The Compulsive Reader: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cover Talk: Matched by Allyson Condie

I just found the cover for one of the books I am most excited about this fall! Matched, written by Allyson Condie, is set in a world where teens are matched for life by a higher power. Here's the summary:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

And now, the cover:

Pretty cool, right? I like the colors used, and without reading the book, the girl stuck in the bubble seems pretty symbolic. I am really looking froward to this one...I might have to be bad and move it to the top of my TBR list! 

What do you think?

Something Like Fate Blog Tour!

I've been a big fan of Susane Colasanti's work for a long time, ever since I first read Take Me There about two years ago, so you can imagine how excited I am for the release of her latest book, Something Like Fate, which will be out next week--May 4th!

Here's my review!

When Lani's best friend Erin begins dating Jason, Lani is happy for her. He's not the type of guy Erin normally goes for, but she seems to really like him. However, as Lani gets to know Jason, she begins to feel this amazing connection to him. He's unlike any guy she's ever known...but he's taken. Then Erin goes away for the summer, and Jason and Lani are free to hang out without Erin knowing, but Lani can't do that to her best friend. She and Erin are supposed to share a bond that runs deeper than any romantic relationship...right?

Something Like Fate is a bittersweet and wise book about the trickiness of relationships between friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and teens and parents. Colasanti's protagonist, Lani, is responsible and goal oriented, but she has a passionate side, and her avid beliefs in fate and the truth in horoscopes make her a unique and memorable character. Her feelings for Jason are strong, but her loyalty to Erin is stronger, which is reflected in her conflicting feelings and ever-increasing confusion throughout the book. Though Something Like Fate isn't quite as layered as her previous novels, Colasanti keeps the plot busy with Lani and Jason's complex relationship and Lani's friend Blake's own issues with his father.

As her relationship with Erin and her other friends becomes more and more complicated and eventually sours, Lani continues to act mature and be an admirable character, despite her pain and feelings of betrayal. The book ends realistically and there is plenty of room for optimism for Lani, Jason, and Erin. Something Like Fate serves as a funny, insightful, and sometimes painful reminder that friends can and do grow apart, and that clinging to past bonds can get in the way of future relationships.

Cover Comments: I've always been a big fan of Colasanti's covers and the couples on them. This one is a little different (there;s a third person!) but I do like it. I think it'll grab a lot of people's attention just because of the implications of the couple(s)...and I do like the bright colors and the fact that it is set in an ice cream shop (which is significant in the book)!

To celebrate the release, Susane has been touring the blogosphere, enlightening us with guest posts that relate to topics within the book, and then asnwering three questions! Today's guest post is about Gemology!

"I’ve always had a thing for polished stones. Their shine, their color, the swirly patterns they have. I love the metallic luster of hematite and all the different colors you can see in opals. In Something Like Fate, Lani wears a piece of tourmalinated quartz on a chain. This mineral is believed to have balancing powers. I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility of gem stones and minerals holding special powers. I even have my own piece of tourmalinated quartz just like Lani’s. While doing research for the book, I referred to The Crystal Bible. It has gorgeous photos of just about every precious stone, with a huge directory telling the attributes of each one. If you’re into gemology, I highly recommend it."

TCR: Are you similar to any of your characters?

SC: Sara from When It Happens is the character I have the most in common with. We’re both into archival scrapbooking, have a thing for blue lights, have owned a xylophone, love The Cure and R.E.M., and didn’t fit in at school. We experienced similar boy situations as well.

TCR: Do you think it is possible for a friendship to last if one girl falls for her friend's boyfriend?

SC: Not if her friend is deeply in love with the boy. There’s no coming back from that kind of hurt. This is just my own opinion, though – I’ve never gone through that kind of thing with any of my friends. But I can imagine that having your best friend fall in love with your boyfriend and then realizing that your boyfriend loves her as well would be the worst kind of pain. Maybe those girls would make up eventually, but their friendship would never be the same again.

TCR: What are you working on now?

SC: Right now I’m revising my fifth book. If everything goes according to plan, it should be released in May 2011!

Awesome! I can't wait tpo hear more about book five! Also, if you're still unsure about any of Susane's books, check out this eBook sampler below, where you can read the first chapters of all of Susane's books!

Susane Colasanti Sampler

And finally, what's a blog tour without a contest? I'll be giving away one signed copy of Something Like Fate! All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below! The contest will run until May 14th, 2010!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Is Me From Now On Contest!

Barbara Dee's latest book, This Is Me From Now On, just came out this past week, and to celebrate, I'm giving away two fun packs on my blog. But first, about the book:

Sometimes your life just needs a little jolt.

This is what Evie's new friend Francesca tells her, and soon enough, Evie's life has had something more like an earthquake. Francesca thinks life is dull unless you go after everything you want and say everything on your mind all the time--and sometimes that includes giving other people a little behind the scenes help to give them what she thinks they want.

Evie can't always tell if she's horrified or fascinated by everything Francesca convinces her to do, but ultimately, she comes to see friendship--and life--in a whole new light.

Sounds good, right? And I am loving the cover! It has so much energy in it.

So, I shall be offering two fun packs, put together by Barbara Dee herself, which include an amber necklace, LipSmackers, and bubblegum...PLUS, I'll throw in a bunch of swag to sweeten the deal! Just fill out the form below by May 14th, 2010!

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

Joy and Jessica Stefani are unlike any teenage sisters their age: they were born with the ability to Hear others' Whispers, their secret desires. Jessica loathes this "curse", and is friendless and bitter as a result. Joy thinks of the ability as a gift, and is very close to her mother, from whom she inherited Hearing. As the years go by, Joy and Jessica grow further apart, and Joy gets more and more frustrated with her sister. But then one day, Jessica disappears, and Joy's powers begin to change. Then, she Hears a terrifying Whisper from Jessica, propelling her on a search for her sister with an unfamiliar boy, Jamie, with a strange ability of his own.

Interesting and intriguing, Whisper is a different take on paranormal fiction. There isn't an evil plot to overthrow or some enemy to beat, but rather Kitanidis's debut focuses on the complexity of Hearing desires, and its affect on the relationships that Joy and Jessica have and their emotions. Joy and her mother believe that Hearing can help them make the world a better place, but Jessica is more cynical, and their father cannot Hear at all, making for some very interesting family dynamics. But as Joy's ability changes, she also learns quite a bit about her parents; her mother isn't the perfect saint she thinks she is, and her father isn't distant on purpose. This knowledge forces Joy to stand on her own and make her own decisions, and readers will be happy to see that she rises to the occasion.

It would have been nice to have some more details on how and why Joy's Hearing changed, and how Jessica tried to rid herself of hers, but the lack of that information doesn't really detract from the story. In fact, the mystery and suspense of it propel the plot along, and introduce Joy to Jamie. They are both bold and determined to find Jessica, though their actions do make them seem very mature and independent for their age. Nonetheless, their resourcefulness and perseverance lead them to the truth, with many heart-pounding moments along the way. Whisper wraps up nicely, without demanding a sequel, and with a lot of optimism for the future. This is an excellent coming-of-age novel about love and the complexity of relationships with a paranormal element that will hook teens from the beginning.

Cover Comments: I like the dark colors in this cover, and how the wisps of smoke are used--it's a very neat effect. The pink in the title stands out really well!

ARC received from publisher.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Claire de Lune Trailer

Check out this cool trailer for Claire de Lune, which comes out in May. It makes me want to pick up my copy so much more!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody

Madison's life was finally coming together the way she wanted: a magazine article about her perfect boyfriend Mason made her popular at school, and got her an invite to the party she dreamed of attending. But it blows up in her face when her newly popular boyfriend cheats on her and starts dating Heather Campbell, the meanest (and most popular) girl in school. She's tired of waiting for Karma to get even with Mason and Heather, so she tells her friends, "It's time to make Karma work for us." And so they do, by forming the Karma Club and using it to get back at all of the ex's that have wronged them. But as Maddy and her friends discover, that's not exactly the way Karma works...

The Karma Club is a clever and engaging book that will hook readers quickly. At the beginning of the story, Maddy is shallow and self-absorbed, and worries incessantly about popularity and being invited to the right parties. But readers will be able to overlook that (and the fact that Brody never really reveals why Mason left Maddy) as the drama begins to unfold and the girls begin plotting their revenge. It is curious that none of them seem the least bit hesitant or frightened to go through with their plans, as some of them are serious and could get them into big trouble, but is satisfying to see the boys who wronged them get what Maddy and her friends think they deserve. Along the way, Brody peppers the book with little instances in which Karma is working, which helps reinforce her message.

When things start to go wrong for Maddy and her friends, they can all be linked back to their previous actions, and it is evident that Karma is at work. In realizing this, Maddy matures in leaps and bounds and learns to embrace the true, simple meaning of Karma: good deeds are rewarded, bad deeds are punished. Throw in a cute but surprising romance, and you have the makings for an excellent pick-me-up with an empowering and important message.

Cover Comments: I think this cover is very cute! I like the pink, and the close-up of the girl's face. It most certainly stands out!

Review copy received from publisher.

Also, be sure to visit Jessica Brody's website and check out this awesome book trailer:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Camille has always enjoyed an abundance of freedom for a young lady in the late 19th century. She has traveled far and wide with her father on his merchant ship, and prefers her life of adventure and ease to the stuffy society life of her peers. But her upcoming journey to Australia is quite unlike the others: it shall be her last before her marriage to the wealthy Randall Jackson, who expects her to embrace propriety and cease sailing with her father.

But before they can reach their destination, Camille uncovers a long kept secret of her father's and the unpleasant truth about her future…and their ship is wrecked in a terrible storm. Camille and her father's handsome first mate, Oscar, are two of the only survivors, and Camille must convince Oscar to help her find her mother, a woman Camille thought was dead, and discover an unbelievable artifact her mother has kept hidden from Camille's father--and his enemy, who is still very much alive.

Angie Frazier has a strong and talented voice, as revealed in this debut novel. Everlasting is adventurous, smart, and sweet, and contains many unique elements that will cause this novel to stand out. The characters are realistic and personable; Camille is a strong and capable character who possesses courage and determination to get her through the toughest of situations. Oscar is witty, sharp, and loyal, and his past in an interesting one. Even the supporting characters, like Oscar and Camille's Australian guide, Ira, are well rounded, and add a spark of humor and fun to the story.

The plot is well drawn out, with just enough mystery to keep you reading, and excellent, descriptive settings. Frazier's research is evident in the descriptions and setting, though more details and information concerning Australia during the time period would have been welcome. Nonetheless, the pacing is perfect and the romance is sweet and exhilarating. Camille's mix of emotions—grief, love, guilt—is portrayed very well in all that Camille does and learns, and in the choices she makes. There are some light supernatural elements present in the book, but they aren't overbearing, so the book does seem to be more of an adventurous historical fiction novel than just another paranormal romance, a welcome distinction.

Everlasting is a unique and enchanting novel about love, grief, and above all, forgiveness, that will have you wondering at the outcome until the sweet and satisfactory ending. Angie Frazier is most definitely an author to watch.

Cover Comments: This cover is beautiful! It's romantic, and the boat and water are so fitting. I am loving the blue and purple color combination. It was this lovely cover that first grabbed my attention, so it has definitely done its job well!

Everlasting will be available on June 1st, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guest Blog from Chris Bradford

Reading Makes The Writer by Chris Bradford

My love of reading (and writing!) was born from all the times my granddad read to me as a child the stories of Captain Pugwash (by John Ryan). I’d listen rapt to their high-seas adventures and imagine myself on a pirate ship, exploring unknown lands and discovering treasure.

As I grew older, so did my tastes in reading. I moved on to the imaginative, character-filled worlds of Roald Dahl. One story that sticks in my mind is The Twits - a dark, twisted and terrifying tale. I’d recommend it to everyone! It’s so horrible you can only laugh at the absurdity of two old crotchety people trying to out do one another in the nastiness stakes. Roald Dahl’s imagination is on top form in this story – from serving worm spaghetti to making the old Twit think she’s shrinking is creepy, funny and fiendishly clever. I haven’t read this book in maybe 25 years, but the fact that I can still remember these scenes and the characters just shows how brilliant The Twits is.

By my early teenage years, I wanted to take more control in reading. This was the decade of the Fighting Fantasy series by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. I must have read over 20 of these single-player fantasy gamebooks. Being the hero and making the character’s choices was a revelation for me and I was hooked. I could follow my own path through the story - as if I was the omnipotent author.

As a fully-fledged teenager, I then discovered Stephen King. I realize some people may disagree with me, but I think he’s one of the great storytellers of all time. Some dismiss King as ‘just’ a Horror writer; but he’s also responsible for such brilliant books such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. The one story of his that haunts me to this day is IT. The book deals with childhood fears that enter the adult world. A clown, who is often the source of laughter, becomes the focus of fear. I read this tome in the middle of Africa and I still had nightmares that a clown was about to jump out at me from behind a bush…when I should have been far more worried about the real-life danger of a lion!

And the last book I read…Under The Dome by Stephen King. Need I say more…

So when it came to writing my own novels, I followed his advice to write the book I would want to read as a young person. So I combined many of the elements above in my Young Samurai series: from the swashbuckling, high-seas adventure I loved in Captain Pugwash; to the memorable distorted characters of Roald Dahl (check out Dragon Eye in my book); to the fact that as the author I could really can make my own plot decisions; and finally to the simple essence of great storytelling that Stephen King espouses - a gripping plot that twists and turns with nail-biting cliffhangers.

I can only thank these master storytellers for all their lessons, ideas, inspiration and hours of enjoyment. For in writing this blog, I’ve discovered – reading makes the writer.

Chris Bradford is the author of the award-winning Young Samurai series, a tale of adventure, friendship and heroism that follows an English boy as he strives to become the first foreign samurai. (www.youngsamurai.com )

Chris is a black belt in martial arts and lives in a village in West Sussex, England, with his wife.

Books in series: The Way of the Warrior and The Way of the Sword

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shade Trailer

Here is a trailer for a cool new paranormal book coming out next month. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready is a ghost story...in which everyone under the age of sixteen is born with the ability to see and speak with ghosts. I have read it, and my review will be coming up soon, but trust me when I say that this is one book you won't want to miss if you are a fan of paranormal books.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Runaway, Meg Cabot, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oh My!

Hey everyone,

I'm glad you found your way to my blog for Meg Cabot's blog tour to celebrate the release of Runaway, the final book in the Airhead trilogy!  You can read my review here. It's a fabulous book, so be sure to pick up a copy! I've been reading Meg's books for so long now, I know I can trust her to come up with smart, entertaining, and humorous books that I will devour.

My first encounter with a Meg Cabot book occurred in sixth grade, in the girls’ locker room right before gym class. Being the bookish kid I was, I predictably hated changing in front of all the other girls and usually rushed through the process, staring intently into my lurid orange locker.

But on that early spring day, one thing slowed me down, and that was the conversation going on between the eighth grade girls. To say I was eavesdropping would have been inappropriate as it was nigh impossible to do anything silently in that tiny, completely tiled-in room…but I was hanging on every word they said nonetheless.

“Her books are like, so good!”

“I know, and funny too!”

“I wish I could save the president!”

It was a copy of Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl that one eighth grader was waving around and lending to all of her friends. The cover was blue, with what looked like fireworks on the front, and it was thick…far thicker than any book a casual reader would pick up.

I was the Reader of the school. I was the one who had already blown through the school’s measly library. I was the one who set the school record for reading points two years previously. I was the one who knew everything there was to know about every book that everyone in the school liked.

So how, I asked myself, could I not have heard of this amazing book?

There was one thing I knew at eleven years old, and that was if a book was thick and even reluctant readers were raving about it, then it must be good.

So, I was faced with a dilemma: my curious and bookish nature would not allow me to leave the locker room without finding out more about that book. However…talk to eighth grade girls? When they hadn’t spoken to me first? I couldn’t actually do that, right?

But as the girls slowly filed out of the locker room, one by one, I saw my opportunity slipping out the door with them. Keeping my eye on Andrea, the girl with the book, I forced myself to face the facts: either confront her and risk being belittled, or lose out on finding out more about the book.

And so I went up to her, closed my eyes, and said what seemed most natural at the time: “Whatbookareyouguystalkingabout?”

And surprisingly, Andrea was very cool. She showed me the book, and even let me borrow it the next day. And I fell into Meg Cabot’s world. All-American Girl was everything I wanted in a book, but hadn’t been able to find in between the dusty classics and simplistic chapter books gracing the shelves available to me. Her characters were smart, strong, and funny. They were everything I wanted to be. I hadn’t figured out how to get there, but those characters slowly helped me achieve the confidence and independence to find my way.

In addition, her books were the first I had read that used pop culture references. I got ridiculously overexcited when I read about Sam talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer…up until that point, I hadn’t even realized Buffy was popular, or that teenage girls openly watched that show (unlike me…I watched it in secret whenever I could). It was then that it hit me. An author who wrote funny stories, so implausible that they were halfway believable, had romance, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer…I was enamored. This Meg Cabot had to be sent to me from God.

And it sure continued to seem that way: Meg Cabot led me to the previously undiscovered YA section at my library where I fell in love with more fantastic books, to a future best friend named Andrea, and inspired me to write my own words and find who I am.

To which I said, and still say, THANK YOU, MEG CABOT!

Now, please go and pick up a copy of Runaway today! And be sure to stop by Meg's Scholastic site!

Also,  be sure to swing by the official Twitter party! Here are the details:

Join Runaway author Meg Cabot and Thea and Ana of The Book Smugglers for a Twitter party Thursday, April 22, between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. EST!

  • 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 the party using #MegCabot is entered to win a limited edition Runaway t-shirt – featuring the winning design voted for by fans!

  • Watch for questions from @BookSmugglers and win awesome prizes including an iPad, $50 Sephora gift cards or $25 VISA gift cards!

  • Ask Meg questions or chat with other partygoers—just use the tag #MegCabot 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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Win a Copy of Morpheus Road: The Light!

Today is the release day for the book Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale! And to celebrate, I am goiving away five copies to US residents. You can click here to read my review, or read the official summary below!

Marshall Seaver is being haunted.

It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window, a rogue breeze—all things that can be explained away. That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on
the pages of a sketchbook—a character Marshall himself created.

Marshall has no idea why he is being tormented by this forbidding creature, but he is quickly convinced it has something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing. Together with Cooper’s beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.

Number one New York Times bestselling author D. J. MacHale launches his eerie new trilogy with a story so packed with chilling suspense, readers will want to sleep with the light on.

To enter, fill out the form below! This contest will close on May 5th, 2010.

Not able to meet D. J. MacHale while he’s on tour?
Not to worry! You can still ask him all your questions about Morpheus Road on publication day!

Here’s how to do it:
Go to: http://www.ustream.tv/simonandschuster

Login on the right side via Twitter or Facebook to post questions.

D. J. will be answering the questions LIVE on pub day, 4/20 at 6:00 PM Eastern time, and you can watch it there then!

Runaway: An Airhead Novel by Meg Cabot

Today is the release day for Runaway, the final book in the Airhead trilogy by the always fabulous Meg Cabot!

Em Watts is still stuck being Nikki Howard, but she is getting closer to discovering the reason why her brain was transplanted into Nikki's body...because the real Nikki is alive, and she knows everything. The only problem is, she's quite unwilling to talk unless she gets what she wants--her own body back. Em needs Christopher's help if they are going to discover the reason behind Stark's secret themselves, but unfortunately Christopher isn't exactly happy with Em right now. With everyone wanting so much from her and her sort of boyfriend hating her, is it really any wonder that Em feels like running away?

Runaway, the conclusion to the Airhead trilogy, is a snappy and smart read that goes by far too quickly! The novel picks up only days after the tension-filled conclusion of Being Nikki, and dives into the action right away, with all of the drama surrounding Brandon Stark's attempt at whisking Em and the Howards away to his summer home. They are quickly rescued, but when they return to New York, it is evident that they aren't any safer there. Lulu and Gabriel Luna quickly join the group as Em and Christopher attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery through a series of fast paced action scenes, complete with plenty of quick thinking, computer hacking, and romantic tension.

Meanwhile, plenty is happening with the large cast of supporting characters--people a hooking up, breaking up, and making up. Nikki, who comes off as horribly vain and shallow throughout most of the series, gets a makeover and a drive for revenge, making her more likable and more ruthless. Em is dealing with her own issues concerning her mother and how she taught Em and her sister to perceive beauty, which adds a bit more depth to the plot.

Cabot gives readers hints at Stark's insidious plan throughout the book, which may be predictable to some readers, but not any less surprising or suspenseful once all is revealed--including the true reason behind Em's brain transplant. But even after the big reveal, Em must work fast to outsmart Stark and see that justice is served. Finally, the book culminates in a highly satisfying confrontation readers have been looking forward to since Airhead. In her trademark style, Cabot proves once again that being smart and being fashionable don't have to be mutually exclusive and that by being yourself, no matter how hard it may be, you will always come out on top.

Cover Comment: I think the model's position looks a little awkward, but I really like that she is in the act of running away. I've always found the design of the Airhead covers pretty neat, and I just love how the same model has been used for all three books. Very neat cover!

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, April 19, 2010

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

Becca is just another high school senior, counting down the days to graduation and college and passing her time with her boyfriend Alec, the one guy that truly gets her. Camille has been dragged across the country and back again multiple times thanks to her father's job, and she's miserable in her new Atlanta home. Thoughts of her old home in Chicago—and the boy she left behind—won’t stop haunting her. Camille doesn't know Becca, but she gets to know Alec...and when they share a kiss that Becca's best friend witnesses, neither Becca nor Camille will ever be the same again.

Terra Elan McVoy's striking second novel examines the power of one kiss and its many ramifications. After the Kiss alternates between the points of view of the two characters: Becca's perspective is told in many lovely, inventive, and diverse poems that are fun to read and showcase McVoy's talent nicely, while Camille's portions of the story are more emotionally grabbing. They are in second person, and she lacks capital letters. This style is unusual, but it embodies Camille's confusion and her detachment as a coping mechanism perfectly.

Though the girls have very few physical encounters throughout the book, their stories flow together seamlessly. Becca's new job, which forces her apart from Alec, helps her mature and the experiences she faces help her to obtain the confidence she needs to talk openly with her mother and plan for her future. In a world where everything is interchangeable--homes, schools, friends--Camille wanders around without any sort of purpose, but she finally learns to open up to others and slowly comes to the realization that goodbye for now doesn't necessarily mean goodbye forever. Each girl's journey is entertaining and profound, and the best part is that McVoy doesn't force you to take sides. Instead, she demonstrates that people are never what they appear to be, despite their actions and what little information you may know about them.

After the Kiss isn't so much about romance and Alec as it is about growing up and all the problems and triumphs that come with that process: figuring out your own problems, coming up with the appropriate solutions, and making peace with others. This is an extraordinary novel about letting go and holding on that you won't easily forget.

Cover Comments: Though this cover gives you the impression that the book will be lighter and more romantic than it really is, I love it! The pink on blue is very pretty, and I like the how the candy hearts and the title all gravitate toward the bottom of the cover. It's a very fresh, neat effect!

After the Kiss will be available on May 4th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interview with Kay Cassidy!

Kay Cassidy is the author of The Cinderella Society, which just came out this past week! She is the founder of the national Great Scavenger Hunt ContestTM reading program for kids and teens and the host of the inspirational Living Your FiveTM web project. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, movies, music, and reading. Lots and lots of reading. She hopes her debut YA novel, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY (April 13, 2010 - Egmont), will help girls embrace their inner Cindy.

About The Cinderella Society:

What a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn't want to wear it anymore?

Sixteen year old Jess Parker has always been an outsider. So when she receives an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret society of the most popular girls in school, it's like something out of a fairy tale. Swept up by the Cindys' magical world of makeovers, and catching the eye of her Prince Charming, Jess feels like she's finally found her chance to fit in.

Then the Wickeds--led by Jess's arch-enemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers there's more to being a Cindy than reinventing yourself on the outside. She has unknowingly become part of a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and now the Cindys in charge need Jess for a mission that could change everything.

Overwhelmed, Jess wonders if The Cinderella Society made a mistake in choosing her. Is it a coincidence her new boyfriend doesn't want to be seen with her in public? And is this glamorous, secret life even what she wants, or will she risk her own happy ending to live up to the expectations of her new sisters?

Kay was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about reading, writing, and her books!

TCR: Where did the idea for the Cindys vs. Wickeds stem from?

KC: The Cinderella Society actually came from a magazine article about high school sororities. I'd never heard of that before and, once I started thinking about the kind of society I would create if I could, I realized I would've wanted it to be an organization devoted to fighting the everyday battle of good vs. evil. It all snowballed from there and The Cinderella Society was born.

TCR: What was the hardest part about writing The Cinderella Society? The easiest?

KC: The hardest part was figuring out how much to reveal about the society in book one. My editor was a huge help with that. Since The Cinderella Society is the first book of a series, I know quite a bit about the society that hasn't been revealed yet.

The easiest part was writing Ryan's character. He was almost fully formed when he first popped into my head, so he was actually a lot easier to write than Jess, who sort of introduced herself bit by bit. :-)

TCR: And there any books you've read recently you'd like to share with your readers?

KC: I absolutely loved Christina Diaz Gonzalez's The Red Umbrella coming out next month. It's about a young girl and her brother living in Cuba when Castro first takes over and their parents send them off to the US to escape before the borders close. Her chapter headings are dates with actual headlines from that time that describe how Castro succeeded in stripping away the freedoms of an entire country. It's an amazing, nail-biting story I think everyone should read.

TCR: Can you give us any info on the next Cinderella Society books?

KC: Right now I'm working on the sequel to The Cinderella Society. Cindy on a Mission follows the further adventures of Jess and the Sisters as the Wickeds launch an offensive that threatens everything the Cindys hold dear. Cindy on a Mission will be on shelves in Spring 2011.

TCR: What one piece of advice would you like to share with your readers?

KC: "No Wicked chatter." :-) This is a mantra for the Cindys but it's something I aspire to live by as well. No Wicked chatter means keeping negativity out of your words and your own thoughts. No gossiping, no berating yourself in your own for things you think you've done wrong. Focus on positive things and take control over how you view yourself. It's a much less stressful life! :-)

TCR: Thanks, Kay!

And now...here's a little teaser from The Cinderella Society for your enjoyment!

I opened the card, my hands trembling in dread and the faint remnants of what I used to call hope, as a tiny silver high-heel pin bounced into my hand.

I juggled the pin for a second, barely managing to keep it from falling, and flipped open the note with my other hand. The words inside were not a message but an invitation that sent shivers down my spine:

Your presence is requested at The Grind.
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Wear the pin.
Discretion MANDATORY.

The Cinderella Society is published by Egmont USA.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

When Lani's best friend Erin begins dating Jason, Lani is happy for her. He's not the type of guy Erin normally goes for, but she seems to really like him. However, as Lani gets to know Jason, she begins to feel this amazing connection to him. He's unlike any guy she's ever known...but he's taken. Then Erin goes away for the summer, and Jason and Lani are free to hang out without Erin knowing, but Lani can't do that to her best friend. She and Erin are supposed to share a bond that runs deeper than any romantic relationship...right?

Something Like Fate is a bittersweet and wise book about the trickiness of relationships between friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and teens and parents. Colasanti's protagonist, Lani, is responsible and goal oriented, but she has a passionate side, and her avid beliefs in fate and the truth in horoscopes make her a unique and memorable character. Her feelings for Jason are strong, but her loyalty to Erin is stronger, which is reflected in her conflicting feelings and ever-increasing confusion throughout the book. Though Something Like Fate isn't quite as layered as her previous novels, Colasanti keeps the plot busy with Lani and Jason's complex relationship and Lani's friend Blake's own issues with his father.

As her relationship with Erin and her other friends becomes more and more complicated and eventually sours, Lani continues to act mature and be an admirable character, despite her pain and feelings of betrayal. The book ends realistically and there is plenty of room for optimism for Lani, Jason, and Erin. Something Like Fate serves as a funny, insightful, and sometimes painful reminder that friends can and do grow apart, and that clinging to past bonds can get in the way of future relationships.

Cover Comments: I've always been a big fan of Colasanti's covers and the couples on them. This one is a little different (there;s a third person!) but I do like it. I think it'll grab a lot of people's attention just because of the implications of the couple(s)...and I do like the bright colors and the fact that it is set in an ice cream shop (which is significant in the book)!

Something Like Fate will hit shelves on May 4th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Just a Reminder: Paraphrasing is Plagiarism

I want to speak to you all about an issue that I've had to confront recently. Earlier this week, I discovered that quite a few of my reviews had been plagiarized. I was appalled. As bloggers, we represent ourselves solely through our words. They are our connection to our readers, and the authors and publishers we work with. I put a lot of time and effort and a lot of myself in my reviews.

Seeing someone steal my words and pass them off as their own was horribly disheartening.

The most important part of the online YA community is the passion for the books and stories, and telling others about great reads. It's not about having the best reviews, or the most books. It's certainly not about plagiarism.

For those of you who are fuzzy on what plagiarism is: it's not just copying someone's work. It includes copying the structure and the message. You can use a thesaurus all you want, you can paraphrase everything someone else says, but that is still plagiarism, and it is still just as serious. Being subconsciously influenced by another person's review is not a good excuse for your actions--it's a downright lazy one. We all possess a mind, and are capable of coming up with our own words.

If you are having a hard time articulating your feelings for a certain book, there are a few options for you that DO NOT involve imitating another person's review that you admire. First of all, stay away from others' reviews until your own is written. Try doing what I do--grab an index card and use it as a bookmark. Then, while reading, if you come across something you like or dislike, or have a thought that you would like to include in your review, write it down. By the time you are done reading that book, you should have at least two index cards full of your own, original thoughts, and writing the review will be a cinch.

But do not plagiarize.

There may be a lot of us, but the YA book blogging community is a small one, and you will be discovered sooner or later. And believe me, it is not something anyone takes lightly.

ETA: Steph Su and Adele from Persnickety Snark have each written very excellent posts about plagiarism as well. Also be sure to check out The Story Siren's post, Lenore's, and Liz's. Ladies, thank you for the support.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Clearing by Heather Davis

When Amy moves in with her great-aunt Mae in the tiny town of Rockville, she's grateful for the chance to slip away to a place where no one knows her, far away from all of the gossip of her old town, her mother who doesn't understand her, and, most importantly, her abusive ex-boyfriend. Though she is distant with others in her new school, she befriends a well-spoken and well-mannered boy named Henry, who lives beyond Aunt Mae's property just a bit. Henry is unlike any one Amy has ever met...and that's because he's not from her time period.

For Henry and his family, it's still the summer of 1944. They are trapped on their property in the endless, idyllic days of summer, unable to move forward to face the disaster that awaits them in the future. But as Amy and Henry get to know each other better and fall in love, they both learn to overcome their fears and face an uncertain future.

The Clearing is a sweet and emotional read with a twist. Readers who like romantic books with light paranormal elements will enjoy this time-travel novel. Davis's characters are genuine and convincing and seem to really connect despite the many years between them: Amy is vulnerable and still hurting from her emotional and physical abuse, and Henry is frustrated and scared at what the future will bring. They find solace in each other and are able to identify in each other through their emotions.

The pace of the novel is even, and volleys back and forth between Henry and Amy's points of view. There are certain complications to having two protagonists belonging to very different times, but Davis manages it quite well and keeps hers readers on edge the entire time, wondering as to how the story will conclude. The ending is a bit rushed and vague; some may wish for more specifics, but its openness will also be satisfactory for other readers. Overall, this unique and romantic book is a reminder that life is about both sad and happy times, letting go, and having the courage to face tomorrow, which is an important and relevant message for teen readers especially.

Cover Comments: I like the blue of the cover, and I think that the picture of the field with the girl is pretty. The red dress she is wearing ties into the plot, which is neat. This is a  very pretty and fitting cover!

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

White Cat Trailer

I have a copy of this book, White Cat by Holly Black, sitting on my shelf, but I think I may have to start it like, NOW after seeing this trailer! Wonderful!

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

Today is the release day for awesome and super-sweet author Kay Cassidy!

Jess Parker is a go-get-em type of person. She's always around to volunteer her time to worthy causes and charities, but when it comes to her social life, she flies under the radar. Her family is constantly moving, so she never really makes any friends. And when her family moves to her mom's hometown, Mt. Sterling, her social status plunges even farther due to Jess taking the meanest and one of the most popular girl's spots on the cheerleading team.

Bullied and miserable, Jess never expects an invite from one of the most exclusive secret societies, The Cinderella Society. But before she knows it, her fairy godmother of a cheerleading captain has transformed her from shabby to chic, and she's learning how to lead a more positive life. But it won't be easy—the Wickeds (including her archenemy) aren't about to let the Cindys win, nor are they above using regular, innocent people to do it.

Kay Cassidy's The Cinderella Society is a divine, delightful read that's just as much about empowering yourself and sticking up for what's right as it is about the romance and fun stuff. What makes this book so fun is the Cinderella Society, a secret group that is surprisingly extensive and super secretive, which is an element that will certainly attract readers who are also fans of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Cassidy also populates her book with realistic, down to earth characters, many who are popular and nice, and genuinely care about doing the right thing, not the latest designer item or the juiciest bit of gossip. These positive role models are a breath of fresh air, a relief from the numerous catty and snarky popular girls that tend to be popular in YA.

The message in this book is also genuine. Cassidy doesn't have any skewed perceptions of perfection, or tell readers you have to change yourself in order to be a better person; instead she focuses on showing readers that by being yourself and discovering who you want to be, you can become the best that you can be. Full of fun secrets and some surprising twists, The Cinderella Society is a novel about choices and their affects and about being positive and true.

Cover Comments: The cover is fun and pink and flirty, and it fits the title well, but not so much the book. Still, it is one that will stand out, and it works!

ARC received from Egmont USA.

Monday, April 12, 2010

See the Sea Trailer

Check out this trailer for Sea by Heidi R. Kling! Looks good, right? I'm sure this one will make an excellent beach read.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

It has been one turbulent, traumatic, and life-changing year for Miranda and Alex since the moon was pushed closer to Earth. Miranda is still living in her family's home with her mother and brothers when spring comes, bringing new people and change to their structured life. Her father and his family shows up, with Alex and his sister in tow, and despite all of the disaster around them, Miranda and Alex fall in love.

But it seems that everything is working against them--Alex is determined not to be a burden and to take his sister someplace safe, and Miranda's mother is afraid that dwindling supplies might drive their family from their home. And then, when they least expect, a tornado hits, making some choices for the survivors, and forcing them to confront others.

This World We Live In is haunting and harrowing, tragic and thoughtful. Told in Miranda's perspective once more, the novel answers a few more questions as life goes on for the survivors of the catastrophic events of the previous year, but is still centrally focused on Miranda's family and their home. They continue to face all sorts of hardships, and continue to be resourceful through their struggles. Miranda's voice is sharp, and her moments of wry, sarcastic humor even out the depressing bits in the book. The book really begins to get interesting when Alex arrives...though he isn't the same person readers left at the end of The Dead and the Gone. Through Miranda's eyes he seems weaker, as if the trauma he has experienced has settled around him, making him a little unreasonable and flat. But, fans of the series will be happy to see the two protagonists finally meet and interact, and will read avidly as they grapple with questions of faith, hope, and love. Some may be disappointed in the lack of chemistry between the two, but it is a relief when they finally become involved romantically.

The climax comes quickly, with many high stakes and action sequences, and Miranda's choices and the outcome will leave readers reeling. She ends her diary strongly, with an adamant statement that she will not write any longer, and the result is a very final conclusion that leaves readers without much hope for the future of the characters and plenty of questions. Unless Pfeffer is planning on picking up again in Alex's point of view, she may have many unhappy readers.

Cover Comments: I think this is one of the most affecting covers in the series yet. All of the gray is so dismal, and the house looks so skeletal and abandoned. Add the mysterious lighting and the large moon, and this cover is creepy. It speaks very well to the tone of the book, and I like it a lot.

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

Young Alessandra enjoys her life, restricted though it may be in her 14th century Italian home. Her father employs some of the best artists that produce the most beautiful books in the land, and she is surrounded by a wealth of knowledge to sate her strong desire for learning. But Alessandra's stepmother does not approve of her liberal ways and her education, and would have her married off as soon as possible. Alessandra will be confined to a loveless, arranged marriage unless she is willing to risk not only her own well being, but her family's reputation, and pursue the education that she dreams of.

A Golden Web is a quick, but very thoroughly researched book about the short and adventurous life of Alessandra Giliani, the world's first female anatomist. The book begins when she is still quite young and chronicles her curious and inquisitive nature growing up, her sorrows over the loss of her beloved mother, and the triumphs she finds in learning and outsmarting her stepmother. It moves rapidly through the years as she is engaged, and then follows her risky and bold venture to Bologna prior to her marriage to pursue an education as an anatomist, disguised as a boy. The story glosses over the finer aspects of life for Alessandra and the many details that made her disguise a success, and Quick instead chooses to focus on her renown as a scholar and her discoveries along the way. She throws in a bit of romance as well, which will please and amuse readers and adds a small bit of drama to the story. Overall though, A Golden Web is a very nonspecific and quick story, and the characters feel quite detached from the reader throughout. This is an excellent book if you are looking for an account of Giliani's life and wish to be entertained, but the plot is under-developed.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot. It's quite pretty, and the young woman's expression captures the inner turmoil Alessandra must have faced quite well. Very nice.

A Golden Web is now available from HarperTeen.

ARC received from publisher.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Swag Contest!

This month, I am giving away a swag pack to one lucky winner! For those of you going, "Huh?"...swag packs contain bookmarks, stickers, postcards, pins, bracelets, tattoos, etc. all related to YA books. I have TONS that I hand out to my local bookstores and libraries, and I am going to grab about one of everything I have and throw it all together for one lucky reader to win. Your prize will look something like this:

(Please note that what you see above isn't necessarily what you are guaranteed to receive if you win! This is just an example! But rest assured, I always have TONS of stuff to hand out, so if you are a winner, you'll get something a lot like this.)

Just fill out the form below by April 30th, 2010!

P.S. If there are any authors or publicists who would like to see their swag in this monthly contest, email me! I also hand it out at local author events, bookstores, and libraries! Drop me a line at thecompulsivereader@gmail.com!

Crescendo Cover!

Have you all seen this kick-butt cover for Crescendo, sequel to Hush, Hush? Pretty neat, huh?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Re-Launch Redux, or A Petition for Dear WORLD

Yesterday, I talked about how Scholastic is re-releasing many books in its Dear America series, and how excited I was. I also found this blog post by Liz from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy here interesting.

In short, it talks about how other countries have their own versions of the series (whether or not they are still in print, I'm not certain): Britain's My Story, and there is also a Dear Canada as well, and then Liz suggests that these be opened up to American kids. I wholeheartedly agree!

As much as I adored the Dear America books, and as much as I learned from them, I'll admit it: after a while, I got a bit sick of the same tales of {insert war here} or the survival stories of the West. That's why I loved the Young Royals books (a sort of "sister series" to the Dear America books). Not only did these girls actually exist, but they were real princesses as well (which combined history and fantasy--my favorite genres--together into one pretty, gold book). They were about girls from all across the globe, and if I learned a lot about American history from the Dear America books, then I learned loads from the Young Royals (though I will admit that Marie Antoinette's fictional diary gave me a tad too much sympathy for her). I clearly remember shocking my ninth grade World History teacher when discussing the Spanish Inquisition--all thanks to Isabel: Jewel of Castille. Those princesses taught me a lot about world history, and usually exposed me to a whole new culture as well, and I devoured their words!

In fact, they reminded me a lot of the Girls of Many Nations books that were put out by the same company that produces American Girls dolls. I remember there being middle grade novels, accompanied with a doll, about different events in history. I only read three or four of those books, but once again, those are some that I adored. Does anyone recall these? (On a side note, I was also a tad bit obsessed with History Mysteries!)

There's no doubt that the Dear America books were varied and educational: from slave girls to Native Americans to Quakers to immigrants, they were both culturally and racially diverse. But...how cool would it be read those diaries of girls from different countries? I started getting excited just browsing the Dear Canada website. Now my mind is racing--I want to read diaries of girls from Russia, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Nepal, Germany (I'd totally go for a book that does for middle grade readers what All Quiet on the Western Front did for the rest of us).

In short, I have to agree with Liz--forget Dear America! Think DEAR WORLD.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

In the last weeks of winter, Sam has stayed human, much to Grace's joy, but the cold still haunts him. Grace is just happy to be with him, even though she knows that their problems are far from resolved. As spring approaches, the new wolves are changing back, even though one of them, Cole, would like nothing more than to lose himself in his wolf form, and Isabel's father is more than willing to help eradicate the wolves in the forest completely. And through it all, Grace is keeping a secret, something that could change everything.

Linger is a beautiful, elegant, and searing sequel. It contains all of the drama and romance of Shiver, but also possesses a new urgency as secrets are kept and tensions rise. Linger opens up Sam and Grace's world to include Cole and Isabel as narrators, and divulges even more about the wolves and how they live. Stiefvater reveals some wonderful character growth for each of the four narrators as well; Sam is still trying to get used to the fact that he is fully human and has a future ahead of him. Grace is feeling the stress of keeping secrets from her parents and Sam and her anger at her parents' constant absences. Sharp-tongued Isabel suffers from guilt at her part in her brother's death, and even though she'd like to stay away from the wolves, she can't help but be drawn to Cole, a sardonic boy who chose to be a wolf to escape the problems in his human life, but is finding that being a wolf is actually making him confront the things he has tried to bury. These issues that force the characters to evolve keep Linger from seeming like a transition from Shiver to the next book, and give it enough drama and tension to keep you rapt, especially during the climactic final scenes when Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole realize that the inner workings of lycanthropy may not be quite as they thought.

Stiefvater's writing is breathtakingly beautiful, as precise and affecting as poetry, and Linger is emotional, heartbreaking, and heart-pounding as the stakes are subtly raised for not just the main characters, but for every wolf in Mercy Falls.

Cover Comments: I am in love with this design! It's just beautiful, and I cannot wait to receive a finished copy to inspect every page. I hope it is just as cool as Shiver!

Linger will be released on July 1st, 2010.

ARC received from publisher.

Click here to read my review of the sequel and final book in the trilogy, Forever.

Dear America Re-Launch!

I've been slipping a bit behind in a lot of things lately...as evident in my discovery of this nearly two week old article on PW about the re-issue of the Dear America books.

My reaction in a word: YES!!

I've not talked a lot about my reading influences as a kid, but basically I grew up in a small, small, small parochial school where the majority of the books were historical fiction and very old. I liked it very much, and even though I didn't necessarily understand what was happening most of the time (like, it took me an embarrassingly long time to make the connection between Number the Stars and World War II. But give me a break, I was eight years old.), I loved, loved, loved historical fiction, and still do.

One of my favorite sources of stellar historical fiction entertainment while growing up was the Dear America books. Not only was the package pretty and perfect in my mind (I adored the ribbon bookmark and the uneven pages), but the stories were amazing to me, every single one.

It is so, so exciting to me that Scholastic is re-introducing these books to kids, and not only that, but there will be new ones coming from Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky (another excellent book!) and Lois Lowry!

I think one of the coolest things about these books is the feeling that these girls I read about were so real and tangible. Following the conclusion of each diary was a bit of an epilogue, in which the author explained what happened to each character, as if they were really people that lived, and then lengthy biographical notes on the history, events, and customs read about in the book. Not only was it extremely educational, but loads of fun as well--I was way more into reading a mini history lesson if I could relate it to a book I had just read and loved.

Another amazing thing about these books is that the authors that wrote them never tried to pull the wool over their readers' eyes. One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping broke my heart in its portrayal of character Julie Weiss's loss of her family and home in World War II, and So Far From Home still has me reeling when I think about it. A Coal Miner's Bride, is, like the title not-so-subtly hints at, about a very young Polish teen who marries a man more than ten years her senior (this one still leaves me sobbing at the end). Christmas After All, Minnie Swift's holiday diary about the Great Depression, is so honest and heartbreaking, and I still read it every year at Christmas. And...all of these books are aimed at middle grade readers. Pretty awesome.

I am really looking forward to this re-launch, and I'll be rooting for the success of the series. I still proudly own my stack of Dear America books (I wouldn't dream of ever getting rid of them!) and I am recalling old favorites...I read and reread The Great Railroad Race and Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie, and what was that one about the girl captured by Indians? One of my favorites!

I sincerely hope that Dear America will be as popular now as it once was, and that the success will prompt Scholastic to release even more of the books...including the spin-off series The Royal Diaries and My America.

ETA: I just read a post about the Dear America books on A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, and she has brought up some really good points...look for another post about this topic tomorrow!