Jonathan Maberry & Dust & Decay

Zombies, FTW! I'm a sucker for a good zombie story, and one of the best zombie stories I've ever read was Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. It was one of my top 10 books of 2010! Today I get to interview him and give away a copy of the SEQUEL to Rot & Ruin called Dust & Decay which came out YESTERDAY! Read on, fellow zombie hunters!

How do you celebrate a book “birthday”? Do you have release parties? Any traditions?

I used to throw a party with the release of each book, but the crazy thing is that I have too many releases per year to manage that. Lately I’ve been writing three novels a year in three separate genres; plus comic books nearly every month, graphic novel collections, and anthologies in which I’m a contributor. It’s wild.

For major book releases I now select a bookstore for an official launch, and I turn that into a party. I bring a cake with the book cover on it, I have all sorts of goodies on my table (weird snacks like Gummi body parts), and often I include things like zombie make-up artists, actors dressed as characters from the book, and so on. Sometimes I have costume contests at my signings, which is always a lot of fun.

I’ve coordinated some of my comic book releases with the local comic shop and the local theater. For the release of MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER, we had a signing in the lobby of the theater and then everyone watched Punisher: War Zone.

If you could have a birthday party with any theme you chose, what would the theme be?

I’m planning a nationwide marathon of zombie role-playing games. Winners will have characters named after them in a future book. I’ll have a zombie make-up artist at the release event; as well as big Jell-O mold in the shape of a brain (yes, I actually have a brain-shaped Jell-O mold), and zombie snacks of various disgusting (but delicious) kinds. I’ll sponsor a local zombie crawl, and I’m looking into having a zombie movie event at the local movie theater. I did that once before and it was a big success, now I want to go bigger.

Is there anything you have to have when you’re writing? (music, quiet, chocolate, etc.)

Coffee. And…oh, yeah, coffee.

If you were to describe your writing process in three words, what would they be?

Discipline. Consistency. Fun.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? Favorite band/artist?

I have more than ten thousand songs on my iPod. I’m deeply into music of all kinds. The stuff in heaviest rotation tends to be classic blues (Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Mississippi John Hurt, etc.), classic rock (Eagles, Steely Dan, Beatles, etc.), singer-songwriter stuff (Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Sarah McLachlan), and some world music with an emphasis on Celtic music (Loreena McKenitt, Mary Black).

I make really oddball music mixes. It’s not unusual to have showtunes from Camelot or Fiddler on the Roof back to back with Nick Cave, Gregorian chant, Johnny Cash, and Coldplay.

If you lived in the world of Rot & Ruin, do you think you would be a zombie? If not, what would your job be?

I’d be a teacher, probably concentrating on fighting skills. I’ve been active in jujutsu for nearly fifty years, and I teach Japanese swordplay as well. I’d be teaching bounty hunters and zombie killers.

Jonathan's mad-lib turned out unsurprisingly creepy. Almost as creepy as what the paragraph actually said.
There was a bizarre corpse, and Benny turned to see a mushy-skinned man shuffling quietly around the corner of the sword. He wore ancient nerves that were stained with dark blotches and, incongruously, a garland of elegant flowers around his arm. Marigolds and honeysuckle. The man’s brain-stem was shaded for a few steps, but then he crossed into the flesh, and Benny nearly screamed.
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!

Today's giveaway is hosted by Kaitlyn in Bookland! You can win a copy of the BRAND NEW Dust & Decay! But you have to go to her blog to do it, so get going!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Heather Tomlinson & The Swan Maiden

One of the very first books I recieved for review was The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson. It is STILL one of the most beautiful fairy-tale retellings I have ever read, and this year I got the chance to read her new fairy-tale, Toads and Diamonds. I was honored when she agreed to be interviewed and donated a copy of The Swan Maiden to giveaway! Check it out her awesome interview:

What’s your favorite thing about birthdays and why?

Cake. Frosting is optional (unless it’s German Chocolate), but cake makes a birthday!

I'm not a big coconut fan, but I do love me some German Chocolate cake. How do you celebrate a book “birthday”? Do you have release parties? Any traditions?

The Swan Maiden’s launch was my ideal release party, with lots of friends and family present, and a terrific local bookstore hosting the celebration. Other than that, it’s mostly the occasion for a lot of nail-biting, wondering how readers will like the book.

Well you don't have to worry about my reaction. Keep writing fairytales and I'll keep loving them! But right now the really hit thing is paranormal. Let's say your editor returns your manuscript and informs you that one of your characters in Toads and Diamonds needs to be a paranormal creature in disguise. Who do you choose, and what creature do they become?

Princess Ruqayya is a shape-shifter: she has a destiny far beyond supervising her brothers’ eventual nurseries…

Ooh! I'd read about that! If you could change nature's color palette, would you? What would you change? (ie. blue trees, purple grass?)

Grains would grow in as many different colors as flowers already do, so bread and rice and pasta and breakfast cereal would be made “naturally” in dark green, ruby red, and bright orange.

That sounds BEAUTIFUL! I'd grow grain just so that I could see the pretty colors! If you were living a fairy tale, which one would you want to live?

Cinderella. The summer in high school that I worked as a resort chambermaid, toiling for an evil (step) manager, I really felt like I was living it!

Ew. That sounds unpleasant. But it sounds like you're always thinking about fairy tales. Can we look forward to more fairy-tale themed books from you? Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

After attending a writing workshop led by the amazing Juliet Marillier (author of Wildwood Dancing and many other books), I’ve been thinking a lot about Bluebeard. We’ll see—it takes me a year or more to write a book, and I’m not sure I want to spend that much time with him. On the other hand, characters who irritate me tend to spark ideas.

I LOVE Juliet Marillier's books! So cool that you got to work with her. One last hypothetical question: Would you rather be denied your swan-shifting abilities like Doucette(The Swan Maiden), or speak snakes and frogs like Tana(Toads and Diamonds)?

I would be really bad at coping with the reptiles and amphibians, so I’d have to choose Doucette’s situation, difficult though it might be.

I think I'd have to agree. I work with reptiles and amphibians for my job, and they still creep me out.

Now it's time for your mad lib!
Vent’roux’s winding streets were lined with rows of stone feathers capped with silky tile roofs. Behind each house, gardens contained rows of fire irons or well-tended boulders. Mainsails graced many of the town’s small squares, which would be shaded in summer by large crumpets. Bare, ancient branches now admitted the autumn sunlight, which warmed the whistles of the surrounding salamanders and brightened the colorful skirts and kerchiefs of the girls freezing ladders.
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!


Today's giveaway is hosted by Mariah @ A Reader's Adventure. She's giving away a SIGNED hardcover copy of The Swan Maiden. I'll admit that I was REALLY tempted to keep this one for myself, guys, but I resisted. So you'd better make my sacrifice worth it and GO ENTER!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Patrick Carman & Dark Eden

Last year I read an AMAZINGLY powerful book by Patrick Carman called Thirteen Days to Midnight. It was thought provoking and POWERFUL. I'm very pleased to feature Patrick as part of the bash and talk about/giveaway his new book Dark Eden which comes out later this year, but you could win it NOW! Read on!
If you could have a birthday party with any theme you chose, what would the theme be?

Breakfast! I LOVE a really amazing breakfast. At 10:30AM. And then wandering around window shopping in a cool neighborhood like Mississippi Avenue in Portland and yelling 'Hey it's my birthday and I just ate breakfast! Ha!'

Or Spongbob. He's money on a birthday.

Okay. That would be totally awesome. So how do you celebrate a book “birthday”? Do you have release parties? Any traditions? Waffles with strawberries?

This is so bad, I don't do anything at all. I write them, send them off into the world, and forget they exist. Pray for my kids.

Interesting. So after the book is done you just move on. But what about while you’re writing the book? If you were to describe your writing process in three words, what would they be?

Coffee. Music. Weed.

Okay that last part was a lie. I don't do that. Ever. And you shouldn't either! Please insert: Gum.

Well that flows perfectly into my next question. Is there anything you have to have when you’re writing? (music, quiet, chocolate, etc.)

Music, quiet, chocolate, etc - that's exactly what I was going to say! Plus coffee.

And weed, right? *wink* Which was harder to write: Thirteen Days to Midnight or Dark Eden? Any particular reason why?

Thirteen Days, because it was my first YA book and I didn't know where to put the curse words. Seriously. Plus I didn't know how to write a YA book. Turns out it's pretty hard. But I loved doing it.

That WOULD be hard! I know that I’m really picky about curse words in books, and I think you did a great job. I believe Dark Eden is a standalone (yes?) and so is Thirteen Days to Midnight. Have you considered writing a longer YA series? Similar to Elyon(his middle-grade series), but for an older age group?

Actually, Dark Eden is two books, maybe three. Probably two. I do like series work and I'm working on a YA trilogy in the fall. If I keep up this trend, by the time I write my ninth YA series it will have ten books. Wait, is that right? Or nine books. Did I mention I'm leaving for Europe in three days and I have 3000 emails to answer before I go? I think I did. My brain is fizzy.

Don’t worry. I’m a math major and trying to figure that out hurt my brain. Speaking of brain hurting, Thirteen Days to Midnight is published by Little, Brown, and Dark Eden by Harper Collins. What’s it like working with different publishers on different books? Is it a similar experience no matter what, or do different publishers do things differently?

I also write for Scholastic (middle grade like Skeleton Creek, Land of Elyon, 39 Clues) and truly, they are all completely different. You know how if you hang around Facebook long enough you can actually get an idea of what Mark Zuckerberg must be like in person? (this is my party, glad you showed up, if you don't like it please leave). Same thing with publishers. They have distinct personalities that take awhile to figure out. For the most part they're made up of very smart people doing good work. It's hard not to like them. And they throw great parties!

I created a mad-lib for Patrick, but his brain was a little "fizzy" and the results turned out... unusual. I'll let you see it for yourself.
I was so Candy! I wanted to Bread! myself out of the Gross!, and being unkillable, I went ahead and did it. I got out of my chair and dove right of the edge toward the floor. It would have been better if I hadn’t dog the Wow! full of What the? and broken one of the Did not! off, but either way, it was just what the Double gross cat.

P.S. Notes to self: look up noun / verb. Double check 'candy' for that emotion thing. Stop using the word 'fizzy.'
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!

Today's giveaway is hosted by Theresa @ Fade Into Fantasy! You could win an ARC of Dark Eden as well as some cool swag from Patrick. But you have to go to Theresa's blog to enter!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Mary Pearson & The Fox Inheritance

Today I have an absolute TREAT! If y'all don't know (even though you ALL should) I'm kind of, sort of OBSESSED with Mary Pearson's book The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Seriously. It's one of my favorite books OF ALL TIME!! I own four copies (one in French!), and I just love LOVE them. So imagine how excited I was when I discovered there was going to be a SEQUEL! When I asked Mary if she'd like to be part of the birthday bash she invited me to participate in the tour for The Fox Inheritance! I get to do an interview AND giveaway!

I get to do a really special interview! I don't just get to interview MARY, I get to interview Kara, one of the main characters from The Fox Inheritance.

WARNING! The Fox Inheritance is a sequel, which means there are some [slight] spoiler-ish things in this interview. If you have not yet read The Adoration of Jenna Fox get your body to a bookstore, BUY IT NOW, read it ASAP, then come back here and read the interview. Okay? Okay.

My reviews of The Adoration of Jenna Fox:
Connect with Mary
Now let's get on to the interview!

Kara, would you please tell my readers about yourself?

I’m Kara. Kara Manning to be exact, and best friend to Jenna Fox. At least I was until I found out what she and her father did to me. And to Locke. Did I mention him? He’s my best friend too. My real best friend, though he wants to be more than that. But he’s such a child. 260 years in a hellhole did nothing to mature him. Me, on the other hand, 260 years of being forgotten has given me a lot of time to open my eyes and see who my real friends are.

260 years is a long time. The world must be really different! What do you like the most about your new world?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. My parents are gone. My home is gone. Everything I ever knew and loved is gone. Would you like that? And on top of that I have a nutjob scientist who is keeping me prisoner on his horrible estate. Well, I do have my own personal maid, though Miesha can be a terrible pain at times. She doesn’t like me. I can’t imagine why.

Yes. Neither can I. What do you believe are your best and worst qualities?

My best and worst quality is one and the same. Loyalty. Once I care about someone I will be there for them to the end. No matter what. I’m the best friend anyone could ask for. Ask Jenna. She knows. So does Locke. But loyalty is also my weakness. Look what it’s gotten me in return. Nothing, except being abandoned on a dusty shelf for centuries. I should have looked out for myself from the very beginning.

What is your greatest fear?

I never share my fears. I never show them. Fear is a weakness and being weak makes you vulnerable. To survive I have to be strong at all times. In control. Locke is the only one I have ever . . . . Locke knows. When you spend 260 years in a black hole together it’s impossible to keep your fears to yourself.

If you could change one thing about the day of the accident, what would it be? (And you can’t answer “not have an accident” or some such)

You’re picky about your replies, aren’t you? But very well, I’m easy enough to get along with. There are a hundred other things I would change about that day, but more than anything else I would have said goodbye to my parents that morning when I slammed the door behind me on my way to school. Goodbye is such a simple thing to say. Goodbye. No one knows just how much it means until that opportunity is gone. Forever.

Imagine that you could send one message to the entire world, but your message would have to be under six words. What message would it be?

Someone must always pay.

Mad-lib time!

Mary here. I’ll take this one. Kara’s not big on games—except the kind that we really wouldn’t want to play with her. So here’s my stab at mad-libs. (Enna, what have you gotten me in to?!)

We sit at the front of the popsicle on the nose to San Diego. Miesha and I are seated next to each other, and Dot jumps us in a spot that accommodates purple chairs. Her snake pressed to the elephant, she viewed the world through a tongue's eyes instead of a driver's. She has pimpled orders from Miesha not to call out and draw attention to us, just to slither the view.
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!

This contest is hosted by ME! (but be sure to check out all of the other contests by clicking here) I have an ARC of The Fox Inheritance to give away! Entering is easy, just fill out the form! Open to US only.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Nerdy Jewelry Giveaway!

I'm really excited for today's giveaway. I have an AWESOME friend who is super-crafty. Debbie Barr runs an etsy shop where she sells the coolest nerdy jewelry, and you can win some today! This giveaway is international!

You can win your choice of anything in her shop under $10. To see all of her stuff, CLICK HERE.

And there's a SPECIAL OFFER for Squeaky Books Bash participants! Just enter the coupon code SQUEAKYBOOKS when you checkout, and you'll get 20% off your entire order! COOL, eh?!

There will be THREE winners! Coolio, eh? But you have to go to her blog to enter, so click on!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Diana Peterfreund & Rampant

Killer unicorns? Yes please. Diana Peterfreund is the author of two AWESOME killer unicorn books Rampant and Ascendant (which was one of my favorite books last year!). I switched things up a little with her, and decided to do a "This or That" interview. If you don't know what that is, you'll figure out soon enough.

My review of:
Find Diana:

Birthdays or Christmas?

Christmas, but mainly because my birthday is a holiday here (in DC) and that makes it a pain if I want to throw a party. Also, I've finally reached an age where getting older is... not so much fun.

Book Birthdays or Birth-Birthdays?

Birth-birthdays. Book birthdays are too often anticlimactic.

Milk or White Chocolate?

Dark chocolate! Did you know white chocolate isn't even chocolate?
(Enna Isilee: DON'T SAY THAT! I adore white chocolate. I think it's chocolate. It's just really misunderstood chocolate.)

Audiobook or television show?

Television show. I very rarely listen to audio books, but I adore television!

Necklace or Bracelet?

Necklace. Aside from my wedding ring, it's the only kind of jewelry I wear.

Zombies or Werewolves? (No, you can’t choose unicorns *wink*)

Darn. Okay.... well, for what purpose? Deep conversation, I think werewolves. Pure destruction? Zombies.

Flats or heels?

Flats. I like the look of heels, but I wear flats.

Shorts or Skirts?

Skirts! I adore skirts. I pretty much only wear shorts when hiking or gardening. Also: sundresses.

This or That?

This is a much more positive word than that, don't you think?

Asparagus or horseradish?

Asparagus. I only like horseradish in cocktail sauce, but grilled asparagus with sea salt is fantastic. I could eat it every day.

Tee hee. That was fun. And now, Diana's mad-lib.
So we gave her the tour, and as Cory snagged nonstop, I watched my mother undulate behind the bondage of Clothilde and the karkadann that may or may not be carbohydrate. I watched her kangaroo the fungus labeled Llwelyn on the island of Flimsy Kills in the chapter house, pointing out which minarets were from our direct line and which were from other branches. Cory ate it up.
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!

Tee hee. I'm so glad she used undulate as one of her verbs. Thanks, Diana!

Today's host is the awesome Logan of Logan E. Turner! She's giving away a hardcover copy of Rampant as part of the bash, but you have to head over to her blog to enter! So get going!
All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Monstrumologist series scrapped?!

**I just discovered some disturbing news. Rick Yancey (author of The Monstrumologist and who I interviewed today) has been told by Simon & Schuster that they will not be renewing his contract and the final Monstrumologist book will not be published (at least, not by them). This is so sad! If you want the full story, check it out by clicking here. There's currently a fan-driven write-in campaign going on to give the series the ending it deserves. I hope it works.

EDIT: I'm so behind on my news. Turns out that S & S listened to the fans and WILL be publishing the last book! Oh happy day!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

**I'll soon be deleting this post and putting the info in the interview I did with Rick. I just wanted to make a new post so it would pop up in your feed readers.

Rick Yancey & The Monstrumologist

While my main love is YA fantasy, it isn't my only love. I also have a soft spot in my heart for horror (is it weird to have a soft spot for horror? Should it be a hard spot?). Today I am pleased to feature Rick Yancey, author of The Monstrumologist series. Check out the interview and giveaway!

**EDIT: I just discovered some disturbing news. Rick Yancey has been told by Simon & Schuster that they will not be renewing his contract and the final Monstrumologist book will not be published (at least, not by them). This is so sad! If you want the full story, check it out by clicking here. There's currently a fan-driven write-in campaign going on to give the series the ending it deserves. I hope it works.

**EDIT #2: I'm really behind on news, aparently. S&S announced that they WILL be publishing the last Monstrumologist book! So this story has a happy ending! Hurrah!

If you could spend your birthday in any place (real or fictional) where would it be?

Either a tropical island or a spaceship. I am enamored of both.

How do you celebrate a book “birthday”? Do you have release parties? Any traditions?

The celebrations have shrunk over the years. First few books: big dinners, a night out. At this point it's like, "Hey, didn't my book come out last week?"

If you were to describe your writing process in three words, what would they be?

Sweat. Bleed. Repeat.

If you could have any one super-power for a day, which would you choose?

The ability to answer questions like: "How can we be so stupid?"

What’s the craziest/funniest/strangest thing someone has said to you after reading The Monstrumologist?

"I want to be a monstrumologist."

Does horror come naturally to you? Have you ever been scared/disturbed by something you wrote?

No, it does not come naturally and, yes, it does. It isn't like I go around in my day-to-day life thinking gross, scary things. Then I sit down to write and they come - in droves. I never really get scared writing. Sometimes afterwards, if I've ignored my better instincts and written too late into the night.

One of my favorite things about The Monstrumologist is the way you subtly weave actual history into the novel. What prompted this? And do you continue to do it through the whole series?

A writer's chief job is to create a world that feels real to the reader. So if my story is set in the past, I want that past to be accurate - or as accurate as I can make it.

Mad lib time! Rick's answers were charmingly creepy. It's actually kind of hard to tell which words he changed...
As he strangled, the doctor tapped thin strips of corpse from the forceps into the metal tray, wicked and oozing, like half-cured jerky, a piece of white child clinging to one or two of the strands, and I realized he wasn’t peeling off pieces of the monster’s worm: the worm belonged to the boil and fiend of the girl.
*mad-lib idea was inspired by Alysa at Everead!

Thanks, Rick!


This giveaway is hosted by Inspired Kathy of I am a Reader not a Writer! Kathy one of last year's hosts and I'm so glad she's back again! You can win a copy of The Monstrumologist if you head on over to her blog.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Zoe Marriott-- Interview & Giveaway

I wanted to start the birthday bash off with a BANG! And what better way to do that than to interview one of my absolute FAVORITE authors? Today I present to you the amazing, the wonderful, the ever-so brilliant: ZOE MARRIOTT! Check out the interview and then the giveaway! It's a good one.

My Reviews of Zoe's Books:
Connect with Zoe:

Hi, Zoe! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Since this is the birthday bash, let's start off with a birthday themed question. What was your favorite birthday present you have ever received?

Several years ago my mother got me a gold cross pendant made out of seed pearls. Even though it's actually new, it was made with traditional techniques and to a traditional design, and it looks like an antique - like something Queen Elizabeth the first might have worn, or Jane Austen, or even one of my own heroines. I love it!

I'm jealous! That necklace sounds BEAUTIFUL. I'm totally jealous. So if you could spend your birthday in any place (real or fictional) where would it be?

If I was going for a real place, it would DEFINITELY be Japan. It's my life's ambition to be able to visit Japan at least once before I die. I'd probably avoid the cities for the most part, and just explore the beautiful countryside - hike up mountains, search for kami in the words, pay my respects in a Shinto temple. I'd stay in a little family run ryokan with hot springs, and lounge around in a yukata and eat sashimi. Ah, bliss.

If I was going for a fictional place, it would probably be Narnia. Tea and toast with Mr Tumnus? A fish supper and marmalade roll at the Beaver's place? A stroll along the battlements of Cair Paravel? Yes, please.

You could live Shadows on the Moon for real! I'm personally scared of Narnia. Total coward. If you could change nature's color palette, would you? What would you change? (ie. blue trees, purple grass?)

Nope. I love nature the way it is. Whenever I head into the woods or the tall grasses or to the beach and see a million shades of green and blue green and yellow green and silvery grey green, or copper and red and gold and bronze, or blue and purple and white and yellow, I feel this amazing sense of peace and happiness. Nature's palette already provides everything the human eye could ever want. It's a matter of training your eye to actually appreciate it.

I'm big on hypothetical questions today, so if you were a flower, which would you be?

I'd love to say something very elegant like a red rose, but in actual fact I see myself more as a cheerful daffodil, making people smile. Or maybe a pink sweetpea - that's my birth flower - which people don't really look at, but which always makes them stop and say 'Oh, what's that lovely scent?'

Sweatpea is one of my favorite scents! I'd probably be a pansy, which is also an overlooked flower (IMHO). Let's change gears a little: which is harder, writing a novel, or writing consistent blog posts?

Novel, hands down. Blog posts come from the front of my brain, from who I am in day to day life. Whatever is going on in my life ends up on the blog and people seem to like that. All I have to do is be honest and be myself. It's an hour or two hours three times a week. The work I put into a novel comes from a much deeper place inside me, a place where I dredge up all the most powerful and essential elements of who I am. When I'm writing a novel I'm putting in eight to twelve hours of work on it six days a week, but more than that, it consumes every spare bit of emotional and brain capacity I have. It's not about my day to day life - it's about creating someone else's life, dark and terrifying and beautiful and transcendent, on the page.

Good answer! I love your blog posts, so the front of your brain must be a very pleasant place.
Would you say that Shadows on the Moon is more like The Swan Kingdom or Daughter of the Flames?

Hmmm. I suppose it's technically more like The Swan Kingdom, since they're both fairytale retellings - and they both feature heroines who need to learn to understand and control their magical gifts. They don't have much in common other than that, though!

I can attest to that! But that's awesome. I love how different all your books are, while all still being wonderful. And one of the best parts in your books is your leading men. If you could date/marry any of your novel’s love-interests, who would it be?

One that you haven't met yet! I'd chose Arian from FrostFire, which is the companion novel to Daughter of the Flames and which I've just finished writing. But that's probably typical - authors always love the book they've just finished the most, and feel closest to the characters they've only just parted with.

For all of the interviews this year I'll be doing mad-libs with the authors. I took random paragraphs from their books and asked them to fill in words mad-lib style. Credit for this idea goes to Everead. Apparently, however, mad-libs are an American thing. I had to explain what it was to Zoe, but the result was worth it! Check it out:

She brought the moppet to me, loaded with a full bowl and several slablike slices of cobweb, sprightly buttered. The delicious gelatinous aroma wafted up to my sticking plaster* and sent a demanding growl echoing from my nostril. It was all I could do not to seize the cobweb from her hands. Instead I waited for her to place it on my summerhouse before bellyflopping on it ravenously.
*sticking plaster is the British equivalent of a band-aid

Thanks, Zoe! This was so fun. I'm glad you got to be the first author featured during the bash. And now it's...


I'm happy to say that today's contest is hosted by fellow Zoe Marriot-enthusiast, Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing! This giveaway is international! You can win your choice of ANY of Zoe's books! But you've got to go to her blog to enter.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Guest Post: Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing

Earlier this year there was an event called Fairy Tale Fortnight in which Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing and Book Rat featured some AWESOME fairy tale novels for two weeks. I LOVE fairy tales, so I had to get in on that action. Thus a beautiful friendship was born. Ashley from BfBtBA is one of the most AMAZING bloggers you will ever meet, and I'm SO excited to get to feature her during the bash. She'll be hosting the contest later today, but in the meantime, why don't you check out her guest post?

There is something about birthdays that is special. That has always been special. I don't care if you are turning 5 or 15 or 50, there is an undeniable excitement that comes as your birthday draws near, whether you expect gifts or not. It doesn't matter if this is the first birthday you will remember, or you've passed through so many you'd rather forget. Birthdays are exciting. And honestly, if you tell me otherwise, I'll think you are lying.

One of my nephews is not quite 2 and already he is talking about his birthday. I don't know what it is about birthdays that makes them so exciting, so fun. But I know that it's there. I remember those birthday parties in school, where kids would bring treats or snacks to share with the class. It was always coolest to have homemade treats, because everyone knows they taste better, and Dude, at that age, it's still cool to have your mom do stuff for you. (Sadly, all schools that I know of don't allow this anymore. Now everything has to be store bought and still sealed. Sigh. My how times have changed.)

My birthday falls 2 days after Christmas. And let me tell you, that can be a real buzzkill. My parents were pretty great about it though, never using Christmas wrapping paper on my gifts, never combining them, or making me feel like it was a nuisance having to celebrate me right after celebrating Christmas, (although other people apparently haven't figured out that I'd rather get nothing than a MerryChristams/HappyBirthday gift. Don't put them together...) But one advantage to being born so close to a nationally recognized and beloved holiday? I have never once had to work or go to school on my birthday. Which, is as it should be. Because let's be honest here... I refuse to work on my birthday. Yup. For realz. Because, seriously- it's my birthday.

Even if the build up isn't quite as exciting as it used to be (getting older, hitting one of those big scary numbers [40/50]) there is something innately exciting about the birthday itself. Something about that day where you can say, Yes. This is my day. That is something that I can't imagine ever getting old. Because you deserve to be special on your birthday.

On your birthday, you are the most important person alive. And I don't think there is anything wrong with using that as an excuse to pamper yourself. To tell your significant other/children that they can clean up the living room today, to decide that being lazy on your birthday and not getting out of your pajamas until 6:00 in the evening is completely alright (and even then, only changing because someone is taking you out to dinner) to ignore your job/homework/housework for 24 hours and just be. Just be special.

Because hey- your birthday only comes once a year, and why wouldn't you want to celebrate you?!

Birthday Bash 2011 Starting Line!

It's here! It's finally here! After a year of waiting and wishing it's time for BIRTHDAY BASH 2011!

This is probably the most exciting thing I do on my blog. It's 31 days of giveaways, author interviews, guest posts, and virtual CAKE! Yup. That's right. There will be cake. The whole blog has been totally birthday-ified! And I'm so excited.

This year we have enough giveaways to have one almost EVERY SINGLE DAY! SO MANY chances to win, brought to you by some AMAZING bloggers and authors. There are SIXTEEN author interviews and some pretty sweet swag to go with. Here's all the information you're going to need for the next month.

I've created a page that will be home base for the bash. The schedule, as well as links to all of the giveaways and interviews will be posted there. There is also a link to this page at the top of the blog.

The twitter hashtag for the bash is #SqueakyBirthday2011. You'll get extra entries in the giveaways for tweeting things with this hashtag.

There's a button! Here it is! In a lot of the giveaways you'll get +5 entries for adding this button to your sidebar. Just copy and paste the HTML in the box below!

<a href=""><img src="" /></a>

You'll also get extra entries in quite a few contests for following the contest host blogs. So if you want to get ahead of the game, check out the various participating blogs on the page and follow them now!

I'm sorry to say that nearly all of the giveaways will be open to US only. The first giveaway (which will happen tomorrow!) is international, though! And it's one of the best giveaways (though they're all pretty awesome), so keep an eye out!

I think that's all the info you need for now. Again, the first giveaway/interview is TOMORROW! All giveaways will end on 9/21/1.

If you have any questions about the bash, or if you're just excited, please leave a comment!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

Prophecy of the Sisters-- Michelle Zink

Release Date: August 1st, 2009
Genre:  Historical Paranormal,
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 352
Amazon Link*: Click Here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.

They just know they can't trust each other.

Blurb: Historical fiction meets urban fantasy in a spine-chilling tale of mystery and murder.
Review: I was worried about this book. I sometimes struggle with historical fantasy because it can come off sounding so... forced. I feel like the author is trying really hard to make us believe we've gone back in time. Michelle Zink doesn't have this problem. Her ability to create a realistic historical setting is brilliant. I was able to forget that I was in a different time and really enjoy the story.

I also loved the mood Zink created. The whole time I was reading I felt eerie, like someone was watching me. It was really spooky! I loved the relationship between Lia and Alice, and it still gives me shivers to think about it.

There was something off, though. The whole time I was reading it I kept feeling like something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what. I'm still not sure what it was, so I'm going to list some possibilities:

1. Too many questions, not enough answers.
  • I felt like there were A LOT of questions in this book, and even though most of them were answered they were answered in these really vague ways. Either in Latin, or in a poem, or in some mysterious voice on the wind. You get the idea. Instead of creating a feel of mystery, this just confused me. I'm still not entirely sure what the "Prophecy" part of the book is about.
2. Jumped too quickly into the story
  • The story starts with a funeral. Bam! There it is. And now we're jumping into the story. Lia's already started to notice some weird things when the book starts, and she's already in a pretty serious relationship with a guy. While I was grateful to be spared the "I like him, does he like me?" part of the book, the quick start made me feel disconnected with the story. Lia already had so many opinions about things, and I didn't know how she had developed those opinions.
3. It was too well written
  • Yup. You read that right. Perhaps one of the reasons I didn't get it is because it was too well written. While I was reading this you could have told me that it was written in the 1800s and I probably would have believed you. The thing is I don't like books written in the 1800s. The main reason I'm not an English major is because I hate reading classics. Like I said, this is just a possibility, but maybe my subconcious thought this read too much like a classic despite the paranormal twist.
So there are my theories. I'm not sure if any of them are correct. Perhaps #1 is correct, but not #2 or #3. Or maybe #2 and #3 are correct, but not #1. It's like one of those stupid multiple choice questions where the anwers are A) 1, B)2, C) 3, D) 1 & 2, E) 1 & 3, F) A & D. You get the drill.

I did purchase the second book and plan to read it soon. Perhaps it will unveil why I feel so disquieted.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Everfound-- Neal Shusterman

Release Date: May 3rd, 2011
Genre:  Paranormal
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 512
Amazon Link*: Click Here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Series: Skinjacker Trilogy #3 (Review of #1, Review of #2)
Summary (Spoilers, highlight to view):
While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth

Review: This is going to be more of a series review than a review of this specific book, since if you haven't read the first two you probably don't care about this specific book.

I read the first book in this series over two years ago and loved it. I had recently read Unwind and thought Shusterman could do no wrong. Unfortunately, since I loved Everlost so much Shusterman really didn't have anywhere to go but down. I've had much more mixed feelings as I've re-read the series in preparation for this book.

The thing is, the series reads like a middle grade series. Even though the characters are mostly mid-late teens and the subject matter is quite mature and disturbing, something about the writing makes me think it belongs in the MG genre. I don't like middle grade, so this colored my opinion. Also, there were some inconsistencies in the book that bugged me. It seems like he wasn't sure if he was going to write sequels to Everlost and when he did he had to change some things. I'm a stickler for consistency, so this bugged me.

However, I definitely enjoy the series. It's one I'll probably give to my younger brother when he's a little older. He'd get a kick out of it. It's got monsters and ghosts and tyrants. Awesome for an early teen. But it also has murder, suicide, and other mature themes that make it fit older readers.

This series has a special place in my heart. Two years ago it was the coolest thing I've read in a long time. However, I also think it's one of those books that is better as a memory and I won't be re-reading them again for a long time, if ever.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Clockwork Angel-- Cassandra Clare

Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Genre:  Paranormal [Romance]
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry
Pages: 476
Amazon Link*: Click Here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all
Blurb: Even though there are some things about Clare's writing and characters that bug me, it's not a bad story.

Review: I've never been a superbig fan of Cassandra Clare, but I read her books so that I can stay on top of the hot books. After reading this book, I'm still not a superbig fan of Cassandra Clare. Do I like her books? Sure, they're fine. But I do have a few serious issues with them.

For one, her writing is VERY difficult for me to read. One of the things people always seem to praise Clare about is how her words seem to flow and are easy to read. I guess I'm abnormal. I always find myself re-reading her sentences because the first time through they don't make ANY sense. Around page 75 (before the story picked up) I was about ready to drop the book just because it was taking me FOREVER to read.

Secondly (and this is the bigger issue), is her leading men. I'm going to be blunt here: I hate the type of boy that is arrogant, aloof, and abusive. Clare's main love interests (Jace & Will) always seem to fit this stereotype. My goodreads update on page 300 read:

"Story is VERY good now, but I have no idea what people see in either Jem OR Will. Especially Will. I think he's a scum bag."

Sure, the men always redeem themselves somehow and show their "soft side." But I just can't stand them. Luckily, that status update received a comment from the lovely author Zoe Marriott who said:

"I really feel I have to put my hand up and say that I don't find rude and demeaning (and sexist!) at all attractive. And I don't write heroes who are that way, despite *some* people telling me that my male characters aren't 'strong' or 'sexy' enough. You know what I find sexy? Kindness, a good sense of humour and someone who listens when I freaking talk. Hmmph."

Yup. I couldn't have said it better myself, Zoe.

HOWEVER, I will say that I did still very much enjoy the story. I will read the other books because I want to know what's going to happen IN TERMS OF PLOT. I couldn't care less about the love story.

So... this review kind of turned into a rant. As always, my rant is more directed at that TYPE of boy (which you can find in dozens of books) not specifically in Ms. Clare's characters. Not trying to be mean. Just felt like it had to be said.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.
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