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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

WoW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine!

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge (Henry Holt BFYR, 6/22/10)
Sometime in the future, a lonely, windswept island is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men. When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

This book sounds so INTENSE. I love the cover art and the plot summary is simply amazing - I can't wait to read it!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mini-Review: The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

Title: The Tension of Opposites
Author: Kristina McBride
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: 5/25/10
Pages: 288

I'm not sure I can write a review that does this novel justice. All I can say is that it is one of those novels that I highly recommend reading. Scratch that. I recommend that you rush out the day it is released, curl up in your favorite reading spot, and devour it. Seriously, it is that good!

I had the novel for a week or two before I picked it up to read. To be honest, I was nervous. I thought it would be good, but I was afraid it would be too dark and intense for a everyday reading. The plot summary only mentioned the heavier plot lines, which lead me to believe THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES would be like Elizabeth Scott's LIVING DEAD GIRL, but from the best friend's point of view. I was wrong; there was plenty of light to balance the heaviness of the story.

The brightest source of light was the love story! I think it is important to note this aspect of the plot, not only because it creates balance, but because it really isn't mentioned in the plot summary and it is one of my favorite parts of the novel. McBride writes the romance in a way that it fits into the darker plot line. Tessa doesn't rush into the relationship, but slowly eases in, which made the relationship more believable and, in my opinion, better. It could have easily not worked in this story, but McBride did an amazing job. And I have to say, I'm sometimes hard to please when it comes to love stories, but I was IMPRESSED with McBride's skill when it came to this aspect of the novel. There has to be just the right amount of tension and she nailed it!

THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is an amazing debut novel that is not to be missed! I generally don't reread books, but TENSION is one that I could reread over and over again. It is an essential and I'll most definitely be buying a copy of my personal library! And I CAN'T WAIT for McBride's next novel! READ THIS BOOK!!

Mini-Reviews are excerpts from my full reviews. Near the date of the novel's release, I will post my full review.

Add  THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES to your GoodReads bookshelf and find out more about the novel here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: Undead Much? by Stacey Jay

Title: Undead Much?
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 1/21/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Zombies, Supernatural, Love, Family, Action
Pages: 320
Plot (from Jay's website):
"Even Zombie Settlers with Super Hot Boyfriends get the Blues...

A few months ago I was a normal girl with a normal life. But that was before my power to Settle the Undead returned and someone tried to kill me with zombies.
Now I work magic and practice kicking butt while trying to find time for pom squad and my boyfriend, Ethan, and trying NOT to think about how freaky my life has become. It can be tough. Still…things could be worse…
Oh yeah, right:
  •  Feral new super-strong zombies. Check.
  •  Undead psychic hottie predicting a zombie apocolypse. Check.
  •  Earth-shattering secrets that could land me in Settler prison for life. Check.
  •  Cheerleader vs. pom squad turf war threatening the end of the half time as we know it. Check.
I’m going to need therapy (and a cookie) if I live through the week. Unfortunately I’m learning that’s not something Zombie Queens can take for granted."

I'm not sure that there are any zombie books out there that are quite like Stacey Jay's. I never really thought that zombies could be both fun and horrifying at the same time, but Jay somehow pulls it off! I also never thought I'd join the zombie craze, but I did - and it is definitely because of YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME and UNDEAD MUCH?!

UNDEAD MUCH is the sequel to the above mentioned novel, and you really do need to read the first installment to fully appreciated the second book, in my opinion. I think that, for the most part, readers will still be able to figure out what is going on, but they won't really connect with the characters as well or fully understand their motivations, thoughts, etc. I wouldn't have been nearly as torn about the "undead psychic hottie" and Megan if I hadn't read the first book, which developed Megan and Ethan's relationship.

As with YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME, this novel is full of zombies, action, and a hint of mystery. Jay balances Megan's normal everyday teenage life with that of supernatural zombie settler like it's a piece of cake, which makes her novels more appealing to those reluctant zombie novel readers, like me.

The romance in these books is really well written. I like that Jay leaves some tension between the characters. In the first novel it was almost unbearable - I wanted Ethan and Megan to be together so badly; they were just so fun to read. I was afraid, however, that the second novel wouldn't be quite as fun, but I was wrong. Jay mixed it up and she doesn't rush the characters into anything, which I really appreciate. Plus, it is kind of hard to have a relationship when you are fighting off undead that are out to kill you. Or so I imagine.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 9
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10 (!)
Originality: 10
Total: 49/50 (A)

UNDEAD MUCH? was an amazing second novel to Megan's story and left me wanting MORE! Jay wrapped up the story, but left so many loose ends and I need to know what happens next. She succeeded in wrapping up the story while simultaneously leaving the reader with questions about just about every aspect of Megan's life. I highly recommend both of Jay's novels, but be warned: once you start, you won't want to stop. Then you can come sit with me and wait the unbearably long months to read what happens next! :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review: The Mark by Jen Nadol

Title: The Mark
Author: Jen Nadol
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 1/19/2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Death, Supernatural, Love, Family, Loss
Pages: 228
Plot (from book jacket):
"Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark - a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it to someone else, the mark was dismissed as a trick of the light. Cassie starts to consider its rare occurances insignificant - until the day she watches a man die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person's imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her "gift," seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she's careful to hide her secret - even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend - with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who can see it? And finally, the most important of all:
If you know today is someone's last, should you tell them?"

THE MARK is an interesting look at death and loss and raises some interesting questions about destiny versus choice, but it was not at all what I had expected when I picked up the novel. I had been expecting another supernatural YA with a romantic plot line that would leave me yearning for love, but that is not at all what I got from THE MARK. Though I truly did enjoy the novel, once I gave up on the vision of the book that I thought it was, I think it was marketed as something that it was not. 

That said, there were some aspects of the novel that I loved and some that simply didn't hold my interest. I really enjoyed the philosophical debate that THE MARK fostered. If you had this terrible power, what would be the right way to use it. Should you warn people and try to save them? Or is it simply their time and you should let nature run its course? I felt like this aspect of the book was the strongest.

I didn't really like the romantic plot line. The boy that Cassie is with throughout most of the novel I found to be boring and pretentious. I did not see any chemistry between the two characters and I really wanted him out of the picture. Plus, I felt like Cassie couldn't really be herself around him, which made their relationship uncomfortable for me. There is another boy, who is only mentioned briefly, that I would have loved to see more of. I think the novel maybe was supposed to come across this way in the romance department, but it really didn't click for me.

Most of the novel really didn't seem very "supernatural" to me, so that was a bit of a letdown at first. However, near the end the novel, there is some mythology interwoven and the mystery of Cassie parents deepens as more details are uncovered - this is when I really started to get into the plot. I just wish some of this action would have happened earlier in the novel.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 8
Characters: 8
Writing: 10
Romance: 6
Originality: 10
Total: 42/50 (B)

I'm not sure if THE MARK is going to be series or trilogy, but I would check out more novels about Cassie.The novel really did start to get interesting towards the end, so I was left with some questions. Plus, the boy I liked was finally back - so I am extremely interested to see what happens with him and Cassie! THE MARK was a great debut novel and I have high hopes for Nadol's next novels!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Random News & Extra Contest Entries

Hey everyone!

The new school semester is now underway, so you might see me a bit less than before. I'm still reading though and have lots of fun stuff (including contests and interviews) planned for the upcoming months! There are so many great 2010 books that I can't wait to chat with all of you about!

Don't forget that I currently have three contests running!
  • Win CAPTIVATE here!
  • Win THE DARK DIVINE here!
In other news, I had the chance to speak with a great group of kids the other day at the local public library where I live! I was invited to come and speak about blogging, reading, and what I think makes a great review. The kids, though I really shouldn't call them kids, as I'm not very much older than some of them, were a wonderful audience and they asked some wonderful questions. Questions that prompted me to actually think, like which book or books sparked my love of reading. I always have tons of fun when I get to talk to other book lovers, but this group was unique because they are part of a galley program that reads and reviews books before they are released as well! Of course, I'm terribly jealous that they had this opportunity while in high school, as my library from back home had a sad YA collection and there were definitely no arcs to be found... Some of the participants were even budding authors, much like many bloggers I know! In fact, I was asked an interesting question by one writer, which I'll ask all of you other readers out there:

    How do you feel about exclamation points?

That is, as a reader, how do feel about the usage of exclamation points? Should they be used sparingly? Or at all? What do you think?

If you answer the above question in the comments, you'll get 2 extra entries into one of the three contests that are currently running (see above). I'll add the entries into the spreadsheet, simply comment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Review: The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

Title: The Espressologist
Author: Kristina Springer
Publisher: Farrar, Strous, & Giroux
Pub. Date: 2009
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Love, Matchmaking, Friendship
Pages: 184
Plot (from book jacket):
"What's your drink of choice?
Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you're lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You must prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it's a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie.
Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it's not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their drink orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane's Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee. Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She's the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right?"

The Espressologist was light and fun read that left me with a taste for a latte... and love.

When I first read the premise of The Espressologist, I was intrigued. Not only was it a creative and fun idea for a novel, it sounded like their was cute love story interwoven. Kristina Springer did a great job developing the idea Espressology. Now every time I go to a cafe I'm going to be wondering how well my drink of choice matches up to my boyfriend's! :)

Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of Jane. I'm not sure if it just her personality, or if it was the development of the story that really turned me off. She was just a bit too annoying for my tastes. She acted like a wimp when it came to the girls who teased her in high school, but then the next minute she was a confident know-it-all. She just didn't make a lot of sense to me.

Jane and Cam's love story was cute, but a bit lacking. Jane's ignorance didn't make me feel for her, it just made me frustrated. Their romance didn't really work for me because I was never really given a reason as to why Cam would even like Jane. She was a bit preoccupied my herself for my tastes... I thought Cam deserved better.

I also felt like the reader was given too much extra information that wasn't needed. Like information about Jane's parents and her school habits. I'd rather have seen Jane's relationship with Cam more fully developed in the extra pages that would have been freed up with that extra information deleted.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 8
Characters: 7
Writing: 9
Romance: 6
Originality: 9
Total: 39/50 (C+)

The Espressologist really was a fun read and I'll definitely check out Springer's next novel, but it isn't a book I'd buy or read again. It was good for an afternoon read, but didn't really grab me like some other chick lit has.

Reviewed for Other Shelf Tours

Winners of my 300 Followers Contest!

You guys totally rocked this contest! I had 98 individuals enter the contest, with 681 entries total!

Thank you so much for following The Hiding Spot! It has come a looong way and I hope that I will be able to continue reading, reviewing, and sharing great books with all you other book lovers out there!

Now, on to the winners!

#1 Taylor (Dreaming Anastasia pb)
#2 The Bookologist (Catching Fire hc)
#3 Emily (Snap arc)
#4 Anna (Dairy Queen pb)
#5 Audrey (Swag Pack 1)
#6 Jenny (Swag Pack 2)

I'm send an email out to each of you! Please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize, otherwise I will draw a new winner!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Title: Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Material
Author: Rosalind Wiseman
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
Pub. Date: 1/12/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: High school, Love, Friendship, Popularity, Hazing
Pages: 288
Plot (from back of arc):

Charlie Healey just wants a drama-free year, but it doesn’t seem like she’s going to get it. Middle school was rough. There were mean girls all around her, and she was even in danger of becoming one herself. High school is supposed to be her chance to leave all that behind, except that it isn’t.

On her very first day, who does she run into but her former best friend, Will, who’d moved away years ago. Now he’s back, he’s HOT, and he’s popular. Befriending him again takes Charlie back into the danger zone. And when a hazing prank turns near-deadly, Charlie and their new no-drama friends realize Will has gotten in way over his head trying to prove his loyalty to upperclassmen.

Torn between doing what’s right and secret feeling for Will, Charlie must decide whether to turn in her very best friend or live with the guilt of knowing what he did.

Rosalind Wiseman’s Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is a hilarious and truthful look into the life of American high school students. It’d be difficult to find someone who can’t relate to at least one character in Wiseman’s novel. While I don’t remember my high school experience being quite as funny, I could definitely draw parallels between Charlie’s experiences and my own.

This novel had some laugh-out-loud funny passages that kept me entertained throughout the book. Charlie was an engaging and amusing narrator. Right from the beginning of the novel when Charlie tells about her first day at school, I felt like I knew her. In fact, I felt like I once was her. Maybe we didn’t experience all the same things, but the feelings and emotions Charlie feels throughout the novel are identical to those that I felt in high school. It is refreshing that Wiseman includes situations that real high school students experience or observe, like bullying, cliques, and crushes.

The romantic plot line within Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials was well-written and believable. I’m a fan of best friend turned love relationships and Wiseman wrote Charlie and Will’s relationship perfectly. The doubts and insecurities that I experienced when I began dating are present in Charlie’s and makes her experience that much more interesting and fun to read.

I enjoyed seeing how Charlie grew as the story progressed. Her relationships with other characters, like Will, Nidhi, and Sydney, grew and transformed along with her, much like relationships in real life. I was proud of and happy for the girl Charlie is by the end of the novel.

I love the fact that Rosalind Wiseman took situations that teens experience everyday and turned them into an entertaining story that I couldn’t help but like. The characters in BOYS, GIRLS AND OTHER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS are real and Wiseman touches on deeper topics, while keeping the novel light and fun.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 9
Writing: 10
Romance: 9
Originality: 10
Total: 48/50 (A)

I definitely recommend this novel to teens and YA fans!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In My Mailbox (16)

IMM is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren!

I received lots of great books this week! About half of them are Tenner books and 2010 sequels, but there are some older 2009 books mixed in as well.

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab (Delacorte, 1/12/10)
Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.
Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.
As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Vintage Veronica by Erica S. Perl (Knopf, 3/9/10)

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte, 3/9/10)
Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus (EgmontUSA, 7/13/10)
Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.
But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (EgmontUSA, 6/8/10)
After a rogue wolf kills her parents right before her eyes, Bryn is taken in by Callum, Alpha of his pack, and raised as a human among werewolves. Now fifteen, Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social heirarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean she isn't willing to break a rule or two. 

But when her curiosity gets the best of her, she discovers Chase, anew teen Were, locked in a cage in her gaurdians's basemant. As she witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders retur. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting answeres about what happened to her parents, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.
Bryn and Chase begin to form a bond stronger than pack ties and to threaten the entire heierachy that controls werewolf life. Will the shocking secrets that Bryn discovers about the pack force her to leave behind the only home she's ever known?
Much more than a paranormal novel, Raised by Wolves grounded in the behaviors and social structure of wolf packs, is both a chilling and literary novel and a brand-new take on an age-old legend.

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy (EgmontUSA, 4/13/10)
When the Prom Queen becomes your fairy godmother…

Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.
… be careful what you wish for.
Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.
What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken (EgmontUSA, 3/23/10)
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.\

Going Bovine by Libba Bray (out now)
Cameron Smith, 16, is slumming through high school, overshadowed by a sister “pre-majoring in perfection,” while working (ineptly) at the Buddha Burger. Then something happens to make him the focus of his family's attention: he contracts mad cow disease. What takes place after he is hospitalized is either that a gorgeous angel persuades him to search for a cure that will also save the world, or that he has a vivid hallucination brought on by the disease. Either way, what readers have is an absurdist comedy in which Cameron, Gonzo (a neurotic dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god cursed to appear as a yard gnome) go on a quixotic road trip during which they learn about string theory, wormholes and true love en route to Disney World. Bray's surreal humor may surprise fans of her historical fantasies about Gemma Doyle, as she trains her satirical eye on modern education, American materialism and religious cults (the smoothie-drinking members of the Church of Everlasting Satisfaction and Snack 'N' Bowl). Offer this to fans of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seeking more inspired lunacy.

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley (out now)
 Sometimes a good-bye is just the beginning…
When Emily Carson’s parents die in a plane crash, she’s left with nothing but her mother’s last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: “Emily, please forgive me.”
Now it’s fall and Emily moves to New York City— where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.
Debut author Jennifer Jabaley has written a wonderful, feel-good romantic comedy with real emotional depth. Full of lovably wacky characters, Lipstick Apology is a heartwarming story about the true meaning of forgiveness.

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (out now)
When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.
That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore (out now)
Sylvie Davis is a ballerina who can’t dance. A broken leg ended her career, but Sylvie’s pain runs deeper. What broke her heart was her father’s death, and what’s breaking her spirit is her mother’s remarriage—a union that’s only driven an even deeper wedge into their already tenuous relationship.

Uprooting her from her Manhattan apartment and shipping her to Alabama is her mother’s solution for Sylvie’s unhappiness. Her father’s cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family’s history. And that’s where things start to get shady. As it turns out, her family has a lot more history than Sylvie ever knew. More unnerving, though, are the two guys that she can’t stop thinking about. Shawn Maddox, the resident golden boy, seems to be perfect in every way. But Rhys—a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin’s—has a hold on her that she doesn’t quite understand.
Then she starts seeing things. Sylvie’s lost nearly everything—is she starting to lose her mind as well?

(Re)Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin (out now)
How do you grow up, if who you are keeps changing?

Jill McTeague is not your average high school graduate, she’s a scientific anomaly. Every month for four days she turns into Jack, a guy—complete with all the parts. Now everyone in her hometown knows that something very weird is up with her. So what’s a girl (and a guy) to do? Get the heck out of town, that’s what! With her kooky best friend, Ramie, Jill sets out for New York City. There both she and Jack will have to figure out everything from the usual (relationships) to the not so usual (career options for a “cycler,” anyone?).

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd (out now)
Holly’s story will leave a lasting impression on all who travel with her.

Memories of mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school, and the way everyone is always on at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk. She’s older, more confident—the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitch to Ireland, and find her mum. The kind of girl who can face the world head-on. So begins a bittersweet and sometimes hilarious journey as Solace swaggers and Holly tiptoes across England and through memory, discovering her true self and unlocking the secrets of her past.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (out now)
“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.”

Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.
A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau (out now)
Zeeta's life with her free-spirited mother, Layla, is anything but normal. Every year Layla picks another country she wants to live in. This summer they’re in Ecuador, and Zeeta is determined to convince her mother to settle down. Zeeta makes friends with vendors at the town market and begs them to think of upstanding, “normal” men to set up with Layla. There, Zeeta meets Wendell. She learns that he was born nearby, but adopted by an American family. His one wish is to find his birth parents, and Zeeta agrees to help him. But when Wendell’s biological father turns out to be involved in something very dangerous, Zeeta wonders whether she’ll ever get the chance to tell her mom how she really feels—or to enjoy her deepening feelings for Wendell.

Quatrain by Sharon Shinn (out now)
A collection of short stories set in the various worlds of Sharon Shinn's novels.

I also received some beautiful TAKEN BY STORM and SING ME TO SLEEP bookmarks from Angela Morrison! I think I'll give a few away in my 400 Follower Contest!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Contest: Captivate by Carrie Jones!

Carrie Jones has kindly offered a pretty new hardcover copy of CAPTIVATE to one lucky reader of The Hiding Spot! But wait! If you don't win the new hardcover copy, I've also got an arc copy of CAPTIVATE to give away as well ! So this contest will have TWO winners!

As always, to gain a few extra entries you check out and comment on my review of CAPTIVATE and my interview with Carrie! You can gain up to 8 extra entries, but make sure that your comments are more than just "great interview/review," I'll be checking. Comments that show you actually read the posts are appreciated.

Extra entries are also up for grabs for those of you who follow The Hiding Spot and spread the word about the this contest.

AND you can get extra entries by telling me about your favorite phobia. Or a phobia with a super awesome name. Or a phobia you have. Or something. Leave a comment on this post for the 4 extra entries.

To enter this contest, you must fill out this handy FORM.

This contest is open to US and Canada mailing addresses.

Entries will be accepted until January 24, 2010!

Interview: Carrie Jones (Author of NEED and CAPTIVATE!)

Carrie Jones, author of NEED and its much anticipated sequel, CAPTIVATE, was kind enough to answer some questions for The Hiding Spot! Read on and see why you should read CAPTIVATE, the one thing you need to be a writer, and a little sneak peek at Carrie's next book that isn't about pixies, werewolves, and the girl that is caught in between.

A Brief Biography:
Carrie Jones occasionally wears mismatched socks, always loves Great Pyrenees dogs, and never drinks coffee. She also loves Skinny Cow fudgsicles and potatoes, and is the award-winning author of Girl, Hero; Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape); Tips on Having a Gay (Ex)-Boyfriend; and Need. Carrie grew up in Bedford, NH where she once had a séance with uber-comedian Sarah Silverman; she now lives in Ellsworth, Maine.

The Interview:
Give a short description of or a statement about CAPTIVATE that will lure in readers.
Sexy werewolf. Sexy pixie king. Girl who makes tough choices and has the guts to do anything to save her man.
I stink at those. Sorry!

In CAPTIVATE, Zara seems to be a less fixated on phobias than she was in NEED. Was this detail planned or just coincidence?
It was absolutely planned. There is a scene near the end of NEED where Zara partially gives up her reliance on phobias. It comes out again in CAPTIVATE but only in dire stress. It’s part of her character growth.

How do the animal shapes of the weres in your novels reflect who they are when they are in human shape? I feel that some parallels are easier to see than others (Nick vs. Mrs. Nix).
The animal shapes do parallel the human shape in a certain extent. Nick is a little hairy, strong, fast like a wolf. Mrs. Nix is squat and solid like a bear. When she hugs it is an absolute bear hug. Betty is lithe and feline and strong. It’s more than just their shape, however, their personalities are also heavily influenced by their animals.

How many books do you plan to write about Zara, her friends, and pixies?
It will probably be four or five.

I often laugh aloud when reading your novels, especially scenes involving Issie and, in CAPTIVATE, when reading the Pixie Tips. Is it difficult for you to incorporate that humor when writing or does it come naturally?
I don’t even think of it as laugh-out-loud funny so I am so glad you do. I grew up in Bedford, NH with comic Sarah Silverman. The Myers brothers who are on SNL and Mad TV grew up there. Adam Sandler went to high school the next town over, so humor and weirdness was pretty much everywhere. In my family people constantly tease each other and find humor in pretty much everything. When I grew up and went to a college boyfriend’s house in NYC I was stunned that nobody laughed or made jokes. I didn’t even realize families could be like that.
That is an incredibly long way of me saying that I don’t try to be funny. It just happens. Right here my brother would say, “Yeah funny looking.”

Did you do any research while writing CAPTIVATE? If yes, please explain.
Yes. I researched Norse mythology and pixie mythology online and via text.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing CAPTIVATE?
The structure of it was hard for me and cutting a lot of the love scenes. Plus, some of the things that happened to Zara just ripped me apart. It was a hard book for me to write.

Did you always want to be a novelist?
No. I wanted to be a human-rights attorney.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
Salad bar girl at Wendy’s – I got fired after one day
Pretzel girl – I sold one to Bob Dylan
Ear piercer
Dispatcher for Security Department
Research assistant
Church Secretary
Victim-Witness Advocate
Newspaper Reporter/Editor
Gymnastics Instructor
Writing Instructor
Magazine columnist
Police dispatcher
Gymnastics Instructor
Some of those bad boys overlapped. I was a newspaper person the longest. They ALL helped. I really believe every single life experience you have makes you a better writer. It teaches you about interactions between people, about emotion, about cause and effect.

When and where do you usually write?
I usually write in the morning at a rickety table smooshed between the refrigerator and the piano. Sometimes I write in the car waiting to pick my daughter up from swimming or something.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Sherman Alexie’s poetry. In person, Kathi Appelt, Time Wynne Jones, Rita Williams Garcia, Sharon Darrow , Cynthia Leitich Smith and Lisa Jahn Clough made me believe in myself enough to do this. They are brilliant cheerleaders/writers/therapists/teachers/humans.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
I just finished the first draft of the next book in the NEED series, but I’m not allowed to talk about that. Sorry. I know it’s frustrating.
I also just co-wrote a horror story with adult author Steve Wedel. It’s scary. It’s upper YA. It takes place in Maine and my agent will be sending it out soon, I think.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
I am so pathetically needy that I have a lot.
My body guard is so big and funny and kind. He is my number one hiding spot.
My stuffed Grover is the personification of my internal cheerleader (all writers must have one to balance out our internal editors).

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Oh gosh no. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all these questions and then for reading the answers. It’s really kind of you.

Bloggiesta To Do List!

Below is a my Bloggiesta To-Do List. As I finish things, I'll cross them off the list. Hopefully, by the end of Sunday, everything will be done! :)

  • Write reviews
    • Before I Fall by Lauren Kate
    • Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
    • Heist Society by Ally Carter
    • Captivate by Carrie Jones
    • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
    • Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
    • Siren by Tricia Rayburn
    • Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
    • Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
    • The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  • Start a new feature (or two)
    • Weekly quote feature
    • Weekly cover feature (to accompany cover of the week)
  • Contact various authors about guest posts/interviews
  • Edit profile, contact information, and reviewing guidelines/system
  • Clean up and reorganize sidebars
  • Add in a search feature to sidebar
  • Look at new blog backgrounds and buttons (possibly change)
  • Plan for 1 year blogoversary (guest posts, contests, etc)
  • Plan 400 Follower contest! (hurrah!)

Review: Captivate by Carrie Jones

Title: Captivate
Author: Carrie Jones
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 1/5/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Pixies, Shapeshifters, Love, Friendship, Family, Phobias
Pages: 336
Plot (from back of arc):
"Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his pixies gets weaker. So when a new, younger pixie king shows up, war is imminent. The new king, Astley, claims he's not evil, that his pixies can coexist peacefully with humans and weres. Zara's boyfriend, Nick, isn't buying it; no pixie could possibly be a good guy. But Zara is half pixie herself, ans he is just starting to think Astley could be right when he lets her in on a another secret: he believes Zara's relationship with Nick is about to come to an end - and that she is fated to be his queen..."

CAPTIVATE was a strong second novel and had me laughing aloud at parts. Fans of NEED are sure to fall hard for CAPTIVATE as well.

One of my favorite characteristics of Jones' books is the dialogue and humor. There is something so real and comforting about the characters' interaction, whether they are concerned about another or joking around. The language used in the book reminds me of playing around with my siblings and the types of things we would say to one another.

I really enjoyed Jones' use of pixie tips as chapter names. They were fun and a nice change from the phobias in the last novel. In ways, it also set the theme of the novel. In the first book, Zara was mostly just afraid and trying to figure out what was happening. In the second book, she knows what she's dealing with and now the focus is learning about pixies and pixie lore.

However, I'm still not a huge fan of Zara. I love all her friends and family (especially Issie!), but I just don't love Zara. I think it may be her tendency to try to be a hero, which usually fails and just causes a lot of trouble that really gets to me. I don't like that. I would prefer that, at least most of the time, she think her actions through a bit more. That said, Zara has many, many fans, which leads me to believe that my dislike of her character is purely just a preference.

Overall, I liked CAPTIVATE. It isn't really the supernatural elements that pull me Carrie Jones' books though, it is the characters and the humor. While I like this particular series, I'm really excited to see what Jones will write next as well.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 9
Characters: 8
Writing: 10
Romance: 9
Originality: 10
Total: 46/50 (A-)

If you loved NEED, you must read CAPTIVATE. Carrie Jones has written a funny and action packed sequel that is definitely worth checking out!

Interview: Jennifer Hubbard (Author of The Secret Year)

Please welcome Jennifer Hubbard, debut author of the stunning novel THE SECRET YEAR! I adored TSY and was so excited to be able to find out some background information about this amazing novel!

A Brief Biography (from Amazon):
Jennifer R. Hubbard grew up in New England and now lives in the Philadelphia area. She is a hiker, a chocolate lover, and a night person who believes that mornings were meant to be slept through.

She's been writing since the age of six, when she used to write and illustrate her own picture books. In high school, she considered it fun to come home from school and write novels in discount spiral-bound notebooks.
She had her first short story published when she was seventeen. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines. Her first book, the contemporary young-adult novel THE SECRET YEAR, will be published by Viking.

The Interview:
What inspired the premise of THE SECRET YEAR?
I’m not sure where the idea came from. I had an idea about a secret relationship that ended in death, with a notebook about the relationship left behind. I wasn’t sure what was in the notebook or why the relationship had to be secret, so I wrote the story to find out.

Colt is a bit younger than Julia; does this detail serve a particular purpose in the novel?
I think it enhances the inequality in their relationship, the sense Colt often has that he is one step below Julia. On the surface, the characters use that inequality for dramatic effect, while deceiving themselves about the real impact it has on them. But I would love to hear readers’ thoughts on that.

I felt that the order in which passages of Julia’s diary were revealed were integral to understanding Julia and Colt’s relationship; did you outline/plan this from the beginning or was revision and rewriting a major influence?
As I wrote, I found that many of the journal passages from Julia’s past related to whatever was going on in Colt’s life when he read them. When I noticed that, I immediately thought it was a good idea to continue, and so it went from being an unconscious strategy to a conscious one.

Did you do any research while writing TSY? If yes, please explain.
Much of what appears in TSY is based on “incidental research”—things I’ve experienced myself that I used in the book. I’ve lived most of my life near rivers and creeks; I’ve shot a target rifle; I’ve seen bittersweet in the late fall. But for the details of Julia’s fatal accident, I did do some research on auto crashes, and statistics on survival related to the use of safety belts and airbags.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing TSY?
Getting the ending right. I probably rewrote that more than any other part of the book. Originally, the book went on too long, and started introducing new plots rather than just wrapping up the storyline of this one. I also had critiquers arguing about whether Colt should end up with Kirby, or Syd, or nobody.

Did you always want to be a novelist?
I always wanted to write. For years, I wrote and sold short stories, and though I tried novels, I wasn’t sure I would be able to write a publishable book-length manuscript. It took practice.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
Every job and every experience helps in some way, I think. You have to have something to write about. Most of my day jobs have involved science, but I’ve also worked in a restaurant and done baby-sitting.

When and where do you usually write?
Evenings, weekends, and days off. I usually write on the computer in a spare bedroom of our house; it has become my writing office. But if we’re traveling, I write longhand in notebooks. The last time I was on a writing retreat, I wrote on a borrowed laptop.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
Ideas! I prefer to write here in my office, on my computer, with my music on. But I can write elsewhere if I have to; all I need is something to say and a way to write it down.

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
In terms of influence, probably Jack Kerouac. There’s something about the spontaneity of his voice that excited me as a writer. But I love to read, and I read widely; there are very few genres that I never read. On my shelves right now, I have chapter books, middle-grade novels, YA books, adult classics, adult bestsellers, poetry, short stories, literary magazines, essays, and plays. I have books about history, travel, business, science; I have humor and biographies.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
Only that I continue to work with contemporary, realistic stories.

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?
I love the woods, where I hike regularly.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Thanks for having me, and asking such great questions!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

Title: The Secret Year
Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Publisher: Viking
Pub. Date: 1/7/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Secrets, Love, Friendship, Social Hierarchy/Status, Grief
Pages: 203
Plot (from back of arc):
Colt was with Julia for a year, but nobody else knew about it. Julia lived on Black Mountain Road in a mansion – with servants – and had a country-club boyfriend to complete the picture. But Colt definitely didn’t come from Black Mountain, and no one would have understood why they were together. It never mattered to them, but when Julia dies in an accident right before her senior year, Colt is suddenly the only one who knows their secret. He tries to pretend that his life is the same as ever, but he’s haunted by memories of Julia. It gets even worse after the journal she kept about their romance falls into his hands. Colt searches every entry for answers: Did Julia really love him? Was he somehow to blame for her death? But the ultimate question – one nobody can answer – is how he’s supposed to get over someone who was never really his to begin with.

I was truly amazed by The Secret Year! I picked up Jennifer R. Hubbard’s debut novel on a whim, but wasn’t sure it was a novel I’d particularly enjoy. Not only was the novel from a male point-of-view, which isn’t usually my favorite, it was about a secret affair. I definitely didn’t except Colt’s, and Julia’s, story to be so intensely moving.

I ended up really enjoying the fact that TSY is from Colt’s point-of-view. Not only was it a refreshing perspective, it allowed for the story to unfold in a unique and engaging way. Colt comes to possess Julia’s diary that recounts intimate details about their clandestine relationship and from which he shares pertinent passages with the reader. In many ways, meeting Julia through her journal entries made me feel even closer to her – and it allowed me to see her relationship with Colt in a whole new way. I was unsure whether I would like that Julia and Colt’s relationship was secret, I thought that it would seem cheap and shallow, but in the end I had completely different feelings about it. This novel reminded me that you can’t judge everything by first glance; there is so much more below the surface…

Since the story is told by Colt, the reader is missing key details about what happened the night Julia died. Colt blames himself for Julia’s death, but for most of the novel it is unclear why he would think this. I appreciated Hubbard’s intricate plotting as the pieces slowly came together.

In many ways, Julia was the star of the novel. Despite the reader never actually meeting her, Julia seemed to steal the spotlight and drive the story. Upon reflection, however, I started to feel a stronger connection to Colt. At first, I mostly just related to Julia because of the emotion she revealed in her journal entries, but Colt, though he didn’t necessarily show his emotions, even to the reader, was just as compelling.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A)

The Secret Year was so much more than I had expected! I’ll definitely be watching for more from Hubbard after such an amazing debut novel!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


This year I'm participating in Bloggiesta, which is hosted by Maw Books Blog! Bloggiesta is:

In short, it’s a blogging marathon. A opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!
                       --Maw Books Blog

To join Bloggiesta and find out more about it, check out this POST!

Below is a my Bloggiesta To-Do List.
  • Write reviews
    • Before I Fall by Lauren Kate
    • Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
    • Heist Society by Ally Carter
    • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
    • Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
    • Siren by Tricia Rayburn
    • Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
    • Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
    • The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
  • Start a new feature (or two)
    • Weekly quote feature
    • Weekly cover feature (to accompany cover of the week)
  • Contact various authors about guest posts/interviews
  • Edit profile, contact information, and reviewing guidelines/system
  • Clean up and reorganize sidebars
  • Add in a search feature to sidebar
  • Look at new blog backgrounds and buttons (possibly change)
  • Plan for 1 year blogoversary (guest posts, contests, etc)
  • Plan 400 Follower contest! (hurrah!)

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

WoW is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Faithful by Janet Fox (Speak, 5/13/2010)
Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared, and is presumed dead. The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana. Torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her friends, from society, and verging on no prospects, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself. And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture Maggie’s heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.

I am completely in love with the cover and description of this novel. I'm so excited to read it... and hope it lives up to my expectations!

Interview: Courtney Summers (Author of Some Girls Are)

Fellow hiders, I'm so excited to share an interview with the extremely talented Courtney Summers, in which her new novel, Some Girls Are, exploding, and Lady Gaga are all discussed. I urge you: Go read Some Girls Are! Even if you don't love it, you'll appreciate it. But there's a good chance you're going to love it... :D

A Brief Biography (from Courtney's Website):
Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse. She enjoys Archie comics, Trailer Park Boys, and other fine art. Pierre Trudeau is her hero and if you are a volcano, she would like to know you.

The Interview:
Give a short description of SOME GIRLS ARE, in your own words – a description that will lure in all those who are on the fence about reading SGA!

I am terrible at these types of questions as you can see, but I feel I have met all of your requirements like so: it's short, I have described it ("book about mean girls") and I would like to believe I have enticed those who are sitting on the fence ("you will explode if you do not read [it]") because who wants to explode?

I found SGA almost painful to read, all the while being unable to put it down. Was it difficult to write from Regina’s point of view?
In hindsight, it was. Some Girls Are was a hard book to write for a few reasons (there was a death in my family when I drafted it), but I didn't realize just how difficult it was to write from Regina's point of view until I was well and truly finished the thing. When it was handed in and my editor had approved it, I felt totally wrung-out and tired. Too much time spent with mean girls!

While writing SGA, what was your intended message for readers?
My intention, when I write any book, is to be as honest and true to the characters and their story as I can be, which in turn (I think) is being true to and honest with the reader. Beyond that, what message the reader takes from any of my books is up to them. I think it's more fun that way.

Did you do any research while writing SGA? If yes, please explain.
When I thought the ending was going to be different, I did research some legal stuff, but I can't tell you what it is because it would manage to be a little bit of a spoiler. It was nothing too exhaustive, though.

How was the title decided?
Some Girls Are alludes to a line in the book. I took the line and asked my agent what she thought of the title SOME GIRLS ARE JUST. And then my agent came back and said, "How about just SOME GIRLS ARE?" Thank goodness for her because it sounds way better that way.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing SGA?
Writing is generally difficult for me, as much as I love it. I think one of the most difficult aspects of writing Some Girls Are (minus the intensive but very necessary revision with my amazing editor) was writing toward pages 134-137. That chapter really bothered me when I got to it. I can't give away any spoilers, but it's the turning point in the book and it's pretty dark.

Are you able to pick either Parker or Regina as your favorite lead character?
My favorite lead character is always the one I'm currently writing. :) But if I had to choose between Parker and Regina--I couldn't! I like them both for different reasons. I like Parker's meanness and her smart mouth. I liked exploring Regina's willingness to fight back and her anger. Parker will always have a special place in my heart because she was the protagonist of my debut novel.

Did you always want to be a novelist?
I always wanted to tell stories, and I spent a lot of time trying to find the medium that would best enable me to do that (I acted, I tried photography, I played the piano). It wasn't until I was eighteen that I realized writing novels was the medium that fit me best, and the one I loved the most.

What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer?
I've never had a job that tied directly into my want to be a writer. I've worked for my parents' lapidary business growing up. I've been vice president of the local theatre guild. Now I clean--and actually, my cleaning job does help me a lot as a writer. The hours are great, really flexible, so I have time to write and it gives me time to think about what I'm writing. I look at it as a means to an end.

When and where do you usually write?
I write all night, up in my room. By candlelight. Okay, that last part is not so much the truth.

Is there something that is a must have for you to be able to write?
As long as I've got my headphones and water, coffee or coke--I'm good.

What author or book most influenced you as a writer or in general?
Robert Cormier. His work reminds me not to hold back, ever, for anyone else's sake.

Can you tell us anything about your next YA novel(s)?
I don't like to give too much away about my works-in-progress, but I feel like the YA novel I'm working on now is one of the darker ones that I'll have written. But I say that and I'm not done it yet--it could be all rainbows and sunshine by the time I'm finished. And that's why I try not to give too much away about what I'm working on. :)

The Hiding Spot is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Is there a place, activity, or person that is your hiding spot?

I’ve noticed that you have a slight preoccupation with Lady Gaga, which can be proven quite easily if one looks at your Tweet history. :p What is your favorite Lady Gaga song and why?
Hee! Am I that unsubtle? ;) Oh, wow. Picking a favorite Lady Gaga song. I think every song of hers has been a favorite at one point or another. Bad Romance is genius and forever listen-able. Paparazzi holds a special place in my heart (best music video EVER!). Vanity is a great one and so is Beautiful, Dirty, Rich. Just Dance. And Teeth has FANTASTIC lyrics. I can't pick just one! C'est impossible! I love them all!

Anything else you would like to share with us?
Thank you so much for the interview, Sara!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Title: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub. Date: 1/5/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Popularity, Bullying, Lies, Love, Friendship
Pages: 246
Plot (from back cover):
"Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut.
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard - falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students of Hallowell High... that is, until vicious ruors about her and her best friend's boyfriend started going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it woiuld be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past she herself used to bully, friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.
Tensions grow and abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up to Be."

Some Girls Are is just one of those books. One of those books that everyone should read. Not only because Courtney Summers is a phenomenal writer, but because Regina's story is one that anyone can relate to. Readers may not look at Regina and the bigger events in the novel and see their lives reflected, but if you look at the details, the feelings and fears of Regina and all her classmates, I'm certain you'll see a little bit of yourself. It might not be the prettiest bit, it might not even be a part of yourself you let others see, but that won't make it any less true.

I loved Regina as a main character. She was so absolutely horrible. So real. So broken. If I knew her in real life, I probably would hate her. That is, when I didn't agree with her. That fact is one of the reasons I loved SGA. Most everyone has that horrible in them, even if it isn't to the extent to which Regina does. She is one of those characters that makes you think. How do my actions and words affect people? Do the people I associate with affect how others see me? Do they affect how I see me? Affect what I think is right or wrong? Affect whether I should be blamed for my actions, my choices, if done under the influence of peer pressure? Simply put: This book is intense.

SGA is one of those books that is painful to read, but I couldn't put it down. I knew that Regina's situation was just going to keep getting worse, especially if she kept fighting back against the Fearsome Foursome, but I wanted her to fight.

Regina and Michael's relationship was one of my favorite aspects of the novel. The fact that, from the beginning, you know that their relationship is going to be difficult, perhaps impossible. Which, of course, made me want it to work out even more. In many ways, their relationship was a type of redemption for Regina: if Michael can find a way to forgive her, can find a way to love her, perhaps there is hope for her after all.

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A!)

Pick up a copy of SOME GIRLS ARE today - you NEED to read this book! And Courtney, when is your next book coming out? I can't wait!

Contest: Win a copy of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves!

Dia Reeves is offering one lucky reader a copy of her debut novel BLEEDING VIOLET!

Be sure to check out my review of Bleeding Violet and my interview with Dia! By commenting on these two posts, you can earn up to 8 extra entries into the contest! Extra entries can also be earned by spreading the word about this contest and following The Hiding Spot!

To be entered to win, simply fill out this FORM!

The contest is open to those with US and Canada mailing addresses.

The contest will close January 19th, 2010!

Good luck! :D