Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

Contests, Food For Thought, Random

I’m hopping on board and joining the Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop. Hosted by  I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Jinky is Reading (Thanks bunches for hosting another fantastic, book-filled hop!), I’m giving one lucky winner a chance to win FIVE (5!) books.

Why so many this time around? Well because four are a complete series, and one is a bonus that is somewhat related to the series.

Want to know what’s up for grabs?

One lucky winner will win:

The Twilight Series in its entirety. The four books – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn are all used books. They have been loved, and are looking for a new home to love them. They are in great condition. Twilight and New Moon are paperback, and Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are hardcover.

(Please don’t mind the background of the picture!)

Along with the four books I’m also giving away a copy of Nightlight: A Parody. It’s a new copy, but has (very) minor shelf wear.

Entering is simple: comment on this post, and this post alone. Comment telling me anything – about the giveaway, your love/hate for Twilight, anything at all.

The Fine Print –

Contest is open to any U.S. Citizen 13 years or older. Hop will run from midnight on February 29th to 11:59 p.m. on March 5th. One winner will be selected on March 6th via random generator (Random.org), and will be informed via e-mail. With that said, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE AN E-MAIL ADDRESS THAT IS CURRENT AND CHECKED OFTEN. Winner will have two days to claim prize and forward shipping address. Winner must respond to email by 11:59 p.m. on March 8th. If information is not received by this point another winner will be selected.

Last, but not least, please make sure to stop by the other participating blogs! There are some great prizes up for grabs!

Frost

Reviews

Frost by Marianna Baer

Leena Thomas has it all. She’s a senior at a prestigious boarding school, she’s  on her way to a good college, though which one she’s isn’t sure yet. And her and her two best friends – Viv and Abby – just moved into Frost house. A quaint house located just on the outskirts of campus. Leena plans for a great senior year.

There’s only one small hitch to her plan – artsy, over the top Celeste Lazar is going to be her new roommate.  Leena has always found Celeste difficult to deal with, and now thanks to her, Leena’s perfect senior year plan is down the tubes. There’s only one redeeming aspect of the situation: David, Celeste’s very cute older brother.

Leena decides to make the best of a bad situation, and finds herself biting her tongue most of the time. But as the semester moves forward she quickly realizes that Celeste’s behavior is erratic and downright bizarre. She blames Frost house, saying it’s haunted, saying that some haunted force is trying to kill her. She has the bruises and the broken vases to prove it. But Leena isn’t quick to believe it. It’s not possible. Leena has always found Frost house, and Celeste’s closet, no matter how dark and dank Celeste thinks it is, comforting.

Is Front house sucking Leena in, while forcing Celeste out?

Marianna Baer’s debut novel, Frost, is an exhilarating read that will send chill’s up and down reader’s spines.

Frost is the kind of book one shouldn’t read in the dark, alone at night, or right before settling down for a good night’s sleep. It’s not only atmospheric, it’s full of suspense and has some very creep-tastic moments. For example, various truths are revealed to Leena while in Celeste’s closet, but are they from her subconscious, or is the house whispering these truths to her?

Frost is well written.The dialog is quick-witted and authentically appealing. And it’s characters all have their own secrets which adds to the suspense of the book. Baer has woven a multi – layered story that is twisted, yet believable. Readers will be left guessing as to what was really going on behind closed doors at Frost house.

While Baer doesn’t discuss whether or not Frost house is actually haunted, it does not detract from the overall story. In fact, her leaving out those facts leaves Frost open to reader’s interpretations. Making Frost , not only a great read, but a great read that can be discussed over and over again.

Violet & Claire

Reviews

Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block

“Two girls, blending themselves together like a magic potion, and then seperating, one more powerful and one more gentle after the alchemy, neither afraid anymore.”

Violet:

She’s dreamed only of making her own movies, about bringing her lifeless words to life. But there’s so much she’s missing. Conflict. A love interest. And a leading lady. And it’s not like she could turn to her life to fill in these gaps, because she too is missing so much. Until she meets Claire, a doe-eyed girl full of innocence and imagination. With best friend Claire by her side, Violet finds her dreams are suddenly coming true. But without her, her life seems to be spiraling out of control.

Claire:

She’s dreamed only of filling the void in the her life. The void that formed when her father left, and her mother mentally checked out. To face the everday cruelties Claire believes she’s a part of a race of fairies forced underground by the harsh realities of the world. That’s all she needs her beliefs and her poetry. That is, until she meets Violet. With best friend Violet be her side, Claire finds she has a new found sence of self and confidence. But without her, she seems to be screwing everything up – with Violet, with poetry teacher Peter, and with herself.

Violet & Claire:

When they collide their worlds will never be the same. They are forever changed. Forever two separate girls who share one soul. Together they experience all the highs and low life and Los Angeles has to offer them – love, sex, beauty, innocence, and drugs.

Violet & Claire written by acclaimed Weetzie Bat author Francesca Lia Block has written a book so lush that readers can see, feel, and even taste the adventure unfolding within the pages.

Block’s writing isn’t only strong, it’s impressive. She never relies on simply telling the story, but strives to show readers. Through vivid description Violet and Claire’s story forms beautifully in the mind’s eye. Told from both perspectives readers will understand what’s really going on in the lives of Block’s two very different heroines.

As characters, Violet and Claire have both strengths and weaknesses. For example Violet is ambious, but to a fault. Claire on the other hand is passive, but often times naive. Their flaws made them real, believable, and above all relatable. Often times I found that even though they are two separate characters they often melded together to make one solid, stable, character.

What I loved most about this book is the emotions felt while reading it. Readers will experience love and hate, trust and betrayal, overwhelming happiness to dramatic bouts of melancholia. This book has it all. Violet & Claire is fun, fast read at only 170 pages long. But it will not disappoint. It will capture and engage readers of all ages. *

*I originally read Violet & Claire as a teenager. I think I was fifteen or sixteen years old when I read it. I remember vividly how much I loved this book. As an adult now, some ten years later, I loved it just as much. Violet & Claire really does transcend time.

Book of the Week: Little Piano Girl

Book of the Week, Children's

The Little Piano Girl by Ann Ingalls & Maryann Macdonald Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Published: 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

From the library shelf, this book called to out to me. I knew instantly that this book would be a feature Book of the Week book.

Music was such an important part of the book. I’m a music junkie, so I loved the music aspect of it.

I also loved that the book focused on a genre of music I don’t really listen to nor know much about – jazz. And it made me want to learn more about the genre.

The main character Mary is simple kind of girl. It doesn’t take a lot to make to make her happy.

I love how this book really illustrated the power and the emotion of music. Music speaks volumes, and can transport people, just like books.

I love how this book celebrated natural talent.

I’ve secretly always wished I played an instrument, specifically the piano.

The imagery was beautiful. As I was reading, I felt that the authors really created a work of art, crafing such sentences like: “When she pounded the keys, she made thunder. When she tapped them, it rained. Sounds rose up from her playing, soft like the sun beaming, sharp like frogs calling, lonely like train whistles in the night … all from a place safe and secret inside her.” Come on! How beautiful is that.

This was a story of struggle, and shows young readers the importance of working hard towards something they are passionate about.

Mary is a strong girl. She faced people teasing her because she was poor and had no shoes, for being shunned for not being a native of her new hometown Pittsburgh. And she took it all in stride. And when it got tough, she turned to something she knew would never turn it’s back on her: music.

The writing wasn’t only eloquent, it was moving. Not only moving, it was strong, and really did propel the story forward.

I didn’t realize this, when I first picked up the book nor when I was reading it, but Mary was a real living, breathing person. She was a great jazz pianist with some snappy shoes.

I loved that this felt like a story, rather than a picture book biography. It wasn’t stiff or overworked, everything flowed well.

The authors made weaving fact into fiction seam effortless.

The illustrations are spot on. They reflect the powerful story, and the emotion of the overall story.

Shorty Review: The Sea Fairies

Reviews

Title: The Sea Fairies

Author(s): L. Frank Baum

Publisher/Published: Public Domain Books 2006

Why Did I Read This Book: I thought because L. Frank Baum wrote it the same magic and enchantment would be found within it’s pages just like Baum’s more notable series The Wizard of Oz. And it was free book download for my Kindle.

Thoughts, Likes, and Dislikes: I loved the mermaids, but I didn’t love the drawn out descriptions. Main character Trot, often times, got under my skin. I felt she was a bit of a know-it-all, when in reality she was a little girl still learning about the world around her. And Cap’n Bill was just difficult to understand most of the time. (P.S. I recently saw some of the book’s illustrations, and I have to say Cap’n Bill is really creepy, like will give your child night terrors creepy.)

Recommend It: No, stick to the Wizard of Oz series instead.

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

Contests

Okay, let’s be honest … I love participating in these hops! Why? Because it’s a win/win situation. I love that these hops bring new readers and followers to my blog, but what I love most is giving something back to all those readers and followers. So it will come as no surprise that I am participating in another hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Rachel from Happy Endings. Thank You ladies for hosting another fantastic giveaway hop!

Since this hop is all about the followers I’m giving away another two different prize packs full of books and some other book related swag. Hopefully there’s something here for everyone!

Prize Pack #1:

A (used) copy of Jodi Picoult’s The Pact, an Eternal Sea bookmark signed by author Angie Frazier, and a Dreamland Social Club mermaid pin.

Prize Pack # 2:

A (used) copy of Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston, a Vlad Todd bookmark, and a Something Like Fate postcard signed by author Susane Colasanti.

This giveaway hop is open from 12:00 a.m. on February 7th, 2012 and will run until 11:59 p.m. on February 14th, 2012. Contest is open to United States residents only.

To enter you must follow (subscribe) to this blog and you must leave a comment on this post (and only this post) telling your favorite kind of chocolate (I thought I’d spice it up since the giveaway is running through Valentine’s day). Winners will be chosen via random generator (Random.org) and will be announced on the blog once winners have been contacted and have responded. Winners will have two days to respond to email. If no response is received by February 16th, a new winner (or winners) will be randomly selected.

Also, there are plenty of great blogs participating. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the linky here!

Thanks! And Good Luck!

Book of the Week: Blackout

Book of the Week, Children's

Blackout by John Rocco

Published: 2011 by Hyperion Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I’m a sucker for picture books set in New York City. I don’t know if it’s because of my love of the City, or because the often beautiful portrayals.

I love how the lights along the Brooklyn Bridge look like stars, not lights. It adds a magical quality to the setting, and the story.

Even though this is a picture book, I sometimes felt it read like a graphic novel. Why? Because parts of the text was in, not speech bubbles, but blocked off in squares. Not only that, but some of the illustrations were in four separate squares covering the page. I really found this interesting.

I love that this book is about conquering boredom! Some that both children and adults face.

This book show the importance of taking time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy, not just life, but one’s family. Family time seems to dwindle in today’s world. What happened to playing board games, taking around the family dinner table, and even getting to know your neighbors.

The youngest member of the family, only wants to play a board game. I really like that such a simple game was all that it would take to make him happy. He didn’t need video games, a cell phone, etc..

This book made me recall that blackout NJ and NY experienced a few summers ago. I love any book that stirs up memories.

Blackouts aren’t always fun, but this book showed that there are some benefits. Like playing shadow puppets by candlelight, star-gazing on the roof of one’s apartment building, and just simply hanging out with friends, family, and neighbors.

There was an old-time feel to this book.

I loved the colors used in this book. Various shades of lush blues, smokey grays, etc. The colors, shades, and tones are the perfect complement to the beautiful story being told.

The writing is simple, but not so simple where it’s isn’t strong. Each sentence packs a punch, and made the story really come to life in the mind’s eye.

I loved that the stars are described as lights! Again, so magical.

This was a really fun book, for kids and adults. And I feel that this would make a perfect bedtime story.

This book made me wish that there were books like this around when I was little. I shows how children’s lit has grown and flourished.

There’s one illustration in particular that really captured the spirit of New York for me – the illustration of the New York skyline lit up with a million tiny lights.

As a reader, I felt that I could identify with each and every character in the book – from the chatty teen to the bored kid looking for some fun.

Can I just say, I love all the shadows and silhouettes.

I love how this book made me gush over it.

Shootin’ The Breeze With Sarah Beth Durst

Interviews

As you may remember, a while ago I posted a review of Sarah Beth Durst’s Drink, Slay, Love. (If you don’t remember, you could refresh your memory by re-reading my review here). I loved Drink, Slay, Love so much that I just had to see if author Sarah Beth Durst would be willing to chit chat about herself, her writing, and of course, her latest book. Lucky for us, she agreed.

 BookBandit (BB): Can you tell about yourself, and your writing?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): I have wanted to be a writer forever. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be (except for a brief and ill-advised time when I wanted to be Wonder Woman).  I have always loved books. Books have the power to transport you into another world and away  from whatever is hurting you in life, at least for a few hours. They’re magic. And I’ve always wanted to be a part of that magic.

BB: I recently saw you at an event at Books of Wonder (located in New York City), and there you mentioned why you wrote a “vampire” novel. Would you share that with us? (I thought it was genius and everyone should know).

SBD: I didn’t intend to write a vampire book. But then one day, I was thinking about unicorns … you know, your usual Saturday lazy afternoon of lying on the couch, eating tortilla chips, and musing about mythical creatures … and I thought, “Unicorns have built-in stakes! They’re natural vampire hunters!” All that cute, shiny, prancing reputation is merely a cover for their real purpose as vampire slayers. The idea just felt so right that I had to write it!

BB: In Drink, Slay, Love Pearl is a traditional vampire – i.e. can’t go out in daylight, drinks blood, and holy water would scar her for life. Why did you decide to go traditional, as opposed to creating your own version of a vampire?

SBD: I needed my vampires and unicorns to be opposites. Bloodthirsty creatures of the night versus heroic My Little Ponies. Or more accurately, the militant branch of My Little Ponies. So the traditional version of vampires fit. Plus it’s enormous fun to play with existing archetypes/expectations and turn them upside down and inside out!

BB: What was the best and worst part of writing about a vampire and a unicorn?

SBD: The unicorns really didn’t like me spilling their secrets. Got a lot of threatening emails from the leader of the local were-unicorn faction. Had to hire a werewolf bodyguard.  But the best part was that this was the most fun writing experience I’ve ever had. It was fun from the start to finish, primarily because of Pearl. She’s fierce, funny, and mostly evil. I highly recommend writing evil characters. They rock!

BB:  What kind of research did you have to do?

SBD: Called up a few vampire friends and quizzed them. Sneaked into the were-unicorn headquarters … Actually, I read a ton of history – of – vampire books and a bunch of unicorn folklore books. I wanted to pick and choose aspects from actual tradition to sprinkle throughout the novel. For example, there’s a last name of a certain character that has meaning in unicorn folklore.

BB: If you could describe Pearl by a musical playlist, what songs would be on it?

SBD: “Not Ready To Make Nice” (Dixie Chicks), “Walkin On the Sun” (Smash Mouth), “Ramalama” (Roisin Murphy), “Blood Roses” (Tori Amos), “People are Strange” (The Doors) … I actually used a playlist while I wrote the novel. If you’re curious, I posted the full list on my blog: http://sarahbethdurst.blogspot.com/2011/10/drink-slay-love-playlist.html .

BB: Recently you posted the cover of your upcoming novel, Vessel (due out in 2012) Can you tell us what it’s about, and how the writing process was different from writing Drink, Slay, Love?

SBD: Vessel comes out in September 2012 by Simon & Schuster, and it’s set in a desert land where serpents made of unbreakable glass fly through the sky and wolves made of only sand hunt within storms. Sixteen – year – old Liyana is destined to be a vessel, to sacrifice herself so her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body … but her goddess never comes.  Writing Vessel required immersing myself in a world that doesn’t exist. It was a very different experience than writing Drink, Slay, Love which required being present in this world.

BB: Were there any moments in Drink, Slay, Love that you loved so much, but had to be edited out?

SBD: Looking back, there were moments that I remember as hard to cut but now I don’t miss them and can barely remember them. Sometimes you do have to “murder your darlings” as the saying goes, to craft a stronger novel overall. Sometimes scenes seem like a fine idea at the time but are really better off cut. Kind of like the Han/Jabba scene in Star Wars. Save Jabba for Empire, and let Han shoot first.

BB: If Drink, Slay, Love were to be made into a movie, who would you cast?

SBD: Ooh, I have no idea! Any suggestions?

BB: What advice can you pass along to aspiring writers?

SBD: Keep writing! Seriously, that’s the key to the whole thing. You become a writer by writing. You learn to write through writing. And you stay a writer by never giving up. I finally believe that perseverance (more than talent or luck or skill or whatever) is the most important trait that a writer can possess.