The Compulsive Reader: May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte Usher is back in Ghostgirl: Homecoming and she has graduated from Dead Ed...only, she hasn't quite moved up in the afterworld. She's now got an internship at a hotline for troubled teens—a job Charlotte is certain that she isn't exactly qualified for—and her new friend Maddy is super controlling. And then when her earthly friends find themselves in deep trouble, Charlotte will have to make a decision that could change everything.

Charlotte and her gang are just as amusing and entertaining in this sequel to Ghostgirl. Tonya Hurley offers readers yet another twisty story that will have readers laughing even harder than the first book, but she also offers a little more depth as she tackles bigger issues and gets readers thinking a little more. The more observant reader will pick up once again on Hurley's many references to the horror genre, which makes Homecoming a fun and smart read. Though the ending and some resolutions are a bit abrupt and seem to happen without reasonable explanations, fans of the series will be able to overlook it in favor of the nicely satisfying ending.

Cover Comments: The cover for Homecoming matches that of its prequel, which is neat, and I like all of the new drawings and the purple and black color scheme. The style for these ghostgirl covers is rocking!

Ghostgirl: Homecoming will be available July 1st, 2009!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte is eager to start school this year, certain that this will be the year she will achieve popularity and catch the eye of Damen, her longtime crush. But all her carefully laid plans fall apart when she dies—by choking on a gummy bear! Now she's sent to Dead Ed, a school for dead teens, and must follow deadiquette until she can cross over. But Charlotte is still determined to catch Damen's attention, alive or not, and to do so, she'll have to enlist the help of an unlikely ally…

Darkly funny and chocked full of puns and tongue in cheek humor, Tonya Hurley's Ghostgirl is a unique read that will entice younger and more reluctant readers. Hurley's novel is quite imaginative and detailed, and she's quick to answer all those little "what ifs?" that come to mind when Charlotte first dies. The dynamics between Charlotte and Scarlet, her liaison to the world of the land of the living, are neat and will leave readers laughing, and Scarlet even becomes more of a central character towards the end of the story. Though the book doesn't focus too much on other significant aspects of life that one would expect Charlotte to be experiencing, Hurley does a commendable job at capturing how tough it can be for teens today and the invisibility they feel. Though there wasn't very much character development, the ending is surprising, and will certainly elicit more than a few laughs, making readers eager for the sequel.

Cover Comments: The cover for this book is just so cool! It's hardcover, with die cuts and embosing, and a really pretty swirly flower design in pink and black that continues throughout the pages of the book. The longer shape of the book is really unique too, and certainly memorable!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Presenting Your Ideal Beach Read...

Anna's best friend Frankie is determined to make this summer their Absolute Best Summer Ever. To the outsider, it seems like it will be perfect: Frankie's family is taking Anna on their annual vacation to Zanzibar Bay, California and Frankie schemes to meet twenty different guys while they're there so she and Anna can have the perfect summer romance. But really, Anna and Frankie are still reeling from the loss of their best friend and Frankie's brother, Matt. And what Frankie doesn't know is that Anna's already had her perfect summer romance—with Matt.

Though outwardly fun and flirty, below the surface Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer is a reflective and insightful story of loss and discovery as well. Ockler does an excellent job at characterizing each person in her novel, even the most insignificant characters, making Anna's world tangible and realistic. The different portrayals of each person's grief—Anna's retreat into her journal, Frankie's recklessness, and her mother's withdrawal—are all apt and serve as one of the most significant elements of the novel as it causes conflicts and also enables each character to grow. Ockler's simple use of juxtaposition is also a striking element, and is a detail that really stands out. Twenty Boy Summer is a fun-filled, romantic book containing every girl's dream summer vacation, but made more meaningful by the grief and sadness that Matt left behind. It's wonderfully detailed and sensitive as it exploes the bonds of friendship, first (and second) love, loss, and ultimately learning to let go. Twenty Boy Summer is a definite summer must-read.

Cover Comments: Love, love this cover! It's so beachy and fun. The sea glass is a really nice touch that ties into the book, and I like the look of the boards that make up the background. I can just picture the beach whenever I look at it. Though the font of the title isn't my favorite, I like how the white stands out. This cover definitely gets my seal of approval!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ask Suzanne Collins Your Burning Question

Suzanne Collins, author of the stellar book The Hunger Games, is taking questions from readers before the release of the much anticipated sequel, Catching Fire! Just click here to submit your question, and then stay tuned because fans will then get an opportunity to vote on the top three questions that Suzanne will answer. Sounds cool, huh? Go ahead and ask your burning question! (Though it's probably safe to say that she won't be giving away any spoilers...but really, do we want her to?)

Lili St. Crow Discusses Strange Angels

Check out this short video in which author Lili St. Crow discusses Strange Angels, her first YA novel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fade by Lisa McMann

Christmas Break has been quiet thus far for Janie and Cabel. But now the Captain has their first joint assignment: there is reason to believe that Fieldridge High has a sexual predator among the teachers. While Janie and Cabel are quick to narrow down the suspects, their relationship suffers from withheld feelings and thoughts. And then Janie discovers the dreadful truth about her abilities and the dim future ahead of her.

Lisa McMann's sequel to her popular debut Wake contains the same creepy dreams and suspense, plus a stellar, structured plot and more skillful character development. Fade unfolds more quickly than its predecessor since it was revealed to readers that Cabel is working for the police, but that doesn’t mean all of the secrets our out in the air—quite the opposite, in fact. McMann's style is stark and steady, and her frank, straightforward manner is refreshing. The climax of the novel is riveting and frightening, and will have a very real and relevant impact on teens. This is a quick read that will have you rooting for Janie and Cabel, and has the power to scare and entertain at the same time.

Cover Comments: I wasn't too crazy about the covers of Wake and Fade at first, but they've really grown on me. I like the glass of water on this cover (it's not a blue candle like I thought at first!), and the black and blue colors with the big font for the title make the books look intense, which they are. Good cover!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Edgy vs. Just Plain Bad

Recently, I've noticed that some publishers are branching out, trying to offer readers more "edgy" books. I find it a bit hard to describe them, actually. The dictionary tells us that edgy describes something that is on the cutting edge, or daringly innovative. Some books in YA that are considered edgy because of their content are 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Willow by Julia Hoban. Those are books that I can see where the adjective is appropriate. Those edgy books are excellent; they deal with emotions and tough events and occurences in life (suicide, death, grief, cutting). They have sold well (13 Reasons Why is a NYT Bestseller, and Willow is in its third printing just under two months after its release), and are popular among teens for the messages they carry and their unflinching look at such terrible events.

Yesterday, I read a book that someone described as "edgy", but frankly I think that the word "horrifying" is more fitting. I feel absolutely terrible saying this because the last thing I want to do is disparage a book that a writer spent a considerable amount of time on and cares for. But that book was Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year. As I read it and even after I finished it, I failed to understand why on earth the publisher would think it was a "deliciously dark comedy". There was absolutely nothing funny about it.

For those of you wondering what made me so angry about the book, here's why (and if you are anti-spoiler, read no further): Jenny Green is a spoiled, rich brat from Long Island. She has a horrid sophomore year (a clasmate embarrassed her on Facebook and Myspace, and another girl stole her prom date), so she convinces her father to send her to a boarding school in Canada. There, she reconnects with an old crush, dates a drug dealer (but it's okay, because he has an Audi, takes her to expensive restaurants, and buys her designer clothes), encounters a guy who slips the aforementioned prom-date-stealing girl roofies, is stalked by a school shooter, and is hit on by an old professor, and kills them all. The book isn't graphic, but it does describe her feelings of guilt, although Jenny is always insistent that she isn't a bad person. In the end, the cops are on to her, but she gets away with it all by framing another girl (who, coincidently, also stole Jenny's Prince Charming).

And that is it.

Now, the books does have a few merits (which I'll detail later in my review), but when I finished Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year, the first thing running through my mind was, "Oh my word, why?" I know I'm getting on my soapbox here, but seriously. What kind of message are you sending teens, Amy Belasen and Jacob Osborn? I honestly didn't see any humor in this. I just saw a spoiled brat who was way too smart for her own good, and didn't ever really pay for her actions beyond feelings of guilt and moments when she almost turned herself in (emphasis on almost). This novel could have been chilling if it were written in a much more serious tone, but instead I find it horrifying that the authors make light of Jenny's habit of killing men who cross her. I don't think murder is funny in the least.

Maybe what it boils down to is taste, and I am overracting, but novels like Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year really worry me. I don't doubt teens' intelligence, but these types of books slowly taking over shelves can have a negative impact on younger readers. I can't find a book edgy if those troubling and serious aspects of life aren't accompanied by some sort of message or lesson, or emotions that make readers learn something, or realize (or are reminded of) something significant about life, human nature, or tragic situations. In short, there needs to be something in there that makes the book worth reading. In JGKJY, there was none of that--just a shallow protaganist and the distinct feeling that the authors were saying, "Look, kids! See how easy it is to kill someone if they wrong you! Isn't this funny?"

Next time you are looking for an edgy novel, check out Willow, 13 Reasons Why, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Keuhnert or even Wake by Lisa McMann and Amy Efaw's upcoming novel After. Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year is just not worth it.

Thoughts? Reactions? Am I being too judgmental? What are your opinions?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Evernight Academy is nothing like anything Bianca has ever known, and she hates it. The other students are rich and worldly, and look down on her. Her parents, new teachers at Evernight, keep insisting that she'll fit right in after a couple of weeks—Bianca doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. But the only thing that makes things slightly bearable at Evernight for Bianca is Lucas. They're inexplicable connection intrigues them both, but both have dark secrets, and Evernight Academy will bring them to light.

Evernight is a dark tale with plenty of mysterious foreshadowing, supernatural thrills, and twisty turns. The setting of the novel, the dark and brooding campus of the esteemed Evernight Academy, is richly portrayed to arouse curiosity and give the readers chills at the same time. Though most characters in the novel seem to be a bit too stereotypical, Gray does a commendable job at making them realistic and meaningful to the reader. Evernight has two major twists that most reader won't see coming at all; the first one is pulled off roughly and may disgruntle and confuse readers, but the second one will be absorbed with the perfect combination of surprise, disbelief, and anticipation for what is yet to come. It is the second twist and the questions and problems that arise with it that really nab readers and will haul them back to Gray's sequel, Stargazer, for some unanswered questions and unresolved logistics. Laden with details and plenty of conflict and steamy romance, Evernight is sure to be a hit with fans of YA paranormal.

Cover Comments: I love the retro feel of this cover! The close-up and the shading used is such a neat and unique touch. Also, the title treatment is just so awesome--very modern and cool and yet it still seems to convey the slightly threatening feel of the book. Very awesome!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

The first thing Maddie knows is that she's dead—other than that, she just is. She doesn't know where she is, who she is, or what's going on. But then she encounters lost objects from her life, and each one takes her back to the events in her life during which she lost them. Slowly her memory is restored, and Maddie learns that she can even alter the outcome of each event. Each object brings her closer to the person she was before—and the truth behind her death.

The Everafter is a one of a kind, luminous debut. Amy Huntley's imagined abstract after world—what it’s like and how it works—is wonderfully wrought and keenly described. With great feeling and honesty, Huntley carefully peels back each layer of Maddie's life, exploring her character, and how each person she knew had an effect on her life. Huntley's eye for detail is remarkable, and the questions and ideas she presents in a simple, probing manner will get readers thinking about life and the meaning of our own existence. Moving, unique, and imaginatively told, The Everafter is a novel about life, loss, acceptance, and powerful love that will resonate with many readers, especially fans of Gayle Forman's If I Stay.

Cover Comments: Any cover in purple wins my stamp of approval, but I do like the ethereal and almost unnatural feel of the flower. It's quite fitting for Maddie's state, and it's eerie without being too creepy. This book has a beautiful, intriguing cover!

The Everafter will be released by Balzer+Bray, a new imprint from HarperCollins on September 29th, 2009.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vampire Diaries TV Show

So, before Stephenie Meyer introduced the world to her sparkly and polite vampires, there was L.J. Smith. L.J. Smith is the writer of numerous series involving the supernatural for teens--Vampire Diaries, Night World, and The Secret Circle--all published in the 1990's. They've recently made a comeback and have been republished by HarperTeen and Simon Pulse with new looks. Now, the CW has made a show out The Vampire Diaries. Check out the trailer:

Looks cool, huh? As far as I can tell, this series doesn't premiere until the fall, so you've got all summer to pick up The Vampire Diaries (and perhaps Night World or The Secret Circle as well?) and get caught up. They really are great books!

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Note: Though you don't have to have read Graceling before reading Fire, I do reccomend it! Click here to find out more about Graceling.

Fire is an outcast in her society, her vibrant and unnatural hair color an indicator of her monster status and her dangerous powers of mind control. She's the only one left of her kind, and she resides far out in the country where she is safe from those who fear her and would harm her.

Meanwhile, King Nash is struggling to hold on to his kingdom as enemies from the north and south threaten to overthrow him. Both Nash and his brother Brigan distrust Fire for the havoc her father wreaked on the kingdom before his death, and Brigan would like nothing more than for Fire to be killed. But now, unless they find a way to resolve their differences and work together, they'll never win the impending war.

In this prequel to Graceling, Kristin Cashore has woven an intricate and brilliant tale that reveals a whole new world beyond Katsa's seven lands, full of fantastic creatures, strange powers, and a land teeming with political tension. For the most part, the characters in Fire are made more mature than Graceling's protagonists by the complexities of their past. Fire is a strong heroine, tough and fiercely independent, but loyal and kind through and through. She is genuinely thoughtful, and her concern for others stands out, especially as she struggles to reconcile her own nature and her father's actions with who she wishes to be.

The beginning of the book is slightly slow, but in no time at all it speeds up as Fire is launched out of her comfortable world and into an unknown and dangerous one. Cashore's plot is wonderfully complex and elaborate, but tight and solid. Fire also deals with many emotions—guilt, regret, fear, love, and empathy—in a very affecting way. Cashore is a master at using all of these elements to create a suspenseful, surprising, and totally engaging read. Though Fire is not a happy, warm book all of the time—it deals with death and violence and life's cruelties, but in a sensitive and optimistic manner, it has its moments of humor and romance. Cashore's talent for pulling off such an epic and engrossing read that will sweep readers away and keep them dreaming long after the final page makes her one of the best YA fantasy writers since Tamora Pierce first introduced her character Alanna to the world. If readers weren't already in love with Cashore after reading Graceling, they will be after reading Fire.

Cover Comments: I love how the colors in the cover reflect the color of Fire's hair! The bow and arrow also have significance in the book, so it's cool that they were included. The bright colors on the cover and the fact that they are a bit shiny will really capture the eye!

Fire will be available October 5th, 2009!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? by Melissa Kantor

When Lucy's father remarries, she's moved cross-country into her new stepfamily's home. She's shuffled into the basement where she has no furniture (stepmom Mara is "looking for the perfect furniture" still), and has to endure the Princesses, twin twelve year olds who constantly disparage Lucy's lack of style, and is a complete loner at school. Things couldn't be worse.

But then Connor Pearson begins to notice her, and they connect through their shared love of basketball. Slowly Lucy begins making new friends, and it feels as if things are looking up, despite her less than ideal family situation. But is Connor Lucy's Prince Charming?

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince is a quick and easy read with plenty of humor, romance, and excitement. Kantor portrays the family drama in the novel quite well, highlighting the frustrations and struggle that stepfamilies face, which plays into the Cinderella theme. But despite the play on words, that's about as far at the book wanders toward the fairy tale. Lucy's story can easily stand on her own as she makes new friends, explores her artistic talents, and struggles to be the daughter her father expects her to be. Though the resolution of the book is a bit cheesy, it will satisfy readers. If I Have A Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince makes a nice, fun summer read.

Cover Comments: I like the purple color scheme, and the font. The sparkly star is unexpected and a really neat touch in that it really stands out. I also like how the fluffy dress brings in the fairy tale element, but the converse shoes keep it modern.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Théâtre Illuminata, Act One: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

This book is the most unique I've read in quite a long time--I dare you not to give it a standing ovation! (Hint: that's one challenge I'll win!)

The Théâtre Illuminata is the only home Bertie has ever known. It's a magical place where The Book, which contains every script written, resides along with countless players who are not born, but written into their parts. Bertie is an outsider, a human orphan, left at the mercy of the Theater Manager and raised by the players. But when her endless tricks and tomfoolery drive some at the Theatre Illuminata to the end of their ropes, Bertie is given an ultimatum: become uniquely useful, or get out. But there is much more at stake than Bertie ever realized...

One word comes to mind when it comes to Eyes Like Stars, and that is scintillating. Lisa Mantchev's debut novel positively sparkles. It is overflowing with all the elements that make up great reads: fabulous humor, a spunky, clever, and lovable heroine, four mischievous and amusing fairies, a dashing pirate, a pernicious villain, and a deep secret that could change everything. Mantchev structures the novel in an interesting and enjoyable fashion, using prose and drama styles to create a "play within a play" effect that keeps things interesting. Because the novel starts out briskly and doesn't really slow down, some readers may feel a bit confused at the very beginning of the novel, but its not long before things click into place perfectly. And even though Eyes Like Stars alludes heavily to Shakespeare's work, knowledge of Shakespeare and his works aren't required in order to enjoy this extremely clever, lively, and glittering read. As each page goes by, readers learn something new and delightful about the Théâtre Illuminata, until at the very end it is impossible to let go of Bertie and her cast. This hilarious and quirky debut demands an encore!

Cover Comments: Stunning. This cover captures the eye! The fairies and are a really great touch, and the colors just perfect. I also really like the font both the title and the author's name and tagline are in. This cover is quirky, dramatic, and exciting, just like the book!

Eyes Like Stars premieres on July 7th, 2009! (And yes, I am having fun with all of the theater allusions and analogies!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

On his first day in his new school, no one talks to Lucius. Everyone is too intimidated by the rumors of the explosion that he caused, and the hooks he has instead of hands. This is fine with Lucius—he'd rather not talk to anyone at all.

But then there's Aurora. Aurora is dealing with pain of her own, the pain of losing her mother. Lucius' hooks don't bother her at all, but instead intrigue her. Is it possible that the two of them can look beyond the surface to what's truly important and find redemption with each other?

Crazy Beautiful is an unexpected love story that deals with far more than just those breathless moments of first love, but delves deeper into the finer aspects of choices and consequences, second chances, and forgiveness. The emotions that Baratz-Logsted evokes in Crazy Beautiful are painful and raw, but authentic and exhilarating as well. Crazy Beautiful is a concise, entrancing, and completely consuming read, punctuated by smart humor and wonderful characterizations that especially cause Aurora and Lucius stand out. In its own unique way, Crazy Beautiful is a compelling, bittersweet, and memorable read with a love story so persuasive that it will keep you coming back again and again.

Cover Comments: This cover is gorgeous! I love the black and white color scheme, and the graceful lines of the image--it creates a very romantic, but edgy look that fits the book perfectly!

Crazy Beautiful will be released on September 7th, 2009.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crash into Me by Albert Borris

Owen can't remember a time in his life when he was truly happy. Ever since his brother's death when we was seven, his life has been dull, lonely, and slow, punctuated by numerous suicide attempts. After his latest attempt, he makes three new friends—Frank, Jin-Ae, and Audrey. The four of them make a suicide pact—they will take a cross country road trip from New Jersey to Death Valley, visiting the graves of famous people who committed suicide, and at the end of the line, they'll all end their lives together.

Crash into Me is an arresting and surprising read that takes readers into the lives of these four teens, and reveals their complex emotions and those events in their lives that have led them to the end of their ropes. Though the premise is quite serious and thought provoking, Borris infuses the novel with surprising bits of humor, making Crash into Me an enjoyable and realistic read with a sardonic edge. Inclusion of alcohol and drugs is to be expected, but is done tastefully, revealing the thought that went into each character. The novel is told through Owen's eyes, and his character is developed through a series of online chats, top ten lists, recollections of the past, and his time quietly observing the present. The alternating modes of character disclosure build suspense throughout the book, causing readers to seriously ponder the outcome of the road trip—but Borris keeps you guessing until the very end. This is a novel of desperation and loneliness, and of the strong compulsion that humankind has to attempt to make connections. Unexpected, heartbreaking, and raw, Crash into Me takes readers on a car trip they'll never forget.

Cover Comments: I think that the cover really conveys the tension and the emotion of the novel, and the darker colors and hues used jive with the darker subject and all of the secrets this book contains. I also like the snake tattoo--it has significance in the book! Overall, this is a very good cover.

This book will be available from Simon Pulse on July 7th, 2009.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contest: Put Twenty Boy Summer on the Map!

Twenty Boy Summer has escaped from its boxes before the official June 1 release date and has already been spotted in the wild at a bookstore near Buffalo, NY. Author Sarah Ockler is hosting a contest to track sightings of TBS all over the country. Now through June 30, if you spot her book in a bookstore or library, you can enter to win a cool TBS Beach Prize Pack!


1. Take a picture or video of Twenty Boy Summer on the shelves in the store, kiosk, or library

2. Email it with your first name, store/library name, and the city and state where it was taken to sarah (dot) ockler (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject "TBS Map Contest"

3. For an extra entry, take a picture or video of the book with YOU init, holding it or pointing at it or singing to it or doing some other creative (but not illegal) thing :-)

Pics and videos will be posted at SarahOckler.com along with a Googlemap showing all of the places Twenty Boy Summer has been spotted inthe wild. The more times you find and document TBS in different storesand libraries, the more times you can enter!

The contest is open to U.S. residents only. Participants under age 13 must have a parent/guardian enter for them. Sarah will randomly select a winning entry from all of the entries on July 1 and will notify the winner by email.

Good luck and happy book hunting!

Top Ten Myths of High School, Brought to You by Susane Colasanti

There are so many great books out today--Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks, Strange Angels, Death by Denim, Academy 7....

And, of course, Waiting for You.

Waiting for You is written by Susane Colasanti. It's her third book, and one of the things I love most about her books is how real and down to earth her characters are, and her practical, confident voice. In celebreation of the release of Waiting for You, Susane has revealed 10 high school myths. Here's the final one:

Myth #10: All of this matters.

Only if you want it to. If you want to walk away on graduation day and never look back, that’s your prerogative. You can stay in touch with your friends or not. And the kids who were mean to you? You never have to see them again. I’ve totally forgotten the names of most people I went to high school with. The day you can permanently walk away from the worst years of your life is a celebration of freedom. Rock on with your fine self. You deserve to be even happier than you can imagine.

Three summer related questions with Susane (because summer is almost here!):

TCR: What's your favorite summer vacation spot?

SC: It’s fun to go somewhere cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I’ve been to places like Miami Beach and Southern California during the winter, both of which I loved. It was so fun to wear flip-flops in the warm breeze while it was 23 degrees back in New York. I’m into European vacations, but I’ve always taken them during the summer when it was just as hot there. Here’s a tip: Do not visit Rome in August. You will spend the entire time dunking your head under fountains. I was a camp counselor in Maine one summer when I was in college. Whenever it reached 80 degrees, we would shut down all activities and have free swim. So Maine might be nice.

TCR: What three books are on your summer reading list?

SC: Well, we have Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride coming out in June, which I will of course be reading. I’m looking forward to the release of E. Lockhart’s The Treasure Map of Boys this summer. The first two books in this series were awesome! And the cover could not be cuter. This third one will be more difficult to accomplish. In 1961, Louise Fitzhugh and Sandra Scoppettone, two of my earliest writing influences, teamed up to write this book called Suzuki Beane. It’s about a beatnik girl who lives in New York. I just found out about its existence recently, but it’s out of print. If I can track down a copy, I’ll be crossing it off my Must Read list this summer.

TCR: What's your favorite beach read?

SC: I don’t really have one particular fave beach read. I tend to like books that are fun and extremely hard to put down as beach reads, since it takes my mind off the hot sun. The same kinds of books work best for me in airports. When I’m traveling, I only read books that have my complete attention. Waiting around for delayed flights is hardly annoying when you’re into a good book.

Thanks so much, Susane!

Now, go check out all three of her books, Waiting for You, When it Happens, and Take Me There (hint: they make fabulous beach reads and travel books!), or if you're still unsure, check out the sampler below for first three chapters of each book!

ALSO! One lucky commenter will get a signed, finished copy of Waiting for You! Winner will be announced Monday! Good luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Strange Angels Giveaway!

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.

Read more.

Sound good? Well, I have ten copies for you to win!

How to enter: Email your name and address to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com with STRANGE ANGELS in the subject heading!
Deadline: Tuesday, May 19th at midnight.

Spread the word, and good luck!

P.S. here's that kick-butt trailer again:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook

I was attracted to this book due to my own religious upbringing, and I found it to be an interesting and different read.

Emma Procter is stuck in the dinky, ultra-religious town of Wheaton where everyone knows everyone's business (like how she accidentally kissed her best friend's boyfriend), and Emma is sick of it all—especially the hypocritical girls in her class who claim to be devoted to Jesus, but in reality have been taking drugs at parties—something Emma has witnessed. So when those girls begin passing out and the whole town makes a big deal over their innocence and begins pointing fingers at blameless teen outcasts, Emma faces huge problems. Should she tell the truth about what she saw, even if it means burning her one-way ticket out of Wheaton?

What Would Emma Do? is a smart, witty, and genuinely real take on one girl's struggle to discern what she believes and take on the humongous decisions in her life. From the get-go, Emma's upbeat and self-deprecating attitude ensnares and entertains readers, making it easy for them to relate to her, even if they don't all come from small towns. The religious element of the book is a unique touch, and Emma's monologues to God help propel readers through the book and define her as a skeptical, yet hopeful, maybe-kinda-not-quite believer. Her sentiments about God and religion are similar to many teens’, and she deals with something that every Christian has to face—those judgmental and oftentimes hypocritical believers who enjoy condemnation more than spreading God's Word. Despite some of the reverend's religious claims being a little fanatical though, this book has an interesting take on teens and faith, and is executed in a non-judgmental manner, which teens will appreciate. Otherwise, Emma's crazy antics and her unique outlook on life will keep readers on their toes laughing, and an optimistic ending will satisfy.

Cover Comments: I like the bright colors, and the arrows used in the book--it's a fun motif. The scene with the coupel kissing is cute, and kinda-sorta goes with the book, but I'm sure it's more of an eye-catching technique than anything. Nonetheless, this is a fun and very appealing cover!

Strange Angels Book Trailer

Hey everyone,

Check out this amazing trailer for Strange Angels, which comes out Thursday:

As always, pass it on!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just a quick update...

Please excuse this interruption for an unscheduled CRAZED FAN GIRL moment:

I can't wait until I've posted my review to let you all know, but FIRE (you know, that little book that Kristin Cashore wrote as a prequel to Graceling that some people kinda liked?) totally, completely, and absolutely ROCKS HARDER THAN Graceling!

I'm serious. I haven't read such a magnificent fantasy novel since I first discovered Tamora Pierce's work (who is, in my opinion, the best YA fantasy author to grace shelves), and I am not lying. I thought real hard about all the fantasy novels I've read, not wanting to go off making some random claims...but it's totally magnificent. I was capable of doing absolutely nada yesterday, except read Fire.

I know I was slow to jump on the Kristin Cashore/Graceling bandwagon movement, and when I did, I wasn't that mightily impressed with Graceling...anyhoo, the deets are here, and although I maintain that Fire has a similar slow beginning that Graceling possesses....wow. It's still one knock-out of a book. It's own strange creatures, magic of a sort, political (and romantic!) tension, and then of course secrets galore...KC was channeling some serious Tamora Pierce awesomeness! I love it, love it, love it, and I will be back later with an official review....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Katie seems surrounded by ghosts: the ghost of her mother and of her life before her mother died, and by the ghosts of the past at Miss Martine's estate, where Katie works as a gardener during the summer. It is Miss Martine's mystery that intrigues Katie and her sudden disappearance from society when she was very young that motivates Katie to research her. With the help of her father, a restorer of old paintings, a chic and intelligent librarian, and two of her co-workers, Katie slowly uncovers the truth and also learns to live with her life in the present.

Beth Kephart's third novel for young adults is just as subtly moving, thoughtful, and impacting as her previous novels. Katie is an insightful, witty and smart character, and manages to be lighthearted and funny at times, even while she is dealing with her grief. Each character is unique and important in their own ways in helping Katie come to the heart of the mystery of Miss Martine and also in assisting her on reflecting on her own life and the way she is living it, making for a truly enjoyable reading experience. Told in a mixture of the present and fragments of memories from when Katie’s mother was still alive, Kephart has woven a sad yet hopeful tale full of secrets and loaded with symbolism that will entrance and impress her readers.

Cover Comments: Ah, I adore this cover. Where to start? First off, the model under the gauzy curtains is a very mysterious and fitting effect, seeing as the book deals a lot with ghosts. The title treatment is beautiful with the first two words kind of fading, and then the Ghosts appearing in a very elegant font. This is a beautiful cover!

This novel will be released from HarperTeen on June 23rd, 2009!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The only thing Maria and Sebastian have in common are sleepless nights and dull, unhappy lives. But when they're eyes meet on the subway one evening, they form an instant connection. As their relationship deepens, they plot their escape to California, and to a brand new life. But despite their intense relationship and new love, both Maria and Sebastian have been keeping secrets, and when those secrets are thrown into the light during their escape, their love will suffer the blow.

Chasing Windmills is a compelling, insightful, and memorable book throughout. Sebastian and Maria are both intensely real characters and Hyde portrays them in such a manner—displaying their memories, motivations, wishes, and dreams—that readers can't help but fall for them. Hyde's use of imagery is exemplary, and her vivid scenes of bustling New York City to the wide expanses of California and its numerous windmills create a hopeful tone as Maria and Sebastian find themselves, learn how to stand alone, and trust each other. Their journey is heartbreaking, but gratifying, and ends realistically and hopefully. Chasing Windmills is another stand out novel.

Cover Comments: This is the paperback edition's cover art, and I like the slightly unusual coloring to this cover. I think the greenish tinge really works well with the image, and the woman in the photo represents the Maria I pictured in my head better than Chasing Windmill's hardcover art.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Stuffed Mailbox

I received some fall releases today that I am eager to get to:

Wanderlust by Lucy Silag
Possession by Nancy Holfer
After by Amy Efaw
ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor (!!!)
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Fire by Kristin Cashore

This is a great load--I'm especially excited to read ArchEnemy, the final book in Frank Beddor's Looking Glass trilogy, which is a very, very awesome retelling of the tale Alice in Wonderland, centered upon the power of imagination. If you haven't read the prior books, The Looking Glass Wars and Seeing Redd, I HIGHLY reccomend them!

Also, can anyone tell me a little more about Fire? I see that it's prequel--do we have any more info than that?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You Are Here Contest

Hey everyone,

I just got an email from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Comeback Season and the soon to be released You Are Here. She's hosting a really cool contest for the release of You Are Here. Check it out:

"In honor of the release of my new book, You Are Here, I’m running a contest to see who can put together the ultimate road trip mix. In the book, Emma and Peter drive from New York all the way down to North Carolina. What would you have listened to along the way? You don’t have to make an actual mix or send in any music; just list the twelve songs you think would be the most fun to listen to while driving, and I’ll draw the winners randomly.

Prizes include: the very first signed copy of You Are Here, a signed copy of my first book, The Comeback Season, and, in honor of the road trip theme, audio books of Twilight, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and The Lightning Thief.

Send all entries to thecomebackseason@gmail.com by Friday, May 15th. Good luck!"

Sounds awesome! I hope you all enter! Good luck.

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Alexis Warren is a tough, sarcastic loner who is nursing a grudge against the cheerleading team for driving away the only friend she ever had. To deal with her loneliness, she turns to photography and seeks shelter in her dark room. After one peculiar night photographing her 100 year old house, Alexis's sister Kasey begins acting odd. She becomes spiteful and demanding, and she has extreme mood swings. At first, Alexis attributes her strange behavior to the ups and downs of being in middle school—but after a series of accidents that may not have been accidents after all, Alexis has to ask herself, Is something more sinister at work?

Snarky, engaging, and downright creepy, Bad Girls Don't Die is one stellar debut novel; Katie Alender has created one of the most engrossing and consuming novels of the year. The witty, casual tone of the novel, told from Alexis's point of view initially hooks readers, but it is the darker undertones concealed by Kasey's sweet face and her "innocent" doll collection that really ensnares readers and makes Bad Girls Don't Die such an unpredictable and tantalizing read. Alexis is a wonderfully dynamic character—she is strong and opinionated and learns how to deal with her issues in a mature manner, but along the way she also learns to recognize similar qualities in those she previously judged, making her likable without being cliché. Though the haunted house and possession stories have been done many times before, Alender's fresh slant on the topic will enthrall readers and leave them just a bit creeped out.

Cover Comments: I really like the use of color in this trailer, the subtle blue-ish light combined with the pink outfit, and the texture of the lace curtains. I think it does well to convey the lighter, wittier aspects of the book, but also hints at the scarier elements as well. This is definitely one of those books that will jump out at book store browsers.

Also, check out this AMAZING trailer:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Being Nikki, An Airhead Novel by Meg Cabot

Oh my word, you guys! I've been waiting FOREVER to tell you about this book! It's so fab!

In the past three months since the tragic accident that prompted normal, plain Em Watts' brain transplant into model Nikki Howard's body, Em has been struggling to survive in the edgy, unpredictable environment she's been thrust in. She's desperate to make contact with her old best friend and crush, Christopher, but is under the constant scrutiny of her employer, Stark Enterprises. Em knows that there's something odd going on with them, but in order to discover what it is, it means risking her own life—and the lives of everyone she loves.

Being Nikki is a clever combination of geeky smarts and fashionable fun, a duo not easily pulled off, but is done so with ease by reigning YA Lit queen Meg Cabot. Em Watts is an intelligent and down-to-earth character who genuinely strives to do the right thing in a very, very unconventional situation, but still manages to make more than a few mistakes herself, a quality that makes her a character readers will just fall more in love with. Her zippy, magnetic, and hilarious voice, coupled with a unique and surprising plotline and authentically depicted supporting characters, make for a unique read that is memorable and highly entertaining. Cabot's usual dose of drama, romance, and biting humor, and witty banter are another bonus, and go a long way in making this second Airhead novel even more laugh-worthy, suspenseful, and gripping than its prequel. Just as before, Cabot will leave readers dangling, breathless for a sequel.

Cover Comments: First off, I like the color scheme of the cover, with the darker hues and the splash of yellow. I think that the shots of the model are glamorous, and they really make the book pop. It's elegant without being over-flashy, and eye-catching but not overly busy.

Being Nikki is out today!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

This is one book I've had for about three months, but have only just gotten around to reading.

I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

Life is complicated for Mia. She has two loves: music and her boyfriend Adam. And pretty soon, she'll have to choose between staying with Adam and her family, and perhaps pursuing a music career at Julliard. Her impending decision is only further complicated one winter morning when she and her family go on a drive that ends in tragedy. Now Mia has only one choice, the one that will affect absolutely everything; should she fight for her life, or let it all go?

If I Stay is a completely powerful and stunning read. Gayle Forman has created a complex story that weaves together many scenes from various points in Mia's life to create a work of art that overwhelmingly emotional and affecting and demands to be read in one sitting. As Mia observes all that goes around her, Forman deftly explores the make-up of Mia's life and those elements that have formed and influenced her in an intensely moving and heartbreaking fashion. As tragic and as sorrowful as the novel is, it is also witty and hopeful and bright at times, and it is the mix of pain and life, light and dark, that make If I Stay and Forman's strong voice a truly memorable read that will perhaps give readers a new outlook on life.

Cover Comments: This cover is simple and beautiful. I like the starkness of the tree branch, accented by a single flower. Because really, that's what this book is all about: death and loss, but in the midst of it, a spark of life. The colors, the text, everything is just perfect.

Also, check out the site here.