The Compulsive Reader: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormal is the norm for sixteen-year-old Evie, an orphan whose special ability to see through other paranormals' glamours sets her apart and makes her an important asset for the IPCA--the International Paranormal Containment Agency. For as long as she can remember, Evie has lived with the IPCA, catching paranormals and neutralizing them so they won't harm humans. Sure, it's not high school and crushes and a normal life, but it's a good one. But then one day a very unexpected paranormal boy shows up, and he opens her eyes to a terrifying threat. Something is killing off paranormals. And that something may be more like Evie than she would care to admit.

Kiersten White's debut novel is, to steal a phrase from Evie, bleeping fantastic. It's a perfect pick-me-up, and its upbeat attitude and ironic twists are guaranteed to make you laugh. White does an excellent job at building Evie's world, in which paranormals roam and are controlled by the IPCA (with her help), but as always, there is more than meets the eye. The character development is excellent, and both Evie and hero Lend are well drawn out and detailed characters--Evie is just so personable, it's impossible not to like her, and Lend is swoon-worthy but not untouchable guy. The antagonist isn't clearly defined at first, but as White slowly reveals more, she delves both into faerie lore and Evie's own nature, which is not only fascinating, but suspenseful. With enough twists to keep you on edge and plenty of action-packed, funny and romantic moments, White keeps the reader zipping through the pages. Though it does seem that certain details of Evie's past and her abilities are left a little hazy, Paranormalcy is a solid, lively, and totally kick-butt read.

Cover Comments: I like the darker setting contrasted with the pink of the girl's dress (which is fabulous, by the way. I can see Evie wearing it) and the fact that the model looks similar to how I imagined Evie. However, her pose and expression just aren't right. Evie is happy, upbeat, energetic, and this girl looks a little emaciated. Or sick.

Paranormalcy is out today!

ARC received from publisher.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Louder Than Words: 2010 Books

Last year a trio of memoirs were published, written by real teen girls about their experiences. They were Marni, Chelsey, and Emily, and are about a wide assortment of issues. This year, three more will published, and among them is Rae, a memoir by fellow book blogger Chelsea from The Page Flipper!

Here is more about the authors of this year's set of books!

Alexis: My True Story of Being Seduced by an Online Predator

Alexis Singer is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At 19, she is about to begin her junior year at Chatham University where she studies political science and women’s studies. She attended the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts as a writer. She is a writer, a read, an activist, a feminist, and an avid home cook. Her heroes include Alice Paul, Conan O’Brian, and her mother.

Hannah: My True Story of Drugs, Cutting, and Mental Illness

18-year-old Hannah Westberg lives in Vancouver, Washington. She earned her GED and plans to enroll in Portland Community College’s drug and alcohol counselor certification program. When she’s not babysitting, she is probably volunteering for political and charity organizations, as well as participating in flash mobs.

Rae: My True Story of Fear, Anxiety, and Social Phobia

Chelsea Rae Swiggett is 18 years old and lives in Ohio. She will soon be heading to college to major in English and immerse herself even further into the world of books and writing. She currently serves on the Ypulse Youth Advisory Board and plans on traveling the world—or at least the US—by the time 2012 hits. Just in case. Visit her on her YA book review blog, The Page Flipper.

Check them out!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cover Talk: The Making of the Bright Young Things Cover

A little while ago, I talked about the cover for Anna Godbersen's new book, Bright Young Things. It's very awesome and authentic, and when I first saw it, I assumed it was from a stock photo. But no--HarperTeen did a photoshoot to get the image! Check out this video to see behind the scenes!

Very neat, right? I love this behind the scenes stuff!

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart

Katherine is lost. She and her twin sister Anna used to be inseparable, so after Anna's death, she is determined to follow her. Katherine doesn't have much regard for her father who is kind and good but doesn't understand her, or her mother who has always been absent, taken away by her suffragist pursuits. And she certainly pays no attention to Bennett, Anna's beloved, and the one who stole her away from Katherine. So she is left to wander Pennsylvania and the marvels of the 1876 Centennial Fair, wishing for death, until one day and one event brings her life into perspective.

Dangerous Neighbors is a brief but affecting read that explores the grief a sibling can feel and realistically portrays one girl's thoughts of suicide, a subject infrequently addresses in the time period. Kephart alternates between scenes that detail Katherine's grief after Anna's death and moments in the months leading up to the event that depict the girls slowly drifting apart as Anna becomes more interested in her romance with baker boy Bennett and Katherine is left feeling abandoned. Though Kephart does go into some detail about the Centennial Fair and the exhibits, Katherine's emotions and her heavy feelings of anger, guilt, and resentment dominate the book and almost bog it down in some areas, and the climax in which she decides to live wasn't so very memorable. However, Kephart gives readers a hopeful ending, with many possibilities in Katherine's future, including a friend and perhaps the means to understand her sister and her actions. Dangerous Neighbors is an interesting and quick read, full of heart and feeling.

Cover Comments: I like the pretty light blue of the cover a lot, and the broken egg and red font of the title is a very neat effect--subtly sinister. It doesn't quite fit the book, but I like it.

ARC received from publisher.

Dangerous Neighbors is available now.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clockwork Angel: Book One of The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

When Tessa Gray arrives in London on a ship from New York, she's eager to see her brother, Nate. But before she can find him, she's intercepted by two women, known as the Dark Sisters, who kidnap her and force her to learn how to use the strange magical powers she never knew she had, all the while promising her that she is lucky, and she will soon meet the sinister Magister. Terrified and confused, Tessa is rescued by two young Shadowhunters, Will and Jem, and is taken to the London Institute, where she learns that her powers are just the beginning of a strange, magical world she never knew existed, full of wonder, but also full of hate, prejudice, and danger...and Tessa is in the center of it.

Clockwork Angel, the first in Cassandra Clare's new Infernal Devices trilogy, is a descriptive and elaborate book and a strong start to what is sure to be another knock-out trilogy. It takes about thirty pages or so before the book, which is set in the Victorian era, to reach familiar ground readers might be looking for, but once it does, the book unfolds quickly and smoothly. The times dictate that the mannerisms are a bit more refined in the characters, but Clare manages to sneak in plenty of humor and fun alongside the darker and riskier action scenes. There are a plethora of excellent new characters readers are introduced to, and each one is very realistic, and many have their secrets and mysteries--for Tessa, it is her heritage, and Will and Jem both have hazy backgrounds that are bound to become bigger issues later on.

One conflict that Clare portrays quite well was the struggle for the women Shadowhunters to be proper young ladies and women that society demands while balancing the Shadowhunters' need for strong fighters. Two characters, Jessamine and Charlotte, while on opposite ends of the controversy, both have to deal with it in their own way, and it's an issue that sets Clockwork Angel apart from Clare's previous work while at the same time making the setting more believable.

The idea of a clockwork army is brilliant, and the forethought and plotting that went into the book is impressive. There are plenty of intriguing mysteries and labyrinthine twists toward the end that will leave the reader far from where they were at the beginning of the book. Clare's talent for writing well-developed and entertaining characters and her fearlessness when it comes to creating dramatic, complicated conclusions to her books will garner Clockwork Angel plenty of attention and will leave readers impatient for the sequel.

Cover Comments: I like how this cover is similar to the covers of the Mortal Instruments books in style, but it still has its own flair, like the different shot of the man, and its own background and symbols. It's very well done and close enough to Clare's other books that it's easy to identify as hers, but not to similar that readers will get the books confused.

Clockwork Angel will be released on August 31st, 2010.

ARC received from publisher.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where She Went Teaser Tour!

Last year, one book I really enjoyed was If I Stay (you can read my review here). It's emotional, it's heart-wrenching, it's unique...and I thought it was over when I read the last page. Turns out I was wrong.

If you will recall, in If I Stay, before the accident, Mia’s biggest dilemma was choosing between Adam and possibly attending Juilliard. If you’ve been wondering whether or not Mia recovers well enough to play music or if she attends Juilliard, the wait is almost over: New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman has written a sequel to If I Stay. It’s called Where She Went, and it comes out April 2011, but right now she’s doing a teaser tour to give Teaser Number 6:

Mia does get accepted to Juilliard. And she does go. But she isn’t going there anymore by the time the events of Where She Went go down. What happened? Was the pressure too much? Did she relapse? I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. I will tell you that the role music plays in Mia’s recovery is both interesting and intense.

I'm certainly eager to see what happens, how about you? If you're looking forward to Where She Went as well, be sure to pre-order it !

For those of you who still need to read If I Stay, you can enter to win a signed paperback here! Just fill out the form at the bottom of the post!

Also, please check out the new paperback trailer for If I Stay!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This is a spoiler free review! Read on!

Katniss Everdeen has once again just barely escaped death in the arena, but this time her rescue is due to the rebels in District 13. Katniss should be happy that she has powerful allies that are willing to fight the Capitol, but it doesn't take long for her to realize that like the Capitol, District 13 is only interested in using her and making her the face of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. Katniss is sick of being someone's pawn, but the rebellion can't be won without her participation. The only question now is whether or not Katniss is willing to risk the lives of everyone she holds dear in order to bring down the Capitol and if she can face the consequences.

Mockingjay is an explosive and emotionally turbulent conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. Though it certainly isn't lacking in action, Collins does focus more on Katniss's emotions and her resentment at being used by everyone—the Capitol, District 13, and even those close to her. And though Katniss and her district have found refuge in 13, she and Gale (who, some readers will be happy to see, has a lot more face time in this installment) find that 13 isn't above reproach. This forces Katniss to think hard and carefully consider her course of action and its affects, and pursue the truth, no matter what. Collins exhibits some excellent character development as the war rages, testing Katniss to her limit, and revealing less admirable qualities in other characters. How each person reacts to the mounting pressure really drives home the issue of how serious, dark, and tortuous war is. Too many people die, relationships are altered, and the living are irrevocably changed.

The pace of the novel is a little slow at first, but tension quickly mounts as the rebels' plans are carefully revealed, Collins throws in a few unexpected, heartrending twists, and the answers to numerous questions, many pertaining to the Capitol and President Snow, come to light. All this builds up to a gut-wrenching and suspenseful race through the Capitol with a shocking outcome that will allow Katniss the chance to break free and make her actions entirely her own. Mockingjay might not be what readers will expect, but it is a strong and powerful reminder that violence and death aren’t a game and shouldn’t be treated lightly, and it reveals the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of war. Time and time again Katniss has proved herself to be a strong and admirable heroine, and though the conclusion of this trilogy may be bittersweet for both her and the reader, the final pages will leave a lasting impression on readers in the weeks to come.

Cover Comments: I really am a fan of the design of these covers! Though the blue wasn't what I was expecting given the black and orange of the previous covers, it has grown on me and I like it a lot!

Mockingjay is available today!

Review copy purchased!

Please don't reveal spoilers in the comments! If you are interested in discussing what happens in the final book with other readers, please go to the Mockingjay Spoiler "Safety Page".

Mockingjay Spoilers "Safety Page"

By now the whole world is flipping out about Mockingjay (read my spoiler-free review here!) and some people are even blabbing spoilers. If you all will remember my post earlier this week, Suzanne Collins asked us not to spoil the book for other people, because nothing is as much fun as discovering what happens for yourself.

However, for those of us who have read Mockingjay already and are DYING to discuss it with others....you've come to the right place. Go ahead and talk about all things Mockingjay in the comments. Yes, there will be spoilers, so if you're not into that sort of thing, you've been warned!

But please, please, please...keep the spoilers controlled! Don't go posting them on the web where unsuspecting readers can find them! That's not cool, and it's probably a death wish at this point. The point of this post is not to spread the spoilers and ruin it for people, but to be a safe place to discuss what happens and share our reactions to the book.

Discuss away!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci

Rose is a dancer and passionate about her art, but she's lost her way. A bad friendship leaves her disillusioned and unsure, and she tends to rush her way through school, avoiding others. Yrena is Rose's neighbor, a girl from the Soviet Union trapped in another country, but unable to see any of it. She too is a dancer, but she wants nothing more to do with it, only to be a regular teenager in one of the greatest cities in the world. When Yrena runs away and finds herself with Rose, the two spontaneously take off and have the night of a lifetime.

Rose Sees Red is a funny, yet serious, tale that captures the tension that existed between two countries, and the instant friendship and ease between two very different girls. Rose and Yrena are so very different--Rose is "black inside", and Yrena is overflowing with love and zest for life, yet the connection between the two is instantaneous and unbreakable. Yrena awakens something in Rose that can't be stamped out, and along with new friends Callisto, Caitlin, Caleb, and Maurice, they experience a night in New York City unlike any other, one that transcends political differences and changes them forever. They become friends and see past nationalities to the people they really are beneath. The revelation, though simple, is powerful and beautiful. Castellucci has created a captivating and surreal book about the power of love and friendship--you won't want to miss it.

Cover Comments: I like that graphics on the cover a lot! Usually I get bored with the same black, red, and white color scheme, but it's done really well here!

Rose Sees Red  is available now!

ARC received from publisher.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blog Tour: The Candidates, Delacroix Academy Book One by Inara Scott

We're kicking off Inara Scott's blog tour for her new release The Candidates, the first book in the Delacroiz Academy series. Inara has a character sketch of her main character, but first, here's a little bit about the book:

"Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden. But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome. And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy."

And here is what Inara has for us:

"Fourteen (almost fifteen) year-old Dancia Lewis is is girl everyone sees but no one knows. She likes it that way. In fact, she does everything in her power to make it that way. Because Dancia is dangerous. From crashed cars to guys in comas, Dancia can Make Things Happen just by thinking about them. Horrible things. Things that hurt people. Even when – or perhaps especially when – she’s trying to help. Dancia lives in a small town in Washington state, in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. She’s pretty sure one day Rainier is going to explode and dump lava all over the city and everyone she knows. Her luck is just like that.

Dancia is tall, with white-blonde hair that hangs in ringlets all over her head when she’s lucky, and in a frizzy blonde afro when she isn’t. She lives with her grandma, a small, gnome-like figure whose tastes run to matching track suits and baby-doll make-up. Thanks to Grandma’s medical problems, Dancia does most of the work around the house. This results in less-than-perfect laundry and a weedy backyard, but it also means Dancia gets to do things like drive the car home from the doctor’s office when Grandma has her eyes checked.

Yes, it’s a little thing, but you’ve got to enjoy the little things in life, right? Especially when the big things are so completely messed up."

Thanks so much, Inara!

If you want to learn more about Inara and the book, visit her website at inarascott.com. The Candidates will be released on Tuesday! And if you want to follow the rest of Inara's tour, click here for more info!

And now, the best part: thanks to the generosity of Disney Hyperion, you'll have the chance to win one of two copies of The Candidates! Just fill out the form below, and good luck!

And be sure to check out the trailer!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Phoebe Rothschild has always felt average in her remarkable family, but she takes comfort in her best friend Mallory, who is like a sister, and her friend Benjamin. What Phoebe doesn't know is that Mallory is really a faerie, sent to Phoebe to collect a debt that the Rothschild family owes, dating back generations to when her ancestor Mayer Rothschild made a bargain with the Faerie Queen for his extraordinary sons. When the Faerie Queen suspects that Mallory isn't doing her job well, she sends Ryland, Mallory's brother, to help her collect it. He forces the situation to light and causes Phoebe to decide if she is another extraordinary Rothschild, or just an ordinary girl.

Nancy Werlin has created a magical read in Extraordinary with a great blend of history, enchantment, and love. Phoebe is a loyal, kind character and while she may have a hard time classifying herself as anything but ordinary, it's obvious to the reader that she is special in the way that she cares for Mallory before they become friends and in her generosity. Their friendship isn't as prominent in the story, but instead the book really focuses on how Phoebe is forced to examine her own self worth through her new relationship with Ryland and her struggles with Mallory and her lies. There are quite a few moments when the reader is forced to think on what it means to be extraordinary, to the world and to those you love, and Werlin offers some keen insights on both. Phoebe eventually finds herself confronting the faeries in a battle of wits, and it is refreshing to find that Werlin's faeries aren't completely infallible as other stories and books make them out to be. While not quite as romantic as Impossible, Extraordinary is a thoughtful, clever, and unique book with plenty of suspense and a few twists that will leave you contemplating the meaning of both the words “ordinary” and “extraordinary”.

Cover Comments: Such a gorgeous cover! I love all of the color and the vibrancy of the background, and how the picture depicts the girl caught mid-step, making her seem really light and airy, which is quite fitting for the cover. This is a beautiful, beautiful cover, and I love everything about it.

Extraordinary will be released on September 7th, 2010.

ARC received from publisher.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour: District 9

Oh, Mockingjay! It's release is so close upon us! Welcome to District 9 of the official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour!

I could talk a bit about 9, but I'd rather gush about about one of my favorite characters in The Hunger Games trilogy--Cinna, Katniss's stylist. He is undeniably fabulous and smart, and his fashion sense is not only striking, but has fed the flames of the rebellion. In The Hunger Games, he made everyone notice Katniss by transforming her into the girl who was on fire, and his surprise wedding dress creation in Catching Fire stunned and impressed everyone--and made her even more sensational than before!

Not only is Cinna brilliant with the costumes, but he's smart and level-headed, which makes him one of the few people Katniss genuinely likes and trusts. This is why in Catching Fire, right before Katniss is about to enter the arena, she witnesses him being dragged away and beaten by the Capitol, and Collins leaves us wondering about his fate. Despite that, I have high hopes for Cinna in Mockingjay, and I am looking forward to more kick-butt designs by him, because no Hunger Games book would be complete without one. Never underestimate the power of fashion and appearances, especially when starting a rebellion!

And though Cinna's designs tend to be more eye-catching, I'm sure he would approve of today's prize, a black track jacket with the Mockingjay embroidered on the back. And, if you are the winner of this fabulous jacket, your name will also be embroidered on the front! Fabulous!

To enter to win the jacket, be sure and fill out the form at the bottom of the post!

And if you want to read more things Hunger Games, be sure to check out the official Facebook page, and swing by the District 10 stop at Presenting Lenore on Monday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reading Rants: Oh Sister!

As the only girl smack in the middle of four boys, I have always imagines having sisters. Houses full of girls and sharing accessories and fighting over the bathroom mirror and such have always been so foreign to me. Living in a houseful of boys tends to lead one to believe that sisterhood is accompanied with lots of impulsive "Ya-ya!" yelling and the constant presence of the theme song from that one Disney show Sister Sister playing somewhere in the background.

So, it's really no surprise that I have always been so drawn to the idea and theme of sisterhood in books, and it seems that as of late, I've been reading a lot of excellent books that give me a slight idea as to what living with sisters is really like.

Here are some of my favorites:

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

You can read my review here, but basically this is a hilarious, energetic book that alternates between the points of view of sisters April, May, and June as they deal not only with their parents' recent separation, but with the emergence of some pretty awesome superpowers. I love the quick humor and dialogue, and how Benway really establishes each character!

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

The protagonist, Annabel, is dealing with a lot of things, but  like how Dessen highlights her struggles wit her sisters, who have always seemed out of reach to her, especially her middle sister who is suffering from anorexia. Read my review here.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Who wouldn't love this action-y and gutsy book about two sisters who hunt werewolves? And of course, there is a great struggle for both girls as they deal with wanting different things in life, and being so close at the same time. Read my review here.

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

This book is quirky and unique, and I love how it is told in the sisters' confessions to their imperious grandmother. Like with Benway's book, Standiford really highlights each girl's personality and allows them their own voice. I liked it a lot!

The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton

This is a great story of the British Dashwood sisters and their struggles when their father dies and their family's money dries up, forcing them to make a lot of drastic life changes. I read it years ago and still remember it well to this day!

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten

This book really exemplifies sisterly devotion: Ellie is so determined that her sister Nina, who disappeared two years earlier, is alive, that she embarks on a nationwide road trip with a guy she hardly knows to find her, and uncovers a lot of secrets. Definitely full of suspense and mystery! Read my review here.

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Mauren Johnson

This is the first Maureen Johnson book I ever read, and it really has stuck with me. I dare you to find a funnier, wiser, more touching book about love and grief and sisterhood. Even though it definitely feels like May's book, her sisters Brooks and Palmer are wonderful characters.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Sisters Quinn and Sprout have always been told that men are bad news, and no one is worse that their father, but Quinn has a hard time believing it until she and Sprout embark on a karmic quest with the older sister they barely know to return items their father stole from past wives and girlfriends. First of all, not only is this one awesome concept, but it's perfectly executed. Caletti has written a masterpiece! Read my review here.

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

Scarlett has always felt the urge to take care of people, so when her emotionally distant sister Juliet comes home pregnant, she wants to fix things and take care of Juliet. But she'll have to learn that some things are never as simple as they seem, and oftentimes people need to take care of themselves. Another wonderful, emotional, and complex story from Caletti! Read my review here.

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

This is one zesty, tremendous read about two sisters and what happens when they grow up and grow apart, and how they learn to hold on to each other and become independent. And since it's a book by Lauren Myracle, it's full of a lot of laughs and a lot of heart. Read my review here.

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Of course, there are always those sisters who don't get along... In Prophecy of the Sisters, twins Lia and Alice are a part of an ancient prophecy that will pit them against each other. Read my review here.

What are some sisterly books that you have enjoyed?