The Compulsive Reader: January 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Your Voice Can Be Heard

Teenreads.com is again collaborating with the Children's Book Council (CBC) on the 2010 Teen Choice Book of the Year, offering teens an opportunity to share their five favorite books of 2009. The five titles that receive the most votes will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2010 Teen Choice Book of the Year.

The deadline is tomorrow, February 1st, but there is still time to pick your top five favorite books from the list of nominees! Click here to do so, and keep checking back to see how you can vote on the final five!

Contest: Win the Soul Screamers Books!

UPDATE: I apologize for the typo in the post--this contest ends the 14th of February, not the 14th of January! Enter away until then!

The second book in Rachel K. Vincent's Soul Screamers series is out now, and to celebrate, I'm giving away copies of the books! Check them out:

Book 1 of The Soul Screamers series -- My Soul to Take -- was released this past summer, and readers found out why Kaylee Cavanaugh screams bloody murder when someone’s about to die.

In Book 2 – My Soul to Save – when teen pop star Eden croaks on stage and Kaylee doesn’t wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can’t cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad’s ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend’s loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls for a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can’t possibly understand.

Kaylee can’t let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk.

Soul Screamers: The last thing you hear before you die.

Fun links:

Click here to visit the official website!

Click here to get the prequel, My Soul to Lose, free!


And now, the fun part! Free books!

One (1) grand prize winner will receive:
Books 1 & 2 in the Soul Screamers series: My Soul to Take and My Soul to Save

Two (2) additional winners will receive:
Book 2 in the Soul Screamers series: My Soul to Save

Note that this contest is open to US residents only, though if you live out of the country but have a friend in the US we can send it to, you can enter!

This contest will run until the 14th of February! Comment below to enter! Good luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cover Talk: The Wish Dress

I love the dress on the cover of Wish by Alexandra Bullen! It's sparkly and gorgeous and I wish I owned it! It was thinking about it when I actually got these earrings (from this online store) the other day! They remind me a lot of the dress!

The earrings are called Once Upon a Star, which seems pretty fitting considering the star references in the book, and the gorgeous cover!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meeting Irene Latham!

Sunday afternoon I traveled to the Flint Institute of Art in Flint, MI to hear Irene Latham, author of Leaving Gee's Bend, speak. The Art Institute has an exhibit right now called Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond which features unique and beautiful quilts made by the women of Gee's Bend, a small, isolated town in Alabama that has a strong tradition in quilting. These aren't exactly the symmetrical, perfectly patterned quilts your grandmother makes. They are made from whatever fabric the women could spare, and they didn't waste a single thread. The pieces are unusual, abstract, and striking.

The museum brought Irene in to talk about her book since it takes place in Gee's Bend and quilting is an essential aspect to the novel (along with courage, independence, and most importantly, love). She spoke to the audience about her inspiration for her many stories and poems about Gee's Bend when she saw the exhibit for the first time, and showed us her beautiful book trailer (which I've included below). She also answered a bunch of questions, and read a few excerpts from her book.

Then when we headed out of the theater to get our books signed, we saw a large group of the quilters from Gee's Bend leading a large group from the exhibit across the lobby, singing the most beautiful songs. They were powerful!

And of course, the fun part--getting my book signed! Irene was incredibly sweet! I petitioned her for a novel in verse (her poetry is beautiful!), so hopefully one day. She also told us she was looking forward to writing more stories set in Gee's Bend--I can't wait!

I shall have my review of Leaving Gee's Bend up soon! It was an excellent book!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Updates from Jennifer Sturman!

Jennifer Sturman is the author of And The Everything Unraveled, which I read last summer and loved! I liked everything about this book, from its unqie and suspenseful plot to the fabulous cover (which has undergone a slight revision, as you can see on the left. Do you like it? I certainly do!), and I can't wait for the sequel, And Then I Found Out the Truth...which I am happy to offer more info about below, plus the cover! It will be out on Jult 1st, 2010!

And Then I Found Out the Truth

Delia Truesdale is still searching for the truth about her mother, who is in hiding somewhere in South America. But for now, Delia has to make do with her mystery-solving in New York City, alongside her aunt Charley (a funky downtown hipster), her aunt Meg (an uptown ice queen), a detective with questionable taste in neckties, an eccentric young psychic, her brainiac best friend, and Quinn, the wealthy, gorgeous boy at her prep school who—gasp!—actually seems to return Delia’s affections. Too bad Quinn’s shady CEO dad may be involved in the scheme Delia is trying to crack. And a trip to South America may be in order after all….

Yay! What do you think?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor

The last thing that Melissa's father told her was that it takes glass a million years to decompose. But while it may seem to her that glass lasts forever, Melissa's family is falling apart. Her father is taken by cancer, her sister acts like Melissa is a freak, and her mother is moving on with her life with her new cowboy boyfriend. And now, her best friend Ryan seems more interested in his new girlfriend than their friendship. Through it all, Melissa must learn to recognize inner and outer beauty and realize that sometimes, you can have both.

The Life of Glass is a very sweet, poignant coming-of-age novel that chronicles Melissa's journey as she attempts to live her life after the death of her father and learns to be comfortable in her own skin while living with her beauty queen mother and sister. As with her first novel, Jillian Cantor handles the many tangled emotions of grief and loss in a sensitive, skillful manner, making her characters come alive, and putting her audience under a spell at the same time. The Life of Glass deals with those basic, tough issues of growing up and moving on: making friends, dealing with guys, and finding your comfort zone. Cantor's second novel is sweet, sensitive, and compelling; Melissa will make you remember things about growing up you probably have forgotten.

Cover Comments: I like the blue color of this cover! It's very pretty. and the shattered glass seems quite appropriate as well. I don't see as there is anything that makes this one really stand out, but is is very nice.

The Life of Glass will be available from HarperTeen on February 9th, 2010!

ARC received from HarperTeen.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cover Talk: Old Magic Gets a New Look!

I do believe I have already extolled the virtues of Marinanne Curley's books here, but if you missed that post, here is the break down of the books: her YA trilogy, The Guardians of Time trilogy, is about a secret society of time travelers, and is quite fantastic, and her standalone novel, Old Magic, is a romance with some time travel action as well. I've always enjoyed the old Old Magic cover because it seemed romantic to my pre-teen mind (which is when I first read it), and it always seemed like you could just feel the tension between the two main characters by simply looking at it.

Last night, I was wandering through the disheveled book aisle of my local Meijer when I discovered that Old Magic has gotten a dark, sophisticated new facelift!

I do like it. It's quite different from the original, but I also think that it does fit in more with what is popular among YA paranormals, and hopefully it's re-release will prompt more teens to read this awesome book, and Curley's trilogy!

What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sing Me to Sleep Trailer!

Hey all,

Check out this trailer to Angela Morrison's new book, Sing Me to Sleep! I'm reading it right now, and it is fabulous! Also, be sure to check back later for a special Sing Me to Sleep contest!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Defense of the Cover for Magic Under Glass

Okay, so this may seem a bit redundant to some folks, in which case I apologize, but I just thought I'd throw in my own two cents about the issue of the cover of Jaclyn Dolamore's book, Magic Under Glass.

You can go here to read my review of the book if you are interested.

Here are my original cover comments: This cover is lovely and magical and fills you with breathless anticipation--simply perfect. I love the font, the pose of the model, the hints of magic, everything!

My opinions haven't changed, but due to the fact that Bloomsbury has temporarily ceased to provide copies with the US cover due to complaints (read the full statement here), I thought maybe I should expand a bit more on exactly why I disagree with all of the uproar it has caused.

First off, as I understand it, the issue many readers have with the cover is the girl's skin tone. Unlike the dispute over the cover for Liar by Justine Larbalestier last summer, I do not believe that this issue is as cut and dry. In Liar, we new most certainly that Micah was black, and that a white girl was on the cover. However, with Magic Under Glass, all I remember from the book was Dolamore mentioning that Nimira's skin was darker than most of her fellow character's. Furthermore (and I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me in the comments), but I don't remember seeing any adjective when talking about her skin tone that gave me any indication that she was, most assuredly, very dark, or anything that urged the reader that she couldn't be simply very tan.

In fact, the Nim I pictured was a girl whose skin was very tan, with dark hair. Now, does the model on the cover fit that description? Not exactly. But, she's close--she has dark hair, and in the golden light her skin looks quite tan. And really, we can't expect art designers to get these things exactly right--it's impossible to live up to every reader's expectation or imagined image of a character.

So, no. The picture of the young woman on the cover of Magic Under Glass doesn't exactly fit. But in my opinion, neither does it not fit Neither does the image of the girl on the hardcover of Wherever Nina Lies fit the character of Ellie, or the image of the girl on the cover of Wish fit Olivia. But, they're close. And unless you want to limit book covers to simple graphics, versatile and bland body parts, or stick to the torso trend (which I know for a fact many of you hate), we've got to be a little open-minded and forgiving when it comes to models or people on book covers.

I will be very sad to see the beautiful, luminous cover of Magic Under Glass go. It really was what first attracted me to the book, and I think it will be hard to find a replacement cover that lives up to its beauty. I will be interested in seeing how Bloomsbury responds with the new cover, but in the meantime, I'm keeping my well-loved ARC with the beautiful cover so I can gaze at it further.

UPDATE: Charlotte has given a break-down of physical descriptions, with quotes and page numbers here. After reading this, I still stand firm in my opinions.

UPDATE: For the record, I don't think that a black model on the cover would make it less appealing; I just don't believe that the current model is completely wrong either (see the link in the above update!)

Undead Much? by Stacey Jay

Today is the release day for Undead Much, Stacey Jay's sequel to You Are So Undead to Me!

It's been a few months since Megan Berry was betrayed by her best friend and attacked by RCs (Reanimated Corpses). Now all she really wants is a short break from her training to hang out with her boyfriend Ethan. But no such luck, because in between a zombie that just won't go away, no matter how many times Megan settles him, a group of super-fast, indestructible zombies, some crazy family secrets that are casting all suspicion on to her, and her former worst enemy becoming her friend, Megan has zero spare time.

Stacey Jay's follow up to her first novel, You Are So Undead to Me, has the same smart wit, quick thinking, and awesome zombie butt-kicking, but is also a little more serious. The continuous boy-craziness present in the prequel is toned down, and Megan is a bit more mature after being betrayed by the person that was closest to her. Nonetheless, Undead Much is filled with just the right amounts of teenage insecurities, angst, and romance to make it relatable, but is made all the more exciting by dark family secrets, mysterious forces, and a tempting new love interest. The book is slightly predictable towards the end, but Jay manages to surprise readers in the very end. Undead Much is engaging and riveting, a book you will want to tear right through!

Cover Comments: This cover is cute and fun, and fits the book well as it is very humorous and a bit light. I like how it looks similar to its prequel, it's a good style for the content.

ARC received from Razorbill.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Classics Corner: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Classics Corner is a feature in which I highlight those classics that I am reading and offer my views and comments in the hopes that you will be inspired to read some of them in addition to all the great YA reads out there!

Up now is Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

I thought that this book was interesting in that I haven't really read anything similar to it. When I first started it, I got quite excited because I recognized a sizable chunk of the first chapter from some standardized test I've had to take at one point or another, and it was neat to connect the excerpt with the rest of the story. The basic gist of  the novel: Janie, a fairly well-off woman who lives in Florida, granddaughter of a freed slave, has returned to her home after a long absence, and when asked by her closest friend where she has been and what happened to her husband, she begins to tell her life story, starting at her childhood growing up with her grandmother.

The story is quite fascinating. Janie is independent and smart, but her grandmother's fear that her willfulness will clash with white prejudice propels her to force Janie into a loveless marriage for her safety and protection. (The irony is, Janie's grandmother's actions, rather than free her from such dangers, actually keep her imprisoned for many years.) Janie runs away from her first husband to a young man named Jody, who talks of a town where black folk are leaders and run everything. Though Jody seems perfect at first, the years reveal his controlling ways, and Janie is, once again, imprisoned within an empty relationship.

But after Jody dies, Janie meets Teacake, who is years younger than her, but soon becomes her third husband. She leaves town to go with him, much to the horror and derision of her neighbors.

For me, the book really picked up when Janie met Teacake, and for the first time in her life, found freedom and happiness. Though there were many aspects of their relationship that I disliked (Teacake would slap Janie around, just because it was expected of him and because he was jealous), the book was a very interesting representation of how different that culture is from mine, and I did learn a lot. There is also a quote in the final chapter of the book that did help me make sense of the more inscrutable workings of their relationship, and it is (roughly paraphrased), " Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shores it meets, and it's different with every shore." That quote really made me think again about Janie's entire story.

Now, my copy had less than 200 pages, so this is a short book, but what really tripped me up about it is that Hurston writes much of the dialogue in the dialect--that is, it is spelled the way it sounds. So, "I" becomes "Ah", "like" is "lak", and "my" is "mah". Sometimes it was like translating a different language just to read the conversations, so that got quite frustrating after a while, and it slowed me down considerably.

But other than that, this really was quite a fascinating book, and every time I think of it, my mind wanders back to that quote. I am very curious about the movie that Oprah produced, where Janie is played by Halle Berry. I must see that now!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Darklight Trailer!

Check out this neat trailer for Darklight, the sequel to Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange! I must, must, must get to this book ASAP!

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley

Syrah Chen, daughter of the famous billionaire Ethan Cheng, has everything she could possibly want, except for a family that pays attention to her, friends that aren't after her for her money or her name, and a boyfriend who only wants a free ride. And now, thanks to a torn ACL, she can't even do the one thing that she loves: snowboard. With her family's expectations closing in heavily, and Syrah's only true friend pulling away from her thanks to his insecure girlfriend, Syrah will have to learn what truly matters to her in order to heal her broken heart and discover what she's meant to do next.

Girl Overboard is an amazing and powerful book. Justina Chen Headley has a talent for creating characters that seem so trapped within their lives that you can't help but sympathize with them every step of their tough, challenging journey, but then be jubilant when they overcome their obstacles. Syrah is such a character. Though she may seem like the stereotypical rich girl on the outside, she's a person full of heart and feeling, and her dreams extend beyond what her family has envisioned for her. But through their constant clashes, she is actually forced to learn from her father (ironically, through his book, The Ethan Cheng Way), in order to see her entire family in a completely different light and find the Syrah Cheng Way of things at the same time.

Chen's book is also wonderfully detailed, and provides such a fascinating glimpse of the mix of two cultures. This book is about more than just snowboarding and healing, but also about connections between people, separated by cultures and circumstances beyond their control. The many layers in Girl Overboard will help readers realize the true meaning of acceptance, family, and wealth, and illustrate that you don't have to be the star of what you love in order to have a rich, fulfilling life—you just have to find your unique way to make a difference. This novel is fascinating, important, and smart, and will leave you thinking.

Cover Comments: I really like this cover! The blue and the pink really stand out, and it looks edgy and modern. The font is great, it too seems to yell, "Look at me!" There is a repeated pattern of circles throughout the spine, back cover, and inside of the book that loosely ties in with the snow on the cover that is really cool as well.

Review copy purchased.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lonely Hearts Club Twitter Party!

Join Lonely Hearts Club author Elizabeth Eulberg and Amy of MyFriendAmy for a Twitter party Wednesday, January 20, between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. EST!

  • Be sure to follow Elizabeth @ElizEulberg and Amy @MyFriendAmy before the party!
  • Join the fun! No one expects you or your tweets to be perfect; we’re just happy you made it to the party!
  • Anyone who tweets during this hour using #LonelyHeartsClub is entered to win a limited edition Lonely Hearts Club t-shirt!
  • Watch for questions from @MyFriendAmy and win awesome prizes including an iPod shuffle, $50 iTunes gift card or $25 VISA gift card!
  • To join the party, you can use our official party tweetgrid or just search #LonelyHeartsClub on Twitter.
  • Ask Elizabeth questions or chat with other partygoers about how excited you are to read LHC—just use the tag #LonelyHeartsClub in all of your party tweets! (This is added automatically in TweetGrid.)
  • Please don’t post any spoilers and don’t forget to pay attention to the time zones, the party starts at 8:30pm EST.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blog Talk Radio and Me!

Last week, I participated in the Blog Talk Radio show, A Book and a Chat, with host Barry Eva. It was quite fun! We talked a lot about what books were my favorite this past year, what I'm looking forward to this year, some of my comfort reads, and then a lot of listeners asked some great questions! Go here to learn more about the show and listen to my segment, and here to see which figure in YA will be up next. The whole month of January is YA month, and there are a lot of great people lined up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Meet the Cast of Percy Jackson!

Are you looking forward to the Percy Jackson movie?

Starting this week, the four young stars from the movie– Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario and Jake Abel – are coming to a city near you!! The cast will be meeting and greeting fans at signing events hosted by Hot Topic or Borders Bookstores in select cities across the country. Check directly with the host store for event information.

Tour Schedule:
Thursday, January 14th San Francisco Borders
6:00 – 8:00PM 233 Winston Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94132

Sunday, January 17th Dallas Hot Topic
3:00 – 5:30PM Stonebriar Center
2601 Preston Ave.
Frisco, TX 75034

Thursday, January 21st Philadelphia Hot Topic
6:00 – 8:30PM Deptford Mall
1750 Deptford Center Rd.
Deptford, NJ 08096

Saturday, February 6th Atlanta Borders
4:00 – 6:00PM 4475 Roswell Rd. – Ave. E. Cobb
Marietta, GA 30062

Thursday, February 11th Los Angeles Hot Topic
6:00 – 8:30PM Hollywood & Highland Center
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

When her mother died and father fell into debt, Nimira set off for the big city, hoping to make her fortune as a dancer. She is just managing to get by when the sorcerer Hollin Parry appears and makes her an offer she finds difficult to refuse: to work for him, singing with a fairy-made, life-size automaton. Nimira's new life is better than she could believe, but when she discovers that a fairy named Erris is actually trapped within the automaton, her life is put in grave danger as she is ensnared with a tangled web of lies and secrets that could threaten the peace between two races.

Magic Under Glass is a sparkling and intriguing read. Nim is a lively and spunky heroine who is smart, charming, and resourceful, and Dolamore's fantastical world is brimming with magic and adventure. There are a few different cultures within the pages of Magic Under Glass, and Dolamore portrays them and their differences very well. It would be interesting to explore that aspect of the story a little more, which Dolamore will hopefully do in a sequel.

The characters were quite varied: from intelligent but imprisoned Erris, imposing Hollin Parry with his many secrets, a formidable housekeeper, and a mysterious madwoman. They, along with whispered secrets and murderous plots and villains, make the novel quite entertaining, and keep the book moving briskly. Magic Under Glass is a wonderful example of lovely, spirited storytelling, and an all around fun and lightly romantic fantasy read.

Cover Comments: This cover is lovely and magical and fills you with breathless anticipation--simply perfect. I love the font, the pose of the model, the hints of magic, everything!

ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun With Alexandra Bullen and WISH!

Earlier this week I blogged about Alexandra Bullen's debut novel, Wish. She was kind enough to take the time out of her busy schedule and answer a couple of questions. Read about Wish below, or scroll down to see the interview!

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

There's nothing that Olivia wishes for more than for her vivacious twin sister Violet to be alive again. Olivia is quiet and hesitant, and she is having a hard time adjusting to her new school in San Francisco. When she takes her sister's damaged dress to a dusty seamstress's shop, she doesn't get Violet's dress back, but a gorgeous magical dress that grants wishes instead. Olivia uses her one wish to bring her sister's ghost back, and is overjoyed. As Violet helps Olivia fit in and attract her crush's attention, Olivia grows more confident every day. But Violet can't stay with her forever, and there are still two other dresses (and wishes) left...

Alexandra Bullen's debut, Wish, is an imaginative and layered read. Bullen really makes what might be a tired and overworked premise and turns it into something magical and entertaining. There are many points of conflict though, enough that the book never feels boring or slow, but they are perhaps just slightly overwhelming. Olivia is dealing not only with her sister's death, but her parents' withdrawal and constant arguments, moving to a new city and trying to fit in, all the while juggling three magical dresses, making friends with the popular group, falling for her new friend's ex-boyfriend, and keeping her friendship with her mom's co-worker's son platonic. It's a lot to take it, and occasionally Bullen drops the ball with one or two of the aforementioned issues, but everything comes together neatly in the very end.

It's sweet to watch Olivia's transformation as she learns to step away from her grief and the shadow that Violet left behind and function as her own person. Violet herself is very much alive throughout the course of the book, making Olivia's pain and grief more tangible to the reader. The other supporting characters are surprising but realistic, and make Wish a very entertaining read. Bullen’s descriptions of the San Francisco area are also excellent, and she really makes the reader feel right at home, in both Olivia’s home and neighborhood; the only thing that seemed unnecessary was the mention of large amounts of alcohol toward the end. The ending has a little bit of a surprising twist, but everything comes together neatly as friends make up and Olivia’s family moves toward closure. This is a very sweet, poignant, and entertaining novel, and despite how busy the plot is, readers looking for something touching with a bit of romance, humor, and magic will enjoy Wish.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! It's very pretty and simple, but yet it conveys the magical air of the novel very well. I just love how her dress is made up of stars, as they hold some significance within the story. The actual finished copy is also much prettier than the picture, with its glittery details. Very nice!

(Review copy received from Scholastic.)

Interview with Alexandra Bullen:

TCR: I love the concept of the magical dresses in Wish. Do you have a favorite dress or dresses? 
Alexandra Bullen: I recently got a new dress for the WISH launch party that I absolutely adore—it’s black and slippery and really versatile, which I think is my number one favorite quality in a dress. That, and comfortable—if a dress is distracting in any way, I won’t wear it. 
Throughout the course of writing Wish, did you think about what you would wish for if you had three wishes? 
Of course! But like Olivia, I’ve always imagined I’d be fairly stingy with my wishes, just in case something really wish-worthy ever came up.
Wish is so layered; where did the idea for it originate from? 
Ideas usually come to me in the form of characters. In this case, it was two—Olivia and Violet. I always knew that Violet would be the more outgoing, vivacious twin, and one of the things about her death that struck me was how Olivia would handle every day decisions—like what to wear, for example—without the guidance of her shopping guru. I think that was always at the heart of the magical dresses in the book.
It's obvious from reading the book that you are familiar with the San Francisco area. If someone only had time to visit one place there, where would you direct them? 
Torture! Just one? If somebody had only an afternoon to explore the city, I’d send her to Golden Gate Park, which is definitely cheating because there’s so much to do there! The Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, the de Young Museum of Art…not to mention the park itself, which is just stunning. Plus—she could start or end her day at the Haight, with tons of restaurants and great shops for souvenirs.
What are some of your writing essentials? 
Notebooks for doodling, coffee in the morning, white tea in the afternoon, and a deadline! (Even if it’s “Return Library books by 3 pm.” There has to be an end in sight, or I’ll never get started.)
What are you working on now? 
The sequel to WISH! Three more magical dresses for a totally new (but equally deserving) girl.
Is there anything I didn't ask that you wish I had?

Nope! Really fun questions, and thanks so much for having me!

Thanks, Alexandra!

Also, here are some fun Wish-related links!

Follow Alexandra Bullen:

Guest blog by WISH editor Aimee Friedman:

Alexandra’s next stop will be January 16, when she’ll be doing an interview at http://bookluver-carol.blogspot.com/.

Check out these videos:

Book Trailer:

Author Video:


Thanks to the generosity of Scholastic, I'll be giving away one copy of Wish to a lucky winner! All you have to do is comment below and tell me what you would wish for if you had a wish. It can be silly or serious! Then, I'll pick a winner on January 29th! Good luck!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

In April, four teens head to Paradise for Spring Break, but their vacation is far from fun. For Jena and Skye, thrown together because their mothers are friends, it's a trip full of bitter memories, and brothers Dakota and Owen are only there because their mother believes that the vacation will be a great bonding opportunity. When all four leave though, they have no idea that their lives have become hopelessly intertwined.

Tangled is a very interesting book in that it follows these teens throughout the course of four months, delving into their lives and their own problems. This very layered and smart read not only exemplifies that people aren't always who they appear on the surface, but highlights questions and issues that every teen faces about identity, friendship, love, and self-confidence.

The characters are superb--Jena is self deprecating but honest and witty, and she is always in pursuit of the self confidence she believes Skye possesses that will help her become the person she wishes she could be. Skye, on the other hand, is not quite as perfect nor balanced as she appears, and her isolation and search for what's missing in her life make for some interesting drama. Dakota may seem like a bit of a jerk at first, but his issues and how he learns to confront them redeem him with readers. And last but not least, Owen is smart and cute and quite funny, and will everyone cheering him on as he takes a huge risk for the girl he likes. These protagonists are real and genuine--they have some issues, but they learn how to sort through them and live their life to its fullest.

Carolyn Mackler is an intelligent and witty author, and Tangled is insightful and unforgettable. This charming story about chance encounters and life-changing events will be on the tip of readers' tongues for quite a while.

Cover Comments: This cover is very cute! The hearts and the pink in it make it very girly, but I do like how the hearts are connected. Very sweet!

ARC received from HarperTeen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Last Survivors Series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

A couple of years ago, Susan Beth Pfeffer came out with Life As We Knew It, a fascinating novel that imagines a world in which a meteor has struck the moon and pushed it closer to Earth. Catastrophes and post-apocalyptic like events ensue as volcanoes erupt, flooding along shores occurs, and people are left without food, clean water. and electricity. Life As We Knew It follows the diary entries of Miranda, a sixteen-year-old living in a small town in Pennsylvania as she and her mother and brothers do their best to prepare for and survive the coming winter when their safe, small hometown has been drastically altered.

The Dead and the Gone is the story of Alex Morales, a sixteen-year-old New Yorker whose parents were both lost in the chaos immediately following the moon's displacement, and who finds himself responsible for his two younger sisters. Both stories are riveting and oftentimes horrifically imaginative as each teen is affected in very different ways, and each book explores themes of humanity, love, and resilience.

I was very, very happy to discover the other day that Pfeffer is continuing the series with This World We Live In, in which Alex and Miranda's paths cross.

Here's the official summary:

"It's been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever."

I can't wait for this one, and am seriously envying those with advance copies! It will be released on April 1st, and I swear that date can't come soon enough! In the mean time, I will be rereading the first two.

Have you read this series yet? What did you think? If you haven't picked up Life As We Knew It, I definitely urge you to do so!

Edited to add: If you'd like to read my review of This World We Live In, click here. I was really, really disappointed with the conclusion of this trilogy. For those of you who read it, what do you think?

UPDATE AS OF 6-5-13! There is a fourth book in the series! It's called The Shade of the Moon, and it will be out on August 13th, 2013! Here is the summary:

"The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times best-seller Life As We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever. It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?"
And to read about her newest book, Blood Wounds, click here!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

There's nothing that Olivia wishes for more than for her vivacious twin sister Violet to be alive again. Olivia is quiet and hesitant, and she is having a hard time adjusting to her new school in San Francisco. When she takes her sister's damaged dress to a dusty seamstress's shop, she doesn't get Violet's dress back, but a gorgeous magical dress that grants wishes instead. Olivia uses her one wish to bring her sister's ghost back, and is overjoyed. As Violet helps Olivia fit in and attract her crush's attention, Olivia grows more confident every day. But Violet can't stay with her forever, and there are still two other dresses (and wishes) left...

Alexandra Bullen's debut, Wish, is an imaginative and layered read. Bullen really makes what might be a tired and overworked premise and turns it into something magical and entertaining. There are many points of conflict though, enough that the book never feels boring or slow, but they are perhaps just slightly overwhelming. Olivia is dealing not only with her sister's death, but her parents' withdrawal and constant arguments, moving to a new city and trying to fit in, all the while juggling three magical dresses, making friends with the popular group, falling for her new friend's ex-boyfriend, and keeping her friendship with her mom's co-worker's son platonic. It's a lot to take it, and occasionally Bullen drops the ball with one or two of the aforementioned issues, but everything comes together neatly in the very end.

It's sweet to watch Olivia's transformation as she learns to step away from her grief and the shadow that Violet left behind and function as her own person. Violet herself is very much alive throughout the course of the book, making Olivia's pain and grief more tangible to the reader. The other supporting characters are surprising but realistic, and make Wish a very entertaining read. Bullen’s descriptions of the San Francisco area are also excellent, and she really makes the reader feel right at home, in both Olivia’s home and neighborhood; the only thing that seemed unnecessary was the mention of large amounts of alcohol toward the end. The ending has a little bit of a surprising twist, but everything comes together neatly as friends make up and Olivia’s family moves toward closure. This is a very sweet, poignant, and entertaining novel, and despite how busy the plot is, readers looking for something touching with a bit of romance, humor, and magic will enjoy Wish.

Cover Comments: I love this cover! It's very pretty and simple, but yet it conveys the magical air of the novel very well. I just love how her dress is made up of stars, as they hold some significance within the story. The actual finished copy is also much prettier than the picture, with its glittery details. Very nice!

Wish is out today!

Review copy received from Scholastic.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do You Have an Awesome Dream?

If you have an awesome dream you are clinging to right now, have you checked out Lisa McMann's Don't Let Your Dreams Fade Vlog Contest yet?

You can click here for more details, but in a nutshell: If you have a dream, all you have to do is make a vlog answering this question: How are your dreams and goals like Janie's?

Lisa McMann (author of Wake, Fade, and Gone) herself will pick a winner, and then that person will receive $1000 to help achieve their dream. How awesome is that?

Click here for more details, and if you haven't already, be sure to check out Wake and Fade, and keep an eye out for Gone, which will hit bookstores February 9th!

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Today is the release day for All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab!

Carly was impulsive, smart, and hurting. Both her boyfriend Neily and her cousin Audrey adored her, but neither of them knew how to get her the help she needed when her mother died, and neither of them did anything when Carly dumped Neily and began hanging out with the dangerous popular crowd. But both Audrey and Neily are shocked when Carly is found dead one night, murdered in cold blood, and a year later they are still struggling to deal with their guilt and confusion, despite the accused murderer, Audrey's father, being behind bars.

But then Audrey approaches Neily, asking for help. The pieces of Carly's murder aren't adding up, and she doesn't believe her father is the killer. She suspects the murderer is someone at their school, who would go at any length to keep certain dark secrets covered. But in order for them to find the truth, Audrey and Neily will have to be honest with not only each other, but themselves as well, and risk ripping open old wounds and getting involved with dangerous people.

Anna Jarzab's debut novel is a superbly written and immaculate mystery that is completely gripping and unsettling. Her writing style is smart and sophisticated, peppered with observations that will make you really stop and think. Her main characters, Neily and Audrey, are both very different but very authentic. Neily is smart and capable, but struggles to deal with an immense load of guilt. Audrey is a little more reckless and assertive, but deep down, she's searching for love and acceptance. The story flows perfectly as Jarzab carefully pulls back layer after layer of the events of over four years as the viewpoints switch back and forth between Neily and Audrey, and the past and present.

The bulk of the story takes place in prosperous Empire Valley, and a lot of action plays out at Brighton Day School, where many of the students are privileged and unbelievably wealthy, but All Unquiet Things has so much more depth than your average rich teen novel. Instead, Jarzab exposes the dark side of rich living with unsupervised teens that have access to as much money, drugs, and alcohol as they want, and what happens when things quickly spiral out of control. The plot is twisting and complex, but it all comes together in a surprising, breathless end in such a flawless way, never once lacking in suspense.

All Unquiet Things, simply put, had me under a spell. This is a complex, smart, and disquieting debut.

Cover Comments: Unsettling. That's what comes to mind when I see this cover. It actually reminds me more of an adult novel than a YA in its simplicity and sophistication, but I think it will do very well among a teen audience as well. I love this cover (well, as much as you can love a cover with a dead body on it, anyway).

ARC received from Random House.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why Does It Always Come Down to the Booze?

I’ve got a little exercise for you: walk over to your bookshelves, look at your YA books, or think about the books you have read recently. Now, I ask you: how many of them feature underage drinking? Probably at least a few. Now, how is alcohol portrayed in that book? Is it something that helps the plot? Character development? Or is just in there, because that’s what all the characters are doing? Just drinking.

Now, there are many excellent and important YA novels that feature underage drinking. I’m not saying I have a problem with them all. The fact of the matter is there are teens that drink, and teens that don’t. There are those who have no interest in alcohol, and there are those who love it, and there are those that only drink on occasion. I’m not bashing those teens or those books (though you all should know that, according to the CDC, not only does alcohol lower your inhibitions, if you are eighteen or younger, it can stunt growth and sexual development, leave you at a higher risk for assault and suicide, make you five times more likely to develop dependency issues than those over 21, and cause changes in brain development that will affect you for the rest of your lives. Just saying).

My problem with the alcohol in YA is that oftentimes it’s just…there. A protagonist will go hang out with friends, or go to a party, and there will be drinking. It’s mentioned, it happens, someone might get drunk, the protagonist will drink a little, everyone drives home, no big deal.

That kills me.

If alcohol is going to be a factor in novels, especially novels that young, impressionable people will read, why is it being treated lightly? Why does it serve no purpose to the story? Books that treat alcohol like it’s just something teens drink when they are with their friends and parents aren’t around because they are simply bored and it’s not like it’ll ever hurt anyone just rub me wrong. Too many times I see alcohol popping up in the book to make it relatable to teens, not to serve the plot in any way. And not only is that a poor choice and poor writing on the author’s part, it may be damaging to readers.

Think about it: how many of those books we talked about earlier that have drinking portray it as something everyone does, an accessory to a fun party, or something that makes you seem cool and popular? How many of them tell readers some alcohol is helpful, because if you consume just a little, it will make you more confident? How many times do you think those books are being read by teens everywhere? How does that use of alcohol appear to them through their eyes? They see a nice character that they’ve come to like and identify with pick up a beer, drink a little, get buzzed, drive a friend home, or ride with someone who has been drinking. And then, suddenly drinking becomes plausible in their heads. It becomes something that people do when they want to have a good time. It gets easier and easier to ignore the warnings, the hazards, and the consequences.

I would love to think that most teens have good heads on their shoulders, and they are confident in themselves and their own decisions and won’t let themselves be easily swayed by popular media, but as long as we’re being realistic here, a lot of teens aren’t so firm. A lot are easily swayed. If this weren’t the case, the percent of people under 21 who drink wouldn’t be as high as 45% (from the CDC again).

You know, for once I would like to see a character like the teenage boy I saw in a courtroom two years ago, caught for underage drinking, deeply embarrassed and scared to be facing a jury of his peers, knowing that his punishment lay in our hands and knowing that what he did was stupid. Or how about a character who acknowledges that downing that shot at that party to get up the courage to talk to their crush was stupid, because it made them sloppy, not cool and confident. Or, more simply, I would like to see a character say, “No thanks,” to a proffered beer at a party. It doesn’t have to be this huge monumental teaching moment, or an integral lesson in the book. It just has to be proof that 65% of teens aren’t stupid or easily cowed.

Now, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. You don't have to identify yourself, the anonymous button is one. But, where do you stand?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Captivate by Carrie Jones

This book is the sequel to Need, and the review will contain spoilers unless you've read Need!

Zara and her friends may have succeeded in trapping the killer pixies preying on young boys in Need, but now they find themselves facing bigger problems. Pixies from all over the world are flocking to Maine, sensing Zara's father's weakness and hoping to become the new pixie king. They are bringing plenty of trouble with them, especially a certain pixie king, Astley. He insists that Zara must become his queen, and as much as she loathes the thought, she can't help but want to believe certain things he tells her. And then when things veer wildly out of control, it turns out everyone must face challenges they never dreamed of.

All the lovable and dynamic characters from Need return in Carrie Jones's Captivate, making for a witty, suspenseful, and absorbing read. Despite its rather serious elements, Captivate stays witty and cute through the light romance between Nick and Zara and the fun supporting characters that often provide comic relief throughout the story. Zara still remains a strong, admirable heroine with her passion to help people, from oppressed people in third world countries to her own friends and family. Though she is very noble and protective, her very real fear of what might come keeps her grounded and human.

A few new characters are also introduced, which keeps things interesting. Astley’s appearance in the series will most like inspire many Team Nick vs. Team Astley debates among fans, and it will be most interesting to see how the relationships between Nick, Astley, and Zara develop, especially as it is the dynamics between the three that provide plenty of tension that propels Captivate’s plot. Though the book itself feels more like a continuation of a story in general rather than its own entity with a beginning, middle, and end like Need, the surprising turn of events and the cliffhanger ending will have everyone eager for a sequel. Captivate is a wonderfully entertaining book, one that girls will continue to flock towards thanks to its gutsy and relatable heroine and the constant action and suspense throughout.

Cover Comments: I like how the gold glitter is used as a tear in this cover, which is very appropriate as in some ways, this book is slightly sadder than Need. It's very pretty and certainly eye-catching!

ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Interview with Melissa de la Cruz!

Melissa de la Cruz, bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series, was kind enough to take a few moments out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions.

TCR: There are a lot of changes in The Van Alen Legacy; what was the hardest part about writing the fourth book? The easiest?

Melissa de la Cruz: The hardest part was Mimi's story, it was a slog through the Brazilian jungle for me as well! There's one sentence in her story: "It was a map" that took me about three rewrites and fifty pages to figure out WHAT was in that letter---fifty pages to get to THREE WORDS. I had pages and pages of crazy ways to get them to that cottage in the woods, and then Eureka! I could just say there was a map and there you go. You know when they say "trust the process"? Those people have never written fifty pages only to get to THREE WORDS. I still can't believe I had to write so much to get there.

The easiest was Bliss's story, it was a lot of fun to imagine what life would be like with someone in your head – the Visitor—and how to describe that – I really liked my idea of 'sitting in the backseat' although she 'owns the car.' Her chapters were easy to write.

Can you tell us anything about your next book?

Keys to the Repository contains a lot of fun details about the characters' childhoods and is an easy way to get back into the mythology and the story so far. I wrote a story about Jack and Sky's first meeting at the secret apartment, which is very romantic and was a lot of fun to write.

Have you read anything good lately you'd like to recommend to your readers?

I loved Cormac McCarthy's The Road, you just tear through it and it's like this crazy intense experience. For lighter reading, I loved Elizabeth Scott's Perfect You and Love You Hate You Miss You. Also Frank Portmann's King Dork is amazing.

Anyone who follows your blog or Twitter feed knows you are quite stylish. What are some fall/winter fashions you are loving?

I love the denim legging and the knee-high boot. You can wear it together! Although I tend to wear my knee-high boots with tights or black leggings – I like a monochromatic look – elongates the leg!

Thanks, Melissa!

Be sure to pick up a copy The Van Alen Legacy, out now!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Listen Now!

I am going to be on Blog Talk Radio at 6:30 Eastern tonight! Please stop by if you have the chance!

Here is the link:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/across-the-pond 

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

For a year, Colt met Julia Vernon every week by the bridge near his house. Their relationship was kept secret; Julia was the most popular girl in school, and one of the richest, and Colt is no one to the rest of the rich, popular crowd on Black Mountain. But right before Colt's junior year begins, Julia is killed in a car accident, and Colt is left alone with the knowledge of what he and Julia shared. Then her brother gives Colt a journal of letters Julia wrote to him, and by working his way through Julia's documentation of the previous year, Colt struggles to confront his feelings for the girl who was never really his and attempt to keep living his life.

Colt is a very personable and convincing character. His memories and narration are very vivid, yet never appear out of character. The pain and emotion he feels are palpable, but not overwhelming, and The Secret Year strikes just the right balance between the grief, thought, and memories Colt experiences and the mundane aspects of everyday life. Colt's ever-evolving and confusing feelings are very well played out, and they are almost suspenseful in that it is hard to predict what Colt will do next, or what exactly he is feeling, until he experiences the moment for himself.

Colt isn't the only well-written character--the entire cast of supporting characters, from Colt's circle of friends and his good friend Syd to his family (his brother Tom is especially interesting and entertaining) to Julia, who is always alive through memories and her journal, are all multi faceted and intriguing. They all help the reader understand the world that is Black Mountain and the flats and the vast differences between the two. The war between social classes played out in a high school setting is certainly not a unique premise, but Hubbard does an excellent job at keeping it fresh in her novel by drawing the reader into the drama and showing how it relates to Colt’s past, present, and even future.

Overall, The Secret Year is a beautifully written and authentic read. Readers will be hypnotized by Colt's story; it's not hard to feel sympathetic toward him as he struggles to deal with his grief and isolation, and you won't be able to help but be proud of him when he learns and grows. This is one tension-filled, romantic (but not overly sappy) novel. I've got my eye on Hubbard!

Cover Comments: As a girl, I like the black background and the couple kissing. I think it fits the story quite well. However, as a more objective reader, I can't help but think that the swirly font and kissing couple will turn off certain male readers. It'll be hard to sell such a romantic cover to a guy, despite the excellent male narrative. Nonetheless, this is a very nice cover.

The Secret Year is out today!

ARC received from Viking.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

YA Radio Month!

Hey everyone,

Have you ever visited A Book and a Chat on Blog Talk Radio? Well, you should totally check it, as it is YA Radio Month, and tons of bloggers and authors will be guests...including me! Tomorrow night I will be on Barry Eva's show from 6:30-7 Eastern, talking about great YA books from 2009 and fun books I am looking forward to in 2010, among other things. You can even dial in and ask me questions!

Visit this link here to access the show, and visit Barry's blog to learn more about upcoming interviews! I hope you'll be listening!


Numbers by Rachel Ward

At fifteen, Jem has seen more hardship than most. She's been shuffled from foster home to foster home in bad neighborhoods with uncaring teachers and foster parents ever since her mother died of a drug overdose when she was seven. But even all of the awful homes and people aren't nearly as bad as the numbers she sees—eight digit numbers that appear whenever she meets someone's eye, predicting their date of the death. This terrible knowledge forces Jem to withdraw within herself and never make friends...until she meets Spider. Spider only has a few weeks left, so she feels compelled to be nice to him.

But when on an outing at the London Eye with Spider, Jem sees something uncanny: everyone around them has the same death date. Today. She and Spider flee the scene, only to witness a bomb explode minutes later. Now on the run, Jem must confront her fear and her issues with her ability, and her growing feelings for Spider.

Rachel Ward's Numbers is a surprising novel with a very interesting and unconventional concept. Jem is a very honest narrator, someone most of us would describe as from the "wrong side of the tracks". Her life is hard, and it has made her a very tough and determined person. Ward speaks very realistically about what life is like for Jem and Spider, living in the projects with teachers and other authorities thinking less of them because of their background. Her take on them and their situation really makes you understand why they might be considered "problem kids" and why they fear the police, but also makes you very sympathetic towards them as well, even if they’re views might be a little skewed.

As for the plot, Ward did take some time setting it up, and you do expect a bit more of an action-packed read as the pace did slow and the story dragged slightly in the middle while Spider and Jem were fleeing, but the novel isn't really as much about the action and adventure as it is about Jem learning to open up and live a life despite having her morbid ability as she falls for Spider and begins to understand her mother and her actions. Of course, the romance is wrought with tension as Jem knows that Spider's time is winding down, and she struggles to come up with a way to save him without ever knowing what will ultimately take him away from here. The ending is both a little predictable and surprising at the same time, and it will be very interesting to see how Ward will continue the story in her planned sequel. Definitely check out Numbers if you are up for something both unique and convincing.

Cover Comments: This cover really gives me the impression that this book is fast and action-packed. The red eye is kind of freaky, but the numbers written all over the cover fit. It's a nice cover, but I think I like the UK version better.

ARC received from Amazon Vine and Scholastic.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Today is the release day for Lisa Schroeder's third book, Chasing Brooklyn!

It's been a year since Lucca died, but one year is not nearly long enough for his girlfriend Brooklyn and his brother Nico to move on. They're both still trapped in a well of grief and despair, with Nico constantly turning to running to run away from the pain, and Brooklyn clinging to the past, writing letters to Lucca every day. But when another friend of Lucca's, Gabe, commits suicide, he begins haunting Brooklyn. At the same time, Nico is suddenly being haunted by his brother, who is urging him to reach out to Brooklyn.

Both Nico and Brooklyn are scared and hurt, but unless they can overcome the fear they've let rule them, they can't move on....and neither can Lucca or Gabe.

Chasing Brooklyn is a book about pain, grief, healing, and hope. The story starts one year after Lucca's death and finds Brooklyn and Nico still struggling with every day life, unable to just move on like nearly everyone around them. Their reactions to Gabe's death are very realistic, and not long after that is when the hauntings begin. The book focuses more on the changing, conflicting feelings of the protagonists as they sort through their grief and slowly begin to trust each other rather than the supernatural elements, though they do serve an integral role in the novel.

The free verse style the book is written in allows for more emotion and feeling to be poured into the story, which is nicely accented by the beautiful and vivid imagery that Schroeder employs. At the same time, Chasing Brooklyn has a very authentic teen voice, with references to popular bands and school and parties that make this story seem reachable and real. Many teens will be able to pull a lot of meaning out this book that they can apply not only to grief and death, but to nearly every situation in life, and that is to not let fear overcome you, but allow love to prevail. Chasing Brooklyn will suck readers in with its heartbreaking and yet empowering pull.

Cover Comments: I like the blues used in this cover, and the hands to the glass is just eerie enough for this ghost story, but what I focus on is the girl, and the expression on her face. This is a great cover, and I think it fits the story very well.

ARC received from author.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cool Widget!

Check out this cool widget for Incarceron by Catherine Fisher! Neat, huh? I have an ARC for this book, and after seeing the widget, I am even more eager to read it. Incarceron will be available in March.

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

Mike and his friends Bones, Mixer, and Tommy are unconcerned slackers, put in remedial classes and not really concerned with doing well in school. They aren't really too worked up when Tommy just disappears after a humiliating incident in math class--they figure he'll return on his own time. But then their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, in attempting to teach them Crime and Punishment, says and does some seriously strange things that make Mike suspect that he might have something to do with Tommy abrupt disappearance--that he might have in fact killed him. Now Mike takes it upon himself to try and decode the meaning of Mr. Haberman's words and actions to discover what really happened to Tommy.

Gentlemen is a very unique and gritty book. Mike and his friends are open about their lack of ambition and talk frankly about drugs, alcohol, and sex. They're the people that we all know of in society, but rarely are their points of view told. Gentlemen delves into their lives as Mike and his friends try to find the truth about Tommy's disappearance, coming up with guess after guess. Crime and Punishment is used a lot in the novel, but by no means do you have to be familiar with it to understand what is going on. It helps keep things moving as Mike refers to it again and again in his quest for the truth, and provides the reader with some interesting insights. There are also some interesting views on friendship, how Mike and his friends interact, and when you come to the point in a relationship that you are friends because you've known each other for such a long time, not because you truly know or understand the other person. Overall, Gentlemen is a unique and chilling novel that examines not only morals and crimes, but the darkness that may exist in any one person, making for a unique and thoughtful book that reluctant readers will be able to enjoy.

Cover Comments: Well, I didn't quite understand what was on this cover until I saw it in person: a body bag. Which, now that I think about it, is a bit fitting. The over is chilling, the book is chilling. Still, this is one of the more daring covers I've seen. I kind of like it.

Review copy received from Scholastic.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Books Trailers You Need to See

This past year, I encountered a supernatural book I really enjoyed: Need by Carrie Jones. The sequel, Captivate, is being released this month, and if you like supernatural books and kick-butt protagonists, I urge you to pick up Need and Captivate if you haven't already. If you're still unsure, check out these very cool trailers:



Happy viewing!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

Elizabeth Bennett thought herself the luckiest woman alive the day she married her Darcy. Never mind the strange moods he occasionally falls into, or the surprising change of plans during their wedding tour that lead them traipsing around to France and Italy instead of relaxing at the Lake District. Mr. Darcy is perfect. But soon Elizabeth can no longer ignore the strange signs and the peculiar and oftentimes menacing behavior of some of his friends. The truth is huge and intimidating—can Elizabeth, who already went through so much just to simply marry Darcy, make their marriage survive despite their differences?

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is a clever and fun romp. Amanda Grange's humorous book contains plenty of humor, history, and of course, vampyre lore, to satisfy both supernatural fans and the Austen fans. The novel isn't quite as dense as Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which makes it a nice pick if you wish to be entertained, but neither does her novel quite capture Austen's unique style. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre is especially fun as Elizabeth and Darcy travel all across Europe as it packs in many cultural and historical details and stays historically accurate. The ending wraps up nice and neat, with a few little surprises to keep the reader on the edge of the seat. This is an amusing and seamless sequel that is fascinating and entertaining, and you simply can’t help but admire Grange’s imagination.

Cover Comments: This cover is a little bloody, but smart nonetheless, and it fits within the time period. I like how it's kept simple with the grays, blacks and white background. Very nice.

Review copy received from Sourcebooks.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New ARCs Contest!

Hello everyone,

Happy 2010! I love new years and the idea of new beginnings, and the happy feeling of being able to wipe away the memories of failed resolutions from the year before with new (and more realistic) ones. Last year, I made a resolution to blog a lot more--and was pretty successful at it. 2009 saw 377 posts. Let's see if I can beat that this year! I'm going to shoot for 385.

Anyhoo, to celebrate the New Year here, I thought I'd host a little giveaway. I have six extra ARCs of 2010 releases sitting on my shelves here, and one lucky read will win them all. They are:

  • The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard (Excellent book, I finished it a couple of days ago.)
  • All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab (Another fantastic debut, you don't want to miss this one!)
  • Captivate by Carrie Jones (Yay for the sequel to Need! It'll satisfy your needs and leave hanging for more!)
  • Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (Have you seen the trailer for this one? it looks SO GOOD!)
  • Wish by Alexandra Bullen (I'm reading this one now, very cute!)
  • The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (How awesome is this one's cover?)
Awesome, right? Okay, so all you have to do in order to be entered to win is answer my nosy question: What's your New Year's resolution? If you don't make them, why not?

Answer in the comments and you'll be entered to win! This contest will end Friday, January 22nd, 2010 at midnight. The winner will be notified sometime over the weekend. 

Thanks so much for reading, and Happy New Year!