Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hush, Hush Review

Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
*October 13th 2009 - Simon & Schuster

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush is like a caressive whisper laced with dark allure, painting a deliciously paranormal picture. With an enchanting cover and a captivating synopsis, Hush, Hush ensnares the prospective reader and creates an atmosphere of temptation - which fits in with its contents of fallen angels.

The setting of Hush, Hush is definitely one of its fortes. Modern and immediate, there's a sort of credibility to it, like this could very well be scene-next-door. And then - shhh, shhh - the paranormal aspect kind of sneaks into it subtly, melding in believably. The places this book goes, the locations described - they all add an air of daring danger of the delicious variety. The atmosphere at times is dark, murky, but simultaneously seductive. Tossed in with the prickling sense that something is wrong is the desire to find out what happens next.

For the most part, characterization was interestingly done. The main protagonist Nora Grey is certainly different, but at times some of her reactions were a little odd and unreasonable. (Personally, I wonder if it would have been better to situate her as a junior, rather than a sophomore.) Her sudden turn of affections for Patch was a little sudden - found myself flipping back to see if I had somehow missed a chapter (nope), which seemed to steer more in the direction of lust than love. Patch has been receiving much attention as a bad boy of YA - and in that aspect, it is definitely conceivable why.

The interactions between Patch and Nora are one of Fitzpatrick's more impressive successes in Hush, Hush. The emotions, the tensions, the restraints - Fitzpatrick creates a lovely atmosphere by playing with these. It really comes alive off the page. Once these started occurring, the draw of the book becomes that much stronger. As the plot progresses, it becomes harder and harder to put down. The last paragraph of the synopsis, "ancient battle, etc. etc." sounds like a bit of a melodramatic overstatement in retrospect, but nevertheless, the way it plays out does not disappoint. It'll definitely be interesting to see how the sequel, Crescendo, plays out.

Like its stormy cover, Hush, Hush has "Grey" (Nora) and dark allure (Patch). (Hush, Hush, Crescendo - what brilliant titles!) With lush writing and an intriguing premise, Hush, Hush is a tempting read.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In My Mailbox [26]

Brought to you by Alea & Kristi, Lucid Conspiracy presents In My Mailbox #26...

So this week I got the following:

`Gone by Lisa McMann
`The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
`Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
`The Islands of the Blessed by Nancy Farmer

And I must say, this week's haul was pretty exciting for a number of reasons. First off, I had no idea that these were coming, so it was definitely a little befuddling when the package showed up and lo' and behold, these gems were inside. And of course, the fact that it contained these books - all by such acclaimed authors with great feedback thus far - merely added icing to the cake.

Your turn now though - what was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


By the looks of it, music is turning into a bit of a regular fixture on Lucid Conspiracy - but it's all good. Today I want to hype a fairly new Korean band, MBLAQ. (The peak of my infatuation with them was probably about a month ago now, as people who know in person have heard about ceaselessly ;) Kind of wearing off now, but they're still awesome, so I figured I'd share regardless.)

MBLAQ stands for Music Boys Live in Absolute Quality - and you gotta admit, it's a pretty cool acronym. The members consist of (clockwise from top left) Thunder (who is 2NE1's Sandara Park's younger brother), Mir, G.O., Joon, and Seung Ho.

From the release of their mini album Just BLAQ and their already sky-rocketing fame and reality tv shows, these boys are going to be pretty huge. Plus, by the looks of live recordings on Youtube, they seem pretty decent live too, which is always crucial.

Their first song I was exposed to is Oh Yeah, which is really catchy. (And Lee Joon has one of the most adorable smiles ever in it!) It's weird, the whole translation factor takes on a whole new meaning. After listening/watching the video numerous times and finally seeing the translated lyrics a week later, it definitely wasn't what I would've expected.

From interviews and shows, etc. overall they just seem like a pretty fun group of people! And considering that they're under Rain's umbrella, it seems reasonable to expect great things from them in the upcoming days. I'll leave you guys off with videos of Oh Yeah and GOOD Luv. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In My Mailbox [25]

Brought to you by Alea & Kristi, Lucid Conspiracy presents In My Mailbox #25...
Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal
life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that.
But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills,
Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among
freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is
buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the
guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she's with Colin, the
gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the
most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally
older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life
is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that
something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to?
Will she even know herself?

So only one book since the last IMM post (and one resultant of a mailing mix-up to boot), but still. On the plus side, it's always easier to make a dent in the TBR pile when it's not growing at the same time. ;) But your turn now - what was in your mailbox this week?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Willow Review

Willow - Julia Hoban
*April 2nd, 2009 Dial

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

Julia Hoban's Willow is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece. With an interesting perspective, haunting subject matter and controversial panache, Willow captures teen tragedy and conveys it in an achingly beautiful way.

On the surface, it may seem that Willow is a book about a girl who cuts. Which it is - but it's also so much more than that. This is an issue that I've had personal connections to, so on that basis as well it was really interesting to see it portrayed in literature, because it doesn't get that much coverage. Hoban went above and beyond expectations (which were relatively high to begin with, considering the amount of rave reviews it's received so far). [Cutting] isn't just straight-up judged here - it's surrounded by context, by reasoning, by motivations. And that changes everything. Controversial and thought-provoking, Willow brings a refreshing jolt of reality to the realm of YA.

The perspective of the book - third person present tense - may seem a little odd at first, considering that with that comes a slight level of removal. But as the story progresses, wouldn't have it any other way. Simultaneously offering insight into Willow's mind and giving a little space for neutral (or biased) thought, it works. Hoban's writing style and voice are really something as well. The descriptions, the actions, the narrative itself are all told in a very captivating manner - Willow is definitely exceedingly difficult to put down. Hoban has also managed to capture the teenage voice remarkably well. Every once in a while, there was a phrase here or there that seemed a little out-of-sync age-wise, but then again, even among teens there is a lot of variation in speech.

The characterization was a masterpiece in and of itself. The characters really come alive, fleshed out with complex motivations and insecurities and thought-processes. (And of course, Guy is a rather sweet, well, guy.) One scene his actions seemed to progress a little oddly, but beyond that character traits and actions were highly credible and realistic. Seeing Willow metamorphosize throughout the course of the story was very poignant and beautiful. The reader is carried along on this journey of self-realization along with Willow, which is super-cool.

Hoban attacked a pretty tough topic here, which is always bound to draw some controversy. In this case, it'll be good to shine some light on the issue of teenagers and cutting. Don't want to give away too much, but basically, Hoban's Willow pushes the envelope in a brilliant way. One of the best books of 2009, this review hardly does Willow justice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview: Carolyn MacCullough

We seem to be on a bit of a roll with authors of paranormal/magic these last few interviews, so let's keep the balling rolling with another one! After all, three is a pretty magical number. Presenting... Carolyn MacCullough!

Let's kick it off with a little fun - tell us about ONCE A WITCH in twenty words, and try to toss in as many alliterations as you can. Once upon a time there was a wicked warlock who wanted to win the heart of a winsome witch . . . er, okay, I've gotten away from the plot entirely. Twenty words? Tamsin Greene is a teen who comes from a long line of witches, yet she herself has no magical power...or so she thinks until one rainy August evening...

Ooh... The concept of witches has been around for a very long time, but each author puts a unique spin on them. What differentiates the ones in your book?
They're modern day witches (yes, it's been done before) who are still practicing their witchy ways in a world that's definitely unaware of them. This causes some conflict and tension for Tamsin, the protagonist--how does she function in the "normal" world and the "paranormal" world of her family.

Definitely quite the dilemna to be in. ONCE A WITCH - quite the title there. Care to share how that came about?
I don't know! I think I just love the phrase once a Witch, always a Witch--by the way, Always a Witch is the title of the sequel.

Phrased like that, the two titles connect beautifully! There's no denying that ONCE A WITCH is cauldron-ful of interesting characters. If you could chillax with one of them for a day, who would it be, and what would you guys do?
Ah, my pick would be Gabriel. I love him! And I have a soft spot for musicians, so since he is one, I'd definitely like to hang out in some funky jazz bar in the Village and have him explain jazz to me. (Since I'm woefully ignorant on it).

Haha, sounds like it would be tons of fun! Any literary crushes?
Neil Gaiman. For sure, Neil Gaiman.

Great pick. Are there any details about ALWAYS A WITCH that you're currently at liberty to share with us?
Of course! In Always a Witch, the adventures of Tamsin and Gabriel continue. Rowena is a complete bridezilla and luckily for Tamsin there's more time travel--a lot more this time--a huge chunk of the book is set in Victorian New York of the 1800's where we get to meet the evil Knight family.

Really looking forward to see how the story spins further in the sequel. Anything else to add?
Come visit me at for quizzes, an excerpt of the book, and an awesome book trailer.

Thanks for dropping by, Carolyn - it was great fun having you!

My review for Once a Witch can be found

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I don't know about you guys, but for me there's always a trill of excitement upon finding new music, new artists, whose work just clicks. Something about the sound, the charisma, the stage presence, the mannerisms - when it all just meshes, it's a beautiful thing.

Discovered a couple of artists recently who are pretty amazing, and figured I'd share with the findings with you guys over the upcoming weeks. First up is Orianthi, a 24-year-old Australian guitarist.

I find her admirable for a number of reasons. First off, rockin' female guitarist = respect in my book, any day of the week. The fact that she's probably on track to join a long line of guitarists on whole nother level set for the history books only augments the allure. (See her website and Wikipedia article for more information.)

"She's opened for her hero (Steve Vai), backed an Idol (Carrie Underwood), traded solos with a legend (Carlos Santana) and shared the stage with the King of Pop (Michael Jackson)."
-from her website bio

Now after all this great background information, I'm sure you guys can't wait to check out some of her music. The first (and so far, only, actually) song of hers that I was introduced to was According to You. It's got one of those catchy sort of beats, and the music video is pretty cool as well. Enjoy:

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