Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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
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!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
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 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.
Friday, December 26, 2008
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 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.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
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!
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.
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
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?
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.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Em was sure there couldn't be anything worse than being a brainiac the body of a teenaged supermodel.
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 have cover lust. This one sounds fantastic!)
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.
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.
Friday, December 5, 2008
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.
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!
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!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
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.
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 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.