Monday, August 31, 2009
The best thing about this teen memoir is Hannah’s fresh, funny, and brutally honest voice. Whether she’s writing about a mother-daughter confrontation she witnesses worthy of an episode of “My Super Sweet 16”, her romance with a rich boy, or her struggles with binging and purging, Hannah manages to find just the right tone.
I have to admit though, that I found her highly unique family stories way more interesting than her rather clichéd life at boarding school. Thanks to Gossip Girl and the like, teens aren’t really shocked anymore by the excesses of the rich and snobby. It is no major revelation to read that teens pop prescription drugs to study for tests, drop hundreds of dollars on a pair of glasses on a whim, or even overdose and die far before their time.
Hannah repeatedly bemoans being upstaged by the monkey, but the monkey is also her biggest hook. I feel a little bad for saying this, but give us more monkey Hannah!
EVERYTHING SUCKS is out in paperback now. Find out more about the book at the author’s website. Or watch the trailer I’ve embedded below. You can also check out other reviews that were part of this TLC book tour.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Here's a quick video view. Enjoy!
Friday, August 28, 2009
This 1997 Newberry Honor Book gets off to slow start perhaps, but its second half, with its various twists and turns more than makes up for it. Gen may not be the most likeable of characters – he’s a braggart, a thief and he *gasp* chews with his mouth open – but he’s not to be underestimated and his plucky nature grows on you. I also appreciated the complex interpersonal relationships between the characters and how Author Turner drops little clues throughout the narrative that things may not be all that they seem.
THE THIEF is the first in a trilogy, and although I am definitely interested in reading the rest of the series, I am thankful that it didn’t end on a cliffhanger and can also be read as a standalone. Find out more about it at the author's website.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Of the two threads of the story, the historical is the more engaging and exciting. The political intrigues of the day fascinate as do the detailed descriptions of glassblowing. The modern day thread tends to drag and Author Fiorato never succeeded in making me care too much about Leonora. While I could feel her passion for Venice and its arts, the characters came off as strangely cold and lifeless. Still, the two threads come together in a satisfying way in the end, and I closed the novel with a smile on my face.
THE GLASSBLOWER OF MURANO is available now in paperback. Find out more about this international bestseller at the author’s website.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Erica (Book Cellar)
Susie Sharp Librarian
So...whichever one of you contacts me first at lenoreva at hotmail dot com gets their preference of signed copy, hardcover, or ARC. Second to contact me gets second choice, and third...well you get it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Last week I mentioned that PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS reminded me of the movie Constintine, and this novel reminded me of it even more – but in a different way. This one runs with the idea that the Devil, once God’s most favored angel before he rebelled, and his fellow fallen angels, including the Angel of Death, fell because they were so envious of God’s love for mankind and have been trying to wreck havoc on the earth ever since. Back in biblical times, Solomon in all his wisdom was able to bind most of these ruthless beings into the spirit world, but now the Angel of Death wants to bring them all back to help him kill off the firstborn of every family.
It’s definitely an intriguing idea, but it is so wide in scope, that the narrative can only really scratch the surface. The action scenes are plenty and done really well, but I missed scenes that would make me really care about the characters and value their self-sacrifice. I did appreciate that although this is the first in a series, the ending feels like that of a stand-alone novel and can certainly be read as such.
THE DEVIL’s KISS comes out in hardcover on September 1st. Find out more about it and watch the trailer at the author’s website.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Let's get started, shall we?
I guess that's the real question, isn't it? Are they the best hunters, and if so, is it because of their heritage as Llewelyns? Is there any truth to that old idea, or is it like saying that just because your last name is Smith, you should be particularly good at metalworking? These theories were formed in a time when birth and blood were supposed to be all-important. You were a noble because your father was a noble, not because you had any particular gift for politics or leadership. How many of the old ideas are accurate is a central question in the novel. So, given that, I don't know if it matters which family line I was part of. However, I have always had kind of freaky good aim. ;-)
She doesn't attack non-virgins, she attacks non-unicorn hunters, which is a group composed of all men, all non-virgin females from a unicorn hunting family, and all other people in the entire world, regardless of sexual status. Bonegrinder did not make the rules that bind her magic. She's as trapped by them as the hunters are.
Thanks for clearing that up! If you could go back in time and have a chat with Alexander the Great, what would you discuss?
Probably the value of creating an empire with depth, and not just width. Oh, and settling down and taking better care of his horse, Bucephalus. Also, libraries. Way cool.
On your website, you say you volunteer at the National Zoo. What animals do you like to visit the most?
This actually changes depending on why and when I visit. I live really near the zoo, and it's free, so sometimes I'll just stop by for a few minutes, see an exhibit or two, then leave.
Is there anything you can tell us already about the sequel to Rampant?
Sure! It's a direct sequel, picking up pretty much where Rampant left off, and following Astrid as she settles into her role as a full-fledged unicorn hunter. What does that mean for her, for her life, and for the lives of those around her? There's going to be a new type of unicorn in this one that we haven't seen before, and some really cool new locations as well (hint: Astrid travels to France).
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The focus of HATE LIST is survivor’s guilt and how all of those affected by the tragedy must work through their heartache, confusion and hate. By revolving around Valerie, an unwitting accessory to the crime, and by including a moving subplot where the formerly snotty Jessica attempts to befriend Valerie, the narrative is able to really dig deep into the themes of forgiveness and redemption. And Valerie is a complex creation – frustrating in her stubbornness and obliviousness but ultimately sympathetic enough to root for.
Though some chapter headings begin with news articles about the victims and there are flashbacks to the day of the shooting as well as to scenes of Valerie and Nick’s seemingly happy relationship, the structure is mostly linear. It’s a solid approach, though not as flashy or shocking as fellow school shooting novels such as Jodi Piccoult’s NINETEEN MINUTES or Lionel Shriver’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (my review).
HATE LIST comes out September 1st in hardcover. Find out more about it on the author's website.
PS: The tear on the cover is very fitting since I did have to shed a few tears at the end of this powerful novel.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
This hauntingly lovely novel has a lot going for it: a vividly realized historical setting (1890s New York), confident writing and a premise that makes you want to dig deeper. And that’s good, because it has to overcome the fact that it is basically a set-up for a trilogy. There are no big showdowns here, but a series of mysterious occurrences and coincidences as well as several smaller showdowns that serve well to build atmosphere and explain mythology but are sorely lacking in the action department.
Some of the specifics of the prophesy itself reminded me of the movie Constantine, which was considerably darker than what I expected. And I have to admit that although I like the idea of astral projection and dream travel, I found these passages unsettling (and nightmare inducing) and had to skim over them.
THE PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website. I have an extra ARC that I can send out to one of my readers next week, so let me know in the comments by August 24th if you'd like it.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
This is a really clever, quirky read with a well thought-out mythology and an appealing protagonist. While it does feel a bit on the short side – I would’ve liked to see her “at work” a bit more and seen more interaction with her sister Ellen (the heart of the story) – it covers all the important points to make the story resonate on both a purely enjoyable level as well as a deeper, more thought-provoking level.
My only minor quibble: I didn’t really think it was necessary to make Lucy’s love interest blind. I kept asking myself for example how as a creative writing professor he was able to read his students’ writing and write his own novel (included excerpts of which also seemed superfluous in such a short novella).
THE SINFUL LIFE OF LUCY BURNS is out in hardcover now. Find out more about the book and download the first chapter at the publisher's website.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Read an early review at Becky's Book Reviews.
Guided by these principles, and using lush, high-end photography and gorgeously designed pages, GirlForce imparts the best food, exercise, makeup, yoga, stress relievers and more for your body type. But don't just read about your type...reading your friends' types can help you figure them out too!
How many secrets can you hide in plain sight? Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible. Sprout is both hilarious and gripping; a story of one boy at odds with the expected.
This was one of my favorite reads this year - read my review.
Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience! After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah's gum-chewing, cell phone carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she's only Fair because she's not a very good fairy student, Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah's class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale March 2009 (paperback publication)
Everyone in New Avalon has a fairy. Though invisible, a personal fairy is vital to success. It might determine whether you pass a math class or find the perfect outfit. But all fourteen-year-old Charlie can do is find parking spaces—and she doesn’t even drive. At first, teaming up with Fiorenza (who has an all-the-boys-like-you fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, she’ll have to resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy.
To enter to win, just leave a comment telling me what book published in 2009 is your favorite read so far.
+1 for being a follower. Just leave me another separate comment for it to count.
This contest is open to US addresses only and ends on August 31st at 11:59 pm CST. The winner will have 48 hours to provide a shipping address or I will have to pick a new winner.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
There are so many books out there about normal teens finding themselves suddenly famous (fantasy wish fulfillment for many in our culture today), but this is one for the Suris and Maddoxs of the world who must yearn to know what it is like to slum it in J Crew and a dented Honda.
The novel is broken in two halves – the first gives us a rather standard look at Chloe’s paparazzi-filled life while the second, detailing Chloe’s life as “Lilly”, is far more clever and interesting. I didn’t feel like the first part warranted being so long since it really didn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before in the way of the celebrity lifestyle – just lots of flashbulbs, pampering, high fashion, entourages and impulse jewelry purchases. Part two is where the meat is, and some elements, such as the Jack romance and the reunion with her Chinese birth family, are given short-shrift IMHO.
Chloe is an appealing main character, and while some of her supporting characters, such as friends Vickie and Jana, brother Henry, and stylist/fake father Luther, pull their weight, most of the rest simply fade into the background as easily forgettable stereotypes. Still, this is a fun look at celebrity with nothing objectionable in it – a perfect vehicle to show younger starstruck teens that fame is not all it’s cracked up to be.
EXCLUSIVELY CHLOE is out now in paperback. Find out more about it at the author’s blog.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Egg Drop by Mini Grey. Amanda's fault: I saw this very quirky picture book over at A Patchwork of Books.
Obernewtyn: The Obernewtyn Chronicles 1 by Isobelle Carmody. Rhiannon's fault. Her review of this dystopian "classic" on her blog made me drool!
How They Met, and Other Stories by David Levithan. After reading his short story in Geektastic, I must have more! I am not sure how I found this collection. Probably browsing on amazon.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. A POC dystopia recommended to me by Susan of Color Online. Here's her list of other great POC YA titles.
Sacred Scars (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 2) by Kathleen Duey. I bought book 1 after meeting Kathleen at SCBWI Bologna 2008. And I need book 2 so I can start book 1 which I hear has a big cliffhanger.
The Art of Up (Pixar Animation) by Tim Hauser. I have a ton of these Art of...Pixar books. I haven't seen the movie yet (still not out in Germany), but the book looks gorgeous.
How It Ends by Laura Weiss. I read an interview with the author on the Simon and Schuster website and WoWed the novel.
Half-Minute Horrors. I first saw this story collection on Shelf Awareness and WoWed it.
True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [DVD]. Alea's fault via twitter!
Dollhouse: Season One [DVD]. My Friend Amy's fault!
Far Regina Spektor [Audio CD]. Author Courtney Summers convinced via twitter that I needed the whole CD when at first I planned to get just a couple of songs on iTunes.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I'm afraid I'm not much help. I did tell my Aunt Linda how to add books, but that's about it.
Doesn't this look like a kitty bunk bed? I love how Finn has his front leg hanging over the side so it looks like an arm.
UPDATE: Liviania has a picture up of Emmy and Finn that she took this weekend while she was visiting me. Check it out!
Monday, August 10, 2009
I have to admit, I was expecting something much different than what this novel turned out to be. The cover promises a dark, passionate love story…but what we actually get is a winningly sweet high school tale about an outcast and his dream girl.
I could buy into the fact that Aurora was this amazingly gorgeous and yet completely down-to-earth person thanks to the background on her relationship with her recently deceased mother. But I did not believe for a minute that Lucius was a brooding, evil character that needed to be reformed by falling in love and having someone fall for him in return. We are told he did something bad, but it fails to compute because he’s just written as such a nice guy (with the exception of one strategically placed volleyball spike). I mean, he lets his sister Misty beat him at pool, is unfailingly polite to his elders, and even takes the time to help out a former football hero/current security guard realize his dreams. I bet he bakes cookies for the homeless and rescues cats from trees too.
I devoured the novel in one sitting and enjoyed the various authentically drawn relationships (especially Lucius and Misty and Aurora and her librarian father). I never needed Lucius to be bad, so I wasn’t disappointed that he wasn’t. And even though the big showdown at the end felt rushed/forced, I thought the story ended on a nice, satisfying note.
CRAZY BEAUTIFUL comes out September 29th in hardcover. For more information about the book, visit the author’s website.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Albania – never been
Andorra – never been
Armenia – at least an overnight
Azerbaijan – never been
Austria – at least an overnight
Belarus – never been
Belgium – at least an overnight
Bosnia and Herzegovina – never been
Bulgaria – never been
Croatia – never been
Cyprus – never been
Czech Republic – at least an overnight
Denmark – at least a week
Estonia – never been
Finland – at least an overnight
France – at least a week
Georgia – at least a week
Germany – lived here
Greece – lived here
Hungary – at least a week
Iceland – at least an overnight
Ireland – at least a week
Italy – at least a week
Kazakhstan – never been
Latvia – at least an overnight
Lithuania – never been
Luxembourg – day trip
Liechtenstein – day trip
Macedonia – never been
Malta – at least an overnight
Moldova – at least an overnight
Monaco – day trip
Montenegro – never been
The Netherlands – at least a week
Norway – at least an overnight
Poland – at least an overnight
Portugal – at least a week
Romania – at least a week
Russia – never been
San Marino – never been
Serbia – never been
Slovakia – never been
Slovenia – never been
Spain – lived here
Sweden – at least a week
Switzerland – at least a week
Turkey – day trip
Ukraine – never been
United Kingdom – at least a week
Vatican City – day trip
3 countries lived in
12 countries visited for at least a week (may not be consecutive days)
11 countries with at least an overnight (but less than a full week)
5 countries on day trip (where I specifically went to an event or attraction in the country)
0 countries only driven through
0 countries where I was in the airport only
19 countries I’ve never set foot in
31 down, 19 to go! How about you?
Saturday, August 8, 2009
On her eponymous blog, Rhiannon Hart discusses YA fantasy, dystopian and paranormal books (mostly) from a writer's/reader's POV, and tracks her efforts to get published.
What kinds of books do you read and review on your blog?
Books that I loved, and that I think I have something to say about. I usually don't finish books I'm not enjoying, and if I can't think of something exciting/quirky/new to say about a book, I won't post about it. Because most of my books come from the library I'm not on the cutting edge of reviewing, but there are too many wonderful books published in the last 200 years to just ignore them. And that's not even counting Shakespeare or Homer. Often the books I love have a strong female protagonist, so you'll see a gender bias amongst my reviews! And Lud save us from insipid heroines.
What were a couple of your favorite books recently and which ones are you most looking forward to reading soon?
What are some of your favorite posts or reviews in your blog archive and why?
The Dystopia Challenge post. It outlines the books I will try to read for my current challenge, and all sorts of people have dropped by to add to my list or tell me their thoughts (including Lenore!)
Sadako's Baby Sitters Club reviews on Dibbly Fresh. She's just so snarky and has a lethal quantity of pop-culture references up her sleeve! I particularly enjoyed her recap of Dawn and the Older Boy. <Lenore's note: Yep - that was an awesome recap!>
...I'd be boring my friends to death talking about the fantastic books they should read!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I picked this up last night before going to bed, planning only to read a chapter or so, but I didn’t stop reading until I was done (and I am very tired today as a result). It’s just that gripping. It’s not really what happens so much – thanks to the media, we all are well aware of the plight of young girls in polygamist sects – but more the how. Kyra’s voice is so raw and immediate that she feels very real and your heart goes out to her.
And it’s not just Kyra who suffers, but the rest of the family as well. Kyra’s father is rather low on the totem pole, allotted only worn-out trailer homes for his measly 3 wives and 20 children, because he is a decent man who doesn’t believe in making his family cower before him as is the way of the higher-ups. The Prophet makes it obvious that if Kyra doesn’t follow his orders, her family will be punished, which makes her decision all the more tortured. The nuanced exploration of the various interpersonal relationships on the compound is especially fascinating. So much can be said in a downcast gaze, in rigidly set lips or a full plate of food in front of a leader when the followers make do with scraps.
It’s an unsettling novel with an ending left ambiguously open, but it’s highly worth a couple of hours of lost sleep.
THE CHOSEN ONE is out now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the publisher's website.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Given my usual distaste for high fantasy (just looking at the cover makes me break out in hives), I found STARFINDER unexpectedly riveting. The human city of Calio feels vaguely steampunk – with its mix of airships and Victorian sensibility, and the Reach and its creatures are reminiscent of various well-loved fantasy worlds and myths, at once familiar and yet given a fresh spin.
I was especially fascinated by the Redeemers, former humans turned into slaves of the Skylords with special powers, and I liked how we really got to know and sympathize with one. In fact, all of the characters and beings are written with a depth that makes it difficult to know just what they might do next. No one here is completely evil or saintly, and even the dictatorial Skylords have their good side.
While many of the ideas and themes of the book seem like they belong in an adult fantasy, the dialogue is decidedly middle grade and filled with too much exposition for my taste. This is a quick, intelligent read that will resonate with more than only high fantasy fans. Just give it a chance.
STARFINDER is available in hardcover now. Find out more about the novel, the first in a planned trilogy, at the author’s website.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The mystery aspect of the novel was what made me want to read this one – that a seemingly perfect mom would have a secret so pressing, she felt the need to absolve herself before she died. And the secret does turn out to be rather shocking (perhaps a bit mundane) although the way Emily goes about her sleuthing is…uneven.
Even with all the unevenness, there are plenty of gems to be found, and that’s what kept me reading. One scene I especially liked was when Anthony takes Emily to Magnolia Bakery on Bleeker Street in the village and then they eat their cupcakes in the little park across the street. Why? Because I did the exact same thing, and it brought back fond memories of my birthday cupcake.
LIPSTICK APOLOGY comes out tomorrow in hardcover. Find out more about the book at the author’s website.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
My guest post is all about YA fantasy and how I apparently like it and read it a lot more than I thought I did.
You'll find out:
- Why I think YA fantasy/paranormal is so popular right now
- What I like and dislike in my fantasy books
- My favorite fantasy reads so far this year
So head on over to read it and add your observations, likes and dislikes, and favorites in the comments. I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Sibyl, a Vermont based midwife, is accused of manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license after a woman in her care dies giving birth. Sibyl insists she was not at fault, but her journal entries may tell a different story. The trial sets up a showdown between midwives and those in the medical community who believe babies should be born exclusively in hospitals.
The group* verdict:
The novel was generally well-liked although some found it lacking real tension and somewhat repetitive.
The actual book discussion didn’t last very long and devolved into topics both related (childbirth) and unrelated (the impact of social media).
My favorite parts were the court scenes, especially jury selection, and I thought the conversations Sibyl had with her lawyer were quite illuminating.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I’ll miss the meeting though since I’ll be out of town.
*Since it has come to my attention that not all members of my book club feel comfortable about my posting of the group’s opinions, I am including only the opinions of those members who gave me permission to do so.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
You're supposed to mark all the states (and DC) you've been in with an X, and you can mark the ones where you've lived with an O. But I'm going to annotate. Because I'm rad like that.
Alabama - at least a week
Alaska - never been
Arizona - at least an overnight
Arkansas - driven through
California - lived here
Colorado - lived here
Connecticut - day trip
Delaware - day trip
Florida - at least a week
Georgia - at least an overnight
Hawaii - never been
Idaho - at least an overnight
Illinois - at least an overnight
Indiana - at least a week
Iowa - at least an overnight
Kansas - lived here
Kentucky -at least a week
Louisiana - never been
Maine - at least an overnight
Maryland - at least a week
Massachusetts - day trip
Michigan - at least a week
Minnesota - never been
Mississippi - day trip
Missouri - at least a week
Montana - at least a week
Nebraska - day trip
Nevada - at least a week
New Hampshire - day trip
New Jersey - driven through
New Mexico - at least an overnight
New York - at least a week
North Carolina - driven through
North Dakota - lived here
Ohio - lived here
Oklahoma - lived here
Oregon - at least a week
Pennsylvania - at least an overnight
Rhode Island - at least an overnight
South Carolina - at least a week
South Dakota - at least a week
Tennessee - at least an overnight
Texas - at least a week
Utah - lived here
Vermont - day trip
Virginia - at least a week
Washington - at least an overnight
West Virginia - driven through
Wisconsin - airport only
Wyoming - at least an overnight
Washington DC - at least a week
So for you stat lovers out there, that's:
7 states lived in
16 states visited for at least a week (may not be consecutive days)
12 states with at least an overnight (but less than a full week)
7 states on a day trip (where I specifically went to an event or attraction in the state)
4 states only driven through
1 state where I was in the airport only
4 states I've never set foot in at all
So according to this, that's 42 down, 9 to go! What about you?