter You MUST Fill Out The Form

Bonus Points:

+10 Follow the new collaborative short story blog TANGLED FICTION. You can Join the LiveJournal Community OR Follow the Tangled Fiction Blog

+10 Write a blog post about this contest.

+5 Link to this contest in your sidebar.

+5 Add me to your blog roll.

+5 Add Tangled Fiction to your blog roll.

+5 Follow me on Networked Blogs (link is on the lower right sidebar).

+5 Follow me on Twitter.

+2 Tweet about this contest.

+2 Link this contest on Facebook.

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