Saturday, June 30, 2012
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
What I loved so much about this one was the beauty in the straightforward writing. It just flowed so nicely, and what readers experienced in this wasn't a sad case of YA insta-love, but the magic and possibility of serendipity. I knew that this was a winner before I had gotten very far in, and it was the first book I read of the year, starting 2012 off on a very good note!
Click here to read my review!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This one was a no-brainer. Green is brilliant and funny and just so, so talented. I am so pleased that this is a book that not only lives up to the hype, but surpasses expectations. If you haven't read The Fault in Our Stars yet, please do immediately! You won't regret it!
Click here to read my review!
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
This is the much anticipated third book by Cashore, sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire! Cashore's writing is just brilliant, and I love how complex her characters are and how everything in her stories is somehow connected. This is a beautiful book, and just as good as her previous novels!
Click here to read my review!
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Last summer I read Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, Matson's first book, and I was blown away by how good it was. Second Chance Summer is just as good, if not better. On the surface, it looks like a breezy and pink summer read, but it deals with death, grief, and family in a profound and beautiful way. Matson is an amazing writer, and one I will definitely be keeping my eye on!
Click here to read my review!
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This is very different from the usual World War II books I read, but you shouldn't go into the book thinking it'll be all about the horrors of war and how it changed the world--it is about those things, but at the heart, it's about this amazing friendship that didn't break under the harrowing pressures of that terrible war. This book is so well written, so important. You won't be able to tear yourself away from it.
Click here to read my review!
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
I was slightly taken aback by how much I enjoyed this book! It's a little on the long side, but it's a fascinating look at Cameron Post's life, starting with her realization that she is a lesbian, following her parents' tragic deaths, and her teen years living in a small, close-minded town. Danforth's writing is so wonderful--I loved her characterization, her metaphors, and her descriptions. It was just so excellent, and so different from anything I'd ever read.
Click here to read my review!
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
Deb Caletti's books are always fantastic! What I really liked about this one was the protagonist, Cricket, and her struggle to deal with change. She's not a particularly outgoing person, and dealing with moving and college and life after high school is hard for her. Set against the backdrop of her mother's beach wedding, this story was so well-told and beautiful.
Click here to read my review!
Tempest by Julie Cross
I love time travel stories, and I couldn't help but fall a little for Jackson, the protagonist and narrator of this one. This is just such an action-packed, smart, and even a little romantic book. I'm so excited to see where Cross goes with the next book!
Click here to read my review!
The List by Siobhan Vivian
I love the approach Vivian takes in writing this one--it's about eight girls who are put on the list of prettiest and ugliest girls of their school, and it's told from their eight different points of view. Vivian's writing is engaging, her characterization is awesome, and I thought that the ending was very powerful without being obvious or unrealistic.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Like Second Chance Summer, this one appears to be a light summer read about the boy next door, but once you get into it, you find it's way more than that! It is a really great novel about family, tragic mistakes, and making the right choices, no matter what the consequences. It really surprised me how much I loved this one.
What are your favorite books of 2012 so far? Share them in the comments!
Friday, June 29, 2012
The Hunt is a very different and dark read. The vampires of Fukuda's story aren't the sexy, sparkly vampires of most mainstream vampire literature—they're curious, unique beings with emotions, bodily functions, and quirks that are completely different from a human being’s. These strange characteristics make them even less human-like and more alien, menacing, and dangerous creatures. Gene walks a fine and dangerous line in trying to blend in with the vampires, and the politics, plots, and buried secrets that he gets sucked into are interesting. He doesn't fully understand what is going on around him, but with the help of Ashley June and the other humans, he learns what it means to be human, and that there comes a time to stop hiding because there are things in life worth fighting for. There is plenty of suspense, action, and blood and gore throughout the book, and a surprising twist and cliffhanger ending will leave readers wondering what will happen in the next book. Fukuda has written a very different, very dark read that is tense and harrowing.
Click here to listen to an audio book excerpt.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Today I have a review of Once, the second book in the Eve trilogy, and an interview with author Anna Carey! You can read my review of Eve here. First up, all about Once:
This sequel to Eve is fast-paced and highly plot-driven. It'll grab your attention right away, picking up only a few weeks after Eve leaves off. Carey does an excellent job at expanding this dystopian world, bringing both Califia and the City of Sand to life. They two settings are nice contrasts to the rigid school and dangerous wilderness that are the settings of the first novel, and help make Once a very different novel from Eve. Carey drops a handful of surprising twists throughout the book that radically change Eve's life as she attempts to prove herself to the resistance fighters, and help build suspense. Many favorite characters also return as Eve find that sometimes, in order to save the ones you love, you have to make painful sacrifices. Carey leaves readers hanging with another shocking, abrupt end, and it's anyone guess as to where she'll go next in book three.
AC: Each book is a completely different experience, which is the most exciting and terrifying thing about writing. So much of Once was about building the King’s world, and exploring this City where survivors of the plague have sought refuge. It was fun to build on the more established relationships (like the bond between Arden and Eve, or Eve and Caleb) and explore how they grow and evolve. I didn’t have to create something from nothing, though new characters will be introduced (as well as a completely new world).
TCR: Did you plot out the entire trilogy before sitting down to write? If so, was sticking to the outline ever hard?
AC: I had a general sense of what each book would be about and for the most part, that has remained the same. Before I start writing I create an outline detailing what will happen chapter by chapter. I didn’t begin the outline for the second book until I completed the first, and so on. In general, the outline is just a roadmap for the first draft. The book changes dramatically in revisions. It becomes a jigsaw puzzle of sorts, and I work with my editor to decide which sections need to be fleshed out, which sections can be cut, and which storylines need to be changed. By the time I’m diving into the first revision, I’ve usually forgotten all about that original outline.
TCR: What were your thoughts when you first saw your cover?
AC: It’s a striking image. The imagery will become more apparent once you read the book. The deep purple against the white font is gorgeous, and as always, the booklooks even better in person. The metallic sheen on the jacket adds so much.
TCR: Are there any YA books you've loved lately that you'd like to recommend to readers?
AC: I recently finished Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I was impressed at how deftly he handled the subject matter. It manages to deal with a heavy topic—teen suicide—without feeling melodramatic.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I was glad I didn't let my cover judgments get in the way of reading Flat-Out Love by Jessica Parker (you can read my review here)...but I'll be honest, I was so relieved when it got a cover makeover. And the new cover? WAY cooler than the old one!
There once was a whale that caused a great fail
On the part of a captain who just so happened
To loose an appendage replaced by a peg.
Now the captain did not like his stump so he set out to trump
This whale and gain retribution for his fail.
The captain took his ship into the blustering waters,
Where the whale simply spouted for hours.
Harpoons showered from the towering mast but the whale had his last.
Now the captain has met the worst of luck,
He and his crew have sunk.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The first blog post I read was written by Jessica Park and you can find it here. Jessica Park is the author of Flat-Out Love, which I read and enjoyed and I'd recommend to you all. In this blog post, Park talks about her rejections that she faced in trying to get Flat-Out Love published by a traditional publisher. It's interesting to read that the two reasons she gives for her book being rejected by publishers again--the fact that it is contemporary and the protagonist is college-aged--are two things I (and other bloggers) wish there was more of in YA. I thought that Park's post was enlightening and I agree with her that there are some things that YA is lacking that WOULD sell, but publishers aren't buying. I would probably like her post a lot more if she didn't come off as a bit beliggerent and so anti-publishing house.
The second post I read was Shannon Hale's on her blog, Squeetus. You can view it here. What I liked about this one is that Hale reminds us why everyone doesn't just produce their books out of their garages. She points of the value of the editor, agent, copyeditor, and a million other people involved in making a book.
Both of these blog posts (on different ends of the spectrum) give you something to think about, but I think what both fail to distinguish between are those writers who are just putting their work out there, independently publishing because it is so easy and not because they are making a move in their writing careers, and those writers who are turning to independent publishing because they have a story that might appeal to readers who aren't necessarily into supernatural romances and independent publishing makes sense for them business-wise. They are the ones who put out the money to hire editors and designers for their covers. And there is a difference between their work and the scads of poorly produced 99 cent e-books out there. Maybe they aren't quite so apparent, but in the coming months, we'll see more and more authors who are split both ways.
My point is not to bring up a massive debate or take sides, but I just wanted to talk about every side of the issue here. What do you all think?
Click here to view my list of recommended independently published e-books!
Monday, June 25, 2012
Code Name Verity is a tremendous and moving novel about friendship, sacrifice, and love. The first half is told from Verity's perspective; as a narrator, she is engaging and strong, even as she reveals her weaknesses and fears. Her spirited, bright nature conceals the less evident fact that she is a very unreliable narrator. From the very beginning Verity is up to something in how she constructs her confession, centering it on her best friend, but her intentions and motives aren't clear. Readers don't see just how creative, resilient, and brilliant she is until the second half of the novel, told from Maddie's perspective. Between the two young women, Wein presents a vibrant and oftentimes tragic account of what World War II was like for countless of young people, how it changed them, how it forced them to re-evaluate their fears, and what those experiences demanded of them. As the story unfolds, not every situation is black and white, not every character is either good or evil, and truth becomes a slippery thing. This meticulously written and emotionally charged novel demands your complete attention until the shocking end and won't be easily forgotten.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Click here to read my review of Eve, and stay tuned for more about Once and the official blog tour!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
All disclaimers and gratitude aside, here’s what’s going on: We read chapters 26-40 (HB was feeling ambitious). SO MUCH HAPPENS. And because a chapter by chapter breakdown is boring (like, that’s totally what SparkNotes is for*), I decided to go with a tried and true method teachers and professors everywhere inflict upon their new English students to help force them to think critically.
I wrote study questions for HB!
TCR: What’s REALLY wrong with Captain Ahab?
HB: You’re assuming that there is actually something wrong with the good old captain. Come on, he got his leg bitten off by a whale! Wouldn’t you feel the need for a little revenge and closure? Maybe Captain Ahab is the most sane out of everyone onboard the Pequod. Think about it...
TCR: Out of all of the whales that Ishmael/Melville (because let’s be honest, it seems like Melville forgot he was supposed to be writing prose here) outlines in chapter 32, which one is your favorite?
HB: I personally favor the Algerine Porpoise (mostly because Melville only talked about this creature for six sentences). This guy is described as being a “pirate,” and a “savage.” Once provoked he will stand up to a shark and is rarely captured. This creature’s got spunk and he’s a mystery. He remains wild, something that cannot be captured and contained.
TCR: Queequeg vs. Starbuck—who wins?
HB: With a name like Starbuck, Queequeg doesn’t stand a chance. Enough said.
TCR: What are your favorite words from chapters 26-40?
HB: My four favorite words:
Soliloquised—this word just sounds nice
Descried—I’m guessing this means to cry out
Specksynder—not found in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) but according to Melville a Specksynder is a harpooner
TCR: In your opinion, how important is a chapter about the dining habits of the crew to the overall impact novel?
HB: This chapter could actually be very significant to the novel. It shows us that as a whaling vessel, the Pequod is a very organized ship. There are rules and specific ways that everything is done. This could be a reflection of Captain Ahab himself. If so than he is methodic and orderly man. It will be interesting to see if the way the ship is run becomes increasingly disorganized the more that Ahab’s obsession for the white whale becomes openly apparent. Other than that, I think that Melville was a little bit obsessed with other people’s eating habits.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
So naturally, with two drop-dead, go-out-and-buy-a-print-copy-immediately gorgeous covers, I waited eagerly for the Fathomless cover to be revealed...and was slightly perplexed when I saw this:
Okay, don't get me wrong--this is a gorgeous cover as well. I especially like the font. But...it's pretty ho-hum. It looks like a lot of supernatural covers out there, and it doesn't have the unique look, that memorable design of Sisters Red and Sweetly. It was a little bit of a disappointment.
A little disappointment turned to major disappointment when I saw this:
I point these out not because the covers are bad--they're actually really nice. I would probably like them a lot more if I had never seen the originals. But the flashy fonts and colors aren't what make covers so cool--it's those unique elements that you can't find on half of the book covers in the bookstore. The design that makes you go, "OH!" and then purchase the print copy rather than download it, because it's a cover that you want to own, want to touch, want to share.
I know I'm a blogger and a big promoter of books in general, but I have also learned how to be a bookseller in this past year, and I think that as everyone is worrying about the impact of e-books and the future of print books, covers like Pearce's originals are going to be what sells print books. Covers that take the book from something that you read to a sort of showcase item that you want to own because it's so cool, and an intangible file just won't compare to.
I don't know the details of why Little, Brown gave these books a cover lift--I rarely do when I make these sorts of posts. I wish I had that insight. I don't mean to come off like I'm complaining, but I am interested in knowing what you all think about this cover issue. Weigh in below in the comments!
Sunday, June 17, 2012
While Insurgent isn’t as instantly readable as Divergent, it won’t take long before readers will be sucked into the story. The dangers and the stigma of being a Divergent are still relevant in this book as the Erudite attempt to kill them, and other Dauntless members ostracize them as the cause of violence and social disturbance. The action never stops as Tris and Tobias move around the city constantly, battling their many enemies and searching for answers. While many of their challenges are external, they also face many struggles between themselves: they aren’t always honest with each other, and they have trust issues. Nonetheless, they fight to stay together in the middle of a city that is being torn apart. Roth further explores the concept of fearscapes and mind control, which is fascinating and provides some interesting twists and insight into the characters. The book’s nonstop action culminates in a surprising revelation that will completely change how you perceive Roth’s world and compound the suspense for the final book in this breathtaking trilogy.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Once again, here is the link to the article, and here is the link to my review.
What did you think of Legend? How do you think it would play out on the big screen?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
I'm going to try and do this succinctly, but here's all about BEA 2012, in brief:
I flew out Sunday with Erika from Moonlight Book Reviews, a fellow Michigan blogger. We stayed in Manhattan with Melissa Buell, author of The Seventh Blessing.
Simon and Schuster kicked off BEA week with a lovely party Sunday evening at Hudson Terrace. The party space was awesome, and they had rockstar authors Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Burn for Burn), Lenore Appelhans (she wrote Level 2, yay for book bloggers!), Shannon Messenger (Let the Sky Fall), Carmen Rodrigues (34 Pieces of You), and Tonya Hurley (Blessed) in attendance. Jenny interviewed everyone about their books and writing, which was entertaining and hilarious, and we just had a lovely time!
Here's Lucille Rettino of Simon and Schuster introducing Jenny Han! She's fantastic!
Monday was the Book Blogger's Convention at the Javits Center. It's always cool to see so many book bloggers in one place who are passionate about books and blogging, and to be able to put faces to so many blog names and Twitter handles. Jennifer Weiner was the keynote, and she was very funny and entertaining.
That evening was a party at the Scholastic offices. I've said it before, and I'll reiterate it now, but that building is the coolest. It's bright and fun, and they have a lovely terrace on the very top where the party was held. We mingled with the lovely Scholastic staff and other bloggers, and then we had author performances! Jeff Hirsch, Raina Telgemeier, Kate Messner, and Donna Cooner were up first, and together they read from each other's books. Then we had James Dashner (who is unbelievably funny and entertaining), Maggie Stiefvater, Sharon Cameron, and Eliot Schrefer up for their own dramatic readings--it was so funny! They worked so well together and it really was a one-of-a-kind performance!
Raina, Jeff, Kate, and Donna!
Tuesday marked the first day of BEA at Javits, and it was a little hectic, but so much fun seeing the authors, publicists, and other bloggers, librarians, and booksellers. Tuesday night was the speakeasy party that Little, Brown put on for Libba Bray to celebrate her new book, The Diviners, which is set in the 1920's! it was an awesome, awesome event and very authentic, from the space it was held in to the coffee cups and mugs that the drinks were served in!
Here's Tara Quigley of Fiction Folio, Shanyn Day of Chick Loves Lit, and me!
Wednesday morning was particularly exciting because we purchased tickets to the Childrens' Books Breakfast, with Chris Colfer as master of ceremonies and speakers John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson. Chris Colfer was very funny (he called John Green the "Justin Bieber of literacy"), John Green was witty and inspiring, and Lois Lowry made me cry. She got a standing ovation, and she definitely deserved it. It was really awesome being in the presence of such awesome authors. My pictures turned out very blurry, though:
Wednesday night was a party for the Katherine Tegen imprint of HarperCollins! It was a fun time--I saw a lot of my fellow bloggers, saw MI writer Courtney Allison Moulton, met some awesome KT books editors and publicists, talked to Sarah Tregay's husband, and then Sarah Tregay herself. We had a lovely time!
Here we are being silly, waiting for the train afterwards:
Here are some miscellaneous photos I snapped of the exhibit hall and adventures around the city:
I caught a glimpse of the new An Abundance of Katherines cover:
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Morgan Matson’s second novel is a heartbreaker. Matson has created the perfect summer setting in Lake Phoenix; it’s idyllic and charming and full of so many important memories for Taylor. It’s the perfect place for her to really face her fears and learn how to deal with her relationships; the ones she has with her siblings, with her childhood best friend, Lucy, and with Henry, her first boyfriend and long-time friend. But the most important relationship in this book is the one that Taylor has with her father. Taylor not only has to deal with his illness and impending death, but how she expresses her feelings for him, and her anxieties that he doesn’t know how much she cares. Throughout the summer, she makes incredible strides in how she handles her stress, deals with being a runner, and learns not to back out when relationships get hard or messy. The pacing is beautifully done with a nice balance between the present and various flashbacks and memories throughout Taylor’s life. The characters are all fully formed and a lot of fun. Although heart-rending and highly emotional, Second Chance Summer is an incredible, entertaining, and funny novel that will not disappoint fans of Matson’s first novel.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Marta Acosta's Dark Companion reads like a dark, supernatural ode to the classic Jane Eyre. This modern day heroine, Jane Williams, is a tough girl and hard worker, but her background living in terrible foster homes and attending overrun public schools has taught her not to question her good luck, and she happily accepts her scholarship to Birchwood Academy, despite the red flags. The academy has the perfect shadowy, creepy setting for this twisted tale to play out. Jane settles into her little cottage and makes good friends there, but she is blinded from reality by her crush on gorgeous Lucky Radcliffe, son of her new headmistress, unable to see the terrible truths that lurk beneath the surface of Birchwood, and what they mean for her. When she discovers the truth, that she was brought to Birchwood for her blood, Jane does become a little passive, which is frustrating, but believable as a part of her journey to the realization that she is a person who deserves love and happiness and good things in life. The book ends with a fair amount of suspense and peril as long-hidden memories are unveiled and her future is complicated, but Acosta does give Jane a temporarily happy ending, which readers will appreciate. Dark Companion is a delicious mix of danger, romance, and unexpected magic that will make you shiver.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
I am super excited about Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans! Lenore is a lovely person and book blogger, and it was so exciting to hear about her book deal last year! I am thrilled for her and excited to read Level 2, which sounds awesome.
Her cover was just released and it is so kick-butt! I love how the title runs vertically down the picture and how bring the cover is. It conveys a lot of action and is just so awesome!
To watch a cool behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot, go to Lenore's blog post!
What do you think of the cover? Make sure you put Level 2 on your wishlist--it's out in January!
Friday, June 1, 2012
How to win: Every time you post a significant comment that contributes to the conversation, I give you an entry into the contest! The more you comment, the more you entries you get! Only comments on posts from June 2012 are eligible, so keep coming back for more posts and more chances to comment. For all of the details, click here.