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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Release Date: Feb. 7, 2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Purchased
Pages: 272
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / Fountain Bookstore
Description: Goodreads
Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood -- not even from each other.
I have not heard one bad thing about Born Wicked, and I know the reason why.  It’s because it’s a beautifully written and perfectly paced story full of engaging characters, heart-wrenching romance, and just the right bit of magic.  It feels simultaneously familiar and original, taking recognizable supernatural elements and adding the alternate historical timeline to twist things up a bit.

In this version of 1890’s New England where a group of men called The Brotherhood rules with an iron fist and women in general are considered to be lesser beings, Cate Cahill and her sisters Maura and Tess do their best to hide in plain sight, all the while keeping their witchcraft a secret from everyone but themselves.  

Their oft-absent father decides to hire a governess to ease them back into society, as they’ve been largely out of the public eye since the death of their mother years before.  Cate’s intention ceremony date is looming ever closer, her friend Paul McLeod is back in town after years away at school and ready to make her an offer she might not want to refuse, and the new gardener/former classmate Finn Belastra is causing both her head and heart to race in ways she doesn’t quite understand.  Secrets pile up left and right, not only for Cate but for her sisters, her new governess, and her friends as well.  Just when you think you know what’s coming… well, that’s when things get interesting.  With feathers.

I really like Cate’s voice.  Jessica said on the Breathless Reads tour that she was inspired to write a book about independent women living in a society that didn’t value independence, which definitely comes through in Cate.  She’s very modern, very stubborn, and very engaging.  I think the sisterly dynamic is right on the nose, especially for Maura.  Oh, she’s got Middle Sister Syndrome worse than Jan Brady.  I also like the way the love “triangle” is shown: as a battle to choose with her head or choose with her heart.  You can’t fault Paul for trying, and he does give it the old college try… but I’m always on the side of the tall, broad-shouldered redhead who reads.  Always.

I also think the writing is just perfect.  The whole story is paced so well that I never found myself getting distracted.  Even though this takes place in 1896, there is a modern feel and tone to it.  It reads like historical fiction for people who aren’t fans of historical fiction.  I would have liked to see more use of the magic or more explanation of the power behind the different spells, but I also understand that, in this setting, teaching spells can’t really happen because it’s a society that openly hunts and punishes witches.  I hope (and expect) that more witchcraft will show itself in the next installment of the Cahill Witch Chronicles.

I would definitely recommend Born Wicked.  In fact, I already have recommended it multiple times.  It’s got a little bit of everything- romance, history, magic, heartbreak, action, suspense, feminism, and a cliffhanger that’s sort of killing me!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Author Insight: Coveted Characters

What character in any book do you wish you had written?

"Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. He's so complex and multidimensional, and I always view him as both Frodo's shadow side and his true opponent in the story. Writing truly morally ambiguous characters is a gift and something that makes every story more interesting and true to life." - Sarah Ockler, author of Bittersweet

"Susan Voight, from Emma Bull and Steven Brust's Freedom and Necessity.  You need a good background in philosophy to read so much of that book, but it's so terribly brilliant, and at least half of that brilliance is how Susan can be strong, stubborn, smart, and then fragile in ways that aren't written to compensate for the rest, but are just make-sense human.  I want to be her.  Or maybe have lunch with her.  But I would settle for having written her." - Leah Bobet, author of Above.

"Harry Potter. Because then I would be a billionaire." - Aaron Karo, author of Lexapros & Cons.

"Elizabeth Bennett.  IMHO all reasonable women want to be, know, or have written Elizabeth Bennett. Because there is nothing about her that isn’t wonderful, but she’s still three-dimensional and believable." - Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Perception & Embrace Giveaway

Just fill out this FORM to enter! Giveaway ends at 11:59 EST on 2/28.

Perception by Kim Harrington

When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Friday, February 24, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

US Cover

Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012 (UK: Feb. 7, 2012)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Purchased
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / Fountain Bookstore
Description: Goodreads
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

UK Cover

I first heard about this book a very long time ago.  I’m talking the beginning of 2011 when it was announced in Publisher’s Weekly and I made a mental note to look for it in the future as I was dying to read it.  I was delighted when more details were finally released about the book, including the cover.  I should say at this point that both UK and US covers are beautiful but I prefer the US cover (left) which is more of an accurate image to the book.  Under the Never Sky is an impressive debut novel set in a dystopian world that I read in ONE SITTING.  Yes, I couldn’t put it down and I enjoyed it immensely.

Under the Never Sky reminds me a little of Crossed by Ally Condie as it shares the same sort of harsh landscape and desperate fight for survival. The world building was fantastic, very easy to visualize and the idea of the Smart eye was fascinating. This is a little device that the wearer fastens over one of their eyes so that they can fraction themselves and effectively co-exist in a virtual reality. A form of escape for those lucky enough to have one.

I have to say that I had no difficulty getting into this book and was immediately transported to Reverie in the first few pages. I loved how Aria and Perry were first introduced and how their relationship developed slowly over the course of the book in a very natural way. Society has conditioned them to be enemies and so they had a hard time warming up to each other at first but they needed each other to survive. I’m glad to say that there was no instalove here and whilst it was what I like to call a “slow burn” it wasn’t agonizingly slow; Veronica got the balance just right.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Author Insight: Stumbling Blocks

What is your biggest stumbling block in the writing process and how do you overcome it?

"Self doubt, I often get ideas that I feel are beyond my abilities, and the challenge of trying to bring those ideas to life is often what keeps me writing, but then in the bad moments I tend to question whether  I'm up to the challenge." - Bethany Griffin, author of Masque of the Read Death.

"I can’t sit still and focus on one thing for any length of time. I also will sit at my laptop deliberating over single words or sentences, instead of just getting the draft out like I hear you’re supposed to. But I think about my work constantly, writing in my head all the time, and I just have to be content if I don’t get that much down on paper each day." - Barry Wolverton, author of Neversink.

"The hardest part every time is putting away all my distractions. Close Twitter, hide the email, and get to work. Especially when I'm on the last leg of revisions and I've gone over the manuscript so many times I have chapters memorized, it can be difficult to go in and take care of those last nitpicky issues.

Until recently, I just forced myself to close other programs on my computer, but with my last couple drafts of Incarnate2, I actually printed the manuscript and did edits on paper where there were no blinky lights to distract me." - Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

"Self-doubt will always plague me, I think. However, I find that when my body is healthy - when I'm eating right, enjoying indulgences only in moderation, staying active, etc., my mind follows with a sort of calmness that allows me to be more productive and get over my self-imposed limitations." - Elizabeth Miles, author of Fury.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen year old Samantha wishes she was one of them… until the day Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything.

Jase can sense that his beautiful neighbor is missing something in her sterile home, and as the two fall fiercely in love, his family makes her one of their own.

But when the bottom drops out of Sam's world, which perfect family will save her–and will her perfect love survive?
Description from Goodreads.

Why I can't wait?
I'm fascinated by stories that look across the tracks into other peoples lives. In My Life Next Door, two characters with vastly different lives and families don't just glimpse each others lives, they intersect. They fall in love. I'm drawn to stories like these and I hope this one knocks my socks off!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Author Insight: Stumbling Blocks

What is your biggest stumbling block in the writing process and how do you overcome it?

"Procrastination! And I'll think about how to overcome it... tomorrow." - Sarah Ockler, author of Bittersweet

"I break books.  I'll get them to 15,000 or 30,000 words and go 'Well, there's just really nothing here,' and stop writing.  Generally, nursing a project solidly into the middle is the most tenuous, scariest thing for me: a lot of mine just die young.  And I haven't yet figured out how to overcome that, aside from putting them away for a while, not pushing too hard, and lots of careful hope.

I hope I do overcome that someday.  Because this is a process, and you're always learning, and that means there's always the good chance you'll learn your way out of the things that trip you worst." - Leah Bobet, author of Above.

"I need really big blocks of time to write, like 5 – 7 hours minimum. I can’t just sit down and fire off a quick chapter, I need to gain some momentum before I really hit my stride. That’s sometimes frustrating because, well, it’s hard to carve out so much time on a daily basis. Sometimes I just have to shut the phone off and log out of Facebook." - Aaron Karo, author of Lexapros & Cons.

"Perfectionism with respect to existing text.  Manifesting in a tendency to edit what I’ve already written over and over rather than moving forward with new pages.  I have yet to overcome it.
" - Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012 (UK: Feb. 21, 2012)
Publisher: Philomel
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Purchased
Pages: 416
Buy: Amazon / Book  Depository / Fountain Bookstore
Description: Goodreads
Calla has always welcomed war.

But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.
One of the good things about leaving a book to read long after publication is that you don’t have as long to wait for the next book and so when I finished reading Wolfsbane, I only had to wait 3 months before the release of Bloodrose.  The Book Depository teased me by saying it had been made available just before Christmas but it wasn’t actually dispatched until 6th January.   I was dying to read it but my desire was bittersweet as this is the final book in the series (well, sort of but I’ll mention that later).  I’d teased myself by reading the first chapter of Bloodrose months ago and I was chomping at the bit to read the rest.  It goes without saying that if you haven’t read Nightshade or Wolfsbane yet do yourself a favour and start reading the series before you read this review.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wastepaper Prose has a new team member!

It's been a few weeks in the making, but Lynsey from Narratively Speaking is joining Wastepaper Prose. She's an experienced blogger and friend I've known for a while, and she brings with her an abundance of experience and of course a love of books.

A couple months back she took an unofficial hiatus from blogging because life got hectic as it sometimes does and returning to blogging has been hard given the constant onslaught of the real world. But she doesn't want to give it up, and I didn't want the blogging world to lose her. That's why we've forged a partnership and she's agreed to post her reviews here at Wastepaper Prose. It's less stress for Lynsey and another set of hands to help Jess and I when the real world is getting the better of us.

Check Lynsey out on the About page, visit Narratively Speaking to read her post, and please join me in welcoming Lynsey to her new home here at Wastepaper Prose. We're thrilled to have her!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Author Insight: Secrets in the Story

Tell us a secret about your recently published or forthcoming novel.

"Masque of the Red Death isn't my favorite Poe Story. (The Fall of the House of Usher is my absolute favorite). Maybe that's more of a secret about me...when I first came up with the idea it wasn't historical, it was a generic post-apocalyptic future, and there are still a couple of reminders of that world in the book, that a I left because they were fun and a little mysterious, but maybe readers will be able to find them, who knows?" - Bethany Griffin, author of Masque of the Read Death.

"One of my fellow Apocalypsies, Jessica Rothenberg, was an editor at Razorbill when my agent first tried to sell Neversink. She passed, but liked the book enough to give me some notes, which I used on the revision that sold. So I told her she should get at least partial credit for two 2012 debuts." - Barry Wolverton, author of Neversink.

"Before I started writing Incarnate, I did a lot of worldbuilding, plotting, and character building. Since one of my favorite parts is the discovery of where the story will go next, I made sure to leave myself plenty of room for change. One thing I didn't expect, however, was the dedication of souls ceremony. There I was, writing along, and a character piped up about it, explained the romantic bits, and I knew it would be an important a part of the book. It came completely out of nowhere while I was working on the first draft, but the rededication scene ended up being everyone's favorite thing -- and the inspiration for the cover." - Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

"For Envy, the sequel to Fury that comes out this September, I had to make 'class schedules' for the main characters to ensure that their school days made sense - that Em wasn't in History when when she was supposed to be in Spanish, that JD wasn't eating lunch when he was supposed to be in Physics. I'll have to refer to them again for the third book, Eternity, which I *just* started writing." - Elizabeth Miles, author of Fury.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February ARCs Winner

Sorry I lost track of announcing the winner for this. Life has been a little crazy and wrought with medical issues and loss, so my brain has been elsewhere. Without further a do, the winner of the February ARC pack is... 


Congratulations! I will put these in the mail for you ASAP. Again, my apologies for the tardiness on announcing a winner. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Author Insight: Secrets in the Story

Tell us a secret about your recently published or forthcoming novel.

"Here's a secret that I myself recently uncovered: Bittersweet is a lot more autobiographical than I thought it would be. Of my three novels, Bittersweet hits closest to home in terms of my own emotional struggles and underlying fears and doubts." - Sarah Ockler, author of Bittersweet

"There is a lot more to the disappearance of Matthew's father than anyone in this novel realizes. But they're all very busy with the problems they've got, and the trail's totally cold, and there's no way they'd have ever figured it out, considering how they think the world works in Safe.  And this is not that story." - Leah Bobet, author of Above.

"My last book was supposed to be called We’re Having More Fun Than You, but it got changed to I’m Having More Fun Than You. I think it makes me sound a bit cockier than I am, but I guess it makes more sense in hindsight." - Aaron Karo, author of Lexapros & Cons.

"Here you go, a secret spanning Where It Began and the WIP:  I get so into it and psycho, feeling as if I’m channeling my protagonists, that Gabby and the new p
 rotagonist have taken to talking to each other.  (Although, so far, on paper, they don’t actually know each other.) Don’t ask how.  They just do." - Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fever Winner

And the lucky winner of an advance copy of Fever by Lauren Destefano is...

Sarah W.

Congratulations! I will get the book into the mail ASAP. Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for  more giveaways!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-Galley
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Buy: Amazon / Fountain Bookstore
Description: Goodreads
It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.
I’m in love with Wanderlove.

There are oodles of reasons to immerse yourself in Kirsten Hubbard’s sophomore novel.  First and foremost, it is brilliant in its simplicity: the tale of a middle class 18-year-old girl who takes a journey after graduating from high school to separate herself from her past and her debilitating break-up.  Nothing about that feels original, but somehow Wanderlove still is.  A substantial piece of that allure is Bria Sandoval.  

Bria is so wise and self-aware while still managing to realistically be 18.  She knows that she’s bitten off more than she can chew with her trip to Guatemala, and she really knows that she doesn’t want to go back to LA and back to friends who don’t understand what she’s going through or parents who can’t understand why she needed to leave.  Yet, she is also very innocent and green, naïve and new.  Essentially, she’s human and extremely relatable on many levels.  Because of this, I became attached to Bria.  Her occasional outbursts, her willingness to go along with a complete stranger like Starling, her musings about art school, her flashbacks to “happier” times with ex-boyfriend Toby—everything about her rings true.  When she finally lets herself feel the pain she’s been fighting, my heart breaks right along with hers.  You don’t have to be any artist to understand her quest to rediscover her joy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More Author Insight: Revising the Journey

If you could change one thing about your journey to publication what would it be?

"I would've gotten serious about writing years ago. I feel like I have too many ideas and too little time." - Bethany Griffin, author of Masque of the Read Death.

"I would have gotten published before my mother died. She’s the reason I grew up surrounded by books. And to use one of her phrases, it would have tickled her to walk into Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss., and buy her son’s book. It’s painful for me that she doesn’t get to enjoy this." - Barry Wolverton, author of Neversink.

"I wouldn't change anything, though if you'd asked me a few years ago I would have said 'Everything!' My journey to publication was difficult. It involved a lot of very complimentary rejections. 'You write well, but . . .' It was hard to take, and more than once I thought about quitting. Not quitting writing, just the quest for the elusive agent and book deal. I kept going, though, and eventually all the right people said yes. Having gone through years of writing, being rejected, and writing some more, I'm a lot stronger -- and a better writer." - Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

"I would be more prepared. For the scrutiny, the pressure of self-promotion, for the work I'd need to do to maintain balance between my various professional endeavors and my personal life. My second book (Envy) comes out this fall - this time, I'm prepped and ready to go! (fingers crossed)" - Elizabeth Miles, author of Fury.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Author Website: myramcentire.blogspot.com

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devestating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough... 
Description from Goodreads.

Why I can't wait?
I am all about all things time travel- Back to the Future, Quantum Leap, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hourglass.  I can't wait to hear more about the Hourglass Institute, about the powers of the characters from Hourglass, and about Emerson & Michael.  I know I'm in Team Michael all by my lonesome over here, but I'd pick him over Kaleb any day.  Plus, what an eye-catching cover!  It's even more amazing than the Hourglass cover, which is really saying something.  In my hands now plz.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Author Insight: Revising the Journey

If you could change one thing about your journey to publication what would it be?

"I might've gotten out of my own way and started on the road a little earlier. I spent a long time being afraid to dive into writing, afraid I wasn't good enough. My own doubts held me back. But generally, I don't like to mess with the past--even theoretically. Look what almost happened to Marty McFly! That's bad mojo, man!" - Sarah Ockler, author of Bittersweet.

"The giving up.  About three months after we sent Above on submission, and after piles and piles and drifts of the most loving and complimentary rejection letters you ever saw, I realized that I had done my very best, and that this was probably not going to happen.  And then I gave up, quietly mourned the idea of selling a novel, and started looking around in the rest of my life for something to chase; something to devote myself to instead." - Leah Bobet, author of Above.

"My book has been done for a while, but we waited for a pub date that would give us the most buzz and exposure. Ultimately it’s the right thing to do, and I’m thrilled the publisher is dedicated enough to think about these things, but I’m very impatient and want it out already!" - Aaron Karo, author of Lexapros & Cons.

"I would start sooner.  Way sooner." - Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began.