Thursday, April 29, 2010
This World We Live In
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Last Survivors, book three
When one year ago, the moon was struck by a meteor, knocking it closer into the Earth's orbit, catastrophe after catastrophe plagues the earth, leaving only a sprinkling of survivors struggling to have human life continue on Earth.
Miranda's family, in rural Pennsylvania, managed through cunning, tenacity, and finally luck to survive as a unit. Alex lost half his family immediately in the disaster and struggled to save his sisters, finally being forced to flee New York City with his sister, Julie, to look for "greener" pastures.
In This World We Live In, their stories collide...Miranda and her family are beginning to worry about when their food supply with cease to exist. Her brothers go out on a fishing expedition and Matt comes home with fish...and a bride. Days later, Miranda's father also arrives on their doorstep with a troupe in tow. Not only has he brought his wife and their new baby, but also a new best friend and two new "children," Alex and Julie. With ten people in one household, can Miranda's new extended family make it work? Will they all survive?
This was the final book of the trilogy and though I am sad it's done, it was a satisfying end. Susan Beth Pfeffer is gifted in being able to deliver a heartbreaking and realistic disaster story, balanced by love and hope for the future. All elements of this story rang true. I cried...and I smiled through my tears. I sighed at the compelling ending. I will definitely read this trilogy from start to finish again and probably again in the future. If you haven't read Life as We Knew It or The Dead and the Gone definitely start with those, but don't stop until you've read all three...it's worth it!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Check out this great trailer for Jessica Brody's book, The Karma Club, out tomorrow, April 27th!!
You can also enter a contest on Jessica Brody's website, for a chance to win one of four Flip Video Cameras! Very cool.
Check it out and boost your karma!!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Will Grayson Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan
It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.
To be totally and completely honest, I have never read anything before by John Green. I have read both Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, though. I also saw David Levithan speak at Book Expo America last year and he is dynamic, funny, and interesting! I mention these facts only because I was so blown away by this book and I wasn't really expecting it, and I think that's because I hadn't read anything solely by these authors previously...combining them, apparently, is pure magic!
To start with, besides the fact that the premise is unexpected and funny, the characters are so authentic and fully formed in this book, it astounds me. Each Will was completely different and in many ways complimented the other. Their friends, or lack thereof, was fitting and made their life stories compelling. I loved how they became dependent on the existence of each other...but, I'm trying not to give spoilers! Sorry!
On to Tiny Cooper...I think he is my new favorite book character. Not only is he fabulous, he is funny, honest, open, lovable, awe-inspiring, and gut-wrenchingly true to himself. I cannot state how much I loved Tiny and the way he affected others around him.
Okay, okay...enough gushing...anyway, if you haven't picked this book up yet... GO NOW! You will not regret it.
PS - I listened to this as an audiobook and it is fantastic. The narrators, MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl, are amazing. You never doubt who is speaking and they can both sing, as well! Funny and touching.
Full disclosure: Audiobook version reviewed for SLJ.
Due out Oct. 12, 2010 is The Lost Hero.
The Heroes of Olympus: Book one
Description from Amazon: It was hard to say good-bye to Percy--but fans don't have to! A lovable new generation of demigods have their own prophecy to prepare for, and their hero Perseus Jackson just may turn up in times of need.
*squee* Cannot wait for this one!!!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Riordan's Percy Jackson series or Hennesy's Pandy series. This may even be the bridge into those longer series for some girls. These books are fun and introduce a lot of mythological characters and concepts in an easy way. The focus is not so much on the mythology itself, but on the four "goddessgirls," the way they relate to each other as friends, the lessons they learn individually, and how they are going to grow up to become their famous selves. They read like friendship books with a fun, mythological twist.
by Emily Whitman
Author of Radiant Darkness, Whitman's next book is due out in Sept. 2010. Would I love to get an ARC of this!!! I loved her first book. Check the description of Wildwing here.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Okay, I have to admit that I am a total nut when it comes to seeing all these cheesy, formulaic, girl/love/lessons learned type movies! I Lurve Legally Blonde, Clueless, etc., etc., etc!!
I just got done watching Beauty and the Briefcase on my DVR and I LOVED it!!!
Hilary Duff was funny, cute, and all around likeable/relatable. The guys were all cute and the premise (girl goes to business world undercover to write article for Cosmo magazine about finding the right guy) was totally fun and just different enough, that though I knew the ending far before it came, it was still FUN to watch!
If you love the cheesiness that makes you *squee* when the end comes and then immediately hunt down your bf/hubby to hug like a crazy woman, I recommend you check to see if this is rerunning or Hulu it!
PS - As a wanna be fashionista (wanna be since I am sadly not economically able to ever even dream about owning the things I fantasize about...) I should also mention that the wardrobe, both male and of course female, was fantastic in this movie!
Sunday, April 18, 2010
"Our Common Ground"
April 19 & 20, 2010
Mohegan Sun Casino
As the co-chair of the YA section of CLA, I will be at CLA for the next two days, running amuck! I hope to see you all there (if you live or work in CT, that is)! We've got some great programs this year...
Check it out here.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye
by Victoria Laurie
Abby Cooper is a P.I., psychic intuitive. But her insight failed her when she didn't foresee the death of one of her clients-or that the lead investigator for the case is the gorgeous blind date she just met. Now, with the police suspicious of her abilities and a killer on the loose, Abby's future looks more uncertain than ever.
Oh. What a fun start to a series. Based on the review of book 7 in this Psychic Eye Mysteries series at yabooknerd, I decided to interlibrary loan this book. It was a great mystery! What I loved was that there was that hint of the paranormal, but it was still very realistic and really mystery driven. The characters were fantastic...especially Abby. She is snarky, but still totally sweet. I really liked, too, that the author did not throw Abby and Dutch into bed together right away. It's better that they are still developing a real relationship! I cannot wait to read book two and have already requested that one!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
by Libba Bray
All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school - and life in general - with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.
Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure - if he's willing to go in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.
To be totally honest, I kept picking this book up and then putting it back down. It was a vicious cycle...check it out from the library...return it...check it out from the library...return it. Ugh. I really couldn't get past the cover! I felt weirded out by the image of the steer carrying a yard gnome. Even now having read the book, I still personally would have liked a different cover.
Okay, that being said...I am SO glad I finally read this book. I thought it was funny, poignant, heartbreaking, uplifting...so many things. There were a lot of little quirks that Libba Bray threw into the book that made me giggle; I love when I can pick out the exact "thing" that an author uses to create the world in a book. For example, the CESSNAB cult was so funny, yet so derivative of where our culture is heading in regards to materialism... it was a little eerie...even as I was giggling at the ridiculousness. I can't even get into the YA partyhouse/MTV correlation!
The characters were wonderful in this book! I loved Cameron. He felt...real. His relationships with his sister, his mother, and his father all felt genuine. I loved how he eventually bonded with Gonzo. Balder...Balder, Balder, Balder. I think that Balder was my favorite character of all. Although, there is also Dulcie...awesome punk rock angel extraordinaire.
Take it from someone who originally gave this one a pass based on looks. DON'T DO IT HERE! This is a book that is WORTH the read!!
Full disclosure: Copy obtained from Publisher (though I did check it out from the library first...twice!!)
Friday, April 9, 2010
Adam Selzer, most recently the author of I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It and The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History, graciously offered to do an interview on my blog! Hooray! I loved Zombie and couldn't wait to find out more about the mind that it sprang from!
I guess I always wanted to be one - I used to make picture books when I was about 7. And in third grade I was always trying to write an adventure series. The adventure series ended up being eight or nine stories about my friends and I having adventures - they were about 10, 15 pages each. But I never stopped thinking of them as a "real" book series. Then, when I grew up...look, these days, even if you can find a job, it's tough to find a company that doesn't have its head up its butt to work for. I've worked day jobs off and on, but writing is a lot more satisfying. I feel like I've really accomplished something when I finish a book. My credit rating is a joke and I don't have a retirement plan, but I also don't have an assistant manager to deal with. That's a worthy trade-off, I think.
2. Where do you write? Do you have to create a certain mood or atmosphere?
Most of my writing is done at Sip Coffee in Chicago - I'm there every morning, usually the minute they open (in fact, I'm there right now!). Like a lot of writers, I make playlists for projects - songs that have the right atmosphere for the project, songs the main character would like, songs about the right kind of subject matter, etc. I don't know if it actually helps me write, but it's fun. For "Zombie," there were some goth and zombie songs, a few by bands that Alley would like, like Neutral Milk Hotel (who I could never get into, honestly, until I started listening to them on that playlist) and a bunch of songs that just had this sense of ragged glory that I always want my books to have.
3. It says on your website that I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It was based on a song you wrote. How did you go from the song theme to a full fledged book?
I wrote the song, "I Thought She Was a Goth," in the shower one day ten years ago, and it just took on a life of its own (you can download it free on the page). For a few years, every time Robert Aspirin (the recently deceased and much-missed fantasy author) and I were in the same place, he'd shove a guitar in my hands and say "play it!" He told me he was teaching it to bands all down Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Then one day Random House decided they wanted a zombie book in a real hurry, and somehow they got ahold of that song and asked me if I could turn it into a book. I had to change a bit around - there's not nearly enough story in the song for a whole book. I reversed the genders of the characters in the song, then tried to figure out how a girl might mistake her zombie boyfriend for a goth without being an idiot. Doug, the zombie, hasn't decomposed much, so it's an easy enough mistake to make - especially in Des Moines, where you never really expect to meet a zombie. Suburban Des Moines is not the world's most diverse place - one of my favorite things in the book is that Doug is just as surprised to find out Alley's Jewish as she is to find out he's a zombie.
4. Did you do any research on paranormals for this book? I love the strained interaction between the different types of post-humans.
A little - I worked a night job in the ghost hunting industry at the time I was writing the book, so paranormal business was always on my mind. I had a bit of a problem with paranormal YAs - they seemed to be full of mean guys who acted like stalkers and girls who thought that being stalked meant they were so in love they should be rearranging their whole life for guys they really just met. I really wanted to explore a lot of the relationship issues that I thought a lot of paranormal YA was ignoring. Love always involves a lot of sacrifice and overlooking someone's flaws, but where do you draw the line? Despite the fact that there were zombies and vampires in the world of the book, I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. There's nothing paranormal about vampires in the book - it's all to do with protein mutation or something like that. The world of the book is how I imagine the world would work if those sort of vampires and zombies turned out to be real.
5. Love, love, love the pamphlet on your webpage, "Vampires, Zombies, and You: Questions and Answers about Post-Humans for Teens!" Should we be keeping an eye out in school nurses' offices across the country for more?
That was another thing that bugged me - it seemed like a lot of those books used becoming a vampire as a metaphor for sex. That's just silly. Becoming a vampire is a WAY bigger decision than having sex. Sex is definitely a big deal, but if you're careful, the fact is it probably won't kill you. You probably won't even get pregnant. But becoming a vampire WILL change your life completely, and FOREVER. Like, for millions of years or however long it takes for someone to tear you apart or whatever. I figured that in a world where zombies and vampires were known to exist - and girls were known to be gaga for them - "conversion" would turn into a much bigger issue than sex or drugs. Only about half the girls who try to convert survive. Actually, technically, none of them do. I don't really think the "Twilight" thing has gotten so extreme that girls are actually trying to become vampires, so nurses probably don't REALLY need these pamphlets yet, but if vampires were revealed to be real and moping around high schools, as they are in the book, I could see it happening. Can I also plug the fake Huffington Post article on there? (Check the comments!!)
6. Your book, The Smart Aleck's Guide to American History, also came out this past December. How do you approach the non-fiction writing process as opposed to fiction? Do you prefer one over the other?
I like them both! The non-fiction is incredibly satisfying and rewarding - you can always tell when you're making progress, which you can't always do with fiction. But non-fiction has a shelf life - sooner or later, nonfiction books start to seem out of date. Fiction COULD last forever. It probably won't - our ideas of what's funny evolves over time. For most of the last 170-odd years it was generally agreed that The Pickwick Papers was the funniest thing ever. It's still funny, but when I read it now, I can't help but think, "well, I guess you had to be there." But then again, practically every classic book that's still read today is fiction. Well, fiction or philosophy, I guess.
The work itself is very different for them - "Zombie" took about three (very frantic) weeks, and "Smart Aleck's Guide" took about three years. But it's really the same amount of discipline - it's still getting up and going to the coffee shop every single morning.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
by Rachel Hawkins
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father - an elusive European warlock - only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her Dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries start to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
What a stellar debut from Hawkins! I picked this book up and couldn't put it down. It flowed like a dream. Not once did I question who Sophie was or have any confusion about characters or their relationships to each other.
I loved the world setting - reminiscent of Harry Potter in a way, with regular humans and Prodigium, but SO not a Rowling rip-off. "Hex Hall" was an interesting place, full of complex and varied characters. Sophie is fantastic and believable and I cannot, CANNOT wait to see what happens to her next. Her love interest is smoking hot and the twist in their potential relationship is HUGE!
After the major revelation and twist at the end...what can I say? WOW. I am holding my breath until book 2 comes out.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
1. Did you always feel that you wanted to be a writer? Was there a specific moment when you made the choice to pursue a career in writing?
I've always felt I wanted to be a storyteller. I guess I sort of fulfilled that ambition in two ways - through both the acting and the writing. I know they are two very different mediums, with very different disciplines, but, to me, they've always felt connected. I think the specific moment I decided to pursue the writing aspect as my career focus was when I finished my first novel (which remains, as yet, unpublished). It felt like such an accomplishment and I knew that writing was not something that was going to leave me anytime soon...so I figured I might as well make the most of it!
Most of my writing is done in my upstairs office, which I affectionately refer to as the Nook, whereupon I am routinely interrupted by one of three cats, who will stand on his hind legs and reach up to tap me on the shoulder. Every five minutes. Until I take a break and furiously pat him on the back as if he were a congo drum (this sounds cruel, but it is his absolute favorite thing in the world. He is not right in the head.) But I am also portable. "Have laptop, will travel." And then write. I used to have rituals. Music, a favorite candle, snacks, herbal tea...not so much anymore. Acutally - that's a lie. My ritual now consists of: turn on computer, open file, write dammit. Anytime, anywhere possible. Because time is a precious, fleeting, rare commodity apparently. Especially when you are on a deadline!
4. I love the covers. The colorization is beautiful and ethereal. Is there anything you would change about the covers? Have you started working on the next one?
I wouldn't change a thing. I am absolutely thrilled with the job the HarperCollins design team has done on these books and I feel extremely lucky. I also can't take an ounce of credit for them! As for book 3, I have seen the unfinished art and it is absolutely lovely. I can't wait to see the final product!
5. Central Park almost plays a role as its own character in Kelley's world. Why Central Park?
I guess I sort of answered this with question 3 but I'll say it again. It's MAGIC. And, you're absolutely right - the Park is really its own character in the books. That's actually the way I approached writing it.
6. What type of research did you do for this series? I love the more traditional view of the "fair folk," especially the leprechauns. Similar to Grimm's Fairy Tales, I think many traditional folk tales have become too child friendly instead of retaining their cautionary origins.
Absolutely. Faerie stories should be cautionary! Personally, I've been fascinated by Faerie lore in general since I was a kid. The stories that intrigued me the most were never the ones that portrayed the Fae as tiny, sweet, sparkly things. Rather, I was drawn to the idea that these were the creatures that existed beyond the circle of firelight, or just on the other side of the threshold, or just over that far hill; things only ever glimpsed out of the corner of your eye - if you were lucky! I love the dangerous aspects of the Fair Folk. I always appreciated that you got the sense with Shakespeare's chracters. That, given just a little nudge, things could go badly south with those creatures pretty quickly. Like it does with my leprechauns! Glad you enjoyed them!
7. What is your favorite Shakespeare Quote?
Aghhh-urkk...so many...too many...head exploding...can't choose...Okay, okay...I'll choose. But I cannot, in good conscience, choose just one. So, instead, I'll choose just two. I adore:
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,
Then are dreamt of in your philosophy"
for it's sentiment, and
"Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse."
for the way it sounds. So lush and ominous. And I love the imagery of light thickening. Gadzooks - the man truly was a genius.
8. What was the last book you've read that you would highly recommend to other readers?
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins (of course, I recommend reading the first book in the series, THE HUNGER GAMES, first.)
9. Your next book, Once Every Never, is set in Britain during the Roman Conquest. Are you having fun researching the details of that period?
Oh yeah! Buckets of fun! It's actually a time-period that I've always been fascinated with so I already have a fairly broad knowledge base, but I love researching detail stuff and there's a lot of richness in this particular story.
10. Would you ever try a different genre?
Sure! I would have to have the right story to write first, of course, but I read broadly and eclectically and I write things that I want to read so it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. But I have to say, that I really, truly enjoy the genre and the age-range I'm writing for now.
11. Okay, on to fun things!! What is something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know?
I'm really quite shy and retiring. Most people who've met me would not believe that if you told them. In fact they would laugh in your face. Loudly. It would go on for some time. And then maybe they'd just think you were talking about someone else... or that you were a crazy person. (But it's true!)
12. Do you miss being the Waitron-9000, source of endless B-movie trivia knowledge?
Hee! I do not miss the false eye-lash application, nor the glitter that seemed to get everywhere...but - yeah, I really do. She was a ton of fun to play, sparkly and snarky all rolled into one!
13. Quick Picks List: Favorite Vacation Destination? Favorite Childhood Book? Favorite Movie? Favorite Food? Favorite Clothing Item?
Wales. Or New York. It's a toss-up.
The Black Stallion
It varies, depending on my mood but right now I'll say the Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended version (and I do consider it to be one long movie).
The Linguine Bolognese at a restaurant in NYC called Scalinatella. Insanely good.
A comfy pair of jeans and the teal knit hooded tunic my boyfriend bought me at Anthropologie in L.A.
Thank you so much!!
No - thank YOU so much!! This was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed your questions!!
PS - If you click on the cover of either book, it will take you to the Amazon listing where you can get more information.
Tanglewreck - Jeanette Winterson
Incarceron - Catherine Fisher
Raven Rise - D.J. MacHale
Prada and Prejudice - Mandy Hubbard
The Enchanted Quest - Frewin Jones
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show - Frank Delaney
Fired Up - Jayne Ann Krentz
The Betraying Season - Marissa Doyle
Sleepless - Cyn Balog
Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol. 1 - Stephenie Meyer
The Mysterious Benedict Society: The Prisoner's Dilemma - Trenton Stewart
Heist Society - Ally Carter
The Bone Magician - F.E. Higgins
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It - Adam Selzer
Scandal - Kate Brian
Hourglass - Claudia Gray
Hex Hall - Rachel Hawkins
Total: 17 books
March 2010 Favorites:
Sleepless - A surprisingly great addition to the paranormal romance genre in YA literature.
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It - A fun, sarcastic, and thoughtful zombiefest!
Hex Hall - A fun, quick, quirky read with great, realistic characters. Can't wait for a sequel.
Heist Society - It really is Ocean's Eleven with teens. Fun!
Betraying Season - A fantastic sequel, rich in Irish folklore and magic, as well as a little romance...
Hourglass: Evernight Book 3
by Claudia Gray
Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.
After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option.
Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.
Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything . . . but can it survive what's to come?
I was so glad when I started reading this book! I thought that Evernight, book 1 in the series was great. I was not as enthusiastic about Stargazer until about 2/3 of the way through so I had some trepidations about how this volume was going to go, but I had to know what happened after the end of book 2!
I was pleasantly surprised that Hourglass brought me right back to that happy place I had been in Evernight. The pacing was quick, there was suspense, great character interaction, and little twists that kept me on my toes. By the end of the book, no one's life is the same, and I am anxiously holding my breath to see how it's going to go on in book 4!