February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction.

Here's what I received this week:



For Review:


**All links lead to Goodreads

I didn't do an IMM post last week, so these are my books from the past couple of weeks. As you can see, I definitely took advantage of the great eBooks that my local library has!

February 25, 2011

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

Release Date: April 18, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pages: 360
Review Source: eARC from NetGalley for honest review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment—or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king’s men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

Originally published in the UK, this book has a powerful blend of heart-stopping action and thought-provoking themes.

My Thoughts:
This was an interesting book, and I felt like it told two separate stories. The first of these stories is Maggie’s brush with death as she gets accused of being a witch, and the second is Maggie’s time with her family and journeying to save her uncle. I’d like to mention early on that this was a very different book from what I expected, and from reading other reviews, I see that many others have felt the same way. I went in expecting a borderline paranormal story about Maggie as a witch (or an accused witch, at least) fighting off persecution, and some magical happenings regarding this, but instead... I found myself reading a book that could definitely be labeled as Christian historical fiction, as the book becomes a story mostly about faith and politics, while also telling a very quiet survival story.

It was tough to read this book at times. It’s horrible to be reminded of what societies have done, and continue to do, to their outcasts: how they have been scapegoats throughout history. It was also terrible to read about the suffering of the Covenenters because of their religion. The novel poses many interesting questions about principle. Would you give up your life for your faith? Would you choose faith over family, even? There are a lot of tough decisions that get made in this book. The book also features a lot of description and narration of Maggie’s thoughts, which usually isn’t my thing, but I found her inner monologue quite easy to read and very interesting. Maggie is quite naive and inexperienced, but she knows it. She’s fearful, yet when it comes down to it she is brave, and does what has to be done.

The afterword of the book made the whole thing even more interesting, I thought. It was clear that the novel was based on Scottish religious history, but in the afterword we learn that it is also a fictionalized account of the author’s own ancestors. Like I’ve mentioned previously, real historical figures in a novel always make a book more intriguing to me.

Though this was a very different novel from what I expected, I definitely enjoyed reading it. I only wish that the ending was a bit more clear, and that we could know what Maggie decided to do. I wasn’t sure if it was very realistic that Maggie would be left to her own devices, making all of her own decisions back in 17th Century. Either way, I enjoyed this look at historical Scotland, and I found Maggie to be a strong, relateable main character who, like many other people, grapples with faith and questions of right and wrong.


Find The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

February 22, 2011

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala

Release Date: June 22, 2010
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Review Source: Won in contest

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
It's tough living in the shadow of a dead girl. . . .

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister's world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

When two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears, Miranda is stripped of her former life. She must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister's demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

My Thoughts:
I’ve been anticipating this book for forever, and I was lucky enough to win an autographed copy last year, yet for some reason I just got around to it now. I wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘Tell Me A Secret’. I knew it would be sad, and that was about it. Well, let me tell you that this was a seriously hard book to read. I pretty much hated all the characters, except for the main protagonist Rand (Miranda), who I felt absolutely sorry for.

I found it horribly heartbreaking to read about Rand having to go through her pregnancy with no one to support her. Rand’s mother was absolutely psychotic. She was hypocritical and judgemental, and the worst example that a Christian could ever set. Kamran (the father of Rand’s baby) and Rand’s “friends” were practically just as bad. They were horrible, and I couldn’t believe how Rand was judged and persecuted, while everyone sat idly by.

Holly Cupala’s writing is wonderful, and as you can tell from my reactions, she deeply connects you into Rand's story. Every little part of the book elicits an emotional reaction, which I found quite magical. There are a couple of "good" characters in this book and Rand is such an incredible example of how teens can rise above their situations, so don’t think that it’s a total downer, but mostly this is just a heartbreaking story. Perhaps I was especially struck by it because I tend to stay away from “sad” books. There is redemption for some of the characters toward the end of the book, but I had a hard time accepting their repentance. Overall, I would highly recommend this to fans of realistic contemporary fiction. This book caused me a lot of sorrow, but it was wonderful at the same time.


Find Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

February 20, 2011

Guest Post: Laura Kreitzer on Human Trafficking

When author Laura Krietzer asked if I would be willing to take part in a blog tour to raise awareness for this very important issue I immediately said yes. I don't know about you, but I don't really know a lot about human trafficking. I guess it's easy to stay in our fortunate bubble and not really be aware of everything horrible happening in places that are either near or far away from us. But that's not really a good attitude to have. Everyone can have an impact with their actions, whether big or small. Without further ado I'll leave it up to Laura to give you the information.


Hello Literary-Folk!

My name is Laura Kreitzer, and I’m the author of the Timeless Series and the Summer Chronicles. This week I would like to alert everyone on a colossal crisis that’s gone unnoticed in the world: human trafficking. That’s why I’ve asked hundreds of blogs to be involved with spreading the word on this issue that’s become close to my heart.

As an author, and someone whose life is put in the spotlight, I keep most people at a distance. Only a handful of my friends know the whole me and the events from my past. But this week I’d like to share with you a part of myself that the outside world doesn’t see (and a part of me I don’t like to share). I was emotionally abused for five years by someone I thought loved me, my mind beaten into submission. Though the turmoil I went through doesn’t penetrate as deep as someone forced into slavery on the worldwide market for human trafficking, I can sadly relate in some ways: imprisoned, my life dictated down to what I wore, ate, where I went, whom I spoke to, where I worked, when I slept, bending to his every whim. He did not sway, even when I cried through some of the more traumatic things he had me do. I was a slave in my own home. In my desperation for freedom, I held out a gun and asked him to just end my suffering. I was desperate.

I can’t even imagine how many women (and men) in the world are in a similar situation. What’s even worse, I had it mild compared to the children that are sold for labor or sex. Surprisingly, the good ol’ U.S.A. is reported to be the host to two million slaves. Did you know this? Because I certainly did not; not until I was preparing to write my newest novel: Phantom Universe. The main character, Summer Waverly, was stolen as a child and sold as a slave to the captain of a modern-day pirate ship. From a loved child who only knew “time-out” as punishment, to being whipped into silence was something I knew nothing about. So I researched deeply into human trafficking and the psychological effects of torture of various types that one would endure in these circumstances. I felt shaken at my findings and knew I had to tell Summer’s story. (Read a sneak peek here.)

A storm began to brew in my mind; transforming, morphing, twisting, and expanding into this massive, black cloud. I had to bring this tragic atrocity to the forefront. My own emotional experiences, mixed with the research I did on human trafficking, made me feel an intense connection with Summer, and to all women who’ve been through this kind of brutality. The cloud ruptured and rained all over my computer one day. It took one month to write Phantom Universe, the first in the Summer Chronicles. I was so consumed by the story that I wrote nearly nonstop, only breaking for necessary tasks like eating, showering, and occasionally—very occasionally—sleeping.

Though the book I’ve written would be classified as Science Fiction, or as I’d like to call it, Dystopian, the emotions and psychological aspects are not Science Fiction—they're real. Reviewers have said many amazing things about Summer, this character who is so real in my mind and who I cried along with as the words poured from my soul onto my screen.
“I admired Summer's strength and ability to adapt,” says CiCi’s Theories. “I felt tied to her emotions,” Jennifer Murgia, author or Angel Star admits. And Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance, remarks, “Summer is strong and smart in mind [. . .]”
Through her overwhelmingly horrendous past, Summer goes on more than just a physical journey in Phantom Universe, she goes on a psychological one as well; growing beyond her mute state to persevere and survive in a new world beyond the whip she’s so frightened of.

Now that the release date is here, I’m excited and terrified to share this story with everyone. I’m emotionally tied in every way to the words I’ve written, because they’re more than words. More than just a story on a page. Beyond the fictional aspects, there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed: human trafficking must be stopped. We shouldn’t sit idly by while this continues to plague us. Our world’s children—our nation’s children—are being affected. It’s time we take action!

Earlier this month Phantom Universe hit Barnes and Noble’s top 100 Best Selling list. I’ve decided to donate 10% of my sales from Phantom Universe, until the end of February, to the DNA Foundation.
“DNA hopes to help abolish modern day slavery, deter perpetrators, and free the many innocent and exploited victims. We are committed to forcing sex slavery out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom. No one has the right to enslave another person.”

—From DNA Foundation’s Website
I ask that you spread the word to everyone you know. Look around on the DNA Foundation website and find a way to get involved in ending human trafficking. Take action today. Everyone has a voice—you have a voice. Will you have the courage to use it?

February 18, 2011

Lost and Found by Rhonda Parrish

Release Date: 2010
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 80
Review Source: From author for honest review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Xavier has just escaped from Scholar, a mad man who held him captive and performed torturous experiments on him. Colby is a young lady from far away who is on a mission to save her brother. Armed with little more than their wits, Colby and Xavier team up and struggle to escape Scholar’s men and recover the magical artifact that will save Colby’s brother before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
I thought this novella was quite interesting and well written. Rhonda Parrish has created an almost fairy tale-like setting which is populated with some very interesting characters. The book is full of action, but through several different viewpoints, the characters' motivations also come to life. I was impressed by the descriptions of the swamp in which the majority of the story takes place, as well as the imaginative creation of several different types of creatures.

Overall, this was a satisfying fantasy adventure. My only qualm with the novella is that because of its short length, it seemed like the plot line was a bit rushed. I think the story could be improved with some more world building and a longer plot with more obstacles. However, I found the novella enjoyable overall, and fans of books like 'Poison Study' will surely enjoy the quest/adventure aspect of this story that is also filled with fighting and action.


Lost and Found by Rhonda Parrish is currently being serialized on her blog. Bloggers, you could probably contact Rhonda if you wished to review a full copy. You can also add it on Goodreads.

February 16, 2011

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Release Date: December 1, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

My Thoughts:
I found this to be a charming contemporary novel which centres around Delilah Hannaford and her screwed up family. The book is really about the harm that can come from keeping secrets and the mixed up feelings that can occur from not knowing the truth. It was nice to read a book which centred around a family of three women, while also featuring a cute romantic subplot.

Delilah was an interesting character. I could relate to her on some levels, but I never fully connected with her. Delilah was so scared of being alone that she was scared of feeling anything real. However, I didn’t always think her reasons for feeling like this were justified; you almost had to look below the surface and try and imagine why she felt the way she did, and because of this, I thought she overreacted to situations a lot. However, everyone is different, and I still liked Delilah and felt for her.

Honestly, Delilah and Patrick are such a cute couple. I loved reading about them, up until the end. My biggest pet peeve in love stories is the big miscommunication that causes a couple to fight/break up, when really the whole scene could have been easily avoided, and unfortunately that’s what happened here. I can understand Delilah running scared, but the fact that Patrick ignored her back felt really strange. That whole part of the story was a bit overdramatic, with both of them acting really childishly.

Despite my minor qualms with the drama in the romantic subplot, I would definitely recommend this book, even if I didn’t like it as much as ‘Twenty Boy Summer’ (which I adored!). ‘Fixing Delilah’ is a strong contemporary offering about families, and I think fans of Sarah Dessen would really enjoy Sarah Ockler’s writing style.


Find Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

February 15, 2011

Cover Reveal: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Have you seen the gorgeous cover for Tera Lynn Childs' new book?


Isn't it great? I LOVE the colours and contrast/sharpness used on it. It's pretty simple, but there are the few details there that make it so interesting.

Well, what about the book?

Sweet Venom, the first book in a trilogy, by Tera Lynn Childs will be released in October 2011.

There's no official blurb for it yet, but here's a teaser line for you --

Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in a world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Wow, just that blurb alone sounds pretty cool, right? I know I'm insanely looking forward to this one.

You can add "Sweet Venom" to Goodreads here and/or like it on Facebook. Tera also has an info page up on her site.

Back in May, Tera also posted some very awesome looking character collages which may give you some insight into the three main characters, Grace, Gretchen, and Greer.

So, what do you think of the cover?

February 14, 2011

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction.

Here's what I received this week:



For Review:

Free eBooks:

**All links lead to Goodreads

Wow, lots of stuff this week! I'm behind on my Google Reader, so I can't wait to go back and see what everyone else got.

February 11, 2011

Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Pages: 320
Review Source: Netgalley eARC for honest review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion - between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again - while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there's outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.
My Thoughts:
In some ways I liked this novel better than its predecessor ‘Inside Out,’ yet in other ways I was disappointed by it. In terms of action and trying to solve a mystery, ‘Outside In’ was far superior. Everything that was going on kept my interest, and I was very curious about who was behind all the accidents and sabotage that were occurring Inside.

Character-wise, though, there wasn’t anyone that particularly stuck out. Trella was still interesting, but I thought she was quite immature at times, and Riley always referencing Sheepy (a stuffed animal of his from when he was little), which was really cringe-worthy. Trella and Riley are okay together, but I never really felt the chemistry. They were just together all the sudden, and it got so serious so quickly.

As mentioned, the action in this book is far superior to the previous book. There was a lot of cool exploration of Inside, and there were explosions and fights, yet it wasn’t too action packed that there weren’t quieter moments to balance it out. Unfortunately I found the whole explanation for everything (which I can’t discuss, or I would ruin the book) a bit lame. Maybe it was just the way I read it, but it felt very Cold War-esque: the powers of freedom versus these alien people who had a very Soviet Cosmonaut feel to them.

Again, I liked this book in general. It was a quick and enjoyable read, I just once again failed to connect to it on any deeper level. Other people seem to really like these books, though, so I would definitely recommend checking them out to form your own opinion.


Find Outside In by Maria V. Snyder on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

February 9, 2011

Most Read Authors

As you may have noticed, Goodreads has been adding all kinds of features lately, one of which is called "Most Read Authors." Kristi over at The Story Siren posted about her Most Read Authors, and I thought it would cool to do the same. I'd love to hear about yours, as well!

1. Meg Cabot
Books Read = 43

This one doesn't really surprise me. Meg has written about a zillion books: I haven't even read all of them, I don't think. The crazy thing is that all these ones I've read by her? I own them too. The Princess Diaries, Heather Wells, Mediator, 1-800-Where-R-U, Queen of Babble, etc.

2. Francine Pascal
Books Read = 35

This one surprised me at first, because I would never expect that name to be up there, but then I remember my Fearless series collection. So yah, that's what this is. Never mind all the Sweet Valley books written/not really written by her that I devoured as a kid/tween.

3. Robin Jones Gunn
Books Read = 31

Another non-surprise. Robin Jones Gunn is a Christian author who I really love. I own the Christy Miller series and Sierra Jensen series which are 12 books each, plus the Glenbrooke books (stand-alone Christian romances that are loosely connected and based in the same Oregon town; so good!), Sisterchicks books, Katie trilogy, and her stand-alones.

4. Kate Brian
Books Read = 24

I love Kate Brian/Kieran Scott so much, but I didn't realize I had read 24 by Kate Brian already. I LOVE the Private books, and the Privilege books are good as well. I think I've read all her stand-alones, though I'm not the biggest fan of them, except 'Megan Meade...' which is amazing.

5. Melissa de la Cruz
Books Read = 16

This one was a surprise! I like Melissa de la Cruz, but I didn't realize how many of her books I had read. Most of the Blue Bloods, The Au Pairs, the Ashleys (middle grade series that I had to read just because of their names, haha), plus stand alones. I so wish that the 'Girl' series had continued!

TIE for 6. Hailey Abbott
Books Read = 13

Really wasn't expecting Hailey Abbott to be on the list, mostly because I didn't even know she had 13+ books, for some reason. She wrote all those 'Boy' and 'Summer' books, and my friend Mistee owns them, so I was reading them over the past few years. A couple favourites = 'The Bridesmaid' & 'Getting Lost With Boys.'

TIE for 6. Emily Franklin
Books Read = 13

Emily wrote the Love books, starting with 'The Principles of Love.' This is quite a good boarding school/coming of age contemporary series, but I haven't heard a lot of people talk about her books. She also wrote three 'Chalet Girls' novels, and some adult and YA standalones.

TIE for 8. Louise Rennison
Books Read = 10

No guessing with this one. The Georgia books! Too hilarious. I can't wait for 'Withering Tights' to come out over here.

TIE for 8. J.K. Rowling
Books Read = 10

7 Harry Potters, probably my favourite series ever. Then there's 'Tales of Beetle the Bard', 'Quidditch Through the Ages', & 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

TIE for 10. Scott Westerfeld
Books Read = 9

Uglies series (amazing!), Midnighters books (also very good), + first two Leviathan books.

TIE for 10. Sarah Dessen
Books Read = 9

Funny how one of my favourite authors is at the bottom of this list. However, she's one of my favourites because of the amazing stand-alone contemporaries she writes, and these are all of her books. I could technically say I've read more (okay not really) because I own two different versions of 'Keeping the Moon' and I have the 'How to Deal' bind-up as well as 'That Summer' and 'Someone Like You' individually.

TIE for 10. Janet Evanovich
Books Read = 9

Ugh, I don't even know how I managed to read 9 of her books. I was just making a comment about the Stephanie Plum books last night on someone's blog. I own the first book and I think it's so funny and ridiculous and slightly amazing. The next few are fairly decent, as well. However, instead of making Stephanie a ridiculous but still smart and strong woman, as the series went on Evanovich turned her into someone who does STUPID things, endangering her life by being foolish, NOT brave. And don't get me started on the Stephanie/Morelli/Ranger love triangle. The second Ranger became a "love" interest I was like "are you kidding me?!", and I moved on pretty quickly after that.

So, those are my most read authors. Who are yours?

February 7, 2011

'Going Nowhere Faster' Winner

The winner of an autographed copy of "Going Nowhere Faster" by Sean Beaudoin is...

Kristen from My Bookish Fairytale

Congratulations, Kristen!

I've sent out an email, so Kristen has 3 days to get back to me with her address -- otherwise I will pick a new winner.

Thanks to everyone who entered! =)

Relatively Famous by Jessica Park

Release Date: June 24, 2010
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 284
Review Source: eBook from author for honest review

Synopsis: (from KoboBooks)
Meet Dani McKinley: A typical teen whose world is rocked when she finds out that her father is a famous Hollywood action star. Now meet Mark Ocean: A self-serving actor with a floundering career who sees that a daughter is just what he needs to reinvent his image. When the two spend the summer together they must not only wrangle their own love lives but try to become father and daughter.

My Thoughts:
I thought this was a really cute book, almost like a novel version of a chick flick, and I mean that in a good way. It involves LA, fame, and riches, but it has a lot of heart. Is some of that heart served with extra cheese? Yes, at times, but I was looking for a light, enjoyable read when I read this, and that’s exactly what I got.

There are a few moments that felt a bit stiff, but nothing absolutely horrible. Things between Dani and Nathan should have progressed more slowly and been flushed out a bit more, because even though they had some cute moments it seemed like they went from talking a couple of times to kissing. Likewise, Dani was a pretty cool chick throughout the book, so her acting like a brat at the end seemed a bit out of character, but I guess it was necessary plot-wise.

Everything gets wrapped up at the end of this one, which is nice. The ending seemed abrupt, in that I just didn’t expect the last scene to be the last scene. Generally, though, this was a really enjoyable and cute book, which is why I’m giving it such a good rating. It celebrates family and friends, features lots of good moments, and has tons of mentions of parties and fun in the sun. And really, who can resist that?


Find Relatively Famous by Jessica Park on Goodreads, or visit Jessica's site to see all the buying options.

February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction.

Here's what I received this week:

  • Violet on the Runway - Melissa Walker
  • Privileged - Zoey Dean (I seriously loved this show... the book was first published as 'How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls')

  • Fixing Delilah - Sarah Ockler
  • Real Live Boyfriends - E. Lockhart (have you seen the subtitle on this one? Too funny: 'Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren't complicated, I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver')

**All links lead to Goodreads

P.S. You have until midnight EST tonight to enter my Sean Beaudoin giveaway.


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