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Through the Looking Glass: August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

September TBR

Hi, lovely readers! I didn’t read much in the month of August, what with school starting again. Now that I am in the hang of things and on schedule, I can do a TBR! I usually have TBR’s every month, I just don’t do posts about them. I’ve decided to start now just so you know what I am reading during the month and you can refer back here and see the reviews or read the same books and tell me if you like them! I also wanted to apologize for not posting much in August! Its for the same reason mentioned earlier in this post. I hope I get around to reading all of these sure to be fabulous books this month!

August TBR:

Tiger Lily  Perfect Escape Sacred The Forsaken (The Forsaken, #1)


Be sure to tell me in the comments below what you plan to read this month and if you’ve read any of these!


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Monday, August 13, 2012

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by: Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover (from Library)
Genre: Humor, Realistic, Contemporary
Page Count: 295
Cover Rating: 6/10
Author Website: Jesse Andrews
Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary from Goodreads:

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

My Review:

Jesse Andrews weaves together a story filled with humor, coping, high school, being a teenager, etc. in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. It is a cleverly quirky book. This is not one of those books about someone who gets cancer and it’s just depressing. Although it does have it’s moments. But for the most part, it is a funny and honest book filled with truth and comedy.

Greg S. Gaines is the narrator of this tale. He is a senior high school student. He is purposefully invisible and has devised a system where he doesn’t belong anywhere and yet belongs everywhere in cliques at his school. He has an irritating mother, a strange father, and an aggressive cat. In the book, he reminisces about many embarrassing childhood experiences, partly to introduce his purpose for telling his story. We really get a good look at his life and what he feels in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

When a girl he sort of dated when he was younger is diagnosed with Leukemia, Greg is swiftly instructed by his demanding mother to become Rachel’s friend again. Greg isn’t thrilled about this. In fact, he’d rather not. When he visits Rachel again after some awkward phone conversations, he immediately starts cracking jokes. I love this about Greg. He can make a joke about almost anything, especially with Rachel. She snort-laughs at his jokes and they have more of a friendship than I think Greg ever notices.

Earl is Greg’s friend/co-worker. He lives with various siblings and half-siblings with a mother who barely shows her face. He seems to be what a lot of people would say is a “bad influence” on Greg, but I think just the opposite. While Earl swears a lot and is always getting into fights with his brothers, he is remarkably compassionate about Rachel.

Greg is constantly confused about how he feels about Rachel and life and everything. He frequently wants to punch himself in the face throughout the book. He made me laugh uncontrollably at times! While some of the things he does and says are simply hilarious, he truthfully tells the story of him and Earl and Rachel. They all kind of form an inexplicable bond throughout the story. Rachel is the only fan of Greg and Earl’s films and Greg is always making her laugh loudly.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a book that I would definitely recommend. Especially if you want a good laugh! There is a good amount of profanity in it, for those of you who don’t read books with profanity.

Official Rating:

Four Un-birthday cakes
Four Un-Birthday Cakes!


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Releases This Week (August 12-18)

Rise of the Elgen Touched Suck It Up and Die Kissing Shakespeare
Rise of the Elgen (Michael Vey #2) by: Richard Paul Evans - 8/14/12
Touched by: Cyn Balog - 8/14/12
Suck It Up and Die (Suck It Up #2) by: Brian Meehl - 8/14/12
Kissing Shakespeare by: Pamela Mingle - 8/14/12

Intentions False Memory (False Memory, #1) My Sister Lives On The Mantelpiece Soonchild
Intentions by: Deborah Heiligman - 8/14/12
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by: Annabel Pitcher - 8/14/12
Soonchild by: Russell Hoban  - 8/14/12

The Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries The Unnaturalists Counting Backwards The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5)
The Heroes of Olympus: The Demigod Diaries by: Rick Riordan - 8/14/12
The Unnaturalists by: Tiffany Trent - 8/14/12
Counting Backwards by: Laura Lascarso - 8/14/12
The Kill Order by: James Dashner - 8/14/12

Onyx (Lux, #2) Forsaken (The Fallen, #4) The Rising (Department Nineteen, #2)  Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator
Onyx (Lux #2) by: Jennifer L. Armentrout - 8/14/12 
Forsaken (Fallen #4) by: Thomas E. Sniegoski - 8/14/12
The Rising (Department 19 #2) by: Will Hill - 8/16/12
Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator by: Jill Baguchinsky - 8/16/12

The Treachery of Beautiful Things Earth Girl 
The Treachery of Beautiful Things by:  Ruth Frances Long - 8/16/12
Earth Girl by: Janet Edwards - 8/16/12


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Authors at the Decatur Book Festival 2012: Interview with Kristen-Paige Madonia and Giveaway!

I have the immense pleasure of having Kristen-Paige Madonia on the blog today! She is the author of the much anticipated book, Fingerprints of You, which released yesterday! She will be attending the Decatur Book Festival in September, so I thought I would let you all get to know her and her book a bit better! She was also generous enough to provide a signed copy of the book to one lucky winner! Below is some more info about the book and Kristen.

Fingerprints Front Cover

Fingerprints of You by: Kristen-Paige Madonia
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Genre: Contemporary, Road Trip
Page Count: 272
Author Website: Kristen-Paige Madonia
Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary from Goodreads:

Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.
On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.

Author Bio (From her website):

Author Photo Credit - Christopher Gordon

Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of Fingerprints of You, a young adult literary novel that will be published in August by Simon & Schuster. Her short fiction has appeared in various publications including Upstreet, New Orleans Review, American Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, and Sycamore Review; she has received awards or fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Key West Literary Seminar, and The Studios of Key West. She was a finalist for the 2011 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and in 2010 she was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from California State University, Long Beach and a BA in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University. Kristen-Paige currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia where she teaches creative writing and is at work on her second novel.


Here’s my interview with Kristen:

Describe Fingerprints of You in one sentence.
A pregnant teenager embarks on a cross-country road trip to San Francisco in search of her father, a man she has never met, as she tries to unravel the secrets of her family.

What inspired you to write Fingerprints of You?
Fingerprints of You began with the central characters, and I first imagined Lemon and Stella when I was living in San Francisco just after finishing my MFA. I liked to work in coffee shops in the city, and one afternoon I spotted a woman and a teenager crossing Fillmore Street in front of the cafe where I was writing. They immediately became Lemon and Stella: a feisty mother-daughter duo in the mist of that strange period of time when the child is becoming an adult and the parent is becoming, in the eyes of the child, an individual or person outside of their parent role. A good portion of the book is about Lemon's realization that her mother has a complicated past, a history that has informed every decision she has made for the two of them, and the novel, in part, began with that idea. I was inspired by the mother-daughter relationship, but particularly by the relationship between a child and a single-parent. Stella became pregnant when she was still very young and, as expected, not prepared for that sort of situation. And Lemon has never met her father, Stella managed to keep any information about him a secret, so the consequences of that decision was intriguing to me. Exploring that void and the affects of it on Lemon's relationship with her mother was one of the primary seeds of the book. San Francisco was always a central source of inspiration - I lived there for over three years, and I wanted to pay tribute to the rich art and music culture there. In a way, Fingerprints of You is a love letter to San Francisco, it's a thank-you note for the ways it shaped and changed me.

Is there a message in Fingerprints of You that you want your readers to grasp?
I hope readers leave the book with a greater awareness of the impact we can make on one another. We don’t always know that we’re doing it, but we leave marks on one another all the time. The interaction may seem small or insignificant when it happens, but we often affect one another in ways we’re not always aware of. It may be a quick conversation on a bus or a handful of weeks working together, a shared concert experience or a brief moment in a restaurant… we don’t always know that we’re doing it, but we can affect one another in monumental ways. I hope readers leave the book inspired by that idea: we’re constantly impacting the people around us – the people that pass in and out of our lives – we’re all connected. The exchanges we have may seem small, but can often be more powerful than we know. 

Who are your top three favorite authors and why?
Oh I could never pick a top three! I read all kinds of things depending on my mood, so my favorites change all the time. Tom Robbins, Jhumpa Lahiri, T.C. Boyle, Milan Kundera, and Zadie Smith… the list is endless and absolutely wide-ranging. Charles Dickens comes to mind because I tend to read Great Expectations every few years, and it always feels familiar but simultaneously changed each time I return to it. It seems to me that a book is a different book for every reader, and that once it is published, it doesn’t belong to the author at all. Once it exists in the world, it becomes the readers’ as they bring their own experiences, emotions, and viewpoints into the novel. Great Expectations changes each time I read it depending on what I’m facing in my own life. Raymond Carver and John Updike have also been a large influence on my work, and I often reread their work when I'm looking for inspiration. Same goes for Chekhov, Irving, and Vonnegut.

What books have you read lately and loved?
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is a new favorite, and I was thrilled to hear the news when he won the William C. Morris Debut Award and the Michael L. Printz Award. It's a super smart book, and I've been recommending it to everyone I know.  I also recently read Model Home by Eric Puchner, which I loved, and Eleanor Henderson's Ten Thousand Saints, a brilliant book and fascinating study of point of view. This summer I taught a creative writing class at the University of Virginia, and I reread Flannery O'Connor's collection A Good Man is Hard to Find, a book I think all writers should read at some point.

What books have most influenced your life?
I can’t remember exactly when I received my copy of the Giving Tree, but that slick green cover is the first book I think of when I try to retrace my steps as a reader, as the kind of person that curls up with a set of characters for hours with no recognition or care that the “real world” continues to spin outside the pages. The book follows the life stages of a young boy and a tree as the boy ages and the tree provides any and everything the boy asks for: branches to swing from as a child, apples to sell and lumber to build a home with as an adult, and, eventually, a stump to sit and rest on as an old man. Shel Silverstein is a brilliant writer, the first I remember being truly moved by as a child, and I owned all his books. But The Giving Tree is the one I returned to most. And now, I wonder if it’s also the book I should credit in terms of my first interest in writing coming-of-age stories. Because isn’t that what’s it’s about? A child gradually loses his innocence and makes his way into that eyes-wide-open phase of life when he realizes things aren’t always what they seem, that life can be devastating and demanding just as often as it can be delightful. And if we believe the tree serves as metaphor for a parent, which I do, the boy, like most children, doesn’t recognize the sacrifices the parent has made; he doesn’t understand how much the tree gives up to take care of him. The parent-child relationship, the loss of innocence, that strange but brilliant time in life when you realize the world is much larger than you thought, those are the ideas that continue to fascinate me as a reader and motivate me as an author.

As a college student, like many college students do, I fell in the love with the Beats, and part of my literary heart will always belong to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It was published in 1957, but there’s something timeless about the spontaneous cross-country road trip, the jazz and the booze, the poetry, and the indulgent sex and drug binges. It’s a journey book, a genre I tend to favor, and the characters are on a quest for faith and love and friendship, as they hunt for a sense of an authentic and meaningful life. At the time Kerouac wrote the novel, it was a proclamation for a stripped and nonconformist existent, a reaction against the 1950s culture and social “norms”, but I think the book resonates with young readers across generations regardless of the current national climate.

It's typically the voice I remember most about a good book, so inevitably, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close falls at the top of my list in terms of books I have read often and studied for my own work; I’m fairly certain I’ve bought at lease five copies. When I think of the book, it’s Oskar Schell I hear, that raw and frantic nine-year-old that carries the reader through the streets of New York in the wake of 9/11. It’s his humor, his heartache, his honesty, and his grief that haunts me -- not just the feel of the emotions, but the SOUND of them. He floats through an adult world as a child fighting the struggle between self-destruction and self-preservation, another coming-of-age novel, I suppose, but the voice is strictly his, Oskar unfiltered and up close, and that’s what stays with you after you close the book. As a writer and a reader, it’s always the voice that leaves me breathless; it’s the voice of the work that serves as my barometer for amazing fiction.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer - for as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a writer, no questions asked.

What did you consider most challenging about writing Fingerprints of You, or writing in general?
In general, I don’t work well with outlines and tend to find them restricting… for me the process is messy and unpredictable and without rules, which one of the things I enjoy most about writing first drafts, so I don’t usually know where a book is beginning when I first start. It’s a process of discovery and I like to allow the work to surprise me and to go places I hadn’t predicted or planned for. Because of that approach, I spend an incredible amount of time revising my work and often write dozens of drafts before I'm satisfied. With Fingerprints of You, I struggled with the ending during my first round of rewrites and again after we sold the book to Simon & Schuster while I was working on the final version. I always knew something was off but never could quite get it right in terms of the sequence of events that followed the climactic scenes. Endings are always so challenging. I'm fortunate because I have the most amazing agent, one of the few that still makes time to work with her authors editorially, so we talked a lot about those final chapters, and I wrote a variety of versions before we began submitting the manuscript to publishing houses. And then I went through the same process all over again once I started working with editor! It was worth it though, and in the end I was absolutely satisfied with the way the book concludes.

What did you enjoy most about writing Fingerprints of You?
One of the most enjoyable sections to write were the scenes that explored the live music setting in San Francisco. There's such a rich historical music culture in San Francisco, and it was important to me to portray that in the novel. When the book opens, Lemon has never been to a concert, but seeing live music and going to concerts and festivals is a huge part of my own life, so I wanted to give that to her. I revisited some of my favorite shows and memories from my time in San Francisco and tried to merge the most interesting moments and people from my experiences at the Fillmore, the Warfield, free concerts in Golden Gate Park, Great American Music Hall… I sent Lemon to the Haight to watch the street musicians and to a New Year’s festival where she’s introduced to the underground music scene and jamtronica, a Burning Man kind of vibe. I loved writing those sections and showing her how impactful live music can be, how it can change your perspective and create a sense of community.

Thanks so much for having me on Through the Looking Glass, Sara!

And now here’s the wonderful giveaway!


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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wentworth Hall by: Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall

Wentworth Hall by: Abby Grahame
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
Format: Nook Book
Genre: England, Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 276 (Nook Book: 155)
Cover Rating: 7/10
Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary from Goodreads:

The prettiest people often have the ugliest secrets…
Eighteen-year-old Maggie Darlington has turned into an entirely different person. The once spirited teen is now passive and reserved. A change Lord and Lady Darlington can’t help but be grateful for.
It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been… even as their carefully constructed façade rapidly comes undone.
Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one… the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.
When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.


“  Peering into the crack of the open door, Nora saw Maggie sink into the ripped leather couch, weeping.
    Nora decided to let Maggie have her moment of grief in private. When she was sure that Teddy was gone, she scampered back down the dark, moonlit hall, to her room.”

My Review:

Whenever I hear about a book set in the Roaring 20’s or early 1900’s, I must read it. That was the main thing that made me read this book. It was also portrayed to be about a family with lots of dark, ugly secrets. I thought, what could be a better combination? It didn’t turn out to be as amazing as I hoped for, but it was still a good read and I’m glad I read it. Any brief trip to the 20’s is great to me!

Wentworth Hall is the title of the book and also the name for an enormous estate owned by the Darlington family. They are old money, but these days things aren’t looking so good for them financially. The book starts off with Maggie Darlington returning from a year long stay in France. With her new maturity and worldliness, her family notices that she has also grown uncharacteristically indifferent towards everyone. She used to be a fierce horsewoman with a no-nonsense attitude. Her sister Lila and some of the house staff grow curious as to what happened in France to change her so.

Lila, the sixteen year old sister of Maggie, is the baby of the family. While she has matured into a young woman, her parents and everyone seem to think she should still be treated like a little girl. Maggie has always had the spotlight with boys and people in general. As much as Lila tries, guys just fall head over heels in love with Maggie and leave Lila by the wayside.

Nora, the ladies maid to Lila and Maggie, is all about gossiping and learning secrets about the Darlington's and whoever else. The book switches perspectives between most of the main characters, which I didn’t particularly enjoy in this book, but it was okay. Terrible satires about the Darlington family are posted in a newspaper and it could be any one of the family or staff. This was a very mysterious element of the story that kept me guessing!

As for the secrets in Wentworth Hall, they weren’t exactly what I expected. I expected them to be darker, or something. But rest assured, they are definitely juicy and scandalous!

I’ve heard this book heavily compared to the popular British television show, Downton Abbey, and while I like the show better, this book is certainly for fans of the show. It focuses a lot on the house staff as the show does and has secrets galore!

Wentworth Hall was a rather short read. I both liked and didn’t like that. Some details could have been better explained but it ended well. It was a fun and quick read for those of you who like that sort of thing.

Official Rating:

Three Un-birthday cakes
Three Un-Birthday Cakes

Like the 1920’s? Here’s some books you may like:

(Click on the image for more info!)

Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things, #1) Beautiful Days (Bright Young Things, #2) The Lucky Ones (Bright Young Things, #3) The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) Vixen (Flappers, #1) Ingenue (Flappers, #2) Diva (Flappers, #3) Debutantes 


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Releases This Week (August 5 - 11)

Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure (Maximum Ride, #8) Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) Fingerprints of You Auracle
Nevermore (Maximum Ride #8) by: James Patterson - 8/6/12
Fingerprints of You by: Kristen Paige-Madonia - 8/7/12
Auracle by: Gina Rosati - 8/7/12

Rift (Nightshade Prequel, #1)  Courtship and Curses (Leland Sisters, #3)  The Betrayal of the Living (Blood Ninja, #3)  Carter's Unfocused, One-Track Mind
Rift (Nightshade Prequel #1) by: Andrea Cremer - 8/7/12
Courtship and Curses (Leland Sisters #3) by: Marissa Doyle -8/7/12

Between You & Me Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)   Beautiful Lies  The Boy Recession
Between You and Me by: Marisa Calin - 8/7/12
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by: Sarah J. Maas - 8/7/12
Beautiful Lies by: Jessica Warman - 8/7/12
The Boy Recession by: Flynn Meaney - 8/7/12

Wake (Watersong, #1) Capital Girls  Counting Backwards  Innocent Darkness (The Aether Chronicles, #1)
Wake (Watersong #1) by: Amanda Hocking - 8/7/12
Capital Girls (Capital Girls #1) by: Ella Monroe 8/7/12
Counting Backwards by: Laura Lascarso  8/8/12

Glitch (Glitch, #1) Burn Narc
Glitch (Glitch #1) by: Heather Anastasiu - 8/7/12
Burn by: Heath Gibson - 8/8/12
Narc by: Crissa-Jean Chappell - 8/8/12