The Compulsive Reader: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


If you are feeling the looming stress of loads of required reading this summer, take a deep breath and relax. It will get done, and since it is summer, you should give yourself a bit of break too. Enter in unREQUIREDREADING--a group of books from Hyperion that are smart and entertaining, and best of all, no one will quiz you on them when you're finished!

The books are The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade, A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy, Carter's Big Break by Brent Crawford, Passing Strange (a Generation Dead book) by Daniel Waters, Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick, and The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin!

You can learn more about them by checking out the official Facebook page and becoming a fan!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sarah-land and Someone Like You

Despite being such a voracious reader my entire life, it really wasn't until recently that I started getting into Sarah Dessen's books. This is a fact that usually earns me lots of startled gasps and horrified expressions ( I have a few of her books waiting to be read on my shelves, so don't worry). And with school out for the summer and a few extra hours each day to read, it's been a great time for me to catch up, and celebrate Summer of Sarah at Sarah Dessen's fan website, Sarah-Land (and it'll help keep anticipation down to bearable levels for Sarah's next book--What Happened to Goodbye--which will come out in 2011)!

This week, we're all about her book Someone Like You! There will be lots of chances to win free books and other Dessen swag, but first here's what Sarah has to say about Someone Like You!

"Of all the books I’ve written, I have to say that Someone Like You has the biggest legion of fans. Even my cousins Rachel and Anna, who are usually my very first readers of any book I write, will often tell me that while the new book is good, Someone Like You was better. At the time it was published, I wasn’t so sure. The editing process for Someone Like You was really long and arduous, mostly due to the fact that I always have way more than I need and tend to repeat myself a lot. (Thank goodness I have been blessed with exceptionally good, and patient, editors.) Plus there was a little bit of pressure since That Summer had been well-received. In fact, the worst review I’ve ever received was for Someone Like You, in the campus newspaper of the university where I teach. That was a good day, walking into my classes after everyone had already seen this horrible review, where I was awarded zero of five stars. Gulp. It didn’t matter that I’d gotten a decent review in the New York Times book section that same week: I carried around that bad Daily Tar Heel review for weeks, until one of my friends got sick of me looking at it and flushed it down the toilet. (I tend to be a bit of a glutton for punishment.) So the beginning was a bit bumpy, but I’ve been so pleased with how people continue to respond to Halley and Scarlett’s story. I think one of the reasons is that often in high school, as you’re breaking away from your parents a bit, your friends become your family, and you depend on them so much to get you through. Plus a lot of people can relate to falling in love with a boy who seems like everything you want, only to find out the one thing you really need he can’t give. Someone Like You is also special to me because it’s dedicated to my best friend from high school, Bianca, who was there firsthand for all the real truths of us trying to survive high school, and knows even the stories I don’t tell."

Sounds good, right? Well, I am going to be giving away a copy right here on the blog, PLUS copies of all of Dessen's books and Lock and Key necklaces will be given away on Sarah-Land all summer long! Click here to get started on Sarah-Land, and fill out the form below for another chance to win Someone Like You!

Plus, for more fun, you can check out this video in which Sarah takes us on a tour of the town she based Colby off of!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alexandra Adornetto Author Video

Halo is a new novel coming this fall from Macmillan about angels, dark forces, and of course, love. Not only does it look excellent (gorgeous cover), but it was also written by Alexandra Adornetto--who is only eighteen years old! Awesome! Check out this author video!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The World Above by Cameron Dokey

All throughout Gen's entire life, her mother has been telling her and her twin brother stories about the World Above, the land they truly belong in, and of the misdeeds that led to their exile in the Wolrd Below. Gen has never really thought of the stories as anything more than bedtime tales, but Jack believes them wholeheartedly. So when Jack trades the family cow for seven magical beans and a magical beanstalk grows from one of the beans, Gen's skepticism turns into belief. But then Jack is kidnapped by an evil duke, and it is up to Gen to travel to the land she only just now believes in and rescue him.

The World Above is an imaginative and fresh retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Dokey proves herself a clever writer with the rearrangement of the old tale to accommodate a spunky, if not reluctant, heroine and two different worlds--one 'Above', and one 'Below'. Like with many fairy tales, the true love happens with a snap of the finger, unexpected heroes and heroines nobly rise to the occasion, and the villain is quick to admit his mistakes and accept defeat when cornered. Nonetheless, all of the favorite elements of the story are present, and with a smart ending and a lesson on nobility and love and faith, The World Above is a great story for readers in want of a story more involved and complicated than the simple fairy tale.

Cover Comments: This is a cute cover, though the beanstalk does look a little fuzzy in the middle, which is understandable--there is hardly a large supply of giant beanstalks around to photograph.

Review copy purchased.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Grace has been trained her entire life to become a suicide bomber for her people in order to make a statement against the harsh rule of dictator Keran Berj. But when her ultimate mission fails and she chooses life over death by bomb, Grace is forced to flee on a train, the only way out of Keran Berj's land, with a stranger—a young man named Kerr. Throughout the long hours riddled with fear and uncertainty, Grace and Kerr revisit the past events that have brought them together, and discover what life and freedom are worth.

Elizabeth Scott's latest novel is haunting and horrific, and yet despite how foreign Grace's situation seems, readers will be able to find elements of our own world in this novel: the terrorism, dictatorships, the suicide bombers, and the conviction that people have for their beliefs, no matter how erroneous they may be. Though the first couple of chapters are a bit vague, the pieces quickly fall into place and Grace's life becomes clearer as the book moves quickly forward, bouncing back and forth between her past and training for her death, and Grace's time spent on the train fleeing. Though her escape seems clearly defined and straightforward, Scott does throw in a few unexpected twists to keep you on your toes and always wondering who can be trusted.

Despite the terrible and shocking nature of Grace and Kerr's world, Grace is a beautiful story of how two different people from two very different backgrounds learn to see each other for who they really are and are able to look past the stereotypes of their pasts and people to come together and find a common goal: discovering the purpose of life, achieving freedom, redemption, and ultimately, grace.

This is by far Scott's most powerful and galvanizing book yet, proving her to be a flexible and exceedingly talented writer. Grace is a book that demands to be devoured in one sitting, but read time and time again.

Cover Comments: I think this cover is quite striking--the flames from the explosion that both illuminate and shadow the girl's face is subtle, yet a powerful image at the same time. I am really drawn to it.

This book will be released on September 16th, 2010.

ARC received from publisher.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

Scarlet is used to keeping people close and helping them with their problems. Whether it's the depressed teenage girl across the street or her gullible next door neighbors involved with an internet scam, she is the one always helping them out. But when her older sister Juliet comes home pregnant with her new husband Hayden, the problems Scarlet encounters--like her uncertainty at Juliet being a good mother, her frustrations with her mother, and her attraction to Hayden--might be a little too much to handle. Now for the first time, Scarlet will have to take a step back and learn to solve her own problems, and let those she loves do the same.

The Six Rules of Maybe is a beautiful and insightful novel. Scarlet's story and her struggle to deal with all of the issues that are unfolding around her not only mold her into a stronger and better person, but also open her eyes to her own nature, and her mother's and sister's, and the underlying cause for the way she and her mother cling to those they love, and Juliet pushes so many people away. Scarlet's attraction to Hayden also adds a very interesting and complicated twist to the story, and though it is warranted and understood, it is like watching a car wreck unfold--you know there will be a collision, and things could get quite messy, but you need to see it through in order to see just how many pieces there will be left to pick up at the end.

It is through these revelations and events that each of the Ellis women ultimately learn that life is complicated and messy, and not everything can be fixed immediately (or ignored)--sometimes you have to let go and let others stand on their own, and sometimes you need to reach out for help. With a smart, sensitive, and modern voice, Caletti has created in The Six Rules of Maybe a strong and lovely book about forgiveness, trust, responsibility, and growing up.

Cover Comments: I like the way the cover has a wide open view of the sky and the horizon. I think it fits the ambiguity of the title well.

Review copy purchased.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Cass has always felt as if her only friend is outgoing, exuberant Julia, and that everyone else she and Julia hang out with only tolerate her because she’s Julia's friend. So when Julia dies in a car accident in the spring, Cass is detached and lost. She can't seem to bring herself to help Julia's other friends to put on the production of the musical Julia had written before her death, Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad, especially when they cast Heather, the girl that bullied Cass all throughout middle school, as the lead--Julia's part. So instead, Cass does what she and Julia had originally planned to do that summer, and takes off for California on her bicycle. But it turns out that she'll need something a little faster than a bike to outrun her problems.

Told in alternating viewpoints titles 'Then' and 'Now', referring to the beginning of the summer when Cass is on her trip and the last part when she is at home, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is certainly unique--from its halting title to the cast of lively and eccentric characters and the ninja-themed musical they put on (complete with plenty of fake blood and weapons). It is quite entertaining to follow the characters as they passionately put on the musical in memory of Julia, and have many laughs and mishaps along the way, which helps keep Horner's novel from being completely grim and sheds some much-needed comic relief on everyone’s grief and the subject of Julia’s death.

However, it is heart-wrenching as Cass attempts to define herself and find her place without Julia through her stumbling, imperfect actions--like heading out on a cross-country bike trip, a daring (and a bit dangerous) element to the plot that makes it stand out. It is very well written, especially when it comes to Cass's motivations and feelings as she travels alone and reminisces about her life before Julia died. At times though, Cass's feelings are quite jumbled and dizzying, especially when she is back at home, helping to put on the musical, and trying to decide where she stands with Heather and her sexuality.

The ending, while not a perfectly satisfying let's-all-be-good-friends-finale, is thoughtful and appropriate, and leaves Cass with a lot of newly gained perspective she didn't have at the start of the book. Though there isn't a clear-cut resolution, there is hope that Cass has finally achieved some much needed confidence and closure, which will leave many readers content with both tears and laughter. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is poignant and funny and unconventional and will make your heart swell.

Cover Comments: I love the motel scene and the way the title is all written on the signs. The little details are what make this cover so neat, and I like how it looks clean and not cluttered. It's a bright cover with a slightly grim title that gives you a taste of what this book is about.

ARC received from publisher.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Are You a Fan of Willow?

As you may know, I am a HUGE fan of Willow by Julia Hoban! (You can read my review here!)

Not only is it a beautifully written book, but it has a great message and a beautiful love story. I adore it. So, if you are on Facebook and are so inclined, feel free to become a fan of the official Willow page! Plus, there are awesome Willow-related links put up frequently with news and insight from Julia Hoban, and there will be a contest to win some awesome swag soon, so be sure to check it out!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest Blog from Kelly Link!

This is the final official post on my blog tour for Pretty Monsters, although Gwenda Bond (www.gwendabond.typepad.com) has agreed to let me write up something on workshops, which I'll try to do early next week. Because someone asked, I'm also going to write up a short post in the next few days for Small Beer at Not a Journal about writing the story "Magic For Beginners." But I really wanted to end this tour by talking about the way I ended up in publishing, which was zine making.

My husband Gavin and I started putting out a zine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (named by Gavin, in honor of Winston Churchill's mother's tattoo) because he had access to a photocopier at his temp job. For almost fifteen years we've put out two issues each year. Issues include poetry, speculative fiction, occasional comics or artwork, reviews, and nonfiction, sometimes humorous. As we've gone on, we've started to ask comic book artists like Kevin Huizenga for covers. The best part of putting out the zine: we offer a chocolate bar subscription (as well as some more unlikely subscription levels) that means that we get to do some delicious research. For one subscriber, in Australia, we do a special green eye-shadow subscription, because chocolate bars would melt.

LCRW is a low-budget production. It's printed on 15 sheets of legal-size paper, photocopied, folded, and stapled at our local copy store. Starting out, we made it in Word. Right now we have a print run of 1,000 copies, but our first issue was only 15. Our goal for LCRW has always been three-fold: to have fun, not to go broke, and to publish newer writers. A couple of years into making LCRW, we came up with another goal, which was to encourage other writers and readers to start their own zines. Why? Because we want to read them.

If you're a would-be writer, or a blogger, or a fan of some form of media, I would strongly encourage you to consider putting together at least one issue of a zine. There are as many styles of zines as you can imagine -- some are mostly about music; some are autobiographical/personal (perzines); one of my favorites (Peko Peko) was devoted to cooking; some are text-free -- just pictures; some are made by comic-book artists; some, like LCRW, are lit zines that mostly publish fiction. I may be imagining it, but I think I've seen a handful of really cool craft/knitting/DIY zines.

What I would really love to see are some YA zines -- there are a lot of good blogs where you can go and find people talking about YA fiction, but there still aren't a lot of venues that publish YA short fiction, or for that matter, young adult writers who are beginning to write fiction.

Here's the thing. When you start a zine, you can make it anything you want. You can email people and ask for contributions. You can get friends to pitch in (we always have.) You can run interviews, you can put in personal essays, include artwork, collages, photographs, whatever seems to fit. Some zine makers don't use a computer at all -- they write and decorate it by hand, and then photocopy the results. And once you have a zine, you can sell them at craft fairs, or by consignment at local bookstores or comic bookstores. You can email or write other zine makers and ask for swaps (your zine for theirs.) Plus, by putting a zine together, you end up learning a lot about design, layout, proofreading, and what it's like to see your words in print.

If anyone reading this already makes a zine, or if you decide to try your hand at making one, you can always send us one at Small Beer Press (www.smallbeerpress.com) and we'll send you a copy of LCRW plus something else.

I'd like to thank The Compulsive Reader and everyone else who has hosted these posts, as well as the commenters who have offered their good wishes for our daughter Ursula. Now I'm going to go play with the baby.

A couple of resources for beginning zine makers:

Zine WIki:  http://zinewiki.com/

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sea Change Summer 2010 Tour!

I don't know about everyone else, but summer just really puts me in the mood for a really great book that captures the elements of summer: beaches, vacations, sand, water...you get the idea! Well, one really great book that captures all of that (and more!) is Aimee Friedman's Sea Change, which comes out in paperback this month!

You can read my review here from last summer, or read below to learn more!

"Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science...and not so great with boys. After major drama with her (now ex) boyfriend, she's happy to be spending the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

On the lush, beautiful island, Miranda finds new friends and a community with a mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, romance...and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?"

(From Scholastic.)

About Aimee:

Aimee Friedman is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young adults, including South Beach, French Kiss, Hollywood Hills, A Novel Idea, and, most recently, The Year My Sister Got Lucky. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Aimee attended the Bronx High School of Science, but she always wanted to be a writer, never a scientist. Though she does not know how to swim, she loves living on the island of Manhattan, where she also works as a book editor.

And now...here are five summer questions for Aimee!

TCR: Is Selkie Island based off of a real island, or did you come up with it all on your own?

AF: I wish Selkie Island were real, but I made it up! Much of Selkie, however, was inspired by the beautiful, lush Sea Islands that lie off America’s southern coast, such as Hilton Head Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, and more. When I started the book, I spent some time on one of those islands— Tybee Island—where I got to sample the local cuisine, hang out on the beach, and talk to folks who lived or vacationed there. In some ways, Selkie is a more mysterious, secluded version of Tybee…a place where strange, impossible things might really happen.

TCR: Is there any chance that a sequel to Sea Change will be headed our way soon?

AF: I can’t tell you how many people have asked me for a sequel! I did not write Sea
Change with any further books in mind—I was happy with the ending I gave Leo and Miranda. But a sequel isn’t entirely out of the question. I’ll let you know if one may be happening!

TCR: Are you more of a beach person, or a pool person?

AF: Definitely beach. Like Miranda, I find the ocean both soothing and mysterious. I love to stretch out on the sand and listen to the crashing of the waves while breathing in the fresh, salty air. There’s nothing more relaxing.

TCR: What would your ideal summer vacation be?

AF: My best friends and I would rent a house on the beach. We’d spend our days sunning and swimming, and then go into town for shopping, dinner, or movies. We’d make salads and grill fish and eat on the porch, and then go star-gazing at night. Bliss!

TCR: What are some of your favorite summery books?

AF: So many! Summer is such a great time for reading—especially reading fun, light books that are as tasty as an ice cream cone. In no particular order, I love: the Summer Boys series by Hailey Abbott and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares; Summer Sisters by Judy Blume; anything by Meg Cabot or Sophie Kinsella. And I just bought the new Emily Giffin—I can’t wait to read it while lying under a beach umbrella with a cool drink in hand.

Thanks, Aimee! Be sure to pick up your own paperback copy of Sea Change (at the very convenient and thrifty price of $8.99) and follow Aimee's tour by swinging by Pure Imagination on Monday!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Cassia's entire world is ordered and precise: everyone is guided and instructed by the Society so that they may live a perfect, happy, and healthy life, and no one has ever questioned the Society's ways. But Cassia's life is changed forever when, after her Matching ceremony, she sees Ky Markham's face on a screen as her match, instead of Xander’s—her true match.

The Society tells her this is just a rare computer malfunction, and Cassia knows she should be happy--Xander is her best friend, and there isn't anyone else she would want to be Matched with. But things are changing, and now Cassia isn't so certain about her life. She is intrigued by Ky and his past, and by the events that formed the Society. But her curiosity will come at a price, and as Cassia learns more, she will be forced to make a decision that could cost her everything she values.

Matched is a spectacular debut. Condie's world is detailed and comprehensive, leaving little of mundane tasks and processes for the reader to wonder about, though Condie keeps you on edge by building little mysteries into many elements of the story and asking many small, yet probing questions. (For example, what is the purpose of the third pill everyone is required to carry at all times? How far does the Society stretch?) Readers who are fans of dystopian novels may even recognize tidbits of The Giver, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451 in Matched, but despite that, Condie's novel is truly in a league of its own.

Cassia is a perfect narrator: she's smart, curious, and observant, and she can think things through, but most importantly, she’s just a normal teenager. The evolution of her thinking, from trust and complacency in the Society, to determination in discovering truth and answers, is the most remarkable and entertaining aspect of the novel. Before he dies, Cassia's grandfather imparts a basic and powerful lesson to her: it is all right to wonder, the main propulsion of the plot. And Cassia does just that, through many strange occurrences and tiny bits of forbidden poetry she discovers, until she is able to see the Society for what it is and, for the first time in her life, form her own opinions and decisions.

Blurring definitive lines between right and wrong and good and bad, Matched is an unparalleled and spellbinding read that is as beautiful and enthralling as it is powerful and galvanizing.

Cover Comments: I love how symbolic this cover is: Cassia really is trapped within her own bubble of ignorance and complacency, though as the story progresses, she does test the boundaries and try to escape. The colors and the otherwise simplistic nature of the cover are a good choice, and make for a very striking package!

ARC received from publisher.

And if you liked this one, be sure to check out the sequel, Crossed! It's just as awesome!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Madeleine and Rogan Tierney are first cousins and descendants of the great stage actress Madeleine Armin Tierney. They live with their many relatives at Arden Terrace, a gated community with large, rambling houses in Yonkers, and as the youngest cousins they are the closest--so close that they share a connection no one else could ever comprehend, and ultimately fall in love. Encouraged by their glamorous Aunt Kate to pursue their legacy in theater, the two participate in their school's production of Twelfth Night, which causes all sorts of feelings and emotions to swell, and forces Madeleine and Rogan to face the uncertainty of their future together.

Illyria's setting is rich and lush, from the depictions of how Madeleine and Rogan spent their childhoods to the details in the sprawling, decaying homes that their families inhabit. Hand's writing is indeed intense, and the relationship she builds between the cousins is full of tension and passion, especially when they share private moments in the attic of Rogan's house, watching the tiny, magical toy theater they found. It is evident through their roles in Twelfth Night that both Madeleine and Rogan possess talent for the stage, but while one of them wastes it, the other embraces it, cleaving the two and showing them each very different futures. Though more practical-minded readers may have a hard time grasping the point of this short novel, Hand's writing is beautiful and her imagery vivid. Like any great tragedy, Illyria is haunting and gorgeous.

Cover Comments: I love this cover. With the mist and the dark lighting, the image looks mystical and romantic, but just dark enough to give you a foreboding feeling. The title treatment is really neat looking as well. This is an excellent cover!

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, June 14, 2010

High Before Homeroom Trailer

Check out this neat trailer about what looks to be a very interesting and unconventional book, High Before Homeroom:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June Swag Pack Giveaway!

Enter to win June's Swag Pack, which includes an assortment of YA bookmarks, postcards, stickers, pins, bookplates, and more!

This month's loot includes a signed Linger bookmark, and White Cat postcards!

Just fill out the form below to enter!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Erin McCahan Discusses I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

Check out these videos in which Erin McCahan talks about her debut novel, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else. I especially like this book because it takes place very close to my home town!

Be sure to check out her book!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Poison Diaries Trailer

Watch the Duchess of Northumberland talk about the garden at Alnswick Castle, the inspiration for Maryrose Wood's latest novel, The Poison Diaries!

Looks fantastic, right? I cannot wait!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Keller lives a strict and controlled life with all women in Foundland. They are each assigned tasks, and are expected to carry them out in perfect order and with complete obedience in order to avoid the major pitfalls of women in the past that led to humanity’s downfall. Keller is a novice Tracker, and spends her days learning how to hunt and kill the enemy: men. But when Keller the rest of the novices in her patrol find a dwelling from the Time Before, Keller's life is forever changed. In a bedroom of a teenage girl from long ago, the girls learn of beauty and dolls and make-up, and men who aren't the enemy. But these discoveries are dangerous...there are those in their world who would do anything to make sure that these discoveries are covered up, and the girls punished. For the first time in her life, Keller must decide where she stands, and if she is being told the truth.

Nomansland provides a very interesting concept with science fiction and dystopian elements, but at times Hauge's world is so shrouded in mystery that it is hard to get a grasp on what is really going on in Nomansland. Keller's world is roughly shaped: lessons, chores, and training leave little room for much else, and her movements are carefully monitored, yet she manages to sneak away and have quite a bit of freedom. Hauge does attempt to explain how the women continue to reproduce and what their childhoods are like, but the lack of details keeps Keller's world from being tangible to readers. Keller's discovery of the "traitors" in her midst and her feelings of confusion and distrust as she begins to understand her society and the sacrifices they make to maintain their life style is interesting, and the decisions she is forced to make are hard, but force her to stand on her own, which is gratifying to see. Though Hauge's world is thoughtful and emotional (despite how much the society would have the women smother their feelings), Nomansland feels lacking just a bit, and leaves readers with a lot of questions and an ending with just enough of a resolution to leave wondering, "Is this it?"

Cover Comments: I really love the power of this cover! The archery theme is present in a lot of images throughout the book, which is really neat.

This book will be available June 22nd, 2010 from Henry Holt.

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Monday, June 7, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel lives in a world where curse workers can alter your emotions, luck, memories, dreams, and well-being by simply touching you. It's a dangerous ability, which is why everyone wears gloves and curse working is illegal, and those who do possess the ability are criminals and con artists. Cassel is an outsider in his family of criminals for two reasons: he doesn't possess the ability to work curses, and he killed his friend Lila three years ago and doesn't remember doing it. He's been attempting to fly under the radar at his normal boarding school, but when a particularly vivid dream has him sleepwalking and chasing a mysterious white cat, he begins to question what really happened to Lila, and discovers that his family is hiding something big from him.

White Cat is an excellent book set in a dark, gritty, and imaginative world with many delicious twists and turns. Black is an exceedingly clever writer and will keep readers rapt, wondering where she'll go next and who can be trusted. Cassel is the best sort of narrator: resourceful, sarcastic, and determined, yet he still makes mistakes and sometimes allows his pride to get the best of him. He also is fascinating in that trust is a large concern for him. He claims he’s not like the rest of his family, but yet, like them, he has issues with trusting and feels compelled to lie in order to be self-sufficient—so much so that lying is like a second nature to him. Still, his journey from ignorance to the terrible truth that his family is keeping from him is entertaining and ends up far from where readers would expect.

Black balances everything perfectly--family dynamics, secrets, betrayal, the mystery of Lila's death, Cassel's school and friends, and his feelings of helplessness. Each element of the story is complete and well-developed. And though the truth revealed at the climax of the book is stunning, when looking back readers will see that Black left a good amount of little clues and hints and support Cassel's revelation and convince readers. Everything adds up nicely, and Black’s conclusion is frustrating and exciting, and will lead to plenty of drama in book two, which will be very welcome after the very open ending of White Cat.

Cover Comments: I love this cover. Normally, I think that the black, red, and white color scheme is overdone, but this manages to be edgy and dangerous, which is what the Curseworkers are all about--fantastic!

ARC received from publisher.

I'm Emerging...

I'm slowly recovering from the past two (more like four) weeks of graduation madness, and will resume my normal blogging routines. I apologize for being so sporadic as of late, and thank you all for your patience! I promise you, there will be REAL content now, not just previously scheduled contests! (Though who doesn't enjoy winning free stuff?)

Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Find Out the Truth in Jen Sturman's Second Book!

Last year, I read and adored Jennifer Sturman YA debut, And Then Everything Unraveled! It has a great mystery and a great romance, and it sure left me hanging! Well, this summer answers will be revealed in her sequel, And Then I Found Out the Truth! And I am giving you the chance to win a copy, plus a magic eight ball key chain and a paperback copy of the first book!

All you have to do is enter below, and stay tuned for more fun Jen Sturman-related posts coming up as the release date (July 1st) approached!

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Countdown Contest!

Countdown is the first in a new trilogy of “documentary novels” set in the 1960s- a fascinating historical documentary in a unique style and format. Filled with photos, news clippings, and songs of the era, this novel tells the story of Franny Chapman, an eleven-year-old girl living in Washington, DC, set against the backdrop of one of the most politically and culturally defining periods in history.

It’s 1962, in the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the world seems to be on the terrifying brink of nuclear war. But for Franny Chapman, everyday life goes on. While doing “Duck and Cover” drills at school, Franny must face tensions with her younger brother, and worry about her older sister— is she a secret spy?— while learning to look beyond outward appearances.

Want to win this book? Then fill out the form below! This contest will run until June 16th, 2010!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Have an Insatiable Appetite for Contests...

Meg Cabot's newest (adult, but does that really matter? It's Meg Cabot!) novel comes out later this month, and to celebrate, I'm giving away two copies of Insatiable!

Here's what Insatiable is all about, according to MegCabot.com!

"A modern sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula

There's a killer loose in Manhattan. He's leaving young women drained of all their blood. Some are starting to whisper he may not even be human...

Meena Harper is a dialogue writer for Insatiable, the highest rated soap on television...at least until Lust—Insatiable's main competitor—launches its new vampire romance storyline.

Now Lust is breaking every daytime rating on record, and all Meena hears from her bosses is: Give the female leads of Insatiable hot vampire love interests.

But Meena's tired of the monster misogyny rampant in the entertainment business, and refuses. Too bad this causes her to lose the promotion she's always wanted.

Work is the least of Meena's worries, however: her brother Jon has lost his high paying investment banking job and joined the ranks of the city's numerous unemployed...just like the husband of Meena's best friend Leisha, who happens to be seven months pregnant and is giving Meena — who has a special psychic gift — anxious twinges. Meena's always kept hidden the fact that she knows how everyone she meets is going to die...so what does that mean about Leisha?

And what's Meena supposed to do about her neighbor, "the Contessa," who wants to set Meena up with her cousin Lucien, visiting from Romania for reasons as mysterious as he is?

But when vampire-mania works itself to a fever pitch in Manhattan, fueled by the dueling plotlines on Lust and Insatiable, as well as the city's mounting deaths, Meena is astounded to discover that the creatures she's always despised as the sexist stuff of fantasy might actually be real...

...and that thanks to her "gift", Meena herself could be in danger of turning into one...unless a vigilante band of vampire slayers, one of whom has shown up at her door and is holding her hostage, can put a stop to it.

But does Meena, drawn as she finds herself to Lucien—who might just be the Prince of Darkness himself—really want them to?"

All you have to do t enter is fill out this form below! This contest will end on June 15th, 2010! Good luck!