Monday, January 31, 2011

Cover Review (11): XVI

Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by Tawni at The Book Worms where a beautiful cover is featured each week for all of us to admire. I am going to use my Cover Crazy posts as an opportunity to review a book cover I love or review any cover (even the ones I don't love). This week's Cover Crazy is for a cover I really don't love for a book I haven't read:


Does anyone  actually refer to this book as “Sixteen”?

I’ve never called this book anything but “ex-vee-eye” and I don’t think I’ll ever think of it as “Sixteen.” Was that the intention? Am I doing what I’m supposed to do, or did the publisher/author intend us to call this book Sixteen?

Honestly, though, if I didn’t already know the title, I think I’d probably look at this cover and be really confused. It would take me an embarrassingly long time to realize those cut outs were roman numerals and not just random slashes on the cover. I might even think the title was “Julia Karr” and wonder who the author was. As far as clarity is concerned, this cover gets a fail from me.  

Then there’s the girl. She doesn’t really stand out for me in any way. She doesn’t glitter. She isn’t wearing a pretty dress. Her hair isn’t flowing beautifully. There are no pretty colors here to grab my attention. Eh, I’m disinterested. Shallow? Sure, I won’t deny that. But I’m still not picking up the book based on the cover.

She does look tough. I’ll give her that. She looks like a girl I don’t want to mess with. Looking out through those slashes makes me think she’s looking out through prison bars, which ups her tough-quotient considerably. It also makes me wonder about the nature of her prison. But…this isn’t tough in the “Woah, she’s kickass!” kind of way. This girl looks tough in a slightly annoying “girl with attitude” roll-your-eyes kind of way. Do I really want to read her story? I’m thinking no.

Those are my initial impressions. Looking a little deeper and in conjunction with the blurb, I start to gain a little more appreciation for the cover. Here’s the blurb (from Goodreads):

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear.
That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

Ok, so now I know what the XVI stands for and I see that while the tattoo may be small and on her wrist, its presence really defines her entire being in this society. It makes a lot more sense now that the XVI takes up the entire cover and is plastered over the girl’s face. Those numbers redefine her entire world and supersede every aspect of her life. In a very real way, she is a prisoner of the numbers.

Based on the blurb and knowing this is a dystopian, I’m guessing this girl isn’t going to take her branding sitting down. I imagine she’s going to fight, and so that tough girl look is a lot more attractive. I like my dystopian heroines to kick butt.

The tagline also makes a lot more sense now. What an understatement it is! Innocence really does end at age sixteen if these girls are being turned into sex chattel. The idea is horrific for anyone, but the emphasis on the word “sixteen” underscores the idea that sixteen is a shockingly young age for this sort of thing to happen. I imagine it also speaks to sixteen year olds looking at the book, drawing a bright red connection to their own experiences.

It also might help connect the dots about the title for people like me (XVI, huh??)…

I appreciate the cover a lot more now that I’ve read the blurb. But, I’m not drawn to reading it. I’m still shallow and it still turns me off.


What do you think about this cover? 
Do you like it? Dislike it? 
Does it make you want to read the book?

Interested in covers? 
Be sure to check out another Cover Crazy post by Gina from My Precious. 


Previous Cover Crazy posts:
More of my Cover Crazy posts. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review Comparison Submissions (1)

Have you written a review for the following books? 
If you would like your review to be featured in an upcoming Review Comparison post, please email me direct links to your reviews!

What is a Review Comparison? 
  • I'll read your reviews and list some of the pros and cons you've mentioned about the book. 
  • I'll link to your full review so readers can get a chance to see different views about a book.

If you would like to participate, please e-mail me direct links to your reviews on the following books: 

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey

Please note:
  • Only direct links for the featured books will be accepted.
  • The pros and cons list may include direct quotes from your review.
  • All direct quotes will be credited with a link to your blog. 
  • Submission of a link does not guarantee inclusion in the final post. 
  • You do not have to be a follower of my blog to submit your review.
  • You may submit direct links to your review on Goodreads if you are not a blogger.
  • Submissions will be accepted until Thursday, February 3rd. Submissions will not be accepted after this date.

In My Mailbox (11)

In My Mailbox is a meme started by Kristi at The Story Siren with some inspiration from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie where we get to post about the books we receive each week through publishers/authors, our own purchases, contests won, and libraries.
The cute IMM button comes from Bewitched Bookworms.

As always, all of the photos will go larger if you click on them.

Free E-books

I got both of these from Amazon, but I think they're also available through Barnes and Noble.

From the Library

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
(Click on the title to go to Goodreads)

I'm torn about whether or not I should start this book. I've heard so many great things about it, but I've also heard there's a cliffhanger ending. I have a few things to read before this one, so I have some time to decide. 


Thank you to both bloggers! If you're not familiar with their blogs, please do check them out. They're both seasoned bloggers who set the standard for YA book blogging.

I'm hoping to read Bloodthirsty soon. I've read Deadly and will have a review posted up soon.

What did you get in your mailbox (or on your library card or credit card)? Feel free to add your IMM links in your comments. You can also stop by my discussion post today Because Fictional Guys Are Better

Do you have a review to submit? I'm currently collecting submissions for two upcoming Review Comparisons! Click here to learn about submitting your reviews.

Discussion: Because Fictional Guys are Better

Some of you may recall in my previous discussion post Librarians: The Naughty Old Grouch I mentioned that I am engaged to a fictional guy. I also promised that I would explain that strange claim with a totally and completely sane explanation. This post is that explanation.

Warning: I know you're all used to funny pictures, but every discussion post can't be funny. Honestly, I'm really not a very funny person and some discussions need to be serious. 

And fictional guys? Totally serious.  

(FYI, these pictures get bigger if you click on them. Just saying...)

There's something about fictional guys that makes them ah-mazing.

Is it that they're often penned by women and are closer to (someone's) dreams than reality? 

Is it that special *something* that makes a guy with a sword super sexy?

That dangerous gleam in their eyes?

The thrill that he just might turn to the dark side?

Or even that little bit of "sarcastic ass" that fictional guys can get away with?

Regardless of which fictional guy you're personally lusting after, I think we're all on the same page that the answer the the question of

"Would you like a fictional guy to come to life?" 

is a resounding 


You boys walking into Mordor? Sure, I'll come along. :)

But what does this have to do with me? Am I dating any of those hotties? No, no I am not. My story requires us to go back in time. Back to 1992, to be specific. In 1992 I was two feet shorter than I am now and attending elementary school. My life was pretty sweet, but the sweetest part was when that heavenly Scholastic book fair would come to school. The chamber of tortures (read: the gym) was transformed into a sanctuary of wonderment and joy.

Picture it: tables and tables covered in books and I could have whatever I wanted! Tell me that's not heaven on Earth. So I was browsing around when suddenly I came upon this little book:

My eight-year-old heart went Ooh-la-la and I picked up the book. Basically the book is like a slightly different version of Bridge to Terabithia, but I wasn't at all concerned about that (it is a good book though. Really). All I cared about what Blaze, that guy on the cover. I had a cute little kid crush on him. Thinking back, he was actually one of my first book-boy crushes. Later on I got a little older and discovered the bad boy. Blaze was a fond memory and I still kept my copy, but life went on.

Flash forward ten years to when I first began dating my wonderful fiance. We had been together a few months and everything was roses and puppy dogs. By this point he had become well-acquainted with my book obsession and figured he'd show me something kind of cool. So what does he do?

He whips out a copy of Words of Stone, points to MY Blaze on the cover and says:

He's older now. And blond.

"That's me."

He told me all about how he used to be a cover model when he was a kid and how that's him on the cover and he's also on a cover of a Babysitter's Club book but he doesn't know which one.....etc, etc. Except, at this point I'm speechless and looking like I'm about to faint dead away. Not because I'm blow away by the fact that he's been on books, and not just any books, but books that I loved (The BSC? I lived and breathed for them). Oh no, I would have been squealing over that for sure, but this was a whole 'nother thing!

This was Blaze! MY Blaze! I had a little 8-year-old-girl crush on my fiance before I even knew he existed! 

Kinda cool, right? 

Well, that's my story. See, totally sane. 

What about all of you? Have you ever had something book-related come true? Meet an author? Know a cover model? Etc.. Which fictional guy would you want to come to life to be your real life boyfriend? Or, you know, your sexy one night stand (because some of them are hot but a little *much* if they were actually real. Like, you know, Damon's whole centuries of killing people thing...)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
Release Date: April 4, 2011
Publisher: Graphia

Pages: 237
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads Page

Looking for something to read for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge? This would be a great pick!


From Goodreads: 

At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her. For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity. But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?


What do I say about this book? Did I like it? Yes. Did I dislike it? Yes. This is one of those books where its length works in its favor. I sped through The Lipstick Laws in two days (and only that slow because I read it on my computer) and while I was reading it I pretty much enjoyed it. A few things rubbed me wrong, but overall I had a fun time. It wasn’t until I had finished and was thinking back on what happened that I realized I didn’t actually like it as much as I had originally thought.

The book is narrated by April, an insecure girl who catches the eye of mean girl Britney and her gaggle of followers. April’s voice is very readable. She has a sarcastic sense of humor and just the right combination of insecurity and spunk to make her relatable. I never got tired of her adorable names for things like her crush (Hottie-Body-Brentwood) and all of her hilarious names for boobs and bras. Every time she referred to herself as a “bosom sculptor” (she stuffs her bra) I cracked up. Am I easily amused? Yeah, maybe, but, come on! Bosom sculptor?! That’s just funny. 

The humor is really what carried the book for me. April’s running commentary had me chuckling and there were a few scenes that had me laugh out loud. And I mean loud. There’s this one scene by a pool that just kept getting funnier and funnier with each event. As far as mean girl revenge is considered, well, let’s just say someone got OWNED and it was glorious (in that totally immoral I would never do that kind of way). I was so busy laughing through this book that it took me a while to realize I didn’t actually like the main characters.

I could totally see where April was coming from with wanting to be popular and not incur Britney’s wrath, so I understand why she went along with the Lipstick Laws. That didn’t bother me. I get that. What did bother me, though, was how almost every heinous aspect April (correctly) complained about in Britney was something April did herself! In a lot of ways, Britney came off as more sympathetic than April because at least Britney had horrible parents who “made her” how she was. April had no such explanation.

I kept hoping this would be the moral of the story: April would recognize how similar she was to Britney and she’d change her ways. This was touched on and the point was sort of made, a little, but….it wasn’t enough. By the end of the book I wasn’t convinced that April had really learned anything and was going to make any lasting changes (especially with that last page). After letting the book settle with me a little I realized that I was very annoyed with April for not growing enough. In the beginning I could even like her more because she hadn’t realized her behavior yet, but after she realized it and still stayed the same? That bugged me.

This is a big reason why I lowered the rating. If April had really learned her lesson in the end, I probably would have rated this a four. It wasn’t fantastic literature, but for a mean girls book, it was fun.

I recommend this book to readers who liked the movie Mean Girls, The Clique series by Lisi Harrison, or Art Geeks and Prom Queens by Alyson Noel. This was a cute, quick read that was undoubtedly funny. I am sold on Amy Holder’s writing, so I will definitely be interested in picking up her next book. I just hope whatever she writes next has a more likable character with more growth than April showed.
 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

This book satisfies the following challenges: 

Looking for another funny contemp? You might like: 
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

Friday, January 28, 2011

Recap 1/22 to 1/28

In case you missed anything, here's a recap of what was posted Saturday, January 22nd through Friday, January 28th. 

(Click on the links to go to my reviews)



What's Your Status? Is a meme created by Zakiya from Butterfly Feet Walking on Life where we recap our reading week. Feel free to visit her site and link up your own What's Your Status Posts. Here's how my week went:


Winter's Passage (Iron Fey novella) by Julie Kagawa
(Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
(Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

Most Wanted by Kate Thompson
(Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

Currently Reading

(Click on the link to go to Goodreads)

Did Not Finish

Minder by Kate Kaynak
Page132 of 264
Received: From author

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, but as it went on I started to like it less. I loved the atmosphere of the school, the fact that the students all had powers, and the conflict brewing between the different students. Often in books like this, each character has a unique power (think X-Men), but in Kate's story school cliques are formed by students who share the same powers. Chimes, students who had the power to speak instructions the recipient was compelled to follow were the antagonists. I thought they were done really well and their powers were frightening. I also liked how the main character stood up to the Chimes, coming up with some really great ways to stick it to them. 

The MC was a bit too powerful, though. She was so powerful that a lot of the conflict of the story was removed. She could easily overcome any antagonist, so there wasn't much tension. I've seen some people also criticize her for using her telepathy to read everyone's mind. People have complained that this is unethical. I agree, it is...but if I were a teen who just found out I was a telepath, you'd better believe I'd use my power. Unethical, yes, but the temptation is so huge I don't think I could fight it. I can't blame the MC for using it, though I did like her a little less because of it.

My interest started to really lessen with the introduction of the love interest. This was the insta-love type of romance, and while it does make more sense because the MC is a mind reader and so she really does know him inside and out very quickly, I still didn't really like it. I prefer my romance to build slowly over the course of the book. I found myself skimming paragraphs after a while. Large sections (even entire chapters) are devoted to the two main characters sharing thoughts about how much they love one another and marveling over their relationship. That's just not my kind of thing.

Readers who don't mind insta-love and lots of talk about that love would probably enjoy this book. I also recommend it to people who enjoy reading about people with powers. It reminded me a lot of X-Men (which I like), so people who enjoy X-Men might want to check it out.

Miss anything last week? Click here to read a Recap

Book Blogger Hop (7)

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-for-Books where book bloggers answer the weekly question and hop around to other blogs and see what other bloggers have to say. The goal is to discover new blogs, "connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!"

This week's question is:
"What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?"

There are a ton of books I'm really looking forward to in 2011, but one of the ones I'm anticipating the most is The Hunt of the Unicorn by C. C. Humphreys. I'm always up for a good fantasy book. It sounds like a fun fantasy story filled with a ton of adventure and a strong heroine.


While you're hopping by, please check out my review of Tighter by Adele Griffin posted today! 

Miss something on Small Review? Read the Recap to see what happened this week.

Book Review: Tighter by Adele Griffin

Tighter, by Adele Griffin
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 216
Received: ARC from Goodreads/Author
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Author's Page
Amazon Page 

Goodreads Page

Mark you calendars!
Tighter comes out May 10, 2011


Reeling from a breakup with one of her teachers and self-medicating for an old back injury, Jamie seizes the opportunity to work as an au pair over the summer, hoping the change of scenery will offer her a diversion from her troubles. Little Bly, the house nestled on a New England island, does offer a diversion. As Jamie becomes acquainted with the residents of the island, she finds herself pulled deeper into the mysterious deaths of two teenagers the previous summer. Further intriguing is the strange resemblance between Jamie and the girl who died and petty acts of vandalism scattered throughout the house, seemingly committed from beyond the grave. Jamie becomes increasingly convinced that the spirits of the teens are not at rest, but the residents seem to be conspiring to keep Little Bly’s secrets buried. 


Billed as a loose retelling of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Tighter at first follows the original plot closely and then spirals into Adele’s unique creation. The transition is flawless, using the setup and features of the original story as a backdrop and then spinning the reader into a story that is both completely different and yet still fully compliments The Turn of the Screw. It is not necessary to have read or even liked The Turn of the Screw to enjoy Tighter.  The story updates and pays homage to the original, but it is a fully developed story that stands perfectly well on its own. 

I have read The Turn of the Screw, so I had a ton of fun picking out all of the little references and ways Adele wove in the original with her new story. I am curious to hear a review of this book from the perspective of someone who has not read The Turn of the Screw

As with the original, I did not like the main character of this book. Jamie has an attitude, is addicted to prescription pills, and makes terrible choices. She isn’t someone I would want to be friends with at all. If I wasn’t familiar with the original, I think I might have been turned off to the story because of my inability to connect with Jamie. Usually, if I can’t connect with the main character (or even like them), then I stop reading the book.

Having read the original, however, I knew that you’re not supposed to necessarily like the main character, so please, please, please don’t let Jamie turn you off to this book! The beauty of James’ book is not just that it is a chilling ghost story, but that it is also a fantastic study of an unreliable narrator. Both the ghostly happenings and the unreliable narrator are retained in Tighter, leaving the reader constantly questioning whether the events of the story are a result of a supernatural haunting, Jamie’s state of mind, or a frightening mix of both.

Even though I didn’t like Jamie as a person, she was a fantastic narrator. Jamie’s voice is strong and clear. Her haziness and confusion as a result of the pills she is constantly popping amplifies the reader’s uncertainty and sense of peril, but the plot never feels convoluted or difficult to follow. The pieces of the mystery come together at a good pace, but only half of these pieces are apparent clues.

There are clues laid from the very first page, but these are the type of clues that you don’t realize are important until the climax of the story. At that point everything clicks into place and I couldn’t help but immediately flip back and read whole passages of the book again with this new knowledge. I kept gleefully exclaiming, “Ah ha! I see it now!” realizing how, even having read the original, Adele’s subtle tweaks added an entirely new feature that completely surprised me and left me delighted. These features make this book an excellent candidate for rereading. I think I would discover and notice a ton of little hints and clues I missed on my first reading.

After the startling climax the story winds down and I felt content with the way Adele chose to end the book. But then…just when I thought the events were resolved one way a final bit of information on the very last page turns events around again and all of my suspicions and questions I thought were resolved came flooding back again. This was excellent! I didn’t realize the ending could get better, but then it did! I loved the way the author chose to end this book and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better resolution.

The only reason I rated this four instead of five stars is because I would have liked a little more. This may be a bit unfair, but because the author’s writing was so enthralling and because her plot twists were so exciting I found myself wanting more. I wish the ghostly parts had been expanded just a little bit more. They were scary (and some really were downright chilling), but I wanted them to be just a little bit scarier, or more of them. I wish the secrets Jamie uncovered about the deaths were just a little…juicier and developed just a little bit more.  

Adele is a National Book Award finalist and it is easy to see why. Tightly plotted, well paced, and beautifully written, Tighter pulled me in from the very beginning and, days after having finished, it still hasn’t let me go. I read this one for my Gothic Reading Challenge, and I highly recommend it to readers looking for a good ghost story, a contemporary read, a classic retelling, or a creepy Gothic tale. This is the first book I have read by Adele Griffin, but it won’t be the last.
 Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

This book satisfies the following challenges: 
Morbid Romantica Challenge
Gothic Reading Challenge
Off the Shelf Challenge
Most Awaited YA Releases

Looking for another creepy Gothic story? You might like: 
The House of Dead Maids
Spotlight: Gothic Fiction, part II

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spotlight: Gothic Fiction, part IV

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme. Here are some previous Spotlight posts:

Gothic Fiction, part I: Adult Gothic Fiction I Bet You'll Love
Gothic Fiction, part II: YA Gothic Fiction, part 1
More Spotlight posts

Interested in reading Gothic fiction?

Well, I am. I fell in love with the genre and totally saturated myself with Gothic fiction last year. But being the "More is More" type of person that I am, I want, well, more! I'll be participating in the Gothic Reading Challenge hosted over on Well-Mannered Frivolity in order to get my Gothic fix in 2011.

To help jump start my motivation, I've put together a little list here of some of my favorite Gothic fiction books as well as a few I'll be considering for the challenge. I will be releasing the list in four Spotlight posts (click on the titles to go to that post):
  1. Part I: Adult Gothic Fiction I Bet You'll Love
  2. Part II: YA Gothic Fiction, part 1
  3. Part III: YA Gothic Fiction, part 2
  4. Part IV: Gothic Fiction Classics
Unfamiliar with Gothic fiction? Check out Gothic Fiction Part I of this series for an explanation.

And, without further ado, I bring you
Part IV: Gothic Fiction Classics

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Release Date: 1794
Goodreads Page

I have never read a book by Ann Radcliffe, but everything I have read about Gothic fiction hails Radcliffe as the quintessential writer of the genre. Referenced and used as inspiration for countless Gothic tales, The Mysteries of Udolpho is by all accounts a must-read for fans of Gothic fiction. So why haven’t I read it yet? It is massive (over 600 pages), and I am shamefully intimidated by so many pages! 

Product Description:

With The Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe raised the Gothic romance to a new level and inspired a long line of imitators. Portraying her heroine's inner life, creating a thick atmosphere of fear, and providing a gripping plot that continues to thrill readers today, The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Release Date: 1818
Goodreads Page

Pride and Prejudice is the oft-hailed, most re-read, yada, yada, yada, but if you want to read Austen, make sure you pick up Northanger Abbey. This is by far my favorite Austen (yes, I’ve read P&P). You have romance and the scathing commentary Austen in known for, but most notable, for me, is how incredibly funny this book is! This is one of those books where the first page already had me rolling and I knew I was going to love this one. While her commentary on the social mores of the time is pretty harsh, her satire surrounding the genre of Gothic fiction is lovingly tongue in cheek.

Catherine, an avid fan of the genre, lets her imagination run wild when she stays as a guest in her friend’s abbey home. She spends her time searching for hidden wives and lost love letters. I can’t help but admit that if I were ever staying in a spooky home, I too would wish for something excitingly Gothic to occur.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Release Date: August1847

Goodreads Page

I haven’t read this one yet, and even though I know the basic events of the story, I still fully intend to read this at some point in 2011. Hopefully the Gothic Reading Challenge I am participating in will get me moving on this acclaimed Gothic classic.

From Goodreads:

Charlotte Bronte's impassioned novel is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her arrogant, brooding Mr. Rochester. Published in 1847, under the pseudonym of Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine--one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Release Date: 1847
Goodreads Page

When I was reading this book I actually didn’t press the snooze button on my alarm and instead got up immediately just so I could see what would happen next (and I am not a morning person). I was totally swept into this story of revenge and madness on the moors. I know this is hailed as a great love story, but honestly I think these characters are all insane. The book reads like a crazy soap opera with over the top declarations of love and deranged plans for revenge. I laughed throughout the entire book at the extreme absurdity of it all. This is one fun book. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Release Date:  1897
Goodreads Page

I’m hoping to read this one for the Gothic Reading Challenge. A spooky castle hidden away in the Transylvanian countryside with the world’s most renowned vampire stalking its hallways? How can I go wrong with that! Add in a famous vampire hunter and I am so there. Move over Edward, Dracula is here to remind us that vampires are creatures who will hunt us down and suck out our blood until we’re dead. I’m sharpening my stake in anticipation. 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Release Date:  1938
Goodreads Page

There are certain books that are so amazing and evocative that the mere utterance of a phrase or name from their pages immediately transports you back into their stories. Once you read this book, you will never look at the name Rebecca in the same way again. The phrase, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again” will envelope you in the beautifully sinister atmosphere of du Maurier’s classic Gothic story about the insecure second Mrs. de Winter and the terrible secrets surrounding Rebecca, the first and late Mrs. de Winter. Compulsively readable with a climax I never saw coming, Du Maurier established herself as a master authoress with this stunning Gothic tale.

Looking for more Gothic Fiction Classics? Check out my Spotlight post Classics that are Actually Fun to Read

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Make Anchor Text

What the heck is Anchor Text? 

Anchor text is the word or phrase you use for a link. When you click on a link, the words you click on are the anchor text.

What You Will Learn

Any words can be used as anchor text, but what you want to learn is how to choose anchor text that will maximize your blog's standing in search engines.

Basically, search engines rank your site based, in part, on the types of links that you have on your blog and the links other people have about your blog. Search engines take those words used in anchor text and associate them with your blog. The more frequently they appear, the higher the ranking.

When a person types in a search term related to your blog into, say, Google, you want your site to be as close to the top as possible. For me, when someone searches for "Cover Crazy review" (because maybe they're looking for a Cover Crazy post), I want my site to be one of the first that appears. And, lookie here:

My blog comes up as the number one and number two results. That means people searching for "Cover Crazy review" are more likely to go to my site.

So how can you accomplish this on your own site? Keep reading to find out how.

Let's Do This!

Bad Anchor Text:

Bad anchor text is text that has nothing to do with your site. If I wanted to direct you to Nina and Yiota's awesome blog, this would be a bad way for me to make my anchor text:

Check out the fantastic blog Splash of Our Worlds by clicking here!

"Here" has nothing to do with their blog, so while it's nice for things like word of mouth, this doesn't really do much for them in regard to search engines.

Likewise, if I'm running an event like, say, Busting the Newbie Blues, it wouldn't be very helpful for me to write something like this:  

Want to check out my new event Busting the Newbie Blues? Click here!

"Here" has nothing to do with my blog or my event.

Good Anchor Text:

Good anchor text relates to the blog in some way. If you're trying to decide what would make good anchor text, think about what you would type into a search engine to find your blog or one of your posts.

If I want to pimp my events, here's how I'd want to do it:

Check out my fantastic Spotlight on YA Gothic Fiction!

Join me for my Busting the Newbie Blues Event!

Are you a fan of Kiersten White? Check out my Paranormalcy book review!

See the difference? All of my anchor text relates to my blog in some way.

Now if I want to spread the blogger love and pimp a fellow blog, I'm also going to want to use smart anchor text. I want to help my fellow bloggers out as much as I can, so for Nina and Yiota, here's what I'd write:

Check out Nina and Yiota's fantastic blog Splash of Our Worlds!

And if I really want to go all out because, you know, I love their site, I'll link to their main page using their blog name as anchor text and then link to various pages on their site. Like so:

Splash of Our Worlds always keeps me updated with the latest movie, book, tv, music, and blogging news in their What's New Wednesday posts. And considering the gigantic rock I live under, you'd better believe I'm thankful to them for keeping me in the loop! If news isn't what you're looking for, then you can always find a great review to read. Aside from these posts, one of my favorite features is their Movies VS Books feature where they compare books to their film adaptations.

The more often your site is linked on other blogs using good anchor text, the higher your blog will rank in related search results. The way I figured it is if I'm mentioning a blog on my site, then it's probably because I love them to pieces so why not help boost their rankings a little?

I know sometimes there can be jealousy among bloggers, but really, another blog's success will never hurt you and it can only help you. If it weren't for those successful blogs, I probably never would have gotten into blogging, learned all the things I've learned about blogging and books, and met all of you wonderful bloggers. I'm pretty grateful!

But, back to the point, choosing smart anchor text is a great way to help boost your blog's rankings. Next week I'll show you some ways to put those links to even better use on your blog.

I hope you've found this post helpful!

If anyone has any other questions or requests for future How To posts, you can either ask them in the comments or email me. Please don't feel shy at all! 

I'm certainly not an expert, but I'll try my hardest to explain what I do know and research what I don't know.

Click here to read previous How To Posts 

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Button from Bewitched Bookworms.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we all feature upcoming books we're eagerly anticipating.

I've altered things a little to include one book that hasn't come out yet and one but that has already been published but I still haven't gotten around to reading yet.

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook

Pages: 352

From Goodreads:
American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidentally finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy.
Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties!
Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.
Knights, swords, horses, Italian hotties? Um, yes please! Plus, it's historical fiction and time travel. I am so looking forward to this!

I'm not sure if I'll be able to get my hands on a copy anytime soon, but if I can, I'm going to read this for a few of my challenges:

The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley
Release Date: 2000
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Pages: 352

From Goodreads:
Legend states that there exists a mighty sword that makes its possessor invincible to his enemies. But there is a curse on anyone who lifts the sword for conquest. King Kareed of Archeld goes after this sword anyway, winning it from the King of Bellandra. When he returns home from battle, he brings his daughter, Princess Torina, two special gifts. One is a unique crystal, in which she can view visions of the future. The other gift is the defeated king’s son Landen, who is to be her slave. 

Torina immediately releases Landen, who becomes a member of the King’s army and her close friend. But trouble is lurking in the kingdom of Archeld and people are accusing Landen of plotting against the King. Torina refuses to believe he would hurt her family. Then Torina begins seeing deadly visions in her crystal. Can she save her father’s life and the future of her kingdom?

This book was recommended by two of my favorite bloggers. It sounds like my kind of high fantasy. I can't wait! (Wish it had a better cover though).

As a bonus, The Seer and the Sword will qualify for a bunch of challenges:

While you are waiting for your books, you can learn 

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