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November Books

1. SWEETLY by Jackson Pearce.
2. CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder.
3. THE SWEETEST THING by Christina Mandelski.
4. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake.
6. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
8. DARKER STILL by Leanna Renee Hieber.
9. THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter.
10. FAT VAMPIRE by Adam Rex.
11. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins.
12. DANCERGIRL by Carol M. Tanzman.

Usually I read about 20 books a month, so I'm a bit disappointed with what happened here.

Biggest Pleasant Surprises: The Kneebone Boy

Biggest Let Downs: Chasing Brooklyn, Fat Vampire

Darkest: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Most Addicting to Read: Lola and the Boy Next Door, The Kneebone Boy

Most Emotional: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Everybody Sees the Ants

Overall Favorites: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Everybody Sees the Ants, Lola and the Boy Next Door

How to Request Review Books

A lot of book bloggers want, at one point or another, to receive ARCs to review on their blog. Once you've been blogging for a while, you start to get requests from them or even get unsolicited books in the mail, but of course, that can't happen if publishers don't know you exist.

In my opinion, the best way to start is to send a request to a publisher. What I usually do is read a bunch of IMMs, and if I notice that a lot of people are receiving a certain book I want, I write a request for that one.

When you write a request by email, you want to keep it concise and informational. In your first line, you should write something along the lines of, "I would like to request a review copy of [title] by [author] (ISBN: [ISBN], ISBN-13: [ISBN-13])." Make sure you double-check ALL of this data at the publisher's website, especially the ISBNs.

After that, you should include one or two sentences as to why you think that book would be a good fit for your blog. For example, maybe you love to read light-hearted contemporary and that's the kind of book your requesting, or maybe your blog is having an up-coming event focusing on dystopia that you want to feature the book in.

Next, have a sentence or two with information about your blog. Include the blog title, URL, how frequently it's updated, how many followers, and how many views. You should also add anywhere else you would put up the review - Amazon, Goodreads, Library Thing, etc.

But also make sure not to inundate them with requests!
An important note is who you send it to. You can find email addresses on the publisher's website (usually under Publicity), and you have to make sure to get the right imprint.

Note that some email addresses are hard to find! I have a list of every email address with every major publishing company and imprint, so if you would like a copy, just shoot me an email.

Finally, the subject line should say something like "Review Copy Request: [insert book title]".

That's all! If you have any questions or any other tips to add, post them in the comments!

The Fox Inheritance: Review

Title: The Fox Inheritance
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Release Date: August 2011
Published By: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 294
Goodreads Rating: 3.59 stars

Review: After a terrible accident destroyed the bodies of Jenna, Locke, and Kara, their minds were kept digitally alive. Jenna disappeared early on, but Locke and Kara relied on each other for the two-hundred-sixty year nightmare they were stuck, and at last they emerged in a new, perfect bodies. Emerged in a world where everyone they once knew and loved is dead. Everyone, that is, except Jenna.

It seems like everyone was completely in love with the first novel in this series, but I had a fairly lukewarm opinion of it, so I was hesitating about whether or not to even pick up this book. Luckily, I did eventually decide to read THE FOX INHERITANCE because this is made of 100% pure awesome and emotion.

One aspect I really loved was the way the story was handled. It sounds a bit like this is a dystopian novel, and that's true to a small extent, but a lot of this is about these three friends dealing with their very complex issues and conflicts, as well as a frightening psychological suspense angle. And if you've followed this blog for a while, you know how much I love my psychological suspense. (Hint: a lot!)

Of the psychological suspense novels I don't like, though, my number one complaint is often that I don't believe the motivations behind the antagonist, but this was definitely not the case here. After all that happened, I can completely understand why Kara would snap the way she has, and there was still enough humanity in her for the reader to still feel sympathetic. Even with all the empathy, though, it was downright fascinating to see what an impact this whole tragedy had on her and how violently she reacted to it.

Not only was the plot interesting, the writing was also incredible. The author has an amazing ability to inspire emotion in the readers, and there were quite a few places where I found myself tearing up, which is not easy to make me do when reading. Some people complained that Locke was too naive and pathetic, but I thought he was written very realistically and honestly, and his narration added quite a bit of depth to the story.

Overall, if you liked or even just read the first novel, you should definitely pick up THE FOX INHERITANCE. From the fascinating plot with its element of psychological suspense to the realistically portrayed characters, this book is a unique work of fiction that's nearly guaranteed to draw tears from you. This is the sort of novel you can't bear to put down - which means you just have to pick it up.

Foreign Cover Comparison: Thirteen Reasons Why

I love looking at foreign editions, so here is a comparison of the foreign covers of Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.

On the left is the famous American cover. I like the image of the schoolgirl on the swings looking introspective, and the wooden planks are a nice addition. You can also tell from the cover that it's a serious contemporary cover. A bit bland, but topical.

In the middle is the UK version. I like the font of the title, and what the tag says, but the actual image makes it look like a book from the 80s and doesn't give any hint as to what the story's about.

The German cover is on the right, and while I like it, it seems better suited to a bloody thriller than a thoughtful contemporary. The green tick marks are pretty cool, though.

The Hungarian cover (left) is pretty cool. I like the image of the girl reaching for what look like bubbles and the symbolism behind it. The concept is awesome, and the more I look at it, the more I like it.

The lovely one in the middle is the Dutch version. I feel like the broken image and the paper strips really set the tone for the story, and this would definitely attract my attention.

On the right is the Italian cover, and while I love the thriller-esque feel of it, with the red-slashed 13 and the creepy face, that's also where the problem lies. It's too... "dangerous" for a contemporary novel and makes it seem like another story altogether.

The Lithuanian cover seems more like a fun, breezy contemporary than anything else, with the font and smiling girl bending over backwards. It wouldn't really grab my attention either way.

In the middle, the Estonian cover is the kind that wouldn't grab my attention very much and that I only appreciate after looking at it for a while. The symbolism of the blue leaf is neat, but I don't like this overall that much.

Finally, in sharp contrast to the others, the Polish edition (right) looks more like a night-time adventure novel or something. It would do a good job of attracting male readers instead of a largely female audience, but it doesn't convey the right idea of the story.

Overall, my favorite is the Dutch version, followed by the Hungarian and then the American. What do you think? Also, any suggestions for what covers I should compare next?

Lie: Review

Title: Lie
Author: Caroline Block
Release Date: August 2011
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 224
Goodreads Rating: 3.53 stars

Review: Skylar's boyfriend Jimmy is facing charges of assault on two El Salvadoran immigrants, and she's the only witness and she's not talking. How can she, when Jimmy was her savior after her mother died? As the pressure mounts, she knows stepping forward is the right thing to do, but before she can do that, she must first figure out why she ever followed him in the first place.

LIE tells a moving story of struggling with conflicts and moral quandaries. Every page is drenched in emotion, and even though it may seem obvious that Skylar should say what she saw, I never got frustrated at her for not doing so because the author made it so you could understand what she was going through and why it was so difficult for her.

What was really interesting about the way this story was told was how effortlessly many viewpoints were woven together. The different perspectives added a lot to the story. For example, it can be easy to see Jimmy as a straight-forwardly bad guy who commits hate crimes, but you also get to see another side of him through Skylar and his friends - you see how he's magnetic, a natural leader, and even though it's obvious that what he did was bad, he's not exactly a villain. There's no excuse for what he did, but there's depth to him and he's believable as a human being.

But although I enjoyed the concept of the plot and the writing was spot-on, there were parts where the story dragged. I'm not always bored by books that feature mainly internal conflict, but here, there wasn't a huge amount going on even introspectively. Everyone struggled with their decisions and conflicts, but it wasn't written in such a way that you got absolutely sucked in to the story.

Still, LIE was a lovely, emotional story with a satisfying ending and very well done multiple viewpoints. The book offers a unique outlook on hate crimes with its perspective, and the characters seem to be just like three-dimensional human beings. The plot does drag here and there, and this is definitely not a book for people who prefer action, but I would recommend this to fans of hard-hitting contemporaries.

Follow Friday (29)

This week's question...

It's Thanksgiving day in the United States so we want to know what you are thankful for - blogging-related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

If I thanked everyone who helped me out, this blog post would be a million miles long, so I'll just say that all the bloggers (of which there are too many to count!) who I followed before I started my own (and all the ones I still follow now, still too many to count!) for inspiring me to make a blog and for having numerous blogging tips that helped me out.

Of course, I'd also like to thank all my followers because without them, I'd be a teenage girl writing posts that no one would ever read or comment on, and I'd probably have given up a long time ago.

As for books... I've never had a particularly profound experience with one or two books that shaped my life, but I can honestly say that any book I've read, whether in my childhood or last night, has changed me one way or another, however slight.

If you're new to my blog, welcome :) Please drop your link in the comments so I can return the favor.

Virals: Review

Title: Virals
Author: Kathy Reichs
Release Date: November 2010
Published By: Razorbill
Pages: 448
Goodreads Rating: 3.86 stars

Review: When Tory Brennan and her rag-tag group of science-obsessed friends rescue a caged dog, they are exposed to a mysterious strain of canine parvovirus. Among their symptoms of dizziness and fever, they have new abilities - heightened senses and increased physical strength. As not just friends but a pack, they work to solve a murder that everyone seems to have forgotten about and find the killer, who may be right under their noses.

It can argued one way or another that VIRALS is middle grade or young adult, but one thing you can't argue is that this book is straight up action and adventure. Every page is a non-stop thrill ride, packed with scenes to make your heart beat and your palms sweat, and there's never a moment when you want to put the book down.

However, the mystery, suspense, and excitement isn't the only reason you won't want to stop reading. Tory is a first-person narrator with the kind of sardonic voice that not only keeps you laughing out loud but also transitions nicely into some poignant moments that add depth to the story. She may be relatively young for a typical YA protagonist, but she has a maturity and instant relatability that will appeal to a reader of any age.

I also really loved that the setting was incredibly unique. So many books take place in this same bland, read-one-and-you've-read-them-all high schools, but VIRALS is actually set on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. It heightened the mystery and tone of the novel to have such an exotic background, and I enjoyed reading about the dynamics of an unfamiliar place.

If I had to make any complaint, I would say that the villain in this book was a bit bland. I won't say who it was, but his/her actions were rather predictable, and I think a more interesting motive would have really spiced things up. Still, it wasn't particularly bad, just enough to strike me as I was reading, and it didn't interfere with my experience that much.

All in all, VIRALS is a novel with a fast pace that action fans will enjoy and enough character depth and development to satisfy even those who tend to prefer contemporary fiction. The narrator is hilarious, the setting is exotic, and the mystery is intriguing - what more reasons do you need to pick this up?

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Intentions by Deborah Heiligman. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn’t want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue’s sanctuary.

Now Rachel’s trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckless rebellion. Her friends and family hardly recognize her, and worse, she can hardly recognize herself. But how can the adults in her life lecture her about acting with kevanah, intention, when they are constantly making such horribly wrong decisions themselves? This is a witty, honest account of navigating the daunting line between losing innocence and entering adulthood—all while figuring out who you really want to be.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

SOPA and Why We Need to Stop It

As most of you may have heard, Congress is considering a new piece of legislation called SOPA, or Stop Online Privacy Act. The goal of this law is to, well, stop online privacy, and it will give the US government the power to censor or take down any site they want without a hearing or trial.

You may be thinking that this won't be a problem as long as you don't do anything illegal, but if passed, SOPA will have consequences for all of us, from casual internet users to bloggers like you and me.

For instance, if you link to another website or blog that contains content that has been accused of copyright infringement, that entire post could be taken down from the Internet. Gone, just like that.

Or say you like to vlog. If just one user posts a video that infringes copyright on Youtube, Youtube could be taken down like that, and your video won't be there anymore.

And in case you think these are all overly dramatic arguments, the latest word from Congress is that they're stacking five pro-bill speakers against one against. There's not much we can do to stop this, but you can sign this petition, talk to your local congressmen, and spread the word.

Wuftoom: Review

Title: Wuftoom
Author: Mary G. Thompson
Release Date: May 2012
Published By: Clarion Books
Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 stars

Review: Everyone thinks Evan is sick, but he knows the truth - he's transforming into one of the despicable creatures that secretly lives in the sewers, a Wuftoom. His metamorphosis leaves him confined to his bed for years, so alone and terrified that he strikes a bargain with the Vitflies, the sworn enemies of the Wuftoom. But when the bargain turns to blackmail and war is being threatened, he has to decide if clinging to his humanity is worth the decimation of the only family he has left.

I originally picked up WUFTOOM because the premise suggested a unique story, and true to its word, this story was brimming with brilliant concept. The plot was intriguing, and even when the characters didn't quite do it for me in places, I continued to read because this book inspired the need to know what happens next. However, although the concept was interesting and very original, I was disappointed with some of the finer points of the plot.

I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but there are several parts of the story where minor characters like Jordan, a boy who went to Evan's school, make dumb decisions that I was skeptical of real people ever making. These places interrupted the flow of the novel for me because they bothered me, and I wished that these events were more believable.

The ending also wasn't as good as it could have been. Mainly, I felt it was just far too easy and wrapped everything up in this nice little bundle without being realistic. It wasn't very satisfying either. Again, I don't want to reveal spoilers but it could have been a lot better if some alternate events occurred.

All in all, WUFTOOM had an excellent premise that drew me in, and the plot was gripping enough to keep me turning pages. However, the execution wasn't what I was hoping for, and there were some character actions that didn't make sense to me. The ending disappointed me as well. I will say, though, that the author seems to be quite a talented writer so I'll keep my eyes open for future releases by her.

I received a free copy of this book for review. This in no way affected my review.

In My Mailbox (36)

I had a pretty good past two weeks in terms of books!

First up is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, an intriguing retelling of Cinderella that involves cyborgs and aliens, which is seriously awesome. I so can't wait to see what the author did with that!

Next I got Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, which promises to be a lovely romance. What really interests me about it, though, is that the girl is a football player, something you don't see much in real life nor in books.

One of the most exciting books I got was Pure by Julianna Baggott, a dystopian novel with an absolutely gorgeous cover. The synopsis is a bit too long for me to post here, but trust me when I say it's awesome.

To satisfy my love of dark contemporary, I received Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale, a novel about a girl whose mother dies from Huntington's disease and then finds out she was swapped at birth with a sickly baby destined to pass away.

Since I can never get enough of gorgeous covers, Drowning Instinct by Ilsa Bick fell into my hands. The synopsis is slightly vague, but this seems to be a book about a sixteen-year-old girl with a hard life who starts to fall for a married man. I love hard-hitting contemporary, so this is right up my alley!

Finally, I got On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane. I don't typically like paranormal romance, but this seems far different from the typical books in that genre, so I'm willing to give this a try.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Darker Still: Review

Title: Darker Still
Author: Leanna Hieber
Release Date: November 2011
Published By: Sourcebooks
Pages: 320
Goodreads Rating: 3.88 stars

Review: Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart is fascinated by a mysterious painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. But soon she realizes that he's just a little too life-like, and that he's really a man's soul trapped in a painting while his possessed body commits crimes in the city slums. Sinister forces are at work, and despite her relatively sheltered life, Natalie finds herself irrevocably drawn in.

Like any good historical novel, DARKER STILL has the perfect historical fiction voice, with a formality to it that stays true to the time period without getting so dense that it's a struggle to read it. Additionally, it had a very unique voice because, well, the protagonist didn't have one. Natalie is a mute, and while it wasn't an element that got a super central focus, it was explored enough to be fascinating to see what obstacles mute people have to put up with.

The plot was also intriguing. Although the synopsis makes it sound on the spooky side, it wasn't very scary at all and didn't give me so much as chills, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The events that occurred were interesting enough to keep my attention piqued for nearly the entire book, and I was eager the whole time to find out what happens in the end.

However, I do have some quibbles with how the story was told. Most notably, it was written in a journal format, which is a pet peeve of mine because no one can have such perfect recall that they would chronicle, say, dialogues exactly as they occurred. I can perhaps understand it if there's some unique aspect of the book that a journal format would add to, but in this case, the book would have been almost exactly the same had it been written in a traditional format.

But probably what bothered me the most of all was the insta-love, a common facet of paranormal romances that made its way into this book with little explanation beyond the "it was meant to be" route. Natalie saw a painting and fell in love with the man behind the portrait. Three scenes later and they're making out on a desk. Half the fun in reading romance is the chase, the uncertainties of does-he-or-doesn't-he, the anticipation that heightens with each page.

While I do have some ambivalent feelings towards this book because of the insta-love and format, overall, I enjoyed DARKER STILL. It told an original story of love, magic, and the supernatural in historical times, and also explored something I've never really read in a novel before: muteness. Combined with a strong, fleshed-out protagonist, this is a book for anyone who loves historical fiction with a dash of magic and a whole lot of romance.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. This in no way affected my review.

Carrier of the Mark: Review

Title: Carrier of the Mark
Author: Leigh Fallon
Release Date: October 2011
Published By: HarperTeen
Pages: 342
Goodreads Rating: 3.65 stars

Review: As soon as Megan starts at a new school in Ireland, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. At first she thinks it's just a crush, but the closer she gets to him, the more she finds that the ties connecting them have supernatural origin, and the passion and power uniting them might be the very things that result in their destruction.

CARRIER OF THE MARK is a bit of an odd book for me to review because as some of you may know, it was originally put on the online writing community, Inkpop. I used to be a very active member of that, and so I read and gave a critique of an early draft of this book. It was actually quite intriguing to read through and see the revisions the author's made since.

The smoothness of this final draft was quite impressive, but I still have some quibbles with the story. As many other reviewers have mentioned, the plot of this book is rather formulaic and has a similar storyline to other paranormals. I don't mind plots that loosely follow formulas and add other original elements, but that wasn't really the case here. This book just didn't truly bring anything new to the table.

Another aspect that bothered me was the insta-love. A pet peeve of mine is when two characters instantly fall in love, even when it has some paranormal-related explanation. I like to see a more complex relationship forming, and that didn't happen here. Additionally, I never felt like I got to know Megan very well nor did Adam appeal very much beyond the physical factor.

As much as I hate to say it, CARRIER OF THE MARK just reminded too much of, well, Twilight. I won't go into full detail but there were countless similarities beyond the supernatural insta-love deal, and the story just wasn't able to hold my attention very well. I didn't feel like I got to know the characters to much depth, either. Leigh Fallon is a talented writer, but the storyline here just didn't work. I do look forward to picking up other books of hers after this trilogy completes.

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Seventeen-year-old Aaron Foster was offered a choice--go to jail or turn undercover narc to hunt down the dealer trickling drugs into Palm Hammock high school. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He is human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase obsessed with video games and "street magic." In the end, Aaron lies to everybody: his new friends, the tattooed punk, Skully Torres; and most of all, the wise, but troubled Morgan Baskin. He wants to believe it's for a good reason. As his attraction to Morgan grows, he finds it hard to tell if she's falling for the real Aaron... or the fake one.

 I love dark and gritty novels, especially those with romance (plus, the phrase "human wallpaper" alone makes me want to pick this up), so I'm really excited for this one! Narc releases August 2012.

New Covers: The Mockingbirds

As you may know, the covers of Daisy Whitney's two books, The Mockingbirds and its upcoming sequel, the Rivals, have had a revamp. The original covers are here:

As a piece of art, I really like these covers. The simplistic but intriguing images work well, and I like what the bird and dog represent. At the bottom where the title is written, there's even a tribute to To Kill  A Mockingbird with the background, which naturally makes me like it that much more.

However, as much as I like the covers aesthetically, I don't feel they fit the book very well. Additionally, they wouldn't grab my attention very much if I saw them in a book store or something. Elegant, yes, but eye-catching, no.

Now here are the new covers:

(Sorry for the small size; I couldn't find a larger image.) Normally, I'm not much for faces on covers, but I LOVE these! The idea of scrawled writing on yearbook photos is very cool, and the dull-ish color scheme contrasted with brighter colors works beautifully. If I saw these, I would want to pick them up right away.

Which pair of covers do you like better?