May 30, 2011

REVIEW! Playing Hurt. +GIVEAWAY!

*Provided by the Playing Hurt blog tour!

Playing Hurt
Holly Schindler


Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college - and everyone's admiration in her hometown.  But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain - or finally heal their heartbreak?

My rating: 5 stars.


Finally, a YA book that doesn't shy away from mature themes! Where have you been, Ms. Schindler, and why hadn't I read your books yet?

Yes, Playing Hurt deals with mature themes, specifically those of the sexual kind - in this instance, it's both sex and the act of cheating.  Which is not your typical YA storyline in which the main character searches for the "one" or his/her soulmate.  Instead, it's about discovering new love through rather unnacceptable means. And while I certainly don't condone cheating, neither does the book. Playing Hurt offers a gritty, but realistic, portrayal of a different kind of self-discovery journey. 

Chelsea actually grows as a character.  So does Clint.  They're neither monotonous nor stationary. Aside from their cliché appearances - totally gorgeous, tall and tan - they really do mesh well together.  Sure, it's insta-love. But there's more to it. There's depth - something that usually gets overlooked.  Their problems are entirely different from one another's, yet they're able to come together in more ways than one. 

My only gripe is that the sports take a bit of a backseat within the plot. The story is about both Chelsea and Clint going through this boot camp program, but there's hardly anything boot camp about it. And considering Chelsea's self-discovery revolves around life after basketball, and Clint's after hockey, I came to expect more of an inclusion of sports.  Unfortunately, the expectation falls short. There are sports, of course, just not as much as you may think.

Other than that, Schindler's writing is very fluid with beautiful descriptions that aren't overdone. The pace keeps steady and the minor characters get just enough "air time." Playing Hurt is a great rollercoaster of emotions, all neatly packaged and presented to its readers.

Love it!


As the last stop on the Playing Hurt blog tour, I have the honor of giving a copy to one lucky winner! (** Paperback, slightly worn from previous travels.)

* ENDS at midnight, 6/13/11.
* Winner will be chosen by and e-mailed.
* Do not have to be a follower, but it's much appreciated!

You can fill out the form HERE.

May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (11).

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler.

Finally got my copy from the Playing Hurt blog tour and I'm already more than halfway through it and loving it! Never read anything by her before, but I'm probably going to have to go out and get her other book, A Blue So Dark.

May 28, 2011

Armchair BEA: Blogging about blogging.

An at-home convention for bloggers
who can't attend BEA in NYC.

Blogging about blogging

If it wasn't already apparent, I blog about YA literature.  You know - faeries, vampires, mythological beings, angels, ghosts, werewolves, pirates... and normal teens, struggling to talk to their crushes and dealing with totally annoying parents.  It's a coming-of-age (and coming-of-species?) genre.  And it takes a lot of flack. But I read it anyway. I'm the twenty-something perusing the shelves beside the tweens and teens.

I read it because it's what I know and what I can relate to. I may not get captured by faeries or seduced by vampires, but I can empathize with the school, dating, and parental issues in a general manner. I've been twelve, thirteen...seventeen, eighteen.  So I get it more than I do if I'm reading about a forty-year-old. I know that's no excuse, and I do read adult literature occasionally, but I'm most comfortable reading within YA.

There's something about that first kiss and prom and learning to drive and hating school and self discovery that pulls me in and keeps me there. It's like each story is refreshing, no matter the consequences or danger present (for example, Speak).  I like the feeling of thinking your life is over one day and then coming out on top the next. It's simple but it works.

May 27, 2011

TGIF! (5)

TGIF is brought to us by Ginger at GReads!

It's a way for bloggers to celebrate the end of the week with a nice re-cap of their weekly posts and to answer a random question.

Author Love: In 2011, which new/old authors have you discovered & loved?

I think one of my new favorites has to be Sarah Ockler, author of Twenty Boy Summer. I absolutely loved that novel. I'm also coming around to Julie Kagawa (author of the Iron fey series) and her writing style, while I fell in love with Amanda Grace's (author of But I Love Him) style. 

Coming up this week:

REVIEW for Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler!

May 26, 2011

Armchair BEA: Nurturing Blogging Relationships.

An at-home convention for bloggers
who can't attend BEA in NYC.

Nurturing Blogging Relationships

Maintaining a book blog is difficult, no question about it. Keeping up with the tours, trendy books, Twitter parties, giveaways and post ratios can be more than time consuming and headache-inducing. It almost becomes a cycle: one post leads to the second post, one tweet leads to retweets, and so on. It's mechanical, technological, and takes up a good majority of your time.

But you do it because you love it, because you love what you're talking about: books. But it's not just the topic.  It's not just the books.  It's the people you meet and/or get to know through those books, whether they're other bloggers, authors, publishers.

What would blogging be without them?


I approached book blogging in the wrong way. When I first started The Grammarian's Reviews, I wanted to be nothing but professional, offering clean-cut reviews. I wouldn't mention "I think" or "Well, to me..." because I didn't want to mix personal with professional.

But after getting to know so many different blogs, I've realized that I can blog being both personal and professional. It's okay to mix the two.  If I get excited about a book, then I should sound excited. If I wasn't so thrilled, I can say why.  I don't need, or want, to sound like a robotic book blogger.

So I reach out. I do my best to return comments, and to comment on others' posts. I'm still learning the ways of Twitter, but I attempt communication through there, too. I join blog tours and contact authors for interviews - which, as a side note, is totally awesome and I encourage you to not be shy and get yourself out there; authors are pretty awesome and willing to work with bloggers!

But I tend to nurture my blog more than my blogger relationships, which is stupid on my part because I love getting to know other bloggers and getting in on book discussions. But as a new-ish blogger, there's always that hesitation, that feeling of Oh they've been doing this for a while - look at all of the followers they have - I'm just a number to them. So I tend to shy away, even though I know I shouldn't, and even though that's so unnatural for me.


I guess the point of this was to say that I don't really have a set way to nurture my blogging relationships because I'm still figuring out who I am as a blogger and how I want to be that way. But I love all of the authors I've had the pleasure of coming in contact with, and all of the bloggers I've talked to!

I really appreciate the book blogging community.

So thanks, you guys!

May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA: Top 2011 Reads.

An at-home convention for bloggers
who can't attend BEA in NYC.

Top 2011 Reads:
(Because I've read barely any new releases for the year, I'm including older releases.)

Who wants a Kindle?

That's right. A Kindle.

Alice Marvels, the daily newsletter about YA fiction and entertainment, is having a giveaway!

Enter now to try for your own e-reader!

REVIEW! What Happened to Goodbye.

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen

SUMMARY (from B&N):

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself - whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out.

My rating: 3 stars.


If you're looking for romance, walk away. You won't find it in here. The typical cutesy formation of relationships in Dessen's novels does not shine through in What Happened to Goodbye. At all.

That being said, without the romance the book is actually very stale, anticlimactic, boring.  Perhaps the story drags because it totals 416 pages.  But it drags - horrendously - if only because there is no action or suspense whatsoever.  Nothing really adds up - not Mclean's wanting to stay in the quirky town (how is it different than any of the others?), not her friendships (with characters that outshine her in every scene), and not her dad's job at the restaurant.

The book has all these elements of a great story, particularly great narration, but does nothing with them.  It remains flat.  The characters are nothing special; they're all very - dare I say it? - stock-like.  I didn't even really click with Dave, Mclean's love interest, because I had no reason to.  There's no reason to like any of the characters because they don't do anything.

The writing itself is heavy on repetition.  It feels like Mclean narrates a scene, then reiterates it before narrating the next.  As such, there's a building block feel to the structure.  But unless you're forgetting things that quickly, there's no need for it and it slows the pace.

On the upside, it's very heartfelt and real - like Dessen's other novels.  Unfortunately the lack of direction gives the story little purpose.

May 23, 2011

Wither & Fever - let's win!

Lauren DeStefano is hosting an amazing giveaway on her blog: she's giving away an ARC of Wither and Fever (the unreleased sequel)!

How can you possibly pass that up?

Head on over and enter!

Armchair BEA: Who am I again?

An at-home convention for bloggers
who can't attend BEA in NYC.

Who am I?

I think THIS post sums it up about right.

Of course, there's always more to say. So for those that can't be bothered to click the link -

Hello! I'm Alissa. A 20-something, full-time English major working her way to becoming an editor. If the blog name didn't tip you off, I'm a stickler for grammar.  I take it very seriously.  Knowing how to speak a language, and why you're speaking it that way, is what interests me. As such, I occassionally slip into español, just for fun. But for the blog I introduced Grammar Bits (the tab can be seen above), which are little bits of grammar covering a specific topic; I think they're nifty because you can look at whichever bit you may need help with and quickly be on your way again.

Aside from reading, I enjoy frequently visiting Starbucks and trying new coffee creations.  I'm quite the coffee addict. It's just so good.  I also enjoy shopping and playing video games.

I think that's the general gist of me.

So how about you? I love getting to know other bloggers!

May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (10).

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen.

Feels like I've been waiting forever for this one! So excited!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW! Holly Schindler.

Author of A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt.

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea ’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

Have any songs influenced your writing / stories / characters?
Not directly. But as I was seeking publication, I taught piano and guitar lessons out of my home. At the time, I was writing only adult work. Interacting with teen and tween students one-on-one made me want to try my hand at YA…so music, in general, brought me to the genre that first accepted my work!

Are you a coffee or tea person?
Coffee. Enormous, enormous coffee person.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I figured out how to hold a pen. Honestly. I was writing at my child-sized rolltop desk when I was about six, seven years old.

It was truly a lifelong dream, being a writer. When I got my master’s in ’01, I had the ability to nix the full-time job routine, in favor of pursuing writing (this was only possible because of some incredible—INCREDIBLE—financial support from my family). Even though I had no financial concerns, publication didn’t come quickly OR easily—took seven and half years to snag the first deal.

Do you plan your stories, or do they develop spontaneously as you write?
Most of the time, they’re completely planned and outlined—and I’m the dictator telling my characters who they’re supposed to be.

The one exception was PLAYING HURT…initially, the book was a love story that followed Chelsea as she went on summer vacation and fell for a guide at the resort (Clint) in a way she had never fallen for her boyfriend at home (Gabe). The book was all about learning the difference between loving someone and being IN love with someone.

After selling A BLUE SO DARK, my debut, to Flux, I re-read the manuscript for PLAYING HURT (then called SUMMER FLING), and realized my characters needed some backstory. I was struck by how athletic both seemed—hiking, fishing, bowling all existed in the first draft. So I began to give both Clint and Chelsea athletic pasts—the sports subplot exists in this book because I let my characters tell me who they were!

E-books or tangible books?
I do have a Kindle, and enjoy reading on it…I was resistant to e-readers at first, thinking the experience of reading on a screen couldn’t possibly be the same as reading on the page…And then I realized, “Holly, you dope, you read your OWN books on the computer screen all the time!”

Why do you write contemporary fiction, as opposed to another genre?
When I started seeking publication, I didn’t know where the first “yes” was going to come from, so I started writing in as many different genres as I possibly could. I have tons of manuscripts I’m now revising and reworking to get them into publishable form. My first middle grade is actually in development now, and should hit shelves in 2012! Look out for future books in different genres as well…


I'm so happy to be part of the Playing Hurt blog tour
 and cannot wait to read the book!
A great big thanks to Ms. Schindler for taking the time to answer my questions!

May 20, 2011

TGIF! (4)

TGIF is brought to us by Ginger at GReads!

It's a way for bloggers to celebrate the end of the week with a nice re-cap of their weekly posts and to answer a random question.

Back to the beginning: What was the first book you reviewed on your blog? 

Interesting book. Wasn't entirely pleased with it, but also didn't dislike it. I remember reviewing it specifically because of all the hype surrounding it at the time - not for the book itself, but because the movie had just been released. The movie is actually what prompted me to read it.


Coming up this week:

REVIEW for What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen!

May 19, 2011

REVIEW! The Iron Daughter.

The Iron Daughter
Julie Kagawa


Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey - ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

My rating: 4 stars.


I heard a lot of reservations about this one, but I have to say that I really, thoroughly enjoyed it. Much, much more than the first (The Iron King). 

Three cheers for Puck and Ash finally making some good appearances! I really like that the two of them are incorporated into the story now, rather than it being one or the other.  But, as such, Meghan's role dwindles. She narrates the story, of course, but her presence leaves a lot to be desired.  In The Iron King, she at least takes charge of things (albeit in the whiniest of ways), whereas in The Iron Daughter she does nothing more than pout.  I think her only moment of action includes kicking a gremlin or goblin in the face?

Puck and Ash steal the show. Which didn't bother me. They're both very solid characters.  Ash is much more likeable and relatable, and Puck is still as humorous as ever.  Yet, the romance is still a bit estranged.  Meghan's need for Ash stems from practically nothing.  And poor Puck never seems genuine. It feels like the triangle needs more care or attention given to it, because it's more like separated points fumbling together. Still doesn't quite work for me, despite Ash having won me over.

As for plot, well... it's all over the place.  There is one, maybe two, moments of downtime.  While everything drags in the previous book, this one keeps a constant pace, containing nothing but action, action and more action.  It's enjoyable but unbelievable.  Some scenes seem entirely out of place, worthless and reminiscent of those in other books. It feels as if there are too many characters involved and struggling to find their place within the story.

Still, it has better flow and characterization than The Iron King. I'm looking forward to The Iron Queen.

May 18, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8).

Waiting On Wednesday is from Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones-skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong.
When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela's way home.

Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

Luminous, by Dawn Metcalf, will be released June 30th!
Starstruck, by Cyn Balog, will be released July 12th!

May 17, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Minor Characters.

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by The Broke and the Bookish.


1. Peeves, from Harry Potter. Talk about biting the dust. The hilarious, yet annoying, poltergeist seemed to disappear from the series

2. Richard, from Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope. Ginny’s uncle and Aunt Peg’s husband. He’s clueless but very sentimental – and successful! I wish the stories would’ve focused on him just a bit more, because there’s definitely more to him.

3. Princess Tiger Lily, from Peter Pan. C’mon. She’s such an awesome little girl, and much less annoying than Wendy or Tinkerbell.

4. George “Puck” Harrison Prescott, from Secret Society Girl. He’s the hot guy with emotion! What’s not to want? I’d have loved to hear his story.

5. Irial, from Wicked Lovely.  He definitely has a history. And I want to know every bit of it.

6. Tony, from Infinite Days. Hello? He’s Lenah’s first normal bff, then poof. And he’s funny. I wanted more from him.

7. Finnick & Annie, from The Hunger Games. Love, love, love them. Enough said.

8. Mercutio, from Romeo and Juliet. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. He’s such a fun, zany character. I always preferred him over Romeo.

9. Matt, from Twenty Boy Summer. I know it’s not possible, but… he’s such a likeable character. I always wanted more of him.

10. Kimmie and Wes, from Deadly Little Secret. They’re a dynamic friend duo and hardly get any of the spotlight.

May 16, 2011

It's been a while... Remember me?

Hi, bloggers! Remember me?

Finally out of school and getting some reading done!  It feels great. I love not having to worry about writing another paper. Or studying. This past semester was a bit hellish, so I'm more than happy to put it behind me.

In other, happier news, I landed an internship! Finally, after months and months of prevailing and losing hope. Of course, that means I'll be working part of the summer. No worries, though. I'll have plenty of time for reading. (I know I've said that before... but I will!)

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their summers. Or at the very least, I hope school's almost out for you, too.

I'm currently reading Julie Kagawa's The Iron Daughter.  It's the second book in the Iron fey series. Remember my review for The Iron King? I wasn't exactly thrilled with the start of the series.  I thought it was clichéd and the characters were bleak. 

Yet, I must admit, I'm liking The Iron Daughter so far. I'm only a little over one hundred pages in, but it's been able to hold my attention and read much more smoothly. And is it just me, or is Ash more appealing? I was all for Puck, but I think I'm honestly rooting for both boys now.

What do you think?

But please, no spoilers! I'm really hoping Ash doesn't turn out to be a jerk...

May 5, 2011

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday.

Book Blogger Hop

I came across the Hop and Follow Friday while I was blog hopping - how appropriate! - and decided to join in on the fun.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly thing going on over at Crazy-for-Books. Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee. If you're a new blogger like I am, or have been blogging for a while, stop by the sites and get involved!


Weekly question: Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?

Sarah, from writer, reader, dreamer. And Nafiza, from Bibliophilic Monologues.

I've been following both of their blogs now for a long while and have gotten to know them through their posts and exchanging of comments. We also have similar reading tastes (for the most part), and that's always a plus. They're both great people.  I admire their work.


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