Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (April 1-4, 2011)

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books. Please click the button above to check out the complete rules.

This week's question: Since today is April Fool's Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?

Answer: Hmmm, well besides the ol' switching drawers around on people and putting ping pong balls in medicine cabinets, the best prank I ever played on someone was during a visit to a haunted house.  Not the kind with ghosts allegedly in them, the kind that you visit during October.  I'm in a Haunted Attraction with someone and I quietly tell one of the actors the name of my friend that was with me.  In moments, the actors, dressed as ghouls, ghosts, zombies are all calling her name over and over the whole time we were there.  She freaked out and finally covered her ears screaming, "How do they know!? How do they know my name?!"  How indeed.  Muahaha!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dusty Volumes Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Missy from The Unread Reader.  Missie has won a $10 gift card to  Click on the link or the button below to visit her AWESOME blog!

Stay tuned for more Dusty Volumes contests!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Black Dust Mambo.

Title/Author: Black Dust Mambo by Adrian Phoenix.

Genre: UF.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster.

Source: Won.

Favorite character: Kallie.

Favorite quote:

All in all: Fun, fast paced and full of suprises.

Synopsis:  Kallie Rivière, a fiery Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a talent for trouble, finds herself smack-dab in the middle of one of those times her mentor warned her about when she visits New Orleans to attend the Hecatean Alliance’s annual carnival: her hard-bodied conjurer hookup ends up dead in her blood-drenched bed. And he was killed by something that Kallie would never dream of touching—the darkest of dark juju, soul-eating juju—a black dust hex that may have been meant to kill her.

Now Kallie has to use every bit of hoodoo knowledge and bayou-bred mojo she possesses to clear her own name and find the killer—even as that dark sorcerer hunts Kallie and her friends. But Kallie’s search for the truth soon leads her in a direction she never anticipated—back home to Bayou Cyprés Noir, and to Gabrielle LaRue, Kallie’s aunt, protector, and hoodoo mentor . . . who is looking more and more like she just might be the one who wants Kallie dead.

My Thoughts: Black Dust Mambo opens up right smack in the middle of the action and doesn’t stop. (Except when Kallie and her friend have to judge a wet boxer’s contest.) But other than that, the pace is fast as Kallie tries to figure out who is trying to kill her. At the same time, she deals with painful memories from 9 years ago, which is also integral to the plot, Kallie's character and serves as another mystery.

I felt that the storyline and the way it unfolds is creative and suspenseful. Some descriptions were repetitive, but a lot more were very pretty and unique. One thing that Phoenix really did well was conjure up smells - the incense, the herbs, the food. My mouth was watering for New Orleans.

The cast of characters is large, and although I’m not sure if I really needed to see everyone in the story that was there, it still wasn’t difficult to follow who was who. The one thing that bothered me a little bit was not that the story was told by so many different points of view, but that the same incident was sometimes told by different people.

There was also some dialogue that I thought was a little silly and I felt did nothing for the story, banter when people were in the middle of an important discussion and there were also a few plot devices that I could have done without (aforementioned wet boxer’s contest, Layne-Augustine “exploring” his new body).

I loved the tension between Kallie, Layne and Layne’s ex-wife McKenna. Although it has potential for yet another love triangle, I felt that this one was more realistic and therefore more tense. McKenna and Layne still care about each other but it is clear that there is a growing attraction between Layne and Kallie. Put this on top of the fact that McKenna hates Kallie right away and it’s a very interesting dynamic.

I did like Kallie. She was very feisty and stubborn, which I liked, but sometimes it got annoying. I wonder why characters who are in danger always claim they don’t need protection? What’s up with that? Also, when Kallie found out something about someone, why did she stay at the Carnivale? And, there was a huge reveal at the end that I found absolutely intriguing but it was sort of pushed aside to be explained another time. I don’t feel that it received the drama that it deserved. Also, the way it ended…I guess I really have to get used to trilogies where one mystery is taking off right at the end of the previous one. It was definitely a cliffhanger.

But besides those points which may sound really offputting, I really liked this book. A lot. It was just…fun. Really, really fun. The mystery that was going on was exciting and that it happened to take place in New Orleans during a magic festival made it even more exotic. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.

4 ½ out of 5 stars.

Afterthoughts: Lots of differing opinions on this one and I can see some of the disgruntled readers points, but I also agree with others that felt this story was just "yummy." I’m not sure if it would have worked as well in another setting, I think the locale of New Orleans and Louisiana really lends itself well to the story. There is just something amazing about that part of the country. I feel as if anything *could* happen there.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

NYC Teen Author Fest - Signing at Books of Wonder

Last Sunday Books of Wonder hosted a mega YA author signing.  Forty four authors were slated and there was a surprise guest,  Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass, Tricks).  Of course, I had to go buy two of her books to get signed.   You can see what other titles I got by reading my IMM post.

Not only was it a great author festival it was a great blogger networking day.  I drove down with Maria from The Serpentine Library and also got to see Mitaly from Alley of Books and Rachel from The Book Muncher once again.  I met up with Rachel from Bookshelf Lust who introduced me to Bethany
from Bookish Bethie.  Also, Gaby from Starting Fresh recognized me from the Book Blogger Convention last year so we reacquainted ourselves.

It was tons of fun and of course, I bought more books than I intended, but I could have done a lot more damage.  Stay tuned, because I will be giving away some of the books I acquired.

Me with Maggie Stiefvater - She looks soooo young!

(l-r) Alyssa Sheinmel, Mark Shulman & Natalie Standiford

(l-r) Patrick Ryan, Leila Sales & Kieran Scott

(l-r) Rachel from The Book Muncher & Mitaly from Alley of Books

Getting books signed by Lisa McMann (bottom l corner)

(l-r) Barry Lyga, Torrey Maldonado & Melina Marchetta

Kim Harrington

Elizabeth Eulberg

The awesome BOW employees worked really hard!

List of authors:
Lizabeth Zindel (A Girl, A Ghost, and the Hollywood Hills)

Maryrose Wood (The Hidden Gallery)
Suzanne Weyn (Empty)
Danette Vigilante (The Trouble with Half a Moon)
Maggie Stiefvater (Linger, Shiver, Lament)
Natalie Standiford (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters)
Mark Shulman (Scrawl)
Alyssa Sheinmel (The Beautiful Between)
Kieran Scott (She’s So Dead to Us)
Leila Sales (Mostly Good Girls)
Patrick Ryan (Gemini Bites)
Marie Rutkoski (The Celestial Globe)
Lena Roy (Edges)
Michael Northrup (Trapped)
Sarah Mlynowski (Gimme a Call)
Neesha Meminger (Jazz in Love)
Terra Elan McVoy (After the Kiss)
Lisa McMann (Cryer’s Cross)
Kimberly Marcus (Exposed)
Melina Marchetta (The Piper’s Son)
Torrey Maldonado (Secret Saturdays)
Barry Lyga (Archvillain)
E. Lockhart (Real Live Boyfriends)
Sarah Darer Littman (Life After)
David Levithan (Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares)
Melissa Kantor (The Darlings Are Forever)
Carla Jablonksi (Resistance)
Gwendolyn Heasley (Where I Belong)
Kim Harrington (Clarity)
Christopher Grant (Teenie)
Margie Gelbwasser (Inconvenient)
Elizabeth Eulberg (Prom & Prejudice)
Helen Ellis (The Turning)
Daniel Ehrenhaft (Friend is Not a Verb)
Sarah Beth Durst (Enchanted Ivy)
Matt De La Pena (I Will Save You)
Brent Crawford (Carter Finally Gets It)
Eireann Corrigan (Accomplice)
Susane Colasanti (Something Like Fate)
Marina Budhos (Tell Us We’re Home)
Kate Brian (Book of Spells)
Philana Marie Boles (Glitz)
Judy Blundell (Strings Attached)
Cathleen Bell (Little Blog on the Prairie)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Winners of the NY Teen Author Festival - Reader's Theatre Contest!

Congratulations to:

1st place - Bibliophile Brouhaha.  Boots:  Judy Blundell's.  Book: White Cat.

2nd place - Jamie Anastasiow.  Boot's Judy Blundells'.  Book: If I Stay

3rd place - KM from One Page at a Time. Boots: Gayle Forman's.  Book: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.

I've gotten a lot of books from signings in the past few months, so please stay tuned for more giveaways.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dusty Volumes Contest.


So here it is March already.  How many Dusty Volumes have you read so far?  I've only completed two, Dracula and A Study in Scarlet and honestly, the latter is a short story.  So, I haven't been as successful with this challenge as I would have liked, but you know how it goes: "The best laid plans of mice and men..." yadda, yadda, yadda.  I'm not sure what I'll be reading next.  Perhaps Jane Eyre or The Woman in White

I held my first Dusty Volumes giveaway after I finished Dracula. You can read about it HERE.  To celebrate that I finished another selection on my list I'm holding another.

Contest:  Sorry, only open to the participants of the 2011 Dusty Volumes Challenge participants as of this post.  (But don't be sad. I'll be having more contests in the future and you can sign up now.  Just click on the Dusty Volumes button above or in the sidebar.)
  • I'm giving away a $10 gift e-certificate to the bookstore of your choice. (If the store of your choice charges for sending an e-certificate, the cost will be deducted from the $10.)
To Enter:
  • You must leave a comment stating what you plan to read for your next Dusty Volumes choice. 
  • See my contest policy HERE.
  • Contest ends Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at midnight (EST).
  • Please leave your e-mail address in your comment or make sure your name leads to an e-mail address. If I can't find an e-mail unfortunately, you will be disqualified.
  • Winners will be chosen by
  • If I cannot contact the winner within 72 hours the next winner will be chosen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Bookish Pet Peeves

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Click on the link to find out how to participate and to see more Top 10 lists.

I usually can't think of things off the top of my head that well, especially 10...but I did with this one.  Does it say something about me that I can think of 10 pet peeves off the top of my head?  I think a lot of these may have more to do with writing, but that is still "bookish" right?

1. Poor writing - bad grammar, misspelled words or typos.  I know that I am not a superior writer.  Sometimes I don't know if the period goes inside or outside the quotation mark and I'm terrible with possessive S's (I don't even know if that was correct).  But the difference is I'm not a professional writer.  When I'm reading a book, it drives me nuts when a sentence does not read well or is confusing because of poor grammer and/or spelling.  Everyone makes mistakes and maybe the proofreaders, editors and agents didn't catch them, but it really just makes me feel that I have an inferior, unprofessional product in my hand and that the writer just belted something out or that I somehow got a rough draft.

2. "Said" Dialogue.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  When everyone's sentences end with "He said/She said/Joan said."  There is no description to the dialogue, I don't know what the characters are doing and it simply gets tedious to read.

3. Different points of view in the same chapter or even paragraph.  Too much jumping around is confusing,  doesn't let me get close to the character and I feel it is unskilled writing.

4. Repetitiveness.  When a word is used more than once in a sentence, paragraph or page.  For example, "Her hand trembled as she caught the falling snow in her outstretched hand."  This bothers me so much I even include it in reviews.  It's something that jumps out at me and sometimes is hard for me to get past.

5. Physical descriptions.  When a writer can't describe a character organically it feels forced.  Giving a list of physical traits is like giving a description to the cops and another device I dislike is when the friend of the main character is giving him/her a pep talk telling him/her all their wonderful qualities. I also find it a little funny when the description is formulaic.  The author feels it has to be in the first few pages and the reader has to know exactly what the protagonist looks like instead of peppering it in throughout the story. Guess what?  Many times, I don't need to know what a character looks like.  It's either not that important or I visualize them by their personalities.

6. Unbelievable characters.  When the protagonist is beautiful, sexy, a black belt, a vampire hunter (or maybe a vampire), psychic, smart and every man is in love with her.  I'm not saying I hate every character who posesses all of these traits, but a writer has to be very skilled in making me believe the character is all of those things and even more skilled to make me relate to him/her.

7. Contrived plot devices. Let's see, there's the hero and heroine who are are somehow forced to go to a black tie affair and wow! Doesn't heroine look amazingly hot and gorgeous?  Then hero gets jealous when other men are attracted to heroine.  Oh yeah, don't forget, heroine is so self-conscious!  She just couldn't look as beautiful as everyone tells her! Then hero and heroine dance in all their hotness and hormones go wild.  There's also the makeover scenes.  I don't think I need to go into that.  Yes, sometimes they are done really well and are needed for the story, but sometimes I feel that it's just another method for heroine's love interest to be suddenly swayed by her beauty and yes...why he sees how beautiful she is, inside and out.  I don't know, maybe I'm just jealous because I need a makeover.

8. When book covers are made to look like TV shows, namely, my favorite TV show.  I know this is a way to increase sales, but I don't like it when a book cover resembles anything that has to do with Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  I don't like them to look like the Buffy artwork on the dvds, or Buffy promo pictures or Buffy soundtracks. There is only one Buffy.

9. When people ask me what the book I'm reading is about but it is clear that they think it is silly or they just don't get why I'm reading it.  Books are subjective, don't judge me.  Even I can see the merits of books that I don't particularly like or thought were not written well.

10.  People who are a little mean to me in the library when they are the ones who asked me for help.  I don't even work there!  Okay, that's just on the list because it occurred less than an hour ago.  To be fair, it's the first time that's happened to me.

(Just so you know and to reference #4, in the second sentence of #10, I had the word "happened" at first, but changed it to "occurred." Also, does <-- that period go before the quotation?  I also want to apologize for any bad grammar, misspelling, typos and especially repetitive words.)

A Study in Scarlet.

Title/Author: A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Genre: Mystery.


Source: Free on Kindle.

Favorite character: Sherlock Holmes.

Favorite quote:

All in all: Entertaining.

Synopsis:  In 1887, a young Arthur Conan Doyle published A Study in Scarlet, thus creating an international icon in the quick-witted sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In this, the first Holmes mystery, the detective introduces himself to Dr. John H. Watson with the puzzling line "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." And so begins Watson's, and the world's, fascination with this enigmatic character." Doyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Quickly picking up the "scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life," Holmes does not fail at finding the truth - and making literary history. ~From

My Thoughts:
This is the story that introduces Sherlock Holmes to the world, myself included, and I liked it more than I thought I would. It’s a bit intimidating for me to read stories written long ago but although parts were wordy the story flowed and the mystery piqued my interest and held it. The way that Conan Doyle portrayed the ancillary characters and the setting of London really put me in that world and that time period.

There was a part where the story sort of changed directions and it confused me for a bit until I realized that it all had to do with the big picture. What I also realized was that the events of the past had somehow caught up to the victims and their demise was a direct reflection of choices they had made. It wasn’t a question of lining up suspects and figuring out who had the best motive, it was more like asking what the people murdered were involved in.

Although everything was explained, from tire tracks to a missing ring to blood on the wall, I’m still not 100% sure how Holmes solved the mystery. He did tell Watson that he solves cases backwards which accounts for his success rate. You may wonder why Holmes can only solve pieces of the puzzle and not the police, I’m sure he or Watson would explain it is because of his analytical mind and the fact that he has such a wealth of information seemingly at his fingertips. He reminds me of Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds.

Something else I liked and never realized is that the Sherlock Holmes stories are told through Watson's eyes.  This gives a perspective of seeing a character not as they would describe themselves but through another, perhaps more subjective opinion.  I felt as if I got to know not only Holme’s eccentricities, methods and "genius," but also Watson’s budding curiosity and growing respect of his new roommate.

Just a note on the Kindle versions:  Apparently, the version I downloaded was missing a list made by Watson about Holmes' strengths and weaknesses.  I read it online somewhere and while interesting to the story I don't feel I missed much.  However, Watson pointed out the subjects that Holmes was less than knowledgable about.  I'm not sure just from reading one story if this serves to make him more astonishing for his solve rate or less realistic.  I think I'll have to suspend judgement until I read more stories.

I grew up hearing about Sherlock Holmes from my father so it was nice to finally read one of his exploits and I’m looking forward to reading more.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (March 20, 2011)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  Please click HERE for complete rules and to check out other IMM posts. 

I went to two YA Author Fest events this week.  The first one was the YA Reader's Theatre  and the second one was today at Books of Wonder.   (Stay tuned for a recap of that event.)

Purchased at B&N, YA Reader's Theatre:
1.  The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer.
2. What I Saw and How I LIed by Judy Blundell.

Purchased at Books of Wonder, NYC Teen Author Fest:
1. Nick & Norah's Ultimate Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan.
2. Crank by Ellen Hopkins.
3. Identical by Ellen Hopkins.
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.
5. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.
6. Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan
7. Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg.
8. Clarity by Kim Harrington.
9. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McCann.

I also attended the Create Something Magical Conference on Saturday hosted by the Liberty State Fiction Writers.  The guest speaker was author Mary Janice Davidson.  Everyone received a few books on their chairs at lunch.  Here's what I received:

1. Undead and Unworthy by Mary Janice Davidson.
2. A Doctor-Nurse Encounter by Carol Ericson.
3. Edge of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire.
4. Evening at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante.

Received as ARC:
1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NYC Teen Author Festival - YA Reader's Theatre.

Union Square was filled with chanting people carrying signs and even a few who were wearing cheese-hats as I walked into the Barnes & Noble. I'm not sure what they were protesting or demonstrating or if the few just happened to be wearing cheese-hats for the heck of it (this is NYC after all), but my mind was elsewhere anyway. Namely, on the authors that I came to see. Holly Black (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside, White Cat), Judy Blundell (Strings Attached) , Gayle Forman (If I Stay, Where She Went), Eliot Schrefer (aka E. Archer) (The School for Dangerous Girls, Geek) and David Levithan (The Lover's Dictionary, Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist - with Rachel Cohn)

Before the event began I met Rachel from The Book Muncher and Mitali from Alley of Books. Check out their awesome blogs!
David Levithan

The moderator was David Levithan who was very comfortable in front of a crowd and extremely funny. He announced they were going to try a "Reader's Theatre," where all the authors read a different character from a scene in each author's book. I have to say that Eliot and David really got into their parts and everyone was very enthusiastic while reading from Geek. Maybe it was the exploding bunnies.

(l-r) Judy Blundell & Gayle Forman
After the enactments (or re-enactments) each author read a passage from one of their books. After Eliot read a passage from Deadly Sister I bought it and the same thing happened after Judy Blundell read from What I Saw And How I Lied. (I already had a few of the other author's books). Holly read some "smut" from Red Glove as she put it, but I don't think it was smutty, hot definitely, but not smutty. When Judy went after her she announced she was going from "smut to romance" (to which David replied, "Boooo....") and read a lovely scene of the main character's first encounter with her love interest. It was a very fun and lively evening.

Eliot Schrefer

Holly Black


I'm giving away one copy of the following signed books:
  • Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.
  • White Cat.
  • If I Stay.
I will pick three winners who will each get one (1) book.  The 1st winner gets their choice of one of the books. The 2nd winner gets their choice of the remaining two.  The 3rd winner gets the remaining book.

I love boots, and sitting in the first row allowed me to examine the boots the ladies were wearing closely. I really coveted Judy's...but then noticed that Holly's were really cool. And Gayle's were also nice - simple, chic. So, to enter let me know which pair of boots you would like to own in the comments.

Holly Black's boots
Judy Blundell's boots

Gayle Forman's boots

  • See my contest policy HERE.
  • US Residents only. (If you live outside the US and are willing to pay for your own shipping you may enter-I will accept Paypal only.)
  • Contest ends Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at midnight (EST).
  • Please leave your e-mail address in your comment or make sure your name leads to an e-mail address.  If I can't find an e-mail unfortunately, you will be disqualified.
  • Winners will be chosen by
  • If I cannot contact the winner within 72 hours the next winner will be chosen.
  • No need to follow, tweet or link with this contest, but if you want to that would be awesome and appreciated!

Me and Holly Black (yay!)

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