Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review of UNDER THE NEVER SKY with Signed Giveaway

Dang it. I let another week go by without posting. Well then.

I swear I won't keep being so lame. For now, enjoy the review. This is a book you don't want to miss. Also, be sure to enter to win a Signed Hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY. Giveaway is at the bottom of the post.

P.S. Major congratulations goes out to TARYN ALBRIGHT! My newest agent sister, recently signed with Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management. Congratulations, Taryn!! So happy to have you on Vickie's team. Taryn has the best agent signing story. Be sure to check it out here and wish her congratulations.

P.P.S. *squeeze* Thanks for stopping by.

UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi

Goodreads SummaryAria 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.


I've always been able to read and love books of pretty much every genre. I'm lucky like that. But I have a special fondness for high action and thrillerish, yet thoughtful romantic stories. That's my favorite kind of story, though difficult to find. So I was beyond excited when I first heard about UNDER THE NEVER SKY. It felt tailor-made just for me. Which is exactly why I was so nervous to read it. (That, and I really like the author). I get so worked up to love a book sometimes that if it turns out to be not-so-hot the disappointment is often greater than if I'd had no expectations.

But I can tell you UNDER THE NEVER SKY more than met my expectations. The very first scene drops you into the middle of action and then pulls you into the story with characters that feel genuine and loveable, even when (or perhaps because) they're still so raw and uncomfortable in their new circumstances. You never stop rooting for them. And as they grow and discover themselves and each other, you sort of fall for them, cringing when they encounter difficult or scary situations--and there are many of them. But it's not just fear these characters (and thus, the readers) face. Rossi writes beautifully with such passion and emotional complexity readers will be drawn into the hearts and longings of the characters as much as the vivid, imaginative world she's created under the Never Sky. 

Aria is a complex character who discovers more than just a world outside of the protected dome of Reverie. She discovers the person she can be when all pretense is stripped away. She discovers the ability to love and be loved, and the freedom and joy in losing control. With intense, at times lyrical language and rich imagery, Rossi reveals to us a savage sort of innocence in the brutal reality outside of the dome--essential truth that was once hidden within the artificial, corruptive conveniences of modernity. It's an interesting mix of contradictions you don't question so much as embrace as you begin to ask yourself who you might be if you were dispossessed of your own world. 

Of course, there is the romance, too.

This is the point where I sigh and sigh and sigh. And fan myself a little.

Aria and Perry are a memorable couple with the kind of chemistry that sets the pages on fire. I'm not really the type to swoon over a hot young dude in a YA novel (hello, I'm old), but I fall like a sucker over a hot romance. But theirs isn't just a lusty thing, you know? Or even one of those love at first sight sort of stories. Just the opposite. Theirs is an organic pairing born out of hardship. They're forced to work together, fairly loathing one another, and somehow, by the end, it's like...yes yes yes.

Damn, I love that. UNDER THE NEVER SKY is a work of art that will inspire a range of emotions as well as thoughts. But above all, it will keep you reading until you whip through to the end, and then you'll likely curse Veronica Rossi a little for not having the sequel out already. 


Want to win a signed hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY? I've got one. And I'll share with you. It's easy to enter. Just click the tiny link below.


This giveaway is international and ends Friday, March 2, 2012 midnight ESTYou must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

Thanks so much for entering!

Winner posted below. 

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today!

Christine Fonseca  interviews author L.K. Gardner-Griffie
CorrinneJackson announces Change Write Now: Round 2 signups are open
Carolina M Valdez adores UNDER THE NEVER SKY - with giveaway
Jen Hayley has a passion for PARTIALS
Jessica Love shares some TIME BETWEEN US cover talk
Tracy Banghart jumps for CATCHING JORDAN
Stasia Ward Kehoe contemplates middle grade series
LiLa Roecker is enthralled with THE NIGHT CIRCUS
Shelli Johannes-Wells visits with author Elle Strauss



The winner of the signed hardcover of UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi is:

Britney W.

Congratulations, Britney! Thanks so much for entering. Please email me an address to which I can send your signed hardcover.

Thanks to all who entered! A new giveaway will be posting soon. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Follow the Ten Bread Crumbs, Little Hansel (And Other Beautiful Things)

Honestly, I thought I'd post before today. Instead, I've been watching movies. Loads and loads of them. I's self indulgent. And total escapism. Last night I watched This Means War (a pre-release showing), which was freaking awesome, btw. Hilarious and sexy...right up my escapist alley (is that a word? Escapist, not alley.) Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and what's her face. What's not to love?

No need to thank me.

Anyway, I'm back to work (tomorrow). Finished up a few things, so I'm diving back into an oldish manuscript with a little spitandpolishspitandpolish. I realize I don't talk about my own work much so


HEYYYYYYY. Those of you who were led here from Myra McEntire's blog...HELLOOOOOOOO. And welcome. Those of you who stopped by all on your own because you love me or accidentally found me by googling "Jared Leto's girlfriend" or "monkey lips" or "cool chick Carol" (I swear, this is a real one, too), so glad to have you pop in. 

Cop a squat, friends. I've got something shiny to show you.

Okay, not really. But I'll give you a clue to find the shiny.

What you're looking for? The cover of Gretchen McNeil's latest creepycool YA novel TEN. It hasn't quite released yet, or I'd be all over that like fleas on a hown dog. But that's not all. On the day of the cover reveal, Gretchen is also going to give away a signed and annotated copy of the unbound galley of  TEN. And Gretchen has invited me to participate in a little game of Follow-the-Breadcrumbs-Little-Hansel to help you win it.

But first, let me tell you a little about TEN:

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Sounds keep-you-up-at-night fabulous, yeah? I'm chomping at the bit to see the cover. If you're new to the game, you can go to Gretchen's blog to start the hunt and follow the clues (including mine) until you get to the end where you'll get to see the cover and quite possibly win that glorious signed and annotated copy of an unbound galley of TEN (which comes out before the ARCs, people. One of a kind prize). 

Here's my crumb (read: your clue): T.J.

For your next clue, you'll need to hit up Shelli Johannes-Wells' blog on FRIDAY, February 17.

A little about the author: Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown.  Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011.  Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk.  Gretchen is also a founding member of the vlog group YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday."

Happy hunting!


Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:

Christine Fonseca surrenders to THE SECRET OF SPRUCE KNOLL
Corrine Jackson delights in CHOPSTICKS
Stasia Ward Kehoe  presents a Stunning Seconds interview with A MILLION SUNS author Beth Revis
Jen Hayley gives a shout-out to the classics
Debra Driza celebrates CINDER – with giveaway!
Katy Upperman raves over JELLICOE ROAD
Hilary Wagner is all about LEXAPROS AND CONS – with giveaway
Carolina M Valdez talks about the tremendous cover of TEN

Friday, February 10, 2012

Remember Normal

I tried to video blog the following. And then decided I don't like feeling so vulnerable on camera. So I've transcribed it for you.

Things have been strange since I got back from Haiti. Weirder than I thought it would be. Tough to explain.

Let me paint a picture for you.

It was our final clinic in Haiti. I was in the dental team, and it was really hard to take breaks--not because we weren't supposed to. But because we didn't want to really. We only had two primary dentists. Jeff and Lee...they had this amazing strength to just go go go. Ceaseless. So the rest of us, we just kept going too, eating when we could. But. I have issues with hypoglycemia. Sorry--tangent. It can get really severe sometimes if I'm not careful. So on this last clinic, I was pretty worn out, really hungry, and starting to fade pretty fast, kind of dizzy. We had this lull in patients, so I quickly snatched a granola bar from my hiking bag. Turned my back to the rest of the clinic in this large, one room church. I tried to eat fast. Got about halfway down and turned to see this little boy--


$%#& me. $%#&.... I'm sorry.


He stared at my granola bar, this boy.



Then there were three boys. Curious. Hungry, maybe. I don't...I don't know.

I wanted to crawl into a hole.

But I couldn't just hand him the thing. You know? There were other children, other people there. I didn't know if I could, if I was allowed, even. What was the right thing? That granola was equal parts gold and dust in my hands. I don't even know what I did with it. Did I put it away? Eat it? I don't remember. I just stood there, like...a...a...god, like a jackass. I panicked...I just panicked.


Then Lee said, calm, like always. "What are these kids doing here?" That's all I remember. And those boys...guiding them out of the dental area. I remember that.


That was also the same day we saw the two malnourished babies. Tiny babies.


The ride back to the compound really sucked. I probably cried most of the way and then on and off the rest of the day. Like...most of my time in Haiti--I swear I saw all the good we were doing--I did. But it hurt so much...knowing it was all just...just a drop...just a drop...Haiti's a really big bucket.


I feel too much, maybe.


And then I came home to Indianapolis. To the effing Super Bowl and buckets of beer and traffic and a zip line, for crying out loud. Like really? And grocery stores packed full of food and vitamins and medicine. And my Little Bean asking if we could go to Bob Evans. Crud, it's not that these things are bad. Just in needle-sharp contrast.

I found myself avoiding people. Hiding out, I guess. Not wanting to talk about it all. Finding myself unable to. Like all I want to do is go back to the person I was January 18.

But I don't. I don't. I want to hang on to that feeling I had in Haiti. As hard as it was to feel sometimes. Like my heart was so...big...pounding in my freaking skull and my throat and in my feet as I hiked up the mountain...hurting...every beat. But only because it was so...full.


I'm sorry.

It's hard to explain what it's like to go through something like this. There are few things quite so...rewarding. Giving birth, perhaps. But you don't exactly want to do that all the time. Not like this. In fact, day after I got back, I told my husband, "Don't forget, tomorrow's the soup kitchen," or something like that. And I would've gone if my husband hadn't said YOU JUST GOT HOME AND WE MISS YOU.

Most of the time, here, you can't go around holding people's heads, trying to comfort them, or reaching for people's babies or taking the hand of a perfect stranger.

You have to be normal.

But I'm kind of having a hard time remembering normal. And yet, the me I was in Haiti is starting to fade, too. And it's making me so sad.


I'm trying to remember.

I guess that's why I didn't know how to blog after Haiti. It's meaningful, you know. Our lives? Theirs, too. Me here. Me there. I'm trying to be both of me.

Last time I held Charlie


I swear. Next post, something totally random and ridiculous. You'll probably hear about Jared Leto, too. Shirtless Jared. It's been too long.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


It seems like every post I write starts with some lame apology for the infrequency of my posts.

So I won't start this one with an apology. Not really.

Tomorrow, I'll explain why I haven't been blogging.

The good news is I'm back to reviewing. Well, good news for someone. Me, mostly, since it means I'm reading again and giving my brain a bit of a workout.

Except. I actually read FRACTURE ages ago. I think I read the pre-ARC, actually. But why split hairs?

Carry on.

FRACTURE by Megan Miranda

Goodreads Summary: Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?
For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

I first sat down to write this review kind of worried, wishing I'd written it when I first finished the book because I read it quite some time ago--May 2011, I think. I delayed reviewing it until it got closer to the release date, intending as well to pick up a signed copy of the book so I could pass it on to one of you guys, but fate sort of got in the way, and my best shot for a signed book came while I was in Haiti, and now it's freaking February. So I tried to recall what impressed me about this book. And discovered the most impressive thing is possibly how vividly I remember all of it after so much time--because it was just that good. Just thinking about it makes me want to pick it up again.
If you've ever read Megan Miranda's blog, you know what a gifted writer she is. You'll be happy to know that same gift is evident in FRACTURE. But more importantly, you should know how taken you'll be not just by the writing, but by the story itself. Page after page, I found myself holding my breath. The summary kind of makes it seem as if it's mostly just a contemporary novel about a girl who came close to death, maybe with a slight supernatural element (or not). And it is that, but also so.much.more. While FRACTURE explores the psychological impact of survival after a tragic incident, at times it's a bit of a psychological thriller, too. Honestly, I don't think a book has ever surprised me any more than FRACTURE. I figured it would be good, given Miranda's skill, but dang. It blew me away. That ending? Didn't see that coming.
Miranda takes the reader deep into Delaney's mind, giving an eerily genuine account of what it's like to suffer from brain damage. And because the reader is so immersed in the experience itself, it becomes impossible to know what is real and what's imagined, just as it is for Delaney. Can't help but feel the story as much as read it. The frustration, the anxiety, the joys, the relief. This isn't a story where the reader just waits for the protagonist to get it together and figure things out. In FRACTURE, you're working things out with her, piecing the clues together, sometimes with chills running up your spine. And just as you think you've got it figured out...dang.
But the characters are pretty amazing, too. Not only do we get a good sense of who Delaney is, but also what it's like to fall through the ice--and then to come back to life and learn how to live again. If I didn't know better, I'd say Miranda must have first hand experience. And Decker? Oh man, I love him. What a well written, complex character. Troy, too, although in a completely different way. 
When I finished FRACTURE, it felt like I'd just hung up the phone after a long conversation. As if I'd been listening to a first hand account. I got so invested in this story, in part because of the ethical questions it inevitably raises. So beautiful and lyrical and breathtakingly suspenseful, FRACTURE will grip you with its pages.

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:

Christine Fonseca  takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Carolina M Valdez falls for FRACTURE
Jen Hayley surrenders to THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED
Stasia Ward Kehoe is dazzled by DARK COMPANION
Nikki Katz wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Debra Driza is overwhelmed by UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Jessica Love gives a trophy to BEAUTY QUEENS

Shelli Johannes-Wells takes you on a tour of The Reading Room

Tracy Banghart has double-love for THE SILVER PHOENIX and FURY OF THE PHOENIX
Hilary Wagner is in the grips of THE GATHERING STORM

In other news, I believe I forgot to give a hearty congratulations to sweet pea Jessica Love after she signed with her agent Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency. This was a while ago, so clearly I suck. But I still want to give a shoutout. 


Also, be sure to stop by and check out the live chat hosted by The Reading Room with Shelli Johannes-Wells on February 14 at 7 PM EST. Shelli is an author and marketing guru and will be discussing writing, marketing, and indie pubbing. GO HERE to sign up and check it out!
And while you're at it, check out Shelli's latest tween novel, now available:

Goodreads summary: As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. 

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help. 

Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.

I'm looking forward to reading it!

P.S. I have no idea why all my text is highlighted like this. Stupid Blogger.