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The Compulsive Reader: 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whew...

After a hectic, crazy, fun, and completely wonderful two months, my fellow Cybils panelists and I have finally narrowed down 100+ nominations for the Cybils Awards in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category (for both MG and YA!) down to 11 books to pass off to the judges. It's been a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun, and I loved every minute of it.

And now you readers can expect more diverse reviews other than the same old fantasy and science fiction books all the time.

Anyways, I'm excited to see what the judges will decide! I imagine that the finalists should be announced over at the Cybils site within the next few days.

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!

2008 Faves

I've been sitting here contemplating the past year's releases, and because I am a compulsive list maker I couldn't help but list my favorites among 2008's new books. It's a hard thing to narrow down with SO many good books that came out this year, but I'll give it a shot:



A Curse Dark as Gold

My fellow Cybils panelists in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi group are rather torn when it comes to this one, but I loved it. I loved the setting, and how Elizabeth Bunce creates a solid story in which she makes the fairy tale fit into rather the other way around. It's a beautiful, enthralling, and magical read, with a kick-butt cover to boot.








The Day I Killed James

My first novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde, I thought that this story was a very isightful one about death, grief, responsibility, and realizing the full impact of actions. The characters are real, they're tough, and, as we come to find out, resilient.








Wake

Lisa McMann's first novel (which she wrote in a week, that crazy/amazing lady!) is creepy and very magnetic. It's a quick read, but overflowing with mystery, fear, and suspense, and it promises more equally thrilling sequels.









Audrey, Wait!

Let's just get this out of the way first off--Robin Benway totally rocks. Audrey, Wait! is hilarious, laugh-outloud-until-you-spray-something-out-of-your-nose fun. Audrey is so real, it's amazing. Benway has catured the essense of teen life, among other amazing things in this novel.







Ten Cents a Dance

Always a fan of historical fiction, I loved Christine Fletcher's unique novel on a subject I'd never heard about before--taxi dance halls. Ruby and her struggles in her new life, determination to succeed, and love for her family are admirable. This is an entertaining read that is really educational without being boring at all.







The Explosionist

Another "historical" novel, but with a twist. Jenny Davidson shows us an imagined alternate world in which the battle at Waterloo had turned out differently. The year is 1938, and the world is in turmoil--although, not in the same ways in which we know. Terrorism is on the rise, and something horrible and mysterious is happening to young women. The Explosionist is a real thriller.





The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

E. Lockhart tells the tale of Frankie, an overlooked and underestimated girl who longs to be acknowledged for her intelligence. So, in order to achieve that recognition, she secretly takes over her boyfriend's all-male secret society in order to pull of the most spectacular pranks. Witty and exceedingly clever, The Disreputable History sticks in your mind for a long time.





The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins' amazing futuristic novel is chilling and totally engrossing. Her depiction of the society in which the government has total and complete control over everything makes you think, and entertains at the same time. The Hunger Games is simply remarkable.








Paper Towns
This is another novel in which the author's (John Green) depiction of high school life is natural and funny and surprisingly right on the mark. The added twist of a mysterious disappearance and a trail of clues really make the book even more engaging.






Suite Scarlett
Maureen Johnson's trademark wit and crazy humor have reached their highest point yet in Suite Scarlett. Hilarious, adventurous, engaging, anf hilarious, Suite Scarlett is one read you especially don't want to miss. And the best part? There's more to come.







Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
The mix of adventure, magic, and secrecy are an engrossing combination, and make for one heck of a read. Alison Goodman leaves readers hanging though at the end with a stunning and maddening cliffhanger that will keep readers dreaming.







Bliss

Creepy and truly frightening, Bliss is the story of a friendship gone very wrong. Lauren Myracle will stun readers as she slowly reveals the dark forces at work, and gives readers a surprise ending that will make you think twice about how far you'll go to be well liked.
What are some of your favorite books from 2008?
Have a safe and happy New Year, everyone!
TCR

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rearranging

A few times in my life, when I'm being exceptionally fanciful, I've wished for a bed of books. Today, while doing some rearranging of my shelves, I got my wish:



This picture is for Alea, who can most likely empathize.

Tiara Time




Hey everyone,


I have some news about the tenth (and final!) book in the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, which, I have read and found quite amazing, but I promised the higher-ups that I wouldn't reveal anything yet...so you'll just have to wait til next week!

Anyhoo, to celebrate the publication of FOREVER PRINCESS, authors, illustrators, actors, designers and TV personalities have decorated tiaras that will be auctioned online. All proceeds from the auction will go to benefit teen programs at The New York Public Library's 87 branches.
The tiaras are truly awesome and there are some wonderful ones decorated by your favorite YA authors including Meg Cabot (of course!), Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume, and others, including: actress/co-author Julie Andrews and her daughter and co-author Emma Walton Hamilton, TV personality Samantha Bee, cosmetics founder Bobbi Brown, author/illustrator Marc Brown, singer/actress Sabrina Bryan, TV personality Lauren Conrad, Echo Design, designer Tommy Hilfiger, artist Karen Kilimnik, illustrator Hilary Knight, Dylan Lauren of Dylan’s Candy Bar, TV host Stacy London, illustrator Chesley McLaren, designer Nicole Miller, actress Julianne Moore, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, actress AnnaSophia Robb, TV personality Mo Rocca, designer Austin Scarlett, Seventeen Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket, author R.L. Stine, author/actress Meg Tilly, USA Weekend Magazine, author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, designer Vera Wang, and Wave Hill public garden.


So basically, there are a lot of amazingly talented people participating and you don't want to miss this auction!

The tiaras will be auctioned online at cMarket -- http://tiaras.cmarket.com/ -- from January 1-31 You can check out many of the tiaras on the web site now! To the left we have Meg Cabot's tiara, and the the right, Sarah Dessen's. Aren't they goegeous?


So be sure to check it out--even though they are a but pricey, they are fun to look at! I'm really loving Julianne Moore's tiara. What's your favorite?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lord of Misrule Goes To...

...Staci! Congrats! Send me your snail mail address at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com!

Teen Choice Book Awards

Hey everyone,

Here's a little something interesting you might be interested in:

Teenreads.com is collaborating with the Children's Book Council offering teens an opportunity to share their five favorite books of 2008. The five titles that receive the most “votes” will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2009 Teen Choice Book Award. A list of nominees can be found at http://www.teenreads.com/features/ccba_nominees_2009.asp, where you also may find information on how to nominate other titles published in 2008. The deadline for nominating books is January 31, 2009.

That's pretty exciting--there's a great list of contenders up there already, so be sure to check it out!

TCR

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott


Alexandra is the only princess of The Kingdom, her father's realm, where beauty and prosperity dwell thanks to her mother, a cunning woman, whose magic and affinity for the earth bring harmony to their lands. Alexandra is the youngest child of the king, and his least favorite, but she takes comfort in her three older brothers’ affection, and her mother's teachings of the ways of the enaid, the magical forces that run through the earth.

But then her mother is brutally attacked by a supernatural wild animal, and despite her talents in healing, Alexandra cannot save her. It isn't long before the king finds himself a new wife—a pretty, young, and mysterious woman named Zella who has everyone falling under her charms—except Alexandra and her brothers. When they underestimate their step-mother's treachery and Alexandra is sent far away and her brothers banished, Alexandra will have to find the strength and courage to face Zella and take back what is rightfully hers.

The Swan Kingdom is a beautiful and magical read that contains some of the best fantasy elements—romance, curses, a wicked witch, enchanted lands, and a strong heroine. Marriott's world of flowing magic and the kingdoms with their diverse rulers and people is an enchantingly clever one and is accurately described. Alexandra is a very likable and real character, and The Swan Kingdom is as much of her coming-of-age story as it is an adventure. Her faults, strengths, and tenacity are admirable, and she has an engaging and distinct voice that readers will find very compelling and convincing at the same time. Alexandra’s spunk and her wholehearted love for her kingdom and family are what propel the plot.

The resolution of the story may leave some scratching their heads and thumbing through the book a bit, but it is a satisfying one. Marriott stays pretty true to the original tale though, without deviating to embellish the plot, causing The Swan Kingdom to read more like The Wild Swans with added details, but nevertheless, fairytale and fantasy lovers will be content to enjoy this romantic and magical tale of courage and independence with a lovable and genuine heroine. Zoe Marriott is an author to watch.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott


Lauren Smith feels that she should consider herself a lucky girl—she has a good life, a wonderful best friend, and the most popular guy in school, Dave, is dating her, despite Lauren's lowly social status. Yet she can't seem to muster up the feeling of being truly happy. Her life is thrown into disarray when Evan Kirkland, son of her dad's first girlfriend, comes back to town. Lauren finds herself drawn to him, and she feels truly relaxed and happy when she’s with him. But she's also torn between her familiar place with Dave and the plans he's making for the both of them, and exciting, sincere Evan. It doesn't take Lauren long to realize that soon she'll have to face her feelings and make a decision completely uninfluenced by those around her, no matter the consequences.


Bloom is a heartfelt and surprisingly realistic read that has the ability to reach many teen girls. While Scott portrays Lauren as generally a "good girl", her flaws and mistakes are also evident, making it easy for the reader to fall in love with her rather than think less of her. Her confusion when it comes to her love life may frustrate readers, but every thought and insecurity and hang-up she has is genuine. Scott's knack for how the teen social scene works is also remarkable, and will stand out while causing empathy for the characters. At times Bloom reads like one of those "books with covers that promised girls who seemed to be just like me" that Lauren disparages, but Scott's imperfect ending, the numerous mistakes characters make, and flawed relationships resemble real life perfectly and cause Bloom to transcend those stereotypical inspirational books with its authentic voice that deals with the complexity of relationships, both familial and romantic with a genuine and down to earth air.

Bliss by Lauren Myracle


Raised by her hippie parents, Bliss is unaccustomed to the wealth and opulence of the many amenities that her grandmother's home provides. Now living with her grandmother after her parents took off for Canada, Bliss is given the chance not only to live in a healthier environment, but also to attend school and make friends her own age. But at Crestview Academy, Bliss finds that making friends isn't all sunshine and smiles—there's jealousy, alliances, and social statuses to deal with as well. But Bliss refuses to get sucked in, and makes friends with Sandy, the outcast. Bliss is happy maintaining balance between Sandy and her more popular friends, but then sinister occurrences begin to affect her. Bliss hears a voice that hungers for blood, and discovers that beneath the sunny facade her new friends and peers put up, dark secrets lurk.


Foreboding, dark, and mysterious, Bliss is one chilling read that will keep you up at night. Set in the heart of the counterculture movement, the difference of the times from life now offers a very interesting perspective to dark deeds going on. Myracle cleverly uses the Tate-LaBianca murder case as backdrop throughout the novel, which contributes to the air of unease and darkness of the book. Bliss herself is an admirable character—her discomfort at the shifting politics that goes hand in hand with her new social life make readers examine the way our own social structure is set up and the flaws within in, and then her struggles to retain her ideals are relatable and human.


Though the build up of the supernatural events is a bit slow at first and is shadowed by the wonder of Bliss's new life, entries from the journal of a S.L.L punctuate the plot and keep the sinister air to it. The feeling only builds as the supernatural elements take over the book and a startling twist is revealed with an unforgettable ending. The only dissatisfying piece of the conclusion is that Bliss doesn't do anything with her so-called "great power" she is said to possess, but readers will be able to overlook it in light of the bold way Myracle wraps Bliss up, proving herself a fearless author. Bliss is a perfectly creepy and frightening novel certainly not for the faint of heart.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why Do You Buy?

Books are fabulous things in the sense that they are essentially very cheap entertainment, and in most cases, virtually free if you use a library and borrow them from someone else. It's perhaps one of the most appealing things about them.

But then, of course, so many people do end up buying their own books (which is a good thing, especially with the publishing industry in the state it is now!).

My question is, why?

I know that for me, buying books is a compulsive thing--I can't help it. After I've read the book, I want it to be mine forever, and my groaning and overflowing bookshelves are a testament to that. But why do you purchase books rather than renting or borrowing? Does the book have to sound really good, or be really popular? Does the edition (hardcover, paperback, mass market) influence your decision? Does it have to have re-reading potential? Or do you just really like the cover?

Let me know in the comments below, and I'll enter you to win a copy of Savvy Girl by Lynn Messina! Contest ends January 31st, but keep the comments coming as long as you want!

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft


Winchester School of the Arts is the Laundromat of East Coast boarding schools. When teens have dropped out—or have been kicked out—of every other reputable prep school, Winchester is where they go. It's also where unsuspecting Carli Gemz, a young actress, is sent by the producer of her new TV show to get some real life experience with boarding school living. What she doesn't know is that she's also being sent there to give the producer's son, Fun, one last chance at redemption before he gets himself kicked out. Both are surprised to find that the school's golden girl, and possibly the most normal person there, Darcy, has gone missing. Carli is intrigued and can't fight the urge to look for her, and Fun is dragged along, making for a humorous and puzzling adventure.

Dirty Laundry is a nicely engaging combination of wit, mystery, and a dash of romance written in the form of alternating narratives between Fun and Carli’s unique voices, which can be a difficult feat, but one that Ehrenhaft pulls off flawlessly. The characters are presented in such a way that everything Ehrenhaft discloses about them—from multiple points of view, their own dialogue, and their actions—only reinforces the genuine vibe Dirty Laundry gives off. The diverse and realistic characters are the key element that grounds the rather far-fetched plot from seeming too cheesy and unrealistic and adds to the quirkiness and overall charm of the entire novel. The seriousness of the missing girl and the possibility that her abductor lives among the teens is carefully balanced by the underlying wit and humor that is present throughout the entire novel. The only deterring aspect of the book was the slightly rushed conclusion, but overall Dirty Laundry is a hilarious and entertaining read reminiscent of the works of John Green and Jaclyn Moriarty's The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, and is easy for the reluctant teen reader to get immersed into. Ehrenhaft has created a winner.
This book will be out in a few days--December 30th, so be sure to look for it.

Sooooo Sooooory

My computer got hacked. And then it died. And then it got revived. And this whole process took two weeks.
And now I'm back! (Along with a dozen apologies, a contest winner announcement, another contest, and hopefully later, another review!)

First off, I hope everyone had a happy Christmas/Kwanza/Hannukah/holiday break! As for myself, after yesterday, I'm pretty sure if I never ate again until March, I would live. So much food...

Anyways, contest winner! Thanks to everyone who checked out the videos about Francey by Martin Dubow! You can see my review of the book here, and the videos here! The videos are especially intriguing and will really spark your interest.

Congratulations to Mrs. Shealy--you've won the copy of Francey. Just email me your snail mail address at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com and I'll get it right out to you!


And, continuing with the Fun Friday tradition, I've got another book for you all to win! The fifth book in the Morganville Vampires series, Lord of Misrule, is coming out January 6th, and you could be the proud owner of a copy of it before it even comes out! Just comment below to be entered to win, and I'll pick a winner on Monday. Extra entries will be given to people who tell others about this contest--just be sure to tell me where you heard about this contest in your comment!

Good luck, and have a happy Friday!

TCR

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winner!

According to a random number generator, Paradox is the winner of 100 Girls! Send me your address, and I'll get your copy of 100 Girls in the mail to you!

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Lawrence Sitomer


Sonia's family is low-income, low-minded, and not entirely legal immigrants from Mexico. They take her ambitions to graduate and continue school as a personal offense and a sign that she doesn't care about her family enough. To rectify this, they send her to Mexico to live with her grandmother and cousin to reinforce their "family first" ideals. What Sonia learns instead is that while family is important, so is being successful and achieving your goals. When she returns home, it is with newfound determination. But when life's issues begin piling up and a romantic interest gets in the way, Sonia will find her dreams of rising above her current status threatened.

Sharp, wise, and extremely insightful, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is an eye-opening and attention grabbing book. The straightforward style and compelling voice make this a book that many teens will be able to draw connections with from the text to their own lives. The characters are wonderfully developed and described, making them the feature that stands out the most in the novel. Sonia especially easily wins readers over with her heart and honesty, and earns readers' sympathies with all that she endures. The only things that didn't measure up to the rest of the book was the very short amount of time spent in Sonia's time in Mexico, but it in no way detracts from the overall reading experience. The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is an inspiring and realistic look at one girl's struggle to find her identity and place in life, and is sure to popular among teens from many backgrounds.

Inside Scoop on Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Here's a video of Alison Goodman, author of Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, which is due out later this month, talking about her inspiration for the book. Personally, I loved Eon, so please check it out!

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo


Albert Kim, a self described "intentional loser", is sick of high school drama. He'd rather be an outcast than have to deal with having a social life, especially after all the injustices that have been dumped on him during his high school years. But these sentiments seem to be nearly forgotten when Albert meets Mia, who is confident and popular. Before Albert knows it, he and Mia are together.

And then...Mia's ex, Ryan, is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly he desperately needs Mia to be at his side, a fact of which Albert is certain is payback and an attempt to get her back. Unable to say anything against Ryan, everyone's heroic champion, and desperate for Mia's company—the only person he feels truly alive with—Albert finds himself locked between a rock and a hard place.

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before is a humorous, ironic, and completely entertaining read that really hits the mark. Albert is an engaging and thought provoking character whose unique voice is hard to resist and his outlook on life is one that many teens will be able to relate to. The pacing of the story is ideal: it moves at just the right speed to keep the reader's attention, but not so fast that it feels as if the story is rushed, and the plot is credible. Readers will find themselves easily empathizing with Albert as Ryan gets showered with attention and Mia finds herself hopelessly confused, and Albert grows a little wiser along the way. Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before genuinely and candidly captures the heartaches, thrills, and lows of being in love and growing up.

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin by Suzanne Weyn


Bridget O'Malley never anticipated that making a living in New York City as an Irish immigrant would be so hard. Her family is struggling to stay afloat, and consider themselves lucky for the jobs they do have working in J.P. Wellington's household, even if they do have to change their names to avoid persecution.

Bridget, now Bertie Miller, is a seamstress, and her father and brother are coachmen. But when it looks as if the Wellingtons’ business may be in jeopardy, along with the Millers' jobs, Bertie's father tells outrageous lies of Bertie's abilities to turn ordinary fabric into shimmering and fashionable dresses. Bertie is in a state of despair when the mysterious Ray Stalls offers his assistance...and manages to do what Bertie's father claimed. Soon Bertie finds herself caught up between her debt and obligation to Ray, and her one chance to ascend the social ladder and become successful and prosperous.

The Crimson Thread is a sweet and whimsical retelling of Rumpelstilstskin that turns the old tale around completely. It reads more like a historical fiction novel than a fairy tale, and gives a fairly accurate depiction of life for Irish immigrants in New York City along the way, with a dash of the glitz and glamour of the life of the obscenely rich. The pacing of the book is slightly slow at the beginning, but then evens out quickly, making this regrettably short read fly by. The characters are engaging and varied and the magical elements are very light—so much so that it allows readers to speculate as to whether there is any magic at all—but Weyn doesn’t divulge any secrets. She manages to create an air of improbability within the story, mirroring Bertie's own uncertain circumstances, which leaves the reader to always wonder what will happen next. But Weyn doesn’t disappoint and, through some clever wordplay and neat plotting, brings the story together in a romantic and satisfying end.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Interview with Susan Juby


Susan Juby is the author of the Alice series, Another Kind of Cowboy, and Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery.

____________


What is one thing you'd like your teen readers to get out of your books?

Enjoyment, first of all. Followed by comic relief, a sense of identification and the awareness that weirdos rule. Or at least they should.

Your Alice series focuses on a protaganist, Alice, who is an outcast and doesn't really mind. What influenced you to write about her?

I spent a portion (but not all) of my younger years in the pit of unpopularity and turned myself inside out to fit in. I wish I hadn't. So I wrote someone who is able to withstand the tremendous pressure to be like everyone else.

Your books cover a wide array of subject matter: what's the reason for this, and what can we expect from you next?

I write what I'm interested in and I'm interested in all sorts of things. As you pointed out, my books are, at heart, about the pressure to fit a mold and how difficult it is to defy expectations. I'm planning to write my first piece of science fiction. I'm very excited about it. My goal is to write every type of book I love to read, and I love a certain type of speculative fiction.

Was it hard to adopt a male voice and write from Sherman and Alex's perspective?

It was harder (in the case of Alex) to write in the third person because my first three books were in first person. As for Sherman, he's written in the first person but I felt like I heard him very clearly right from the start. I've also read dozens of male coming of age stories and have three brothers, so enjoyed putting myself in the shoes of a fourteen year old boy.

If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I'd like to meet Richard Price, who wrote Clockers and, more recently, Lush Life. I love his work and I've heard him interviewed on the radio and he sounded like a funny and intriguing person who is a world class talker. He's got an amazingly wide range of interests and a generous way of seeing the world.

If you were to have a biography, what would it be called?

I'm working on a project now that is in part a biography. It's called Nice Recovery.

If you weren't writing, what job could you imagine yourself having?

I'm always fantasizing about possible careers. I could see myself being a parole officer, a hair stylist, a costume designer, a breakfast cook or maybe a groom for someone with a team of polo ponies. Oh, and I've always been interested in becoming a butler. Buttling seems like it would be an interesting job.

Did you consciously choose to write YA novels, or did your writing just turn out targeted for teens?

I did not set out to write YA. After I finished my first novel, Alice, I Think, the publishers I sent it to told me it was a teen novel. I have always been interested in teens and in coming of age, so I was fine with that diagnosis.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would like to fly. Or to heal people. One of those. At this stage, the ability to touch my own toes would feel like a superpower. Perhaps I should stretch more.

Anything I didn't ask you wish I had?

Where can one find the best cupcakes in the world: The Old City Bakery in Ladysmith, BC, Canada.
Thanks so much, Susan!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oh, 2009...

As the year is winding down, I've found that there are many reasons I would rather not have 2008 come to a close. Christmas, for one. I would like Christmas to last as looooong as possible. And there are other reasons too, of course, but somehow they seem to fade to the background when I think of all of the FANTASTIC looking books coming out in 2009.

Shelter Me by Alex McAulay (January 6th, 2009)

Maggie Leigh just wants to be a normal teenager, but when German bombs tear apart London during World War II, her ultra-religious mother sees the destruction as divine punishment. She sends Maggie to a remote boarding school in coastal Wales, supposedly to keep her safe, but also to keep her in line. The school is creepy, the headmistress is a lunatic, and the students range from spoiled rich girls to speechless trauma victims. But when a tragic accident happens on the beach, Maggie and three friends are forced to flee the school, plunging into the nightmarish world of Europe during wartime. Now every decision Maggie makes is fraught with danger, and living to see another day depends on how quickly she can think and act...and how far she's willing to go.

(Okay, so not only is the cover AMAZING, it sounds spectacular! I am such a historical fiction nut! I cannot wait to read this one!)


Being Nikki by Meg Cabot (May 1st, 2009)

Things aren't pretty for Emerson Watts.

Em was sure there couldn't be anything worse than being a brainiac the body of a teenaged supermodel.

But it turned out she was wrong. Because that supermodel could turn out to have a mother who's gone mysteriously missing, a brother who's shown up on her doorstep demanding answers, a former best friend who's intent on destroying Stark Enterprises to avenge the death of his lost love, and a British heartthrob who's written a song about her that's topping the charts.

How can Em balance all that with school, runway shows, and weekend jaunts to St. Johns - especially when she's got ex-boyfriends crawling out of the woodwork who want more than just a photo op; a sister who is headed to the high school cheerleading championships; a company she represents that seems to be turning to the dark side...

Not to mention trying to convince the love of her life that models aren't really airheads after all...especially one model in particular.

But then, nobody said it was going to be easy being Nikki.

(I loved Airhead. I have to admit, I was wary at first, but I can't deny that Meg Cabot is awesome, Em is awesome, this whole series is made of awesomeness.)



Beka Cooper 2: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce (April 28th, 2009)

Beka Cooper is finally a Dog—a full-fledged member of the Provost’s Guard, dedicated to keeping peace in Corus’s streets. But there’s unrest in Tortall’s capital. Counterfeit coins are turning up in shops all over the city, and merchants are raising prices to cover their losses. The Dogs discover that gamblers are bringing the counterfeit money from Port Caynn. In Port Caynn, Beka delves deep into the gambling world, where she meets a charming banking clerk named Dale Rowan. Beka thinks she may be falling for Rowan, but she won’t let anything—or anyone—jeopardize her mission. As she heads north to an abandoned silver mine, it won’t be enough for Beka be her usual “terrier” self. She’ll have to learn from Achoo to sniff out the criminals—to be a Bloodhound. . . .

(Finally! Finally, finally, finally! I'll have to reread Terrier before April...like it'll be that hard to force myself to to!)



The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison (April 28th, 2009)

No synopsis on this one yet, but it is a companion novel to The Princess and the Hound, and accoriding to Mette Ivie Harrison, there will be one more book!










Alis by Naomi Rich
At fourteen, Alis has never been outside her strict religious community. But when her parents arrange for her to marry a forty-year-old man, she flees desperately to the dangerous, unfamiliar city. She learns quickly that the only way to survive there is to become a thief—or worse. Facing an impossible choice between a forced marriage or life on the streets, Alis seizes control of her own fate. But the path she chooses sets off a disastrous chain of events that leave her accused of murder. Steadfastly loyal, Alis must decide: will she betray a loved one or sacrifice herself?

(I have cover lust. This one sounds fantastic!)

Something, Maybe and Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Some of you may know about Something, Maybe already: there was an excerpt of it in the back of Perfect You under the title Live! Nude! Mom. It will be out March 24th, 2009.

And here's what I found on Love You Hate You Miss You, which will be out in June:

You know, I always thought I told you everything, but there are some things I should have said but never did. I should have told you about the time I lost your new sunglasses. I know you really liked them. I should have apologized the time I ruined your brand-new skirt, the one with the beading. I should have apologized for a lot of stuff.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.


The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry (March 3rd, 2009)

When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt’s jewelry store. Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda’s path. In this magical story filled with delightful surprises, Lucinda will dance at the royal ball, fall under the Amaranth Witch’s spell, avenge her parents’ death, and maybe—just maybe—capture the heart of a prince.

(Okay, I admit, the cover totally drew me in at first, but I love the sound of this one!)

And the following are without covers yet (at least, as far as I could find), but sound excellent nontheless, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of each!

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (September 2nd, 2009)
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world...and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him. Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.
(This one sounds outstanding...nicely creepy with a bit of romace. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy, and to seeing the cover!)

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (August 2009)

Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister Alice have just become orphans and, as Lia discovers, they have also become enemies. The twins are part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other. To escape from a dark fate and to remain in the arms of her beloved boyfriend James, Lia must end the prophecy before her sister does. Only then will she understand the mysterious circumstances of her parents' deaths, the true meaning of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and the lengths to which her sister will go to defeat her. Debut novelist Michelle Zink takes readers on an unforgettable journey where one sister's fateful decision could have an impact of Biblical proportion.

(Okay, I am jumping up and down in my seat, I am so excited now. Sounds so good!)

As you can see, it'll be quite a good year! And that's not even the majority of all the good books that are coming out. Bring on '09!

What books are you looking forward to in '09? Any authors out there who have books coming out next year? Tell me about them!

Night World No. 2 by L.J. Smith


In Dark Angel, Gillian is the quiet girl no one ever really notices. She's lonely, and is suffering from her parents' crumbling relationship. It's while walking home from school one winter day that she falls into an icy river, and dies. On her way to heaven, she meets Angel, her handsome guardian angel, who insists that it's not her time yet, and makes her return to earth. But instead of going to back to her meek and quiet life, Gillian is transformed into the most popular girl in school—with Angel's help. But when Angel begins to manipulate Gillian into doing things she doesn't want to do, she must question everything she thought she knew about him and herself.

Rashel is strong, mentally and physically, and hardened against life's injustices, a result of witnessing her mother's murder at the hands of a vampire. Now she has devoted her life to tracking down her mother's killer, becoming the most feared vampire hunter among the Night Worlders. But when a chance encounter with the vampire Quinn, who has a reputation to match Rashel's, leaves the both of them confused—and very much alive—they discover a bond between the both of them that could be their undoing in The Chosen.

In Soulmate, Hannah's life is perfect: she has a great mother, a scholarship to her college of choice, and wonderful friends…except for one thing: she is going insane. Puzzling dreams and notes she's written but has no recollection of leave her miserable and frightened. But during her therapy sessions with a small town shrink, the shocking truth comes out. Hannah has been reincarnated since the dawn of Night World, following her soulmate Thierry, Lord of the Night World and immortal vampire. But as memories of past lives resurface, Hannah finds she doesn't entirely trust Thierry, and Maya, the original vampire, would very much like to rip Hannah to shreds.

Like the first volume of the Night World books, Night World Vol. 2 is a supernatural lover's dream book. Smith's stories, though they revolve around the same beings, are all very inventive and unique. Her characters are varied and all have colorful personalities, which gives the concept of the Night World such authenticity. Smith’s writing also has an air of sophistication and ease that is very simple and enjoyable to read, but at the same time, deals with many complex issues. Like with the first volume, there is plenty of doomed romance and danger, but rather than coming across as cheesy, it is adventurous and polished.

Also in this volume, readers get a feel for the changes that are going on in the Night World, set in motion by the original characters from Secret Vampire (Volume 1), Poppy and James, and Smith also adds some Night World history and lore in Soulmate. These little qualities that lend credibility to a comprehensive picture of the Night World are what distinguishes Smith's paranormal realm from the many others floating around in the genre, and make for a truly enjoyable reading experience. L.J. Smith is a master at mysterious, action-filled, romantic, and suspenseful reads.
On a side note, the Night World books are perfect Christmas gifts! Three novels in one book for less than ten dollars! How cool is that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Alex Fuentes is gang member from the south side of Fairfield, and Brittany Ellis is a privileged girl from the north. Each have a status and a reputation to uphold at Fairfield High, but they also have secrets—for Alex, it's the desire to break free from the Latino Blood gang and his tough image and succeed in life. Brittany's life may look perfect from the outside, but at home, her parents are struggling to deal with Brittany's handicapped sister.

Brittany and Alex are on the opposite ends of the social scene spectrum, but that doesn't stop their chemistry teacher from making them lab partners. It's hate at first sight for both, but as they learn more about each other and slowly move beyond the stereotypes, they'll discover completely new people.

Perfect Chemistry is the classic love story of two utterly different people falling for each other, despite their initial loathing. Elkeles breathes new life into the old tale, giving it a fresh teenage perspective by interchangeably writing in both Alex and Brittany’s point of view, keeping Perfect Chemistry fresh and evenly paced. The plot is realistic and sweet without being cliché, and the dialogue is perfect; gritty, and genuine. Each side is portrayed objectively, and though Alex and Brittany’s relationship does move at a fast pace, their thoughts, insecurities, hang-ups, and urges all ring true and are easy for nearly any teen to identify with.

Though it is an important part of the book, the romance doesn't dominate it: strong themes of acceptance, diversity, courage, and independence are also present, making for a powerful read that boldly faces the consequences of gang life, and offers an unflinching look at how difficult it is to extricate oneself from it. Elkeles has created a riveting and strong novel with an important and relevant message and a romance hotter than any exothermic reaction.

Perfect Chemistry will be available from Walker Books for Young Readers December 23rd, 2008!

Books = Gifts!

Oh my goodness, you guys! Look at this! See, I'm not only one who thinks that buying people books as gifts is amazing!

Spread the word! Go to buymorebooks.blogspot.com--we can reach 1 million books! Just watch! No matter what the holiday, or your beliefs, books are perfect for everyone!

Now go get buying!

Fun Friday

Hey there everyone,

Today's Fun Friday prize is a copy of the graphic novel 100 Girls by Adam Gallardo and Todd Demong. Though I'm not usually a fan of graphic novels, 100 Girls was very intriguing, and I liked the sci-fi elements.

Anyways, to enter to win, just comment below by Sunday, and I'll post the winner on Monday. Have a fantastic weekend...the weather here is snowy and blowy and cold and just perfect for decorating and reading!

Cheers,

TCR

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Devouring by Simon Holt


I'm not a big horror fan, but Simon Holt has captured my heart (and maybe my peace of mind...) with The Devouring!


This holiday season promises to be anything but merry for Reggie. Ever since her mom left, she has become a surrogate mother for her younger brother and responsible for every household chore, and her relationship with her father shaky. In her free time, Reggie indulges in horror stories, a love she shares with her best friend Aaron. But when they stumble across an old journal titled The Devouring, Aaron and Reggie will discover the chilling truth about hellish creatures called Vours firsthand when one inhabits the body of Reggie's younger brother Henry. Now the three of them find themselves caught up in a deadly fight that is larger and much more dangerous than they ever could have imagined.

There is no doubt about it: The Devouring is one unnerving and frightening read. Simon Holt creates ideal characters for the plot: a protagonist who is fallible, yet determined and intelligent, the awesome best friend with some more-than-best-friend potential, and the handsome older guy. The plot moves at a quick pace so as not to be boring, though Holt saves the edge-of-your-seat brand of suspense until towards the end of the novel. The Devouring is also kept tasteful as far as horror novels go, without an overflow of unnecessary gore (though be warned, there is a little) or avid descriptions of pointless details whose main goal is to strike fear in the heart of the reader. Instead, the real thrills and chills come from the mystery, power, and evil that are the Vours and Aaron and Reggie's struggle to find their weakness before it's too late. The ending is rather abrupt, but promises a sequel that will hopefully further enlighten readers when it comes to the Vours and be just as haunting.

Sasha Watson is Awesome

Sasha Watson, author of Vidalia in Paris, is pretty awesome. Here's a video in which she talks about why she writes YA, reads aloud a chapter from Vidalia in Paris, and answers a few questions. Enjoy!

P.S. Did I mention that Sasha also interviewed me? There's even a semi good picture of me in front of my book shelves...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer


Most girls would be deterred by the words "must love black" in a nanny's job description, but not Phillipa. She hardly bats an eyelash at the requirement (truth be told, it fits her perfectly), is only slightly perplexed by the mysterious and slightly foreboding mansion she's to live in all summer. But she's determined to stick it out, despite Geoff the hot gardener's warnings that her charges—ten year old twins—are far from normal. But not even two of the world's oddest girls or traces of ghosts could scare Phillipa away—at least not where Geoff in concerned.

Must Love Black is a light and easy read with some supernatural elements and a dash of serious issues, like the death of a parent. Despite the cover's implications, Must Love Black is less of a supernatural and dark read, and more a story of one girl's road to acceptance of her father's new wife and her life after her mother passed away through her work in helping her charges connect with their father in their own unique way. Interspersed is a light romance with witty encounters that's sure to bring a smile to your face, with mentions and hints of ghostly presences. Must Love Black is a great read if you are looking for something uplifting and quick.

Winner!

Congrats to Breanna for winning the copy of Revealers! Check your email!

And to everyone else, check back Friday for another contest!

Be Amazing, Buy a Book

Hey there everyone,

I told you I'd get all Christmas crazy on you, so prepare yourself. It starts now.

I was thinking about my favorite Christmas presents this past weekend while making up a wishlist for family members for the Black Friday madness. I've had over a decade and a half worth of Christmases, which adds up to a lot of presents over the years. Some things, like the latest Barbies, are obviosuly long gone, packed off to Goodwill, along with every holiday sweater and cute pair of reindeer socks. Numerous gifts of candy were all gobbled up within, like, 5 minutes. Bottles of lotion have long since been used up, and scented candles burnt to nothing within weeks.

So, what's left over from all that excitement and joy, the numerous weeks of planning and scheming? Certainly the memories. And while I'll be the first person to tell you that material objects aren't what matter in life, the only gifts left over from the Christmases past now reside on my bookshelves.

One that comes immediately to mind is Jennifer L. Holm's first Boston Jane book, An Adventure. I was in third grade, and it made its debut in our small school book fair. I pined after it. I begged my mother to buy it for me, promising her that I would ask for nothing else but that one book. My mother is a smart woman--having five kids builds resistance to whining, begging, cajoling, pleading, or otherwise. And she knew even back then that if she gave just a little, the bibliophile maniac that was my 10 year old self would walk all over her and we'd walk out of the book fair with a copy of every book. So, she said no.

I was crushed.

Until Christmas morning...there, under green and white Santa Claus paper, was my beloved book. I started reading it the minute all the presents were opened. I read it more times than I can recall over the years, but I still have it. My copy has become pretty worn by now, but I'll admit to pulling it out every once and a while for a good dose of humor, girl power, and romance. I love that book.

And you know, somehow a bottle of freesia body wash just doesn't hold so much meaning.

It's perfect timing that these thoughts should pop up, since they coincide with the bit of a dismal look at sales in the publishiing and the Christmas shopping season. Yeah, you know what I'm getting at...

Buy a book. Seriously. It won't hurt anything. You can totally get great books for people for Christmas for under 10 dollars, or, if you want to do a bit of digging, for like, 5 dollars. That's CHEAP! Cheaper than bath salts or watches or CDs or most children's toys! And don't tell me that you can't find a single book for everyone in your life...instead of getting your little sister a Barbie, get her a book about Barbies! Why give your best friend another palette of eyeshadow when you could give her a book makeup artist techniques, or whatever...I'm just pulling stuff out of the air here, but there are books on EVERYTHING.


And if you get books for everyone, you can go to Amazon.com, where they have TONS of paperbacks that have a nifty 4 for 3 deal! But 3 books and get the fourth free, to keep, or give, or use to make abstract art or whatever.

And you don't have to even go to Amazon.com. If you're extra super duper awesome, you can go to your local indie bookstore and find them (or special order, ususally at no extra charge) there! Then you'll be helping the publishing industry, authors, AND stimulating your local economy, besides making one person pretty darn happy on Christmas day. (On a side note, wanna know how to make the gift more personal? Write the person you're giving the book to a note in the front and date it! I LOVE getting dedicated books!)

Another cool site I wanted to point out is When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Buy Books. They're trying to see if we can all buy a million books...just leave the name and title of the books you buy in the comments. They're off to a fantastic start, but they still have a long, long ways to go! Join Buy A Book, Save the World on Facebook while you're at it.


And if the person you're buying for has issues with getting books for Christmas, send them to me, I can take it (okay, I'm actually stealing that phrase from someone else who blogged about this issue...I can't remember who, but seriously, we can deal). And if you don't know what to get people, pick my brain. I'm happy to help.

So go with the meaningful, longer lasting, economically friendly and totally awesome gift this season, and go out and buy a book already. Then come tell me how awesome you are.

Cheers,

TCR

P.S. Oh, and if you want to win a sure to be awesome book, go here. A.S. King's giving away her last ARC of The Dust of 100 Dogs...




Sunday, November 30, 2008

You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay


Megan's life was going great—she had a cool new boyfriend, Homecoming was coming up, and a shot at making the pom squad. Then the zombie showed up. Megan had thought that her Settler powers had faded the night of the accident five years ago, but apparently not. Now she's back comforting the Undead who crawl out of their graves and look to her to attend to their unfinished business.

But there's a slight problem: someone's been reanimating corpses, and sending these violent zombies to kill Megan, foiling all her Homecoming plans in the process. She's positive it is nasty Monica who’s behind it all, a fellow Settler who has hated her for years and is jealous of the attention that hunky Ethan has been showering on her. But before she makes her case to Settlers' Affairs, Megan will need irrefutable proof...and time is running out.

Stacey Jay has created one whirlwind of a novel. The idea of a secret society of Settlers who mind all the zombies in the world is a unique and fun one, and Jay does an exceptional job depicting it, despite the slightly shaky beginning. The overall tone of the book was very lighthearted, even during the more suspenseful scenes, and sarcastically witty. Megan is a vivacious and energetic character, although her narration may seem a little shallow (her constant obsession with how hot every guy is comes across as realistic, if not a little tiring) and a bit offhand. However, the structure of the book is solid and the mystery baffling. The added shots of hilarious lingo and zombie butt kicking action add the novel’s humor and give the book a steady moving pace. Jay offers just enough of Megan and her world to get readers interested, and has laid the groundwork for a sequel, Undead Much?, which will hopefully expand on Megan and her powers, sans the unrelenting boy talk.


This will be available from Razorbill on January 22nd, 2009!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Cameron Dokey


Belle lives a comfortable life with her merchant father, loving mother, and two elder, beautiful sisters. Since she was very young, she has always felt invisible in the shadow cast by her sisters who are much more beautiful and elegant than she. Because of this, she chooses to pour all of her energy into her woodcarving while her sisters attend parties and balls and make a place for themselves in Society.

Then all of their lives are shattered when Belle’s father's ships are lost at sea, and with them all of their wealth. Belle and her family are forced to sell everything and retreat through the mysterious woods into the country to a much simpler life. But one stormy night drives Belle's father to a mysterious manor in the heart of the woods, home to a magnificent beast and Heartwood tree, which, if carved, will show the heart's desire. Now Belle must journey to the Heartwood, to face the beast, her insecurities, and her destiny.

Once again Cameron Dokey dazzles readers into the realm of magic with her ability to fashion more descriptive and palpable tales out of beloved fairy tale classics. Belle's lyrical and starkly honest voice is mesmerizing, especially as she divulges all of her insecurities and describes her sisters without loathing or outright jealousy, but depicts them as they truly are. Though Dokey takes her time setting the scene of the story, her vivid characters and imagery make the wait worthwhile until Belle faces the Beast. The romance is quick and sweet in classic fairy tale fashion, and the conclusion is wonderfully light and romantic. Belle is more than a romance and tale of first impressions inner beauty, but one about finding self confidence in who you are, making it another wonderful addition to the Once Upon a Time... series.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fun Friday, Holiday Edition

Happy Fun Friday all,

I hope you are stuffed to the brim with turkey and pumpkin and other assorted goodies, full of thankfulness, and ready to plunge head first onto the Christmas season! (27 more days, you know. Don't be surprised if I go all Christmas crazy on you. I was raised by the the biggest pair of Christmas enthusiasts in the Midwest. Our house is EXPLODING with tinsel, lights, and baby Jesuses. I can barely hear myself think over the sound of Kenny G and his rendition of O Holy Night.)

Anyways, here's today's prize: One shiny, metallic cover clad copy of Amanda Marrone's Revealers. Since a lot of you are still probably doped up and sleepy on turkey, I'm letting this contest go all weekend. Just comment below by Sunday night, and I'll pick the winner sometime Monday morning. And please, unless you check this blog regulary (did you know you can follow me in an uncreepy way? Just scroll down and look for the little Follow button on the left), leave me some way to contact you so I can get you your shiny irirdescent copy of Revealers!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Cheers,

TCR

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones

Here's a little something to see you off on this holiday weekend (well, for my fellow Americans, anyway): Frewin Jones, author of The Faerie Path, has written a new novel called Warrior Princess, which has an amazing and totally kick-butt cover!

Princess Branwen ap Griffith is fifteen when her brother is murdered by the savage Saxons, who have been closing in on her family's home in their quest for land and riches. Branwen’s brother's death is a symbol of their heightened aggression. Though Branwen loathes the thought of backing down from the job of defending her home, she allows her parents to send her away to allies who will be able to keep her safe.

But Branwen is not prepared for the wave of hostility that meets her when she arrives at her allies' stronghold, where women have no place hunting or fighting, and she is forbidden from doing anything the lady of the land deems unladylike. Branwen longs for her home and for the chance to fight, but she still isn't prepared to accept her fate as a warrior, even when an encounter with a woman clad in white foretells a choice Branwen will have to make—one with devastating consequences. When all that she holds dear hangs in the balance, Branwen will have to choose to defy her elders and take a chance, or do as is expected of her and risk losing everything.

Warrior Princess is a fast paced and exciting historical fantasy read from the author of The Faerie Path. Branwen is a straightforward and intelligent heroine whose spirit, courage, and struggles will plead for attention from the younger branch of teen girls. Jones is a fearless storyteller who follows through with the plot and isn't afraid to realistically portray situations according to the time period, as well as weaving in many tidbits of historical information that seamlessly joins with the content of the story to create a more plausible and enjoyable book. Though some of the battle scene may be a tad too descriptive for younger readers, Warrior Princess can easily be considered a cross over to the middle grade genre with its wholesome message of girl power and independence, with just a hint of romance. Jones will have readers rooting for Branwen from the very first chapter, and eagerly anticipating a sequel.



Warrior Princess will be available from HarperTeen January 27th, 2008!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Win a Copy of Francey by Martin Dubow!

Hey there everybody,

I've got a great contest opportunitiy for you, thanks to Martin Dubow, author of Francey.

He's made a series of videos and posted them on YouTube to promote Francey. Check out the first one here, watch it, and then comment on it (no lame comments now, I want genuine input!). Then, report back to me and comment on this post to let me know you watched the video and commented, and I'll enter you to win a copy of Francey! It sounds complicated, but it's really easy!

This contest will run until December 24th, so hurry and enter! After watching the video, you'll most definitely want to read Francey!

Cheers,

TCR

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle


From the outside, Persephone and Penelope Leland appear to be average young ladies, eagerly anticipating their coming out into London society. But Persy and Pen share a secret with their governess Miss Allydarce and their brother that no one must ever learn of: they possess the ability to do magic.

It seems like magic would make their lives easier, but once in London, Miss Allydarce is abducted because of her magical abilities in a sinister plot to harm Princess Victoria. Persy and Pen are determined to rescue her, with a little help from their brother Charles, but find it hard to in between their numerous social engagements. But when they finally do manage to find their beloved governess, the magic involved in the insidious plot may prove to be too much for the girls to handle...

Set against the glittering and elegant backdrop of early 19th century London, Bewitching Season offers an intriguing and unique peek into the world of the elite, with just the right dash of romance and magical appeal. The book focuses mainly of Persy, her aversion and apprehension to stuffy social occasions, preference for her studies and magic, and the ache of first love, made complicated by a pesky love spell. Marissa Doyle spends a great deal of time on the social aspects of the book as she portrays the girls' coming of age. Though more development of the magical elements of the book would have been nice, readers will be able to appreciate this quick and charming read for its lovable and eccentric characters, sly humor, even pacing, and wonderfully detailed descriptions. Bewitching Season is a fun and romantic read with the added plus of cleverly disguised historical details, making it educational without being stuffy. Fan will eagerly await Doyle's sequel Betraying Season, in which the story continues with Pen Leland.

A Good Day...

Today was one of those quality over quantity days when it came to checking my mailbox. Instead of a bog ole box of stuff, I got a few FANTASTIC looking books. Check it out:



Love is Hell
Princess Diaries X: Forever Princess
Love and Peaches
Belle
and
Night World 2
It'll be a fun Thanksgiving weekend!

Twilight Confessionals

I've been pretty objective as far as Twilight is concerned, but since I've got about 25 emails in my inbox wanting to know about my opinion on Twilight, both the books and movie, so here goes it. Where I stand on TWILIGHT:

I read Twilight in 2005.

I instantly loved it.

My copy (hardcover!) fell apart in 2006 from changing hands so much.

I am not overly fond of New Moon.

Nor Eclipse.

I jumped up and down once (okay, twice) when I heard that the Twilight movie was a go.

I was not shocked when Twilight became semi uncool to people.

I eagerly anticipated Breaking Dawn.

I got a teensy bit sick of Twilight talk.

I bought Breaking Dawn the first day it came out.

I did not go to a party, however.

I read BD in two days.

I did not think it was THAT BAD.

But, the pregnancy thing was tres odd.

Also, Jacob POV? Annoying, funny, perfect.

Also, cleolinda's spoof? Fantastic!

I went to see Twilight Friday night.

I thought that the sparkle was cheesy.

I thought some romantic parts did not translate well on screen.

I laughed a little (okay, a LOT) when Edward sucked the venom out of Bella's hand.

I was one of those obnoxious teenagers in the front row.

I liked the Twilight movie.

I like The Host better than the Twilight sequels.

I like Stephenie Meyer.

SO THERE.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson


Jenna Fox has no recollection of anything that happened before the day she woke up from her coma, a result of an accident that happened over a year ago. All she knows is what the people around her tell her: Matt and Claire, who claim to be her parents, and Lily who they say is her grandmother, but seems to hate her. And there are the videos--they've captured her life since the day she was born. But still, Jenna doesn't remember anything.


But she doesn't need to have memories to understand that her parents are hiding something from her, or to realize that something has changed between the relationship she and Lily had in the videos and the cool words and coiled tension that lies between them now. Jenna doesn't need to remember the past to see that something is very wrong in the way her mother is overprotective and keeps her locked up in the house all day. But unfortunately for her, it just might be the key to discovering what truly happened after that horrific accident.


The Adoration of Jenna Fox is cleverly written to pull readers in from the very first page with its relentless questions and mysterious air. Jenna's blunt voice and stark honesty make her a character to fall in love with, and sweeps readers right up into the mystery that is Jenna Fox. A combination of prose with scattered short poems within strike just the right balance in the story, giving it an understated and slightly foreboding air.


The Adoration of Jenna Fox also raises certain ethical questions and challenges readers as well intriguing them, giving the book more meaning and making it a more thought provoking and absorbing read by posing the simple question: who am I? Though the revelation of what really happened to Jenna is not as complex as what readers may have been expecting, it is nevertheless as affecting. You won't be able to get Jenna Fox out of your head.

Tuesday's Haul

The madness (wonders? Yes, wonders) continue:


How to Ditch Your Fairy
The fourth book in the Pretty Little Liars series
Wicked, book 5 in Pretty Little Liars (speaking of which, does anyone have the first three they'd be willing to lend me?)
The Other Book
Saving Juliet
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
WIld Magic
The Resistance
The Devouring
Warrior Princess by Frewin Jones
Treason in Eswy
The Dragon Flyer
Bite Me
Whew!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winner!

Congrats, Adayla! You've won The Reincarnationist and The Memorist! Email me your mailing information, and I'll get them right out to you!

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier


Paula is just one of many unusual women in her family. Ever studious and sharp, she's earned the privilege of accompanying her merchant father from their home in Transylvania to Istanbul as his assistant in search of a rare and precious artifact, Cybele's Gift. But once in Istanbul, Paula and her father learn that their contact there has been murdered—and his knowledge of Cybele's Gift may be the reason. Paula must now assist her father in rather unconventional ways—from making friends with scholars and a pirate to listening to gossip—in order to discover the location of the artifact. But she and her father aren't the only ones who aim to acquire Cybele's Gift, and as each day brings them closer to the thing which they seek, it also brings them closer to peril.

The most remarkable thing about Juliet Marillier's writing is her seemingly natural knack for not only telling an engaging and wonderful story, but for incorporating fascinating (and educational!) glimpses into whole new cultures. Istanbul comes positively alive in Cybele's Secret, both the exotic and other less favorable aspects of the life—like the oppression of women.

Paula, who readers were first introduced to in Wildwood Dancing as a quiet, intellectual, and serious girl, shines in this novel as a young women who is passionate, intelligent, and savvy. She is not without her faults though—her eagerness and refusal to accept a lower station in a world where women have no pull are admirable and often get her in scrapes that will delight readers and cause suspense.

The plot itself moves rather slowly in the beginning, but many readers won't mind as Marillier exposes the exotic setting and lays the groundwork for action. Though The Other Kingdom and magic is not as present in Cybele's Secret as it was in Wildwood Dancing, Paula is haunted by images of her eldest sister and ominous feelings of magic underfoot, which doesn't reveal itself until the fast paced and riveting end.

Full of witty banter, culture, adventure, strong heroines, a touch of romance, and just the right amount of magic, Cybele's Secret is an incredibly smart and complex tale that just might trump its prequel. A content ending with a peek into old characters' lives and just the right amount of foreshadowing will leave readers anticipating another book centered around the remarkable sisters who once danced in The Other Kingdom.


On a side note: I am absolutely in love with the cover! Kinuko Y. Craft is the artist, and she did Wildwood Dancing as well, along with the covers from Simon Pulse's Once Upon a Time...series. Detail is most definitely her forte...I could spend hours simply examining her covers!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today's Haul

Perhaps not quite as impressive as some that arrived earlier this week, but nevertheless exciting. I especially want to read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Bewitching Season...perhaps I'll make them this weekend's project.


The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Bewitching Season
The Humming of Numbers
Masterpiece
Aurelie

Fun Friday: Win 2 Books by M.J. Rose




Hey guys,
This Friday offers the chance to win 2 books by M.J. Rose, who wrote The Reincarnationist and its companion, The Memorist, which was featured as part of the Halloween feature here.

Just comment below for a chance to win! Contest ends tonight at midnight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow morning!

Good luck!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Insight from Sasha Watson, Author of Vidalia in Paris


What prompted you to write about a young man in Marco's position, who gets by by stealing and selling art?

One way of falling in love is to be so dazzled by someone that you don't look beyond the surface that they show you. The perfect word for this is 'glamour', in the original, magical sense. Someone wearing a glamour appears to be one thing but is really another - and the appearance is usually everything you secretly desire. Though of course there's no magic in the book, Marco holds this kind of glamour for Vidalia. She looks at him and sees someone who moves easily in the world of art, who is free of responsibility, who has no fear. She starts to think that by being with him, she can have a perfect, glamorous life, that she can be the princess at the ball. Once she looks closer, of course, Vidalia sees something uglier behind the surface. That's where the art theft comes in. I wanted Vidalia to get swept away by a gorgeous illusion and then, finally, to have to look inside herself for what was really important. That's where Marco's character came from.

Do you see much of yourself in Vidalia?

While the details of my family, my talents, and my love life are all different from Vidalia's, I think we have the same sensibility. I love art as much as she does, and I'm just as deeply affected by it. For better or for worse, we both look for excitement in the wrong places sometimes, too. In this book, Vidalia is just beginning to learn what I now know: that the real exhilaration and satisfactions of life come from being a productive, creative artist and not from the outside world.

What artist, living or deceased, would you like to meet the most?

I think the answer to that question might change by the day, but today I'm going to say Helen Adam. She was a Scottish poet, folklorist, photographer, filmmaker, and collage artist, who also conducted seances, cast spells, and read tarot cards in San Francisco in the 60s. This YouTube clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9b7RhTYUKE) of her when she was in her eighties gives a pretty good idea of why I'd like to meet her. She's not only a brilliant artist, but she seems like she'd be a lot of fun hang out with, too. And I'd definitely want the meeting to take place in that fantastic apartment she's jumping around in!

How much time elapsed in between when you first started writing Vidalia in Paris and the date of publication?

It was four years from beginning to end. There were gaps in there, when I took breaks between drafts, but I started writing in 2004 and the book came out in 2008.

What was the hardest aspect of writing Vidalia in Paris? The easiest?

The hardest part was creating the character. I'd been very focused on poetry for a long time so when I started the novel, character felt very foreign to me. I had to teach myself how to do it. In the book I'm working on now, the character came to me very easily, so I guess I learned the lesson! The easiest, or at least the most pleasurable part, was writing about Paris because I love the city so much.

In your author bio, it is mentioned that you have lived in Paris. What's one of your favorite places there?

There are so many, I really can't limit it to just one! I'll give you three. I love the Luxembourg gardens for sitting outside in the spring, eating sandwiches from the bakery and talking to friends among the flowers; I love Shakespeare & Company for curling up in a corner and reading in the winter; and I love the Canal St. Martin for wandering along on summer nights, while people play guitar, hold hands, and enjoy life around you.

Will we be hearing more from Vidalia in the future, or do you have plans for other books?

Right now I'm working on a book about a completely different character, but I plan to return to Vidalia after that. I've always felt that her story would take three books to complete.

What's one good book that you'd like to recommend to your teen readers?

It's almost pointless to recommend this book because everyone's already reading it. I have no choice, though, because it's all I can think about: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The story is gripping beyond belief and the writing is wonderful. The main character, Katniss, goes through some excruciating trials, both physical and emotional in a dystopic, futuristic world, and it all rings perfectly true. It's the best book I've read in quite a while.

(TCR agrees! Click here for a review!)

Is there anything I didn't ask you wish I had?

Hmm, maybe, "Who else helped to make Vidalia a reality?" The answer is my fantastic editor, Joy Peskin, at Viking Young Readers, who understood Vidalia from the start and offered wonderful guidance on all aspects of the book; everyone else at Penguin, who did so much work on the book, particularly the designers who created the beautiful cover; and my agent, Rosemary Stimola.
Thanks so much, Sasha!
To learn more about Sasha, visit her very pretty website, sashawatson.com, for more info!