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    Book Watch: Middle Ground


    MIDDLE GROUND by Katie Kacvinsky will be released in the U.S. on November 20, 2012 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online to pre-order in both formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

    Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, the print edition is 336 pages.

    MIDDLE GROUND is the sequel to author Katie Kacvinsky’s AWAKEN.


    The week of November 20th is a quiet week for releases here in the U.S. I’m not wholly certain, but I think it might be Thanksgiving that week, which would explain it.

    But there are a couple books that I’m really looking forward to and the one I’m most excited for is MIDDLE GROUND by Katie Kacvinsky. The first book in the series, AWAKEN, was one of the first requests I made on NetGalley when I started blogging. And while it took me awhile to move it to the top of my pile, when I did I was so surprised and amazed by just how much I loved it.

    I gave it my off-the-menu rating in my review and I even added a “food for thought” section at the end. Because that book really got me to thinking about a future where we’ve isolated ourselves indoors due to advances in technology. A future that feels an awful lot like the present.

    Anyway…I’ve been anxiously awaiting the follow-up, to find out what’s next for Maddie and Justin. And after having read the description, I’m really, really nervous about just what lies ahead. Because it seems that Maddie gets sent to a detention center where there’s reprogramming involved. One where if they are successful she’ll happily accept the digital existence she fought so hard against.

    So I’m terrified for her. And as there is no mention of Justin, I can’t even begin to imagine what happened to him. Though I am hopeful that either she’ll have the strength to resist or will have a savior in him. And with less than three weeks until its release, I won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

    Katie Kacvinsky did such a brilliant job of painting our future society in a way that was scarily realistic and I can only imagine she’ll do the same with this sequel. And after nearly a year-and-a-half, I am psyched to finally be able to get the chance to read this next book, one that I absolutely think deserves the spotlight this, or any, week.

    Places to Watch

    The author on TWITTER

    The author on FACEBOOK

    The author’s WEBSITE


    About the Book

    Goodreads Description:

    In this provocative cautionary tale for teens, the sequel to Awaken, seventeen-year-old Maddie’s rebellion against the digital-only life grows dangerous.

    Maddie is in Los Angeles, trying to stay out of trouble. But one night, a seemingly small act of defiance lands her in the place she fears the most: a detention center. Here, patients are reprogrammed to accept a digital existence. Maddie is now fighting for her mind, her soul, and her very life.

    Once again, Katie Kacvinsky paints a disturbing picture of our increasingly technology-based society.

    Other Amazing Books to Watch

    Here are two other awesome books releasing the week of November 20th:

    Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Witter

    Elemental by Antony John


    The Extras: Teasers #5

    There are so many amazing books out there – released or soon-to-be-released – that have certain passages that just captivate.

    Here are just a few of those that caught my attention in the past month.


    I know I had this quote in my review, but looking back over the book, with all its amazing passages and quotes, this one is still my favorite.

    I cannot stop laughing just picturing this. Any book that can infuse humor into a love story has got my vote.

    Kate to Georgia:

    “Yeah, right, like Catherine Deneuve has her own hot-guy SWAT team trolling the neighborhood for celebrity stalkers with swords.”

    In this story filled with so many humorous passages, I just had to choose the one that was all warm and fuzzy.

    No, it’s not sappy, not even close, and any girl would die for a pickup line like this one.

    Colt to Ash:

    “Somehow, one night, at a bar filled with retirees and old fisherman, in a town that might as well be off the map, he sees a girl sitting at the bar. Even though she’s only twisting idly in her bar stool ordering a drink, that’s all it takes for him to recognize that she might be the fire he’s been looking for. In that moment he realizes that he could spend the rest of his life doing all the things he ever wanted to do in all the places he ever wanted to see, but if he doesn’t ask her for her name, this is the moment that, forty years from now, he’ll still remember as the moment when he blew it.”

    (As this passage was taken from an ARC the final version may differ. I hope it doesn’t. I really, really hope it doesn’t, but if it does I will be sure to make the change.)

    I loved the author’s writing in this book. I think there are so many beautiful passages. The way she expresses the character’s thoughts and feelings is just so eloquent.

    Most of the passages I would have chosen gave too much away, but I found one that I loved and which also gives some insight into who Maddie is.

    Maddie’s thoughts:

    I didn’t realize how much I needed to touch somebody. I took a deep breath and felt the hollowness inside of my chest slowly curl in on itself. It’s strange that a single person can be as nourishing, as necessary as food to make you feel alive.

    I just love books with passages that leave me breathless. This is one of those books and one of those passages. I don’t think I need to say more, it speaks for itself.

    Gemma’s thoughts:

    But I was caught off guard, unprepared to deal with what I was now experiencing with Henry. The searing, white-hot heat of my feelings for this magnificent person was different, almost primal. I didn’t expect to be sucked under by such a ferocious wave of raw emotion. It scared me a little, like when the water rushes back into the sea and the sand disappears under my feet. I knew that within the sealed framework that was my heart, Henry would be my undoing, my last and only love until I exhaled my dying breath. I just hoped that when I finally did die, at the hands of Lucian or some other unseen entity, that Henry’s face would be the last I would see, that his lips would be the last I would taste, before moving onto the in-between.

    Everything about this book is graceful and so beautifully written. Instead of giving a peek into Finley Jayne’s thoughts, I thought I’d give a taste of just what Griffin thought as he gazed at Finley.

    Talk about romantic – in a crowded room he just knew she was there and was drawn to her. Swoon, swoon.

    Griffin’s thoughts:

    Something drew his gaze. A young woman in a splendid feathered costume that made her look like the most exotic bird. His heart gave one tight thump against his ribs as he recognized her. His senses had found her even when he hadn’t been looking.

    Finley. And she was holding on to Jack Dandy like a woman in love.

    This just proves that chivalry is not dead….Well, at least not in fiction. And most definitely not for a knight.

    An exchange between Pietro and Gabriella:

    “Pietro, I–” I whispered.

    “To the end, m’lady,” he said with a nod. His eyes did not break from mine. “See that you get to it, that you save Marcello and Fortino as well as yourselves, and I shall consider my life well spent.”

    Inside, my heart again screamed at me to stay, to fight with him, but my mind understood that it would do no one any good if we all died here. And unless we escaped, we would all die this day. I looked at the other two men and Mom, then back to Pietro. “I shall remember you forever.”

    He smiled and covered his heart. “To remembered forever by one of the Ladies Betarrini is an honor I shall cherish with my dying breath.”

    This book is filled with some wonderfully, deliciously torturous passages that will play wicked games with your heart. Here is just a fraction of one of them.

    Lucas and Helen:

    Lucas’s whole face crumpled. Helen had had no reason to hope after what she had heard the night before, but for some reason there was a tiny spark still glowing in her that maybe, somehow, she had misunderstood. Or that he would change his mind. It went out completely when Lucas nodded.

    No one but Jenna Black has ever made the leader of the Wild Hunt so appealing. At least no one I’ve read. Even though he’s way too old for Dana, how can he not be the most intriguing character in the series with passages like this one?

    Dana’s thoughts about the Erlking:

    Every time I laid eyes on him, it was like a punch to the gut. He was probably the most frightening and dangerous person I had ever met, and he was also the most breathtakingly gorgeous. Even for a Fae, which is saying a lot. He was a bad boy to the nth degree, only there was nothing remotely boyish about him.

    (As this passage was taken from an ARC the final version may differ. If it does I will update the post.)


    I debated long and hard about including a passage from If I Die by Rachel Vincent. I even have it picked out. It is absolutely delectable. It teases, oh how it teases, but it doesn’t reveal anything. But as the book is so far from release date I thought it would be cruel. But there are definite “to die for” passages in that book. Be prepared.


    Review: Awaken

    Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky was released in the U.S. on May 23, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online to pre-order in both formats from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, the print edition is 320 pages.

    Awaken is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at and is one of my original twelve picks.

    Goodreads description:

    Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

    Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

    In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.


    In 2060 the majority of people spend their lives indoors. Tucked safely away in their homes, hidden from the dangers of society in their encapsulated environments.

    Plugging in and reaching out digitally to make those human connections with the outside world. Inventing the lives they want to live, creating the people they want to be, simply by pushing a button.

    Experiencing the world through their digital personas, learning only what Digital School wishes to teach, and thinking only in those rare moments when they are not plugged in, being bombarded with the constant digital chatter that fills the emptiness their lives have become.

    Imagine living this life, not realizing you were asleep. Not until the moment when someone woke you up.


    Awaken is a thought-provoking dystopian novel, with an utterly compelling storyline and an intensely captivating love story.

    Set in a future version of our society in which people have isolated themselves and grown to rely so heavily on technology that they aren’t even aware of this shift, Awaken challenges readers to take a look down the road to see what their lives might become.

    Living in fear, trapped indoors, willing to let those in power make her decisions for her, and choosing to experience life in that single dimension that digital technology offers, is how Madeline Freeman exists day after day and year after year. It’s the only life she knows. It’s the one she’s comfortable with, even if it doesn’t make her truly happy.

    Making those connections to her hundreds of digital friends around the world, from the security of her bland-colored home with its laminate safety flooring, eating her bland-tasting food, and looking out at her artificial lawn and plastic trees ensures that nothing exciting will ever happen, but gives her the peace of mind that nothing bad will happen either.

    But when Justin Solvi enters her life, he makes her aware that there’s more to living than just being plugged in. That there is a real world outside of the artificial one she’s created for herself, and that she has the ability to think and do for herself without relying on any outside influences.

    Awaken is the story of a girl who learns that there is more to the world than what she has been led to believe, that safety isn’t always worth the price of freedom and that even one person can make a difference.

    Author Katie Kacvinsky has really given readers something to think about with Awaken. She has certainly motivated this reader to step outside and unplug for awhile.

    But she has also written an enchanting love story between two people who have lived very different lives, but who share the same passion and determination for what they believe in.

    Madeline and Justin are smart, strong, insightful and courageous. Maddie starts off as sympathetic character but grows into one who is incredibly likable and Justin is lovable from the very beginning.

    There are very few stories that inspire thought in a way that is engaging and exciting. This story is one of the few. Awaken dares readers to wake up.

    Reviewer gives this book [rating=6] Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

    On a personal note:

    Wow. Just, wow. Talk about scary good. If I even thought it was going to be remotely as amazing as it was, I would have read this story months ago when I first saw it on NetGalley.

    Awaken was a complete surprise. From the moment I started reading it, I just fell right into the story. I loved the author’s writing style. It flowed so beautifully. And some of those passages just took my breath away. I literally had to stop and sigh a few times before I could read on.

    The story itself was totally relatable. Even though it’s set in the future, the transition from now until then follows a very believable path. And the fear that initially caused people to hide behind closed doors made complete sense. As scary as this future seems from our perspective, it’s one that is very possible down the road.

    This is another book that really made me think. It offered so many concepts that gave me pause and made me apply them to real life. The ideas in this book are really not much of a stretch from where we are right now and where things are headed in the not-so-distant future.

    But I also fell in love with the love story and the two main characters, Maddie and Justin. Even though his motivation wasn’t completely pure, what he did for Maddie was the best gift anyone could ever receive.

    Justin is totally swoon-worthy. He is also noble and selfless and one of those good guys you just really want to get to know.

    Maddie was another surprise. I knew from the start that there was something there, but she really grew as a character in ways that I didn’t initially think possible when I started the book. And it wasn’t all Justin’s doing, which I’m glad.

    They are such a perfectly matched couple. I did not expect a love story when I read this book. At least not one that made me sigh so many times. Every single time they were together I was completely drawn in.

    And most of all I loved seeing the real world through Maddie’s eyes. Having her experience the simplest things like touching the grass and hearing the wind in the trees for the very first time was so amazing. It reminded me just how much I take for granted.

    And of course I love that our main character, who spent most of her life trapped indoors, was ironically named Freeman.

    When I started reading Awaken I thought this was a standalone book. I got really worried when I was almost done and it felt like there was so much story left to tell. The ending completely left me hanging, yet at the same time it felt as if that might have been intentional, so that readers could fill in the rest with their imaginations.

    But I am so totally relieved that there is another book planned. And I hope it comes out soon, because I am dying to find out what happens next. I want to see if these characters can really make a change to this world in 2060 where everyone has become so isolated.

    This was a completely unexpected read, and one that I am totally in love with. Even though this story is a dystopian, it feels just as equally character-driven as society-driven. I can’t wait to see more from the author and to read the next book whenever it comes out.

    My favorite swoon-worthy passage:

    He grabbed my face in his hand and pulled me close and this time he kissed me, really kissed me, and I opened up my mouth and my heart and my soul and he flooded in.


    According to the author’s blog there is a sequel planned for Awaken.

    Book trailer for Awaken:


    This review is based on an eARC I received courtesy of Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley.

    Food for thought: I wrote this review in the evening, after working remotely from my home office. Connecting to my office across the country only by computer. Communicating with my co-workers through email and text messages.

    I wrote this on my laptop, checking in with my digital “friends” throughout the day. I submitted this review to an online website, posted it on my blog, and spread the word online through Twitter and Facebook.

    I did not have to step out of doors, speak with any person, or make a real life connection with anyone in order to do this. So I have to wonder just how much different am I from Maddie? And it’s only 2011…


    My Reading Pile #10


    Oh. Em. Gee. I will never get through any of this pile at the rate I’m going! Especially as I spend most of my time reading eBooks. I really must stop those NetGalley requests so that I can even hope to succeed.

    But, I am still attempting to claw my way through this ginormous heap of books. Although I do see one or two on there that will be given away soon. Maybe even this weekend…

    I have only received a few books by mail this week, so I will hold off on posting the picture until I get more. I wouldn’t want you to think my reading pile is shrinking, now would I? And I’m only expecting twenty books or so in the next week, that’s not so bad is it?

    Here are the books I have in my reading pile this week.

    (May 22-May 28, 2011)


    The very first up will be Starcrossed. I can’t wait to start reading this. It’s been nearly impossible not to jump ahead in my pile and start this one earlier. I’ve heard it’s amazing and I rambled about it in my Book Watch post earlier this week so I won’t bore you again. But, I can’t wait until it comes out at the end of the month.

    I will be escaping with this amazing sounding book this weekend, because it just seems like the kind of story that will pull me right in. And I can’t wait to see what the finished copy of this book looks like, because I only have the eGalley right now.

    If you haven’t yet checked it out, HarperTeen is giving readers a chance to browse inside Starcrossed, HERE.

    Awaken is one of my earliest NetGalley requests and is one of the books that I originally chose for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. I’m so glad that I finally get to read it and that I didn’t make the mistake of reviewing it way too early.

    And yes, because it’s releasing on the 23rd it was in last week’s “Releasing This Week” post with book trailer and all.

    I noticed this book because of its cover and title. But it was the world the author created that ensnared me. I am already rooting for the main character to succeed in making a change and breaking out of that rather bleak future, which seems way too realistic a possibility.

    To check out Awaken on Goodreads, click here.

    I wanted to read Putting Makeup on Dead People ever since I first heard about it. The idea of finding beauty in something that is so morbid just kind of gelled with me.

    I didn’t even realize it was a debut book until after I picked it up on NetGalley, but I’m glad to have added another debut to my pile.

    The very first lines of the description are just so clever and perfect and I can’t wait to find out if this book lives up to all of my expectations.

    In the spring of her senior year, Donna Parisi finds new life in an unexpected place: a coffin.

    How cool is that?

    To check it out on Goodreads for yourself, click here.


    Lucky number three again this week, however there are a few more that are lingering behind the scenes, such as first books in a series that I need to read before their June release dates. So, we’ll see if I manage to tackle any of them before it’s too late.

    I have not yet received Jennifer Armentrout’s Half-Blood but I am hoping my postman will be kind and deliver it to me today. (He seems to love giving me books right after I create my weekly Reading Pile posts.) And of course that one would get moved right to the very top.

    I am also trying to squeeze in a couple eBooks that I am considering for review for the end of the month, so as always I am ever hopeful.

    Wishful thinking reads:

    I really want to read The Vampire Stalker by Allison Van Diepen this week, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze it in. I loved Raven, which I read prior to becoming a blogger, but this will be my very first review of this author’s work.

    And I’m going to try and read Cryptic Cravings as I don’t want to fall behind on a series that I have loved since book one. Each book has been such a quick read that I can’t imagine not finding a little extra time to read it.

    Those left behind:

    I am behind on a couple of reviews, and still have to finish one of the books on the pile from last week. I don’t think I did too badly, although I really don’t feel as if I read much of anything. But I must have done something or all those books would be listed here as having been left behind.

    I think one of these weeks I will opt to have a reading vacation and spend my time catching up on the fifty programs filling up my DVR, but for now I’m still trying to tackle that pile. And somehow, against my better judgment, I just keep adding to it.


    Do you create a reading pile?

    If so, what’s in your pile this week?


    Book Watch: Releasing This Week #20

    Below are the YA books coming out this week that I am spotlighting for my “Book Watch: Releasing This Week” post.

    These are books for the week of May 17th-May 23rd that I have pre-ordered.


    Vampire Kisses 8: Cryptic Cravings by Ellen Schreiber will be released in the U.S. on May 17, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online to pre-order in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Katherine Tegen Books, a division of HarperCollins, the print edition is 224  pages.

    It feels like forever since the last book in this series came out and I literally stalked Amazon until the book was available to pre-order for my Kindle. I discovered this series during my vampire books craze and completely devoured the first six books in the series in a couple of days. They’re fun, sweet books to read and Raven is a great character.

    In this eighth installment, Jagger’s back along with a whole bunch more vampires and they’re trying to turn Dullsville into a much more exciting place to be. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I hope things progress for Raven and Alexander – for Raven’s sake especially.

    HarperTeen is once again giving readers a chance to browse inside, HERE.

    I have not read the peek, but it’s always nice when there’s the option.

    Graveminder by Melissa Marr will be released in the U.S. on May 17, 2011 in hardcover, eBook and audio formats. It is currently available to pre-order online in all formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, the print edition is 336 pages.

    I already spotlighted Graveminder for my Book Watch post, which has the Goodreads description for those who don’t know what this book is about, so I promise not to blather on and on about this book that I so cannot wait to read.

    This cover is so utterly creepy and I’m glad I’ll be reading this on one of my eReaders rather than from the book, because the cover kind of freaks me out. As this is not a young adult book, I can’t wait to see how out there the author went. I just hope that there will be no nightmares involved during, or after, the read.

    Only a few more days until release day. I cannot wait!

    The author has an excerpt of the prologue on her website, HERE.

    Mercy by Rebecca Lim will be released in the U.S. on May 17, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to pre-order in both formats from Amazon and in hardcover format from Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Hyperion Books, a division of Disney, the print edition is 288 pages.

    Mercy was previously published in Australia on October 28, 2010 in paperback format and on November 1, 2010 in eBook format by HarperCollins Australia. The eBook version of Mercy is available to download now at Amazon.

    I have an eARC of Mercy on my reading pile this week but I plan on downloading the finished copy on the 17th. And if I love this story and it ends on a cliffhanger I may just grab the two other books in the trilogy immediately instead of waiting for the U.S. release.

    I am always fascinated by all things immortal so I can’t wait to see how that plays into this story of fallen angels. And the promise of mystery and romance makes this even more alluring.

    Book trailer for Mercy from HarperCollins Australia:

    Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky will be released in the U.S. on May 23, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online to pre-order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

    Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, the print edition is 320 pages.

    Awaken is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at

    I haven’t heard much buzz about this book. I believe it was one of the first books I requested from NetGalley last winter, after having read its description. In those early days I tried to read everything right away, but I decided to wait for a while to read Awaken, as the release date for this book was so far off.

    I think what drew me to Awaken was that the futuristic world the author created, in which everything is done on a computer with almost no human interaction, seemed like a very real possibility for our society’s future, and it sounded both scary and intriguing.

    As I do have an eARC for review, and I am now within the allotted time frame set by the publisher for reviews, I can’t wait to finally read Awaken and see what the author does to her character who discovers that maybe there’s something more than just living an isolated life behind a computer.

    And I do have this one on pre-order for my Kindle as I think it’s going to be great.

    I did watch the trailer and parts of it really creep me out! So of course I had to include it, below.

    Book trailer for Awaken:


    This week is another fairly quiet one for new releases, and my wallet would be happy if I hadn’t wandered into Barnes & Noble on Saturday and did not leave empty-handed.

    But at least I only have four books pre-ordered, although, like last week, I don’t anticipate making it to the end without buying one or two more books to read.

    As always, I would love to hear what you’re hoping to add to your collection this week!

    Please let me know if there is a “must read” that I’ve missed. I do not like to miss out on owning great books, even if I can’t read them right away.



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