The Compulsive Reader: July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Special Announcement from Cassandra Clare!

Here's some pretty awesome news:

Next Wednesday, August 4 at 5 pm ET, author Cassandra Clare will be making a major announcement about The Mortal Instruments series and taking questions during a video chat on www.Ustream.tv/SimonandSchuster. There’s also a sweepstakes to win a limited edition Clockwork Angel pendant!

Be sure to go to the website to RSVP!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour!

I am very delighted to announce that this blog will be a part of the official Mockingjay 13 District blog tour! Commence the celebrations!

I'll be representing District 9 on this tour, which will swing by me on August 20th! I'll have special content about the Hunger Games trilogy, and a pretty awesome exclusive giveaway...but you'll have to wait until the 20th to see what it is! (Trust me, it's awesome!)

If you can't get enough of the Mockingjay mania, then be sure to visit the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheHungerGames!

May the odds be ever in your favor, and I hope to see you again on the 20th!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's Your St@tus? Giveaway

Hey all,

Some of you may remember my review of the book Top 8 Katie Finn a couple of years ago, Well, now she's come out with the sequel--What's Your St@tus?. Here's what it's all about:

"Sixteen-year-old Madison still loves logging on to Friendverse to see what her BFFs and her cute new boyfriend Nate are up to. But the latest social networking craze is Status Q, which is all about rapid-fire status updates. When one of Mad’s friends has to pull off a high-pressure heist, the gang relies on Status Q to send code messages to each other…all in the middle of a school dance! Will up-to-the-minute social networking save the day…or lead to good old-fashioned disaster?"

About the author:

Katie Finn is the author of Top 8 and What’s Your St@tus?. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @katiefinnwrites and visit her online at www.katiefinn.com.

To celebrate the release of What's Your St@tus?, I'll be giving away a finished copy of the book, plus a $20 gift certificate to Urban Outfitters!

Now, since these books are all about social networking, it stands to reason that in order to enter, you have to get vocal about these books on the social networking site of your choosing!

If you are on Twitter, tweet about this contest, and be sure to include @katiefinnwrites and my Twitter handle (@compelledtoread) so I can count your entry! (Plus, here's a short URL to this post: http://bit.ly/cRm2fL)

If you are on Facebook or MySpace, tell your friends about these books! Get the word out. Comment below to tell me what you've done, and you'll be entered!

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reading Rants

I'm a garrulous person, especially so when it comes to books, and it just seems that despite having a blog where basically all I do is talk about books, books, and more books, I still feel the need to share more of my experiences with said books, which is when I usually turn to Twitter, but Twitter has this 140 character limit, which can be an issue at times.

Hence, reading rants, for ramblings on what I'm reading, what I plan to read, and miscellaneous conversations about books--basically anything that doesn't fit into a review.

And on that note, may I just say that Jennifer Donnelly is my hero.

Okay, seriously. I loved A Northern Light. It's one of the best historical feminist-yet-not-really-feminist fiction books based on a real life event that I've ever read. I read it for the first time five years ago and I still think about it a lot and recommend it to random people I meet. It's young adult, but it's a book that transcends young adult/adult specifications. In short, it's an amazing story that is important to nearly everyone that reads it.

So, keeping that in mind, you can imagine my delirious joy at learning that Donnelly's second YA book, Revolution, is coming out in October. I actually jumped up and down when I learned that the lovely Shanyn (of chickloveslit.com) had an ARC. The prospect of there existing a previously unread (by me) novel of Donnelly's within a ten mile radius of my exact location made me a little crazy, and Shanyn, who for some peculiar reason doesn't like historical fiction, let me borrow it.

And, whoa. Whoa. Better than A Northern Light. So, so, so much better. Thank you, Jennifer Donnelly.

So anyway, because Shanyn and I live quite close to each other, we trade a lot of books. This works out because Shanyn likes my books, and I like Shanyn's books, especially since Shanyn went to BEA and I did not. One of the books that Shanyn got at BEA and was so nice as to let me borrow was...Delirium by Lauren Oliver.

My heart about stopped when I heard she had it.

So, because I was in awe of Before I Fall (it had me so transfixed, I didn't even mind that I read it on the computer screen, something I normally try to avoid), I immediately wanted to start Delirium. I am a total dystopian junkie, and the idea of a world where the cure to everyone's problems is curing love is pretty darn intriguing.

So, I won't give anything away or go all review-y on you, but basically Lauren Oliver is a huge meanie because she made me cry. Again. Honestly, I was quite surprised, but then again, considering how much she yanked at my heartstrings in Before I Fall, I guess in retrospect, I should have been expecting it.

(Also, just to clarify, Lauren Oliver really is a very nice person. I met her once, and she signed three copies of her book and posed for many pictures and smiled through it all.)

Speaking of meeting Lauren Oliver, the Borders where her signing was is just fabulous. I was there again this past weekend, where I met J.T. Dutton and Kristina McBride and a bunch of other people and we did a lot of fun stuff, all of which you can read about here.

But...Borders. I love that store. Love, love, love. Amor deliria nervosa. The YA section is big, and it seems that whenever I go there, they have every book I want to buy, which is quite unfortunate for my wallet, but very exciting for me and for Borders. I made a short(ish) list of books I wanted to look up while I was there with my super 40% off coupon and giftcard (it was happy day, let me tell you), and then promptly forgot it at home.

So, I was standing in the YA section talking with Shanyn and Carrie Harris (go to carrieharrisbooks.com, that will explain everything), and I start muttering about my lost list and a book with a really neat cover with a green dress and an author I can't remember and oh yeah, the book is called Faithful, when...amazingly...both of them pull the book I was talking about out of a shelf right next to me!

Love them.

So, Faithful by Janet Fox. I admit, I was initially interested in it because of the cover, which is gorgeous:

But, when I shook myself out of the cover haze and read what it was about, I knew I had to buy it. So, I carried it around the store, and had Jen Dutton and Kristina McBride and Carrie and a random stranger tell me how good it is, so I guess those $9 are justified.

I also grabbed a copy of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce because both Shanyn and I are dying to read it, and the cover is just too awesome. Seriously, it's super cool online, but you see it in person, and you can't resist it.  I have already finished it, and it was just as awesome as everyone claimed it would be, and I've already sent it off to Shanyn to read (we did our trading thing today--she sent me home with Heist Society and Fixing Delilah, and I got Jennifer Donnelly's The Tea Rose from the library, so it's a good day). I have to admit, I did see the TWIST coming early on, but Pearce's story was just so delightful that I forget about knowing the TWIST until it reared its head, and then I was surprised, but not surprised, but still happy, if you know what I mean.

And lastly, I also bought Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta because I have been waiting to read it for ages (especially when it won that Printz), and every time Sara of The Hiding Spot and I get together for a book signing, she is always shocked I haven't read it, I always feel guilty and really want it, and she makes me promise that I buy it and read it as soon as possible. Well, Sara, fifth time's the charm, I guess.

We left the bookstore quite happily on Saturday, and Shanyn made sure to inform me that I am a danger in a bookstore.

Tell me something I don't already know.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills

Winter Craig has loved her best friend Spencer for as long as she can remember, and she finally gets up the courage to tell him how she feels and ask him out the week before their senior year starts...and discovers he feels the same way. Winter is overjoyed, but then over Labor Day weekend Spencer's plane goes down while he is taking his pilot's license test, and he is killed. Devastated, Winter is left to try and cope with losing not only a boyfriend, but a best friend. And as the weeks stretch by, strangely enough it is her next-door-neighbor Jesse that slowly helps her heal and live (and love) once more.

As with Mills' previous novel, Heartbreak River, Winter Longing is a sensitive novel about love and loss with a beautiful, tangible setting that fits the story and the characters perfectly. The pacing of the novel is quite perfect; it begins with the day of the plane crash and continues into the following school year as Winter attempts to go through the paces of everyday life, with each chapter separated by a short excerpt of a memory with Spencer over the years. Winter needs time to heal and deal with her loss, and though it is obvious that Jesse has feelings for her and she is beginning to feel the same way about him, they don't jump into a relationship--both need to find common ground before they can move into being something more.

Another excellent aspect of the book is the way that Mills illustrates that people grieve differently in the conflicts that are raised between Winter and her best friend Lindsay right after Spencer's death. She also realistically depicts how relationships can change in the light of loss and death, but they can survive, and in the case of death, the relationship doesn't have to end--Winter will always have Spencer and her memories with her. Winter Longing is kept from being completely held down in grief by Lindsay's own troubles with her home life, and Winter's decisions regarding her future. The book is far from overbearing in its pain, and though it is a sad read, there is also a lot of hope in between the pages, and laughter and love and healing. Mills writes so convincingly about love and death, and Winter Longing is a heartfelt book you don't want to miss.

Cover Comments: I love the cover--it's romantic and tense, and the moon is gorgeous. I love the font as well because it is different than a lot of fonts used on romance covers, and it reminds me of something you would see on an old love story.

Winter Longing will be released from Razorbill on August 12th, 2010!

ARC received from publisher.

Mockingjay Madness

Hey everyone,

So, there is less than as month! Are you counting down the days? Re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire?

Here is the official Mockingjay trailer. (Like you need anything more to make the wait even harder!)

Also, you can go "Like" the official Hunger Games Facebook page here! It's really sweet! There are virtual gifts, discussions, trivia, videos featuring Suzanne Collins, polls...you get the picture, right? It's awesome, and it's totally worth setting up a Facebook account for if you don't already have one.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Signing With J.T. Dutton and Kristina McBride!

Yesterday, Shanyn (of chickloveslit.com) and I headed out to the wonderful Borders in Ann Arbor for a book signing with Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites, and J.T. Dutton, author of the books Freaked and Stranded.

Before hitting Borders though, we first went to lunch at a nearby Friday's with author Carrie Harris (whose debut  Bad Taste in Boys will be out next year. You should check out her awesome website in the meantime, and though she does not have green skin and pointy teeth, she's still pretty cool), J.T. and Kristina, and bloggers Sara (of The Hiding Spot), Katie (of Sophistikatied), and Valerie (of valeriekwrites.blogspot.com). We had a fun time talking and laughing and eating chicken fingers (most of us).

Then, the book store. I love this particular Borders because it has a really excellent and comprehensive YA section right next to the events area, and we always have a great time looking through all of the books and chatting before the events.

Before Kristina and J.T. started, the Borders staff showed us the book trailers for The Tension of Opposites and Stranded. They are both very good--I was impressed!

Then, Kristina talked about her book for a few minutes and read the first chapter aloud. She passed the microphone to J.T., who also talked about Stranded and her first novel, Freaked, a little bit, and then read from the first chapter of Stranded.

It was a lot of fun, especially since both first chapters leave you hanging quite a bit, and there is a lot of tension in them!

Then, we asked questions, candy was distributed, and we got our books signed. Here is a very unflattering picture of me, but a very nice one of both Kristina and J.T.:

And...to come, hopefully a group picture of us all! I'm waiting on Kristina to put it up sometime this week and then I'll update this post!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper has always felt out of place next to her shining, tall, and beautiful friends, and isn't quite as social as they are. So when popular and rude Wesley Rush calls her the DUFF—Designated Ugly Fat Friend—of the group, she's hurt, but certainly doesn't let it show. She hides all of her insecurities and problems (like the fact that her mom is never around and her dad can't deal with his divorce without alcohol) behind a cynical attitude. But then Bianca and Wes are assigned to work on a school project together, and despite the fact that Bianca despises him, Wesley is proving himself to be quite an excellent distraction.

The DUFF is a very blunt and open read, and Bianca is straightforward, and her sarcasm and witty quips will entertain more cynical readers. She is a mature character in that she knows how to take care of herself, and she realizes that a lot of practices and traditions that go hand in hand with high school are somewhat ridiculous, but her disdain for them comes close to being obnoxious, and her caustic attitude toward practically everything does get a bit tiring. However, the pressures she feels from her parents' issues and her conflicting feelings and confusion towards them do ring true, and are well portrayed. Though the storytelling is pretty solid, the dialogue seems a bit flat and forced at time, especially when any of the characters are trying to be sincere.

However, the biggest issue I had with The DUFF was the fact that the "distraction" that Bianca sought out, mindless, meaningless, and continuous sex with Wesley, was essentially romanticized. I appreciate that the issue of impulsive hook-ups is addressed (since it does happen quite a bit), but I believe it to be a lot more serious of an issue than Keplinger ever treated it to be. With the exception of a few brief pages in which whispers of a pregnancy scare circulate (not Bianca's, of course), Keplinger doesn't bring up any of the more serious consequences of casual sex, including damage to the physical and emotional health. Instead, Wesley is the uncaring player turned perfect boyfriend, and Bianca sticks with him, without a break in their sexual relationship. I don't think that this is a realistic relationship, nor a healthy one, and it can give a lot of readers the wring idea about healthy ways to deal with problems in life.

All in all, The DUFF ends happily enough, though the resolutions to all of Bianca's problems seem to be too easy and too simple. Still, anyone who has ever been frustrated by high school or felt like the designated ugly fat friend of their group and wished to be something more will most likely be able to relate to Bianca.

Cover Comments: I like the way the title descends down the page, and the bright yellow that the letters are written in. It will definitely be eye-catching!

ARC borrowed from Shanyn of ChickLovesLit.com!

The DUFF will be available on September 7th, 2010.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Théâtre Illuminata Trailer!

If you are a fan of Lisa Mantchev's humorous and effervescent books, you should check out this neat trailer, which includes some neat artwork of the characters in the same style as the covers!

Cover Talk: Some Leggy Shots

Last year, The Dark Divine came out and when its cover was released, people started doing all sorts of swooning and nail polish was being handed out right and left and things were generally a bit insane, all over this one cover, because it is admittedly quite, quite gorgeous and appeals to fans of the color purple.

And now the cover for the sequel, The Lost Saint, has been unveiled, and it is very blue. And leggy.

I do think that these are some beautiful covers (and I'm loving the fact that the publishers are working with the color black, but aren't pairing it it with red. I get a bit sick of the same black and red and white color scheme for paranormal books) and I think that these shots are quite striking. Some people have expressed some surprise at the fact that legs are a little suggestive and since the main character is a minister's daughter, they really aren't appropriate. While I can see where they may be coming from, I don't think the covers are inappropriate. 

What are your thoughts?

Théâtre Illuminata, Act Two: Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

Bertie Shakespeare Smith grew up in the magical Théâtre Illuminata, never quite belonging, but it wasn't until recently that she discovered she has her own sort of magic. Named the Mistress of Revels, Bertie leaves the Théâtre to pursue her destiny and her lost love, Nate, who was captured by Sedna, the Sea Goddess, accompanied by her faithful and mischievous fairy sidekicks and the brooding, elusive air spirit Ariel, who does all in his power to make Bertie forget Nate and fall for him. Outside the Théâtre walls, Bertie will discover that real life isn't exactly like the stage, not all relationships are as they seem, and her magic with words can't always save her.

Perchance to Dream is just as magical and charming and its predecessor, Eyes Like Stars, but with a slightly darker undertone as the stakes are raised and Bertie must scramble to find a way to rescue Nate. Of course, all of the fantastic wit and charm are still present as Bertie makes all sorts of blunders in her attempt to hone her writing magic, accompanied by the fairies who are just as rambunctious as ever, along with a few new players, including Ophelia's lost love and Bertie's father, who is not at all what Bertie imagined. Throughout Bertie's journey (fraught with magical mishaps and plenty of unexpected detours), Bertie grows up, learns the power of the magic she possesses and how to yield it, comes to understand her parents a little better, and finally faces Sedna. Their encounter is tense and emotional, and Bertie is forced to confront her feelings for both Ariel and Nate (a scene that will have fans dividing into teams). Through it all, she remains an admirable heroine, spirited and clever, and her actions demand another sequel.

Cover Comments: I like how this cover stayed similar to the first cover is style, with the fairies and colors and fonts. I think it is very beautiful, and it represents the characters quite well.

ARC received from Amazon Vine.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

When Colie's mother, the famous fitness trainer Kiki Sparks, jets off for a European tour, she leaves Colie in the tiny seaside town of Colby to live with her aunt Mira, an overweight and eccentric artist. Colie would rather be anywhere but there, where most of the town's rude and judgmental behavior toward her aunt reminds her of her own treatment back at home, and where the people aren't so weird. But then she meets Isabel and Morgan, two best friends who give her a job at the Last Chance Bar and Grill and take her under their wing, and Colie discovers she has a lot to learn about friendship and love.

Keeping the Moon is a thoughtful and honest book. Colie's insecurity about her appearance and how she is perceived is a bit refreshing in a heroine, and her uncertainty at how to act and reminders of the pain she has endured will resonate with many teen readers. She's cautious when it comes to getting close to Mira, Morgan, Isabel, and Mira's tenant Norman, but each person has something to teach her. From Mira, she discovers that it is possible to live the judgment of others and not let it affect you, and despite Isabel's tendency to be rude and Morgan's obliviousness to her bad boyfriend, they are compassionate and giving and give Colie the chance to find the confidence and strength she needs. Dessen has created a sweetly romantic book in Keeping the Moon, and the eclectic characters and humor make these old and important lessons on love and friendship and self-confidence seem fresh.

Cover Comments: Though this cover certainly isn't the most stylish one, I like it a lot and I think it really fits the book well. It is giving off a lot of great summer vibes, which I just love!

Review copy purchased.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stranded by J.T. Dutton

Kelly Louise is not happy when her mother plucks her out of her city life in Des Moines and moves them to the tiny town of Heaven, Iowa to live with her judgmental grandmother and perfect cousin Natalie. Natalie relentlessly tattles on Kelly to their grandmother, and Kelly can't seem to make any friends in Heaven with the town's biggest drama on everyone's mind: the newborn infant abandoned in a cornfield. Kelly doesn't really care much about the tragedy, but she's about to find out that the baby has everything to do with their move, and will force her to make a decision that will change everything.

Stranded takes a very complex and tragic issue and looks at it from a different and unique perspective. Kelly Louise is a very different and interesting character who is bold and puts on a pretty fearless front, but can be a little grating in her search for attention and chafes at any form of restriction. She struggles with being seen as the "bad child" and with being compared with Natalie, who her grandmother considers perfect, an issue that adds plenty of drama to the novel. Dutton's characters are very multifaceted and layered, and no one is really as they appear at first, especially Kelly, Natalie, and boy-next-door Kenny Stockhausen, which just makes them all the more convincing. Dutton also does a very good job of playing out Kelly's confusion and frustration in the ways she acts out: setting things on fire, purposely upsetting her grandmother, and getting involved with Kenny. Though it may be hard for some readers to understand her, Kelly Louise is a fascinating character, and her narrative is never dull. Stranded is a sharp, thought-provoking book.

Cover Comments: This cover is nice enough on its own (I like the way the title is splayed sideways across the photo), but I feel that it really doesn't fit the book. The model on the cover doesn't really remind me of Kelly Louise, and she never really visited the field, and the book took place in winter...however, it is a decent cover, and I think it will intrigue readers.

ARC received from publisher.

By the way, if you live in the LP of Michigan, northern Ohio or northern Indiana, you should come out this weekend to the Borders (on Lohr Road) in Ann Arbor where J.T. Dutton will be signing with Kristina McBride (author of The Tension of Opposites). The signing is on Saturday, and if you are planning on coming, let me know! My email address is thecompulsivereader@gmail.com!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Every summer, Belly, her mother, and her brother Steven head to the beach house in Cousins to stay with her mother's oldest friend, Susannah, and her boys Conrad and Jeremiah. But this summer, for the first time, Belly isn't going anywhere. Susannah is dead, leaving the beach house empty and her boys and Belly lonely and lost, unable to see past their grief and hurt. Belly passes the days idly, until Jeremiah shows up, asking for her help, and Belly is forced to confront both boys, and her sorrow.

It's Not Summer Without You is a beautiful novel, and though it has a very sad start that finds Belly in the midst of her grief, Han captures the turbulence of emotions, the difficulties of death, and the love and history and complexities of Belly's relationship with Conrad and Jeremiah quite well. Like the year before when Belly attempts to get the boys to see her as more than a kid, there are a lot of misunderstood feelings and misread deeds that lead to complications and drama, but once Belly and Jeremiah start moving past that, Belly and the boys really do reconnect at the beach house in Cousins (with its gorgeous setting and vivid descriptions), and their shared love for Susannah and the beach house helps them come together to save it, although it doesn't immediately fix everything. Han's characters are flawed and fascinating, and though you may think you can anticipate what they'll do next, they often surprise you in the best and worst of ways.

Though the novel is pervaded with grief and heartache, It's Not Summer Without You is hopeful and full of love, all about connections and making amends, and the fragility and endurance of relationships. Like with The Summer I Turned Pretty, this sequel has a rather ambiguous ending that will leave you curious, sad, wondering, and eager for the third book and the fate of Belly and the boys.

Cover Comments: I love the simplicity of the white background and the beach scenes with the main characters. It's clean and beautiful, and it just seems so summer-y--I love it.

Review copy purchased.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Sisters April, May, and June have had a bit of a rough year. When their parents decided to get a divorce, May had an embarrassing breakdown that prompted their mother to move the girls to a new town, and their father took off for Houston, far away from their California home. Left with a lot of pent-up emotions and frustration, the girls start their first day at their new school...only to discover that they are in possession of some pretty extraordinary gifts. April can see the future, May can become invisible, June can hear thoughts, and each sister has her own idea on how these powers should be used. But then April foresees something vague and frightening, and they'll have to work through their differences and issues in order to save each other.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June has all the same sharp, smart humor that made Robin Benway's first book so likable! This story alternates from the points of view of each of the three sisters, giving the reader a feel for each of their different personalities and allowing you to see the story from many different perspective. You also get to see each girls' own issues and drama as they unfold: April grapples with unexpected feelings for a guy and her own protective nature when she foresees some pretty scary things, May struggles with constantly feeling invisible and her disappointment in the way her father keeps brushing her off, and June wants to be popular and well-liked at school, but wishes her sisters would just leave her alone. Despite the supernatural powers the girls possess, everything about this book is so realistic, from the constant upheaval of emotion to the bickering and humor and love. And each girl's issues and the ever-shifting point-of-view aren't the only things that keep this book intricate; Benway was woven in a long and complex chain of events that take the girls up and down, and teaches them that each experience has its own importance, to learn from mistakes, deal with each other, and to stick together when life gets rough. By the end of the book, you won't want to let go of April, May, and June.

Cover Comments: I love the bright colors! The way the photo of the girls is arranged, sideways, with the different colors descending down the cover, is a really neat effect, and makes this cover stand out. I love it.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June will be released on August 3rd, 2010.

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pennsylvania Readers: Bring YA to Your State

PAYA: Bringing YA to PA is an organization started by blogger Harmony of Harmony Book Reviews. It's dedicated to raising money and collecting books for libraries across the state of Pennsylvania. Since its beginning in October of 2009, PAYA has raised over $1,000 and collected hundreds of books for libraries across the state of Pennsylvania.

PAYA's main fundraiser is an annual one-day festival. This year it will be held in West Chester, Pennsylvania on August 21st. It will feature over 18 authors, including Amy Brecount White, Stephanie Kuehnert, Jeri Smith-Ready, Josh Berk, Jon Skovron, Jennifer Hubbard, Shannon Delany, and more. The signing will run from 1pm-3pm. Books will be sold by Children's Book World from Haverford, PA. The festival will also feature two writing workshops, one aimed directly at teens and another at any aspiring writer. Fundraisers such as a basket raffle and used book sale will be held during the signing as well. More information about the festival can be found here.

PAYA is currently accepting monetary and book donations, both of which will be used to support Pennsylvania libraries. Librarians interested in receiving funds or books from PAYA and authors interested in attending the festival should email bringya2pa[at]yahoo[dot]com.

PAYA website - bringya2pa.com
PAYA fanpage - http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/PAYA-Bringing-YA-to-PA/135556373131694?ref=ts
PAYA Facebook Group - http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/group.php?gid=106673276030880&ref=ts
PAYA Event Page - http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=134941879871106&ref=ts

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

Tessa put her life on hold the day that her best friend Noelle disappeared in their small town in Ohio. For two years she thought constantly of Noelle, never giving up hope that she would come home alive despite what everyone told her. Two years later, she does--but she isn't Noelle anymore. Elle is impulsive and reckless, and is carrying around a lot of bitterness toward everyone in her life. She doesn't care about Tess anymore. Hurt, Tess keeps trying to reach out to her, taking comfort in her new friends Darcy and Max...who might be more than a friend, and she'll be forced to face the most frightening prospect: moving on without Elle.

The Tension of Opposites is a unique debut with a very gripping concept. McBride writes convincingly about this difficult situation, made even harder by the fact that Tessa has put her entire life on hold waiting for Noelle's return, but Noelle, now Elle, is so affected by her two years spent in captivity and the horrors she endured (which are touched upon, but not described in detail) that she is unable to pick up where she left off with Tessa, nor can she seem to make herself care. There is plenty of drama with Tessa's rejection, but one bright spot is her new relationship with new guy Max, who helps her open up to people by sharing her photography and by making new friends. However, even he can’t help her get over her problem: her inability to let go of Elle and the need to save her from destructive behavior is tripping up almost every other relationship in her life.

There isn't a perfect ending to The Tension of Opposites, nor even much of a resolution, but there is a little hope in the way that things end. This novel is a testament to enduring friendship and healing, and has a good balance between holding on and letting go.

Cover Comments: I think that this cover gives the impression that there are more action/dramatic scenes in the book than there really are, especially since this book is more about the healing afterward than the actual kidnapping, but it's still a very good cover nonetheless.

ARC received from publisher.

P.S. Kristina McBride will be signing (with J.T. Dutton, author of Stranded) in Ann Arbor a week from today! Any bloggers/authors.readers in the northern Ohio and Indiana or Michigan area should come out and see them, and talk with us! It'll be one great blogger/reader party! Email me if you're coming (thecompulsivereader@gmail.com)!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Halo Trailer!

For those of you looking forward to the release of Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, check out this neat trailer for the book! I think that it is one of the better ones I've seen, and it has made me all the more interested in reading the the book. What do you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cover Talk: Dark, Yes, But Not Hollow

So, I ran across a cover for Carrie Ryan's third book in her awesome zombie post-apocalyptic series, The Dark and Hollow Places. While I wasn't a fan of the makeover the first two covers received, I've found that I am liking this third cover a lot. Check it out:

It does look much darker than the previous two (is that possible?) but I am eager for it! March 22nd of next year is when we'll see it on shelves. What do you think of this cover?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

All her life, Bet Smith has wanted the one thing that every boy her age has scorned and squandered: an education. So when her foster brother Will Gardener expresses an interest in joining the military instead of attending a new school, Bet leaps at the chance to execute an impossible plan: she'll masquerade as Will and attend school in his place. Will doesn't think it is possible to pull off such a feat, but Bet is determined. But will her determination and spirit help her endure the brutal ways of the opposite sex and her growing attraction for her enigmatic roommate?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted's latest novel, set in Victorian England, is a delight. Baratz-Logsted has taken a commonly used plot--a girl masquerading as a boy--and breathed new life into it with Bet's determined and lively impersonation of her foster brother, Will, and readers won't be able to resist looking up to the way she stands up to the bullies of her school and looks out for the boys that get picked on, even as she is made a target herself. The characters are well defined and memorable: Will is a lovable, if not mischievous, foster brother whose wit and smarts will keep readers laughing, and James is a rather interesting (and a bit dreamy) character who proves that not all boys Bet meets at school are pigs, and the romance between him and Bet is sweet.

Another really great element to the story that gives it some extra depth is Bet's struggle with her station in life. She has always felt slightly below the Gardeners, but above the servants, and has felt the discomfort of not knowing where she stands with her benefactor and the mystery of her father really was. Baratz-Logsted handles this issue well, and the resolution, though not perfect, is plausible and believable. All of these things together have ensures that The Education of Bet is a lively and humorous novel with a lot of heart.

Cover Comments: I do like this cover a lot, though it does seem that it is more early 20th century than late 19th century Victorian. That's a detail that may escape many readers, and the general prettiness of the cover will attract many eyes anyway!

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

All Sunshine wanted to do was go out to the lake and sit by her family's old cabin to clear her head of the craziness of her life. She never imagined that it would be dangerous, or that she would be kidnapped by a gang of vampires. But instead of being killed right away, she is kept prisoner in a crumbling mansion alongside the vampire Constantine. All her life, she'd been told that vampires are evil and cruel, and no human can escape them, but Constantine is unlike any vampire she has met, and has other motives. In their time spent captive, they form a tentative, tenuous bond that may lead them to find a way to save each other, and in doing so, awaken a part of Sunshine she herself had forgotten, and maybe even change the world.

Sunshine is quite unlike any vampire novel on shelves right now. Highly imaginative, Robin McKinley has created a fascinating world that is at once so foreign and familiar to our own, and is vivid, magical, frightening, gritty, and above all, wonderfully realistic. Sunshine herself is quite an engaging main character--she's smart, funny, inquisitive, sometimes scared, down to earth, and she loves what she does. Her emotions are so well described as she goes through her tumultuous and draining ordeal, and even in her darkest moments, her independence and spirit shine through. Constantine is a very intriguing vampire as well, and McKinley described him very well, emphasizing how foreign he is to Sunshine and the human world, making him all the more intriguing and frightening. There is so much more than meets the eye in this layered story, and just when you think you know Sunshine and her world, McKinley springs more fabulous details on you, making the novel even more complicated and engrossing, until you are balancing at the edge of your seat in anticipation of the explosive conclusion. Sunshine is heart-pounding, beautiful, breathtaking, sharp, engaging, and smart. It surpasses words--you simply have to read it.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot--quite the opposite of so many dark and shadowed covers of many vampire books! The cover has a neat texture to it, and a cool iridescent shine. It may appear simply at first glance, but if you look closer, there is a lot of neat details in it!

Review copy received from publisher.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman

Delia Truesdale's life unraveled when her mother, T.K., went missing and everyone presumed she was dead. Sent from her Palo Alto home to live with her eccentric Aunt Charley in New York City, she proved that her mother was still very much alive, but in danger of certain evil-doers who would like to kill her mother--and her--if the truth about their illegal oil drilling got out. Now Delia's problem is finding out just who those evil-doers are. Unfortunately for her, all the evidence points to the father of her crush, Quinn, and as she digs even deeper, danger gets closer, following her even all the way to Buenos Aires, where Delia will uncover the truth.

This sequel to And Then Everything Unraveled is pitch-perfect, with a quick, sharp, intelligent sense of humor and a great balance between the mystery, suspense, and romance. Each character in this book is memorable; there’s practical and determined Delia, flighty and eccentric Charley, mysterious and dreamy Quinn, and demanding and quirky Carolina, whose psychic insights are vague but right on the money. Sturman steadily builds up suspense throughout the novel, and carefully reveals each clue and stepping stone to a final, dramatic showdown in Buenos Aires (where Delia and Quinn have plenty of misadventures and bravely take on a foreign city without seeming too implausible) in which everything comes together quite neatly. Though readers will be happy with the conclusion to And Then I Found Out the Truth, it will be hard to let go of this fun and entertaining cast of characters, Here's to hoping that it won't be long before Sturman releases another YA book soon!

Cover Comments: I love the bright colors in this cover, and the way the photo of the girl is mixed in with a graphic background. It's such a neat, bright effect, and I think it will really grab a lot of readers.

ARC received from publisher.