12.31.2010

2010 Wrap Up, Thanks, and Resolutions

In April 14th 2010, I started this blog a whim, a love of reading, and a friend's encouragement. I only knew two blogs back then, my friends and The Story Siren, and had no idea such a huge community even existed. I honestly, didn't think this was going anywhere. Just a private place to rave about books. But then I got a twitter. If I could give newbies ONE piece of advice, it's that guys!

Twitter opened up this whole community I didn't even know existed to my eyes, and I found tons of fabulous friends that i'll rave about later. And this grew bigger. And bigger. To the point where now, I can't imagine life without the blog, and this whole community backing me up. And not just the community, you guys, my readers! You're all lovely for wanting to watch me rave incessantly about books, and putting up with my spazzing in vlogs, and my weird tweets in the middle of the night.

That said friend? Is awesome blogger, fabulous critique partner, and all-around good person, Julie from Blogger Heart Books. Thanks for pushing me to make this awesome decision and thanks for sticking by me the entire journey! I doubt this would've gone so well without you!

I met a lot of people in these past 9 months, and I wish I could thank every single one in this post, but sadly, I can't! So here's a few:

Thanks Brent, for being so fantastic. Your sass and glitter never fail to make me smile, and you are one funny blogger! And it's okay if you like unicorns, I love you anyway.

Kari, who is not one for sap but thank you for putting up with my un-organized ass! Despite the hate, you are super nice and fun and an awesome blogger (and an even better writer). I'm talking to you right now while writing this, so *waves*.

Nicole, for with Julie, sharing with me her love for Historical Fiction and being super awesome.

Finally, Bianca. Without you, this blog would be really ugly since I would've had to design it! Thanks for all the help you give me without complaints!

And then of course, there's the authors. Because really, without them, no books! And that would just be horrible! I'm not gonna name any because you're all just fantastic with us bloggers and with me, and i'll totally forget some people and then i'll feel bad. You know who you are, and you're awesome :)

Thanks to the publishers for not thinking i'm horrible and unworthy of your author's works.

Thanks to ALL OF YOU. Seriously, every single one of you. Without you, this wouldn't be possible. Thank you for commenting, and recommending, and retweeting, and just being amazing. 311 is the number of 2010, and that wouldn't have been possible without 'ya.

NOW, unto the resolutions:

1. Blog more. I'm seriously planning to post every single day, unless there's some crazy emergency or I go on a random vacation and don't have time to write something! November and December were really bad posting months for me.

2. Be organized. Seriously, I'm a mess. I need to fix up this site, update a thousand things, and get myself scheduled and organized. I must channel my inner Nicole.

3. Learn that darn techy stuff. As much as I like going to Bianca for all my tech problems, I should learn to do a lot of this myself, no? I'm already trying to do my own header, but I wanna learn how to do a bunch more instead of frantically asking twitter how.

4. Read, and Review. Usually, I don't write reviews right when i'm finished with it. I wait days, sometimes week and that's not happening anymore or i'll go insane!

5. Vlog more. I love vlogging, and I very well might start vlogging 3 times a week on my channel about bookish/writing things and such. If I can...

6. Stop Being Lazy. This is just a resolution in general. Speaks for itself.

THANK YOU GUYS.
For everything. Have a happy new year and..

Happy Reading,
-Harmony B.

12.28.2010

Top Ten 2010 Debuts

Hey guys! It's that time of year again! 2010 is coming to a close and today, i'm showing you my Top Ten Favorite Debuts of 2010!

*They're not in any actual order, because that would be way too hard.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

I picked this book up to read a few pages, you know, get a taste of how this was gonna go down. Three hours later, I was finished without realizing I had just spent all that time on the B&N carpet in front of the YA shelves. The DUFF is funny and heart-breaking, and most of all, real. Because everyone feels like the ugly duckling from time to time, and i'm glad Bianca found out that she was special. Plus Welsey Rush? HOT.



Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie from Paranormalcy and Sophie from Hex Hall should be best friends. Seriously! Evie is funny, witty, and insanely curious about anything normal teenagers do. Kiersten wrote a new and refreshing take on paranormal creatures, instead of making them hot and sparkly, creatures that agencies need to contain once they get out of hand. Plus? The dress she's wearing is extremely pretty. And Lind? If you saw my review, most IMPERFECT PERFECT boy ever!



Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins? Is hysterical. I've never read such a funny protaganist in my life! Sophie is witty, clever, and always ready with a quick retort that makes me giggle (and my parents ask why i'm laughing to myself in the back of the car on the way to Tennessee while reading Demonglass...) Boarding school for witches may sound overrated, but you'll seriously regret not reading this, I can assure you that! Plus, you'll definitely be surprised by a lot of plot twists that end up happening in the book!



Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I stayed up until 6 in the morning reading this the moment I got it. Must I say more? From the amazing world-building (I mean, draki? Sound awesome) to the steamy romance, Firelight is catch your attention and keep it until you're turning the last page.





Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

High Fantasy FTW. Absolutely love just everything about this book, from the characters to the writing to the ending! And even though I like where North and Sid stand in the end, i'm dying for a sequel! If you're looking something new and amazing, definitely check this one out.






The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I bought this book for the last line in the pitch on the back. On that whim, I bought it, read it, and loved it. Julie weaves Megan's real life into her new fey life, and embarks her on this journey through the Never-never in seach of her kid brother. All the characters are well-rounded and loveable! Grim, who is pretty much the best cat ever, Puck, always ready with a sarcastic retort, and Winter Prince Ash (insert swoon here) cold and icy but sweet and loving. The sequel Iron Daughter is already out and fantastic, and Iron Queen (heart-breaking) is coming out in Feburary. Both won't disappoint!


Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Wow, this one is gonna be hard to explain. I'm sure if you've read it, it's a hit or miss. Either you love it, or you're wondering what in the world was she thinking. I absolutely loved it, from the beautiful writing to the well-rounded and slightly disturbing (but equally entertaining) characters. Plus, the romance was sweet, and Portero, while somewhere I never want to live, was chilling and creepy.



Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

There's a reason i'm Team Captain and fangirling about this all the time, people! Personal Demons was a new and awesome retelling of that original good vs. evil, hell vs. heaven but with a lot more at stake. Plus, Luc is hot and a big 'ole softy at the same time.




Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Remember this review? The book that I just could not get into the first 40 pages in so I put down for a while? Then I picked it up again and after that, I was hooked. Rebecca has a beautiful way of writing, and I loved listening to Lena's flashbacks in the past, and her new way of thinking now. Lena is smart and strong, plus Rhode? Though you don't get a lot from one besides the first few pages and flashbacks? *swoon* We get more of him in Stolen Nights apparently so i'm happy!


Sea by Heidi R. Kling

The first contemporary I honestly ever read and loved. Sea was emotional, funny, and heart-breaking, especially towards the end. Heidi made me fall in love with a genre I had hated beforehand and now I love contemporary! Sienna (Sea) was a great character who made good decisions, including one that however much I hate it, I must admit it was the sensible and right one to do.





Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.26.2010

In My Mailbox 21



In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren.


For Review:

Shadowspell by Jenna Black (Thanks, St. Martins!)

Bought (A.K.A parents):

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Jane by April Linder
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S King
Ophelia by Lisa Klein
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Vixen by Jillian Larkin
The Season by Sarah MacLean

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.24.2010

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Happy Holidays you guys!

If you celebrate Christmas, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I hope you have a day filled with family, and love, and presents!

If you don't, happy belated-hannukah, kwanza, boxing day, and if it's just a regular weekend, I hope you're having a good one!

Have an awesome day guys!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

Who: Cora Harrison
What: I was Jane Austen's Best Friend
When: September 28th, 2010
Where: Delacorte Press (RandomHouse)
Why: Historical love
How: Traded


When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane
Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets,
gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp
observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with
Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this
dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been
harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring
scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor
orphan girl to do?

In this delicious dance between truth and fiction,
Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen
wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies,
and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and
provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved
Jane.

I was Jane Austen's Best Friend was a sweet and endearing tale of Jane Austen and her cousin, Jenny Cooper's adventures in adolescence. Told in diary entries and some real-time events, Jenny's voice shines through as the quiet, timid girl she is against Jane, who's saucy, clever, and cunning!

Jenny and Jane lived in this horrid boarding school and when they go back home, that's where the adventure begins! The book centers around Jenny trying to find a family, a home, and a potential husband. You have to keep in mind that this is historical, and she's sixteen, so this is perfectly normal! Jenny was such a sweet girl, and for once, I'm glad it was told in journal entries! If it would've been third person, you wouldn't have communicated with her the same day. She's incredibly shy, and she envies Jane's talent for conversation immensely, but in her diary, she is herself and says what she likes.

Jane Austen was especially a treat! She was clever but indecisive and sometimes uncaring of Jenny's opinions and wants. She really was a hot and cold friend, and Jenny comes to find that Jane's real best friend is not her but pen and paper after you see it for yourself. But she stayed strong throughout the entire novel and her friendship with Jenny was cute and Jane was there for regardless of when she needed it!

Now, there's a lot of potential love interests in this book for Jenny. I mean...William, Henry, Frank! At one point in time, especially during the middle, I had chosen. He was funny and charming! But this was a book full of charming characters, so I quickly changed during the end and was happy with the result. Jenny causes quite a scandal but I'm happy everything works out for her in the end, and you will be too!
My rating? AMAZINGNESS.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.22.2010

Waiting on Wednesday!

This meme is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and it's to raise awareness on upcoming books you might not have none about otherwise!


Who: Karsten Knight
What: Wildefire
When: July 26th, 2011
Where: Simon & Schuster
Why: UMMM...read that pitch. And THAT COVER. And Karsten's awesome.

Ashline Wilde never received an instruction manual on
how to be a 16-year-old Polynesian volcano goddess. If she had, it might have
contained helpful warnings such as:

• Dreaming about your (thankfully)
mortal boyfriend may cause your bed to spontaneously combust
• Oven mitts
should be worn at all times during heavy make-out sessions

Instead, Ash
has to learn these life lessons the hard way as her dormant powers erupt at the
most awkward times. In the wake of a hometown tragedy, Ash transfers to
Blackwood Academy, a boarding school nestled in California’s redwoods, where a
group of fellow gods-on-earth have mysteriously convened. As if sophomore year
couldn’t get any worse, her storm goddess older sister, the wild and
unpredictable Eve, resurfaces to haunt Ashline. With a war between the gods
looming over Blackwood, Ash must master the fire smoldering within her before
she clashes with her sister one final time, which leads us to life-lesson #3:

• When warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

~~~

Yeah...you can see why I want this right? Polynesian Volcano Teen Goddess? FTW.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.21.2010

Wake by Lisa McMann

Who: Lisa McMann
What: Wake
When: March 4th, 2008
Where: Simon Pulse
Why: Hype
How: Bought


For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is
getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams,
and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a
lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does they’d never
believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe,
cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she
falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first
time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a
participant…


I've been procrastinating reading this for a while now, I'd always see it at Barnes and Nobles and just...look at it. I'm always weary of books with a lot of hype unless one of my close friends has read it and can tell me if it's good. But hey, it was on sale at the Miami Book Fair so I threw that out the window and gave it a go!

Wake follows Janie, who gets sucked into dreams when people fall asleep around her. To cut off the mini-explanation, I'm just gonna say I thought that was so cool and unique. I've read books where they can just..go in, but never against their will or the way Janie uses it to her advantage towards the end. But then she starts falling into this gruesome nightmares that completely paralyze her in the outside world, and she meets a boy named Cabel and mystery ensues. The reason of the dreams was pretty heart-breaking but the fact that she's a participant? Not that much.

Now, I wasn't all that happy with the plot since after she meets Cabel...there really isn't one besides finding out why the heck he's so hot and cold. But it's a short and quick read so the romance keeps you sticking until the end.

Janie was conflicted and confused, which is totally appropriate for someone who has to deal with getting sucked into dreams every hour. I felt so bad for her when they go on that field trip. All of her friends though, including her best friend and neighbor, was pretty flat and superficial, which I suppose was the point. I would've liked to see them have a bit more depth to them though, especially since Carrie was such a key point in the first book.

Cabel was a sweetheart, even though I wanted to smack him in the face a few times. And wash his mouth with soap, but hey, I'm in High School so I never say the cursing was too much. Because I listen to my classmates and...yeah. The cursing in YA books is perfectly realistic. Their romance was cute and what kept me reading, plus my curiosity about Janie's special abilities.

My rating? AHHH-Great! (I just finished Cryer's Cross, her next book, and look out for that one! It's really, really good!)

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.19.2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge!

Hey guys! So this year, I participated in the super fun 2010 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren! It was soo much fun so when she proposed 2011, of course I jumped at it!

So pretty much, here is my list of books i'm planning to read in 2011:
(If it's in italics, I own it already)

XVI by Julia Karr
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Warped by Maurissa Guibord
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Haven by Kristi Cook
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
Vesper: A Deviants Novel by Jeff Sampsen
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
So Shelly by Ty Roth
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
Clarity by Kim Harrington
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Hourglass by Myra McEntire

And that's it for now! There's a lot more than that and if you're interested about signing up, here's the link!

12.17.2010

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Who: Courtney Summers
What: Fall for Anything
When: December 21st, 2010
Why: Praise
How: Review Copy


When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the
nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a
brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw?
And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone
else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s
and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Cullen
seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the
key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened
her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her
hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?


Midterms done, sickness passing, so blogging is back!

Falling for Anything by Courtney Summers was just...wow. I had never read anything by her, and that's totally going to change. Fall for Anything was a beautiful, raw, and powerful look about a girl dealing with the loss of her father under the strangest circumstances, and just how far she'll go to know why.

"My hands are dying." That's the first thing Eddie Reeves says in the novel, and that stayed with me throughout the whole thing because I think it just explains her perfectly. After that night, she wasn't alive anymore. It's not that I could relate to her, because I couldn't, but you just understand. She was silent and bipolar (not in a bad way though) and unstable but she had a great voice and I loved reading it from her point of view. Her best friend, Milo, was sweet and strange and at times, irritating, but that's because you want him to tell you the truth about that happened the night of her father's death. I'll get to Culler Evans later.

The plot really was fantastic, with the way Courtney set up all the clues and the mini road trips to get to them. This book definitely gave me chills, with it's eerie settings and suspense. Every time you got one of the clues, you wanted the next one. I read this book in between midterms and I'll tell you, it was agony waiting to finish my test and read some more. Courtney writes...beautifully. It's a swirl of descriptions and emotions and you never feel like you're being dragged along on this wild goose chase, but like you're in it, and then it's that you need to know why he died as well.

Finally...Culler Evans. When he first came into the picture, I loved him. He was just like Eddie, quiet and determined to find out the truth. They go on this journey together, and it's just...incredible the way Courtney describes it. And then, that huge plot twist came. Dear god, you definitely won't see that coming, I promise. I had to put the book down and say a few "Oh my gods" and take a few breaths before I kept on reading. This is a book that haunts you long after you turn the last page.

My rating? A definite AWESOMESAUCE.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.13.2010

Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

Who: Suzanne Morgan Williams
What: Bull Rider
When: February 29th, 2010
Why: Blog Tour
How: For Review

All it takes is eight seconds....

Cam O'Mara,
grandson and younger brother of bull- riding champions, is not interested in
partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks
— frontside flips, 360s — means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes
home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury.

What would make a
skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a
monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight
seconds, will the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother?
Bull Rider is the story of Cam O'Mara, a boy who comes from a lifetime legacy of bull-riders. His big brother Ben comes home from Iraq paralyzed and Cam must learn to deal with the family stress, new found love for bull-riding, and a competition that could make a future for his brother. Bull Rider was a profound, enjoyable story!

Cam O'Mara was a great character to read about, honest and sweet. You can see he genuinely cared about Ben and wanted desperately for him to get better. But at the same time, like any kid, it was frustrating to see his family not focus on what he needed. I liked reading his tries on the bull, they were compelling and I was anxious to see whether he would make or not!

The plot itself isn't the most intriguing, but you're always rooting for Ben to get better and for Cam to become a Bull Rider! I admire Cam for being that brave, even though he was terrified the first time he went on that bull. He stayed on and persevered, which is a lot more than I would've done! The writing is simple and clear, do you're not muddling those page long descriptions looking for the actual meat of the story.
I loved the description of Salt Lick, Nevada! Especially since i've never seen to the West coast, I had a good feel of how everything looked. The ending wasn't predictable and I was honestly surprised when it happened! His family was sweet, if not a little bit forgetful, and his best friend didn't really might the right waves for me.

My rating? AHHH-GREAT!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.12.2010

In My Mailbox (20)

Hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren!

For Review:
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Bought:
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Library:
Prisoners in the Palace by Michela MacColl

Etc:
Tor Catalog

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.06.2010

Fixing Delilah interview: Patrick! *swoon*


Today we have the leading man in Sarah Ockler's Fixing Delilah, Patrick! I'm not even gonna bother telling you not to swoon, because I mean, it's Patrick!

~~~

Tell us 3 things about you no one else knows.

This is a tough one. I'm totally out in the spotlight when I'm singing on stage, but in real life, I'm a pretty private guy. So 3 things that no one knows? Okay, here goes... 1) I'm glad my parents split up. It was hard at the time, and Dad is still so devastated over it that he'd kill me if he saw this. But he was so unhappy when she was around. All they did was fight. Anyway, moving on to the next thing... 2) I'm actually super nervous on stage. The spotlight freaks me out. But I love music so much -- it's like the only way I can really say everything I'm feeling inside -- the only way I can share it with the world. So I find a way to deal. Mostly, whenever I'm about to freak out, I think about Delilah, and this one time when we were about six. I dared her to close her eyes and jump off the dock, straight into Red Falls Lake. She watched me go first, and then she laughed, climbed up to the upper dock another ten feet higher, and leapt off the edge. She kicked my butt, which leads me to the next reveal... 3) I fell in love with her that day on the dock, and I never stopped thinking about her, even when I didn't see her for years. Now that you know my whole life story, um, next question, please!

How did it feel seeing Delilah after so long?

Wow, you really want to get in there, huh? ;-) Ok. Remember that story about jumping off the docks? It was like that day happening all over again. I saw her under the bleachers, and my stomach did this weird flip flop thing, like that day she beat me off the jump. I couldn't believe it was her. And when she finally figured out it was me, I... wait. Some of this stuff I want to keep just for me! Sorry!

If you could have told Delilah one thing before she left that last summer, what would it be?

I'll be waiting for you, no matter what.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Probably in some small town, on stage at a coffee place, Delilah sitting in the audience with those choco-hazlenut whatevers she loves so much. I don't see us sticking to one place. I want to see the world with her, and wherever she is, well... that's where I see myself. Sounds sappy, right? But it's true. This is the kind of stuff people write songs about. Hey, you wanted to know!

Since you're so awesome at music, pick a song that describes you.

Totally not fair question! So I'm giving you a totally not fair answer. ;-) Blue in Green by Miles Davis, off the Kind of Blue album. No words -- you just have to listen to it to see what I'm saying. I don't do jazz myself, but I love listening to it and letting it inspire my music. I highly encourage you to give Miles a chance!

No more personal questions, right? So if you want to know more about me, you'll have to check out Fixing Delilah! ;-)


~~~


Thanks for joining us, Patrick! And thanks Sarah, for writing him!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.05.2010

Interview with Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of Bull Rider!

Today we have Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of Bull Rider on the blog!

~~~

Tell us 3 things about yourself no one else knows.

Well, if no one knows them by now, maybe they are secrets. Let me think . . . When I was in college I really wanted to be a folk singer and did a few gigs in coffee houses, but I had some bad stage fright. It wasn’t as fun as singing to myself and with my friends. Back in the day I used to sew a lot of my clothes (it saved money then) and I made some money when I was in high school sewing dresses for my friends. I am a “closet” illustrator and would so love to illustrate a book that I write, or should I say, have yet to write.

If you had to live with 3 YA characters, who would they be?

I’d want someone kind and fun and reliable, maybe someone who can get stuff done. Do YA characters come like that? I might pick Austin Gray from Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill Alexander because she’s definitely fun and kind to animals. And Anne from Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble because she’s a take charge kind of girl and can do cool stuff like go visit Baba Yaga in her house on chicken legs (ok, you’ve got to read the book), and maybe Roy from Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, because he’s young but he has a real sense of what’s right and wrong. I think he’d be reliable and ok to live with or, let’s reconsider, maybe I’d take Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. He’s a survivor and he definitely tells things as he sees them. Refreshing.

How'd you come up with the idea for Bull Rider?

The idea for Bull Rider actually came from a conversation with an editor. We brainstormed an idea for a young series about rodeo. Later it changed to an older YA and finally to a younger YA book. I wrote the book four times and each time the theme changed. The idea for Ben came from the family I created for Cam. I figured Cam’s older brother would be a marine. When I changed the book to YA, then it seemed that a marine would be in Iraq and that could lead to some major tension – maybe a war injury. That decision changed Bull Rider into what it is.

If you could go back in time and tell something to your former teenage self?

What would it be? I would say to enjoy myself more and worry less about what other people were thinking. I’d definitely have a talk with myself about the power that I had – to choose friends, to choose and follow what I was most interested in, and mostly to imagine the world as very big and full of possibilities.

Favorite Genre to read? And write?

I like contemporary novels with strong social themes and historical fiction. I like a good mystery if it has something special – like a cultural or artistic component – something added to the mystery. The things I write are – surprise! – contemporary realistic fiction, historical fiction, multicultural nonfiction. No mysteries. I haven’t figured out how to actually do that yet.

In My Mailbox (19)



In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea over at Pop Culture Junkie!



Review:

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Logic of Demons: Quest of Nadine's Soul by H.A Goodman

Traded:
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

Blogger Secret Santa:

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
& Goodies!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

12.01.2010

Interview with Everlasting author, Angie Frazier!

Today on the blog I have Angie Frazier, author of Everlasting!

~~~

When and why did you start actually considering yourself a writer?

I wish I could say I had enough self-esteem to consider myself a "writer" long before I was published. But in all honesty, while I was confident in my writing and my love for writing, I had a hard time presenting myself as a "writer" to other people. It wasn't until I'd signed with an agent that I felt comfortable saying "I'm a writer." Of course now I see how silly I'd been. A writer is a writer, no matter where they are in the process.

Do you listen to any music while you write? If so, what are some of your favorites?

I can't listen to music and write at the same time, but music does inspire me when I am percolating a story or working out plot kinks. I mostly listen to instrumental music, classical, and movie soundtracks when I want to zone out and really submerge myself in my stories. Love Braveheart, Gladitor, The Cider House Rules, and Last of the Mohicans especially.

If you could live with three YA characters, who would they be?

That's a tough one! Of course, I'd love to live with Oscar or Ira from my book (ha ha!) but if I was going to choose a girl for my third housemate, I think I'd like to live with Tessa from the upcoming YA WARPED by debut author Maurissa Guibord!

Biggest Fear?

In life? The normal fears all mothers have. Regarding my career? That I'll disappoint a reader.

What's your most recent read?

I just finished PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White--it was just as great as everyone has been saying it is!

~~~

Thanks for coming unto the blog Angie!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers COVER reveal and ARC giveaway!

Doesn't those words make you excited?! So the lovely and wonderful Lisa, author of Personal Demons, asked a bunch of bloggers and I if we would do a conjoined cover reveal and link backt o her giveaway! Of course, being the total fangirl/team captain I am, I was like: OMG YES <3.>
So here it is, for your viewing pleasure, the ORIGINAL SIN cover! Complete with intense starting and BLUE!




SO pretty, right? Expect you know, Gabe's too close and Luc's too far for my tastes ;) SO here's all the stuff i've ever done with Lisa on the blog so you can check out how awesome she is plus a review!

Interview with Luc
Interview with Frannie
Interview with Gabe
Review

And now, what I know you've all been waiting for, the CONTEST for the first ARC of Original Sin! It's....not on here! Muahaha! BUT you did have to look at this post to enter, so keep reading. Here's the link to Lisa's contest, where you'll need to tell her WHAT blog you saw it on (that's me!) and the tagline on the bottom of the title on the cover! She needs proof people!

ALSO, if you comment on this post, you get 1 extra entry! There's nine of us in all, so if you comment on all the blogs that Lisa has up on the post, you get 9 extra entries! More information is up on her blog, guys!

EEP about Original Sin and Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

11.30.2010

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Who: Sarah Ockler
What: Fixing Delilah
When: December 1st, 2010
Why: Tour
How: For Review


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?


Fixing Delilah is a young adult contemporary novel about a girl who's dealing with the loss of her grandmother, the busy life her mom has that barely leaves time for her, new love, new friends, and a secret family past that had long since been kept from her. Sounds awesome, right? Well, if you know me, I wasn't a big fan of contemp when I agreed to review this book. But Sarah Ockler is super sweet, so I gave it a try. Oh. My. God. I loved it, so much. This is the reason I read Contemp now people! Now unto the actual review!

Sarah knows how to write about loss. Though I haven't read Twenty Boy Summer (but it's on my TBR pile!), it was especially apparent reading Fixing Delilah. The main theme in this book is family problems, and how every family has their closet secrets and problems. Delilah's mother, who is too busy with her work to pay attention to pretty much anything else, plays a major role in the book as something that Delilah is trying to understand. And I think she portrayed that mother-daughter relationship perfectly, how sometimes when you need them, they're too busy, but they still love you anyway.

Delilah was a well-rounded character, and I loved reading her story. I liked how she went looking for answers, with or without help from other people. She decided for herself that if no one else was going to tell her anything, she had to go figure things out herself. She didn't go for the whole 'Ignorance is bliss' thing, so kudos for her. Delilah's life is a lot about her trying to discover herself and who she is, and that's a major part of being a teen! The emotions and especially the imagery that Sarah wrote into the story was beautiful and I felt that I was really in that small town.

And then of course, I must talk about Patrick. Can I have one? Their relationship was one of my favorite parts of the book, mostly because it was something that you know grew over time. It didn't just materialize into thin air, they'd known each other since childhood. This fun summer-time romance turns into a meaningful relationship and you get to see it all unfold. What can I say? I'm a romance whore and Fixing Delilah totally gave me enough in the romance department.

My rating? AWESOMESAUCE. Pick up anything by Sarah definitely!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

11.26.2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Who: Brenna Yovanoff
What: The Replacement
When: September 21st, 2010
Why: Cover
How: From Blogger

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in
the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky
water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a
Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of
fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to
survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us,
to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby
sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry,
known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his
rightful place, in our world, or theirs.



Just saying guys, i'm super sorry for not posting these past few days! I've been in Tennessee on vacation and I woke up extra early to be able to put this online! I've put off writing this review for a long time, mostly because I know this book is gonna be super hard to explain. I really liked it, but it wasn't totally crazy about it, and why I liked it...I have absolutely no idea. But i'll try to the best of my abilities!

First of all, Brenna's writing is fantastic. Even though I knew she was a debut author, I still found it pretty hard to believe! Gentry was a seriously creepy town, and she caught that perfectly into her descriptions. The House of Mayhem as well, beautifully described. I truly felt like I knew the town without her having to pour paragraphs of boring descriptions throughout the book.


The characters were compelling and creepy enough that I totally wanted to know more about then. I loved Mackie, he really was an intriguing and thought-out character. Tate was one of my least favorite characters honestly, not for any true reason, but she was just way to hot and cold for my taste. The Lady and the rest of the monsters were beautifully thought-out and described and I really did fear and love them at the same time. Some people might be bothered that the world wasn't fully explained, but I loved that. The lady said before that what people thought of them was up to their imagination, and Brenna left us enough to wonder but enough to go be completely scatter-brained.


The book was really intriguing over all, and the creepy things had some really blurred lines. Never completely good or bad and you know much I enjoy that!

Overall? AMAZINGNESS. I can't really pin down what made me NOT absolutely love it.


Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

11.22.2010

ZOMG, it's Julie's Birthday.

So today, it's Julie from Bloggers Heart Books birthday and since she's an amazing friend and I talk to her way too often, I decided to do something the entire blogging community could do for her! You guys know i'm big on birthdays soo, I brainstormed, emailed, and here you go!
LOVE YOU JULIE!



Happy Reading and Happy Birthday!
-Harmony

11.21.2010

In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren

For Review:

Haven by Kristi Cook
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused by Kari Lee Townsend

Library:

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Headley
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Bought:

The Eternal Ones by Kristin Miller
Sister's Red by Jackson Pearce
Wake by Lisa McMann
The Lost Queen: Faerie Path 2 by Frewin Jones

Happy reading!
What did YOU get?
-Harmony

11.20.2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yoganoff Excerpt

Today we have a scene from Brenna Yoganoff, author of The Replacement! This is an amazing book and I should have my review up by this week! Please remember, this is copyrighted by Brenna so just look but don't touch!

Brenna's note: This is a scene from near the beginning of the book. Tate Stewart's little sister has just died, giving rise to amount of gossip at school. Not everyone is behaving kindly toward Tate, and Mackie feels bad for her, but mostly, he just wants to pass unnoticed.

We were finishing the unit on Romanticism and The
Scarlet Letter. Mrs. Brummel was tall and thin, with bleached hair and a lot of
different sweaters. She got very excited about the kind of literature that no
reasonable person would ever read for fun.
​She stood at the front of the
room and clapped because she was always clapping. “Okay, today we’re going to
talk about guilt and how Pearl’s very existence condemns Hester more effectively
than the A. This is most obvious in the fact that some of the villagers believe
Pearl is the child of the devil.”
​Then she wrote it on the board: Pearl as
a concrete manifestation of guilt.
​“Does anyone want to expand on this?”
​No one did. In front of me, Tom Ritchie and Jeremy Sayers were flicking a
paper football back and forth, mock cheering each time one of them got it
between the uprights of the other one’s hands. Alice and Jenna were still
watching Tate, whispering and then covering their mouths like they’d just said
something so shocking it needed to be contained and giving each other
significant looks.
​Mrs. Brummel was making bullet points with her back to
us, waiting for someone to start filling them in.
​I watched Alice. When
she’d taken her seat at the beginning of class, her skirt had slid up far enough
to show the tops of her thighs, and I was enjoying the fact that she hadn’t
adjusted it yet. Her hair was loose down her back and looked almost like bronze
in the fluorescent light.
​She propped her elbows on her desk and leaned
forward so she could whisper into Jenna’s ear. “I heard that her mom won’t get
out of bed since it happened. Like, not even for the funeral. I can’t believe
she’s acting like nothing’s wrong. I just wouldn’t even come to school.”
​Apparently, that one was loud enough for Tate to catch some or possibly all
of it because she stood up fast enough to send her desk screeching along the
floor. Her gaze was hard, sweeping over us, and I couldn’t tell if I was dizzy
from the screws and wires in the walls or from the way she was looking at me.
​“Oh,” she said, in a clear, challenging voice. “Was this what you wanted?
Did you want a good look? Take a good look—I don’t mind.”
​And maybe no one
had really been excited about Hester Prynne and her illegitimate daughter, but
they were paying attention now. I kept my head down, hunching over my desk,
trying to get smaller. My heart was beating so fast that I could feel it in my
throat and I kept telling myself that everything was fine, that I’d imagined
she’d looked at me, because I had to believe that. I had to believe that no one
in Gentry would ever hear the words child of the devil and then look at me.
​No one said anything.
​The room was so quiet that all I could hear was
the buzz of the fluorescent light. I had the idea that it was buzzing right over
me, like some kind of signal or alarm, but no one turned to stare accusingly. No
one whispered or pointed.
​Mrs. Brummel stood with her back against the
whiteboard and the marker uncapped in her hand, staring at Tate. “Is there
something you needed?”
​Tate shook her head and kept standing. “Don’t mind
me. I’m just waiting for my big red A.”
​“This isn’t funny,” Mrs. Brummel
said, putting the cap back on the marker.
​“No,” said Tate. “It’s not. But
we can all agree to smile anyway because it just makes things so much easier.”

And there you go!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.17.2010

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Who: Jennifer Donnelly
What: Revolution
When: October 12th, 2010
Why: Historical Fiction Love
How: Bought


BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her
father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and
heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are
destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most
prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany
him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two
centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful
encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t
want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never
knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes
something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort
and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight
journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and
time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Revolution was just such a beautiful read. If you don't like Historical Fiction, you'll like it anyway. Jennifer goes an amazing job of combining Historical Fiction and Contemporary to flow in perfect harmony. Both Alexandrine and Andi were amazingly well-written characters with difficult lives.

A lot of times, "journal" books are a tough read. Especially when the main character and the person who wrote the diary are different people. But I felt that Alexandrine and Andi were two completely different people, just with similar situations. The story takes place both in Paris 21st century, and Paris during the French Revolution, following two girls struggling with love and loss. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, and the history accurate to everything i've learned.

Andi's story was so heartbreaking. I really felt like her past just leaped off the pages, and I suffered with her for her loss. Her journey through her pain really was beautiful, and you could see her transformation from beginning to end. Alexandrine made her feel the same, but I loved her more out of the two. I just think Alexandrine was so brave to do what she did, just to make Louis happy. If you didn't know, Alexandrine's story is that she had made the sullen prince laugh at one of her puppet shows and Marie Antoinette took her in as his companion. And it goes on from there throughout the whole revolution. It was really amazing.

Then there's Virgil, who's Andi's love interest. Revolution had just enough romance to keep me interested and really? The book was so fantastic that I wouldn't have needed it. And that's a big deal, since according to Julie, i'm a romance whore. He was sweet and really cared about her, and was a big part of her healing. Finally, the major connection the story had to music was woven so perfectly that I made me want to play some piano after. Andi's deep understanding of music was just beautiful.

My rating? AWESOMESAUCE
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

11.15.2010

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Who: Jeri Smith-Ready
What: Shade
When: May 4th, 2010
Why: Hype
How: Traded

Love ties them together. Death can't tear
them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With
Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate
after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's
life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death
leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone
born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has
always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why
the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit
still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and
so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever
complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of
Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.



Shade was a book that I had heard countless praise about from bloggers all over, so I finally decided to give it a try! And i'm so glad I found it on a trade list and snatched it when I could!

Shade was a seriously enjoyable read. The whole Shift was intriguing and I loved that Jeri didn't gave me just enough information about it that I want more. A lot of times, books give you too little information, or too much. But she found that perfect balance. I have plenty of questions, but some of them have been answered. The fact that pre-Shifters couldn't see the ghost presented some comedic relief, especially when one of them didn't notice their was an old lady ghost crying next to him and Aurora talked to her.

Aurora was a good main character, believable. She was also relatable, I believed whole-heartedly that she missed Logan, her boyfriend, after he died. But while he was still there, just as a ghost, you could still feel the pain of the fact he couldn't touch her. It even made me sad. She was reserved and always had a sort of ulterior motive to the things she did, like the research project. She was definitely a well-rounded character.

Now unto the love triangle, which Jeri did beautifully! I really believed that Aurora didn't know who to choose! I know that's the definition of a love triangle but a lot of books you don't really feel how torn she is. Logan was nice and really loved her, but he's well...you know...a ghost. I understand why she had mixed feelings about the relationship while he was alive, because he didn't really completely show how much he did love her. Zachary was just....yum. Complete with a sexy Scottish accent and a nice, sweet personality. He never forced himself on her, and helped her out when she was freaking out over Logan's death. Both two very good choices, but i'm totally leaning towards Zach.

My rating? AMAZINGNESS

Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.12.2010

Trending isn't just for Twitter.

Trends. Some people cringe, some people fist-bump when they hear this word. It's essential to the publishing biz and it also affects how a lot of us buy our books! Jackson Pearce, who's liveshow I attend (and YOU should to on Wednesday at 8EST), made the topic Trending this week and we had a pretty in-depth discussion on how exactly this works. I've made up my theory that there's always a catalyst for every trend, and here i'm about to name a few:

Harry Potter: After this? DOZENS of wizarding books and books about magic and crazy stuff like that. This went totally viral, and as a result, shifted the entire industry into everyone looking for something to be the next Harry Potter. Of course, nothing got more popular! (Off topic but, OMG 7 DAYS UNTIL HARRY POTTER)

Twilight: Yeah, I know you'll start cringing. We all have a love/hate relationship with this book, but the point of it all is, it opened the door for YA. Sure it didn't set a very good example for what YA is all about, but now, there are so many paranormal romance books out there. Whether it's vamps, witches, werewolves, faeries, or...kraken (nope, not Kraken), it mostly resulted from the Twilight explosion.


(A little smaller than the other two but HUGE nonetheless) Hunger Games: This one is the most recent but you can't tell me you haven't noticed a HUGE mass of Dystopians since this came out? Matched, Birthmarked, Delirium....the list goes beyond! We're in the middle of this trend right now, and it's gonna be going strong for a little while longer. And I surely don't mind, who doesn't love dystopian?

Sometimes, trends can be a bad thing. While I love awesome vampire books like Vampire Academy and Blue Bloods, there are SO many vampire books out there that it just makes your head spin. Paranormal is all starting to blend together, with few standing out (There some do. Examples: Firelight, Angelfire, The Replacement, Nightshade, etc.. etc..) The wonderful thing about dystopian is that it can go in so many different directions, so I think they're good for a while.

Now, my fellow readers, I want to hear from you. I want you, to tell me what you think the next trend will be. I have my bets on Contemporary as a whole genre, especially with all the awesome ones coming out. Also, High Fantasy is gonna return from after Graceling, or at least I think so.

But what do YOU think?
Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.09.2010

The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer

Who: Carolyn Meyer
What: The Bad Queen
When: April 12th, 2010.
Why: History Geek!
How: Library


History paints her as a shallow party girl, a spoiled
fashionista, a callous ruler. Perhaps no other royal has been so maligned--and
so misunderstood--as Marie-Antoinette.
From the moment she was betrothed to
the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of
Marie-Antoinette. She tried to please everyone--courtiers, her young husband,
the king, the French people--but often fell short of their expectations.
Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young
woman can't help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous
fashions, and unimaginable luxuries. But as Marie-Antoinette's lifestyle gets
ever more recklessly extravagant, the peasants of France are suffering from
increasing poverty--and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay.
In this latest installment of her acclaimed Young Royals series, Carolyn
Meyer reveals the dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last Queen of
France.

I'm gonna tell you right now, this story doesn't have a happy ending. After I finished, I spent hours going over what I had read in my mind, especially that ending. Because in Marie Antoinette's family? No one ends up happy. That's the thing about writing about historical figures, you can't change the ending. Marie Antoinette lived a complicated, misunderstood life all the way until her brutal demise. And I absolutely loved this book for that reason and more. (I'd like to point out i'm not reviewing the actual history, but the story.)

Besides seeing the Petit Trianon and the Versailles on my trip to France, I hadn't known much about Marie Antoinette before reading this. I knew the basics, she was considered one of the worst queens in history. But in The Bad Queen, you read her story from the beginning, her journey through her marriage, the lack of real passion and how desperately she wanted a baby, and how much she really cared for the country of France. Though we are vastly different in time periods, I related to Marie. She did what she had to do to fit in, but also tried to make it comfortable for herself despite her mother's harsh and sometimes cruel criticisms on her character. She was frivolous, fun-loving, and didn't like the stiff etiquette of the French Court, which caused vicious and nasty rumors to spread on her behalf. She handled them as well as she could, until they lead to her death.

King Louis XVI was a loveable character, though very naive when it came to what his purpose was in marriage (you know, producing heirs and such), and didn't know the first thing about being king when his father died suddenly. I found it unbearable adorable when he give her the key to La Petit Triaton (which is supposed to be the mini castle of the king's favorite. Louis XV had his mistress live in this place, Madame Du Barry, who everyone extremely disliked.)

Then there's her secret romance with a Swede, Fersen, which was completely fueled by passion and desire, the thing lacking in Marie's life. She maintained her loyalty to her husband, never thinking once to abandon him even when she could've escaped with her children but without him. She loved her four children, two dying of sickness before she died, one dying later, and the last, her daughter lived to be the queen of France but then died lonely and unhappy. As I said, there is no happy ending to her story. This novel was 100% accurate, and every single character was a real and actual person in history! Which is just, awesome

My rating? AWESOMESAUCE.
Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.07.2010

Freefall author Anne Levine stops by!

Anne Levine is the author of Freefall which I reviewed on the blog a while back right....here!

And here she is!

~~~

What do you write YA? Favorite part of it, hardest?

My favorite part of writing YAs is writing about
characters who fall in love. There’s nothing like trying to get that feeling
down. The hardest part is getting the voices of the characters to sound unique,
capturing the difference in their personalities. I write YA because I love
writing about first experiences discovering characters who are not afraid to
take chances and are on the brink of discovery learning about their environment
and about themselves.



~~~


Thanks for coming over Anne!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony

In My Mailbox (17)

Woot! In My Mailbox time! Hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren and inspired by Alea over at Pop Culture Junkie!



For review:

The Bull Rider by Suzanne Morgan Williams

Gifted/Borrowed:

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Torment by Lauren Kate (If you're watching this Sabrina, I was totally kidding! Giving it back to you this week!)

Bought:

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Library:

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie Antoinette by Carolyn Meyer

What did YOU get in your mailbox?
Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.05.2010

Incareron by Catherine Fisher

I want to apologize for not being on this week! My computer was being wacky and I had SO many AP stuff to do! Never again, promise!

Who: Catherine Fisher
What: Incareron
When: July 15th, 2010
Why: Hype
How: Library


Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view,
where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by
rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living
building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character,
and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons.

A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and
cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world,
Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of
prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an
imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it
exists.

But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and
Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which
they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

Ohh, Catherine Fisher, what a twisted web you weave. Incareron was a wonderful dystopian about a prison that can talk, and create, and kill. Claudia, a girl who is being married to the prince of 'Outside' so she can become queen, finds a key that makes her able to communicate with a boy inside Incareron named Finn, who is a starseer and believes he came from 'Outside' and decides to help him escape and put an end to her arranged marriage.

The world-building in this book had stuff I loved and stuff I hated. I absolutely loved Incareron, how it worked, the way it was alive and created half-human people out of recycled skin! That was just so creepy yet....amazing! What I didn't like, was the Outside. I didn't understand why everything had to be 'Of Era', like they'd say, and what exactly protocol was. I knew they couldn't use modern devices or something, but she never really explained why? And the Wars of Rage? Never got explained much either, just that they happened. Didn't like that.

I wasn't too fond of Claudia either, I found her a bit selfish. While she did try to get Finn out, she was mostly doing it because she believed that he was her key out of her marriage and never really did anything for just the sole purpose of doing it. She didn't understand Finn's devotion to his oathbrother (more on Keiro and Attia in a minute) and just brushed it off during the ending. Which ticked me off. Finn was super sweet and shy and didn't speak his mind until he snapped. I loved how caring he was for all things, and even when everyone told him Attia was just a stupid girl and too leave her behind, he didn't. So bonus points for him.

Keiro and Attia were the side characters on Finn's side of the story. Keiro was arrogant, cocky, and just an all-around funny sidekick. You didn't hear a lot from Attia, but I loved how devoted she was to helping Finn get out of Incareron. Jared was the main side character from Claudia's side, and I loved him. He was sweet and gentle and knew when to pull Claudia back from her wild ideas (though it says didn't work). I saw the subtle hints of a one-sided romance between the two, but as Claudia's father said, I see him more like a father to her.

Finally, the ending. Umm...I need Sapphique like NOW. Just as a sidenote, the book doesn't have romance, like whatsoever. And I kept reading. This may not sound like a big deal...but it's a BIG DEAL.

My rating? AMAZINGNESS

Happy Reading!
-Harmony

11.02.2010

Crash into Me by Albert Borris + Contest!

Who: Albert Borris
What: Crash Into Me
When: July 21st, 2009
Why: For review
How: From Author


Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in
common: they all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide
and fails, the four teens make a deadly pact: they will escape together on a
summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides...and at their final
destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding
over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it
up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is
worth living--or if there's no turning back.
Crash Into Me was a beautfiully meaningful and
thought out story about 4 kids who take a road trip to visit suicidal
celebrities graves before offing themselves in Death Valley. This is gonna be
one of those reviews where I don't know what to say because I really liked the
book, but I don't know exactly why.


Owen, the MC, was quiet, quirky, and lonely. I really enjoyed reading from his point of view, mostly because he was simple. He thought things and didn't know why he thought them, same with the things he did. He knew why he wanted to kill himself, but he never knew why he himself thought it was worth it. And a lot of people do things without really knowing why, so it was real. Also, he's like, the master of suicide information.

Audrey, Jin-Ae, and Frank were perfectly formed secondary characters. Even though it's in Owens point of view, they all had their own stories and lives and I felt connected to them as well which is a hard thing to do in 1st person. My favorite would have to be Audrey for how she always spoke her mind. She reminded me of Alaska from 'Looking for Alaska' by John Green, or is that just me? Both had that sort of silent sadness to them, the anger, the jokes and outspokenness overshadowing the bad.

Albert did his research, because a lot of the people he named I hadn't even known had killed themselves! I loved how he interwove all the lives and deaths of these famous celebrities into the plot without drowning you in information.

My rating? AMAZINGNESS.

Finally, the CONTEST! I have a copy of Crash Into Me up for grabs! Fill out THIS FORM to enter! Deadline is November 20th.


Happy Reading!
-Harmony

10.30.2010

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot


Who: Meg Cabot
What: The Mediator series 1-6
When: January 1st, 2005
Why: Intro to YA
How: Bought


Suze is a mediator -- a liaison between the living and
the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won't leave her alone
until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But
Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn't seem to need her help. Which
is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start
fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of
spectral visitations.
But the very first day at her new school, Suze
realizes it's not that easy. There's a ghost with revenge on her mind ... and
Suze happens to be in the way.


There's a total of 6 books, so I just put the first one in the review. I'm going to review the Mediator series like a whole because 1)The books aren't that long and 2)No way am I doing 6 reviews to review a series. If you didn't know, since I don't tell this story as much, The Mediator series was my first interaction with YA. Before, the YA section had been this super scary place that I didn't dare step a foot in. I mean, what if my mom saw me there? I wasn't a teen, I was only 11! But I got anyway with it because Mediator was RIGHT next to the children's section and I just snatched it!

The Mediator tells the story of Suzannah, someone who sees ghosts who still have some unfinished business going on in the real world. And she's handled them all perfectly fine, helping them move on. But when her mom gets remarried and moves them to California in their new really old house, she meets Jesse. Jesse *insert swoony sigh here* is the super hot, spanish conquistor type ghost who lives, like, in her bedroom.

Suzannah is pretty much the most epic heroine ever. She's sassy, sarcastic, can kick major ghost butt, and doesn't let Jesse overshadow her when it comes to ghost-fighting. She was someone that I would totally want to be my friend, but she was also just a teenage girl. She got excited about boys liking her, and tried to act not excited about dances, and sometimes didn't understand why people liked her.

Side characters like Kelly, Ceecee, Paul in the later books, and all of the ghosts she ends up helping are all three-dimensional and super fun to read about. Each book, she needs to help some ghosts out, so you always have new and fresh characters to read about! The plot was fantastic, everything was intertwined to leading up to that final climax in Book 6. And god, Book 5 cliffhanger? Made me beg my mom to take me to the store and buy it. I was buying three at a time!

Then there's Jesse! Jesse was sweet, stubborn, and a true gentlemen (probably because he's from 19th century). He helps Suzannah out of tight situations but never dares to overstep his boundaries or try to do everything for her. He knows Suzannah or 'quierda' as he calls her which just makes me melt (if you don't speak spanish, it's the equivalent to calling someone 'love'). The romance develops slowly, not throw you into it in like, Book 2. They start out as business, and slowly become very tight-knit friends, leading up to something more.

And the end of the series? Fabulous! Though I CERTAINLY wouldn't mind if Meg Cabot made more *hint hint* ;)

My Rating? AWESOMESAUCE

Happy Reading!
-Harmony

10.26.2010

Freefall by Anne Levine

Who: Anne Levine
What: Freefall
When: September 1st, 2008
Why: Tour
How: From Author


What would your life be like if military service was
compulsory, not voluntary?

Aggie is eighteen and getting ready to do her
service for the Israeli Army. She could get a cushy assignment—maybe pushing
paper somewhere—or she could just take her chances. Only, Aggie isn't like that.
Despite her small size and the fact that she needs to gain weight to even make
the grade, and despite the total disbelief of her entire family (except her
grandmother, who is an old freedom fighter and don't you forget it), Aggie is
trying out for an elite combat unit.

Ben—Aggie's crush of the
moment—isn't at all convinced that she's making the right choice. Shira, Aggie's
best friend forever, is bewildered (and perhaps a bit too interested in Ben).
Then there's Noah. And the serendipitous snow. And a good-bye kiss that turns
into, well, a real kiss.

Luckily for Aggie, her backbreaking,
sand-in-mouth, completely-lost-in-the-desert training produces an unlikely
dividend: friends. The kind she never imagined she could have. The kind you'd go
to war with—and for.

Freefall by Anne Levine was one of those books I thought I wasn't gonna like...and I ended up really liking it! With lovable characters, a cute romance, and a deep look at the decisions of a girl enlisting in the army, Freefall was an enjoyable read.

Addie, the main character, is a typical teenage girl. She's quirky and has crazy hair and feels young and childish. But she's also lives in Jerusalem where according to the novel (unsure if this is true or not), you must enlist in the army. She doesn't want to be in an intelligence agency, or pushing papers behind some desk. So she tried out for elite combat training. I could relate to Addie, since absolutely no one except Noah really believed she could do it. Despite many different obstacles that sometimes overwhelmed her, and everyone treating her like a child, she blossomed.

The whole elite combat training was rigorous and pretty cool to read about (though never would I want to go through it.) I mean, running with sandbags on your back for hours in a hot desert? Um, no thanks? But that's what she--and the best of the lovable trainees-- did. Lily was funny, spunky, and refreshingly funny compared to Addie's more analytical brain. Noah was aaa-dorable, though he didn't get to see a lot of him. What you do see, you'll love!

Something that really irked me had to be the ending and the length. Not the ending in itself, which I thought was an awesome ending, but the fact that it was so open. I'm pretty sure there won't be a sequel so I still had so many unanswered questions. Also, I felt that the shortness of the novel made it seem rushed. It didn't give me enough time to fully get to know and enjoy the characters!

But my rating? AHH-GREAT!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony

10.24.2010

In My Mailbox (16)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from the Story Siren!


For review:

Misguided Angel by Melissa De La Cruz (Thanks, Hyperion!)

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (Thanks, Harcourt!)

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (Thanks, HarperTeen!)

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (Thanks, S&S!)

Traded/Bought/Contest Wins:

Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Thanks, Kelsey!)

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Library:

Sovay by Celia Rees
Fire by Kristin Cashore

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

10.23.2010

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Who: Andrea Cremer
What: Nightshade
When: October 17th, 2010
Why: Beautiful Cover (GORGEOUS)
How: Contest Win


Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating
from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and
fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for
the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human
boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the
very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose
everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate
sacrifice?

Okay, so you guys have probably seen me rave about this on Twitter and notice that in all of my "Something Weeks", Andrea Cremer has been a part of all of them. Why? Because Nightshade was great and Andrea is awesome.

My favorite part of Nightshade had to be the world-building. I can understand why people call it a Paranormal Romance/Fantasy because it definitely has fantasy elements in it (don't tell me those two are the same thing or i'll claw your eyes out.) She created this whole new world of systems and packs for the werewolves in Nightshade and it was just fascinating for me to read.

Of course, in every book, there's something you don't like. For me, it was Calla. I mean, in the beginning, I loved her. She was fierce and badass and wasn't gonna let Ren overpower her with his smexy Alpha self (more on my Ren love later). Then she met Shay and she become....a blubbering fool. And that always bothers me in a part of Paranormal Romance, when the main character is all-powerful and badass then just belong bleh when the other love interest comes. As for the rest of the Nightshades, I LOVED them. They were all funny and badass in their own ways.

Shay was also a moot point for me. He was sweet and nice but he had absolutely no respect for her werewolves custom. He didn't take her responsibility to her pack seriously, and just dismissed all of her culture saying that didn't make any sense and that's that. Seriously? He could've at least tried to understand a bit and not ignore the fact that she had a deep relationship and responsibility to her pack and it's well-being.

Okay, now we can talk about Ren. People can argue all you want about him being a man-whore and too Alpha-male and whatever, but you could really tell he cared about her. And he's too Alpha-male because...well...he IS the Alpha male. But he never tries to overpower Calla's decisions and lets her decide for her own pack. I can see how Calla had to struggle to avoid temptation, since Alpha-females have to be completely "pure" until the bonding ceremony. He was sweet and considerate and just plain sexy!

My rating: AMAZINGNESS.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony

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