The Compulsive Reader: 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Penguin and a New Year's Update

I'm very glad that you all have been enjoying the lists of 2010 books I'm looking forward to! Just as a reminder, I did do a Penguin 2010 Sneak Peek earlier this year when I received a catalog, so you can see that by clicking here. There are a lot of really great books!

Also, I just wanted to wish you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve! 2009 has been a very great and surprising year for the blog (I managed to blog nearly every day, and I have more than 370 posts this year!) and for me, and I've had lots of fun doing this, as always! Keep safe tonight in the crazy new year and new decade celebrations, and I'll see you in 2010!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Little, Brown Spring 2010 Sneak Peek!

Hello once again lovely readers and welcome to the third list of upcoming reads for 2010. While this one is rather shorter than the previous two, if you are a supernatural fan, this list is for you. Here we go:

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafron is one I'm quite curious about. I bought my mother his adult book, The Shadow of the Wind, which I've read rave reviews about (I actually read the first page and am dying to continue; any book with a Cemetery of Forgotten Books must be excellent, right?) Zafron is a bestselling author in Spain, and I've heard nothing but good things about The Prince of Mist, so it shall be interesting.

Patrick Carman is the bright mind behind the movie/book combination of Skeleton Creek and its companion, The Ghost in the Machine. His latest book, 13 Days to Midnight, is another supernatural read about a teen boy with unnatural abilities on invincibility...that he can pass on to other people. Very interesting, eh?

The first time I saw the cover to Guardian of the Dead, I was reminded of The Phantom of the Opera. However, it has nothing to do with it. It's set in modern day New Zealand, and that's about all I could find out about it. Nonetheless, I do like the cover, and since I judge books by their covers a lot, I'll definitely end up picking this one up.

Sisters Red has one of the coolest covers ever. It's a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (woohoo, another retelling!), which I think shall be interesting. The original tale is, of course, told with a very young protagonist, so it'll be fun to see how Jackson Pearce re-writes this one as a YA book. I've only read one other Little Red Riding Hood retelling, and that was Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie, so Sisters Red should be fun.

This next one is a science fiction read--Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is set 100 years from now and is about a boy named Nailer who dissembles ships in order to live. Very vague again, I know. But I'm always up for a good futuristic read and once again, the cover is pretty cool, so this one looks good.

Sorta Like a Rockstar is the lone contemporary on this list, and is about an optimistic girl named Amber who lives on a school bus. Well, I'd need to be pretty optimistic if I lived on a bus too. This title is pretty darn awesome, and it appears that this book will be quite a laugh.

And of course, another highly anticipated read from Little, Brown is the sequel to Prophecy of the Sisters, Guardian of the Gate. So far there's no cover, though I did see one that got axed a few weeks ago. I'll be curious to see which direction they go with it, if it'll resemble the Prophecy hardcover or paperback (which is quite different, and once again, I couldn't track down the image for that one either).

The list keeps growing...and growing...and growing....can you take any more??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg and Interview!

Hello everyone,

I am very happy to be kicking off the blog tour for Elizabeth Eulberg's debut novel, The Lonely Hearts Club! I trust you still have some of those Christmas bookstore gift cards handy and that you haven't blown through them in only four days, because this is a truly wonderful and fabulous book that you simply MUST read!

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Penny Lane (yes, as in The Beatles song) is just sick of guys. After one particularly nasty break-up with her childhood friend Nate, she forms The Lonely Hearts Club and resolves never to date another high school guy. After all, all they do is jerk you around, treat you like dirt, make you change who you are, and cause you to abandon your true friends. What Penny doesn't expect is most of the girls at her school happily flocking to her new club...and people (namely, the principal and the guys) getting angry at her. And then of course, there is the tiny matter of a certain very nice, very cute boy that Penny can't seem to get off of her mind…

The Lonely Hearts Club is a kick-butt, fun, and powerful read that isn't just about the romantic ups and downs of teen dating and swearing off guys, but about friendship and loyalty and never allowing a boyfriend to compromise who you are or make you give up your girlfriends. The many dating dynamics in the book are so, so true, which makes it an easy and enjoyable novel to get into, and Penny's witty voice will make you laugh and cringe with her at the same time, especially as the many girls share their dating woes (who knew guys could be so mean?). Penny’s club is unconventional, but it is so fantastic to see how she turns her pain at rejection by guys into something positive and fun for the girls in her school, and it won't fail to entertain at the same time as despite her best intentions, Penny just can't stop liking guys. The Lonely Hearts Club is not about moping around; it's about boys, The Beatles, picking yourself back up again and coming out stronger, and being the better person (most of the time). It'll leave you downloading The Beatles' music and wanting to form your own Lonely Hearts Club. Thank you, Elizabeth Eulberg.

Cover Comments: I love, love, love this cover! The Abbey Road spin-off is cute, and it's very fitting considering all of the many, many Beatles references. I also like how the tastes of each girl are as varied as the characters. The only thing I don't really care for is the font of the title. It's just too swirly for me, and since the rest of the cover has such a presence and attitude, it just doesn't fit. Other than that, this book really stands out!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Eulberg as well! Check it out:

TCR:  What sparked the idea for The Lonely Hearts Club? Was it a particularly bad boyfriend, or a culmination of them?

I did use a lot of not so pleasant experience with guys I’ve dated for the book (as well as stories from my friends). However, the idea for the book came from a night out with a friend who is that girl whose life always needs to revolve around a guy (we all know the type!). We were hanging out and she ignored me the second she got attention from a guy. Instead of throwing myself a pity party, I thought: You know what? I have so many amazing single girl friends. We should all go out on Saturday nights and celebrate our fabulous single lives. Then it hit me – THIS is what I should be writing about. Up until that time, I was working on a couple different ideas for a book, but they weren’t working. I knew that I could have a lot of fun with this idea.

It's evident on nearly every page of the book that you like the Beatles, but are they the only musical group that influenced the book and/or your writing?

I LOVE music. I am always listening to music, even when I go to sleep. But for The Lonely Hearts Club, I only listened to The Beatles. It was weird when I started working on my next project to not listen to The Beatles while I write. I associate so many of their songs to the writing process for this book.

What was the hardest part about writing The Lonely Hearts Club? The easiest?

The hardest thing about writing The Lonely Hearts Club was finding the time to write. I have a pretty demanding job that sometimes requires me to travel for long stretches. So I would have to go months without being able to work on it. I also started writing without an outline, which I would not recommend doing. But once I got over those obstacles, I found slipping into Penny’s voice very easy. The other character which I really enjoyed writing was her best friend Tracy – she has some pretty funny, sarcastic lines that came out with too much ease at times!

My favorite part about The Lonely Hearts Club is (not to give anything away) how the book isn't just about romantic relationships, but has a great message about friendship. Was that message something that revealed itself while you were writing the book, or was it something you thought about and intentionally wrote it?

I always knew that the Club would focus on girls putting themselves first before a romantic relationship. But as the book and characters took shape, the friendship between the characters became a lot stronger and I began to realize how much these girls could accomplish with such an amazing foundation. If there is one thing I would like people to take away from the book (besides having fun while reading) is for them to realize how important friendships are in life and to never compromise yourself for a guy.

What can we expect next from you?

I’m working on my next novel that should come out in early 2011. It is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in a prestigious boarding school. I have to say that I’m very proud of the title, Prom and Prejudice, and I’m having a blast writing it.

Do you have a favorite Beatles song?

This is such a hard question to answer. I have so many favorite Beatles songs, it is impossible for me to pick just one. This is what makes them so brilliant. But since I’m being FORCED against my will to choose (just kidding!), I’ll pick a few: “Revolution,” “Something,” “Ticket to Ride,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “We Can Work It Out,” “If I Fell,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here Comes the Sun.” Um, I could seriously go on and on for pages. I’ve already realized about 20 songs I didn’t include, so I think it is best for me to move on…

What are you listening to and reading now that you think your teen readers would enjoy?

It’s really hard for me to read books while I’m in the middle of writing so I’m very behind on my reading list. I am a huge fan of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series and I just got a galley of her new book, Heist Society, which I’m loving. I also really like Lauren Myracle’s Peace, Love and Baby Ducks – Lauren is one of my favorite writers, she creates such compelling and fun characters.

There’s been so much great music this year. Currently on heavy rotation on my iPod: Elbow, Passion Pit, Meese, Phoenix, and Owl City. I’m a ridiculously huge fan of Snow Patrol, a lot of people only know them from “Chasing Cars,” but they just released a brilliant compilation of their past 15 years called “Up to Now.” Even though I have all their albums I bought it, because I’m geeky like that (they also did an insanely great cover of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”). Kelly Clarkson is also a favorite, loved her new album and her live show is amazing (I got to met her and managed to not entirely freak out). And of course, Glee. I LOVE Glee!

Thanks, Elizabeth!

You can follow this tour by stopping by Steph Su's blog the day after tomorrow to read about Elizabeth's concert experiences! Click here to go to Elizabeth's blog and see her tour schedule!

Assorted Lonely Hearts Club fun:

Click here to watch a video in which Elizabeth talks about her inspiration for the novel and the Beatles!

Also, check out my post about The Lonely Hearts Club's cover change!

Enjoy! I really hope you end up picking this one up!

(ARC received from Scholastic.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jumping off Swings by Jo Knowles

Ellie is insecure when it comes to romance. She's always looking for the one perfect guy who will love her and be with her forever, but her relationships never work out. And Josh is no different. Their one night stand was awkward, embarrassing, and painful. Ellie wants nothing more than to forget it. But she can't...because she gets pregnant. Her friend Corinne doesn't understand why Ellie is so willing to sleep with guys she barely knows, but is supportive and sticks with Ellie, and during that time becomes friends with Caleb, Josh's friend who has had a crush on Ellie for years. Together, Caleb, Corrine, and Caleb's mother help Ellie through her pregnancy, and all four teens are affected in surprising ways.

Jumping off Swings is the story of an average girl faced with a life-altering decision. The novel is told from four different perspectives—Ellie's, Corinne's, Caleb's, and Josh's. The ever-changing points of view allow the story to move quickly and Caleb and Corinne's relationship is especially interesting and a nice break from Ellie's issues with guys and her pregnancy, and Josh’s ever-mounting guilt.

The downside of the four different points of view is that there seems to be two too many narrators with their own set of issues crowding into the story, and it didn't allow the reader to get quite as attached to each character, especially as the story leaps by in three month increments. The emotions and issues of each character were not touched upon quite as deeply as they might have been if Knowles had limited herself to only two narrators.

However, Jumping off Swings is quite a realistic look at an issue that many teens continue to face. Josh was affected emotionally by the baby, even if he never had to directly deal with him, and Knowles really emphasized how the pregnancy changed Ellie, even long after her baby was born. Readers looking for a realistic and emotion-wrought book the subject will be pleased with Jumping off Swings.

Cover Comments: This cover is very appropriate, given the title. Though the girl on the cover is not quite how I imagine Ellie is, she fits. This is a nice cover, and I really like the font that the title is in.

Review copy received from Candlewick.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

HarperTeen Spring 2010 Sneak Peek

Earlier this week, I shared with you all some books I am looking forward to getting to from Simon and Schuster. It was quite a list, but I'm prepared to do it all again with HarperTeen. Get comfy, and get a pen and paper, you may want to write some of these down!

First up is a book that I actually have an ARC to at the moment, biding its time on my special 2010 shelf (yes, I have a whole 2010 shelf, remind me to post a picture one of these days). It's pretty, pink, feminine and floral, appropriately titled Forget-Her-Nots. I think that it is definitely unique enough (a combination of matchmakers, magic, and Victorian flower power) that I can ignore that it's set at a boarding school, which kinda turns me off of a book. Can't wait!

Okay, forgive my fangirl moment, but oh my word, a fantasy, a fantasy! Mistwood by Leah Cypess will also be making its way into the world, which is fantastic because all of these supernatural books are taking up too much room and pushing away good fantasy books. I've been dying for a great new YA fantasy read since I finished Fire this past summer, and a girl ca only reread Tamora Pierce's books so many times. So, Leah Cypess: welcome. And THANK YOU. It's about time!

Tera Lyn Childs is the author of the cute and funny Oh. My. Gods. which I quite enjoyed, so I am very excited to see her latest book will be coming out soon, and even more excited and pleased to see it will be about MERMAIDS! Kathryn Lasky's first book in the Daughter of the Sea series, Hannah, got me into a very mermaid-y mood, and seeing as there really isn't much out there in mermaid besides Debbie Viguie's Midnight Pearl, I've been pining for some marine adventures. And knowing Tera's work, Forgive My Fins will not only satisfy my yearning, but it will also be very funny too!

(On a side note, how cool would it be for a YA book to come out with mermaids and a human girl involved in marine research, a la Ice by Sarah Beth Durst? You catching my drift there authors?) (Also, no pun intended.)

Okay, is it bad of me that all I could think of was, "So, she's crazy?" when I saw the title of Carie Vaughn's Voices of Dragons? Okay, sorry. But this does sound good, a nice little blend of modern day and myth. I am always curious to see how books like that play out and how realistic they are, so this should be a good one.

This next one wins the Coolest Title Award: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. It's a historical fiction. About children raised by wolves. And the nanny who tries to tame them. (The nanny graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females!) I can just feel the greatness. I love it. Want. Now. (Plus, it's written by Maryrose Wood, who is pretty awesome to begin with!)

Also, Maryrose has been quite busy lately because a few months after Incorrigible Children comes out, Balzer + Bray will be releasing The Poison Diaries as well. I've not been able to learn much of anything about the book, other than it is based off of a real Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, which you Harry Potter enthusiasts will recognize is the castle used as Hogwarts in the movies. Suffice to say this has to be one of the most appealing books to me, and I can't wait to learn more. I shall be keeping an eye out for this book!

The Thirteenth Princess looks to be another fantasy, a re-told fairy tale (um, YAY!) with a little twist. This one looks to be a little younger, more middle grade than YA, but I'll take it! I do love fairy tale retellings!

Okay, so this next book I've actually already read, and oh my word, it is AMAZING! It's been described as a "Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls", which is a good way of describing it. What it you had to re-live the day you died, over and over, until you got it right? That's what Sam has to do in Before I Fall, and believe me, this hefty book (about 450 pages), will have you tearing through it.

The sequel to Wondrous Strange (which came out in paperback and you should pick up because not only is it amazing and cheap, but I'm quoted on the inside flap!), Darklight, comes out next month, and I am loving how they used another photo with the same model! Gorgeous! I have this one on my 2010 shelf as well, so I am hoping to get to it ASAP. I loved the fairies of Central Park premise!

New from Carolyn Mackler in January is Tangled (another one on my shelf!), in which she explores how tangled four teens' lives can become when on vacation. Very fun cover, and I am eager to get to this one as well. (Confession time: I haven't read a Carolyn Mackler book yet. I am really excited!)

My mother has already read my ARC of this book, but I am excited to get to it. A Golden Web by Barbara Quick is a historical fiction about Alessandra Giliani, the first female anatomist. I love books about kick-butt, convention-defying females (who doesn't?), and I am always hungry for historical fiction, so this should be another great read. Also, the girl on the cover looks a bit miserable to me (don't blame her, life wasn't nice to women back then), so it just seems like one of those books where the girl will actually fight back and take charge.

The Life of Glass is Jillian Cantor's second novel, and it looks pretty good as well. I enjoyed her debut. The September Sisters (and I did a trailer for it).

Also, if you enjoyed Aprilynne Pike's debut, Wings, be sure to look for the second book, Spells! You won't be able to miss it what with the huge flowers on the cover!

Speaking of flowers, The Body Finder will also be coming out this spring and it has a huge flower on its cover. It's release was pushed backed from last fall, so I'm sure many will be glad to finally have it out, and I know a lot of bloggers have read it already. I have an ARC (I'm telling you, a 2010 SHELF) that I am eager to read!

All right, that's all I have, folks. Thanks for sticking with me! Stay tuned for a few more lists!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval suffers from a unique and undiagnosed form of autism, similar to Asperger's. Though he functions very well in his small, orderly world, his father determines that Marcelo needs to learn how to live in the "real world", and arranges a summer job for him in the mail room at his law firm. In the mail room, Marcelo meets Jasmine, the first person outside of his family who seems to truly understand him and the way that he thinks. But there are also many other people who wish to take advantage of Marcelo at the law firm, and it is while he is there that he learns that there is more to people than meets the eye, even people you know well.

Marcelo in the Real World is superbly written! Stork illuminates Marcelo's differences in the way he thinks and acts cleverly and clearly, like in the ways he doesn't understand the meaning of certain facial expressions (but in a way that the reader does), or how he has a habit of speaking in the third person, even when referring to himself. These details do not detract from the story, but make it all the more fascinating and will inspire you to think differently. Marcelo himself is a charming and engaging character, and his honest and straightforward ways make him an easy person to root for, even as he makes perplexing discoveries and must learn about the cruelties of injustice and not everyone does the right thing. There are many fascinating insights and observations in the novel, ones that will make you stop and think and fall head over heels in love with the story. This is an unconventional coming-of-age story, full of humor, heart, learning, and choices. Do not miss this book.

Cover Comments: I will admit, when I first saw a picture of this book online, it was small and a little fuzzy, and I immediately got the impression that the cover wasn't very good. But then when I received a hard copy of the book, I discovered that it isn't so. It's actually quite a beautiful and unique cover, which fits since the story is just as unique and beautiful. I love the stars, the silhouettes, the font, everything! Perfect!

Review copy received from Scholastic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I just want to wish you all a very happy Christmas! Here is to good books, great friends and family, and the birth of Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Fifteen-year-old Hanna's only major concern in life is why hot Seth won't go out with her. She's liked him for a long time, but he still dates other girls and continues to ignore her. Helen is Hanna's elderly neighbor, and has been like a grandmother to Hanna ever since she was small. Helen was always full of stories of love and happiness, but they are false, made up for a little girl to shield her from her beloved gram's dark past.

Around the same time that Helen is struck with a debilitating terminal illness, Hanna and Seth finally start going out...but it's nothing like Hanna dreamed. When forced to fulfill a community service requirement, Hanna begins caring for Helen. Together they listen to an audio book, Helen's true story, and through the pain, suffering, and enduring love of the events, Hanna learns the nature of true love and begins to understand how it must end for Helen.

How It Ends is a truly heartbreaking touching novel. It alternates between two different points of view, Hanna's and Helen's. While Hanna is concerned with mundane, every day things and getting Seth to notice her, Helen is far more worried about death and leaving Hanna with lies, and then as Helen declines, the story of her youth begins. Though many teens may feel that they can relate better to Hanna, How It Ends is truly Helen's story, and how it affects Hanna and forces her to grow from a childish, flighty girl who acts on stupid whims into a thoughtful young woman.

Though it is frustrating to read about Hanna’s infatuation with Seth, who is clearly the wrong guy for her, the relationship is actually quite realistic and reinforces the idea that How It Ends is a coming of age story. Helen's story, which starts in the late 1940's, is realistic and stark, and one that makes you sit up and pay attention. It is a surprising tale of faith, strength, and resilience, and as it forces Hanna to grow, it will make the reader do the same. The ending is a startling one; a potent mixture of love and anguish that won't leave any eye dry. How It Ends is an amazing novel about love, loss, growing up, and redemption.

Cover Comments: This is a nice, simple cover. I like the colors and the font used. The book is also a really great size, a little shorter and a little wider than a regular paperback. Very nice.

Review copy received from Simon and Schuster.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Lonely Hearts Club and Elizabeth Eulberg Video

I've been really in love with an amazing book that comes out next week, The Lonely Hearts Club, recently and if you haven't already checked it out, I urge you to do so! Here is a fun little video with the fabulous author Elizabeth Eulberg, in which she talks about her inspiration for the novel and takes readers on a little tour of Beatles landmarks in NYC.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Simon and Schuster Spring 2010 Sneak Peek

As 2009 is winding down, it's always nice to look back at favorites from the past year, but it's also very exciting to look towards new 2010 releases. By scouring the web and keeping my eyes peeled, I've compiled a massive list of books I'll be looking forward to that come out in 2010, sorted by publisher.

First up, Simon and Schuster. Here's what they have to tantalize us with for the first half of the coming year:

Mercury by Hope Larson first intrigued me by its unusual and bold cover, and then by its promise of a combination of "romance, history, and magical realism". Plus, I am a total sucker for historical fiction, and I like the idea that this book takes place in both the past and present.

Next up is Nothing by Janne Teller. I don't know much about this one, except for it's described as "Lord of the Flies for the 21st century" and that it is already published somewhere in Europe. I know I'm intrigued, how about you? Also, this cover is beautiful and a bit mystic, which makes me shiver a little bit when I recall the whole bit about it being like Lord of the Flies...

This next one I've known about for a little while thanks to Kay Cassidy, who knows the author. The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson: A Most Improper Magick is written by Stephanie Burgis, and takes place in Regency England. Looks cute, huh? I am also very excited to read it as Kay has informed me she and Stephanie will be swinging by Michigan this Spring on tour for both of their books! Hurray!

Teen pregnancy seems to be cropping up in a lot of books lately, and Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont is one of those books, but with a twist. Sydney Briggs finds out she's pregnant, but before she can make up her mind about what to do, she's sent to wilderness camp in Canada. Come on, you KNOW you want to find out how that plays out. This is definitely one I have my eye on!

I read my first Deb Caletti book not too long ago, and lucky for me I have two more of her books on my shelf (MUST get to the over Christmas break!), but that doesn't stop me from pining for her next release, The Six Rules of Maybe. This one has one of those titles that makes you go, "Huh?" and want to know more about the book. Hopefully this title will bear a little relevance to the story than The Secret Life of Prince Charming, because I really am digging it. Also, isn't the cover neat?

And speaking of covers, it looks like all of Deb Caletti's books are getting a face lift. Cool, huh? I liked the old ones as well, but these are nice and fun too. I remember seeing the image on The Queen of Everything on the original cover at my library back when the book first came out, and that was more than a couple of years ago.

I am loving the cover of Jason Myers' novel The Mission--very cool. Also, the whole concept of revealing long hidden family secrets never ceases to catch my attention (I'm predictable like that). I also like that this is one with a male protagonist--I don't read enough books with those. This looks to be a good one.

The Year I Turned Sixteen is said to be a reprint edition of three or four books in one, much like L.J. Smith's Night World books, with each book focusing on a different sister. I've not found a synopsis, but by my masterful powers of deduction, I'm guessing it has to be about sixteenth birthdays. I don't have a sister, though despite the warnings of some of my friends I have always wanted one, so I'll definitely want to pick this one up. And at a massive 720 pages and a cost of only $10, I'm sure it'll be money well spent.

So, I enjoyed the somewhat unique outlook of Eileen Cook's first protagonist in her debut What Would Emma Do?, and the part of me with a twisted sense of humor can't help but adore the cover of her latest book, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. Priceless. Want. Now. "This time the mean girl is going down." Yes, yes, and yes.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know what a spaz I am when it comes to fairy tale retellings--I simply flip out over them. They're lovely and wonderful, and Simon Pulse is lovely and wonderful for their Once Upon a Time Series, a series of 17 some fairy tale retellings. I have been talking FOREVER about how cool it would be for an author to write a retelling of The Princess and the Pea, and finally it has happened! Violet Eyes by Debbie Viguie! Happy dance!

Also, another addition to the series is The World Above by Cameron Dokey (the most prolific writer in this series). This appears to be a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, and I am most intrigued to see how this one will play out. I've only read a retelling of this once, and it was a short story by Louise Hawes told from the point of view of the stolen harp.

This next book reminds me of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams just from its description alone. Keep Sweet by Michele Green is the story of Alva, who lives within a polygamist community, and what happens when she's forced to marry a man over thirty years to her senior. I don't really seem how the title Keep Sweet fits in with this, but seeing as I've not read the book, I'll keep my mouth shut.

Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson is a cover lookalike (someone tell Alea of Pop Culture Junkie!) to Keep Sweet! It's got Vikings and a strong heroine and Vikings, so I really don't see a reason NOT to get this book. Want.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves resembles the cover of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain! It's about a crazy girl in a crazy town, and I can't wait! Also, Dia is a cool person to follow on Twitter.

The Unwritten Rule by the super prolific rockstar of a writer Elizabeth Scott has one pretty cover as well. This is the third book of hers involving a shot of feet. Elizabeth, however, doesn't write much about feet, so don't worry. This one comes out in April and involves a girl liking her best friend's boyfriend, which you know is going to cause drama. Can't wait. Thankfully, I have an ARC of this one patiently waiting on my shelf, biding its time until the Cybils shortlist has been decided and I can go back to my normal reading schedule.

And of course, we're all dying to know how LJ Smith's epically long Night World series ends! Strange Fate, the tenth and final book in the series, is one that many readers have been waiting over ten years for. I'm guessing it's going to be good. This one hits stores in April, and I cannot wait!

I was quite a fan of Pure by Tera Elan McVoy, so I am very excited to see that her second book, After the Kiss, will be out in May! And isn't that cover just the cutest? I liked the way that McVoy handled some serious issues but still managed to keep her book romantic and light where appropriate, so this will be a fun read!

That pretty much wraps up my list of new books, though Pure got a cover makeover (Thank. Goodness.) that I adore. Much better than the cherry, no?

Thanks a lot, S&S. Let the yearning commence!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

This is the sequel to the bestselling adult novel, The Nanny Diaries. I read The Nanny Diaries a few years ago because I always like reading books before seeing the movies (The Nanny Diaries was made into a movie with Scarlett Johanson), and I was surprised at how much I liked it. The sequel was just as good!

Twelve years ago, Nan left her charge Grayer X in the questionable care of his rich and selfish parents, and has been feeling guilty about it ever since. Now Nan has returned from living abroad with her husband Ryan and they have bought a fixer-upper in New York City and Nan is ready to start her career when she encounters Grayer, now sixteen. Driven by her guilt, she finds herself involved with the ridiculously rich X family once more as she tries to help Grayer's little brother, Stilton and once again finds herself colliding with the absurd and weird customs of the Upper East Side's wealthiest residents.

Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin's sequel to The Nanny Diaries is smart and laugh-out-loud hilarious as Nan attempts to do right by Grayer and Stilton X, despite the bizarre customs of their parents and peers that fight against her every step of the way. The glittering and powerful world that the X's live in is rather disturbing at times, but quite believable, and tNan is a grounded, sensible narrator, routinely providing comic relief with her wry and witty comments and observations. Thankfully, Nanny Returns isn't a conventional rich people novel only highlighting the glamour of a wealthy lifestyle, but also revealing the darker motivations and the insane notion that rules don't affect you if you have money that many of the characters possess.

Nanny Returns may be a little lengthy, but it moves at a brisk pace with enough problems and drama to keep the book moving, but not so much as to overwhelm the reader. The only complaint might be that the ending wraps up rather quickly, not really devoting much time to falling action, but other than that, Nanny Returns is a wonderfully entertaining and realistic novel that probes into the privileged world of New York City's wealthiest without losing sight of what's really important in life.

Cover Comments: I love that the same black, white, and red color scheme was carried on from the prequel to this cover, and the umbrella was used again. This is definitely a cover that pops!

Review copy received from Engelman and Co.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let It Snow!

Since Christmas is fast approaching, I thought I'd remind you all of one of my favorite Christmas-y YA read, Let It Snow, which is three intertwined stories by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. It is also the latest addition to the Christmas Cheer Giveaway! If we reach 200 entries before the final day (December 21st), I'll throw in another prize, so enter now!

Let It Snow

It's Christmas Eve, and one of the biggest storms in memory has hit, isolating tiny Gracetown, Virginia. For Jubilee, Tobin, and Addie the storm will bring them together in the most unconventional of ways. Jubilee, on her way to Florida, is stranded outside of Gracetown when her train gets stuck in the snow. Rather than endure Christmas Eve night on the train with a mass of perky cheerleaders, she ventures out and heads to the nearby Waffle House, where she encounters Stuart, who is still nursing a broken heart.

Tobin and his friends JP and the Duke are enjoying their Christmas Eve holed up at Tobin's house and watching a James Bond movie marathon when they are enticed out into the night to the local Waffle House. What should be a twenty minute drive on a clear night turns into a crazy race to get there before the intimidating Reston twins...but when they get there things don’t go quite how they planned.

For Addie, the holidays have been filled with misery since she and her boyfriend Jeb broke up. But this year she'll gain some perspective (and possibly more) during one very long and very snowy shift at Starbucks the day after Christmas.

All three stories are cleverly woven together, along with each author's inimitable style and brand of humor. The wholly unique, ironic, witty, intelligent, and heartfelt plots that Myracle, Johnson, and Green have become well known for is strongly present in Let It Snow. The varying and colorful characters are authentic and highly realistic, allowing for the book to appeal to a wide range of reader interests, and even though each author's writing style varies, the book feels quite cohesive. The dialogue, the jokes, the slang, and actions are all pitch perfect to this generation, and wildly appealing, even as they push the limits of reality. But even so, most readers will be more than willing to hold on tight and enjoy the ride as this sweet and sarcastically funny holiday read unravels.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Diary of a Witness by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Ernie and his friend Will are outcasts at their school, teased mercilessly every day for being different and for Ernie, overweight. They have each other, so they manage to endure it, but Will especially hates those that torment them. Then, when Will's younger brother dies tragically, he is plagued with guilt and anger. Suddenly, it's not as easy to shrug off the teasing, and Ernie is left to observe as Will cracks and desperately tries to fight back the only way he knows how.

This strikingly realistic book is told in journal-format from Ernie's perspective. It's descriptive in all of the appropriate areas, but otherwise is blunt, concise, and to the point. Ernie's conversational tone makes the story easy to read and become invested into the story, even for reluctant readers. The male point of view is done well, and it makes you quite sympathetic towards Ernie. His struggles with bullying and losing weight, despite the opposition he faces at home, and his confusion at how to help Will, and his happy moments are all very authentic and heart-wrenching, especially as Will gets into more and more trouble despite Ernie's attempts at helping him. This book has been compared to Jennifer Brown's Hate List, but it is different in the fact that Hyde focuses more on what exactly would drive a teen to the breaking point and how what others might consider teasing and simple joking could have such an intense and damaging effect on someone. Diary of a Witness is yet another excellent, attention-grabbing read from Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover! It's very suggestive and conveys the idea of time running out, a build-up to some major blow-up. Very inventive and attention-catching!

Review copy received from Knopf.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Interview With Shannon Hale!

TCR: Today, I have Shannon Hale on the blog to answer a few questions! Thanks so much for dropping by, Shannon!

SH: Hi Tirzah! Thanks for having me on the blog.

Your fantasy books are so varied in that you infuse all sorts of culture and knowledge of different sorts of trades and ways of life into your stories. What sort of research did you have to do to in order to write them?

I love to do research, but not enough to write historical fiction! I like to choose what juicy bits work for my story and get rid of the rest. I do research cultures and regions when I’m working on a new land. I’ve pulled from Germany, Scandinavia, Rome, Mongolia, Ireland, and turn-of-the-century American West. I read books, websites, look at photos, cookbooks, museums, etc. There’s nothing methodical about my research. I dabble till I find stuff that makes me say, “Wow!”

You've written a lot of books, from Middle Grade to Young Adult to Adult titles, and from fantasy to contemporary fiction; does your writing process vary between the genres?

It doesn’t really. I don’t feel like I’m switching gears. With each book, I feel like I’m just trying to tell the story and using whichever genre or style would work best.

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

The first one that popped into my head was the Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia McKillip. Do people read that anymore? I loved it. Re-read it probably four times (a lot for me, as I’m a slow reader).

You happily surprised many readers by continuing the Books of Bayern series with Forest Born; do you think you might write even more books set in Bayern?

Thank you! I don’t have any immediate plans, but the characters continue to live on in my head. I know them so well by now. The truth is, I didn’t even have to go back to the first three books and re-read before writing Forest Born. The characters were so real and easy to draw on. So if the right story bites me in the heiney, I won’t refuse. Until then, I’m happy to move on to other stories.

What are you writing now that we can look forward to?

I’ve got 150,000 words of a rough draft for a possible two-book series called Daisy Danger Brown. It’s a monster right now, a monster of many parts and much terror that will take a couple of years at least to tame. And yesterday I started a new book because I couldn’t help it.

If you could have a conversation with any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Oh, Jane Austen for sure, though I’m not sure what she’d think of me. She was so snarky, and I’m such a wimp, I’m afraid she’d find fault with me. But I could never pass that up. And what if...what if we became friends? That would rock.

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

Just the thing about my favorite kind of brownies (mint chocolate) and an address to mail them, but don’t beat yourself up, no one can think of everything.

Thanks again, Shannon!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

The Fountain family has been the focus of major media attention three times: when mother Laura Fountain made a decision that changed her family's life, when she died, and when her husband died. Now the four remaining Fountain children live scattered, fifteen-year-old Jack living and two-year-old Tris with their aunt Cheryl, and Smithy and Madison living at boarding school and with godparents. Jack has reformatted his life so his only job is to protect Tris, but when attention-seeking Cheryl invites the media back into their lives once more, it becomes impossible. Now the three older siblings will have to face their pain and grief and come together to not only protect Tris, but discover the truth.

Caroline B. Cooney's latest suspense novel has contains her trademark fast-paced, blunt style that makes her books so easy to absorbed in. Her third person, present tense narrative allows Cooney to character hop, which always keeps things interesting. Though the mystery is a bit simplistic, its tight time line is wrought with tension and never lags, making If the Witness Lied an excellent novel for reluctant readers.

The characters in the novel are also well done; Cheryl is truly intimidating, and her power makes her a character you love to hate. Though the Fountain parents are deceased, Cooney has a talent for weaving in small and surprising details that make them seem three-dimensional and real, also making their children's loss more meaningful. The older siblings are also very interesting as Cooney explores their memories and how their loss affects them all in different ways. Despite their pain and issues, you can't help but admire the way Madison, Jack, and Smithy come together to protect Tris.

The conclusion comes together rather quickly and easily, but it is a very satisfying one. Cooney's latest book is inventive and excellent, with a mystery that is unconventional and fascinating.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot! The color scheme is good, and this design won't seem dated after a while, which is always a plus. Though the candle doesn't really pertain to the story, it's a very attractive cover, and it conveys the appropriate feelings. Very nice.

Review copy received from Random House.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ten Great Books to Give Teens

I've seen a lot of lists this Christmas season, mostly generated by Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon, with book recommendations for teens. I think it's great to see these lists, though as a blogger who reads a TON of different genres, it bugs me that these lists stick mainly to paranormal and vampire books and bestsellers. So here is my attempt at coming up with a more diverse list that will hopefully appeal to EVERY teen on your list.

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

This is one of my favorite lighthearted reads. The premise is pretty simple: Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend, a musician, who then proceeds to write a song about her titled Audrey, Wait that launches his unknown band into rockstar fame. Now, the press won't leave Audrey alone and every teen girl in the country thinks she's a horrid person. It's hysterically funny and unique, and cont
ains many, many musical references. You really can't go wrong with this book. And the bonus--this one's in paperback, so you can get it for under $10!

Willow by Julia Hoban

For the more thoughtful and mature reader on your list, Willow is a great read. Willow is a sixteen-year-old girl who is grappling with a load of guilt after her parents' death seven months earlier, and deals with it the only way she knows how: by cutting. This is an excellent and very well written book and a great conversation starter. Willow is also one of my favorite 2009 releases!

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Headley's latest book will appeal to Sarah Dessen fans. The protagonist, Terra, has a large birthmark on her face that cannot be removed despite numerous surgeries. She and her mother live under the constant critcism and verbal abuse of her father, and Terra can't wait to escape. But then with one eye-opening trip to China, Terra and her mother will each discover the strength and confidence they need to see their own beauty and self-worth. This is a beautiful and moving book!

Diary of a Witness by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This is an excellent, intense book from the author of Pay It Forward. Ernie and Will are outcasts at their high school, and are constantly bullied. They usually manage to ignore it, but when Will's little brother dies tragically, something cracks in him, making him want to fight back. Told from Ernie's perspective, this is a quick, engrossing read that any guy or girl will enjoy.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Set in the early twentieth century, Donnelly's eye-opening book follows Mattie Gokey, a bright sixteen-year-old girl living in upstate New York who struggles against the conventions of her time, wanting to attend college when most girls barely make it through eighth grade. It is impeccably researched and heartbreakingly realistic, and set against the back drop of a true story, the death of Grace Brown. It's truly a stunning novel, one every girl should read. It also was a Printz Award finalist. Plus, it's in paperback! Yet another under $10 gift!
Fire by Kristin Cashore

For the fantasy fan, get Fire, the standalone prequel to Graceling. Fire is a wonderfully complex and smart fantasy read full of political intrigue, magic, strange lands, and a truly amazing protagonist. This is one of the best YA fantasy books out there, trust me.

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor, Illustrated by Jim Di-Bartolo

This delightful book contains three unique and fascinating paranormal short stories, accompanied by beautiful drawings. Taylor's style is exquisite and mesmerizing, and not only do the stories have all of the popular supernatural appeal, but they cause you to really think as well. This one was nominated for a National Book Award as well!
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

From the same guy that wrote the Uglies series, Leviathan is a very exciting and wholly unique steampunk read that wins the award for broadest appeal with its smart alternate world re-imagining of World War I. Nearly anyone will love this book; guys, girls, preteens, teens, adults... It's a very engaging blend of history, technology, adventure, and politics, and extremely witty to boot.

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Bachorz tells the chilling story of a town completely brain-washed into compliance and peace by subliminal messages in the music piped throughout the town, and the son of the founder, Oscar, secretly rebelling by listening to his own messages. This is a great read for teen guys and girls; very modern and intriguing.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Academy 7 is an adventurous sci-fi read that actually reminded me a little of Star Wars. At the best school in the galaxy, two young students, Aerin and Dane, meet. Both come from very different backgrounds, but both have secrets that inexplicably tie them together. This is a great, imaginative, and romantic read!

I really hope that this list has been helpful, and if you have any specific questions or want any further recommendations, just give me a shout in the comments or email me at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com! Happy shopping and merry Christmas!