Another BALLAD contest! at Book Reviews by Jess!

Jess is an awesome chick. She and I met up at the Book Expo this past spring in NYC. Jess reviews books on her blog

In honor of the upcoming release of BALLAD: A GATHERING OF FEY by Maggie Stiefvater, Jess is hosting a cool (and easy to enter) contest on her blog! Check it out!

BALLAD release tomorrow!

I read this book via Advanced Readers Copy back in March and I loved it! The release date is October 1st! That's tomorrow! Buy it. I promise, you won't regret it. It's a great book.

Win an autographed copy of THE HATE LIST!

Author Jennifer Brown is giving away a goody bag full of autographed items to one lucky winner on her latest contest to promote her debut novel, THE HATE LIST.

Follow the link, and enter to win. You can also read a sample chapter of the book directly from her website.


"Jennifer Brown's Hate List is a compulsive read. Who and why do we hate? Deep, dark and sometimes uncomfortable, this thought-provoking book is a must read!" -- Gail Giles, author of Right Behind You and What Happened to Cass McBride?

it was just a list. nobody was supposed to die...

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things they hated. The list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Coming September 1, 2009, through Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

"Riveting debut!" -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Authentic and relevant, this debut is one to top the charts." -- Kirkus

"After every school shooting unleashes a torrent of questions: what if, what next, why me? Val's in the middle of the storm; her boyfriend pulled the trigger. Now, Val's drowning in guilt, sadness, and confusion. If you've ever been torn up inside and feeling lost, find the time to read Hate List; you'll love it." Patrick Jones, author of Things Change and The Tear Collector

"Wow, oh, wow." -- Lisa Von Drasek, Early Word Kids

Yom Kippur!

Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar--The Day of Atonement. Jewish people fast on Yom Kippur and spend most of the day in prayer. It is on Yom Kippur that you repent for your sins and seek forgiveness for sins against G-d and against man.

G'mar chatimah tovah! to all those observing Yom Kippur. ( “May you be sealed for a good year in the Book of Life.”)

Bran Hambrick Give Away!

Write for a Reader is giving away a hardcover copy of Bran Hambrick along with an offficial Bran Hambrick poster! All you have to do is comment to be entered!

Thirsty by M.T. Anderson

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (August 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763620149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763620141
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces

As if Chris doesn't have enough to worry about --his parents constant bickering, his best friend growing apart from him, the girl he likes doesn't know he's alive--but those are the least of his troubles. Chris is turning into a vampire and he's being used as a tool in a battle between good and evil and he doesn't know who to trust.

This book took me a while to get used to because it's written in first person present tense. I don't think I've ever read a book in present tense. Once I got over that, I really enjoyed it. Anderson really takes you inside Chris's head and you can't help but love him and feel sorry for what he's going through. He's fighting his most burning desire--to drink human blood, all while fighting off creepy things in the woods, delving into vampire lairs and humiliating himself in front of his peers. Thirsty is a little different then the more popular teen vampire novels out there right now, but it definitely deserves to be read.

First Ever Virtual Book Signing!

Last night the gang from Medallion Press held their first online book signing with author/film maker Greg Lamberson (Johnny Gruesome, Personal Demons). The signing was an attendance limited event that I was fortunate enough to attend while sitting on my couch in my pj's. Each attendee was given a free autographed copy of Greg's newest book PERSONAL DEMONS available October 1st.

The signing was a lot of fun. The clarity of the video feed was exceptional and each attendee got a few minutes personal time with Greg, via telephone, web cam or chat. I chose the latter, although I had unwittingly broadcast ten minutes of my web cam at the start of the signing! (Thank gosh I didn't pick a booger or something!)

I read Johnny Gruesome, as some of you remember I posted a short review on it. Greg talked a little about the inspiration behind Johnny Gruesome (his home town) and he spoke a little about the setting of Personal Demons in New York City. Greg also let us in on another novel in the works (psssst! it has werewolves in it!)!

Greg is a great guy and a kick ass horror writer. If you need a little horror, he's the man to turn too. Check him out and also be sure to browse Medallion Press's other books. I've got quite a few of their thrillers and a romance or two. All great books! They only print adult, so there's nothing there for kids or teens, but they do have a lot of great books.

I've shown you the beginning...

Of chapter one, and now I'll show you the very last paragraph. I'm thinking I should end it a little stronger? But at the moment I have no idea how to do that. Copyright of ME, so don't even think about it...Let me know what you think!

"I could hear muffled sounds of my mother crying and my brother shouting, the dogs barking, the voices of the soldiers. All of it mixed together, each sound becoming indistinguishable from the other. I choked on the thick air, dense with unbearable suffering. That was the first time I wished for death to find me."

I saw a UFO!

And I completely forgot to mention it! I know what you're thinking, I've lost my marbles, but seriously, it was unlike anything I've ever seen.

Friday night, I put my tiny one to bed at 7:30 and joined my husband on the front porch.
The sky was clear. In New York, often times we get so much light reflecting off the atmosphere, we can't see the stars, but that night there were shining bright. We have a few major airports, so it's nothing to see as many as three or four planes at the same time flying overhead.

We're sitting there, watching the neighbors cat who has adopted our yard as his own stalk a mouse. Aman walks by with his daughter and she points to something in the sky. My eyes follow it.

There, high above the rooftops, is a light. Now, at first, my husband and I both think, it's a helicopter shining down a spot lamp. But it's too far to see anything. The funnel of light cuts off well above the rooftops. It's very, very high. And there is no sound.

No planes fly by. We stare at the triangle of white light. Starring. Starring. And then, it's gone. There is no sound and nothing in the sky, except the faintest trace of light. Then it just fades out completely. Nothing there.

It was crazy! I had no words for it! It was probably some Government thing, who knows, but it was eerie and awesome! We tried to take a picture on hubby's iphone but it was too dark out :(

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Point; 1 edition (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439922283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439922289
  • buy on amazon

I just finished reading this book. I love the cover and I'll be posting a link to a little story about the cover design, but first I want to tell you a little about this book.

First, the title Sea Change is an idiom for a transformation in the song Full Fathom Five in Shakesphere's The Tempest. I mention this, because you will notice as you read that "tempest" and "Shakespeere" are both mentioned in the book *gins*

Full Fathom Five
Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes; Nothing of him that does fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong, Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.
In Sea Change, Friedman takes the traditional story of Merfolk to a whole new level.
Miranda Merchant is a girl with a love for all things scientific, and a special drawl to the ocean. Upon the death of her Southern debutant grandmother, Isadora Hawkins, Miranda and her mother are brought to Selkie Island, the families southern home. The Mariner, a large victorian style mansion nestled in a village from the past with old fashioned gentlemen and lavish parties on the boardwalk, was willed to Miranda's mother and teh two of them plan to clean it up and put it on the market. Miranda soon falls in love with the wonder of the island, but on the other side of Selkie, is where the real magic lies. Fisherman's villiage.

Miranda meets a mysterious boy (don't we all just love mysterious boys?) on Siren beach. Leo challenges her scientific mind and everything she thought about boys and friendships. But is Leo more then a handsome fisherman?

I'm not telling! because you have to get this book. It is a truly fun read of young love, longing and burried family secrets that will leave you begging for more.

The cover design is beautiful and here is a little story about it, from author Aimee Friedman herself!

BALLAD by M. Stiefvater Teaser!

"He turned towards me. For a long moment, he stood facing me. I was held, anchored to the ground – not by his music, which still called and pushed against the music already in my head and said grow rise follow – but by his strangeness. By his fingers, spread over the ground, holding something into the earth, by his shoulders, squared in a way that spoke of strength and unknowability, and most of all, by the great, thorny antlers that grew from his head, spanning the sky like branches.
Then he was gone, and I missed his going in the instant that the sun fell off the edge of the hill, abandoning the world to twilight."

I read this book a few months ago (Advanced readers copy) and it's awesome. Trust me.

Today is the last day to enter the BALLAD/SHIVER contest on Maggie's Blog!

The Lovely Bones

  • ardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316666343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316666343

The Lovely Bones is a beautifully sad poetic story about a family torn apart by loss when 14 year old Susie Salmon was brutally raped and murdered by the man she knew as her neighbor, George Harvey. Susie watches from her heaven, a place where life is lived as a "purpetual yesterday" as her family is challenged in the wake of her unsolved crime and rifts are formed between them.

Though she's been gone for years, Susie never leaves them. She's always with her mother and father, her grandmother, her brother and sister, her school crush, Ray--the only boy who'd ever kissed her, and Ruth--the lonely girl Susie's spirit touched in passing. Even the detective following her case and her murderer, Mr. Harvey are visited by Susie.

This story evokes so many emotions, its impossible to put it down. It's beautifully written and can be enjoyed by both adults and teens.

And don't forget to look out for the new film, The Lovely Bones


The Brooklyn Book Festival was awesome.

First, I went with JUST my husband! No kids! As much as I love my kids, it's great to just go out on a date with my spouse without having to pack sippy cups, snacks, a change of clothes for the one who just recently started using the toilet etc. All parents feel this way. If they tell you they don't, they're either lying orthey're subhuman. It's great to feel like a big person once in a while. A crazy, sexy, cool motorcycle-riding, book lovin', big person.

Anywho, so we took the Harley, of course. It was a beautiful day for a ride-clear skies, warm sun and a slight cool breeze. I have nice racoon eyes from my sun glasses ;) We rode to Brooklyn and went through some really cute little neighborhoods. I am really surprised at how nice parts of BK are becomming. It felt like riding through the Hamptons or the upper west side of Manhattan. Trendy vintage boutiques, cofee houses on every corner with people busilly typing away at their laptops. Just a general cozy, city atmosphere. I decided today, that I would actually LOVE to give up my three story semi-attached town house with a tiny back yard and move into Red Hook Brooklyn. And that's a big shocker, even to myself. Redhook used to be so bad, cops didn't go there. Mafia used it as a dumping ground... and now? Now it's a great up and coming neighborhood. You can't even find a studio apartment for under a grand. So, IF i ever get published and my book launches me into fame and fortune (*laugh*) Hubbski and I will find us a nice three bedroom flat in RedHook.

Moving on. The Book Festival was not really what I expected. Not certain what I was thinking it would be, exactly, but I can tell you, it wasn't that. It was better. There was a plethora of book sellers (love that word...plethora) and quite a few great speakers at the Youth Stoop. We pretty much spent the entire day in that little corner, except for when we ran off to get a coffee.

I met (however breifly, it was amazing):
Laurie Halse Anderson ,Wintergirls (left)
Gayle Forman, If I stay (right)

And now a more sane picture

Aimee Friedman, Sea Change (right)
Anna Godberson, The Luxe series (left)

And all four of the women were wonderful. Great speakers. They inspired and motivated me today. AND they each autographed a copy of their books :) WOOT!

So, this was my score for the afternoon. The stack of books in front, not the mess behind it. I know, I know. I seriously need a better bookshelf.

and some more pictures :)

You should definately check out these ladies. Their books are great.
The End.

Brooklyn Book Festival!

Today is the brooklyn book festival! And I'm going just as soon as I can finish cooking breakfast, wake my husband, feed everybody, take a shower, get dressed and pile everyone into the car.

I've already printed out a map of the place and who is speaking when at the Youth Stoop.

At 2pm, I will be listening (and taking notes) to Ned Vizzini (Be More Chill), Aimee Friedman (Sea Change) and Anna Godbersen (The Luxe) speak about different approaches to writing about love in teen fiction.

After that, I have a couple hours to browse the book sellers. I am hoping to purchase THE SWEET FAR THING by Libba Bray, EVERNIGHT by Claudia Gray and SEA CHANGE by Aimee Friedman. There will be book singing so maybe I'll snag an autograph or two :)

At 4pm, it's back to the Youth Stoop to hear M.T. Anderson (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing), Marilyn Nelson (The Freedom Business) and Margaret Peterson Haddix (Shadow Children and Missing series) talk about writing in the past.

And at 5pm, Claudia Gray (Evernight Series) and Carolyn MacCullough (Once a Witch) speak about high school and the paranormal :

I'll be sure to post a quick blog tonight when I get home. If you're there and you see me, say hello.

LIST of authors of children and youth books attending:

Youth and Teens
M.T. Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson
Coe Booth
Libba Bray
Michael Buckley
Matt de la Peña
Kate DiCamillo
Gayle Forman
Aimee Friedman
Anna Godbersen
Claudia Gray
Paul Griffin
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Carolyn MacCullough
Marilyn Nelson
G. Neri
Danica Novgorodoff
George O'Connor
Raina Telgemeier
Ned Vizzini

Children’s Authors
Judi Barrett
Nick Bruel
Peter and Randall de Seve
Ayun Halliday
Alison Josephs
Victoria Kann
Grace Lin
Christopher Myers
Sahar Simmons
Maureen Sullivan
Tom Tomorrow
Mo Willems
Paul O. Zelinsky

The Vampire Diaries

My hubby is out tonight doing a memorial thing for 9/11/01 so I settled in with my laptop and a good friend (via AIM) to watch the season premier of The Vampire Diaries.

Not a big fan of the changes, but I understand why they were made. Bonnie wasn't at all what I had expected and where is Meredith? I really don't like how they say "Stephan" but it'll grow on me. Other then that, I enjoyed it.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Nordic Poem

This is a translation of a romantic poem by Bjarni Thorarensen, 'Veturinn' (Winter) made by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Icelandic/American pathfinder:

Who rides with such fury
A fiery charger
Through the high heavens
A horse snow-colored?
The mighty steed
From his mane tosses
Frozen flakes
That flutter earthward.
Glowing glitters

His gray armor
On his shoulder there hangs
A shield ice-covered
On his head he wears
The helm of terror
The fearful Aegis
Frosty helmet

He comes from the hoary
Haunts of midnight
Where the world force flows
From the well eternal
Where restless seas
Roar in breakers
On shores without spring
And summerless rocks.
He knows not of age

Though the oldest gods
Where his playmates ere
The earth was fashioned
The last world will die
And desolation
Veil the suns
Ere his way is ended.

The strong are strengthened
When his step approaches
The soft Earth grows firm
In his fierce embraces
The tears she wept
Are turned to diamonds
And her mourning garb
To a mantle of ermine.

�tis not truly said

That when Summer approaches
Winter flees
To the frozen Northland
He broods in the heavens
While humble spring
Leads summer in
Through sunlit meadows

�tis in his hands
The earth turns daily
In his powerful grasp
The poles are twirling
And he leaves
E�en a little moment
Naught of earth
That�s near to heaven.

�tis therefore we see
While summer lingers
The mountains still wear
The Winter�s livery
�tis therefore we see
That summer melts not
Heaven's hoar-frost
From the head of age.

Paris Pan Takes the Dare!

Paris Pan Takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu
  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (June 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399250433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399250439

Product Description
So what if it’s a rite of passage for every seventhgrade girl in town to spend a night in the woods? Paris Pan only just moved here, the woods are supercreepy, and she has enough weirdness to deal with in her own family. Finding out a girl died mysteriously years ago while on the Dare—right near Paris’s new house, no less—is bad enough, but the unmistakably ghostlike noises coming out of the broken-down shed at the edge of the Pan’s property? Definite deal breaker.

All Paris wants is to make friends, try to fit in, and not have to deal with a dead girl. But everyone has to take the Dare, and the new girl’s turn is up. . . .

This book really surprised me! I loved it! It's cute, funny, a little scary at times and an altogether entertaining coming-of-age story. The mystery keeps you guessing all the way up to the end, but it's not so complicated that young readers wouldn't be able to follow the clues. The book its self is beautiful. I love the cover design and the colors. It's a perfect scary-starter book for young readers, but its sure to be enjoyed by adults (such as myself) as well.

Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites
The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod (Book 1)
By Heather Brewer

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (August 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525478116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478119

From Amazon.
Product Description
Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: his mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: he’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Not to imply I thought it would be terrible, I just assumed it was for much younger readers. Having an 8th grade boy for the main character did not seem like something that would interest me, but I was wrong.

Brewer explores the modern teen vampire in a way I haven't seen yet. With his blood capsules hidden in his pb&j sandwiches and his "tea" and cookies, Vladimir Tod is a fun, believable character. I've added NINTH GRADE SLAYS to my wish list for my next trip to the bookstore.

My baby on her first day!

Of Kindergarten!!!

BALLAD by Maggie Stiefvater

Ballad, A Gathering of Fey
By Maggie Stiefvater

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738714844
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738714844


"Ballad is giddy, intoxicating, and threatening all at once. It is a sheer edge-read: you feel like you stand on a cliff through every scene, only barely clinging to the world, not knowing who is coming up behind you!"
—Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of the
Protector of the Small Quartet

"With its razor wit, compelling characters, and deliriously beautiful prose, Ballad will make you laugh and gasp out loud even as it breaks your heart."
—R.J. Anderson, author of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter

"Maggie Stiefvater excels at writing wonderfully complex characters who face wickedly impossible obstacles. Ballad had me hooked until the pulse-pounding end. Readers who loved Lament will devour Ballad and plead for more!"
—Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Remember us, so sing the dead, lest we remember you

James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween—the day of the dead—draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala's life and his soul.

I've read all three of Maggie's books that have been released and I've not been disappointed. I love her poetic writing style and particularly in this book, her mixing of folklore and modern life. Like LAMENT, I couldn't put this book down. It grabbed my attention from page one and held it all the way through to the end. I was happy to see James, a character from LAMENT get his own story. BALLAD is the sequel to LAMENT, but you do not have to read LAMENT to enjoy it.

Definately a keeper. I'm putting it on my to-be-read-again shelf, right next to LAMENT and SHIVER.

You can also check out reviews on each of Maggie's books at

Jess is much better at reviews than I.

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