Debut Author Challenge

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This is my first official challenge!! It is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

What is the 2010 Debut Author Challenge?
The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year. The challenge is for everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year.

Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on, or any other bookish site.

The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010. You can join at anytime!

You can get more information here or you can sign up here.

This is my (tentative) list:
Magic Under Glass - Jaclyn Dolamore (2009)
The Mark – Jen Nadol (January 19, 2010)
Forget-Her-Nots – Amy Brecount White (February 2010)
The Secret Year – Jennifer Hubbard (Spring 2010)
Hex Hall – Rachel Hawkins (March 2, 2010)
The Line – Teri Hall (March 4, 2010)
Princess for Hire – Lindsey Leavitt (March 16, 2010)
The Cinderella Society – Kay Cassidy (April 13, 2010)
Everlasting – Angie Frazier (Summer 2010)
Sea – Heidi Kling (June 10, 2010)
Paranormalcy – Kiersten White (September 2010)
Night Shade – Andrea Cremer (October 19, 2010)
Nevermore – Kelly Creagh (Fall 2010)

*The dates are what I was able to find online and may not be 100% accurate*

2010 Book Challenges

Because I am new to the book blogging world, I do not want to jump into too many challenges and then fail, so I am choosing carefully. I will be participating in the 100-Book-Challenge and the Debut Author Challenge this year for the following reasons.
100-Book-Challenge: When I heard about the 100 book challenge, I looked at my reading log for the last two and a half years. ** Yes I keep a reading log – a college professor once suggested it as a way to see trends in your reading, and I thought it was interesting, so I’ve been keeping track since June of 2007. Actually, that reading log is one reason I started this blog, writing the titles and authors just wasn’t enough. ** Anyway . . . when I looked at my log, I saw that in 2009 I read 115 books. Since I read over 100 without entering a challenge, I wanted to try to do the same this year. In 2008 I read 68 and in the 7 months I tracked of 2007 I read 27, so I do feel like repeating the 100+ will be a challenge.
Debut Author Challenge: I am always looking for new things to read, and trying new authors sounds like a great place to start. Since I rely on the library to supply the majority of my reading habit, I am a little nervous about getting copies of these new authors’ books, so I am setting my goal at 12 debut-author books, though truly, I hope to read more than that.I figure two challenges plus keeping a new book blog should fill my already minimal “free time,” so let the reading begin!!

Stargazer by Claudia Gray

Stargazer by Claudia Gray
Spoiler warning: Because this book is part of a series, this review may contain spoilers of
earlier books. If you haven’t read the previous books, you may want to skip this review

author: Claudia Gray
release date: March 31, 2009
appeals to: Young Adult
length: 329 pages (hardcover)
overall rating: 4½ stars

*the inside flap*
Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all – vampires. Bianca, born of two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.
But Bianca fell in love with Lucas – a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.
Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross – or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca’s secrets will force her to live a life of lies.
Yet Bianca isn’t the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning…

*my review*
Wow! I enjoyed Evernight, but I loved Stargazer! From the minute I started reading Stargazer, I couldn’t put it down. In Evernight, you get to know Bianca and Lucas, but in this story, you really start to feel Bianca’s torn emotions – she’s in love with a member of the enemy and it is a constant struggle! Stargazer is the second book in the Evernight series (Hourglass releases in March 2010 and Afterlife is planned for March 2011), and while it may not make sense as a stand-alone novel, it is an incredible addition to the series.
In my review of Evernight, I mentioned that I wanted to know more about Balthazar, and Stargazer met that need! Balthazar, Vic, and Raquel are much more present in this novel, and as Bianca gets to know more about her friends, their characters develop beautifully. In addition to learning more about the minor characters, this book introduces a whole new twist - ghosts! (You learn about the ghosts on page 2, so this isn’t really a spoiler) Now, the Evernight series has vampires, vampire hunters, and ghosts! I’m intrigued to find out what happens in the next installment!
Note: As I mentioned after reading Evernight I am a big fan of Balthazar. So going in to this book, I expected to like his character, but as I was reading, I felt like I really got to know him better. This book shows a lot about him and his character. Now, I am an even bigger fan of Balthazar, and I must admit that I am still rooting for him!)

*short and snappy*
writing: captivating – The way that Gray writes drew me into the story and kept me hooked.
plot: twisty – Just like the first book, as soon as I thought I had the plot figured out, there was another twist.
characters: Bianca is even more detailed, but the minor characters evolve in this book.
judging by the cover: The cover is pretty and I love the title’s font, but there are no hints about content from the cover.
miscellaneous: Claudia Gray has an excerpt from the next book in the series – Hourglass – on her website (or by following this link:

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

author: Claudia Gray
release date: May 31, 2008
appeals to: Young Adult
length: paperback – 327 pages
overall rating: 4 stars

*the back cover*
At the eerily Gothic Evernight Academy, the other students are sleek, smart, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn’t fit in.
When she meets handsome, brooding Lucas, he warns her to be careful – even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between them can’t be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she’s ever believed.

*my review*
When I picked up this book, all I knew was that it was a “vampire book,” but who doesn’t love a good vampire story right?! The book grabbed me from the beginning with detailed descriptions of people and places that didn’t read like boring descriptive paragraphs. I felt like I could relate to Bianca and the awkward situations she was encountering. I thought I had the story pretty much figured out until a scene at the end of chapter 7 blew me away! (I won’t spoil it for you, but wow!) At that point, I could barely put the book down wanting to know what would happen next. The book has a solid ending, but I am glad that it is part of a series, because there are still a lot of questions in my mind.
The characters Gray develops are very intriguing. Since the book is written from Bianca’s point of view, I obviously felt like I knew her the best, but the twists and turns made me question even that! Lucas was interesting and it is easy to see how Bianca feels about him, but I’m still not always sure whether I like him or not. While the main characters are interesting and developed, some of the minor characters were my favorites. Balthazar, Vic, Raquel, and even Mrs. Bethany are characters I hope to learn more about in coming books. (And truthfully, I often find myself rooting for Balthazar.)

*short and snappy*
: detailed without being over the top – Gray writes descriptions into the plot so that you feel like you can see and hear things without reading a paragraph that just describes without advancing the story.
plot: twisty – I really thought I had the plot figured out, but Gray writes twists into the story when you are least expecting them.
characters: There are a number of major players in the story, and all seem well developed, but I don’t think we know everything about any of them yet.
judging by the cover: The cover doesn’t give any plot away, but the font of the title has some interesting details.
miscellaneous: The second book in the series is “Stargazer” and the third book, “Hourglass,” is due out in March.

Lily Dale: Discovering by Wendi Corsi Staub

Because this is the fourth in a series, this review may contain spoilers of earlier books. If you haven’t read the previous books, you may want to skip this review

Wendi Corsi Staub
release date: October 12, 2009 (Paper back June 7, 2010)
appeals to: Young Adult
length: 304 pages
overall rating: 4 Stars

*the inside flap*
After learning who was behind her mother’s death, Calla still doesn’t understand why it happened. Could it be related to the half sibling her mother kept secret for decades?
Unwilling to share her recent discovery with anyone, including her skeptical father, Calla must once again call on the spirit world for help in finding her missing sibling and the final clues behind her mother’s death – even if it means searching for a stranger who might not want to be found.
Will Calla’s journey lead to the closure she seeks, or will it force her to accept yet another loss and forever wonder what might have bee? The spine-tingling Lily Dale series continues as new mysteries unfold and old ones are solved.

*my review*
This book jumps in to the story right where the third book left off. However, it has been almost a year since I read the other three books in the series, so it was a little hard to remember some of the small details that would have helped. As I kept reading, those details started to come back to me, which helped my enjoyment of the book.

*short and snappy*
: this story is written in the present tense, which is different, but it makes you feel like you are experiencing the story with the characters.
plot: serial – because the book is part of a series, reading it as a stand alone novel will be difficult. If you’ve read the series, the plot is great because it continues the complex plot that has been presented so far.
characters: Calla (the “lead”) is well developed, but there are quite a few well developed minor characters that enter the story and add to the plot.
judging by the cover: The cover is interesting (and slightly scary), but it doesn’t tell much about the plot of the story.
miscellaneous: This is the fourth in a series. The other titles are: Awakening, Believing, and Connecting.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

author: Maggie Stiefvater
release date: July 31, 2009 (paperback May 31, 2010)
AR Level/points: 4.9/14.0
appeals to: Young Adult
length: 400 pages
overall rating: 5 stars

the inside flap:
the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf –her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace . . . until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human – and Grace must fight to keep him – even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

my review:
I first heard of Shiver while procrastinating and reading book reviews mid-November, and since it was a well recommended werewolf story, I checked it out. From the first page, I was captivated by the writing and the story in this book. The story is told from the perspectives of both Grace and Sam in alternating chapters. I thought the insight from both characters added to the story because as a reader, you are able to feel both of their feelings, even when they can’t explain them to each other.

While Shiver is a “werewolf” story, it is also a story of a strong, all encompassing, first love. Maggie Stiefvater creates such a beautiful world and such realistic feelings and emotions with her writing, that I wasn’t ready to leave the world she had created when the book ended. For the first time in my life, I actually reread this book immediately after finishing it the first time. Then, I found out that Stiefvater’s plan is for this to be the first book in “The Wolves of Mercy Falls” trilogy. I am anxiously awaiting book two –
Linger – which is due out July 20, 2010.

short and snappy:
writing: beautiful – Stiefvater draws you in to a beautiful world!
plot: strong – the plot keeps you hooked and has unexpected twists
characters: personable – Sam and Grace are well developed and realistic, but there are also additional - “supporting” – characters that are also developed and definitely add to the plot.
judging by the cover: the cover is beautiful, and gives you the feel of the story.
miscellaneous.: I love that the book is set with a blue font – it just adds something. (I had to hold it up to a light to double check – the color isn’t distracting to the eyes or difficult to read.)

the very first post

Saturday, January 9, 2010

By definition, a dazzling distraction is “that which amuses, entertains, or diverts” while “inspiring admiration or wonder.” For me, several things fall into the category of dazzling distractions. A few of my favorite escapes are reading, coffee, my puppy, and nature.

So…why the blog? I read incessantly and have been keeping track of the books that I read for several years, but never more than titles and authors. Throughout the last year, I’ve started to read author’s blogs (mostly for book suggestions), and from those sites, I’ve come across several fantastic blogs written by readers. Those sites have opened my eyes to many new titles, and so I thought, “If I benefit from their suggestions, perhaps someone will benefit from mine!”

And here we are. I read, and thus, will mainly review Young Adult and Middle Grade literature with a few Adult titles mixed in. I read many genres, but tend to prefer fantasy, paranormal, chick lit, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, romance, realistic fiction, and science fiction that isn’t too out there.

I hope you enjoy, and if you have a suggestion, pass it my way!
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