Saturday, March 26, 2011
The first Diana Wynne Jones book I ever read was Charmed Life from the Chrestomanci series. I loved this book so much that I, uh, accidentally "stole" it from a great friend in fifth grade...I don't know if she ever realized that I just never returned it!! I went on to read EVERYTHING I could find from Jones. Her books are amazing.
I wanted to live in Cat's world when I was in middle school. A world of magic, mystery, and a place where the quieter people actually have a lot of power. This book and Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure still rank as two of my all time favorite books and are what kept me going whenever I wanted to completely retreat from the heinous existence that was middle school!!
I will deeply miss the potential for any more Chrestomanci books. :(
by Emily Whitman
When Addy is swept back in time, she couldn't be happier to leave her miser-able life behind. Now she's mistaken for Lady Matilda, the pampered ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she'll have glorious gowns, jewels, and something she's always longed for—the respect and admiration of others. But then she meets Will, the falconer's son with sky blue eyes, who unsettles all her plans.
From shipwrecks to castle dungeons, from betrothals to hidden conspiracies, Addy finds herself in a world where she's not the only one with a dangerous secret. When she discovers the truth, Addy must take matters into her own hands. The stakes? Her chance at true love . . . and the life she's meant to live. (description taken from Amazon.com)
This was a great historical fiction read. I really loved how the original setting is 1913, but when Addy time travels she goes back to the Medieval period (which I LOVE). It was sooo interesting to compare the customs, fashion, and morals of each time.
Though Addy and Will's secret relationship is the surface focal point of the book and I really enjoyed their romance, I was much more interested in what I consider to be the true theme of the book...Addy learning to be okay with herself and having the strength to make her life what she chooses.
Born a bastard, Addy's life choices in 1913 are minimal. She wants so desperately to rebel, to escape, and when she gets the chance she takes it. Soon, though, she finds that even a Medieval Lady, with wealth, prestige, and beauty, is trapped within the social structures of her society. She has very few real choices.
The subplot when Addy begins training in falconry was fascinating, not just because I really love birds of prey, but also because of the symbolism that ran rampant. Addy was longing for the freedom to leave her jesses behind...and yet, for the right man, she could be whistled happily home.
This is another well-written and compelling book from Emily Whitman, who is fast becoming one of my new favorite authors. I loved her debut, Radiant Darkness, a retelling of the Persephone myth.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
A Tale Dark and Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after. (description taken from Amazon.com)
I am amazed that this is Gidwitz's debut novel. His nod to the Grimm brothers is clearly evident in the gruesome traditional stylings of the fairy tales found here, but the clever melding of one into another to make one long, harrowing journey for Hansel and Gretel is so well done and original.
Though this is not my favorite fairy tale retelling, partially because I just am not as fond of the traditional Hansel and Gretel tale as some others, the tone of the book is amazing. The narrator repeatedly cautions readers to take small children out of the room, taunts readers with "The End...sort of..." over and over, and generally adds a witty humor to the dark, creepy, bloody tales.
For anyone who enjoys a good, cautionary tale this would be the next book to check out!
Red Riding Hood
starring Amanda Seyfried
I saw Red Riding Hood last night with two friends from work. I enjoyed it. (Ironically, I think I liked the previews for "Suckerpunch" more, but the steampunky, live-action anime style of that movie has me BEYOND excited!!)
Anyway... I thought Amanda Seyfried was really good in this role. She can play sultry (much better than Kristen Stewart - to whom comparisons in this role can definitely be made), she can play strong, she can play vulnerable...she really showed range. The two male romantic leads were also very good...I especially enjoyed watching the scenes with Peter, the woodcutter. *wipes sweat off brow*
I thought that the family relationships were complex and interesting. The introduction of the church as almost vengeful, Templar like warrior figures was really well done, too. I thought the werewolf lore was awesome, and NO. I am not going to ruin it for you and tell you who the werewolf was...I'll just say that I was actually surprised. I had thought I knew what the big surprise was, but nope, they threw me for a loop. Well done!
Overall, I really enjoyed it and will probably watch this one again several times.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Christopher Paolini's fourth book in the Inheritance Cycle, aptly named Inheritance will be coming out on November 8, 2011...Finally!
It IS the final book in the series.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Happy release day to Sherrilyn Kenyon!
Today, Invincible , Chronicles of Nick, book two hits the bookshelves.
"Nick Gautier's day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.
His new principal thinks he's even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can't even mention and the girl he's not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.
But more than that, he's being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn't learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them..."
For more information, you can check out Sherrilyn Kenyon's website for an excerpt!!
I love the Dark Hunters series that Nick's character originally comes from...don't forget to check those out too!!
Monday, March 21, 2011
by Jackson Pearce
companion book to Sisters Red
Publication date: Aug. 23, 2011
As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.
Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.
Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past-- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone-- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen it's next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.
Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.
(description taken from Amazon.com)
I really enjoyed this companion to Sisters Red. Jackson Pearce has a great way of retelling fairy tales in the original vein that they were meant to be utilized, as cautionary, slightly gruesome tales. They are eerily reminiscent of the original Grimm's Fairy Tales, and I love them!
Pearce did a great job taking the original Hansel and Gretel (here Ansel and Gretchen) tale and merging it with a world where werewolves, or Fenris, as they are called in both books, hunt young girls for prey. The way that she incorporated the witch and her gingerbread house was pure genius! ...and I was starving for a piece of chocolate through most of this chocolatier centered story...
The relationship that Ansel and Gretchen has is deep and layered. Their lives are so wholly wrapped around one another that it took being kicked out of their own home and having to venture for a new one in order for the two to be able to begin to heal and become their own individual personas. The introduction of a love interest for each was really well done. The fact that Ansel's girlfriend and Gretchen's boyfriend each have their own deep secrets and gray shades of morality adds tension and depth to their relationships and their becoming a larger family.
What I loved most about this story, similar to what I loved most in Sisters Red, was the fact that the main character, Gretchen, absolutely refused to play the victim. She fights to the end, trying to save not only herself, but also her brother, her love, her friends, and those who don't know that there are things that should scare them in the night.
Another gritty, fierce, and wonderful "fairy tale" from Jackson Pearce!
Full disclosure: ARC received from Little, Brown for review, ARC received from Book It Forward Blog Tours
by Kate Brian
Private series, book fourteen
After the shocking revelations made in the Private prequel, The Book of Spells, Noelle and Reed know they are descendants of the original Billings Girls and their legacy includes a mysterious coven of witches. But it's nothing compared to what happens next.
One by one, Billings Girls go missing from campus.
The entire community bands together to find the lost girls, hoping they are still alive. Reed can't believe tragedy has struck Easton again, and she begins to wonder if the Billings Girls are cursed. But when the first body shows up containing a message just for her, she fears her friends are worse than cursed: they're doomed. (description taken from Amazon.com)
I am so sad that this series is almost done. This is the second to last book. The final one, Vengeance, will be coming out August 30th and I have bittersweet feelings about reading it and finishing the series.
I was glad to see Brian managed to tie in the supernatural prequel, The Book of Spells in a way that did not feel contrived. As much as I was dreading adding a supernatural element to my favorite realistic fiction series, it's done well and it's coming at the end of the series so it's not changing the overall feel. (I not-so-secretly revel in the whole soap-opera feel!!)
I have been fascinated with Reed and Noelle's relationship for the entire series. At the end of Vanished, their relationship changes in a very dramatic way and I loved the new light that is cast upon Reed's family. It plays neatly into the information found out in The Book of Spells about the Billings founding families, as well!
At this point, I can't really speculate how Brian can possibly wrap up the entire series in one final book, but I am sure looking forward to reading it.
If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love. This week includes suggestions for some favorite older titles and childhood favorites.
I just started contributing to this feature at The Reclusive Bibliophile's blog. Check out the Retro Edition here for some great recs!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Eona: The Last Dragoneye
by Alison Goodman
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power-and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . . (description taken from Amazon.com)
At almost 650 pages, this conclusion to Eona's story is epic. I received this ARC as part of a tour where you only have seven days to read the book before you pass it on and honestly, I felt really rushed trying to squeeze this book into such a short time frame. I absolutely want to go back and read this one again as soon as it comes out. There are portions I'd like to linger over, to sink into, to really immerse myself in again.
I love, absolutely love the Eastern flavor of Eona's story. One reason that I felt Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was so amazing when I first read it was because it really introduced a whole different cultural feel to epic fantasy...at least for me. I love the connections to the Chinese Zodiac, the clothing styles, the swords, the political structure...in this second book, I loved the descriptions of the fishing villages, then the contrast with the pleasure gardens...I have never really been interested in traveling all the way to Asia and yet, Alison Goodman makes me want to find a way to travel back in time to an earlier Asian era, though I'd be sorely disappointed without the accompanying dragons.
I really enjoyed how Goodman can steep Eona's story with the horrors and terrifying uncertainty of a country on the brink of war and yet counterbalance all of those negative images with small moments of positive personal interactions. Moments of passion, friendship, even just decency and kindness. Eona learns to come into herself as a woman, not just a warrior in this book. She also learns what truly constitutes family - both the blood kind and the chosen.
I must read this book again. The ending is very well done. The spiritual completion of Eona's journey was great and I really want to read it over again slowly to really fully catch all of the nuances. This is not a book to skim. Though I am happy with this book as the sequel to the first, I am sad that there is not a planned third. It's not that I feel anything was left out of Eona's story...I just really love her world and would love to go back!
Well worth the read.
Full disclosure: ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Check out the book trailer for Alyson Noel's Shimmer. This is the sequel to Radiance book one in the Riley series, the spin-off from the super popular Immortals series. Honestly, I actually like Riley's series better. Here's my review of the first book, Radiance.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
by Libba Bray
Publication date: May 24, 2011
Survival of the Fittest!
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? (ARC jacket copy)
It is hard to believe, but it is only the middle of March and I think I just read my favorite book of this year. I think I may have just read my new favorite book...period. This book is...pure genius. Libba Bray is amazing. I am absolutely giving this book a gold star...plus some sparkles...plus, well it deserves a tiara for goodness sakes!!
No, really. I think that EVERY woman, most men, heck everyone should read this book! Go out and get it as soon as it comes out. It will blow your mind. IT.WILL.BLOW.YOUR.MIND. There are beauty queens who learn to become not just real women, but real kick-ass women. There are sexy, sometimes stupid, reality tv pirates, an angry dictator with a taxidermied advisor, a secret laboratory/lair underneath a volcano, and subtextual references to current culture galore.
Besides the obvious, yet subtly disguised references to actual people (David Levithan, for one!) and products (Bratz dolls, Barbie, tons of makeup, etc.), Libba Bray also gave a shout-out to librarians!
p. 379 - Some in the crowd tossed copies of Ladybird's book into the fire while a librarian pleaded with them not to do that and grabbed a fire extinguisher.*
*(footnote) Really, being a librarian is a much more dangerous job than you realize.
OMG. Yes! This caused me to bounce up and down on the couch, laughing until I cried, and finally spluttered out what I was reading to my husband, who then said, "Oh, has she been following you around at work lately?" and I died again.
I cannot sincerely recommend this book enough. Yes, it is full of subcontext. It brings up a lot of morality issues, political issues, questions about feminism, sexuality...it covers a lot. What makes it a great book is that while everything is right out there in the open, it's not preachy. It's laugh out loud funny! Then when you're done, you sit back and think. Really think. Again...read this book. Read it as soon as you can. You won't regret it.
Full disclosure: ARC received as part of Book It Forward ARC Tour
Sunday, March 13, 2011
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!
From the Library:
The Candidates by Inara Scott
Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz
*Thanks to the publisher, Philomel, for sending this book!*
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Eona by Alison Goodman
*Thank you SOOO much to Angela at Book It Forward ARC Tours for sending these!!*
Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
*Thanks to SLJ for this one.*
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Wake Unto Me
by Lisa Cach
Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It's what her dead mother's note suggested, and it's what her recurring nightmares allude to.
Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams--and her small town--she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.
But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?
Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever. (description taken from Amazon.com)
I really enjoyed this book. The description was intriguing and it fulfilled everything that was promised. First, let me say that I LOVED the setting. The descriptions of the castle that the Fortune School is housed within made me want to jump right onto a plane to head for some of Europe's famous castles. Each stained glass window, each weather-beaten stone stair, each hidden statue just fed more and more into my love of historic buildings. *so good*
Then, even though I couldn't buy at first quite how Caitlyn didn't question her good fortune to win a scholarship to this amazing school, I got wrapped up in everything that was going on in her life and I began to understand exactly how that could happen. Caitlyn's mother's passing, her not fitting in at school, her nightmares...all combined to make one unhappy home life. Of course she jumped at the chance to potentially, irrevocably change her life forever!
However, things never go as easily as they should and Cach did a great job at bringing all of Caitlyn's past right with her to a new setting and then intensifying it. She really ramped it up a notch. Soon poor Caitlyn's so confused about what's real and not that she's spinning in circles and failing her classes.
There are layers upon layers built here of ghosts, prophetic dreams, prophecies, time travel, and dangerous plots. Cach masterfully wove all of these elements together. Though the romantic element was wrapped up a little neatly for me at the end, the other things all falling into place was very satisfying. A great debut.
Full disclosure: ARC copy sent by author for review
2011 Debut Author Challenge title
These are the original hardcover versions of Nightshade and Wolfsbane.
Nightshade's cover was brushed and beautiful and the deckled edges of the pages gave even more character to the book. I was really looking forward to the matching book, Wolfsbane, when it came out this fall.
Andrea Cremer just announced on her blog, however, that they redesigned the Nightshade cover for the paperback edition, and created a matching cover for Wolfsbane. So, the cover you see above is no longer the cover for Wolfsbane.
Though I like these new covers (they feel very urban fantasy to me), I think I actually preferred the originals. If I had not seen the originals, I might be more inclined to love these...but I'm not sure... What do you all think?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
by Leah Cypess
companion book to Mistwood
Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all.
In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours.
Darri's sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister . . . if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else.
In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all? (description taken from Amazon.com)
The concept and world building for this book are phenomenal. A kingdom where half the inhabitants are ghosts... where you cannot be sure someone is a ghost until they disappear before your very eyes? I thought this was very original and startlingly intriguing.
With only one character to tie this book to Mistwood, though she is a great connection, this can absolutely be a stand-alone book. I LOVED Mistwood and it was absolutely one of my favorite books of last year, but in some ways I think that Nightspell is even better.
The main characters are very interesting and rich. Callie, Darri, and Varis have a really complex sibling relationship. They all love each other and are loyal to one another to the end, but Darri and Varis are, shall we say, not very fond of each other...Callie resents that Darri let her be sent off to a foreign kingdom, Varis doesn't trust either sister, and neither sister trusts him. As the story develops, each relationship changes a little and they band together to attempt to get out of Ghostland alive.
With a great, interesting setting, intriguing characters, and a magical storyline again following some twisted royal politics, Nightspell is another great offering from one of my new favorite authors.
Publication date: May 31,2011
Full disclosure: ARC received to review for blog tour hosted by Book It Forward ARC Tours
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Keeping Out of the Rejection Pile
by Noah Lukeman
Whether you are a novice writer or a veteran who has already had your work published, rejection is often a frustrating reality. Literary agents and editors receive and reject hundreds of manuscripts each month. While it's the job of these publishing professionals to be discriminating, it's the job of the writer to produce a manuscript that immediately stands out among the vast competition. And those outstanding qualities, says New York literary agent Noah Lukeman, have to be apparent from the first five pages.
The First Five Pages reveals the necessary elements of good writing, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, journalism, or poetry, and points out errors to be avoided, such as
* A weak opening hook
* Overuse of adjectives and adverbs
* Flat or forced metaphors or similes
* Melodramatic, commonplace or confusing dialogue
* Undeveloped characterizations and lifeless settings
* Uneven pacing and lack of progression
With exercises at the end of each chapter, this invaluable reference will allow novelists, journalists, poets and screenwriters alike to improve their technique as they learn to eliminate even the most subtle mistakes that are cause for rejection. The First Five Pages will help writers at every stage take their art to a higher -- and more successful -- level. (description taken from Amazon.com)
This was a really helpful book on the writing craft. While I had to read it in several sittings and I took TONS of notes, as long as I paced myself, I did not get overwhelmed. Each chapter deals with a different foible that writers should avoid and ends with both examples of what not to do and how it was done right and then exercises for working on your own writing.
I had been critiqued and told that I needed to work on showing versus telling readers about things in my plotlines...I had no clear idea what that really meant. Lukeman's chapter on Showing versus Telling gave GREAT examples and I'm a lot more confident about fixing my writing, though I know I have a LOT of work to do on it.
The first section also gave really great, concise directions for actually formatting a physical manuscript...and why those very specific details can make or break a writer's chance with an agent.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is working on writing their own books. No matter what, your writing can always improve in some way!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President
by Josh Lieb
Oliver Watson, an overweight 12-year-old from Omaha, NE, fools his family and classmates into thinking that he is slow-witted when in fact he is the world's third-richest person and an evil genius. He overthrows foreign dictators, owns corporations, is a successful inventor and investor, and is on the way to attaining his goal of world domination. His father and arch nemesis is too involved in running a local PBS affiliate to be involved in his son's life. What Oliver really wants is his dad's approval and attention. He decides that the way to get this is to win the election for president of the eighth-grade class at Gale Sayers Middle School.
At first, I found Oliver's snarky tone to be a little obnoxious and almost overwhelming, but as I continued reading, I came to really enjoy this book. It feels very much like the Artemis Fowl that I miss...the pure evil genius from the first book of the series... Oliver begins to hide his genius at a very young age to shelter his unprepared parents, then evolves to hiding his genius to get revenge on his uncaring father. As he makes his way up the world domination ladder, he continues to subconsciously look for approval.
I loved how he continuously looks out for his mother, adores his adopted doggie, pines for the meanest/cutest/pinkest girl in school, and befriends a homeless recovering alcoholic who becomes his "cover." This is all interspersed and contrasted by his actions towards his father, his election opponents, and other threats to his worldwide standing. Though he behaves badly quite a bit, as you read more you begin to see where his motivations come from.
Personally, I loved his snarkiness by the end of the book. I can very much see how this book will appeal to a large audience...there's revenge plots, teens showing up adults, secret codes and lairs, and one teen setting out to rule the world. This book is nominated for our state's book award for seventh and eighth graders...if it wasn't up against something like The Hunger Games, I would have said it had a shot at winning!
PS - If you are looking for an amusing audio book, I'd definitely recommend this one. It was only five CDs long, but the narrator uses distinct voices for each character and it's really well done!!
Monday, March 7, 2011
by Kimberly Derting
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Synopsis: Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
Check out Kimberly Derting's blog for an excerpt and more info!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The Sisters Club
by Megan McDonald
Meet the Sisters Club: twelve-year-old Alex, aspiring actress and born drama queen; eight-year-old Joey, homework lover and pioneer wannabe; and smack in the middle, ten-year-old Stevie, the glue that holds them together — through dinner disasters, disputes over stolen lucky sweaters, and Alex’s going gaga over her leading man. Playfully weaving Stevie’s narration with Alex’s scripts, Joey’s notebook entries, and hilarious elements such as "How to Swear in Shakespeare" and "Dear Sock Monkey" letters, this hugely engaging novel showcases Megan McDonald’s ear for dialogue, comic timing, and insight into the ever-changing dynamics of sisterhood. (description from Amazon.com)
This was a cute tween read! I love how the three sisters, even when they have their scuffles, still have a strong bond. They consistently come back to each other, to their self invented "Sisters Club." I love, too, that they and their parents put on plays together and eat dinner together and support each other...always. What a wonderful family!
I love the format of this book, too. It's partly a diary, partly scenes from a play, partly fake homework, and altogether charming. The illustrations are cute and I especially love the sock monkeys!!
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!
Nightspell by Leah Cypess
*Thanks to Book It Forward ARC Tours!!*
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
Fashionably Undead by Meg Cabot
From the Library:
On My Nook:
Friday, March 4, 2011
by Anthony Horowitz
Sent to Groosham Grange as a last resort by his frustrated parents, thirteen-year-old David Eliot quickly discovers that his new boarding school is very peculiar. New pupils are made to sign their names in blood . . . the French teacher cancels classes on days there’s a full moon . . . there are chilling secrets hidden in the assistant headmaster’s office. What’s the meaning of the black rings everyone wears? Where do the other pupils vanish to at night? Suddenly, his biggest problem isn’t staying in school—it’s getting out alive. (description taken from Amazon.com)
Okay, honestly I hated this book. I agreed to read it to "review" it for our Children's Department because we also have a copy in the Teen Department and because I like Horowitz's Alex Rider series. Ugh...I don't think I would have finished this book if I wasn't reporting it to someone.
It's unnecessarily gruesome in my opinion for the intended audience. There are scenes of implied and actual violence throughout the book. David's father abuses both his wife and son, his mother is an open alcoholic that constantly bows to her awful husband, the teachers unapologetically murder someone and then threaten David's life to get him to conform to their wishes.
The final straw for me...that by the end of the book, David does not learn what's really going on and strive to change things. No - he is happily unsure of whether he'll embrace his new powers for good, or heck...just for fun, maybe evil. A sour note to end on.
I will say that I can see why young teen boys might like this book. It's got dismembered hands, a vampire, an uber-creepy headmaster(s), and the potential to get revenge on awful parents. The chapters are also really short and easy to read. I already know this is a popular title... personally, though, I probably won't be recommending it too often.
by Kody Keplinger
Publication Date: September 2011
SHUT OUT is a story about Lissa, a senior in high school, who decides to put an end to a decade old rivalry between her school's football and soccer teams after her quarterback boyfriend ditches her a few too many times on behalf of hazing the other team. Her plan is to start a sex strike - gathering the girlfriends of all the players of both teams and agreeing that none of them will hookup with their boyfriends until the rivalry is over. What follows is an all out battle of the sexes as the girls begin to explore issues of teen sexuality and the boys attempt to seduce the girls into breaking their oath. Lissa is determined to win, but she never expects the sexual tension that rises between she and Cash Sterling, a member of the soccer team and leader of the boys' side.
I really ended up liking The DUFF and this one sounds interesting.
Check out Kody's blog for an excerpt!
The Alpha Bet
by Stephanie Hale
Some teenagers use drugs or sex to escape overbearing parents. I used books.
All my life my mother has been hovering over me, afraid to let me experience ANYTHING. So I got really good grades, graduated from high school when I was sixteen, and escaped to a new life—my own life—at college.
To jump-start my social life, I decided to rush the Alphas, the most exclusive sorority on campus. Things started to get complicated when I told one little white lie. (Okay, maybe not so little.) Then one of the sisters invoked the Alpha Bet, a super-secret set of alphabetical tasks we pledges have to complete to prove our loyalty. Now, the Alpha Bet has taken over my life.
Can you spell B-E-T-R-A-Y-A-L? (description taken from Amazon.com)
This is an adorable new favorite! This is exactly the type of realistic fiction that I hope for everytime!! Grace Kelly is a WONDERFUL character. Not only is she cute, lovable, and ultimately relatable...really, who doesn't have that feeling of wanting to get away from their parents when they go to college and then panicking when you realize that you really miss them...but she is also one smart cookie!! As the girl previously known as a dork in a former life, (oh who am I kidding, I'm still a dork, but now I embrace it!!) I loved that not one person gave GK a hard time about being smart and that in fact, she attracts her boyfriend partially by being a science geek! AWESOME.
This book is also full of great secondary characters. An awesome new best friend, a warm and loving set of parents, a fun, respectful boyfriend, and great new "sisters." Hale knows how to write a whole, sweet, lovable package! Defintely a fun read for when you need a little pick-me-up!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Three Quarters Dead
by Richard Peck
Kerry is chosen by the coolest clique in school and so she thinks life has finally begun. But then it seems all over when her three friends are killed in a shocking car accident. Or are they? Only weeks after the accident, Kerry receives a text from one of the girls: We're all 3 here at my aunt's in the city. Take the 3:50 train. B there.
(description taken from Amazon.com)
This book made me angry. Kerry made me angry. I wanted to reach through my stereo and shake her. The worst part...some of my anger stemmed from the fact that I'm pretty sure I might have behaved just like she did when I was still in high school. For that, I give Peck major kudos. He has tapped into some real feelings, some real clique scenarios from teen life.
I still want to throttle Kerry, though. She is SUCH a pushover. Even in the conclusion of the story, she doesn't really save herself...yes, she stands up for herself (to an extent) but it just wasn't a really satisfying character growth at all. She's like a wet dishrag. Ick.
I was disappointed also with the supernatural segment of this story. Though the concept was sort of cool, it was only introduced very late in the story and not fully explored. There are definitely a LOT of better books available in this genre.
Full disclosure: Audio book sent to review for AudioFile magazine
2011 Zombie Reading Challenge title
by Adele Griffin
When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead. (description from Amazon.com)
This was a really well written book. It did not end up being a favorite...I just didn't really like it, but man is it well done. Griffin starts this story as a thrilling ghost story, and as Jaime begins to break down, so does the writing. The story becomes disjointed as Jaime loses time and begins to have trouble distinguishing reality from the world beyond. As the reader, you also become confused... sooo well done.
As I said, though I didn't love the book it is very good. The end is surprising and interesting and heartbreaking. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who like thrillers. I would also caution more conservative readers that there is a LOT of prescription drug abuse and underage drinking.
Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
by Jennifer Echols
WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . . AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?
There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug. (description from Amazon.com)
This book was compelling. Really. The plot hooked me right in from the first sentence and did not let go. It's funny because it's really not the best written book ever...there were parts in the first half where I caught myself saying, "Oh, that sounds awkward," but man, once started reading I could not stop. Two nights in a row, I stayed up TOO late and had to force myself to put in the bookmark and place. the. book. down.
Zoey's life just, well...sucks. Dealing with two messed up parents and the fact that neither one really seems to care at all about how she's doing...ugh. No wonder she bonds (or should I say re-bonds) with Doug...his Dad is seriously F*ed Up! I loved Doug. He was what really kept drawing me back in. He smoldered right off the page. *sigh*
I really liked how Echols gave readers solid hints about occurrences during Zoey's lost time. Just enough so that I constantly tried to convince myself that I knew, but really knew that I had only an inkling. There were some good little twists that got thrown in...
As an adult reader, this book also had just the right amount of heat. It was somewhat graphic without becoming "erotica" and still managed to leave some things to the reader's imagination, but was totally realistic about what types of sexual activity teenagers actually engage in today. I thought that was very well done. I don't think I'd recommend this book to anyone too young, though.
All in all, though not my favorite book ever, I did really enjoy it and would recommend it.