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Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Over at Oasis for YA, we've been playing some writing prompt games these past couple of Thursdays and I think they're a blast.  We've either had a picture or a sentence to use as a jumping off point for 250 words.

For me, it's been very freeing not to have to think about things like plot and character arcs.  This is just 250 to tell a story - whatever story - that first pops into your brain.  It's fun, and so I thought we'd give it a try over here.

Who wants to play?  I'll give you a sentence and a picture.  Feel free to use either or both -- and leave me your creative writing in the comments.  I love to see how the Muse can strike everyone so differently.

Sentence ~ Use this quote from Jean-Paul Sarte:
Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.

Here's mine:

The baked and barren earth beneath my feet didn't feel half as dry as my heart.  There used to be a time when my life was like Spring. My eyes unfurled to the morning sunlight like blossoming petals. My senses were crisp and alive and warm in a subtly cool way. My blood raged like a cresting river, fat and over-full on music.

Our music.

Where once our violins had sung together, fevered and entranced, now mine whispered alone.  Since you left, doing anything more than caressing the strings has shredded me. I want to play again. I want my music to light me up again like a Spring afternoon and fill me with the warmth of tulips and cherry blossoms.  But everything now is darkness.

Dark in my soul. Dark when I close my eyes. Dark filling my ears. 

Perhaps it's because I know there's no coming back from where you've gone. My only consolation is that one day I will join you there.  Funny how life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

You know the drill. Tuesday = debut YA book birthday party.  Break out your cake and piñata to celebrate with these debut YA novelists:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkins (finally!)

Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.                  
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.   
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong.

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. 

Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

A Beautiful Dark is the first book in a captivating trilogy by debut author Jocelyn Davies.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

The Mephisto Covenant: The Redemption of Ajax by Trinity Faegan

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over.  But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she's eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she's determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O'Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it's not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.

Full of romance, mysticism, and intrigue, this dark take on Navajo legend will haunt readers to the final page.

With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

When Ollie’s daddy, the Reverend Everlasting Love, pulls their travel trailer into Binder to lead a three-day revival, Ollie knows that this town will be like all the others they visit— it is exactly the kind of nothing Ollie has come to expect. But on their first day in town, Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, whose mother is in jail for murdering his father. Jimmy insists that his mother is innocent, and Ollie believes him. Still, even if Ollie convinces her daddy to stay in town, how can two kids free a grown woman who has signed a confession?  Ollie’s longing for a friend and her daddy’s penchant for searching out lost souls prove to be a formidable force in this tiny town where everyone seems bent on judging and jailing without a trial. 

Which of these will you add to your TBR pile?  I've pre-ordered Mara Dyer for my Kindle, so it should be there waiting for me when I get home.  :)  I've been looking forward to The Faerie Ring and The Mephisto Covenant too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

So Close to 600

So I looked this morning, and I'm only 1 follower away from 600.  That's cause for celebration, I think!!
Here's the deal.  Leave a comment below with: (1) your e-mail address and (2) a link to your tweet or FB post about the contest and you'll be entered to win an e-ARC of Destined.  Of course, I have to get to 600 followers before I give away the e-copy AND you must be a follower to enter. 
But that's it... THANK YOU to all of you who listen to my posts and comment back.  I love y'all!

*UPDATE* Contest is now closed.  Kim won the eARC. Thanks to all who entered and helped me get over the 600 hump.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hype: Help or Hinderance?

Next week, my most highly-anticipated book of the year will be released.  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.  The description sounds great, and the cover is even better.  You can't help but know this book is coming because its cover image is EVERYWHERE.  There are animated countdown widgets:

Fan-made Mara Monday banners.
I loved the cover-art so much, I even bought a phone cover from the same line of photographs.
So yeah, there's been some serious marketing clout behind this novel, both from the publisher and on a grass-roots level.  And certainly, the initial sales will probably spike following next week's release (I know I've already got it pre-ordered for my Kindle).

But what I wonder is, after the initial purchasing tsunami, will all the hype help or hurt the book?  And what I mean is, I've built this book up so much in my mind based on the hype and so-far glowing reviews, that if it doesn't absolutely blow me out of the water, I'll be disappointed.

And I know this has happened to me for other books: like how excited I was to get my hands on Meg Cabot's Abandoned and then only felt luke-warm about it.  I wonder if I would've felt differently about it -- and given it a better review -- if I wasn't so convinced going into the book that it was going to be simply amazing.

For now, I'm staying optimistic about Mara Dyer.  There's no going back for me.  But in the back of my mind, I'm still a little worried.  Will my opinion of the novel live up to the impossibly-high expectations that I've built for it?

Does this ever happen to you?  Do you think a book can receive too much hype?  Or is all publicity good publicity?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

Special birthday shout-outs this week to:

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (not her 1st novel, but this is her debut YA):

"It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder. 
That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.” 

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved. 

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart. 

Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

I also want to give a special shout-out to a lovely author and friend, Willow Cross, who launched the second book in her The Dark Gifts Series, called Inheritance.  The cover rocks and I remember reading her first pages on #yalitchat and being blown away.  I can't wait to sink my teeth into my own copy!  

When Sarah and Jason Masada received an old house from an aunt they never knew existed, they were grateful for the blessing. Until they discovered the curse that came with being part of the Masada family--a full moon.

Intent on tracing their lineage, they descend into a world of lies, fear, ancient myths, and death. Indian hunters have tracked them to the family compound, Jason is wanted for murders he doesn’t remember committing, and their new-found family is on a mission to kill them. It seems their only hope for survival is to combine forces with two unlikely allies and trek across the globe to the place where it all began. Maybe there they can find a way to end it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Which I Hold My Own Book

This picture doesn't really need a caption... just a big ol' SQUEEE!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

I've been Tagged (10 random factoids about moi)

 This picture makes me smile. I wish I could see the guy's expression after being tagged.

I was tagged by the awesome Kelly Hasway, who post 10 numerous and unique facts about herself -- you can read them here.  I've now been tasked with doing the same thing, and I hope to be half as entertaining. :)  So, here are 10 facts about moi that you may or may not have always wanted to know...

1.  Sometimes I stay up too late, drawn to my computer screen light a mosquito to a bug zapper. I type really awesome and funny blog posts and then inadvertently delete the whole thing.  (This happened last night with this point, btw.)  Only then do I go to bed.

2.  I was born and raised in Florida, but I don't eat any seafood. Ever. Not fish, not lobsters, not oysters, not crabs. Nada. 

Except canned tuna fish in a tuna salad. Now that's yummy.

3.  I love to sing in my car with the music cranked up. 

4.  I'm tone deaf.  (Note that factoid #3 combined with #4 makes me an unpopular traveling companion. Fact #4 didn't help me with the 7 years of band my mom forced me to take either.)

5.  Speaking of band, the only Letter I received in high school was for marching band. (How lame is that?)

6.  But here's why: I don't like sweating or exercising. At all. I will find just about any excuse to get out of doing either of those activities. I also am risk-adverse and don't like getting injured. That means me and sports don't mix. (I have NEVER broken a bone though.)

7.  I'm also pretty indecisive. Like, before settling on a career as a lawyer (not that I'm settled actually, since I'm writing now too...), I absolutely KNEW I wanted to be a pediatrician, a marine biologist, an actor/director, a family therapist, a Classics professor and earn a degree in hotel/restaurant management.

8.  My biggest pet peeve in the ENTIRE WORLD is getting stuck driving behind someone who is going BELOW the speed limit.  Really.  This is unacceptable driving behavior.  (My children whining at me is a close second.)

9.  I bit my nails my entire life until my first daughter was born and then quit for no apparent reason. I didn't even try, it just happened. To this day, I have no idea why those two events are connected.

10.  I cannot work in complete silence. I need music playing in the background. My current station of choice is Channel 10 (the Pulse) on Sirius XM. I stream it through the internet while I'm at work and listen/sing to it in the car. While writing, my favorite artist to listen to is Joshua Radin.

Now, to tag four other people.  It was hard to narrow this list down, but I'd love to hear some random and quirky facts about these ladies:

Dani Snell
Adrienne Gelbart
Jessica Souders
Christa Desir

If you aren't tagged (and for that, I apologize), feel free to leave me a random factoid of your own. I like knowing I'm not the only semi-neurotic person out there.  :)  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Destined ARC Giveaway

Exciting news!!  To celebrate ordering my proofs of Destined, I'm holding a contest on Goodreads.  Starting on Saturday, U.S. and Canada residents can enter to win one of two ARC copies. Goodreads runs the contest and will select the two winners on October 17th -- that means the winners will know they're getting the book a full month before it's released.  I hope you'll drop by and enter and then help spread the word.

How do you get there?  Glad you asked ... just click the widget!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Destined by Jessie Harrell





          by Jessie Harrell



            Giveaway ends October 17, 2011.


            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

While there are a ton of book birthdays this week, not many are by debut authors.  I must say though, I'm really looking forward to:

Frost by Marianna Baer

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends chose to live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar.

What Celeste lacks in social grace, however, her brother, David, a recent transfer student, makes up for in good looks and charm. But while he and Leena hit it off immediately, Leena finds herself struggling to balance her growing attraction with her fear of getting hurt.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House—frames mysteriously falling off walls, doors locking by themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And while Leena tries to play peacekeeper between her best friends and new roommate, soon the mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind . . . or in Frost House itself?

Frost is a stunning and surprising tale of suspense from debut author Marianna Baer.

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Circle 9 by Anne Heltzel

When your whole life has vanished and only one person knows who you are . . . don't you have to believe him?

Abby doesn't remember what happened the night she woke up in soot-stained clothes, lying next to a burning building with an unfamiliar boy at her side. But her connection with Sam is immediate and intense. And she has no one else: no family, no home, not even a last name.

She and Sam start a new life, just the two of them, and Abby's deliriously happy. Until memories from her past begin to haunt her and suddenly everything she's learned to love turns sinister. It's only a matter of time before her reality cracks apart.

So what do you think - do these interest you?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: DAEMONS IN THE MIST by Alicia Kat Dillman

Finally getting the girl of your dreams; what could possibly go wrong?

I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I met Kat on twitter and really didn't know what to expect from the novel. I knew it had a super-cool cover that Kat drew herself, and that there'd be love story at the heart of it, but the rest was a surprise. And what a pleasant surprise it was!

She could have been a perfectly normal, albeit a breathtakingly beautiful girl, but she wasn’t, for I knew there were secrets hidden behind her eyes.
Seventeen year old Patrick Connolly has been drawn to Nualla ever since he first saw her, but as the years pass she seems to take absolutely no notice of him. Until, that is, he rescues her from a confrontation in the school hallway. Little does he know that he’s about to be thrust into a world of life altering secrets and things that shouldn’t exist, because the fog and mist of San Francisco is concealing more than just buildings.
Deliriously captivating and extraordinarily soulful, Daemons in the Mist beautifully weaves together two voices to tell the story of what happens when life leads you down a not so normal path.

I didn't immediately love the book because it started off a little heavy on the telling. But by a few chapters in, I was engrossed with Nualla and Patrick's story. The novel is written in their alternate points of view, which I happen to have a particular weakness for (think Destined).

In short, you have a guy who sticks up for a girl when her ex-boyfriend is bullying her, and that wins her heart. When a chance meeting at the mall brings them back together that Friday night, Nualla convinces Patrick to join her & her friends on a spur of the moment trip to Vegas. And you know what happens when teens with fake IDs get hammered in Vegas and mention marriage... Yep, everything unwinds from there. But what was really cool was that once back in San Fran, Nualla & Patrick do the whole dating/falling in love thing. So it's not like we miss that step because of a mistake the characters make. Their relationship is still very well-developed.

Another thing I really enjoyed were all the twists and turns. I love when I don't see an ending coming, and this book had loads of surprises. I also liked that there was a happy ending but not a perfect ending. I thought the author did a great job with that.

Also, the secondary characters were awesome. It bothered me a little bit that Nualla referred to her patents by their first names given how close they all were, but the parents were still great characters. I also felt like a got to know both Nualla and Patrick's circle of friends, both of which groups felt real to me.

The one thing that bothered me throughout was the typos and grammatical errors. Despite these problems, though, the story line was so engrossing that I was able to overlook the flaws.

Bottom line: I give Daemons in the Mist 3.5 out of 4 Greek coins - a URA*+rating. If you like a great YA love story with paranormal elements and a fast-moving plot, check out this novel. A sequel and an illustrated version are also due out soon.

To get your own copy, check out Amazon or Barnes & Noble (for Nook owners).  You can also explore these other links:

Author site:
Author page for this book:
The publisher's page for this book:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Debut YA Book Birthday

Another Tuesday, another debut YA book birthday celebration!  Here are the honorees this week:

Shelter by Harlan Coben

A young adult debut from internationally bestselling author Harlan Coben

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

First introduced to readers in Harlan Coben's latest adult novel, Live Wire, Mickey Bolitar is as quick-witted and clever as his uncle Myron, and eager to go to any length to save the people he cares about. With this new series, Coben introduces an entirely new generation of fans to the masterful plotting and wry humor that have made him an award-winning, internationally bestselling, and beloved author.

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Anyone who's had something truly crappy happen to them will tell you: It's all about Before and After. What I'm talking about here is the ka-pow, shake-you-to-your-core-and-turn-your-bones-to-plastic kind of crappy."

Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss--a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.
Jennifer Castle's debut novel is a heart-wrenching, surprisingly witty testament to how drastically life can change in the span of a single moment.
September 8

Damage by Anya Parrish

There was a time when I prayed for Rachel to be real—it ended the night she tried to kill me.
When Dani was eight, she fell from a building. No one believed her claim that she was pushed by Rachel, her imaginary friend. It took years of therapy to convince Dani that Rachel was a product of her own mind.

Now fifteen, Dani wants to make it as a dancer. But a deadly freak accident sends her a terrifying message: Rachel is back, she's real, and she'll stop at nothing to kill Dani. Complicating matters is Jesse, the school bad boy who's being stalked by his own invisible childhood monster.

When Dani and Jesse join forces to learn why their tormenters are back, their investigation leads to a horrifying discovery—and the secret that binds them to each other.

Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

A boy who can see the world's secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.

Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.

Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James

A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

Looks like there's something for everything this week -- go forth and purchase!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: SPELLBOUND by Cara Lynn Shultz

Gotta say -- I wasn't expecting all that much when I started Spellbound.  Mostly because by the time I got around to reading it (thanks, Netgalley!), I'd forgotten what it was supposed to be about.  OMG - I was in for such an awesome surprise.  I loved this book.

What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?
Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

Here's what's funny... since I was just coming off reading Always a Witch (and not remembering the premise), I kept thinking that Emma was going to be a witch.  About a third of the way through the book, when there was still no indication that Emma was going to cast a spell, I started wondering what was up.  Ok, as you can probably tell from the synopsis that I've just given you, Emma is not a witch, but she's been BOUND by a SPELL to love the same person life after life. The catch, of course, is that soon after finding her soul mate, she's doomed to die.

The book largely revolves around Emma and an unexpected friend trying to figure out why all the mysterious things are happening in her life. Exploding streetlight, necklaces with ancient meanings, etc. But there's also the chemistry with Brendan, who's a great guy (and totally hot). There were definitely some toe-curling romance scenes between the two of them. So on the global level, I loved the plot, since it combined romance/reincarnation/soulmates with mystery.

On the micro level, I also really liked how the book dealt with some serious teen issues.  For example, Emma has her reasons for not liking alcohol, but it doesn't make her such a prude that she refuses a beer when offered to her. She just acts in moderation, without being preachy, and in a way that I perceived as very realistic.  There's also a case of an almost-date-rape where the victim is further victimized following the attack. I loved how Emma stood up to the bully (even if that wasn't her smartest move ever) and how we got to see some realistic high school drama and rumors.  I know these can be touchy subjects in YA, but they happen and I think it's good to see them portrayed realistically.  Certainly the alcohol wasn't glamorized, but it wasn't ignored either.  I thought it was very well-done.
Overall, I give Spellbound 4 out of 4 Greek coins -- an OMG! rating.  If you love reincarnation and romance and all that good stuff like I do, I think you'll also fall pretty hard for this book.  I'll be anxiously awaiting the sequel next year!

Added bonus -- Cara Lynn Shultz is an absolute sweetheart on twitter.  So start following her.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2 Months & Counting!

Ok, I'm about crawl-out-of-my-skin excited today.  For one, the blog tour for DESTINED officially kicks off in 2 months -- November 1st. 
I'll be posting a separate page here on my blog with the full schedule, but we'll be making stops at Once Upon a Twilight, Mundie Moms, Books with Bite, Stuck in Books, I am a Reader, Not a Writer, and many, many more.  Thank you to everyone who is participating and an even bigger thank you to Damaris at Good Choice Reading for organizing the tour.  You're awesome!

The second reason I'm so excited is that I put the finishing touches on my content edits last night - hip, hip, hooray.  Now, I have two sets of eyes going over it to make sure I don't inadvertently douse you all with typos, and then it's off to the printers.  ARCs here we come!!

What are you excited about today?