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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

A dead sister. A cute, mysterious guy.  A road trip.  All great elements for a moving piece of young adult fiction. Hannah Harrington's Saving June was not a disappointment; it delivered exactly what I expected it would. The prose was easy and the dialogue flow between the characters kept me smiling. The tense arguments between Harper and Jake set the stage for some later hot, steamy scenes. The ending was bittersweet and brought tears to my eyes. I enjoyed it.

But. You knew it was coming right? The but. It wasn't that the story itself wasn't good, or that the characters didn't move me (Jake really moved me -haha). It's just that it didn't hit a WOW factor for me. Maybe it's because I've read too many stories like this and the plot is getting old. Or maybe it's because I'm not a diehard, knows every album in the world, music fan (there's a whole lot of music talk in it). Whatever it was, I just didn't feel like this story hit five stars for me. And that's okay. I don't expect every book to knock my socks off, and I did enjoy it. Like I said, it delivered exactly what I expected. I guess I was just kind of hoping it would exceed those expectations, that I'd be surprised by some plot element, amazed, and I wasn't. 

Overall, I recommend it, but there are other books with similar themes that I would shout about first. Opinions? Agree? Disagree? Love to hear your comments!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What would you give your favorite characters???

I saw this question on Between The Lines the other day and thought it was such a fun idea that I'd give it a try.

So here goes, some of my favorite books, my favorite characters and what they can expect in their stockings this year.

1. Tiny from Will Grayson, Will Grayson will definitely be getting a pair of tights. I hope he uses them during a production of The Nutcracker where I would expect him to be one of the sugar plum fairies, but I guess we'll see.

2. Carly from Kirsty Eager's Raw Blue is a special girl who touched my heart. I'd give her a bracelet made of sea glass so that she could look at it and never forget the healing powers of the ocean.

3. Etienne and Anna from Anna and The French Kiss are probably the YA couple of the year and as such deserve to be commemorated by another classic couple - Minnie and Mickey! At the Eiffel Tower of course. :)

4. Ellie from John Marsden's Tomorrow series needs her teddy back (I think it was a teddy, Nomes will correct me if I'm wrong), or as close to a replica as I can muster. I don't know exactly where I'll find one, but I will certainly try.

5. Angus from Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging needs a kitty laser light to work off some of his energy - his furry feline libido seems to cause too much trouble.

6. I don't normally advocate for strippers, but Cas from Anna Dressed in Blood needs a lap dance to remind him what a real girl is. Dude, falling in love with a ghost is just... non-productive.

7. For all the girls of Beauty Queens I would fill your stockings with laser hair removal coupons so you would never have to worry about unsightly leg and underarm hair. I know that was a NIGHTMARE for you.

8. Tom Leveen's Zero gets a very expensive art set - paints, brushes, pencils, canvases, everything her art loving soul can imagine. Hey, this is my fantasy Christmas. It can be expensive if I want. :)

9. To Melody from Megan McCafferty's Bumped, I give you Couvade syndrome (sympathetic pregnancy symptoms) with the hope that it will give you some idea of what it's like to be preggers.  Boo-yah!

10. Finally, I have one present left to give and it's for the character of my favorite book which I had the pleasure to re-read this year. That book is Jellicoe Road and that girl is Taylor. I love Taylor's story. I think I went through  a whole box of tissues reading this book again. My present for Taylor is a locket where she can keep a picture of her mother close to her heart (hope that wasn't too spoilery).

What about you? What would you get your favorite characters? Would love to hear your ideas!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WINNERS!!! 100 Book contest Celebration and Larkstorm contest

Thank you everyone for all the wonderful comments and recommendations. I have a lot to add to my list now, and I was so pleased to see some of had already read the books I'd read. Love that! I know you're all dying to find out who the winners are so, here we go:

For the 100 Book Contest the winners are:

Krista Ashe


Angie (not me, haha).

You each will get one book of your choice from the list below or you can pick any double starred book from my 2011 book list (see page tab at top of the blog)

And the winner of Larkstorm is:


Congrats everyone! I will be contacting you shortly. And for those of you who didn't win Larkstorm, I really hope that you consider buying it. It's getting great reviews and it's only 4.99, which you know, is almost as cheap as a cup of coffee - and it lasts a lot longer. :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Character Interview with Lark Greene

Addicts! I have a treat for you today. My very first character interview! Say hello to Lark Greene from the world of Larkstorm, Dawn Rae Miller's debut YA novel.

*loves hearing all the shouts and cheers*

Settle down, folks, settle down.

Lark comes to us from what used to be the state of California where she's a very dedicated student, with a promising future as a Stateswoman and an even more promising future with her betrothed, the very handsome and affable, Beck Channing. Which brings me to my first question:

Lark, most of us here in the twenty-first century are not that keen on the idea of arranged marriages, yet you seem to be most enthusiastic about it. Tell us, are all young women in your world this happy with their arrangements or do you think you just got the luck of the draw?

Lark: So we should run around picking whomever we want with no knowledge of their background? How odd.

I suppose some girls are unhappy, but it’s only because they haven’t followed the rules and allowed themselves to become attached to a boy they’re not bound to. But to answer your last question, being paired with Beck has nothing to do with luck. The State studied our ancestry and knows we’re each others best mate.

Wow, intriguing answer! And along those lines, I understand that you and Beck have been keeping pretty cozy quarters for the past few years - as roomies! Certainly that makes for some interesting situations. Do you have any stories you'd like to tell us?

Lark: When we were younger, I tacked a sheet down the center of the room and Beck wasn’t allowed to cross into my zone. One day, I had an argument with Kyra and felt miserable. As I sat on my bed, I noticed strange shadows on the curtain - Beck was putting on a shadow puppet show for me complete with sound effects. I love that about him – he knows just how to cheer me up.

Ah, that's so sweet. I was hoping for some juicy details to chomp on, but now you've got me dabbing my eyes. And dusting some snow off as well? *eyes the flakes of snow questioningly while Lark tries to hide the sadness on her face* Well, um... maybe we should turn to a more serious question. Lark, future society has become extremely structured as a result of the Long Winter and the State's desire to protect its citizens from Sensitives, can you give us your thoughts from a teenager's perspective on the good and bad of living in your time?

Lark: I like that everyone knows his or her place. It makes things easier. Sometimes, I wish I could be alone more – I don’t have much privacy – but in general, it’s great living with a group of friends. Sure we fight, but I know they’ll always be here for me.

The bad would have to be not knowing my family. As you read, lack of that knowledge caused me a lot of... problems.

Yes, it did indeed. *shivers as a gust of wind picks up* Without telling us too much about that very upsetting time in your life, can you give us your thoughts about good and evil? Are people born one way or does everyone have the capacity to change?

I…I don’t know. I want to believe we can change, that we don’t have to be one way. But I just don’t know.
I’m sorry. This question is too upsetting for me.

*Hollers over the wind and blinding ice storm*
M-maybe we should move on to something else then? 
*Lark nods and the snow tapers off to a flurry*

Whew! Okay, so let's do a quick run-down on future trends.
Most popular drink?
Tapioca drinks. At least until you’re a Statesperson – they love champagne.
Sports teams?
Lacrosse is our most popular sport. It’s been around for hundreds of years, but I don’t think it was as popular in your time as it is in ours.
Favorite slang word or expression?
Deso. It derives from “desolate.”
Popular dance?
We’re trained in formal dancing from a young age. We definitely don’t jump around with arms flailing like your people do.
And lastly, I have to ask -- Uggs or heels?
Is this really a question? Who in their right mind would wear something as hideous as Uggs when they can wear heels and look proper?

Haha, well I'm glad to see Lark has gotten her spirit back. And for the record, Uggs may be hideous, but I think we all need them with Lark around!

Thanks for stopping by, Lark.

*waves goodbye before sending the son out with the snow shovel*

If Lark sounds like an interesting character to you, then go check her out in Larkstorm, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords for 4.99.
And there's one more day to enter my contest for a free copy!!. 
Other additional contests for Larkstorm here and here.
Also check out the book trailer:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Books of November

Let's see... 12 books for November. Not bad, not bad. Actually it was quite impressive considering that I also got a HUGE deal of writing done. What? You didn't hear that? I got a HUGE amount of writing done. Well, not enough to qualify me as a Nano winner, but maybe a baby NaNo. Do they have those awards? I think I need to make myself a button. Before I get to my books of the month, I want to remind you of two contests I have going on.

1. My 100 book contest where I celebrate having read 100 + books - there will be 2 winners, 1 book each, many to choose from.

2. My Larkstorm contest - win a free copy of Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller and of course, a review.

Both contests end 12/9, so go enter!

And now, my books of November. Enjoy!

117. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter* Pleasantly surprised by this one. I really liked Hades as a good guy and the actual "test" and characters surprised me in the end. Looking forward to the sequel.
118. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay Mixed bag of feelings on it. I liked the premise a lot, but the delivery was off a bit. Also Romeo was just sooo creepy, and I can hear a lot of people shouting, "Don't mess with my Romeo!" :)
119. Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs** Loved this! Loved, loved, loved. The pictures throughout were so unique and then to find that they were real, un-doctored. Well, the story line was fresh and well-written too. But those pictures! Whispers: in case  you didn't notice, that girl is levitating. Also, this book is really quite tame and fun. It would work well for a MG reader.
120. Hushed by Kelley York* My first YA thriller. I'm still thinking about it. Review here on TYAC.
121. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake* Buffy gets a new stake, or um... athame, and a few new sidekicks - none who are gay/lesbian though and unfortunately none named Xander. I know, boo, right? Seriously this book was great. It was about a ghost hunter/slayer and was told from a male POV. Great voice, great set up and delivery, great prose. The only thing keeping it from a 5 star was that I just didn't feel emotionally moved by the story. Overall, very entertaining.
122. Ripple by Mandy Hubbard My first experience with sirens. It was a little hard to get through but had an interesting twist at the end.

123. Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe* This was my first novel in verse and I really enjoyed it. The plot was a bit predictable, but very sexy in a...poetic way.
124. Bumped by Megan McCafferty I usually tend to like satire a lot better MONTHS after I read it. I'll let you know about this one in...say February then?
125. The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt* Lovely MG book about friendship and coming out of one's shell. I enjoyed the secondary characters and the little cheese shop. :)
126. Zero by Tom Leveen** I got this one from Netgalley based on a recommendation by Karla, I think? Thank you Karla, or whoever recommended it!!! I really loved the combination of art and music. All the Dali quotes were inspiring and I felt the NEED to look up all the paintings that were mentioned. Doing so really enhanced the experience of the book. Obviously this is a 5 star for me. I really enjoyed how Zero confronts her issues with self-confidence, and the LI was kind of swoony. :) Review in a couple months.
127. Frostbite by Richelle Mead* Second in the VA series. Rose continues to make TONS of mistakes, but in the end I forgave her cuz she kind of rocks too. Will get around to #3 at some point.
128. Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have) by Sarah Mlynowski* This book was so deliciously fresh and teenager-y. The voice was spot on, dialogue was memorable, and the wacky things the girls did just had me laughing and my eyes popping. There was a more serious plot going throughout  though and a lot of character growth. Recommended!



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