The Compulsive Reader: April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Nick Ryves is used to running. Ever since he was young, his family has been on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the deadly Magician's Circle that is bent on retrieving the talisman Nick's mother stole from them. Nick has always relied on his older brother Alan to make the right choices and protect them, but when it becomes evident that Alan may be keeping secrets from him, Nick is set on a path that will lead him to the startling truth about his family and himself.

Quite imaginative and unique, The Demon's Lexicon is a nice departure from the norm of YA supernatural fiction. Brennan tells the story in Nick's point of view, highlighting his struggle to trust others and control his emotions, which is an interesting complication. The book moves rapidly, and some readers may find Brennan's brisk style a little hard to make sense of in the very beginning, but it doesn't take long before the story evens out and clicks into place. The paranormal world and the way magic works in The Demon's Lexicon is unique in the sense that any and all magicians are corrupt, and Alan, Nick, and their friends can only protect themselves using magical objects and their own wits, creating a stirring and intriguing mystery with a startling twist that will ensure Brennan's status as a talented new voice in YA lit.

Cover Comments: Agh, I really don't care for this cover! I think the guy is fine (as in, he's appropriate for the cover!), and I like the font of the title, but the yellow-ish/orange-ish/red-ish glow just makes it adapt a very unprofessional feel, and I don't care for the lightening and the bats in the background. To me, it comes across as a cheap Halloween poster. I apologize if I've offended anyone who disagrees, that's just my opinion! I hope it doesn't deter anyone from picking it up!

Beautiful Creatures

Hey everyone,

So have you heard of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl yet? If not, definitely check it out!

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.

We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that's what I thought.

Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.

There was a curse.

There was a girl.

And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

This book doesn't come out until December 1st (such a long ways away!), but to count down the days I made this:


Beautiful Creatures

Another sidebar:

Beautiful Creatures

Feel free to nab them and display them on your own blogs!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa's Grace (a special ability she possesses that is indicated by the dual color of her eyes) rules her entire life. She is Graced with the ability to kill, and is forced to be her corrupt uncle's assassin. Discontent with her life and her actions, she begins the Council, whose mission is to aid and protect citizens from their power hungry and sometimes ruthless leaders. It is while she is on a mission for the Council that Katsa rescues Prince Tealiff, the elderly father of the Lienid king, who has been kidnapped by an unknown enemy. When his grandson Po comes looking for him, Katsa and Po begin a tentative friendship in order to discover who would kidnap a harmless old man, and together discover an insidious plot that would drastically affect the entire land.

Kristin Cashore has created quite a vivid and unique world in Graceling. The concept of Graces is quite fascinating, and is the most enticing aspect of the book. Though Katsa is a strong, interesting, and likable character, it may be hard for readers to really get invested in the book until after 100 or more pages.
But around the middle of Graceling, the pace picks up as Katsa finds her independence and her relationship with Po intensifies. Readers will get swept up in the action as Katsa and Po must confront the source of their troubles against nearly insurmountable odds and race against time. Graceling finishes off with a scene that doesn't quite live up to its dramatic build-up, but is satisfying nonetheless. Cashore doesn't quite give her characters the happily-ever-after ending that readers will be wishing for, but rather a realistic and believable resolution that stays consistent with the characters' personalities. Graceling is a dramatic and thrilling read that is abundant with action, political intrigue, and romance that will leave some readers dreaming long after the last page.

Cover Comments: While this isn't the most striking cover I've seen, I do like the colors used, and I love the font used for the title. The weathered look is very cool, and goes with the fantasy genre. It isn't overdone either, which makes the cover look polished, but not too cookie-cutter. I like it a lot.

Winners of Being Nikki Countdown Giveaway

All winners of the Being Nikki Giveaway will be posted here so that I don't have to go chasing everyone to let them know they won. I've picked all winners using random.org's Integer Generator. I ask that all winners email me ASAP with their address!

Day 1: Tami Klockau won a copy of Pants on Fire!
Day 2: Diana Dang won a copy of Avalon High Coronation, Volume II: Homecoming!
Day 3: Ashley P. won a copy of Airhead!
Day 4: Sami B. won a copy of Pants on Fire!
Day 5: Andrew C. won a copy Being Nikki!
Day 6: Gayle won a copy of How to be Popular!
Day 7: Ally won a copy of The New Girl, an Allie Finkle book!
Day 9: dissecting perfection won a copy of Avalon High Coronation, Volume II: Homecoming!
Day 10: Angelina won a copy of Being Nikki!
Day 11: Erin C. won a copy of Airhead!
Day 12: Sharon H. won a copy of Avalon High Coronation, Volume II: Homecoming!

Thanks, everyone!

Bad Girls Don't Die Trailer

I'm taking a short break from the STUDYING MADNESS that is going on at my end to share a trailer with you--this is for Katie Alendar's Bad Girls Don't Die. This has got to be one of the best done trailers I've seen!

Now back to answering your entries for the Meg Cabot giveaway (ARCs of Being Nikki, anyone?) and translations!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Being Nikki Countdown Giveaway

Hey everyone,

Are you all getting excited about the release of Being Nikki, the sequel to Airhead? Having read an early copy, I have to admit--it's pretty fantastic, and I think you all will love it!
In order to ease the suffering of the long wait (12 more days now!), I'll be giving a signed Meg Cabot book away every day from now until Being Nikki's release! And just to spice things up a bit, I'll throw in two ARCs of Being Nikki as well!

How to enter: It's easy--every comment I get from now until May 5th will enter your name into the drawing to win. Only one comment per post will be counted though. Also, you can only win one book.

Prizes: I'll be giving away one book a day, and I'll be announcing winners on this site daily, so be sure to check back to see whether or not you've won! I have two ARCs of Being Nikki, signed copies of Airhead, a few mangas, an Allie Finkle book, and some copies of How to be Popular and Pants on Fire...

So let the fun and the countdown begin!
Good luck, everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Lia Milthorpe has always had a quiet, predictable, and happy life. But when her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her, her twin sister Alice, and her younger brother Henry orphans, strange things begin to occur. A peculiar mark appears on Lia’s wrist, and Alice begins acting secretive. Lia's dreams become scarily real and threatening. It's not long before she discovers that she and Alice are a part of a dark prophecy that will firmly plant each sister on opposing sides and challenge every bit of loyalty, strength, and courage that Lia possesses in order to bring an end to the prophecy—before her sister can wreak havoc on the world.

From the very beginning of Prophecy of the Sisters, Lia is a convincing character; her hesitance to bring the strange circumstances that affect her to light and her motivations are true. Michelle Zink writes with startling clarity and vivid descriptions that establish a dark, mysterious, and brooding air that rivals that of the classics Rebecca and Jane Eyre. Her keen eye for detail and talent for revealing multitudes of aspects of the book without seeming didactic builds steady suspense throughout the entirety of the novel.

Lia's relationship with Alice is very fascinating, especially since many readers of the Young Adult genre are so accustomed to twin characters who are extremely close (as in Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Midnight Twins or Marissa Doyle's The Bewitching Season). It is complex and intriguing relationship, made even more so by the fact that Lia openly admits that she and Alice aren't especially close, but still she struggles with the idea that Alice may be evil and intent on doing her harm. It is the idea of one of nature's closest entities—twins—pitted against each other that really draw the readers in.

Another interesting aspect of Prophecy of the Sisters is Lia's romance with James, which is a real nice touch that adds a little light-heartedness to the story. At the same time, it would have been nice to know a little more about the beginning of their courtship, and it does seem that once Lia decides that if James knows the truth about her, he'll be in unnecessary danger, he does stay out of the picture, only to pop up once again towards the end. It will be interesting to discover his role in future books.
All in all, Zink has created an intense and riveting work brimming with myths, knowledge, and plenty of chills. Her characters are charming and strong, her otherworldly realms dangerous and eerie, and her plot entirely engrossing. Prophecy of the Sisters is overwhelmingly enthralling and engaging, with much of the same appeal as Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty. Readers shall rejoice at the debut of a stellar new voice with a very persuasive and unique point of view.

Cover Comments: I love this cover. I love the colors, and the statues and the eerie air that they exude--it sets the mood for the book perfectly. I think that this is the perfect cover for this book.

Speaking of setting the mood of the book, check out Michelle's son's MySpace, where you can find the Prophecy fo the Sisters score! It's really quite excellent!

Prophecy of the Sisters comes out in August!

Anne Osterlund Banner

Hey all,

I apologize for being a bit sporadic as of late when it comes to posting! There are two weeks left of serious classes though, so I'm hanging in until then!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share this banner that I made for Anne Osterlund's books. Anne is the wonderfully talented and sweet author of Aurelia and Academy 7 (which some have been saying will really appeal to teen fans of Star Wars!). You can see the whole banner at the bottom of this page.

Anne, whose books are published by Speak, an imprint of PenguinUSA, has been having a little trouble getting the word out on her books, so if there are any bloggers out there who would like to help her out, please post this banner! Go ahead and take the banner code below and insert it anywhere!

Thanks so much, everyone!

Anne Osterlund

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April Book of the Month: Reccomendations from Julia Hoban

Julia Hoban (author of the April Book of the Month, WILLOW) and I have been talking since last fall, and somewhere amid the flurry of emails we've volleyed back and forth, the idea arose of composing a list of essential novels every young woman should read. Now, I know some of you are guys (sorry, guys!), but the bulk of you are teen girls, and I think Julia's list of essential novels were certainly appeal to you (and even a few adults out there!). Here it is:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: As lovers of YA literature, you must, you really must read “Catcher”. Few books have this kind of verbal energy and rhythm, fewer still such an extraordinary voice or such brilliant dialogue. Holden Caulfield’s vulnerability and isolation make him an extraordinarily sympathetic character. We’ve all felt this alone at one time or another. Probably the most famous YA of all time and deservedly so.

Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy: Every woman should read this book. The sheer beauty of the language alone is more than enough reason, but beyond that Hardy’s sympathy for his doomed heroine is heartbreaking. If for some reason Tess doesn’t speak to you. Put it down! Don’t spoil it for yourself! Pick it up another time, I guarantee that at some point you will fall in love with this book.

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. I’m quite sure that many of you have encountered this in English class, but for those of you that haven’t.... Fitzgerald is possibly the greatest American stylist, and Gatsby is possibly his greatest creation. A tragic story of the American dream gone wrong.

Sherlock Holmes vols One and Two by Arthur Conan Doyle: All right, you’re having a bad day. You have a paper due first thing in the morning, and a calculus exam an hour after that. Time for a little procrastination! There’s nothing more you would rather do than get lost in a good book, you need an absolutely guaranteed great read, but something you can put down after an hour or so.... Nothing fits the bill like a Sherlock Holmes story! Go ahead: The Second Stain, The Adventure of The Dying Detective, The Bruce Partington Plans. Aaahh! You’re ready for work now! There’s a reason why these are the most beloved detective stories of all time. Sherlock and Watson form one of the most satisfying partnerships in literature. Sherlock himself is such a powerful and charismatic character that when Conan Doyle tried to kill him off and end the series, Londoners wore black arm bands in protest.

You’re Amazing: A No Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self by Clare Mysko and The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything by Melissa Kirsch. Two terrific books that cover everything, from how to write the perfect thank you note, to safe sex. The first one is geared towards younger women, while the second deals with issues that are more likely to crop up in your twenties and beyond (car loans anyone?) Both of them are must reads that will provide answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. I myself have the Girl’s Guide on my night table and dip into it regularly.

Horton Hatches the Egg and Oh! The Places You’ll Go! Dr. Suess for high school and beyond? Absolutely! When you’re feeling hopeless there’s only one thing to do: get under the covers, put a do not disturb sign on the door, and bring these out. I defy anyone not to be moved and inspired by the faithful Horton or the wisdom in “The Places You’ll Go.” Absolutely guaranteed to get you back on track when you don’t know how to cope

The Railway Children by Evelyn Nesbit. This is a middle grade novel that is suitable for any person of any age at any time. It is one of my favorite books and one that I must have read at least twenty times. Although I’m guessing that many of you won’t have heard of Nesbit, she’s a giant in the field of juvenile literature, and both Neil Gaiman and J. K. Rowling acknowledge their debt to her. This is a story of three children whose lives are drastically altered when their father is taken from them and when they are uprooted from their home. Not to worry, good triumphs in the end, and there are plenty of adventures along the way. I think the following anecdote best sums up the power of this book: I was recently in one of my favorite bookstores, an independent that exclusively carries adult mysteries. I was surprised to see a stack of “The Railway Children,” and asked the owner what they were doing there. She smiled and said “Julia, you can hardly own a bookstore without stocking “The Railway Children!”

I could go on, and on, and on.... There are plenty more to list, but I’m afraid that I can’t as right now I have an appointment with Mr. Sherlock Holmes!

Thanks so much, Julia!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Author Interview: Terra Elan McVoy

Terra Elan McVoy is a debut author who lives in Atlanta, Georgia and manages an independent children's books store (yay, Terra! We love indies!). I loved her first book Pure, which came out just this month. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions.

What prompted you to write Pure?

While I was working at Scholastic, I was in this really great book group that read a lot of YA. Even though each book was terrific, I always came away from it feeling like the life of a plain-old, regular high schooler wasn’t really represented. I also wanted to write something that addressed how tough it is trying to define your own morality when you’re a teenager, let alone stick to it. When I read an article about purity rings, it all came together!

Have you ever worn a purity ring yourself?

I wore a lot of crosses, but no purity ring I’m afraid!

Do you think that purity rings are a good reminder for teen girls about their faith, or that they cause unneeded problems, like they did with Tabitha and her friends?

Since purity rings weren’t around when I was a teenager, I’m still formulating my own opinions about them now, actually. But I do think –as I hope the book points out—that all the decisions we make can be complicated ones, even if at the time they seem very simple.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Pure?

I hope, if nothing else, that people who read Pure end up with a lot to talk about. I hope that maybe it generates for readers some reflection about their beliefs and where those come from. I also hope Pure can be a reminder that no matter what someone else believes, it’s just as complex and important to them as your own beliefs are to you.

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

I will say that I am not planning a sequel to Pure. I want that to be a self-contained story. My new book will be something completely different.

What were a few of your favorite books as a teen?

A lot of my favorite books now became my favorites then, thanks to some outstanding English teachers. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren is my all-time #1 favorite book, and I read that my senior year. I also loved Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, of course, and was really swept up by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

How have your teenage years influenced your writing?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but I really got encouraged and supported when I was in high school to grow and stretch myself. Definitely the help I got there pushed me in the directions I took for college and graduate school, where I really honed my skill.


Thanks so much, Terra!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Sample of Susane Colasanti

Hey everyone.

You know how I love, love, love Susane Colasanti? Well, if you would like to experience a sample of her amazing work for FREE, look no further:

Susane Colasanti Sampler
Susane Colasanti Sampler PenguinYoungReaders

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An Interview and a Trailer

Deborah Kerbel, aithour of Mackenzie, Lost and Found, was so kind and gracious as to take a moment and answer a few questions I had for her. Check it out:

Where did the inspiration for Mackenzie, Lost and Found stem from?

Well, I’m always looking for new book ideas. If you keep your eyes open, there are stories all around you waiting to be told.

The inspiration for Mackenzie, Lost and Found happened one day over lunch in a north Toronto restaurant. A good friend of mine lit the spark of the idea in my head talking about how her parents moved her from Canada to Israel when she was fifteen and how the experience changed her life. I was on the look-out for a new book idea at the time and this concept seemed like one with HUGE potential for drama, high emotion, and forbidden love. I went home and wrote the first chapter that same day.

Have you ever been to Jerusalem If yes, was your experience and reaction similar to Mackenzie's? What is hard to write about the setting and culture?

Yes, I visited Jerusalem (and Tel Aviv, and Tiberias) while I was in the editing stage of my book. And I did feel like Mackenzie in many ways – thrilled, overwhelmed, nervous and disoriented all at once (and I was only there for eight days compared to Mackenzie’s full year).

For example, before I got to Jerusalem, I thought the soldiers would freak me out. They’re everywhere! And many of them are so young – fresh out of high school. Just like Mack, I’d never seen a real gun before. But after I’d been there for a couple of days, I found that the presence of the soldiers was actually reassuring…not frightening at all. And by the end of my trip, I came to love Israel – just like Mackenzie.

What kind of research went into writing Mackenzie, Lost and Found?

My friend Simone (the one who moved to Israel as a teenager) was my main source of information. She was SO helpful! We went through her photo albums and I grilled her for details – from everything to the feel of the air in Tel Aviv, to sneaking into the hotel pools, to the smell of the markets in the souk. She was a fabulous resource for me.

I also bought a couple of Israel travel guide books, which gave me a good sense of the land and the layout of things. And then I was able to fill in whatever gaps remained in my research with the internet. There’s so much information out there if you know where to look.

What are you writing now/what are you publishing next?

Well, if you’re the Compulsive Reader, then I must be the Compulsive Writer because I’ve got so much on the go that it’s hard for me to keep track! LOL!

My next YA is called Girl on the Other Side and it’s about two girls who go to the same school, but live in totally opposite worlds. Tabby is rich, pretty and the most popular girl in her class. Lora is smart, timid and the constant target of bullies. Although they’ve never been friends, a series of strange events causes their lives to come crashing together in ways neither could have ever imagined.

If all goes well, Girl on the Other Side will be hitting the bookshelves in winter, 2009 (yay!).

I just finished the final draft of another YA that is worlds apart from anything else I’ve ever written before. It’s called Bye-Bye, Evil Eye and -- I don’t even know the right way to describe it – it’s kind of a paranomal-ish mystery, comedy, romance about the Evil Eye! LOL - did that make any sense? You can read the first chapter of Bye-Bye, Evil Eye on my website.

And right now I’m starting to plot out the sequel to Mackenzie, Lost and Found. All I can say is that it’s going to take place three years after the first one when Mackenzie returns to Israel for college.

I’ve also written a couple of picture books that I’m shopping around. Both my kids are at the picture book age and so my writer’s brain is being fed a daily diet of dinosaur and princess books – so I knew I just had to write some of my own!

Where is your favorite spot to write?

In my dreams, my favorite place to write would be a warm, quiet, shady spot under a swaying palm tree. In reality, anywhere quiet where my children can’t jump over me does just fine.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels knocked my socks off when I read it fifteen years ago. And the author’s follow-up novel is finally coming out this year. Can’t wait!
I recently read The Book of Negroes (Somebody Knows My Name) by Lawrence Hill and its stunning! The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was un-put-down-able! And The Girls, by Lori Lansens was brilliant!
Recent YA reads that I’ve loved come from two other Canadian authors (yay, go Canucks!) Cracked up to Be, by Courtney Summers and I Know it’s Over, by C. K. Kelly Martin. As far as classic books, Watership Down is one of my all time favorites as is Wuthering Heights (sigh) and The Hobbit.

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

Yeah…how about this: “So, Deborah – where can people go to learn more about you and your books?”

Wow, great question! Here’s the answer: http://www.deborahkerbel.com/

And thanks Compulsive Reader! You are awesome!

Thanks so much, Deborah! And you can check out my review of Mackenzie, Lost and Found here, or you can watch the trailer below!

Once again, any feedback would be welcome! (I know it ends a little abruptly--blame it on YouTube! I uploaded it 5 times, and it still won't fade off nicely like the original file does!)

Also, to any author willing to let me hone my my movie-making skills by using their books, I think I'm going to start accepting some requests for book trailers. You can check out my YouTube channel here for all of my work, or email me at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com if you'd like more information.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Heartbreak River by Tricia Mills

Alex has lived in Golden Bend all of her life and her family has owned Cooley Mountain Whitewater Rafting Company for decades. Before last summer, Alex never imagined leaving. But then tragedy struck, and she lost her father, her first love Sean, and her love for the river.

Now, nearly a year later, it is summer time and Sean is back, stirring up all kinds of emotions Alex would rather not face. Because despite the brave front she puts up, she still refuses to venture in the river, and is far from over her father's death. But long suppressed feelings and thoughts have a way of getting out eventually...

Tricia Mills has crafted a complex and vivid story of love, grief, and the slow process of healing, set in the beautiful, wild, and dangerous country of rural Colorado. Mills' characters are authentic, varied, and fallible in their own unique ways, but each of them contributes a realistic and personable undercurrent to the novel. Mills handles the subjects of grief and death in a very levelheaded yet sensitive manner, and her insights as to how Alex reacts to the way she does to her father's death are keen. However, Heartbreak River is not without its happy moments: lighthearted and witty exchanges between the six friends occur frequently, and there is plenty of romance and boy trouble. But Mills balances the moments of grief and the moments of happiness, efficiently reminding readers of the heartaches and joys of life, and the importance of never giving up on living, making for a stellar, quick, and emotional first novel.

Cover Comments: Look, another cover with heads in them! I'm beginning to think that there aren't as many headless covers as we though. I like the intensity of this cover image, the way the two people are almost kissing, and the way the girl's heair is windblown. I think it captures the urgency and the emotion of the book very well. Kudos to Razorbill for a very awesome cover!

Heartbreak River will be released from Razorbill next week, on April 16th!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

In the sequel to The Summoning, Chloe Saunders finds herself betrayed, and back in the hands of the Edison Group. There she discovers the truth: she's part of an experiment, her genes modified in an attempt to suppress her supernatural powers. But when she manages to get away—with the help of an unlikely ally—and join Simon and Derek again, she finds that the Edison Group is relentless and ruthless, and keeping away from them will be harder than they originally thought. In the meantime, Chloe learns that controlling her powers is a lot harder than she imagined, and there’s too much she doesn’t know…

The Awakening is even more riveting and full of nonstop action than its prequel. Armstrong offers an unflinching and oftentimes grim look at what life on the streets is like for teens, with the added appeal of a perfectly sinister and powerful enemy and the suspense of unknown supernatural powers. Armstrong’s teen characters are smart and resourceful, and each obstacle thrown their way requires them to use every bit of caution, wits, and intelligence they possess. Armstrong focuses a little more on the technical aspects of the teens' powers and abilities as Derek and Chloe especially explore their capabilities and restraints. Their difficulties and the tension that they face help them grow as characters and make them more appealing characters to the reader. This dark, gripping, and highly suspenseful read will have readers chomping at the bit for a sequel.

Cover Comments: This cover is very similar to The Summoning's. I like how they kept the same style--I think it's very appealing--but I don't like how very similar they are. It's easy to get the two confused. Nonetheless, it's a very pretty and enticing cover.

The Awakening will be released from HarperTeen on April 28th, 2009.

April B2B

Hey all,

Thanks for buying these past three months--you guys are awesome! I was impressed at the number of entries!

This month's prize is a hardcover copy of Justine Larbelestier's latest, How to Ditch Your Fairy, a cute and clever read set on a very unique world.

How to Win: Just purchase either last month's books, or any of April's books. Each B2B is announced every weekend, and for each one that you buy, you get an entry. Just take a picture of the book and recepit and send it to me, or forward online confirmation emails. Put B2B in the subject heading and send all entries to mailto:thecompulsivereader@gmail.com.The contest ends April 31st, and I'll email the winner on or around May1st.

This weekend's book is The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. Click here for a review. The Summoning is a New York Times Bestseller, and its high anticipated sequel, The Awakening, comes out later this month. The Summoning just came out in paperback, at the very affordable price of $8.99--so go and get it so you'll know why everyone is talking about this series--it's fantastic!

Good luck, everyone!

The Book Thief Trailer

I was browsing YouTube earlier and came across this EXCELLENT book trailer for Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Check it out:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

When sensible Chloe Saunders wakes up one morning from a nightmare and begins seeing ghosts, everyone believes she's gone insane. The official diagnosis is schizophrenia, and she's placed in Lyle House, a group home for other troubled teens. At first, Chloe thinks her condition is just a blip in her otherwise standard life, and the other teens are weird. She strives to get better as soon as possible. But her ghosts keep coming back. And fellow patients Derek and Simon seem intent on convincing Chloe what she is seeing is real. It isn't long before Chloe discovers that maybe she isn't schizophrenic, and Lyle House is harboring some dark, dangerous secrets.

The Summoning is an extremely well-written, engaging, and intriguing read. It's heartening to see a novel as practical and yet brimming with thrilling supernatural elements as Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning, and its Armstrong’s unique setting that makes this novel stand out. Chloe is a very realistic and authentic narrator, and her struggles with the truth are relatable are sure to elicit sympathy from the reader. Armstrong keeps a nice, even balance between the paranormal drama and the politics of the new world that Chloe and her friends are thrust into, resulting in a suspenseful read that poses many unshakable questions that easily propel the reader through the novel. Gritty and full of action, betrayals, and plenty of chills, The Summoning is a read that is smart, unique, and completely entertaining.

Cover Comments: I do like this novel's cover. Even though many have spearheaded an anti-headless model movement, I think this is a very well-done one that will appeal to those who usually shun headless covers. It's a bit glamorous and mysterious, which will certainly reel readers in.

Great news--this one just came out in paperback! I highly reccomend that you run out and pick up a copy!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Death by Denim by Linda Gerber

Aphra and her mother are on the run. Unsure of who to trust and unable to go home, they hide in France, biding their time until the can catch The Mole, the man responsible for the turmoil in their lives. When their cover is blown, they flee to Paris, where Aphra's mom has a contact. But when that contact turns up dead, bound and gagged with denim, it's clear that The Mole may closer than originally thought. And when Aphra heads to Italy to save Seth Mulo, she inadvertently leads him right into The Mole's trap...

Death by Denim, the third book in Linda Gerber's fun, action-packed, and suspenseful series, is just as riveting as its prequels. Gerber's style is not only modern and down to earth, but cunning and intelligent as well. Fans of the series will be happy to see that Death by Denim focuses on the shifting alliances and the reluctant trust that the characters must put in each other in order to finally track down their nemesis, and get out alive, and provides an answer to a few questions. Aphra is an engaging and lively narrator whose bravery and smarts readers will admire. Equal parts action, romance, and mystery, Death by Denim is a fun-filled and engrossing read that will appeal to fans of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. And once again, Gerber leaves readers hanging, with the suggestion of perhaps another sequel...

Cover Comments: I just love the fun colors and the big cartoon-like graphics on this cover. It really captures the series' sense of fun, but the skulls hint at the more serious aspects of the book as well. It's definitely an attention grabber! (And rumor has it that the actual covers have cut-outs! So fun!)

Death by Denim will be available May 14th, 2009!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Book of the Month: Willow by Julia Hoban

Hey everyone,

Well, is it any surprise that with all the hype Willow has been getting that it's April's Book of the Month?

When Julia Hoban approached me last year to inquire as to whether or not I would read her book, I was struck by her kindness, thoughtfulness, and the amount of knowledge she possesses. When I finally read Willow, I was blown away:

Willow has been living in a fog for seven months. She performs basic functions--eating communicating, and going to school, but inside she's struggling to deal with a torrent of guilt and pain brought on by the events of a rainy night seven months previously when her parents died in the car she was driving after Willow had lost control of the vehicle.

Isolated and lonely, Willow has turned to her only outlet for her grief--cutting. She manages to keep her growing obsession with the razor blade a secret from everyone--until one day easygoing and hardworking Guy discovers her secret. Rather than look the other way, he becomes determined to help Willow, even though her attitude to him is far from warm. But as time goes by, Willow finds the perhaps a friend is what she needs, and slowly Guy draws her out of her shell. But is Willow strong enough to let go of her only release for her pain, and discover new ways of living?

Willow is a striking and mesmerizing read. What stands out the most is the fact that Hoban focuses just as much on the developing emotions of her characters rather than making the act of cutting the only forefront issue, which gives the book a very sincere and captivating quality. Willow is an intelligent and sensitive character who, though some people may not be able to empathize with on some levels, is a very natural and dynamic character that readers can identify with. The issue of cutting is handled very smoothly and is looked at from both sides, which will placate a diverse group of readers.

Another element of the novel that stands out is the vivid imagery Hoban employs to set the scene of the book without being overly elaborate, creating a tangible universe for her story. The plot flows at a smooth and steady pace that is easy to follow and completely realistic. Willow is a beautifully written story, wrought with grief, pain, hope, and love that is tender without being cheesy, and optimistic without being cliché or improbable. At the close of the novel, Hoban continues in her practice of keeping it real with a step towards healing that isn't highly dramatic, but hopeful and plausible, leaving readers wishing and hoping for the very best, and unwilling to say goodbye to Willow.

And, if that's not enough to get you interested, here's a trailer that I made for Willow:

Julia Hoban will be dropping by this month for some insightful and fun posts, so stick around! Also, be sure to check out the release party for Willow at gettingtoknowwillow.blogspot.com! There's a MAJOR contest plus lots of cool extras! See you there!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to Buy a Love of Reading

Tanya Egan Gibson, author of the upcoming novel How to Buy a Love of Reading (which is technically adult, but it should appeal to older teens!), has created a special spot on her website where readers can share how reading changed their lives. She's building a "community of stories *about* the power of stories."

All submissions will be posted (subject to approval to weed out spam and profanity), and between now and the novel's release date on May 14th, three of them will also be chosen to be made into flash-animated "books" on the site's virtual bookshelf. (The winners will also each receive a signed copy of HTBALOR.)

Check out Tanya's website for more info" howtobuyaloveofreading.com

Good luck, everryone!

P.S. Here's a little video that goes along with the book: