Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Clarity

Author: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Series: Clarity #1
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Pages: 242
Read it in: 1 day
Summary: When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

LC's Take:

Holy Moly, I absolutely adored this book! In fact, it is one of those rare books that I finished in one day, which for me is a milestone because I am a super slllloooowwww reader. If you are looking for something totally irresistible, filled with tons of snarky humor that'll have you laughing out loud and a murder mystery plot that you can't put down, well then this is SO the book for you!

Clare "Clarity" Fern lives with her mom and older brother Perri in a small tourist town in Cape Cod. Summer is turning out to be just as boring as usual until a girl turns up murdered in a local hotel room. Before she knows it, Clare is being sucked into the murder investigation thanks to her supernatural ability to see memories and flashbacks of other people just by holding objects that they once touched.

To make things even more complicated, Clare is working on the case with two guys-- her cheating ex-boyfriend Justin and the mysterious (and hott) new guy in town, Gabriel, who Clair isn't sure whether to be attracted to or suspect.

OK guys, so Clare? AWESOME character, I absolutely LOVED her! She had so much personality she practically jumped off the pages. The story is told from her very lively perspective and seriously I was laughing throughout the entire book due to her witty sarcasm and snarky humor. Clare definitely became one of the best female protags I have read about in a long time-- she just made the story so gosh-darned entertaining!

The murder mystery plot was great too, very addicting, and it kept me guessing pretty much the entire way through the story. And did I mention that I could NOT put this book down to save my life because every single chapter ended with a huge cliff-hanger that just begged me to keep reading? I love it when books do that, and I flew through this one thanks to the fast pacing and the author's amazing ability to tell a completely engrossing story.

Honestly, I had not been planning on reading this book to begin with, and it was only after I picked it up randomly off the library shelf a couple weeks ago and read the synopsis that I finally decided to give it a try. I am so incredibly glad that I did! I highly recommend this book to my readers, because the humor will have you rolling on the floor laughing and the awesome storyline will keep you on the edge of your seat till the last page. Altogether, Clarity was a wonderful surprise and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book, Perception, when it comes out this March!

~Cover Talk~

Well I have to be honest, I do like this cover, but I'm definitely not in love with it. In fact, it was because of the cover that I didn't pick this book up sooner (Ugh, I know, how superficial am I?!) I think it has something to do with the colors-- for some reason, I'm never really attracted to white book covers, and this one with the white and pale blue just seems sort of washed-out to me. So when I saw it on the shelf next to all those other irresistible rainbow-colored YA books, I just passed it by! Which is totally a shame because this book rocked! Maybe that's just me? What do you guys think of the cover for Clarity?

LC's Rating:
This book was beyond awesome and I am SO glad that I finally got around to reading it. The murder mystery plot was not only impossible to put down; it was also totally hilarious thanks to the snarky main character. I definitely recommend picking up Clarity-- trust me, you won't regret it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

LC's Adventures is Getting a Face-lift!

Hi guys! So guess what? I decided that it was high time for my blog to get a little bit of a face-lift. Don't get me wrong, I did like my old header, but for a long time now I have been wanting something completely original-- something that is totally me and was done 100% by me. And here is the result!! Check out my new header because I did the entire thing free-hand from scratch using an image editing program. I've never drawn vector illustrations before so... not gonna lie, I'm pretty stinking excited at how good it turned out! (In fact, I'm probably dreamily staring at my new header this very moment, as you are reading this.)

So anyways, please tell me what you think, and how you think it compares to the old design (shown below). In the next week, expect the rest of my blog to change a little bit as well with some new fancy updates-- this will mean a pretty new grab button, YAY!!
(old header)
Another reason for the re-design is that I am getting pretty serious about starting a career in web design-- now, I am FAR from reaching this goal and there is still like a billion things I need to learn, but it is a dream of mine. So if you like my design and images, well, keep me in mind when I start up my own business, hopefully within the next year! In the meantime, I will still be reading and reviewing, but not quite as intensely as I have been since I am working hard at the web design thing at the same time...

As always, Happy Reading everyone!!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

ARC Book Review: Article 5

Author: Kristen Simmons
Series: Article 5 #1
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 31, 2012
Pages: 384
Read it in: 5 days
Source: ARC received from the author
Summary: New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

LC's Take:

So basically... I could not put this book down! I was hooked from the first chapter, I stayed up late into the night just to get a little further, I cried at one point, and I obsessively thought about it whenever I wasn't reading it. Yeah! Seriously, this is one book that you guys are going to want to have near the top of your To-Be-Read lists because I am still in awe at just how flipping phenomenal it was.

Article 5 takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States, right after a major war has devastated basically the entire country and caused all the major cities to be evacuated. Now a new government has taken over, replacing the Bill of Rights with a new law called The Moral Statutes-- everyone must comply with these incredibly strict laws or face worse than death. Ember Miller and her rebellious mom live together quietly until one day when soldiers from the Moral Militia come to their house and arrest her mom for breaking the Statutes. When Ember fights back, she is taken to a nightmarish Reform School for girls. It is now up to her to escape and save her mom... oh, and also come to terms with the fact that Chase, the only boy she has ever loved, was one of the soldiers who took her mother away.

Ember was an awesome main character-- she goes through so much that you really have to admire her strength and courage and how well she holds herself together. Whether it's watching her mom being dragged away by soldiers or being beaten by a sadistic school teacher or barely getting away from the creepiest psycho lady you will ever read about (OMG you'll know when you get to that part!), Ember never gives up on her goal of finding and saving her mother, and doing whatever she can to resist the cruel government that has ruined their lives. She had a wonderful heart and was both vulnerable but willing to fight at the same time-- even when the odds were completely against her. I definitely loved Ember's strong, rebellious character, and was on her side rooting for her the entire time!

And then we have Chase-- Chase was Ember's love interest and the reason I liked him so much is that you are never **really** sure what his deal is throughout the story-- is he good? Is he bad? Has he been brain-washed? The author keeps you guessing for awhile! I won't give anything away about him, but I will say that the relationship between Chase and Ember builds up throughout the story, going back and forth--which I also loved, because things between them are realistically tough and complicated. (AKA, You don't have to worry about them falling madly in love within 3 pages-- so annoying when that happens right?!)

The one and only (very) small caveat that I'll mention is that I wish a few things about the actual dystopia had been explained a little more... What exactly happened to society and why has it become the way it is? Who was "the War" against and who bombed out all the cities? Who is the President? Of course these things may be explained more in the sequel which I will definitely be reading! And also, let me just emphasize that in the case of Article 5, I enjoyed the story so much and was so invested in the characters that I didn't mind as much not having everything explained. Honestly, I think that this dystopian was done much, much better as far as dystopian world-building goes than some others I have read (**cough, cough, Matched! cough, cough**) in the YA genre.

So in conclusion, I just loved this book-- I was absolutely, completely blown away. Every chapter was full of suspense, action, terror, escapes, fights, romance, and basically everything else that makes a book impossible to put down! I highly recommend Article 5 to all my blog followers, it is one YA dystopian that you are NOT going to want to miss! 

~Cover Talk~

I am definitely digging this book cover-- I love the image of the bombed-out, abandoned city and the picture of Ember and Chase gazing off into the distance. I really love how the title is done in the red and stands out so starkly against the rest of the sepia-toned design, especially since it ties in with the "Red Zones" in the book, which are the evacuated city areas. And, you know, I have to say that I think sometimes it is really difficult for a book to pull off a hand-drawn illustration instead of using a highly-edited photograph (a la Wither or City of Bones) without coming across as looking a little... cheesy. But this cover design works so well because the illustration is so detailed and life-like! I'm definitely a fan.

LC's Rating:
I am just speechless... Article 5 was an absolutely stunning debut! Action-packed and  full of suspense, I could NOT put this book down-- It totally blew me away. Make sure this one gets added to your TBR list!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: Forgive My Fins

Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Series: Fins #1
Release Date: May 19, 2010
Pages: 293
Read it in: 3 days
Summary: Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

LC's Take:

Forgive My Fins was a super cute and lighthearted book. Even though I thought that the main story was somewhat cliche and predictable (yup, love triangle), it was told in such a sweet  and charming way that I didn't mind. In fact, one of the great things about this book was that it didn't take itself too seriously-- it was just fun and entertaining to read-- and in my own words-- "light-n-fluffy" :)

Ever since Lily Sanderson ventured into the human world-- and high school-- to see what life was like out of the ocean she calls home, she has had the biggest crush on Brodie Bennett. She's totally convinced that a kiss will seal the deal and make him bonded to her for life so that they can live happily ever after in Thalassinia, Lily's underwater home. However, in a cruel twist of fate, Lily is tricked into kissing her arch-nemesis, Quince Fletcher, and now Quince is turning into a merman-- and her bonded mate-- for good! Lily has to bring him back to her father's underwater kingdom in order to undo the bond before they are paired together for life.

So first, I thought that the underwater world that Tera Lynn created in this book was very creative and imaginative, along with all the things that make up a mermaid's life. For example, mermaids can transform into humans and live on land, and when they are underwater in the beautiful kingdom of Thalassinia, there are aquatic breakfast buffets (did you know that mermaids LOVE sushi?), sea villages, mer clothes, beautiful royal underwater rooms, and even underwater motor transport! I also loved all of Lily's fishy expressions and "swear words," which made me smile, I thought that giving her a fishy lingo was a really cute addition to her character!

I did like Lily as the main character, but I have to admit that she sort of annoyed me at times because she was just so darned slow to figure out who she wanted to be with-- she spent pretty much the entire book drooling over Brody, the hot popular guy at school who didn't give a crap about her, while completely ignoring Quince who clearly loved her and did everything he could to show her that he cared. It was really frustrating, having her be so obviously in denial for most of the story!

The epilogue was SUCH a cliff hanger and REALLY made me want to read the sequel, called Fins are Forever-- if the book had just ended with the last chapter, I don't think I would have been terribly interested in reading the second book, but that last page and a half at the end definitely has me wanting more!

If I had to sum up my impressions of this book, I would say that it was like a chick flick-- totally adorable, but pretty predictable. Altogether, I thought that Forgive My Fins was still completely entertaining, and was a great, quick read that will be very refreshing to you if you've been reading tons of dark paranormals or serious dystopians lately. So if you need a break and want to switch things up a little with a cotton candy book that is sweet, light and fluffy, I would give this one a try because it was definitely a lot of fun!

**I would also like to point out that, in my copy of Forgive My Fins, there are tons of cute and awesome extras! These include: a Sea Slang Glossary with all of Lily's favorite fishy sayings, a Royal Timeline of the Mer-royalty who have ruled Thalassinia, an extra chapter on when Quince first met Lily, and a recipe for Mermaid Cupcakes! Seriously?! And I thought this book couldn't get any more adorable ;)

~Cover Talk~

OK, so it's not that I don't like this cover, I do-- it's just that I like the UK edition so much better! I think that the colors on the US version are awesome, and it fits really well with the whole mermaid theme, but honestly I am just so much more in love with the Templar published edition, shown here on the right. I just love the cover model's face and smile, and  the overall design with the blue tones and the bright pink title...  It just looks much more fun and lively to me. Also, the makeup on the US model is so strange-- I don't know how much of a fan I am of blue lips! Which one do you like more?

LC's Rating:
A fun, quick read to add to your mermaid genre TBR list! The story line was super adorable, although somewhat predictable. I actually call this one a "cotton candy book" because it is sweet, light and fluffy haha... Check it out if you are in the mood for something not too serious!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Follow Me Friday (23)

Follow Me Friday is a fun book meme hosted by the fabulous Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View AND Allison over at Allison Can Read. Have a book blog? You can play with us too! Just visit Parajunkee's site by clicking on LC's Follow Friday icon-- be sure you are a follower of her blog and the blog she is featuring for the week, put your name in the Linky, create your own FF post on your blog, and then start commenting and following whomever you wish!

This week's Follow Friday question:
What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get your hands on any particular book?

Hmm... I'm not sure I have ever done anything particularly crazy to get my hands on a book! I mean, I was definitely one of those crazy HP fans who ran to the store at midnight to get the latest one but I wouldn't really consider that crazy because... Harry Potter is awesome, duh!

I will confess though-- when I was in 4th grade I read this book that I absolutely fell in love with, called Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman, and... I sort of on purpose never returned it to my classroom. AND I still have it and it has the name of my 4th grade teacher on the spine! Sorry Mrs. Barnhardt! I won't ever be this horrible to get a book again haha...

And what about you? Leave me a link below, I would love to hear what your answer is!!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Kristi over at The Story Siren, where we get to share about the books that we've gotten recently, whether it's in the mail, from the bookstore or the library!

Hi Everyone!!

So guess what? I am really excited this week because I am posting my very first ever vlog!! It's a little longer than I wanted, but hopefully you guys enjoy it, despite way to many "ums" haha, hopefully I get better at that-- please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below!

Also, just so you know, the first 2 minutes or so is me rambling and introducing my new puppy Sophie. If you want to skip to the IMM section, just go to around minute 2 :) I want to keep doing videos on a pretty regular basis, so I started a You Tube channel for LC's Adventures in Libraryland-- if you want to subscribe to my channel, I put a button in my sidebar! -------->

~Goodreads Links~
Just click on the book covers below!

What did everyone else get this week? Let me know in the comments!

**NOTE: So, I just wanted to quickly say something about the whole uproar with Kiera Cass and her publicist-- after reading about it, I am leaning towards thinking that Kiera herself was not necessarily being unprofessional and immature as much as her publicist was... of course, I don't know this for sure but just based on the evidence, I'm not sure I'm ready to point the finger at Kiera. I think that she was maybe the naive victim who happened to choose a really horrible and unprofessional agent or publicist-- this publicist clearly doesn't understand the business she is in, or anything about the power of social media. These are open platforms that can be accessed by the public! Do not post or tweet things that you do not want other people to see!

Anyways, I will still be reading The Selection, and I will treat it as I treat any other book-- if I like it, I will write a raving review, and if I don't like it, I will state in my review exactly why. And if this publisher wants to say bad things about me? Well, she's only digging herself deeper into her own grave right? She's already done more harm to the author's reputation and the new book than any blogger review ever could...

If you are not sure what I am talking about, you can follow these links below to catch up. I am not saying who is really to blame except the obvious person who insulted another blogger pretty badly simply for giving her honest opinion about the book.

Goodreads comments
Blog comments
Blog post on the issue


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ARC Book Review: Jessica Rules the Dark Side + Interview with Beth Fantaskey!

Hi guys! So awhile back, I read Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and pretty much loved it-- and of course I was totally psyched when I found out that there would be a sequel coming out in January 2012! I wrote to author Beth Fantaskey, and she was so awesome that she not only sent me an ARC of the sequel Jessica Rules the Dark Side-- she also let me interview her! So here is my review of this fun sequel featuring Jessica "Antanasia" Packwood and her vampire love Lucius Vladescu, followed by an amazing and exclusive interview with Beth-- hope you guys enjoy!


Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Series: Jessica #2
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Pages: 320
Read it in: 3 days (would have been sooner if I wasn't watching my new puppy lol)
Summary: It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

LC's Take:

Jessica Rules the Dark Side is the continuing story of Jessica Packwood-- normal high school teenager-- and Lucius Vladescu-- heir to a vampire kingdom-- after they tie the knot and take vows to love each other for all eternity. From the cliff-hanger chapter endings that kept you reading in suspense the entire way through, to the colorful cast of characters who each had a part of the story to tell, this really was a great sequel to Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side!

After moving to Romania and getting married to Lucius, 18-year old Jessica has a lot to get used to. Not only is she now a vampire-- she's also a vampire princess who must learn to rule as future queen to a huge vampire realm. Slow to adjust, Jessica starts out scared and unsure of herself in her new home-- a dark, cold castle filled with ruthless vampires and corrupt politics. Things don't get any easier when a vampire Elder is mysteriously murdered in the castle-- and her husband Lucius is imprisoned for being the prime suspect. Now Jessica must really take on her Romanian birth name-- "Antanasia"-- and become the queen she is so reluctant to embrace, in order to save her husband from a fate worse than death and prove herself worthy of a throne.

I really liked the dark setting of this book because it was so different from the first book-- all of the dark, Gothic descriptions of the castle, the cemetery and the Carpathian mountains gave the whole story an awesome Dracula-esque backdrop! Based on this huge change in scenery, it was understandable why Jessica was so lost and depressed in her new home at first, but about two-thirds of the way through the story she really comes into her own and transforms into a kick-butt vampire princess.

I also liked how the story was told from four different points of view-- Jessica, her best friend Mindy, Lucius, and Lucius' best friend and cousin Ranerio. All of their voices were really well done and it was never confusing to the plot. This is thanks to the fact that the different perspectives were all written in such a way that they had their own unique voice, which I really appreciated because sometimes when you read books from multiple POVs, you can't even tell them apart! I was especially glad that Jessica's best friend Mindy was in this book and had her own parts of the story to tell. Even though she was ditzy and slightly annoying at times, she was still genuine and loyal to Jessica, so I thought that Mindy was a great addition to this book-- she provided a lot of the comic relief in an otherwise dark and cold vampire world. Also, the side story between Mindy and Raniero added another great piece to the main plot.

Overall, this was a wonderful story of Jessica's growing up and maturing from awkward teenager to powerful and self-confident queen. Whereas a lot of love stories end with the wedding and living happily-ever-after, Jessica Rules was an awesome continuation of Jessica and Lucius' story after they say "I do." I was rooting for Jessica the entire time, and was so happy to see her overcome her insecurities to take on her new role as Princess Antanasia Dragomir Vladescu. If you loved Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, with all it's fun quirkiness and romantic drama, you will definitely love this sequel! I would also recommend these two books to any YA vampire fan out there, because I think they both give a fresh new twist to the vampire genre.

~Cover Talk~

I absolutely LOVE the cover for this sequel! The colors, the romantic pic of Jessica and Lucius, and did you notice how Jess is holding a stake in her hand? I didn't see that until after I was about half-way through the book! Once you've read the story, you will definitely think that it's a great addition. Also the colors are so pretty, I really like how the purple light plays off of the dark purple of Jessica's dress. I only wish that we could see Lucius' whole face because I want to know what he looks like! :)

LC's Rating:
Such an awesome sequel! Jessica Rules continues with the same fun and quirky writing style from the first book, but goes much farther to develop the characters and plot. I loved reading more about Jessica and Lucius-- and Mindy and Raniero-- and definitely enjoyed all of the drama, comedy and intrigue in between!

~Interview with Beth Fantaskey~

 WooHoo!! Here you'll find out what Beth thinks about the covers for her books, her main character Jessica, what it's like to be a published author, and more-- so keep on reading!!!

Me: I'm always interested in book covers. What do you think of the covers for Jessica's Guide and Jessica Rules? (Do you have a favorite? Did you have any say in how they would look? Do you think the cover models look anything like Jessica and Lucius?)

Beth: Okay, this is a wonderful multi-part question that I’m going to answer in a jumble, if that’s all right.

Ultimately, I really love the covers of both books, but I will admit that – while the Jessica on the first cover looks almost exactly as I picture her (aside from being too thin) – Lucius is nothing like... Lucius, to me. Meanwhile, on the cover of the sequel, Jessica strays from my image of her – while Lucius looks more like I picture him. However, I think the mood of both covers is perfect. On the first, Jessica seems intrigued but uncertain, and even my young children sense that Lucius is “tricky.” And on the sequel cover, Jess seems protected by Lucius, but powerful in her own right. I really like that.

And to answer the last part, I really have no say in the covers. I asked for some slight alterations to Lucius on the first cover, and my editor and I had the stake placed in Jess’s hand on the sequel, but other than that, it’s out of my hands.

Me: So Jessica Rules takes place in Lucious' home country of Romania. Have you ever been to Romania? If yes, can you tell us a little about it? If no, do you ever plan on visiting, since you love to travel so much?

Beth: I’ve never been to Romania, but I’ve traveled to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and a few other parts of Eastern Europe, so I drew a lot on my impressions of those places when trying to conjure Romania. There’s a beautiful, sort of Gothic/romantic, captured-in-time atmosphere that seems very particular to that part of the world, and that was what I wanted to convey, even more than describe specific sites. I hope I did justice to Romania, itself, which is definitely on my list of most wanted places to visit now.

Me: Of course, Jessica's story is a great one in and of itself-- but is there any message you'd like your readers to take away with them after reading these books?

Beth: Thanks so much for the compliment! I really wanted to write about a powerful female protagonist who is confident in spite of not being part of the “popular crowd,” and who accepts her body and her hair, even if they aren’t “model perfect.” I have daughters, and those messages are important to me. The sequel centers on how Jess starts to doubt herself and has to regain her power, which I think is important, too. Sometimes we falter, but it’s how we come back that determines our character.

Me: I absolutely love Jessica as the female lead character-- she's just so different from other female protags in YA books! What trait do you love most about her? What was the most fun to write about?

Beth: Thanks for that, too. My favorite traits are Jess’s strength and her sense of humor. Lucius is witty and “superior,” but Jess gives it right back to him. It was fun to write the scenes in which she really stands up to him, knocking him down a few pegs. Sometimes I would laugh out loud – like when she rams a pitchfork into his foot!

Me: Are there any "requirements" or qualifications to becoming a successful author? Or is writing an awesome YA book and getting the attention of publishers something that anyone can do if they put in the time and effort?

Beth: That’s a tough question. I wrote (as a speech writer and journalist) for about twenty years before trying fiction, so there’s definitely something to be said for honing your craft. I learned a lot about turning in clean copy, writing dialogue, word choice, how to develop a story... But at the end of the day, I suppose if you are lucky enough to be born with natural talent and have a great story to tell, that could prevail, too. For me, it was more a matter of building my career, one painstaking step at a time. And I’ve heard from other authors that patience is key. You do have to be willing to not give up at the first – or fiftieth – rejection.

Me: I've heard you advise aspiring authors to write every day. Do you ever have to force yourself to write? Do you ever take a break from a book-in-progress to write other things (poetry, in a journal, etc.)?

Beth: Although I love to write, I also feel like I’m constantly forcing myself to do it. Right now, I’m facing a deadline, so even if I’m not feeling that writing vibe, I have to sit down and work. And I have to admit that I don’t really write anything extra. I don’t keep a journal or write poetry. My hands are pretty full just writing what I have to write.

Me: Some readers can be really skeptical because there are just SO many books out there about vampires. What do you think makes Jessica's story stand out from all the others and sort of "reinvent" the genre? (Note: I already think that these books DO stand out, but please feel free to brag a little here :)

Beth: If there’s anything that makes my take on vampires stand out, it’s my complete ignorance of the genre! When I came up with Jess and Lucius’s story, I hadn’t read a vampire book since “Dracula” in high school, and I honestly didn’t even know how popular vampire fiction was again, so I really felt free to do anything I wanted. I was shocked when some readers got upset with how I “twisted” the rules. But I’m glad I did my own thing. In the sequel, I build even more on the world I created. In my opinion, it’s fantasy and should be open to all sorts of interpretations.

Me: I've heard one reader/reviewer describe Lucius as being "sophisticated, sarcastic, arrogant, and amusingly uptight." Do you think that this adequately describes him? Is there anything else we should know about Jessica's vampire man?

Beth: Oh, gosh, that’s great. I’ve never really thought of Lucius as “uptight,” but he is! He’s really bound by his code of honor and the royal rules of propriety that dictate most of his actions. To me, though, what defines Lucius is his struggle to balance his acceptance of violence as a way of life with his need to protect Jess – and his new understanding, thanks to living with the Packwood family, that compassion is not a bad thing. That’s the root of his continued challenges in the sequel: to look out for his new wife in a dangerous place, yet let her rise to the occasion, and to be a prince worthy of becoming a vampire king without losing the softer side he gained by falling in love.

Me: So we know that you love vampires! Are there any other paranormal creatures that you are especially fond of?

Beth: I love all the beings that inhabit the world Tolkien created, from Hobbits to elves to trees that talk and move. I fell in love with those stories years ago, and to read them today is still like going home.

Me: I always love getting new author and book recommendations-- what YA authors/books are you really loving right now?

Beth: You won’t believe this, but I don’t really read any fiction right now. I’m working on my Ph.D. in journalism history, so when I sit down with a book, it’s about female crime reporters of the 1920s. I don’t have time for anything else until my dissertation is done. I wish I had a better answer for you!

Me: I read that your favorite hobby is traveling the world-- what is your favorite place that you've ever visited and why?

Beth: I am most amazed by India. It’s like a swirl of colors and sound and smells that kind of dazzles you, even in the smallest towns. But I also have a particular fondness for China. My husband and I spent a summer there, and we made some wonderful friends. In addition, my three children were born there, so I have that connection, too. It’s a really special place to me.

Thanks so much to Beth Fantaskey for taking the time to answer all my questions! I hope you've enjoyed reading more about this awesome writer and her books-- Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jessica Rules the Dark Side-- now make sure that they are on your TBR list! ;)

Happy reading everyone!!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release date: September 20, 2011
Pages: 423
Read it in: 3 days
Summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

LC's Take:

So yes, I definitely fell in love with this book! I thought that The Girl of Fire and Thorns included pretty much everything that I look for in a YA fantasy novel-- action, adventure, romance, awesome characters and imaginative world-building.

Elisa is a 16-year old princess from the kingdom of Oravalle, and she has no idea what her purpose is in life. Granted, she has been chosen by God to be the carrier of the Godstone, which only happens to one person every hundred years, but she doesn't consider herself to be very special. The gem is actually in her navel, and it signifies that she is destined for greatness, and must complete some heroic act at some point in her life-- even though she doesn't yet know what it will be. Only once she marries the king of another territory, who happens to be a total stranger, and sets off on a journey to fulfill a prophesy does Elisa finally come into her own and develop into a strong, confident character.

Elisa was an awesome heroine, for two main reasons: first, she was completely unlike any other YA heroine I have ever read about and second, because she makes such drastic changes throughout the story. I think one thing that made Elisa so unique was that she was very real-- she was overweight, clumsy, lazy, not particularly brave or intelligent, and in fact throughout the first 200 pages or so I didn't much like her at all. I thought she was pretty darned annoying actually. But by the end, she had become so much stronger and her character had grown so much, that I definitely respected her. In the end, it seemed so much more realistic to have her start out as a somewhat annoying and immature character, and then have her learn and grow based on her journey and experiences. This made her interesting-- and I will take interesting over pretty and perfect any day...

Another thing I loved about this book, and what I thought made it really stand out, was all the sensory detail that was included in the story-- the scents, the tastes, the sounds-- these are things that I sometimes find to be lacking in YA books, but in this case it gave the story so much more richness and depth. The scenery, the clothing, the scents, and especially all the yummy descriptions of food! I definitely appreciated all of these details that made the story come alive and seem real. Added to this was a detailed religion and social structure that was central to how Elisa and her society lived, which created a complete culture throughout the book. I have to say, it was awesome and I was super impressed!

For me, this book was much more appealing and enjoyable than Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which I had to bring up because it's really the only other YA fantasy book I have read since I started my blog. I was not a huge fan of Graceling, but I do think that if you enjoyed that book you will really love this one as well. I thought that the world building in this book was much more complete, and the main character was easier to like and relate to than Katsa-- Elisa became powerful and independent without coming across as standoffish or cold. For any fantasy fan out there, or for anyone who is looking for a book filled with adventure and action I would definitely recommend The Girl of Fire and Thorns-- It is a breath-taking, beautiful story that will definitely keep you reading!

~Cover Talk~

I really love the cover for this book, and I am so glad that they changed it drastically from the original ARC cover-- not that the original wasn't beautiful (because it was! See right image), but the Elisa on it looked absolutely nothing like the Elisa as described in the book, so I am happy to see the changes that were made to stay true to the actual story. I love how you can see Elisa's face in the facet of the gem-- and yes, the stone does have a key part in the book! Altogether, a very beautiful cover for an awesome story!

LC's Rating:
Thrilling, exciting, action-packed-- I could not put The Girl of Fire and Thorns down! I'm pretty sure you will love Elisa and the journey she makes to become a strong heroine, and the richly detailed world-building will have you completely wrapped up in the story from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this book to all my fantasy fans out there, because it was amazing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 387
Read it in: 4 days
Source: NetGalley
Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

LC's Take:

This book was so incredibly creative that I'm still reeling from just how awesome it was. First of all, Cinderella as a half-human cyborg in futuristic China?? C'mon now, how freaking cool is that! Marissa Meyer, you are too amazing for thinking up something this crazy and unique. Definitely my favorite thing about this book was just how wildly creative it was, and how it took a story that we've all heard a million times before, and turned it into something totally new and different.

The characters in this book were all multi-dimensional and interesting, and I loved the main heroine, Linh Cinder, who is half human and half computer-cyborg. Cinder works as a mechanic in New Beijing for her step mother and two step sisters, but she dreams of running away and making a better life for herself outside the city. New Beijing is in complete turmoil, as the people of earth are in fear of an attack from the Lunar realm of the moon, while at the same time a deadly plague is mysteriously killing hundreds of people on a daily basis, and no one has yet found the cure.

Prince Kai was a bit too wishy-washy of a love interest for my taste-- I wish he had been a stronger character, but he was still nice, if somewhat wimpy. I totally understand why Cinder was so in love with him, because he was so nice and sweet, but at the same time, I sort of hope that she falls for someone with a little more backbone in the next books. 

The world building was also amazing, and I found myself totally wrapped up in Cinder's world. It takes place in a futuristic version of China, where New Beijing is the capitol. There are not only several world governments, but also a kingdom on the moon, ruled by a tyrannical queen named Luna. Luna is dead set on marrying Prince Kai, the heir to the throne of New Beijing, and not going to lie, she was pretty scary!

If you are looking for a story that really goes outside the box and is completely different from anything else out there in the YA world, I highly recommend this book. Cinder turned out to be a wonderful fairytale re-telling that had its own unique flair, and kept my interest the entire way through.

~Cover Talk~

The thing that I love about this cover is that it makes such a statement-- just that one ruby-red shoe in the spotlight, which you notice right away against the dark background, and then the metal cyborg pieces showing through the white-stockinged leg-- I think it is so eye-catching! I also love the font that they chose for the title. I am pretty obsessed with fonts, and this one is so cool. Altogether, I love this unique cover, I think that it is really well-done!

LC's Rating:
A wildly creative and imaginative take on a classic fairytale! I really loved this book and the new, futuristic edge it had. Also, the characters were awesome. Make sure this one is on your TBR list!
Creative Commons License