The Compulsive Reader: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've Been Quoted!

Kudos to the fabulous Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin USA, for adorning the back cover of their AMAZING book, Robin Benway's AUDREY, WAIT! with praise from a bunch of book bloggers--and one of those quotes is from me!

Check it out (click to enlarge!):

Many thanks to Alea who pointed it out (seriously, thank you! I would never have noticed unless you had emailed me!), and for letting me steal her picture of the back cover. I am going to get my very own copy next week! (Though, I have to admit, I am more partial to the hardcover copy. Ah, well. I will take what I can get--my psuedonym on the back of it makes up for that!)

Monday, March 30, 2009

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Terra has lived her entire life under a scrutiny. A port-wine stain on her cheek ensures she is always stared at when she goes anywhere, and her father's impossible standards prompt her to live by his impossible expectations. She lives for the day when she can finally leave home and head off to college, but is wrestling with conflicting feelings of excitement to begin her new life away from her father, and guilt at leaving her mother to fend for herself. But when Terra and her mother meet Norah and Jacob, their whole perspective on life is changed around, and 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.

Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful embodies beauty. Her keen insights and smooth, seamless style are a complete joy to read. Headley combines Terra's artistic talent and her father's profession of cartography to help illustrate every experience that Terra undergoes and enforce how it has affected her as a person and formed her concepts of true beauty. There are many aspects in North of Beautiful that will tear your heart in two: Terra's father domineering and condescending attitude, her disjointed family, and her mother who has been worn down into a subservient shell of a person. But these aspects strengthen the story and emphasize the beauty and wonder of Terra's search for love, acceptance, beauty, and ultimately, herself. Readers will easily be able to forget Terra’s birthmark and identify with her on a very personal level as she struggles to overcome self-doubt and criticism. Headley has written a book that is challenging, heartbreaking, and completely memorable.

Cover Comments: I like the head shot on this cover--there are a lot of headless covers, so this is a noce change. It's very pretty and bright, and I think it conveys the emotions that are covered in the book nicely. I also like the light compass that is over the model's head--it's a nice touch, espceially since Headley incorporates so many allusions and references to cartography.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Laurel has always felt different--she only eats fruits and a few vegetables, and she's most happy in the woods surrounding her home, where her parents have brought her up and homeschooled her. She chafes at being forced to go to public school for the first time in her life and at being cooped up indoors, but finds that her days are made bearable by her new friendship with David.

David truly understands her, and she enjoys being with him. But then one day, a bump on Laurel's back turns into a fantastic blossom, shaped exactly like wings, and David is the only one who Laurel trusts to help her figure out what has happened to her, and who she truly is.

Magical and inviting, Wings takes the reader on a charming and airy journey. Aprilynne Pike's wholly unique and fascinating take on faeries is delightful and innovative, and her presentation of the faerie world is a clever blend of folklore, tradition, and new thoughts that make for a perfectly fun and light read. Laurel is a likable and unassuming character that readers will immediately fall for and sympathize with as she struggles to discover the source of her differences, and finds herself torn between two very different worlds and two very different guys. Pike's writing is magnetic, and her adventure is as suspenseful and riveting as it is romantic and enchanting.

Cover Comments: This cover isn't as striking as some I've seen, but it is a nice one: I like the petal on the water, and the gracefulness of the title's font. The colors are very vivid and they sure stand out, but yet the cover still has the soft, magical appearance. It's very nice, and it's sure to catch more than a few eyes.

Wings will be released from HarperTeen on May 5th, 2009!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ah, anticipation. It can drive a girl mad. And anticipation for the following books is certainly driving this girl completely bonkers:

Written by Michelle Zink, this new gothic romance is set to come out in August. To learn more, check out Michelle's MySpace page (be her friend, please. She's really quite cool), where she has a full synopsis, fun info, and even some pretty awesome scores that are absolutely beautiful, composed by her son, Kenneth Zink. Check it out, give him a comment! (Also, have I mentioned what a sucker I am for covers? This one is SO PRETTY!)

Jessica Verday brings us a story about Abbey, who meets a hot guy when her friend disappears, (only, Abbey doesn't think Kristen disappears), and then there are a bunch of SECRETS (there always are), only they threaten Abbey's SANITY! How cool is that? Very cool, I tell you.

We...are...so...close! In all my years of book-stalking (granted, not THAT many, but certainly enough), I don't think I've ever come across a book with such an elusive release date as Tamora Pierce's latest! This was supposed to come out like, in October '07! Ah, but no matter now, because Bloodhound comes out in a mere two weeks, much to the jubilation of her long-time fans! Huzzah!

This is another gothic historical with supernatural elements (methinks Libba Bray started a VERY EXCELLENT THING with A Great and Terrible Beauty). I'm not a terrible fan of the cover, but I have to admit: it is exciting. And I do like the premise. Oh August, come to me quickly.

The Body Finder

Okay, I will admit, I kinda think this is a little morbid--in a totally awesome and compulsively readable (oh, I need to stop being so lame) way. Kimberly Derting, I love it. It sounds amazing! I would like it now, please. I would also love to see a cover!

Amber Kizer's newest is also about dead things! And I really, really, really want to read it aswell! What is this saying about me? Nonetheless, Amber, your cover is GORGEOUS, and your synopsis is very teasing. Just drop the words "family secrets" and I'm hooked.

Book of the Month: An Interview with Jillian Cantor

Jillian Cantor, author of March's Book of the Month, The September Sisters, stopped by to answer a few questions about The September Sisters, writing, and more.
How long did it take you to write The September Sisters?

It took me about three months to write the first draft of the book, but it took about four and a half years from the time I wrote the first word until the time the book sold, and I did a lot of revising in that time period!

What was the hardest part about writing it? The easiest?

The hardest was definitely the ending. I have about 20 different versions of the last chapter. I love Abby so much that I wanted to give her a good ending, but I wanted the story to feel real and believable. It took me a lot of tries (and good advice from my agent and editor) to get it right. The easiest part was writing Abby – her voice just came to me, and as I wrote that first draft her story almost seemed to write itself.

What's one thing you want your readers to take away from The September Sisters?

Abby is a really strong and smart character, who faces adversity – she attempts to take control of her own destiny even when it feels impossible. She’s also able to look past stereotypes and see people for who and what they really are, stripping away appearances, and I think this is a really admirable trait.

What are you writing now/what can we expect next from you?

What you can expect next from me is a second YA book called THE LIFE OF GLASS, which will be out from Harperteen in early 2010. It’s the story of 14-year-old Melissa, and the book follows her through her freshman year in high school as she struggles with life, loss, love, and beauty. I’m also writing two new things right now – I’m finishing up revisions on a book for adults, and I just started working on my third YA novel.

What's one good book you've read recently you'd like to recommend to your readers?

The last YA book I read was Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, and I thought it was a really great book. I loved the way she entwined the past and the present, and I could not put the book down!

As a debut author, what's one piece of advice you'd like to share with other authors (or aspiring authors)?
Grow some very thick skin! As a writer, you will get rejected -- a lot! It’s always part of the package -- even after you’ve found an agent or sold a book – there will still be rejection. Don’t take the rejection personally, and take anything constructive from it that you can and move on. Keep believing in yourself, and keep writing through it!

If you could choose any author, alive or dead, to colloborate with, who would it be and why?

That’s a really tough question. There are a lot that come to mind, but I’m going to say Nora Ephron, who wrote some of the best romantic comedy movies ever (When Harry Met Sally, which she wrote, is my absolute favorite movie). I love romantic comedies, books and movies, and I also think you can learn a lot about novel writing from screenplays and screenwriters. I feel like I could learn a lot from her about dialogue, pacing, and comedic timing.

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

Hmmm, how about: I’ve seen your awesome book trailer – who made it for you? I agree, the book trailer is quite awesome! And it was made for me by the fabulously talented Compulsive Reader herself! Thanks for the great interview todayJ. If you want to learn more about me or The September Sisters, stop by my website: http://www.jilliancantor.com/

Thanks so much, Jillian!

And here is that trailer:

Want to win a signed copy of The September Sisters? Then leave your name and email address in the comments, and I'll pick one winner on April 1st! No foolin.
Also, unfortunately, this contest is only open to US residents. To everyone else, I'm sorry!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Surprise for Julia Hoban

I really wanted to make this for Julia Hoban as a big THANK YOU for being so cool and so willing to chat about just about anything. She's written a superb book that I hope everyone will check out (if this trailer isn't incentive enough, please look for the Willow Giveaway under the Contest sidebar). THANK YOU, JULIA!

ETA: Oh, and PLEASE: post this on your own blog/site/Facebook/Myspace! Spread the word!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pure by Terra Elan McVoy

Tabitha and her four best friends wear purity rings, a visible reminder of their promise to remain virgins until they marry. At fifteen, it is mainly these purity rings and what they stand for that have kept them together. But now things are changing—and boys come into the picture. And when Cara breaks her promise, it turns their friendship upside down. Morgan and Naeomi and Priah drop Cara, refusing to be friends with her, leaving Tabitha split between staying loyal to Cara and disliking the fact that she broke her promise...will they five of them ever be able to make up their differences?

Pure is a fresh, funny, and wise new novel that addresses everything from family differences and friendships to boys and religion. Terra Elan McVoy's writing is, plainly speaking, wonderful. She effortless captures the emotions associated with the apprehension and joy of first love, the anxiety and anguish of friendship troubles, and the uncertainty of beliefs in a large and diverse world. Tabitha is an extremely grounded and likable character who readers will easily be able to relate to and empathize with as she tries to find a balance between being loyal to herself and her beliefs, being loyal to her friends, and most importantly, being loyal to God. McVoy's personal, down-to-earth writing style and sense of how teens operate—in speech, attitude, and thoughts—is very obvious, making it seem as though Tabitha's world is your own. Pure is a wonderfully positive, realistically complicated, and sweetly romantic read that will challenge and strengthen your beliefs in friendship and God.

Cover Comment: This isn't the most outstanding cover I've seen, but I do like how simple it is. Given the approach that it takes on sex though, I was surprised to see the cherry (and all that it implies) on the cover, but it is presented nicely (something along the lines The Second Virginity of Suzy Green would have been horrid). This is a superb book stuck in a ho-hum cover--I hope it doesn't deter too many people from picking it up!

Pure will be available from Simon Pulse on April 7th, 2009!

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

Shawna has been the perfect daughter ever since her mother left her and her family for Fran Goodman at age seven. She strives to make her father proud by getting excellent grades, getting into an excellent college, and becoming a doctor. But she's thrown off course when her mother unexpectedly dies, and her controlling and overbearing father begins to take control over everything. For the first time ever, Shawna gets to know her stepbrothers, who knew her mother better than she did. And she has to face the fact that there might be more to the circumstances of her mother's departure than she allowed herself to realize.

Compelling, emotional, and down-to-earth, Say the Word is a wonderfully written novel that looks long and hard at family dynamics and how the relationships between family members—both the unwanted and the loved—shape, mold, and effect who we are. The plot is unique, and rendered all the more believable by how Garsee distinguishes her characters: Shawna, who feels the need to strive to be perfect, and her father, who takes his abandonment harshly, and becomes bitter and even more domineering. Fran and her sons and their Jewish practices offer a unique view on the situation, and Shawna's strained relationship with them is intriguing to observe.

Best of all, Garsee perfectly captures the idea that life changes, and people don't always stay who you want them to be. Shawna struggles to accept this, and to let go of her prejudices and bitterness, which isn't an easy task (yet another believable element in Say the Word). But overall, Say the Word is an honest and unflinching book that illustrates to readers that life is full of a lot of tough decisions—and there aren't always easy answers or solutions. Witty, entertaining, and completely genuine, Jeannine Garsee is an author to watch.

Cover Comments: I like the orange theme (it's a color not usually seen on cover, and it's done very novely on this one) and the swirl design that is the theme throughout the entire book. The close-up of the model is very accurate to how Shawna is described which is nice, and the two different images provide an interesting contrast. Overall, it's quite an appealing cover!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Look Both Ways by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Ever since the death of David Jellico, Mallory and Merry Brynn have slowly slipped back into normal life, Merry worrying about cheerleading, and Mally about soccer. But when a vision reveals a cheerleader getting seriously injured, their old fears and apprehensions come rushing back. As they struggle to find he culprit, Mallory stumbles upon a secret her friend Eden has been keeping. This revelation causes Merry and Mally to rush to find the answers they need before the unspeakable can occur.

Look Both Ways is an entertaining continuation of Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Midnight Twins trilogy. In this installment, Mitchard stretches beyond just the twins' strange abilities to include local folklore and magic, making Mally and Merry's world more believable and three dimensional. Readers aren't given many more clues as to how the twins' powers work, but Mitchard reveals just enough to keep readers interested and excited for the next book in the series. Besides building upon the supernatural elements of the book, Mitchard also explores day to day issues and takes a look at how the twins deal with the new, normal changes in their lives, from family dynamics to boyfriends. The even balance between the two gives Look Both Ways its appeal, and will make it a popular book among younger teens.

Cover Comments: Once again, as with the cover of The Midnight Twins, I do like the parallelism with the water--it's a neat effect. This is a prettier, more mysterious and romantic cover that its prequel's, with the creamy dress and the golden light. It is quite alluring--when you pick it up, you don't expect it to be about 14 year olds. Nonetheless, it's a keeper!

Look Both Ways will be available from Razorbill April 2nd, 2009!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

When Evie's stepfather Joe Spooner, a soldier who has recently returned home after fighting in World War II, takes Evie and her mom on vacation to Palm Beach, Florida, Evie is so excited that she hardly thinks anything at all of Joe's strange behavior. When they get to Florida though, Evie's family befriends the Graysons, wealthy hotel owners, and Evie meets the mysterious and charming Peter Coleridge. Peter is wealthy, young, and served with Joe. Evie falls head over heels in love. But with her new romance comes some strange secrets—secrets that affect the way she thinks and views her life, and threaten to tear her life apart if they come to light.

What I Saw and How I Lied is a gripping, galvanizing read that perfectly portrays one girl's struggles and insecurities amidst the post-war anxieties and hopes and the United States, and the glamour of the 1940's. Evie's character is intensely likable, and readers will be able to identify with her dreams, her crushes, and her impatience at being stifled by her beautiful and alluring mother. Blundell's writing is excellent; it is tight and descriptive, but moves briskly, making What I Saw and How I Lied very readable.

Blundell also introduces topics that were not spoken of as freely in the 1940's as they are now in a sensitive, yet straightforward, manner. Evie's reactions are believable as she comes to realize many things about the circumstances and relationships she is surrounded by, and though her actions may not always be admirable or true, one can't help but admire her for her sense and bravery. As for the setting of the novel, it is apparent that it is very well researched and flows seamlessly with the plot, making it an easy book for even reluctant readers to get through. Blundell has created a smart and thought-provoking read full of keen insights, mystery, first love, and a good dose of reality.

Cover Comments: I like the dark cover--it's very fitting, and the model partly in shadow is very catching. Also, the dramatic lipstick and the GORGEOUS hair and the font of the title are all very 1940's--this is such an excellent cover!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is This Legit?

Okay, so is this the actual movie poster? I've heard rumors that it's genuine, that it's fake, that it's fan-made...What's the truth?

All I have to say is if it's fan-made, I am IMPRESSED. The type is nice, and the background is Italian-esque. It's nice--much more appealing than the Twilight poster (and I'm not just saying that because Rob is partly shirtless). It's a striking image.

Anyhoo, opinions?

ETA: Okay, apparently it is a fan-made poster. My respect and awe to whoever did it--I know my way around Photoshop, but I could never come up with anything this good! Way to go.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

At the most elite school in the universe, two very different people meet: Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin. Loner Aerin's tumultuous past and her unconventional upbringing make it hard for her to fit in at Academy 7. Rich Dane's dark secret concerning his family life makes it hard for him to open up to anyone, but his father's legacy makes him a celebrity. The two are at the top of their class, and are highly competitive. But when they are unexpectedly thrown together, they slowly become friends. And as they learn more and more about each other, it becomes apparent that there are many secrets surrounding their past—and with Aerin and Dane's special talents, it won't be long before they are uncovered.

Anne Osterlund delivers a unique and breathtaking book that will sweep away both fantasy and science-fiction lovers alike. Her futuristic universe, reminiscent of Star Wars, is vivid and varied, and quite intriguing. Osterlund does an excellent job presenting her characters, and giving little hints about their past, which succeeds in hooking readers right from the start. Both Aerin and Dane are dynamic characters who are fallible, but they recognize their problems and faults and grow as individuals throughout the course of the book. As readers delve more deeply into the novel, they'll be happy to find that Academy 7 is not just about romance, competition, and dark secrets; there are many political, social, and even ethical issues that the characters must grapple with. These more serious elements make Academy 7 more believable and realistic and, at times, more serious. Overall, Osterlund has created a highly imaginative, wonderfully entertaining, and nicely complicated read that is at once romantic, witty, and quite intelligent.

Cover Comments: Though this cover didn't really indicate the true nature of the book (it made me think it would be another medieval fantasy novel like Aurelia), I have to say that they romantic embrace and pose really does catch my eye--even though there isn't tons of romance in the book! The verdict: it's a really good cover, even if it is a little misleading!

Academy 7 will be available from Speak on May 14th, 2009!

This Weekend's B2B: Sleepless by Terri Clark

Check out what I just found on author Terri Clark's blog (Terri is the author of Sleepless):

As you know, my editor was recently let go...boohoo. And, unfortunately, my lovely new editor just told me that a sequel for Sleepless doesn't look to be in the cards right now. I'm bummed, but trying to remain positive. I know Trinity has more stories to tell and I believe you guys want to hear them.

That being said, I think they might change their minds if sales of Sleepless continue to be good, so won't you please help me spread the word? Tell everyone you know (friends, fam, teachers, librarians, etc.) about Sleepless and why they should buy it. :)

I'm a strong believer in the power of postive thinking. So, help me put that energy out into the world. I know some of you like the P.J. cover and others think it's not edgy enough. If you were to design the sequel's cover, what would it look like? Leave your ideas in the comment section.
And here's a bit about the proposed sequel:

* It's called Awakened.
* Trinity, Coral and Dan all head off to the University of Miami.
* A stalker terrorizes a sorority on campus and Trinity is trying to get to the bottom of it with her dream powers.
* A new guy who has more in common with Trinity than she ever imagined might complicate things between her and Dan.

That's tough, Terri!

So, because of this new development, I'm making Sleepless a B2B! I liked Sleepless a lot--don't be fooled by the flirty and demure cover! Terri had me on the edge of my seat and a bit apphrehensive about going to bed for more than one night. Check out my review for more info about this awesome book.

If you happen to buy a copy of Sleepless (it's only $5.99!), I'll give you TWO entries towards winning the signed copy of Kimberly Pauley's Sucks to be Me!

Just send me a picture of the book with the receipt (or froward a confirmation email of online orders) to theocmpulsivereader@gmail.com with B2B in the subject heading!

Thanks for helping out, everyone! This is really important!

Also, click here for more opportunities to win.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fun Friday: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

I have an extra ARC of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott up for grabs this week. Just comment below with your name and email address! Contest ends Monday!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Breathing Trailer

For those of you lusting after Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman, check out this trailer I made, and please give me feedback seeing as I'm still relatively new at this.

What do you think? Did you like the music?

Also, please feel free to embed on your blog/Facebook/MySpace! Spread the word!

Mackenzie, Lost and Found by Deborah Kerbel

Fourteen-year-old Mackenzie is horrified to learn that her father has decided to move from their Canadian hometown to Jerusalem for a year. Despite her father's insistence that the move will be good for them, and that they both could use a change of scenery to help them heal after the death of Mackenzie's mother, Mackenzie is certain that this decision is a bad one, and that she'll be miserable. But once she's there, she can't help be overwhelmed and amazed at the diversity and culture in Jerusalem. Then she makes a new friend, and slowly falls for Nasir...

Deborah Kerbel creates a very unique and thoughtful look at the collision of cultures in Mackenzie, Lost and Found. It's the mix of exotic experiences and everyday problems that make this novel an engaging one; Mackenzie's story is unconventional, but she is an average teen, and through her journey to Jerusalem, readers experience her coming-of-age as she is faced with each new difficulty, from the difficulty of a language barrier to something as universal as friendship troubles. Readers are challenged to think right along with Mackenzie in this sensitive, romantic, and intriguing read, and are sure to learn plenty along the way. Kerbel has created a unique, inviting, and thought provoking book that is sure grab teens looking for something different.

Cover Comments: I like this cover--it's simple yet striking. You don't often see such close-up shots of faces on covers (sometimes it seems like designers go out of their way to AVOID faces). I like how the contrasting skin colors are really played up in this cover--great job.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

Savannah's asthma rules her. She's never been able to fully control it, and her frequent hospitalizations oftentimes cost her mother her job. But this summer, Savannah is determined not to let it get in the way of her life. She meets Jackson, and despite her mother's strict rules concerning when they can spend time with each other, they quickly fall head over heels in love. With Jackson, Savannah finds that she can finally breathe. But then Jackson leaves, and Savannah is left on her own. She struggles to hold on to her dreams of going to college, maintain her relationship with Jackson, and hardest of all, to learn how to breathe on her own.

Breathing is a novel full of heart, humor, and plenty of romance. Cheryl Renee Herbsman writes in a unique and convincing style that brings each of her characters alive and makes them memorable. Her apt descriptions of the seaside town that Savannah lives in are vivid and tangible and add to the romantic air of the book. Herbsman also explores social and economic statuses in a sensitive and thoughtful manner, adding extra depth to Breathing that sets it apart from many other YA romance novels. The romance of the novel is steamy and heart pounding, but is also appropriate for younger teens, and depicts a relationship that is quite realistic. Herbsman also includes some interesting family dynamics; Savannah has a sometimes strained relationship with her mother, and she struggles to make her mother proud, and still have the life she wants. These elements combined make Breathing a beautiful, down-to-earth, and romantic read that will leave readers breathless.

Cover Comments: Oh my word, I just simply have to gush over this cover! The colors are so pretty and light--the blue of the ocean in the background is gorgeous! I like the scene of Savannah and Jackson in the tree--it's so unique and romantic. This is definitely one of the best covers I've seen in a while!
Breathing will be available April 16th, 2009 from Viking.

Some Recent Acquisitions

I've gotten a few books in the mailbox lately...like I need anymore books! (Though I'm certainly not complaining...

Which one should I read next?

Golden Girl by Micol Ostow
Pure by Tera Elan McVoy
A School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer
Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Friday, March 13, 2009

Taken by Storm Trailer

Check out this awesome trailer for Angela Morrison's debut novel, Taken by Storm. I think it captures the mood of the story PERFECTLY. I just love the music!

Also check out Angela's site, which has a really awesome playlist for the novel that is pretty cool, among other things.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March Book of the Month: The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor

March's Book of the Month is an unforgettable and emotional book called The September Sisters.

Becky and Abby seem to be each other's worst enemy. Exactly two years and one day apart, these sisters are always at each other's throats, allowing petty fights and sibling rivalry to rule them—until the day Becky disappears. She's gone without a single trace, and Abby is left to watch as her family and her life shatters. Her father becomes condescending and focused on the effort to find her, and her mother withdraws within herself, becoming a shell of a person. Abby slowly finds solace in Tommy, her new next door neighbor. They form a tentative friendship that somehow gets them both through the rough spots. But even Abby recognizes that it is nearly impossible to move on without knowing whatever happened to Becky.

The September Sisters is a beautifully penned and emotional book. Abby is a wonderfully expressive and bluntly honest character whose questioning voice is not one that is easily evaded. Her story, told over the span of two years after her sister disappears, is one that is wrought with tension and heartbreak, but also love and hope. The September Sisters is as much a coming of age story as it is one of survival and Abby struggles to stay afloat as her life crashes around her—going to school and receiving her first kiss while struggling with her disintegrating home life and her unanswered questions. Cantor is an extremely sensitive and yet savvy writer, and aptly describes each and every dynamic aspect of the girls' lives, give the book a haunting and persistently real quality. Though the ending of the novel seemed slightly rushed, the resolution is one that is quite believable and will give readers satisfaction. Cantor's impressive debut is a beautiful and heartfelt novel that will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, and should not be missed.

Jillian Cantor will be stopping by later this month to answer a few questions, and there will be a chance to win a copy of The September Sisters as well!

In the meantime, watch the trailer:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Born on either side of midnight on New Year's Eve, the Brynn twins are quite unconventional. They’re practically opposites—Meredith is a cheerleader and extremely outgoing, and Mallory is tomboyish and quiet—but they share a unique mental bond that allows them to hear each other's thoughts. On the night of their thirteenth birthday, a dangerous fire alters their link, and gives them new powers: now Merry can see into the past, and Mallory can see into the future. Still reeling from their fractured bond and confused by their new abilities, the twins will have to learn to work together with their abilities to fight a danger that is creeping closer and closer...

The Midnight Twins is an interesting and intriguing book with an engaging and rather unique premise that will grab readers. The main characters, Merry and Mallory, are thirteen years old, but their story will easily capture the interests of most teen readers. Though the beginning gets off on a little bit of a slow start, the book quickly speeds up, and poses many questions that will get readers thinking. Mitchard is a very meticulous writer whose attention to details is quite noticeable, and she creates a very comprehensive and believable world in The Midnight Twins. The psychic elements of the book aren't very heavy, and there is an even balance between "real life" and the supernatural, but the ending will leave readers even more curious than before about the girls’ psychic abilities and eager for the sequel, Look Both Ways.

Cover Comments: While I don't think that this is the most attractive cover I've seen, I like the parallelism with the pond. The covers are also very nice, and I think they help make the cover art pop.

Wintergirls Trailer

Check out this trailer for Laurie Halse Anderson's newest, Wintergirls.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

I've had this book for a while now, but I promised I wouldn't reveal my thoughts until today--a near impossible feat!

Mary's world is a sheltered one. Confined by the fence that keeps the Unconsecrated at bay, her community must live out their lives in hardship, looking to the Sisterhood for guidance, hoping that there never will be a breach of the fence, and praying that they will be able to survive each harsh winter. When Mary's mother is bitten by the Unconsecrated and consequently turned into one of them, Mary is forced to join the Sisterhood. Strict and controlling, they don't take kindly to Mary's questions and do their best to isolate her. But despite her treatment, Mary learns things; things the Sisterhood isn't telling the community. And when these secrets ultimately bring about destruction on the community, Mary and a small group of survivors will be forced to venture into The Forest of the Hands and Teeth, in hope of finding life amidst so much death and decay.

Carrie Ryan's debut novel is an intense and frightening account of survival, life, and love, and a powerful book that toys with what it means to live. Mary is a very deep thinking and sensitive character, and her musings and contemplations are unique and oftentimes thought provoking. Ryan's writing is very descriptive, and her world is vivid, scary, and very real. The idea of a secluded society is an interesting one, and the mood and lifestyles of the community are believable and intriguing. Ryan builds curiosity in the beginning half of the novel by hinting at the Sisterhood's secrets, but unfortunately, she doesn’t develop the idea as much as expected.

Ryan's action scenes are fewer than you might expect, but intense and suspenseful, and you can't help but feel strong sympathy for the courageous and resilient characters who brave all odds in the hopes of finding shelter. Mary proves to be a leader, even as she questions her abilities and her own motives, although her questioning nature does get a little old and cause the book to drag a little towards the middle. However, Ryan proves herself to be a bold writer in the end, giving a conclusion that will leave you gasping and clamoring for a sequel. This romantic and chilling novel is intensely gripping.

Cover comments: I love the colors used in this cover: the green-ish grays, and the darks, and the slash of dramatic-but-not-in-a-slasher-way red. I like the eerie-ness of it all, and the pose the girl is in...it's very intriguing. Overall, a very good cover.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is out today!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Swoon by Nina Malkin

I'm really torn when it comes to this book...Read ahead to see why.

The small town of Swoon, Connecticut is a far cry from New York City, where Dice grew up. But that's where her parents plop her, in a restored farmhouse across the street from her aunt and uncle, the summer before Dice’s senior year. The only way Dice factors into the (tiny) social scene in Swoon is Pen, her beautiful and popular cousin, who is the epitome of sweet and innocent. So when Pen begins to act strangely after a tumble out of an old oak tree, Dice is instantly suspicious. Something has taken control over her cousin, and it's not something good.

Dice soon learns that that something is the ghost of Sinclair Youngblood Powers, and he's out to exact vengeance on the people of Swoon. Concerned for Pen's safety, Dice attempts to perform an exorcism—and unwittingly sets his spirit loose. Now Sin is a living, breathing human guy, determined to wreak havoc on all of Swoon' prominent families. Dice knows she has to stop the madness, but there's just one problem—she's in love with him.

Swoon is an electrifying read. The premise is unique and very appealing to the teenage set, and Malkin's confident and full-of-attitude style is catchy and entertaining. Dice is a strong narrator, and her tolerance for Swoon will hit home with any teen who struggles with being "stuck" in a small town. Her self-assurance and smarts make the book easy to get into, and her inexplicable love for Sin makes her a genuine character that is easy to relate to.

Malkin's presentation of Swoon and the people who live there is very detailed and memorable, from information about the town's history to the teens' tendencies for one syllable names, even if it may be a little confusing at first keeping the large cast of characters straight. However, cautious readers should be warned that there are copious amounts of underage drinking, many scenes with drug use, and quite a few sexual scenes (though for the most part, they’re not very graphic). Most of this behavior is chalked up to "teenagers just being teenagers", and these elements go hand in hand with the "sin" that is ravaging the town (brought on by the character Sin). Malkin doesn't pass judgment on these acts, a gesture which some teens can appreciate. Though some readers may be bothered by these elements, they don't detract from the fact that Malkin is an amazingly talented writer with an absolutely stellar vocabulary, and Swoon is a very well thought-out and imaginative read with a lively and witty protagonist that will leave you laughing and breathless and a lead man that will make you swoon.

Cover Comments: I like the general idea of this cover, with the tree (the tree is very important in the book!), the dark colors, and the girl "swooning". The only thing I didn't care for (and this is not just me, a few friends remarked upon this as well) is that the girl's bangs and the amount of hair being shown just looks awkward. But other than that, I think this is a very eye-catching cover that will definitely urge readers to pick up the book.

Swoon will be available from Simon Pulse on May 19th, 2009!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Winners of February's Contests

Hi everyone,

I'm so sorry for being so behind schedule. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my good friend has been in the hospital this past week, and I've hardly had any free time. Hence this tardy announcement of all of the winners of February's contests.

Winner of the February Book of the Month Contest (a copy of The A List: Hollywood Royalty, In Too Deep, and Pants on Fire) is Teresa Warner!

Winner of February's B2B contest, a copy of Zoe Marriott's The Swan Kingdom, is Hillary Krajewski! (If you entered this contest, but didn't win, don't worry! You'll still be entered to win March's book!)

Winners of the copy of The Siege of Macindaw are Levi Vermeer, Staci Taylor, Kymberly Pelky, Kay Gehring, and Thea Groger!

And the winner of Zoe Marriott's inspirational playlist contest is Chantele! (Send me your address, Chantele!)

Thanks to everyone for participating, and be sure to check out the new Willow giveaway, the Mary Hogan giveaway, and keep your eyes peeled for the new B2B contest and the Book of the Month Contest!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mary Hogan Giveaway

Mary Hogan Giveaway!

Hey everyone, in celebration of the paperback release of Mary Hogan's Pretty Face, I have a really awesome contest for you: two winners will win a full signed and personalized set of Mary Hogan's novels, pictured above. They are:

Perfect Girl

Pretty Face

The Serious Kiss

The Susanna Series:

Susanna Sees Stars
Susanna Hits Hollywood
Susanne Covers the Catwalk (British edition, not out in the US)

To enter: All you have to do is email your name and address to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with MARY HOGAN CONTEST in the subject heading. I'll pick two winners at random on April 1st.

Good luck!

To learn more about Mary, click here!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Repost: Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

I'm reposting this review in honor of Taken by Storm's release! I just loved this book, and am so happy that it is now out for you all to enjoy!

Leesie is the good girl, everything that is expected from her by her parents and religion: kind, thoughtful, driven, and pious. She has a bright future ahead of her, and hopes to attend Brigham Young University. Michael will be lucky if he can just make it until next week with his sanity intact. He's tormented by Isadore, the hurricane that ripped his parents away from him and left him alone in the world, his only family his aging grandmother who lives far away from everything he knows.

At first, Michael is distant and out of reach. But Leesie can't deny her strange urge to reach out and help him. And slowly, Michael learns to trust Leesie. But even though physically, Isadore has run her course, she's still very much alive within Michael: can he and Leesie hold on long enough for Isadore to blow over?

Taken by Storm is a heartfelt and romantic novel told in alternating viewpoints through a unique mix of dive logs, poetry, and online chats, which is a very personal and fitting approach to such an emotional story. The setting of the novel is described beautifully and goes to great lengths at establishing the mood of the story: a bit dreary, mysterious, and overcast, but not without the potential for sunshine. Michael's grief is portrayed very realistically, and his honesty contributes to the authenticity of his character, making him lovable despite his many flaws.

Leesie is a unique character in the sense that she is very religious (a trait usually glossed over in most Young Adult novels) and very firm in her beliefs, but also quite vulnerable as well. Her endeavors to help Michael are admirable, and the roadblocks she encounters along the way realistic. The interactions between Michael and Leesie excite as often as they exasperate, creating a much more believable relationship between the two as they struggle to find common ground between their desires and beliefs. Unflinching, honest, and sometimes sorrowful, Taken by Storm is a novel that is not only romantic and entertaining, but thoughtful and moving.

Cover Comments: I love this cover. At first, I was a bit apprehensive and not sure if I liked it, but the font and the intimate photo really help establish the mood of the book, and the colors are just gorgeous. The small details on the front and the watermarked appearancereally make it personal and unique. It's a great pick!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Skeleton Creek Webcast

Live Webcast with Amber Larson – Monday March 9th at 4:30 PM (PST)!

Amber Larson plays Sarah Fincher in Skeleton Creek – watch the live webcast and ask questions via chat here:

Skeleton Creek on iTunes! Sarah Fincher's videos are now available on iTunes to download for your iPod or computer, just search for "Skeleton Creek" in the iTunes store. (This will be good for me, because then I can read the book on the go!)

Also, Skeleton Creek has gone mobile! You can now access sarahfincher.com from any iPhone, iPod Touch, or Windows Mobile device. Just go to sarahfincher.com on your device's browser and enjoy!


Are you a member of Sarah-land? It's an awesome new social network for fans of Sarah Dessen. You can join for free and get in on all the latest news and discussion. And the coolest part? Once a month, a winner will be drawn at random to receive a copy of Sarah's upcoming book, Along for the Ride. (I read an early copy, and let me tell you, it is great! So cute!)

So get yourself on over and get discussing!

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Dru Anderson and her father live an unconventional life; they travel across the continent, tracking and killing dangerous supernatural things. Thanks to her father, Dru is a physically strong, and due to her time spent with her superstitious grandmother, psychically strong as well.

At first, this new town in the Midwest is nothing new, and her father's unwillingness to allow Dru accompany him on his hunts familiar. But when he doesn't come home alive, Dru is forced to face reality. She's not as capable as she once thought, nor as smart. There are things about the night and the Real World that her father never revealed to her. And if she hopes to make it until morning, she'll have to draw upon everything her father and grandmother ever taught her and learn to trust.

Strange Angels is a fresh take on a popular subject in YA literature, showcasing a heroine that is strong, gutsy, and fallible. Fans of the TV show Supernatural will be happy to dig into this fearful bunch of creepy-crawlies, blood-suckers, werwulfen, hexes, and many other assorted paranormal creatures and enchantments. Each supernatural creature possesses its own unique characteristics within the novel which makes Strange Angels stand apart from the mundane. St. Crow's writing is solid and wonderfully descriptive, and she skillfully balances out the novel with action-filled scenes and memories from Dru's past, transforming her world into a tangible and comprehensive one. Though she has a tendency to repeat herself in suspenseful scenes, St. Crow does an admirable job creating and building fear and apprehension. Her characters are well-rounded, the setting vivid, and the action scenes suspenseful: the perfect makings for a stellar new series that will spellbind readers and leave them begging for more.

Strange Angels will be available from Razorbill May 14th, 2009.

Cover Comments: I like this cover art because it's very noticable and memorable--the glower the model is giving lets you know this is going to be a scary, action-y read, even if it doesn't depict what Dru looks like exactly. I also really like the font used for the title--it enforces the intense and edgy feel. Overall, kudos to Razorbill. This is a great cover!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Huge Giveaway for the Release of Willow by Julia Hoban!

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy —one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

Starts: March 1 (Pre-orders count of course!)Ends: April 30 (The book is released April 2)

To enter: One must buy the book (ARCs do not count of course) and send proof (receipt, picture of book, etc.) to Lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

Who: Everyone! This is an international contest.
Winner: There is one winner, and they will recieve the following if their name is drawn:

I'm giving away a copy of the classic Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier.

Khy is giving away Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?http://www.freneticreader.blogspot.com/

Kelsey is giving away B&N ten dollar gift card in a cute felt penguin “bag” and some bookmarks.http://justblindedbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Carrie will give Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashbyhttp://carriesyabookshelf.blogspot.com/

Kelsey is giving an ARC version of Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benwayhttp://readingkeepsyousane.blogspot.com/

Alea is giving away Sherlock Holmes Volume 1.http://aleapopculture.blogspot.com/

Kristi is giving a 10 dollar Amazon gift card.http://www.thestorysiren.com/

Harmony is making a soundtrack with songs she feels fit the book.http://harmonybookreviews.wordpress.com/

Lenore is giving 10 dollars to Amazonhttp://www.presentinglenore.blogspot.com/

Gabbi is giving Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillipshttp://fivestarreading.blogspot.com/

Lauren will give the winner a book of their choice (has to be paperback!)http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com/

Chelsea is giving a $10 card to Amazonhttp://www.thepageflipper.blogspot.com/

My Favorite Author is giving Kisses and Lies by Lauren Hendersonhttp://www.myfavoriteauthor.blogspot.com/

Vanessa is giving Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevinhttp://whatvanessareads.wordpress.com/

Shalonda is giving away Sherlock Holmes Volume 2.http://www.shalondasblog.blogspot.com/

Carol is giving an ARC of Because I Am Furniture. http://www.bookluver-carol.blogspot.com/

Lauren is giving a 15 dollar gift card to B&Nhttp://www.laurenscrammedbookshelf.blogspot.com/

Laura is giving a 10 dollar Borders gift card and the book Flygirls.http://laurasreviewbookshelf.blogspot.com/

Sarah is giving The Adoration of Jenna Foxhttp://sarahbear9789.blogspot.com/

Alyssa is giving Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.http://theshadyglade.blogspot.com/

Good luck!

Something Happened by Greg Logsted

Billy Romero is trying to get over the sudden death of his father when he starts eighth grade. He’s been feeling pretty alone: his mom, a real estate agent, is hardly ever home, and when she is, she's connected to her cell phone, and his friends seemed to have moved on without him. So when his English teacher, Tess Gates, starts paying him special attention (helping him with his writing, giving him rides and driving lessons), he can't help but feel a bit happy by her interest in him, and curious as to what it means. Is Tess reaching out to him because she lost a father as well, or is there something more between them?

Something Happened is surprisingly (and even frighteningly) realistic and believable. Throughout the novel, Billy's uncertainties, insecurities, and fears are emphasized to demonstrate his innocence in this teacher-student relationship, and his letters to his deceased father, scattered throughout the book, elicit sympathy and understanding for Billy, and the appropriate amount of dislike for Tess Gates. Logsted highlights how thin the line is between the student-teacher relationship and something more in a sensitive and straightforward manner, and draws the plot out at just the perfect pace to get arouse curiosity, which propels the reader through the book. Something Happened is detailed without being graphic or inappropriate, thought provoking, and an ideal book that illustrates the danger and delicacy of such situations.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March B2B: Buy Books and Win a Signed Copy of Sucks to Be Me!

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for buying and for participating in the B2B contests! It's been a success so far, and you guys all rock for purchasing so many books!

This month, I'm giving away a signed harcdcover copy of Sucks to be Me: The All True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberley Pauley. Anyone who bought last month's books is eligible too (click here to see the list)! I have kept your entries, and they will be counted.

This weekend brings you a chance to get three entries:

HarperTeen has come out with a great series of anthologies written by some of the best YA paranormal authors around. The first one is Prom Dates From Hell, and features authors Stephenie Meyer, Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michelle Jaffe, and Lauren Myracle. The second is Love is Hell, which just came out this past November, and has stories from Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Melissa Marr, Gabrielle Zevin, and Laurie Faria Stolararz. In late May, Vacations from Hell will be hitting shelves, comprised of stories written by Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Claudia Gray, Sarah Mlynowski, and Cassandra Clare.

But the coolest thing about these books? Every time you buy one, HarperTeen donates a portion of the proceeds to charity! When you buy Prom Dates from Hell, you'll be giving money to First Book, and College Summit benefits whenever you buy Love is Hell. I'm not sure who will be benefitting from the sale of Vacations from Hell, but either way, it's sure to be a great read that will make you feel good about yourself for buying.

PLUS: All three books are available in either hardcover or paperback. If you buy the harcover edition, I'll give you two entries!

Just send all pictures of last month's or this month's books to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with B2B in the subject heading. Remember, you don't have to be in the picture, but your book and receipt does (order confirmation emails from online stores count too!). The contest ends on March 31st! Good luck!

This month's qualifying books:
Prom Dates From Hell
Love is Hell
Vacations from Hell
Sleepless by Terri Clark

Love is Hell by Various Authors

From determined ghosts to otherworldly love interests, Love is Hell contains a selection of romantic, chilling, and gripping short stories from some of the best Young Adult paranormal writers.

The stories are just as varied and diverse as the collection of writers; Laurie Faria Stolarz relates to readers a modern tale of a haunting while Scott Westerfeld offers readers a glimpse into a futuristic "perfect world" and two teens that unwittingly learn a thing or two about perfection. Justine Larbalestier's story is centered on a complicated relationship that struggles to defy all odds, and Gabrielle Zevin's story is a complex mix of reality and fantasy that cleverly twists readers' minds. Melissa Marr wraps the anthology up with her seaside tale of trust, patience, and love.

Dreamy, suspenseful, (sometimes) heartbreaking, and even satirical at times, Love is Hell is full of fun, quick reads that will engage any paranormal fan.
I just love this little collection of books that HarperTeen is putting out--they're quite fun. The first one was Prom Nights from Hell (STEAL ALERT: this one is available on Amazon for on $4!), which was quite good, and features stories from Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Stephenie Meyer, Michele Jaffe, and Lauren Myracle. And in May the latest book in the "series", Vacations from Hell, will hit stores, brought to you by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Libba Bray, Claudia Gray, and Sarah Mlynowski. I can't wait!