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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: UnWholly by Neal Shusterman


UnWholly (Unwind #2) by Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 352 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
UnWholly (Unwind, #2)
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
*This is the second book in a trilogy; review may contain spoilers if you have not read the first*
Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa — and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp — people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.
Holy wow. UnWholly opens up a whole new can of worms, shedding light on the more complicated aspects of unwinding and creating a shady grey area between both sides. There were characters I wanted to hate just because of what they were or how they thought, but I knew that there was more to it. There were characters I wanted to slap because their choices disregarded their feelings and opinions on unwinding. As much as I loved this book, I struggled to look at things from all perspectives. Shusterman's world has begun to change, as do our beloved characters and the way they view it. While Unwind was a heartbreaking story, one that I loved to no end, UnWholly provides more story lines, more characters, and a complexity that will challenge the way you think.

Connor, Lev, and Risa are still the same amazing characters I grew to love in Unwind, but they're struggling with new issues now. Risa can no longer walk, Connor must rule the graveyard, and Lev has to live with the consequences of becoming the clapper who didn't clap. In addition, we meet Cam, who has been built rather than born, Starkey, the stork who wants to rule, and Miracolina, the tithe who will stop at nothing to be unwound. Each new character adds another layer to Shusterman's story that will make you stop and think about this society that allows teens to become unwound. I had a hard time accepting Cam and I'm not even sure if I do yet. He's been built from the best parts of 99 unwinds, but is that his fault? He's an abomination, but is he really alive? I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea that he was okay. Even being compared to Frankenstein's monster paints a picture of death and something unnatural, something that should never have been allowed to live.

The inclusion of propaganda advertisements that discusse the benefits of unwinding is included throughout the story which really messed with my mind. Maybe I'm just gullible or easily persuaded into things, but I started to second guess myself and personal feelings towards unwinding, which I'm sure is exactly what Shusterman had in mind. The writing style is still spectacular, gorgeous, elegant, beautiful, thought-provoking, and all the other gushing things I tend to say about Shusterman. His world-building is amazing, adding levels of complexity in UnWholly that left me unsure about who was right and who was wrong. And by the end, I couldn't hold the emotions in anymore. Shusterman's ability to tug at my heartstrings unwound my feelings and left me an emotional wreck.

If you haven't already picked up Unwind you definitely need to. This series of stories is unlike anything I've ever read. Shusterman's ability to create a world so horrifying, yet so complicated is remarkable. After finishing this one I cannot wait to get my hands on whatever is coming next! Be warned, this book will have you second guessing yourself and our beloved characters. I loved the inclusion of advertisements because it makes the world all the more real and makes the ideas of unwinding, and why people fell for them, so much easier to understand. If you're a fan of books like The Hunger Games and Uglies this is definitely one you're not going to want to miss!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [53] - Dualed by Elsie Chapman

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Expected Publication Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Page Count: 304 pages
Dualed (Dualed, #1)
Would you live through the ultimate test of survival?

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
Why I Can't Wait: So like... this book just sounds kick ass and awesome. Let's be honest here. Alts? HOW COOL OF A CONCEPT IS THAT?! Also, I requested this book on NetGalley and was thoroughly denied, which made me cry.

Make sure you guys check out my mystery box giveaway that went up yesterday! LOTS OF GOOD THINGS!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Huge Mystery Box Giveaway!!!!!!

Photo Credit: Bookseller Mike www.krrobar.com
My co-worker writes a comic about working at Barnes and Noble and this awesome drawing is from one of those comics so make sure you check out his site and show him some love!!!
Alright amazing peeps! I promised you a giveaway and a giveaway you shall get! I've been accumulating way too many books lately and I'm going to about 6 or 7 signings in the next few months so I'm putting together an amazing MYSTERY BOX GIVEAWAY! 

I recently reached 1700 followers and I've been wanting to do a mystery box giveaway for awhile now so I thought combining 1700 followers with back to school with lots of other awesome would be a good excuse for that :) So thank you so much to all of you who have been incredibly supportive and spent your time listening to me ramble on about books, because you make what I do completely worth it!!

The Prizes:
I'll be filling a priority ship box with as many ARCs, signed books, bits of swag, and other goodies as I can! One awesome winner will get the whole shebang! 

The Deets:
- US ONLY - Sorry international peeps, but shipping for a whole box of books is just WAY too much for my poor college student budget
- Must be 13 or older to enter
- Winner will have 48 hours to respond
- I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged goods
- Fill out the rafflecopter form to enter!
- Giveaway will run through September and maybe October so I'll be able to add books from all of the signings I am going to in the next couple months!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Teaser Tuesday [49] - UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

UnWholly (Unwind Trilogy #2) by Neal Shusterman
Expected Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Simone & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 416 pages
UnWholly (Unwind, #2)
"He's fighting a nightmare when they come for him.
A great flood is swalowing the world, and in the middle of it all, he's being mauled by a bear. He's more annyed than terrified. As if the flood isn't enough, his deep, dark mind has to send in an angry grizzly to tear into him.
Then he's dragged feetfirst out of the jaws of death and drowning Armageddon.
'Up! Now! Let's go!" - ARC page 1
Eeeeeeeeeep UNWHOLLY!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia


Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Publication Date: August 7th, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 272 pages
Format: Finished Copy - Hardcover
Source: Publisher
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Fingerprints of You
Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.

On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.
If you've been following me for awhile, you know I'm not a big fan of contemporary fiction. There's just something lacking in most contemps for me. Whether it's the excitement of going on an adventure, the paranormal creatures, or some other difference, contemporary style never seems to grab me like everything else does. However, there are a few diamonds in the rough and Fingerprints of You is definitely one of them. Honestly, I never would have picked up this book if it wasn't just sent to me, but I have to admit I was completely drawn to the cover when I first saw it. It's gorgeous, and so Grateful Dead-esque. Fingerprints of You blew me away with it's honest, raw writing, and I am so surprised that this is a debut novel. Madonia did an amazing job at refusing to glance over the harsh realities that some teens face while still showcasing the beauty that life has to offer.

Lemon is really a remarkable character. Pregnant at seventeen, she treks off across the country to find her long lost dad. She manages to make it all the way to San Francisco and the beauty she finds there changes her forever. The way Lemon looks at the world and the people around her is somewhat black and white, but her willingness to grow and look at both sides of life is incredible. Her relationship with Stella is a lot like my relationship with my mother so it was easy for me to relate to Lemon in that sense. I loved looking at San Francisco through Lemon's eyes; she sees the beauty in all things, even the ones that aren't conventionally beautiful. Being from the Bay Area myself, it was easy for me to fall in love with this city all over again.

Madonia's writing is just spectacular. Her ability to capture emotions and images so vividly is just remarkable. I found myself immersed in Lemon's world, wanting to be with her at all times. I wanted to live in Lemon's visions of San Francisco and experience the city in the same ways she was. Madonia sparked a new passion for life inside of me, something I wasn't even aware was missing. Despite Lemon's situation, she doesn't let life pass her by. She enjoys everything that's thrown at her and her willingness to just live life is contagious. The world that Madonia created is so real and her ability to spark such intense emotions in me while reading Fingerprints of You is an amazing skill.

I loved everything about Kristen-Paige Madonia's Fingerprints of You. If all contemporary novels were written with the same emotion and vivid imagery I would be a contemporary convert in a heartbeat. San Francisco is teaming with life and Madonia managed to capture that essence perfectly. Lemon's willingness to be a part of a life that has let her down so far is inspiring and remarkable. I laughed, I cried, I became inspired. If you're looking for an amazing read that will change the way you look at your surroundings then Fingerprints of You is one you do not want to miss!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Stacking the Shelves [16] - The one with swans!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews as a way to share all the books we've received this week!

This week at Literary Exploration:



Lots of awesomeness this week! Some I was expecting and others not so much :) The stuffed swan/romance book combo is a weird surprise. I might actually read this one! I'm soo excited for because Ingrid is hosting her launch here in The Bay!!! How cool is that?!

For Review:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (Thank you Scholastic!!)
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James (Thank you HarperCollins! and for the swan too!)
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
The Turning by Francine Prose (Thank you to HarperTeen for these three!!!)

From Work:
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Friday, August 24, 2012

Discussion: Why don't people visit me?!

“Hi Anna!
So, I've been blogging for well over a year and a half and I have something that is nagging me: I post weekly, at least 2 or 3 reviews a week, I comment on a lot of blogs and I interact with others on social media. I still can't seem to find my "readers." After such a long time, I thought I'd have readers to interact with but I don't seem to. What can I do to get more readers? I do blog for my love of reading....but having someone read my thoughts would be nice too. Any advice?” - Sad Blogger
I don't think there's any specific way to get people to come to your blog. Obviously, commenting and networking are good ways to put yourself out there, but there's no guarantee that people will come. I know it can be really disheartening when you work so hard and put so much effort into your blog and no one comes by to read what you have to say. I've definitely struggled with that, but I've found that the best way to get people to visit your blog is to comment, comment, comment.

How do I get people to notice me?
I hate to say it, but when you're first trying to build your following up the best ways to get people to visit are memes and giveaways. Should you resort to posting only memes and giveaways? No, of course not. But participating in a few giveaway hops always gets a ton of people to stop by your blog. And memes typically get the most pageviews for me, because so many people participate in them and you all link up together. I've found that a lot of people who start visiting because of Waiting on Wednesday or a giveaway hop begin to come back regularly and read reviews, discussions, etc.

Comment, comment, comment.
Commenting on other people's posts is a great way to get noticed. The best way to get people to return the favor is to leave a link to your blog. I always leave one that says “Anna @ Literary Exploration” and then have “Literary Exploration” link directly to my blog. Like this: Anna @ < a href= “www.literaryexploration.com” > Literary Exploration < /a> Make sure there are no spaces in your link. This makes it easier for people to see what you have to offer because they can just click on your link and be taken directly to your site. And make sure you post meaningful comments. I don't take people seriously when they leave comments that are just like, “Oh awesome review!” Because, let's be honest, I don't think they read my review. Why was it so awesome?? I just skip right over comments like that, it's obvious those people are just looking for people to come visit them.

And in order to get people to come back regularly you have to put in a lot of time. I spend about an hour a day going through my Google reader and commenting on posts. When I was first gaining my following it was anywhere from 3-4 hours a day. I am not even kidding you. You have to work hard to get yourself noticed, and it isn't something that happens over night. You have to be seriously committed.

Make yourself a regular.
Just commenting a couple of times on one blog won't get you a lot of recognition. It's important to make yourself a regular presence on someone else's blog. I notice when the same people come back and comment on my posts every day. Those people are obviously interested in any and all things that I have to say which makes me want to return the favor. If I see your name popping up on all of my reviews I'll take you more seriously. By regularly visiting a blog you'll become noticed and that person will be more willing to return the favor.

Also, make sure you're a regular poster. Make a posting schedule for yourself and stick with it. If you post at least 5-6 days a week and people know you'll always be hosting new content then you'll become a reliable blogger. When your name pops up in my reader every day it helps show how committed you are. People like consistency and when you have a new and different post every day of the week and I know I can visit you on a certain day and find the same thing as last week it scores points. I have a weekly blogging schedule that I follow (most of the time) religiously. Mondays & Thursdays are for reviews, Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Saturdays are for memes, Fridays are discussion posts, and Sundays are my catch up day so I don't post anything :P But not only does it make things easier for me, it makes things easier for my followers. Sometimes I'll throw in an interview, guest post, or blog tour, but those always go up on days that I would regularly post a review or something.

Social Media!
Okay so I love Twitter. Like... with a flaming passion. I have the app for it on all of my electronic devices and I spend more time tweeting than texting my friends. Is this healthy? Probably not. Do I care? No. Twitter is the best way to get your blog out there. By making friends with other bloggers on Twitter and other social media sites you'll be able to send out links to your posts which your multitude of Twitter followers will click on and visit. I've met a lot of bloggers on Twitter and ended up following their blogs because of it. When you're a nice, social person, people will want to visit your blog because you're so awesome online!

Be original and interesting.
Posting memes and reviews isn't always good enough when it comes to getting people to regularly visit. Some of my favorite posts are discussions (like this one!) and different things that sort of mix it up. I love doing/reading author interviews and any time I see one I immediately have to read it. Don't conform to what you think the blogosphere wants, just do what you love. Your passion is reflected through your writing so as long as you stay true to yourself (so cheesy, I know) people will want to visit you. Make yourself stand out. In a community where there are thousands of us, it's hard to be original, but if you come up with a cool idea for a post just go for it! People like reading things that are new and interesting!

Don't be afraid to speak your mind. If you have an opinion about a controversial topic, post about it! Say what you want, when you want. If there's a scandal going around in the blogging world, write about it! People want to hear refreshing thoughts and ideas about the things affecting their community.
*****

What are some tips you have for gaining a regular following? Can you recommend any good ways to get people to continuously visit and comment on your posts? 

Leave your discussion requests! Do you have any questions? I'll answer them :)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Every Day by David Levithan


Every Day by David Levithan
Expected Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 336 pages
Format: E-ARC
Source: Netgalley
Every Day
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.
Every Day is my first David Levithan novel and I am officially a ginormous fangirl! I cannot stop thinking about not only his elegant writing style, but the mess of emotions I was put through while reading A's story. The idea of living a different life every day while still remaining true to who you are is hauntingly beautiful. Levithan teaches us perspective and compassion all through the eyes of somoene who doesn't have a life of his own. I was crying by chapter one and the tears didn't stop until well after I had closed the book. I had such a hard time putting this book down, the concept is so original and A is an amazing person despite everything he goes through. If you're like me and you haven't picked up something, anything, by David Levithan then make sure you get on that and add Every Day to your TBR ASAP.

A is such an amazing character. He's cursed to live a different person's life every day of his existence and he doesn't once question it or argue it. He never tries to change who he is or what he does. If it were me, I'd be trying to find every way possible to stay the same every day. A's experiences enable him to understand people from all walks of life; drug addicts, severely depressed and suicidal teens, gays, lesbians, transgenders, and everyone in between. His ability to look past a person's exterior and know them for who they are on the inside is exceptional and makes me wish we all had that ability. A struggles after he meets Rhiannon, and even though he falls for her right away, their love is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I struggled to like Rhiannon at first because she's so put off by A's situation, but I really grew to understand and accept to her.

David Levithan's writing style is just so spectacular. He makes you feel all of the feelings with just a few words. Every paragraph's ending is weighted with such emotion I would immediately tear up. His ability to make me think about my own actions and outlook on life is just amazing. Every time A's current life brought up a tough or controversial topic I had to stop and think about my own life and the opinions I have. Levithan weaves reality with fiction and his ability to make me relate with A so completely really had me thinking. The story itself is so original and enticing, it was incredibly hard to put down.

Every Day is one boy's story about living life on the inside looking out. Levithan offers perspective in a world where we have a hard time accepting others as well as ourselves. If you're like me, you'll grow to love A and hope he gets everything he deserves out of life. You'll be up at all hours of the night and you'll need a box of tissues with you at all times. I loved every minute of Every Day. This is a book that will change your life. If you haven't already pre-ordered Every Day you'll want to get on that right away!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [52] - Shadowlands by Kate Brian

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Expected Publication Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Page Count: 336 pages
Shadowlands
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?
Why I Can't Wait: Soooooo I'm a big fan of mysterious books that involve murder and deception and all that good stuff. I'm pretty sure Brian will produce some awesomeness with this one. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [48] - Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Asunder by Jodi Meadows
Expected Publication Date: January 29th, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 416 pages
Asunder (Newsoul, #2)
"My life was a mistake.
As long as I'd been alive, I'd wanted to know why I'd been born. Why, after five thousand years of the same souls being rencarnated, my soul had slipped through the cracks of existence and burdened the people of Heart with such newness." - Page 1
*This quote is taken from an uncorrected proof. Quotations in the finished copy may be different.*
You guyssssss!!!! I HAVE ASUNDER!!!! Isn't it so pretty :) I'm so excited to read it ASAP!
What great teasers do you have this week?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Authors are Rockstars Tour - Casting Unraveling with Elizabeth Norris & Giveaway!!

I am so ridiculously excited to be hosting the amazing Elizabeth Norris for the Authors are Rockstars Tour today! To me, Liz is a rockstar because not only is she an amazing writer, but she's an awesome person. Liz is probably the most hosted author on Literary Exploration, having done an interview for the Unraveling blog tour as well as for her stop during the Dark Days. I also had a post giving the Top 10 Reasons to read Unraveling. Needless to say, Unraveling is amazing on so many levels; being a sci fi thriller involving romance and aliens (So Jaime disagrees with me on the alien part but I am convinced they are aliens), nothing gets much better. If you haven't already picked up a copy of Unraveling you should really get on that ASAP!


 About the Author
Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Her first novel, UNRAVELING (Balzer+Bray, April 2012), is the story of one girl’s fight to save her family, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.


How I would cast the Unraveling movie.

As Janelle
I would definitely have to choose Jennifer Lawrence. The Hunger Games really proved how badass she is and I think she'd do Janelle proud!
As Ben 
Definitely a young Penn Badgley. I love him now and I loved him with long hair :) 
As Alex
I think Kevin McHale would do an amazing job!! He's so quirky and fun :) 
As Janelle's Dad (Jim)
Christopher Meloni! I loved him in Law and Order: SVU and I think he'd make an awesome dad for Janelle!
As Struz
Dax Shepard would make an awesome Struz! Blonde surfer-type? Hilarious? Yes please!

How Elizabeth Norris would cast the movie.

As Janelle
Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit
As Ben
James Franco from his Freaks and Geeks days
As Barclay
Taylor Kitsch

Who would you cast in the Unraveling movie??

The Giveaway
Elizabeth has been awesome enough to donate an amazing Unraveling prize pack two lucky winners!!
- One Giveaway is international ONLY - Copy of the UK edition of Unraveling and bookmarks!
- One giveaway is US only - Unraveling plus bookmarks!
- Must be 13 or older to enter
- Winners will have 48 hours to respond 
- I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items

US ONLY GIVEAWAY
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INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

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I am going Back to School!!


Yes, you heard right. I'm going back to school and I'm not excited about it! Well.. I'm kind of excited about it because it means I'll actually have to leave my house and I can't just sit around like a lazy bum all day... which has been my summer. I am excited because this is my last year of college!!!! *fingers crossed* Hopefully by next summer I'll be graduating and I'll have a shiny degree in English :) Doesn't that sound fantastic?? I think so. 

Anyways, because I'm going back to school I probably won't be as present. Well, who am I kidding I'll probably put a lot of homework off so I can blog and read. I don't think I've been as involved with blogging over the summer as I should have been so I'm hoping I'll be able to balance everything out now that I'm back to working and being a functioning member of society. 

Because of these changes I'm getting rid of my New Releases post on Saturdays and I'm moving my Stacking the Shelves post to Saturdays. This way, I'll have Sundays free to catch up on commenting and pimping out all my reviews and posts from the previous week. I'm sure you'll all stick around because you're awesome and you love me and I love you :) I'm going to try to incorporate some school reading into my blog posts so that I can educate you somewhat ;) Enjoy your time back at school everyone!!

Also, I got brand new school supplies (I buy them every year even though I don't need them) because I'm ridiculously addicted to post-its, pens, and highlighters and I'm SO excited to use them all :D

Happy summer everyone!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Discussion: Author Interviews & how to ask the questions that matter.


Author Interviews - How to ask the questions that matter.

“Recently I've been doing a lot of author interviews. I'm new to this aspect of book blogging, so let me ask you: Should I do an interview with the author of a book before I read and review their book, or after?” - Shelby

One of my favorite posts to read and showcase on my blog are author interviews. I love getting to know authors on a more intimate level and a lot of times an author's responses can help me determine whether or not I'd like to read the book when I'm reading an interview on someone's blog. However, there are definitely times when I can tell how much effort a blogger has put into an author interview. It's one thing to accept an interview just for the sake of doing an interview and another thing completely to interview the author because you're genuinely interested in what they have to say. My advice is to skip interviews completely for books you aren't even interested in reading.

Should I read the book first?
In a perfect setting... yes. It's always best to interview authors whose work you're familiar with. It can get awkward when you get to know an author and then realize you're really not interested in their books. It's also always helpful when you can ask questions that specifically focus on events in their books, or aspects of the author's work. If you aren't familiar with their work you'll end up asking really general questions that won't help readers understand the connection between the author and their book.

How do I know what questions to ask?
I have a list of about 10 general questions typed up in a word document. The questions range from things like, “Convince me to read your book Twitter style, in 140 characters or less!” to “What inspired you to write this novel?” When interviewing an author I usually like to ask between 7 to 10 questions and I'll pick some off of my general list and then write up some more specific questions that are linked to the author's work. In an interview I did with Elizabeth Norris (Unraveling) I referred to Alex and his 4.0 GPA and then asked what her grades were like in school. The questions should be personal. Jennifer Bosworth (Struck) requested that I ask some hard-hitting questions so I ended up asking what her relationship with her family was like. Did you have a favorite scene in the book? Maybe ask the author what was going through their mind while they were writing that scene. Ask about the things that moved you, the things that stuck out to you. Not only will it make the interview more fun for the author, but it will make things more fun for the reader as well! 

Who should I interview?
I always find interviews more interesting when the interviewer is emotionally invested in the interviewee. My favorite authors to interview are those that I chat with on Twitter, devour their books, follow their careers, and genuinely like as people. Whenever I ask a favorite author for an interview and they say, “Yes” I just get this giddy fangirly feeling like, “OMG I AM SO COOL RIGHT NOW!” Because, let's be honest, having an author agree to an interview is like, the coolest thing ever. It's even cooler when they OFFER to do an interview. Interview the authors whose books you've loved and who have impacted your life. You'll get to know them better, and you'll be able to ask the questions that really matter.

How do I approach an author about an interview?
The easiest way is to just go to their website and shoot them an email through their contact page. I've never had an author disagree to an interview, although I'm sure if I asked someone like Cassie Clare or J.K. Rowling I'd never hear anything. HA. But really, authors are incredibly approachable, nice, humble people who love to do things for their fans. It's always a good idea to include all of your interview questions in the initial email to make things easier on them. That way you can say something like, “If you'd like to stop by for an interview, here are the questions I've prepared for you. Feel free to answer them when you have a moment. Thank you so much.” Now the author can easily fill out their responses to your questions and send them to you without having to go through an entire email chat.

Some authors are more approachable. Debut authors are easier to talk to in my experience. They haven't been impacted with the fame yet, especially if their book isn't out yet, and they're more willing to stop by for an interview to help publicize their book and reach out to their fans. Sometimes, if I have a good rapport with an author on Twitter, I'll just ask them on Twitter if they'd like to to an interview. Other times, authors will offer to do an interview for me and then I'll just think up some questions as well as pick some off of my list.

I think the most important thing to remember is that if you're not interested, no one else will be interested either. People want to read interviews that ooze fun and passion. If you're not genuinely interested in the author's responses or their work then you won't be able to ask the questions that matter. If you're just asking general questions that can be applied to anyone, you won't get the responses that people are interested in. Do I want to know if the author has pets? Sure, but I can usually learn that from their “About the Author” page. Of course I want to know what inspired them to write their story, but almost everyone asks that question. I want to know what moved you while you were reading their book and how the author approached that significant moment.

Who have been some of your favorite authors to interview? What were some of the best interviews you've read? Have you ever decided to read someone's book based on an interview you read?


*****

Thursday, August 16, 2012

[Giveaway] Every Day by David Levithan!!!!!


Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

Did you hear me say, "Giveaway!!" Yes you did!!! Giveaway for this amazing new book by David Levithan himself!!! Who is, in fact, my new hero. I have already devoured this book and it is absolutely amazing so I hope that even if you don't win my ARC you'll still buy the book. Of course you will :) So, on to the details:

The deets:
- Giveaway is US ONLY
- Giveaway will run from 8/16 to 8/24
- Must be 13 or older to enter
- Winner will have 48 hours to respond
- I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Lost Girls by Ann Kelley


Lost Girls by Ann Kelley
Publication Date: July 10th, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 336 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Lost Girls
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
No parents. No rules. No way home.
Fourteen-year-old Bonnie MacDonald couldn't be more excited for a camping trip on an island off the coast of Thailand with her fellow Amelia Earhart Cadets-the daughters of the men and women stationed there during the Vietnam War. But when a strong current deposits the girls on what their boatman calls the "forbidden island," things take a turn for the worse: A powerful storm comes to destroy their campsite, the smallest of the junior cadets is found dead, and their boatman never returns. What once seemed like a vacation in paradise has become a battle against the elements.
Peppered with short, frantic entries from Bonnie's journal, Lost Girls is a page-turning, heart-pounding adventure story about a group of teen girls fighting for their lives.
There were two things that drew me to this book. (1) I am a huge fan of Lost and (2) Lord of the Flies is one of my favorite stories from high school. However, Lost Girls in no way measures up to either of those amazing stories. Not only did the characters grate on my nerves, but the writing style and setting bored me to tears. I have to admit, I strongly disliked most of this book. The problem is, I didn't know why I wasn't enjoying it for quite some time. Sure, I had an issue with the writing but I figured I'd get used to it. I assumed the characters would grow on me and eventually become heroes of some sort. Also, I had to know how it was going to end. I had to know who else was going to die and whether or not they would all be saved. Regardless of what I had hoped would happen, I disliked Lost Girls even more by the time it was over.

Bonnie is, at best, a soldier's daughter with some great survival skills. At worst she's a brat without many leadership skills. I highly disliked Bonnie for most of the story. I found she was just really boring and I hated her attitude. It seemed like she was always trying to be the hero while putting everyone else down. On her trip, she's taken a book with her. Something about motorcycles. She continually references this book and the main character in order to solve all of her problems on the island. Really?? I was unaware that a fictional story about a guy and his motorcycle would provide any survival tips when stranded on an island. Eventually, Bonnie loses her mind and starts referring to her motorcycle guy as if he were a real person.

I just have to point this out: I wrote down the word boring four times in my notes. I guess I had to remind myself how boring this book was. Albeit, there were a few interesting moments, but most of the time I was just flipping pages waiting for something good to happen. For a survival story, there was not nearly enough blood, death, gore, death, bullying, death, or death. Did I mentioned I would have liked more death? Maybe not death. Maybe just some maiming. At least that would have livened up the story line. And the writing was such a mood killer. The story is written in first person present and I am pretty sure the narrator is a twelve year old. The sentence structures are choppy and redundant and the inclusion of journal entries is pointless since the entire book is basically a journal. Even the parts that should have had me cringing or screaming didn't. Everything was too sugarcoated.

Lost Girls had a lot of potential, but it just fell flat for me. I struggled to even finish it at all. The characters are all pretty bland and dislikable and the writing style is so distracting and simplistic that it was hard for me to concentrate on the story. I kept reading because I had to find out what was going to happen, but even the ending was a bit of a let down. When it comes to survival stories, the more realistic the better. If you're looking for a great story about young people in dire circumstances you're better off picking up Ashfall by Mike Mullin or Lord of the Flies. Overall, I'd recommend skipping this one.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [51] - Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
Expected Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 384 pages
Goodreads
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….
Why I Can't Wait: I have to admit, I actually picked up a copy of this one at Comic-Con and I hadn't thought much about it. After reading the synopsis I was hooked. I am so looking forward to reading this one, it just sounds absolutely amazing. And a bad boy? Yes please!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday [47] - Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Publication Date: August 7th, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 272 pages

Fingerprints of You
"My mother got her third tattoo on my seventeenth birthday, a small navy hummingbird she had inked above her left shoulder blade, and though she said she picked it to mark my flight from childhood, it mostly had to do with her wanting to sleep with Johnny Drinko, the tattoo artist who worked in the shop outside town." - Page 1

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman



Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: November 6th, 2007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 335 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased & Signed
Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
I can't even begin to explain all of the feelings that I experienced while reading Unwind. The reality of this desolate world grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn't let go. Neal Shusterman has created an intense story about the horrors of humanity and the lengths people go to in order to survive. I'm still amazed by how real Shusterman's world was to me; I felt as if I was the one being sentenced to unwinding. The idea of unwinding is something I can't even fathom. That someone would sign their child's life away just for causing a bit of trouble astounds me. Unwind approaches the ideas od pro-life and pro-choice with a refreshing and horrifying outlook that will most assuredly have you laughing, crying, and cringing.

The characters were all incredibly real, and they immediately appealed to my emotions. Connor is a leader who has never been given the chance to lead and is sentenced to being unwound by a family who never truly loved him. Risa is a ward of the state who's talented and brilliant, but never had anyone to love her. And Lev has known he was going to be unwound from birth as a sacred sacrifice to God. Even if no one shared their love with these kids, I grew to love all of them. Despite their flaws they were born to be great. We all know what it feels like to have our parents disappointed in us, but to have someone believe so little in you that they choose to let you die is just unnerving. All children in Shusterman's world have to carry the weight of being perfect, or else.

Shusterman's writing is just perfection. I found myself bookmarking several quotes that just tore at my emotions. He understands how to weave the elegance of poetry into prose in order to pull emotions out of the reader. I could barely put this book down because there was always something happening that held my attention until I could barely keep my eyes open. It's no surprise that UnWholly has been so many years in the making, especially when it has to follow something as gorgeous as this. Even the most gruesome parts were beautifully executed. By the end I was left completely satisfied and blubbering like a baby. Even in a world so overly dominated by dystopian novels, Unwind is still refreshing and original.

If you're like me and you still haven't picked up a copy of Unwind after all these years, make sure you get on it. Unwind will have your pulse racing and your heart breaking, but you won't be able to put it down. Even after all these years it still remains original and utterly brilliant. Shusterman's ability to pull you into a story so completely is amazing. Fans of Uglies and The Hunger Games won't be able to resist Unwind.

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Disclaimer

According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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