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The Compulsive Reader: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Twisted Sisters by Stephanie Hale


Aspen Brooks reigns again in another new catty and fun novel, Twisted Sisters. Right before she and her boyfriend Rand take off to college, Harry Malone warns Aspen of the dangers of life on college campuses, and to drive in his point, mentions his niece, Mitzy, a sorority girl who disappeared the previous spring. Aspen decides instantly to join Mitzy's sorority to see what she can find about that puzzling night, despite Rand's concerns. But college will bring more problems than a dead end mystery, and if Aspen doesn't watch herself, she may wind up a cold case herself...

Twisted Sisters is gripping and outstanding, and it's made even more enjoyable due to Aspen's maturity and the lack of negative drama found in Revenge of the he Homecoming Queen. Readers will delve into Aspen's college experience told in her witty and practical voice, and in between the confusing mystery of Mitzi's whereabouts, empathize with her as she and Rand, previously the king and queen of the social scene, struggle to fit in. The book mainly focuses on the social highlights of Aspen’s new life, making it a quick and easy read. Though slightly anachronistic at the end, the result is fun filled and memorable ending of what hopes to be a very promising series.

Look for Twisted Sisters in stores tomorrow, April 1st! (No, it's not a joke!)

Frenemies by Alexa Young


Halley and Avalon have been best friends for life. They live next door to each other, and their mothers have been friends for ages. These girls are privileged, talented, and smart--and they know it. They intend to rule eighth grade together, and to kick off the new school year, they plan a huge bash celebrating their friendship. But when Halley comes back from summer camp, the two girls find themselves disagreeing on just about everything, and within a week they're each other's archenemy. But they'll soon learn that the only thing to do with your worst enemy is to make them your frenemy...

Pre-teens will enjoy yet again another tale of the rich and privileged girl's struggle for survival in a school that's not all the different from their own. It's impossible to choose sides with these two bright and intelligent girls as they learn that part of growing up means that sometimes you need to find your own way. Readers will gasp, cry, and laugh along as Avalon and Halley struggle to come out on top with their many ploys and clever tricks, and just maybe even find a way to become friends again.
Frenemies will be available from HarperTeen May 13, 2008.

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale


Aspen Brooks has a perfect life and she knows it. Glamorous, smart, and popular, she knows that she has the Homecoming Queen tiara in the bag. But then nothing goes as planned. Uber-geek Rand Bachrach is voted king, instead of Aspen's hot boyfriend, and her arch nemesis Angel Ives is queen! And then Angel has the audacity to be furious with Aspen! She even goes as far as stealing, stuffing Aspen's locker with porn, and slashing her tires. Add to it Rand's pathetic attempts at winning Aspen over, and she is ready to kill. But things turn sinister quickly when Angel disappears, along with others, and Aspen takes it upon herself to get down to the bottom of things.

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen is unlike any teen lit novel out there today. Aspen is the character that average girls love to hate, but yet her frank voice and unflinching honesty make it impossible to do so. Hale's engaging and realistic writing will hook readers looking for a perfect guilty pleasure book and the need for a straightforward protagonist to tell them like it is. Revenge of the Homecoming Queen is ideal for those style loving older teens who want a little action and adventure in their beach read.

Friday, March 28, 2008

An Interview with E. Lockhart!



I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with E. Lockhart about her newest release, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and what she's been up to lately!

Hi, and thanks for joining me!


You seem to have experimented with a lot of different writing formats throughout your novels. What would you say your favorite style is?

I just like writing dialog. I am always looking for approaches that allow me to write as much dialog as possible -- hence all the recorded conversations in Dramarama, and all the overheard conversations in Fly on the Wall. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a fun challenge because it was the first teen novel I had written in third person, so I had to search for a voice that felt natural to me and to the material.

What was your favorite novel when you were a teen?

Probably The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. It was so incredibly witty and inventive.

Do you have a day job, or do you write full time?

I write full time.

I was one of the fortunate few that was allowed an ARC of How to be Bad (which was fabulous, by the way!) (click here for the review), and I loved the idea of a tag-team. Is that something that you see yourself doing again?

I'm so glad you liked How to Be Bad! Not that many people have read it yet -- we've only had one formal review so far.

The collaboration with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle was incredibly fun, and it also went smoothly because we're all pretty organized and meet our deadlines. There was only minimal bloodshed. I would definitely do it again!

What made you decide to write your stories in the many different high school settings?

I'm just trying to keep it interesting for myself and my readers, so I vary the environments and pressures in which my characters find themselves. I like writing about high school because everyone's trapped there. They're legally obligated to go, even if someone threatened them the day before, broke up with them, told lies about them -- doesn't matter. You still have to show up and sit next to that person in science lab. So it's a fascinating petri dish of human emotion.

What sort of high school did you attend?

I went to two different high schools in the Seattle area. One was an arts high school and the other was more of a prep school. At one I was friendless and lonely; at the other, quite popular. Major contrast.

All of Frankie's pranks were hilarious, and very clever. Did you come up with all of them yourself or ever do any of them?

Thank you! I've been to a midnight party on the golf course at my college -- but other than that, I made them all up. One is based on the theft of the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts (there really is a sacred cod, yes!) in the 1930s by Harvard students, which is one of the most famous college pranks of all time. I got other ideas from books and from the web, then spun them out with my imagination.

Is Matthew from The Disreputable History based on a boy you've known?

No. Matthew is pure imagination. The appearance, the family background, the inner copy-editor, the secret society. But his attitude towards women is a familiar one.

If The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks were to ever be made into a movie, who would you envision as the main characters and why?

I am horrible at answering this question! I mainly watch old movies and don't have a great sense of contemporary actors. I wouldn't mind Laura Prepon from That 70s Show as Frankie, however. If she's not too old, already.

If there is one thing you would like your readers to know about you, what would it be?

Hm. I actually don't like my readers knowing much about me, personally. I'm a very private person. I guess I'd want them to know that both Dramarama and The Boy Book come out in paperback this May!

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

You asked good questions! But how about this: Did you have your website redesigned recently?

Why yes, thank you! As I write this, it's not completely completely done, but come visit www.e-lockhart.com anyway!


In stores now: Dramarama

New in paperback: Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything

Sign up for How to Be Bad updates from me, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski -- and enter to win the Ultimate Road Trip Kit!


Be sure to check out The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, along with all of Ms. Lockhart's books!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March Book of the Month

Hey guys,

Unfortunately for this week's Book of the Month feature, author Anna Godbersen couldn't join us for a chat about The Luxe and the upcoming sequel, Rumors. But that doesn't mean the rest of us can't! Click here to join the chat!

Also, congratulations to the winners of this month's contest! They are:

Maria S.
Chelsie L.
Amy Z.
Rachael S.
Sherry P.
Megan O.
Geraldine R.
Nicole B.
Andy L.
Megan S.

Congrats, and keep up the good reading!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wake by Lisa McMann


Janie doesn't really feel like she belongs. She's been mostly self sufficient since she was young due to her mother's alcoholism, and steers slear of most people, afraid that they'll learn of her secret: Janie can enter into others' dreams. Unwilling or otherwise, she is a silent observer to anyone who may be sleeping near here. Janie has been able to handle it for nearly 11 years, until she becomes friends with Cabel. Because Janie actually partakes in Cabel's riveting nightmares.

Told in a journal format that allows the story to glide along smoothly, Wake is fast paced and full of high suspense. Janie is the girl that everyone knows, but no one notices, thus making her story and life even more appealing. The tension and the mystery, the vagueness and trepidation are what make Wake so appealing. Readers will follow this mesmerizing story with rapt attention as Janie's talents expand, she discovers the truth about herself and rises to take her place in the world.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher


Ruby Jacinski is desperate to get out of Chicago's meat-packing yards and start her life. This dream is far out of her reach though when she has to drop out of school and take a job in order to support her family after her mother's arthritis makes it impossible for her to work. And at twelve dollars a week, Ruby is going nowhere fast. But when a neighborhood boy tells her that she can be raking in forty dollars a week by doing what she loves most, dancing, Ruby jumps at the opportunity, even if it is a shade less than respectable. But unless she's careful, Ruby may find herself in deep trouble that she won't be able to dance herself out of.

Fletcher's eye-opening and authentic novel of the brutality of life of the poor in 1940's Chicago is one that readers will succumb to easily, and won't be able to leave anytime soon. Ruby's sass and attitude will make her an instant favorite, and you can't help but root for this spunky girl as she learns the ups and downs of taxi dancehalls and struggles to keep out trouble. Fletcher's descriptions of that life, without being inappropriate, are enough so that you don't pity Ruby, but rather admire the strength and character of this girl, who had to grow up entirely too quickly.
This book will be available from Bloomsbury USA in April.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

To continue with our historical fiction kick, here's a review of A Song for
Summer.

As the daughter and niece of three of Britain's most powerful and influential women in the late 1930's, Ellen's future and options are limitless. But instead of attending Oxford, she shocks her mother and aunts by enrolling into a cooking and housekeeping academy, and then accepts a position as a school matron at Hallendorf School, in Austria. Hallendorf is far different than any boarding school that Ellen's ever known. The teachers and students are free spirited, lively, and dramatic. But most mysterious is the gardener, Marek. Marek is plagued by years of guilt, and Hallendorf school is just a cover for a secret mission that he is driven to accomplish...one that he might not be able to complete without Ellen's help.

Ibbotson's spirited voice rings true in this enrapturing novel with a varied and colorful cast of characters and a complex and multilayered plotline. Though the ever changing points of view and lack of extensive elaboration on many subjects may disorient the reader slightly, A Song for Summer exudes a relaxed and comfortable air that makes it simple for the reader to step into the time period and setting and experience every wonderfully depicted detail with Ibbotson's clever use of imagery. Her smooth delivery builds up suspense on every page, making each sentence of this realistic and frank novel all that more enjoyable, culminating in a tasteful and artfully crafted masterpiece.

Be sure to look for Ibbotson's other historical fiction novels, each with equally beautiful covers: A Countess Below Stairs, A Company of Swans, and The Morning Gift.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber


Anyone would love Aphra Behn's life. She lives on an isolated island, home to a cushy resort owned by her father. Her days are filled with attending to the guests, taking long swims in the ocean, and exploring the lush island. The only hitch? She's always alone.

So when the Smiths arrive with their teenage son, she's ecstatic. Maybe she can actually make a friend. But the circumstances surrounding the Smiths' arrival don't add up. Why did her dad put them in the villa under renovation? Why didn't he check them in? And how did they even get on the island? And when another guest washes up from the ocean dead, strangled by her bikini strings, Aphra is convinced that no one will be safe until the Smiths are off her island.

This suspenseful novel moves at lightening fast speed. Gerber cunningly draws readers into Aphra's paradise-esque life that anyone would envy. Her character is made intriguing by dropping sly hints about her past periodically throughout the book. But Gerber's delivery ensures that's not the only thing to keep readers going as the strange mystery unravels into something big that can't be resolved easily. Pay close attention, because this is one novel that doesn't slow down a bit, and will assuredly be the start of a fresh, fun, and exhilarating new mystery series for teens.
This novel will be released from SPEAK Sleuth on May 15, 2008! And be sure to keep you eyes peeled for the squel, Death by Latte!

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


Now, if you're familiar with this blog, you'll know that I'm not the type to ramble on and on about a book. I prefer a succinct and concise review that leaves you intrigued rather than a full run down of a story, but this is one book that cannot be let off so easily. So sorry if you don't like long winded reviews, because I am afraid this is one of them.

How would you react if your every day life suddenly was gone? Instead, the people around you, your neighbors, classmates, friends, and even family, are acting on insane impulses. You’re filled with fear and uncertainty. You try to live your life as normally as possible, but circumstances beyond your control don’t allow you to, until suddenly one day you realize that your life is different, and there’s no sense in trying to pretend, because it’ll never be life as we knew it.

This is the premise of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s stunning, sinister and blunt new novel for teens, Life as We Knew It. Miranda is just sophomore girl, obsessing over a celebrity crush, looking forward to the end of the school year, dodging friend troubles, and writing in her diary to pacify her older brother Matt who’s at college at Ithaca. The story opens with her newly remarried father’s announcement that she’s going to have another sibling, and Miranda writes of her wariness of her new stepmother and her wish that she wasn’t the first of her siblings to find out about his news. The entries fly by, and just when the reader is beginning to think of Life as We Knew It is another chick lit, the moon is mentioned.

Miranda barely notes the news of a meteor that is scheduled to hit the moon. She couldn’t care either way, except for the fact that every one of her teachers has to talk about it and assign homework over it. So she grudgingly agrees to watch the moon that fateful Wednesday night with her mom and younger brother. A warning from her older brother before the event captures the essence of the next hundred or so pages perfectly: people will do stupid things when they are scared, and they will do them in large numbers.

And so that night, the meteor strikes. But it does more than just hit the moon, it strikes with such a force that it pushes the moon towards Earth so it’s 100 times larger than before, and suddenly every crater, mountain, and crevice on the moon is perfectly visible with the naked eye.

Immediately Matt’s prediction comes true: people start screaming, running, and some even pack their cars and flee from their homes. In a state of shock, Miranda’s family goes inside to turn on the news, only to find that there is no CBS, or ABC, or any channel for that matter. Soon there isn’t even electricity. In a state of shock, they manage to find a radio with a station that is still broadcasting, only to learn that the entire Eastern Seaboard is being wiped away by raging tsunamis. Unconfirmed reports, rumors, and actual news are twisted into a gruesome report that seems unreal, and uneasily, they go to bed.

The next morning, they are shocked to find that the moon is still easily visible in broad daylight. Disconcerted, Miranda and her brother go to school. But it’s not long before vicious electrical storms rage just outside, causing widespread hysteria. Miranda’s mother shows up before lunch to pull her out of school. Her only response to Miranda’s questions is to hand her 500 dollars and drive her to the supermarket. There she instructs Miranda and her brother to buy as much canned food and bottled water as they can. Inside the store is pandemonium and they find themselves fighting for food and carrying as much of it as they can.

Miranda is sure her mother has gone insane, and eagerly awaits Matt’s homecoming. But when he finally does arrive, he can only agree with her mother. He immediately gets to work chopping wood for winter, five months away. Miranda is left feeling alone, and tries to combat her foreboding feelings that her mother believes that they are going to die.

As the weeks go by, Miranda’s impatience is palpable. Sure, gas is now 9 dollars a gallon, and you can’t get much food at the supermarket, and many people have fled their small town, but surely life can’t go on like this forever. It won’t be long before the country gets back on its feet and gas prices will be regulated again. Cities can be rebuilt, food will come. It’ll be better soon.

But then it becomes evident that it won’t. The volcanoes start becoming active. Earthquakes strike the New Madrid Fault Line. The atmosphere is thick with ash everywhere. And there continues to be a lack of food. All hopes of a normal life vanish when the first frost strikes in the beginning of August and their town is nearly deserted. Miranda’s family is still living off of what they stockpiled, but thousands of people aren’t so lucky. There’s no fuel for heat. Abandoned houses are being raided, and then torn down for fuel. School starts, but then stops. And Miranda’s mother begins rationing food. For the first time, Miranda realizes that they might not survive unless they are very careful.

As the fall progresses and the winter approaches, suddenly they must deal with death, desertion, loneliness, and starvation. Their whole family lives in one room for warmth. They have nothing to do, and they are weary and hungry. There are no nearby neighbors. That is when the disease hits.

Influenza, deadlier than the strain that rampaged the world in 1918, made even more fatal by the lack of medical care, food, and transportation. Even more people die, and Miranda alone stays healthy. But she soon wishes that she had died when she walks into the pantry one day and realizes that unless they can procure more food, they will die. In exactly 2 weeks.

I couldn’t sleep after I finished this book. Because this story is more than just another sad, terrifying apocalyptic event. It is vivid and real. Numerous sub plots and other day to day problems are peppered between the bigger issues of the changed Earth, giving Life as We Knew It more of a soul. Each problem and challenge is relatable, from first love to loneliness to school problems to self destruction. Through reading this book, I have come to believe that the most terrifying dystopian novels are those that resemble our world the most, and in each page of this book, there is always something that anchors Miranda’s experiences to our reality.

The last entry of Miranda’s diary is probably one of the most heartrending and sorrowful of the whole book. Rather than shy around the issue and euphemizing it, Pfeffer boldly follows through, and the result is a book, and an ending that won’t leave you disappointed, or dry eyed.

I have to confess: I have always loved those end-of-the-world stories, no matter how much they scared me. The idea of something so bizarre, so different happening that it would change life as we knew it has always been semi appealing to me. I loved watching Deep Impact when I was young, and The Day After Tomorrow is one of my favorite movies. But this is one novel that I think has really put things in perspective for me as far as the end of humanity situations go.

But I can’t say as it’s really curbed my fascination for them. Because I’ve already pre-ordered Life as We Knew It’s sequel. The Dead and the Gone.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Your Ultimate Historical Fiction Guide

I got an email from a reader, Harmony, today, and she mentioned that she was sorry that there weren't more good historical fiction YA books out there. Well, Harmony, don't despair, because there are a LOT of good YA historical fiction novels, but you may just not know about them. So that's why I've worked to compile a list of some of my favorite historical fiction novels. I hope you will check them out!



The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a story narrated by Death. It's the story of Liesel, and how she acquired a new set of parents, learned to read, and hid a Jewish man in her basement. It's the story of how she became a book thief.







Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Hattie doesn't really belong anywhere. She's been shuffled around from distant relative to distant relative, always looking for somewhere to call home. Then a letter from her uncle arrives. In it, he tells her that he has left her his farm, and it is his wish for her to live there. So without hesitation, Hattie heads out. Click here to read more.






The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi

Princess Elizabeth knows that to say she will be queen is a dangerous thing, and would be considered treason. But yet, she can't help plan and wonder...what would she do if she were queen? To read more about The Redheaded Princess, click here.

Ann Rinaldi is known for her numerous historical fiction novels. Click here for more.




Star-Crossed by Linda Collison

Patricia Kelley stows away on a ship bound for the Caribbean not long after word of her father's death reaches her. She's determined to go there and claim his estate. But when she is discovered, things don't go anywhere near as she planned. Click here for more information.









A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

When a guest at the inn that Mattie works at dies, troubling feelings and memories from the past year surface: life is hard for farmers in the early 20th century, and even though she's expected to continue her work on the farm, Mattie has higher aspirations. But is it too late?







The Bloody Jack Adventures by L.A. Meyer

This lively series tells the tale of Mary Faber, commonly known as Jacky. Jacky was once a London street urchin, but rather than lay down and accept her life as a beggar, she makes something out her life by signing on as a ship's boy. Her travels and adventures range wildly, but her her spirit and passion will ensure that any reader will fall in love with her. The books, in order, are: Bloody Jack, The Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, and Mississippi Jack.



The Strongbow Saga by Judson Roberts

This series follows the life of Halfdan, once a slave to the Vikings, and now one of them. It's riveting, fast paced, and honest. Halfdan is an admirable character, but he still has his faults. So far, there are three books: Viking Warrior, Dragons from the Sea, and The Road to Vengeance (pictured on the left).







Incantation by Alice Hoffman

Incantation tells of the struggle the Jews faces in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Estrella thought she knew who she was, until the truth was unleashed. And with that truth comes a betrayal. For more, click here.










My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

Louise doesn't really think about segregation too much. But then Ruby Bridges tries to go to her school, and her mother, along with every other parent, pulls her out of school and taunts little Ruby every day as she goes to and from school. Things only continue to get more turbulent when a stranger comes into town, and is strangely curious about what is happening. To read more, click here.






The Boston Jane Trilogy by Jennifer L. Holm

Jane, a proper young lady, surprises everyone by sailing to the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in order to meet her childhood love, William. But when she fianlly arrives, she's astounded to find that there are no towns, William is gone indefinitely, and worst of all, she is the only proper woman for hundreds of miles. This is the story of what she makes of it. The three books are: An Adventure, Wilderness Days, and The Claim.



Byron Carmichael Book One: The Human Corpse Trade by J. Eric King

I know, sounds creepy, right? But it's really not all that scary. Instead, it's a story of three teens who manage to fall into a computer game that synthesizes the late 18th century. Click here for more details.









Annie, Between the States by L.M. Elliott

Annie's childhood is cut short by the impeding war between the states. As her teenage years progress, she is forced to give up many of her amenities, take on the household responsibilities, and tend to the wounded, while at the same time fend off attacks from both the North and South. All the time, she has to wonder, which side is really the right one?











The Young Royals Series by Carolyn Meyer

Do you ever wish that you knew more about the royal figures in history than just what the history books depict? If so, delve into this wonderful series by Carolyn Meyer, each book focusing on a different royal figure. The books include: Beware, Princess Elizabeth; Doomed Queen Anne; Mary, Bloody Mary; and Patience, Princess Catherine.




Pirates! by Celia Rees

Both Nancy and Minerva have their own prisons to escape from: Nancy, from a loveless marriage to a brutal man, and Minerva from slavery. SO together they take to the high seas, with only each other, and join one of the most fearsome pirate crews around.







Blood Secret by Kathryn Lasky

In this story, Lasky weaves the past and the present together to create a legacy that was always present but forgotten. Alternating between the past and the present, this novel tells of the persecution and the resilience of the Spanish-Jewish people.










Avon True Romance for Teens by Various Authors

If you're looking for a good historical romance, check out the Avon True Romance novels. They include numerous settings and situations, and they're all written with teens in mind. Though all but the two by Meg Cabot are out of print, you can still get many of them at book trading sites, used book stores, etc. The titles are: Samantha and the Cowboy, Belle and the Beau, Anna and the Duke, Gwyneth and the Thief, Nicola and the Viscount, Catherine and the Pirate, Miranda and the Warrior, Tess and the Highlander, Emily and the Scot, Amelia and the Outlaw, Josephine and the Soldier, Victoria and the Rogue




A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson

I am reading this right now, and it is a wonderfully crafted novel that will keep you up late. When Ellen agreed to work at Hallendorf School, she never expected it to be so odd. But she hardly takes notice, and instead works as hard as she can. When she encounters Marek though, she'll find herself entangled in a daring daring plan that will put her in danger of being arrested by the Nazis, whose takeover of Austria might not be all that far off. Eva Ibbotson has written many stories set in the early 20th century, each cover as pretty as the next. They include: A Countess Below Stairs, A Company of Swans, and The Morning Gift.


There are a TON more historical fiction novels out there. These are only a few that are on my shelf. If you're looking for more, shoot me an email and I might be able to recommend a few more. Have a favorite that you didn't find on the list? Email or comment to tell me about!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rumors....

First of all, thanks so very much to all of you that have graciously responded (oftentimes elaborately!) to my question, what do you think of historical fiction? It seems to me that many thought historical fiction was drab and boring before The Luxe burst onto scene. And if you still don't believe me, I'll give you three good reasons as to why you should at least read The Luxe, taken from your responses.

Chelsie L. said:

Science Fiction: Little Bobby is going on an adventure! He gets to travel to the land of the Mewores and try to save the planet from destruction by the evil Mr. Snibbles. (Uh, no thanks)

Adult Fiction: This is a corny tale about how Jane Doe finds her long lost daughter, and an encouraging tale about not giving up on your dreams and always sticking up for yourself. (Um... no.)

Romance: Some guy that looks like Fabio is doing God knows what to some girl who is shy and dainty but just happens to have the perfect, luscious hair and perfect, curvacious body. (Bleck.)

Historical Fiction: Corsets! Big dresses! Fancy people with lots of money, causing scandals and wreaking havoc in an otherwise perfect society! It's better than Gossip Girl! (but then again, what isn't?)



Reason Number One: Historical fiction is dramatic and exciting. And who doesn't like a little drama in fiction?


Sherry said:

I personally pretty much love historical fiction. If it's written well, I think the author has pulled off something phenomenal, because not only have they been able to tell a story in a fantastic way, they've done the research that backs it up and makes it real. It takes real talent to write something from a world unfamiliar to that we live in everyday.


Reason Number Two: Historical fiction is intriguing. It's something very familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time.


Angela said:

Historical fiction is fantastic - I love how you couldn't just come out and say mean things. If you wanted to be mean and make jabs at people, especially in high society, you had to do it with tact and intelligence, much different than all of these girls just cussing each other out today. And insults aren't the only thing...you have to think out your every move, with expectations that are a lot high, or your reputation will be ruined.


Reason Number Three: Historical fiction is smart, and cunning. These people, for the most part, have to have their wits about them, and they think.

Now, there have been many, many rumors (bad pun, sorry) floating about concerning the sequel to The Luxe. But I want to hear what you all think. Instead of gossiping about that girl who sits in front of you in trig, or who asked who out this weekend, make up a few harmless rumors concerning Anna Godbersen's next book. Go ahead, it's loads of fun! Comment or email me with your best ones!

Also don't forget to enter to win one of 10 beautiful copies of The Luxe, courtesy of the ever generous folks at HarperTeen. All you have to do is email me your name, address, email, and answer this very simple question: What do you think of historical fiction? Enter by next Wednesday, and the winners will be announced with next week's feature!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hershey Herself by Cecilia Galante


Hershey Hollenback isn't especially well liked. She's bigger than most girls, and she's nearly blind in one eye thanks to a flying glass shard. But she does have at least one friend, Phoebe. It's Phoebe who helps Hershey come up with a plan to make her mom's boyfriend Slade angry so that her mom will finally leave him for once and for all. But when Slade lashes out and Hershey, her baby sister, and her mom end up at a battered woman's shelter, Hershey is left with even more worries than before. How will she be able to practice for the talent show and what about her cat Augustus Gloop? And more importantly, what if Mom decides to go back to Slade? But then Hershey comes up with the perfect plan...


Hershey Herself is a touching, frank, and sincere. The situation, while not common in many middle grade books, is very well presented. Galante has the ability to pull at the heartstrings without getting overly sappy, and it's a joy to watch Hershey's journey to confidence and self fulfillment. Lovable and full of all the angst that comes with being a teenager, this is one read that will appeal to mid grade and YA readers alike.

This book will be available from Aladdin M!X May 6, 2008.

Pretty Face by Mary Hogan


Hayley eats to rebel against her Tofu-Queen mother, and for comfort against the many harsh cruelties that a girl who isn't stick thin and lives in Southern California is subjected to. She knows she has a problem, but she doesn't know how to stop. After resisting her mother's numerous and oftentimes humiliating attempts at helping her, her parents decide she needs a change of scenery, and sends her to stay with her mother's college friend, Patrice, in Italy. Hayley resolves not to take up her bad habits with her, but she will learn that sometimes well laid plans don't always go as they are supposed to, and the best thing to do is live your life, at times with unexpected results.

Pretty Face reads with an unexpected raw honesty that will strike a chord in nearly every girl. Hayley is self deprecating, but in a way that makes her entirely likable. Her truthful and edgy voice pulls the reader in, from her highly descriptive imagery of Italy, to her insightful reasoning and thoughts on being a teenager today. Though the setting seems unbelievable, this story is unique from start to finish, and full of reality. Hayley's witty, rousing and heartfelt journey to self confidence is one that will be certain to inspire.

This book will be available from HarperTeen on March 25th, 2008!

The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper



Kate Sanderson prides herself in being sensible. After an unfortunate romantic encounter that ended badly, she's resolved that no one needs romance until after they're out of school and have a career. Her friends despair of her ever falling in love, but for Kate, schoolwork is satisfying enough. So that's why when she wins a Shakespeare essay contest with an all expense paid trip to Verona, Italy to attend a seminar on the great Bard, the only thing she's got on her mind is enjoying her time there and working hard. Kate is stunned to learn that rather that analyzing Shakespeare's text; she's expected to feel the meanings by acting it out with her classmates, and by answering letters seeking advice on love. This is hard enough without pompous Giacomo having to argue with her on everything. And when her other classmates conspire to play a prank on them, she'll have to work with him to outsmart them. But will the joke be on her?

The Juliet Club is a wonderfully fun and breezy read perfect for summertime. The trip of a lifetime comes alive in this cleverly constructed and formatted book that will ensure that readers devour it quickly. Though the first chapter is slightly awkward, but the numerous characters and their backgrounds make this novel appealing to everyone, and keep the story moving quickly. Throw in a few fun twists, Shakespearean sonnets, and a masquerade ball, and you have a light, funny, and uplifting romantic novel that won't soon be forgotten.


The Juliet Club will be available from HarperTeen on May 27, 2008!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sweet Valley High is Making a Comeback

Remember the Sweet Valley High? The twins Elizabeth and Jessica and their gazillion books? And their Special Edition books? And their Holiday books? And the college years? And (don't quote me on this one) wasn't their even a supernatural series?

Well, get this: they're back.

That's right. On April 8th, The Sweet Valley High Book One is being re-released with a cover from the 21st century.

Then.


Now.

I'd say that's quite a big change. How much the series has changed (it was originally published 24 years ago), I have no clue. I'll have to see if I can snag myself a copy to let you know, but let me tell you: I always thought these girls were too perfect. And it seems that in this day and age, Mary Janes are not welcome in the YA genre. It'll be interesting to see if they're as much of a hit now as they were back then. What do you guys think?

The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi


Ann Rinaldi, a master of historical fiction, has set her sights beyond American history and has assembled a true masterpiece in her The Redheaded Princess, which is a colorful, distinct, and astonishingly realistic portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I's trials and tribulations on her journey to become one of the most memorable queens in history. Rinaldi's Elizabeth is intelligent and quick witted, but not without her faults, and each character's colorful rendering gives this version of what transpired nearly 500 years ago a depth that many lack.


The novel bears a complex balance between historical facts and a candid look into Elizabeth's day to day life. Despite the lapse of 20 years between the beginning and the end of the book, the story moves quickly and gracefully. Readers will enjoy immersing themselves in this well thought out, sophisticated, and highly authentic depiction of this strong willed and engaging princess whose undying determination and willpower, along with her willingness to accept assistance without being dominated, led her to achieve her destiny and birthright.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March Book of the Month: Anna Godbersen Podcast!


So last week while browsing through the HarperTeen website, I stumbled upon something I knew was there, but had forgotten about: podcasts! A bunch of YA authors have come together to record the scoop on what's behind the bestsellers, including Anna Godbersen!

Listen to Anna's episode, in which she talks about the research that went into The Luxe, her thoughts on the Gilded Age societies, and reads aloud the second chapter of the book.

Click here to listen now, and come back and tell me what you think. If you had the chance to ask Anna one question, what would it be?

P.S. Also be sure to check out the contest that HarperTeen is holding; you could win an iPod!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Quick Update

Hey guys! Check out all the new changes on the side bar! (I'm quite proud of myself. You'd think that because I have a website and all, I understand all these technological things. I don't. I require a lot of help.)

I've archived some reviews (they're still there! Just not on the side bar. Instead, I've arranged them alphabetically in another place that doesn't take up as much space!), and even added a pretty picture of March's Book of the Month. Isn't that cover spectacular? I'm not sure how its sequel, Rumors, will be able to stand up to it. The dress is just phenomenally detailed. I know this because I have ten copies in my possession as of right now. Want to see the cover for yourself? Enter the contest! I can't keep all of these copies for myself.

I have been immersed in my ARC of Airhead by Meg Cabot (sorry, you have to wait for the review until the publication date, May 13th, to see what I have to say), so sorry that I haven't been getting any fresh reviews up!

But check in Thursday...there'll be something I haven't ever done before that I think you'll like a lot!

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on self published books and the stigma they carry? Comment or email me, I want to hear what you think!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter


Jade Leigh would probably rather kill herself than become a conforming "Barbie" like almost every other girl at her school. Unfortunately, these sentiments, along with her all black dress code seemed to have guaranteed her a permanent status as Loser at her high school. But when her attitude lands her in hot water, her principal comes up with an unconventional punishment. Jade is immersed into an alternate reality, one where everyone dresses, acts like, and worships her. And what's more, she's stuck there, unless she can somehow work together with her arch nemesis, Mercedes, and find a way out.

In Oh My Goth, Showalter will take you on a witty and complex Matrix-esque ride. This novel gives a wild and highly entertaining twist on the life of modern teenagers while still remaining true to reality by throwing in many of the issues millions of them face each and every day. It is evident through the dialogue and actions of these genuine and lively characters that Showalter knows teenagers, and what's more, she empathizes with them. Jade's individualism and her probing questions about life, death, acceptance, and hate give Oh My Goth a certain depth that will brand Oh My Goth in your memory for quite a long time.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Sorcerer King by Frewin Jones


Returning from the Mortal World with her sisters, mother, and true love, Edric, Tania's journey continues in the third book of Jones's exquisite Faerie Path series. A near death encounter with the King of Lyonesse's knights at the end of the second book (The Lost Queen, 2007) is not to be celebrated, for they find Faerie in a dire state. Everywhere there is death and decay, and their true king Oberon is being held prisoner. Trapped from all sides, Tania, Edric, and a few sisters find themselves responsible for freeing their father, and mounting an attack against their enemies...a deadly attack that someone may not survive...


It becomes evident to the reader in this third installment that Jones's writing has vastly improved since The Faerie Path debuted. Her delivery is true, and the dialogue is authentic. The endless plot twists and struggles that the main characters encounter propel the reader quickly through the story, and added bits of myth and legend give it substance. Though at times Tania's relationship with her sisters seems to get in the way of any interaction between her and Edric, the reader will be able to look past it easily and delve into this inviting and refreshing novel that has all of the trimmings of a true fantasy classic wrapped up in a clever and modern package.

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones


Well, now that this past week has flown by, and with it exams and numerous due dates, I have had a wonderfully relaxing weekend. And with that free time, it has become evident to me that I have been neglecting this site a little in the past few weeks. Sorry! But here's a review of Frewin Jones's The Faerie Path to make up for it!

Anita Palmer believes that she is an ordinary girl, simply excited for her sixteenth birthday, and the plans her new boyfriend
has made. She thinks nothing of the strange dreams she's been having. But when her birthday ends in disaster and the dreams get more and more vivid, Anita begins to feel afraid.

Then she is swept into an entirely different world, the world in which her boyfriend--and Anita--really belong. Here, she is Tania, the seventh princess of Faerie.

But all isn't joyful. The kingdom is mourning the death of her mother, and her eldest sister refuses to see her. And more importantly, there is a traitor in their midst...

The Faerie Path was very charming and yet mysterious at the same time. The writing has a slight tendency to bog the reader down every once in a while, but the numerous plot twists keep the book from getting boring. Full of intriguing details and breathtaking descriptions, the story reads like your favorite fairy tale, and the surprise ending will leave you waiting in anticipation for the sequel, The Lost Queen.



Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks


There's nothing Frankie Landau-Banks hates more than being underestimated. Her parents, sister, friends, and even her boyfriend are constantly doing just that. So when her boyfriend starts lying to her about a secret male society at their exclusive boarding school, Frankie decides not to put up with it. She knows she's smart, and rather than just infiltrate their group, she decides to own it.

E. Lockhart has artfully crafted a comical and intelligent read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Her frank voice immediately engages the reader, and creates a pleasurable atmosphere in a classic reading format that not many may pull off. Her wide array of vivid, deftly developed, and fallible characters come alive in this complex, sophisticated, and guileless masterpiece. Frankie especially is a strong and uplifting character whose livliness and never ending questions give this novel life. The pranks are brilliant, the strategies cunning, and the reactions priceless in this wonderfully candid read that's more than just another coming of age novel.

This book will be released from Hyperion on March 25th, 2008.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March Book of the Month: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen


Hello readers! Welcome to yet another fabulous unveiling of this month’s Book of the Month! For March, we’re are very privileged to have Anna Godbersen, the marvelous author of the historical fiction novel that’s taken YA by storm: The Luxe!

Here’s the review:

The Luxe, written by Anna Godbersen, is in a class of its own. Unlike all of the rich girl novels floating around out there, The Luxe takes place in 1899. But don't think that these girls are as mild mannered as their time period would suggest. Penelope Hayes would do anything in order to marry Henry Schoonmaker. Her best friend Elizabeth Holland would rather not marry anyone in her class at all. But when circumstances beyond these girls' control puts them at odds with each other, situations tense. Throw in a bitter maid and a nosy younger sister, and things go from tense to deadly, and someone might not live to see the next season.

Nothing like any of the novels today that feature the upper class, The Luxe is one delicious read that nearly any girl will love. Full of a vivid cast of characters that you just have to love of hate, The Luxe is a captivating and luxurious delight. It is evident that Godbersen’s writing is well researched through the carefully detailed aspects of everyday life that rather than come off as tedious, shines through interesting and gives the novel depth. Kept lively by alternating points of view, The Luxe is a perfect combination of Ann Rinaldi and Gossip Girl. You'll think you have it figured out by page fifty, but the plot’s mysterious and secretive twists will leave readers eagerly anticipating a sequel.

What’s even better is this: I’ll be giving away 10 copies of The Luxe to 10 lucky readers! Just email your name, address, email, AND what you think about historical fiction (love it? Hate it? So so?) to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with THE LUXE in the headline by midnight on Wednesday, March 26 in order to enter. Winners will be announced on the 27th, the last Thursday of this month!

Be sure to check back every Thursday this month for more on this wonderfully lavish book! We’ve got loads in store!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Strongbow Saga: The Road to Vengeance by Judson Roberts


The vivid Strongbow Saga continues in The Road to Vengeance, as Halfdan brings home his prisoner, the lady Genevieve. Protecting her long enough to retrieve her ransom from her wealthy father proves harder than he originally thought, and as the Northmen continue their aggressive assault on Frankia, Halfdan finds himself growing weary of war. But soon he is caught up between two oaths he made to himself: that of vengeance, and to not become the man his father was.

As adventurous and intelligent as its predecessors, Roberts's latest is riveting. Halfdan is a quick witted, painfully honest, and tangible character. No detail, no matter how shocking or lurid, is left out of this carefully composed and rousing novel that is not just about Vikings and their battles, but is a stirring tale of the rise of a hero, and perhaps even a legend.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The 100th Post!


I thought I'd take a quick break from my studying long enough to celebrate the 100th post here on The Compulsive Reader with a review of a really spectacular book: The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson. This is one to put down on your To-Buy List for sure.

Sophie's life at her boarding school and great-aunt's home in 1938 Edinburgh is a satisfactory one. Never one for athletics or too much excitement, Sophie occupies her time studying, and plans to go to University, or become a trained assistant to the country's business leaders. But a frightening series of terrorist bombs soon disrupts her quiet life, and after a unsettling encounter with a medium at a séance, Sophie begins to unravel a deadly plot that will not only affect her future, but the fate of her schoolmates, family, Scotland, and even the rest of Europe.

What would have happened if things had transpired differently? This age-old question is answered in this chilling and fast-paced novel that weaves a tale of what might have happened had one day in 1815 turned out differently. Set in a world that is at the same time technologically advanced and backward, The Explosionist is a thrilling journey full of mystery and suspense, with a careful balance of politics, science, and supernatural intrigue. Though the story starts off slightly confusing, Davidson's characters are perfectly crafted and her plot cleverly constructed, resulting in a haunting, tremendous novel that will attract readers of all ages.

This book will be released from HarperTeen on July 1st, 2008.

The cover picture is borrowed from Jenny Davidson's site, where she runs a very interesting blog. Be sure to check her out!
Thanks for sticking with me for so long, guys. I have to say, I am quite surprised by it, but by no means complaining! Check back later for more, and for the unveiling of March's Book of the Month on Thursday.