The Compulsive Reader: April 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Today is the release day of the first book in Meg Cabot's brand new trilogy, Abandon! I adored this book and I hope you pick it up!

For most teens, a new school is a fresh start. And Pierce is hoping for just that when she moves from her Connecticut home to Isla Huesos after her parents' divorce. But Pierce isn't like most teens. Two years ago, she died. And then, after a bizarre encounter with a darkly handsome stranger in the underworld, she came back. Since then, Pierce can't shake the feeling of always being watched by that person, the mysterious John Hayden. But she can't avoid him on Isla Huesos, and there's more than one person who is waiting for that perfect moment when Pierce will rejoin John in the underworld.

Meg Cabot has created yet another cool, unique, and engaging heroine in Pierce, who is put through the wringer when she dies and comes back to find that death isn't so willing to let go of her. Pierce not only has an entertaining voice, but is always striving to be kind and compassionate, even if she doesn't always see those qualities in herself, and is determined to do what’s right. Abandon is set on the fictional island of Isla Huesos, which is based off of the island of Key West, and Cabot's description of the setting is lush, beautiful, and atmospheric. She re-works the Persephone myth brilliantly, weaving back and forth between Pierce's past and present dramas, tying them all together perfectly. John is very darkly appealing and a bit sexy, and the mystery of his true intentions and his past with Pierce keep things tense. The mixture of the history of the island, its traditions, John's presence in Pierce's new life, and the lurking danger to them both is alluring and edgy, which results in a twisting, gut-wrenching ending you won't see coming. Abandon is a dangerous, emotional, and absorbing start to what's bound to be another winning trilogy.

ARC provided by publisher.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Kate has spent the past four years taking care of her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of her freshman year of high school. She's skipped school, avoided making friends, and put her life on hold, and now her mother wants to move away from the New York City home and live in Eden, Michigan so she can die in the town she was born in. Kate isn't thrilled about moving, but she'll do anything for her mom. She doesn't mind terribly that everyone in Eden is pretty weird...until a prank goes horribly wrong and the mysterious Henry steps in, offering her a deal she can't refuse and revealing a darker world that could be Kate's...if she can pass the tests.

The Goddess Test is an engaging and creative sort of sequel to the Persephone myth with a lot of inventive little twists. Kate doesn't reach out to others much at all, so it's gratifying to see her tentatively make new friends to help her puzzle over the mystery of Henry's abilities and bargains. Her relationship with her mother is very sweet and heartbreaking as Kate struggles to accept the idea that her mother is dying and she must soon say goodbye. When Kate must move to be with Henry, a whole new set of problems then comes up as her life is in danger and the enemy could be anyone. No one is who they first appear to be in this book, which leaves you hanging in suspense, and Carter cleverly works everything out in the very end with more than a few surprises. Henry and Kate's gradual romance is sweet and realistic, despite the supernatural elements of the story. The ending is satisfying, but Carter leaves it open for a sequel that would be happily welcomed by readers.

Cover Comments: This is such a pretty cover! I love the Greek designs and flair, and the cool, darker colors--very neat!

Digital galley accessed on Netgalley.com.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Discovery of Witches Contest!

It seems like everywhere I turn, everyone is talking about A Discovery of Witches! So, naturally, the thing to do is spread the word and hold a contest, thanks to the generosity of the publisher, Penguin Group!

First, here's a bit more about the book:

"A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES begins on a late September afternoon when Diana Bishop, a bright, young historian studying amidst the ancient stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian library, calls up a medieval manuscript of alchemical illustrations. As soon as she picks it up Diana realizes that the book—Ashmole 782—is an enchanted object of untold power. As it turns out, Diana is not only a first-rate scholar of seventeenth- century chemistry but also a descendant of a long and distinguished line…of witches. She’s spent her adult life distancing herself from her supernatural destiny, and after a quick look at Ashmole 782 she sends the book back to the stacks and her magical history with it.

However, Diana isn’t the only one who has noticed that the manuscript has resurfaced, and her discovery immediately sets the fantastical underworld stirring. It soon becomes apparent that Ashmole 782 is a coveted treasure that’s been lost for centuries and Diana is the first and only being that has met the terms of its spell. Soon she finds herself beset by members of all three magical species—daemons, witches, and vampires—who swarm upon Oxford, seeking the text. She finds a crucial ally in Matthew Clairmont, a dashing geneticist and a vampire, whose preeminence in his field has been achieved after years upon years upon years of study. The two team up despite an age-old enmity between their species, becoming closer over candlelit dinners, supernatural yoga classes, and a trip to Matthew’s ancestral home (well, castle) in southern France.

As their challenges grow, so do Diana’s powers, and together she and Matthew must battle the forces rallying against them to unlock the secrets of a manuscript whose pages promise clues to a mysterious past and uncertain future. Equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is a mesmerizing and addictive read."

Don't you want it?

Well, all you have to do to enter the contest is leave me a comment below! I'll pick a winner on May 6th to receive a copy of the book and a set of those cool buttons! (Sorry, this contest is only open to the US and Canada!)

And if you've already read the book, then who do you think would make the best Diana? Or the best Matthew? Vote below!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Anna is not at all happy when her father's job forces him to transfer to a new beach town. She loves the beach she grew up on, where her memories of her mother are, with her friends and her grandmother living nearby. Her new home also has a lot of history with it—this is the beach where her parents first met, and once Anna arrives, she realizes that there is a lot about their past that she doesn't know about. In between making unexpected new friends and late-night meetings with cute lifeguard Tyler, Anna is forced to finally confront her past and open up about the night that her mother drowned.

Moonglass is a beautifully written novel, full of excellent imagery and perfect beach settings. Kirby has a talent for putting words together to create the most affecting, emotional sentences that will have you falling in love from the first page. Anna's observations and commentary on her life are authentic, and her voice will easily pull you in. This book is less structured, and more of a slow exploration of Anna's memories, feelings, the stories from the past and how they fit together and relate to the present. There is a lot of really great emotion between these pages, especially with Anna's relationship with her father, as they deal with her mother's death and their lack of communication. Everything comes together nicely in the end, and Anna's romance with Tyler is the perfect topping to this bittersweet summer confection of a novel. Make sure to pack Moonglass along with your towel and sandals when you head to the beach this summer!

Cover Comments: I just adore the tall view of the beach with the bright moon and the blues and purples of the cover! It's so pretty! This is a fun beach cover that doesn't fall back on the stereotypes!

ARC provided by publisher.

Moonglass is available on May 3rd, 2011!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Video Fun

Today I started We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han! I love this series, which started out with The Summer I Turned Pretty and continued with It's Not Summer Without You. On the back of the book was one of those cool picture-code things (what's the official name for them?) that you snap a picture of with your phone and it unlocks extra content. This one led me to this cool trailer, which I think will get you in the mood for summer and for Jenny Han's books!

Pick up We'll Always Have Summer in stores starting next Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reading Rants: Short Story Love

I love short stories. I was totally the geeky kid in English class that paged through the gigantic textbook each year, peeking at all of the short stories listed, hoping that we got to read every single one. And as I got older, I definitely learned to appreciate the authors of short stories--they have to tell their story in a fraction of the amount of words it takes to make up a novel. I think that good short story writers are some of the most talented there are.

However...honestly, how many of you reading this blog post right now buy anthologies on a regular basis? Certainly there are some very interesting and worthwhile anthologies out there (Love is Hell, Zombies vs. Unicorns, The Poison Eaters), and they're great books to buy if you want to get a sampler for authors whose book you think you might want to read. But when it comes to spending the $10-$20 on a brand new book, I'm more likely to go for a full-length novel than for a collection of short stories, some of which I may not like at all.

Which is why I think that short stories and e-publishing might have a long, wonderful future together. Have you ever seen an anthology that contains a short story by an author you really love and wanted to read just that story without having to buy the entire book? Well...what if short stories were available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders in digital format? For a dollar or two, you could download short stories by your favorite authors or try a new author without having to spend a ton of money or buy an entire anthology. Plus, I know tons of authors whose works I love and have written short stories that are scattered about here and there in hard to find anthologies or online somewhere--Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Tamora Pierce, Meg Cabot, and many more. I would totally download all of their short stories if they were available in a short story e-book format for my Kindle.

Some authors and publishers are already doing this, and I love it! Most recently, Carrie Ryan's short story "Hare Moon", which has appeared in a previous anthology, was made available for download about two weeks ago. It's set in the same world as her Forest of Hands and Teeth series, some years before the first book. When I went to Carrie's signing last March, she talked about and I was interested in reading it, but I never got around to grabbing that anthology it was in. I was able to download it and read it in about an hour, and it was lovely to return to that world again.

Similarly, Melissa Marr has a few short stories available for download that go along with her faerie series. They are "Old Habits" and "Stopping Time" (and if you haven't read her series, Wicked Lovely is available for only 99 cents right now). Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King, also has a short story available for $2.39, "Winter's Passage" that follows along with her series. Jenna Black's "Remedial Magic" is free, and is a bonus Faeriewalker story. Likewise, Shannon Delaney's "Beasts and BFFs" is a prequel story to 13 to Life and is free. And if you are a fan of Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, download the prequel story "My Soul to Lose" for only $2!

There are tons of fun short stories out there that are related to some excellent books, and I hope you check them out! It's my hope that you all come to love short stories just as much as novels, because I think we're going to start seeing way more of them in future, especially with the introduction of Amazon's Kindle Singles and the popularity of inexpensive e-books among teen readers!

Do you have some favorite short stories? Tell me about them in the comments!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Ever since the accident that put her sister Tess in a coma, Abby has put her life on hold. She visits Tess in the hospital every day, talking to her, trying to persuade her to wake up. Tess has always been the bright, beautiful, adventurous one, and now that she's gone, Abby doesn’t know what to do. Then one day at the hospital, she spots Eli. Abby is sure that he's exactly the type that Tess would go for, and when he speaks, she sees Tess move slightly. She persuades Eli to sit with her and Tess and talk in an attempt to get her to wake up, but slowly begins to become friends with him. As Abby begins to fall for Eli and is forced to face the possibility of a future without her sister, she discovers secrets about Tess that she never knew.

Between Here and Forever is another sweet and emotional coming-of-age novel, tinged with sorrow. Abby is very insecure in the beginning of the book. She's content to be known as Tess's sister and let her have the spotlight, and when Tess is no longer there, she has a hard time dealing. Her desperation is what brings her to Eli, who is a genuinely good guy struggling with his own problems when he encounters Abby. He puts up with the fact that she is a little dense and can't see that he is attracted to her, not Tess, and they slowly learn to trust each other. Their romance is tentative and heartfelt, and completely satisfying as Eli divulges his struggles to Abby and Abby learns to be honest about how she truly feels with him. However, it's not enough of a distraction to keep the reader from wondering about secrets that Tess held while she was still awake, and the story becomes worthwhile when Abby finally gets up the courage to see the truth about her sister and in that revelation, is able to make peace with her and with herself. Scott's writing is beautiful and incisive, and Between Here and Forever is not to be missed.

Cover Comments: I like the bright sunflower and the vibrant green background! This is a sweet cover, and even though it doesn't really indicate anything about the book at all, it's very pretty and inviting!

This book will be available on May 24th, 2011!

ARC provided by publisher.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

In a futuristic world where only those under eighteen can conceive, Melody has the perfect life. She's sixteen, rich, popular, and she has one of the best conception contracts with a wealthy couple. Now, all she's waiting for is for the couple to choose a guy for her to bump with. But then, her long-lost twin sister Harmony shows up on her doorstep. Harmony was raised in Goodside, a religious community that believes paid conception is wrong, and Harmony is determined to convince her sister to break her contract. Melody is less than welcoming, but things get even more complicated when the girls mistakenly switch places, forcing them to decide what they truly believe in once and for all.

There are a lot of things about Bumped that make it engaging and realistic. McCafferty does an excellent job at bringing the culture of this future United States alive. Girls everywhere look forward to being pregnant by sixteen, consumers glamorize pregnancy, and maternity clothes are in. There is a wide vocabulary of slang words (that tend to be slightly crass by today’s standards) to compliment this, which makes the book slightly confusing at first, but the reader will be able to pick up on them quickly. While she does do a good job at setting the stage for the book, it would have been interesting if McCafferty could have provided more background info on virus that renders adults infertile, and the effects of it early on. However, the story moves at a good pace, bouncing back and forth between the twins' points of view. Each sister changes quite a bit throughout the course of the book as the girls are forced to examine everything they have been taught to believe in and decide to embrace or reject it. McCafferty also tackles religion in Bumped, which plays a large role in the story. Some readers might not like the way she bends it to fit the plot, but it's an interesting element and provides room for plenty of thought and conflict between the characters. It's hard to get past the idea of parents pimping out their teenagers for the sake of continuing humanity, but McCafferty has written a book that will be thought-provoking and incite many discussions and debates.

Cover Comments: I like the egg on the cover. It hints at the book's content without being too explicit or blatant, and I like how the shot with the shadows are at the very front. The gray areas are very indicative of the struggles in this book. This is a great cover.

Bumped will be available on April 26th, 2011.

ARC provided by publisher.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Enclave Trailer

Check out this cool trailer for the new book, Enclave, about a dystopian world where the human population is forced to live underground and isn't expected to live beyond their twenties.

You can check out the author's site and read the first two chapters here!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Celebrate Nation Library Week with Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton was an extremely prolific and award-winning author of many books, including M.C. Higgins, the Great, Zeely, and The Planet of Junior Brown. To celebrate National Library Week, Open Road Integrated Media put together this video about Hamilton's memories of her own public library. Check it out:


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Caitlin Kittredge!

Right now I am reading a fascinating book called The Iron Thorn. It has all of the things I adore in it--a steampunk-esque setting, a strong heroine, mystery, madness--and it's super thick. I am in love! The author, Caitlin Kittredge, was kind enough to take a few moments and answer a few questions for me!

TCR: What sparked the idea for The Iron Thorn?

CK: I think what really sparked it was a desire to write a Lovecraftian fantasy, but with a twist. Adding steampunk elements and setting the whole thing in an alternate 1950s came pretty naturally. Once I'd decided to write alternate history fantasy, Aoife's character just woke up and started talking to me one day. The first line of the book popped into my head, and it all grew from there.

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

CK: Hardest, definitely getting the first draft out, even if it's in terrible shape. I wouldn't say that any part of the process is exactly easy, but I do like editing, getting everything into shape, and making the novel the best it can be.

TCR: What's your favorite sort of novel?

CK: The kind I can get lost in!

TCR: What can we look forward to next from you?

CK: The second Iron Codex book will be out in Spring 2012, and the next book in my adult series from St. Martin's will be out in September.

Thanks, Caitlin!

And keep an eye out for my review, coming up soon!

Follow Caitlin's blog tour and stop by thestorysiren.com tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Snag Some Awesome (and Free) Books!

If you're running low on cash and books to read, then you should definitely check out Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes! The long-awaited sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope, comes out next month, and in anticipation, the publisher is providing 13 Little Blue Envelopes free in e-book format! If you don't have an e-reader, not problem--you can download the free Kindle app to your phone, computer, or iPod and read it for free on that!

Same thing goes with Aprilynne Pike's Wings! The third book, Illusions, comes out next month as well! If you like magical and romantic reads, then this is a book you will want to check out...and why wouldn't you if it's free?

Plus, each free e-book comes with bonus material--sneak peeks at their sequels!

Go forth and download!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wild Roses by Deb Caletti

To the outsider, Cassie Morgan appears lucky. She lives in a nice house, goes to a nice school, and her stepfather is Dino Cavalli, world-renowned composer and violinist. People at school are constantly reaching out to her, wanting to know what it's like to live with a genius. But Cassie can't tell them what it's like, because the truth is that Dino is narcissistic and mean, and he is going crazy. His erratic behavior is beginning to alarm Cassie, and she can't seem to get her mother to see or understand that. Then, Dino takes a student, the young and brilliant Ian Waters, who has his own demons. Cassie and Ian are drawn to each other, but keep their relationship a secret, afraid of Dino's reaction. But as they are about to find out, secrets have a way of getting out, no matter how hard you try to conceal them.

Wild Roses is yet another dynamic and emotional read from Deb Caletti with a strong voice and a distinctive setting. Cassie's situation is a unique one, and her narration is very engaging and authentic. She deals with her family situation with a lot of humor and sarcasm, but she refuses to be defined by her parents' divorce or her stepfather's behavior, and she tries to balance them all the best that she can. Dino is a bit scary, and he does put the reader on edge, which builds plenty of tension in the novel. There's also a bit of a mystery to the book in that Cassie doesn't understand why her mother fell for Dino in the first place, and her father is determined to prove that Dino isn't who he says he is...and if he isn't that person, what is Dino's true story? Ian Waters is a good character as well, and the romance between him and Cassie is sweet, yet complicated. However, he seems to be a minor character in that he isn't in very many scenes, and Cassie seems to build him up in her head quite a bit. Nonetheless, Wild Roses is a solid, beautiful book and a can’t-miss for Caletti fans.

Cover Comments: Pictured is the newest paperback edition cover. I like the blues and purples and the way the snowball is shaped in a heart--it's very sweet. This is a very pretty cover!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

It's Never Too Early to Start Thinking About Summer!

I don't know about you guys, but I am getting so, so excited for the release of the final book in Jenny Han's Summer trilogy! It began with The Summer I Turned Pretty, an emotional, beautiful, romantic story. It got heartbreaking and complicated in It's Not Summer Without You. And now, it'll finally conclude with We'll Always Have Summer--a title that is already making me a little sad and very nostalgic!

You can keep track of how long til the release with this nifty widget--and I love the sound effects! It makes me want to head straight to a beach!

You can pick up this book on April 26th! In the meantime, what do you think is going to happen in the final book? And which of Beck's boys do you think Belly should choose--Conrad or Jeremiah? I do adore Jeremiah, but I loved it when Belly and Conrad were together! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!