Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Dr. Faraday has always been impressed by Hundreds Hall, the house in which his mother worked as a maid when he was a child. Now a doctor, Faraday has opportunities to visit the hall, now in crumbling decline, for both business and social reasons. As he begins to form a close relationship with the hall’s spinster mistress Caroline Ayres, Faraday discovers just how tenuous the Ayres hold on their social status – and their sanity – really is.

Waters does foreboding and creeptastic atmosphere well, but at nearly 500 pages, this one was simply too long. Can I admit that I skipped 100 pages in the middle and didn’t feel like I missed a thing?

Thanks to skipping those pages, I probably enjoyed this one more than I should have though. The first 100 pages or so are delicious, as Waters richly describes Hundreds Hall and introduces us to the various main characters. When the titular “little stranger” starts rearing its invisible head, it’s fascinating at first, but quickly becomes grating as the characters endlessly discuss whether or not a ghost is afoot. The end picked up again and did a lot towards redeeming the novel in my eyes. Still, if you haven’t read Waters yet, I wouldn’t recommend you start here. Definitely pick up FINGERSMITH first.

THE LITTLE STRANGER is now available in paperback. Find out more about it on the author's website.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Book smart but severely lacking in common sense, Nora Grey finds herself drawn to her new biology partner, a mysterious (and rude) guy named Patch.

This one has been reviewed umpteenth times around the blogosphere and people seem to either passionately love it or hate it. I didn’t feel that passion. While the book did a great job of drawing me in (like Patch, the novel has an otherworldly magnetism) and keeping me turning the pages, it also had me scratching my head at Nora’s stupid decisions.

Nora suffers from cheesy horror movie heroine vulnerability. She lives in a secluded farmhouse and spends most nights by herself because of her mother’s job. She’s eye candy. She has an outspoken best friend (Vee) who has no problem dragging her into unsafe situations as long as there is a cute boy involved. And Nora has the kind of misguided loyalty that would have her walk into a dark alley and trade her winter coat to a homeless person for directions to a party her friend is at.

But it’s this vulnerability that attracts Patch to Nora, and the central mystery becomes what exactly Patch wants with her. As you can probably tell from the cover (and the official synopsis), Patch is not human – but a fallen angel. Could Patch be around to protect Nora (there are a lot of villains hanging around Nora’s town, after all)? Or does he want something far more sinister?

I am intrigued enough by the story to have an interest in reading CRESCENDO, the sequel which comes out October 19th. And in case you’re interested in starting the series, I have two copies of HUSH, HUSH to give away to my readers in the US.

To enter, fill out the giveaway form.

And check out his cover for CRESCENDO:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review and Blogger Only Giveaway: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King

Vera had a falling out with her best friend Charlie and then he died. Told her whole life to ignore her neighbors’ misdeeds and concentrate on her own problems, Vera’s not sure if she should share what really happened the night Charlie died and clear his name - or if she even wants to.

After legions of novels with paranormal creatures and rich girls, it is so refreshing to spend time with someone as normal as working class Vera. Sure, she’s a bit of an overachiever – working a full time job as a pizza delivery girl while still maintaining excellent grades in school – but since her social life is practically nil, she can swing it. See, all Vera really wants is to be ignored – to fly under the radar so she can emerge from high school unscathed. She doesn’t want to end up like her now absentee mother, pregnant at 17 and a stripper at 18.

There’s a bit of a mystery element to the novel as Vera slowly reveals clues about why she and Charlie were no longer speaking to each other and hints about what happened that fateful night. And although most of the narrative is in Vera’s voice, we also hear from Charlie (from the great beyond), Vera’s dad Ken (who offers up some hilarious flow charts) and even the pagoda at the top of the hill (quirky, eh?). It’s an engrossing, touching, and funny read – very different from King’s debut THE DUST OF 100 DOGS but just as special.

PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ comes out October 12th, and ARCs were in short supply. That’s why I am offering my ARC to a book blogger/reviewer who is willing to review it before the end of October. If that describes you, please leave a comment telling me your blog name, e-mail address and why you want to read/review it. I will pick a winner this Saturday, September 25th at 11:59 pm CST and send it out on Monday the 27th.

Find out more about the novel at the author’s website.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: All Posts in One

I've been crazy traveling this week, so haven't gotten to participate in BBAW beyond hugging bloggers at the Brooklyn Book Festival (Jaime of The Perpetual Page Turner, Lori of the The Next Best Book Club, Erica of The Olive Reader, Allie of Hist-Fic Chick, and Nicole of Linus' Blanket, among others), doing an interview swap and celebrating mightily when I heard that I had won both Best YA Blog and Best Author Interviews (I still can't quite believe it! Thank You!).

So I am making up for that now, with a POWER BBAW post!

First up: First Treasure

Since last year's BEA I've discovered a ton of fab new book blogs, but two of my favorites are blogs that were also shortlisted for Best YA Blog this year: Forever Young Adult and Angieville.

I was in absolute heaven when I got to hang with Sarah of FYA and Angie of Angieville at Book Blogger Con this year.  So. Much. Fun. 

Sarah and her 3 FYA partners in crime always amuse on their irreverent blog.  I love the format of their book reviews - especially the bonus factors.  My dream is to one day be invited to a FYA slumber party and play the Sweet Valley High board game with them (I'd even play Elizabeth *gasp*).  I would of course also insist that Angie attend.

Angie is so passionate about the books she reads, she makes me want to ditch my current read to pick up immediately whatever she's pushing.  She's the one who got me (and many, many others) hooked on Gen (from Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief series). She even had the power to make me think more positively about Mockingjay, which let's face it, was a letdown.

Keep on blogging!  Lylas, Lenore

And now: Unexpected Treasure

One of the best things about reading a lot of book blogs is being exposed to so many different kinds of books and genres.  Earlier this year, I become aware that I wasn't reading that many books with POC characters - thanks to blogs such as Reading in ColorColor Online and Steph Su Reads.  I looked around in my huge TBR and dug out Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves.  That has been one of my most interesting reading experiences of the year (read my review), and I owe it all to book bloggers.

And also: Forgotten Treasure

In my last post, I introduced the Nerds Heart YA finalists and picked a winner.  Both of those books, Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee and Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Aline Saenz deserve much wider audiences.  I nommed another book which didn't make it so far into the tournament, but was one I just loved: The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison (read my review).  It's a brilliant portrait of a complex, messy character. 

And finally: Future Treasure

Goals? I gotta have goals?  I guess my main goal for Presenting Lenore is to keep up my current level of quality while possibly spending less time on the blog and more time on my writing.  I want to be able to abandon books more easily and not feel so guilty about doing so.  I want to be more consistent about commenting, especially to encourage new bloggers.  And most of all, I want to keep having fun, discovering new books, and sharing my love for literature.

A huge thanks goes out to My Friend Amy and the rest of the BBAW team!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nerds Heart YA: The Final Round Decision. Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee vs Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

We've come to the end of the Nerds Heart YA road, and two books are still left standing.  Nerds Heart YA is an annual event (in its second year) to showcase the quality gems in YA lit that don't get as much exposure or publicity as other books but are equally deserving of attention. 

SAY THE WORD is a novel that explores family relationships and homophobia.  LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER is about a teen in rehab confronting the monsters of his past.  Neither is a book I would have picked up on my own had it not been for Nerds Heart YA.  Both are amazing books I hope you will consider checking out.  But which one takes the title?

SAY THE WORD features Shawna, a very honest and flawed teen who is angry that her mother dumped her and her father years ago to live with Fran, her lesbian lover.  So angry that she hasn't spoken to her mother in quite some time.  So it comes as a shock when Fran calls and tells Shawna that her mother has had a stroke and is dying.

Shawna's mother's death sets off a whole chain of events that force Shawna to deal with her feelings of betrayal and homophobia. Though Shawna is a sympathetic character for the most part, she does and says some horrible things. Still, Garsee has a light touch, and the story, despite its heavy themes and tragedies, is a very entertaining read.  I really loved probably the first three fourths of this novel, but had a some problems with the ending.  One of the problems had to do with a romantic encounter Shawna had that just completely came out of left field and seemed out of character and out of place.  The other problem had to do with the resolution of the main conflict of the story which was just very unsatisfying to me.  Still, I really, really enjoyed reading this and spending time with the characters.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER features Zach, an alcoholic teen in rehab.  Zach doesn't want to remember what happened to him that landed him in the facility, doesn't want to face the pain in his life.  An unlikely friendship with a 53 year old fellow patient Rafael helps him heal.

LAST NIGHT was a difficult novel to get into.  I did not enjoy the first half very much.  Zach is angry. His fellow patients are angry.  They talk about their monsters and addictions and how they drink and do drugs to avoid feeling anything.  Their stories, when they tell them, are shocking and sad and uncomfortable.

But at the halfway mark comes a passage where Rafael is painting and getting his monsters out onto the canvas.  Zach asks him why he does it, if it hurts so much.  And Rafael answers:

"I've been hurting most of my life. I tried to pretend I wasn't. I even believed my own lie. I've lived my entire life trying to avoid pain, Zach. That's a terrible way to live. I don't care any more if it hurts. (...) If I am working on a painting, and it doesn't hurt, then the painting won't matter. And if it doesn't matter, then it isn't real - then I am not real. (...) I have a new theory," he said, "and the theory is this: if I develop a great capacity for feeling pain, then I am also developing a great capacity for feeling happiness." p 115-116

Isn't that beautiful?  It helped me to see the characters and story in a new light and really root for their redemption.  And when I put the book down at the end, I was deeply touched. Find out more about the book at the author's website.

So which novel should I choose as the winner?  The book that entertained me more? Or the book that touched me more?  My gut feeling tells me to go with the latter.  That means LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER wins.  Congrats!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Author Interview: Anastasia Hopcus discusses Shadow Hills

I reviewed SHADOW HILLS a couple of months ago here on the blog (read my review), and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to be asked to be part of the official SHADOW HILLS blog tour.  And I am pleased to welcome Anastasia to Presenting Lenore today.

SHADOW HILLS is set in a boarding school. If you could be a teen again and go to any boarding school in the world, where would you go and why?
While I was researching SHADOW HILLS, many of the boarding schools sounded so intriguing that I really found myself wishing that I could go back to boarding school. Though several of them were very appealing, I think the one that I would choose to go to would be Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts. It's on the edge of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, which is a beautiful area. I've been to their campus, and it's very attractive, and their curriculum is really awesome.

Which of your supporting characters in SHADOW HILLS needs their own novella?
I'd really like to write something about Brody and Adriana. I just love them as a couple, and I can't show anything that happens between just the two of them because the novel is written in the first person from Phe's point of view. And the other thing that I would love to do as a novella is a historical where I could get more into the origins of Shadow Hills.

I love them too! Cool idea. Both you and I love Nina Malkin’s novel SWOON. Who would win in a fist fight between Sin and Zach?
Oh, wow---I'm not sure. Zach is probably bigger and stronger, but I think Sin has more of that competitive, kind of mean streak, which would give him an advantage. Still, when Zach gets really angry, especially when he's protecting Phe, he has some truly awesome power. So in that situation, I think Zach might very well win.

Let’s say Zeus called you up and told you that you could change the ending to any Greek myth. Which one would you change?
I would change the myth about Orpheus, who goes into the Underworld to get back his love Eurydice, who died on the day they were married. He plays such beautiful music that he is let into the Underworld and charms everyone there, even Pluto, the King of the Underworld. So Pluto lets Orpheus lead out his wife, playing his music, but he can't look back or he loses her. Just as he's emerging into the sun, Orpheus forgets and looks back to make sure she's okay, and so she's unable to come out, and he isn't let back in. I think that's so sad! So I would definitely change that ending and let Orpheus and Eurydice both get out of the Underworld safely.

Which 2011 debut author books are you most looking forward to reading?
There are a lot of interesting books coming out in 2011, but I think Clarity by Kim Harrington is the one I'm most looking forward to. It sounds like an interesting mystery as well as a paranormal.

Thank you Anastasia!

Check out Anastasia's website to find out more about her book and to find the complete blog tour schedule.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW Interview Swap: Allegra of My Library Card Wore Out

My interview swap is with Allegra, a teen blogger, and you can read her interview with me at her blog My Library Card Wore Out.  Extra post with exclusive new kitten pictures is here!

Tell us a bit about your book blog: What made you decide to start your blog? What genres do you cover? Favorite posts?
I wanted to start a book blog because I was so in love with books and wanted to share my love of books with others. I also thought blogs were really cool. Not one of my friends had one and I wanted to be the first.  So what I did was I talked to my mom about a name and we came up with Book Worm, Book Lover and others but they were all taken. Then my mom suggested "MyLibraryCardWoreOut." I liked the name and obviously no one had it, so I used it. I also wanted to start a blog because I hoped it would make my friends feel jealous. Silly thing to start it for, and it turned out that no one really cared, but I didn't mind because I was having fun with my blog. I liked sharing my thoughts and all that.

I cover YA books mostly. Anything that a young to older teen might enjoy. I also do fun book related things like fun facts about books, or fun information about books and each Friday (FunDay Friday) I do a post that is normally a video that is funny. It is normally off the topic of books. I also do Books to Movies. They are fun to do because that means I get to watch a whole lot of movies sometimes.

I like all of my posts but my Top Ten Must Read YA Books is one of my favorites.

What is a book reading experience that really stands out in your mind?
Night by Elie Wiesel. This book was about WWII and we had to read it in school. This book was touching and I just could not put it down. I did cry reading this book because what I was reading was all true. Elie Wiesel was in a concentration camp and it was all about his experiences. It was really a powerful book and I would recommend anyone to read it if they wanted to read a powerful and life changing book.

Let’s say someone asks you to recommend a few book blogs to them. Which blogs come to mind immediately?
In Bed With Books

Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books

YA Books Central Blog

Who is someone you really appreciate?
I really appreciate my mother because she has helped me with my blog. When I am stuck for an idea she always had a bank of them in her head. She is currently a guest blogger on my blog (M.O.M; My Own Mother) but hopefully in the next month she will become a full contributor. She also reads YA books sometimes so she does posts on those type of books too. She also helps me out with all my blog problems. She also is my editor. Without her, my posts would have some spelling or punctuation errors. Without her my blog might not be as good as it currently is.

Obligatory cat gushing! Tell us about your gorgeous cats and share a picture!
The indoor cat is Merlin and the outdoor cat is Harry. My indoor cat cannot go out because he has a heart problem and his tough goes blue when he runs outside so he is strictly indoor only. Merlin is currently 5 years old and Harry is about 8 or 9. Merlin still acts like a little baby and he is the only cat I or my parents have had that actually bathes us. Hands, face, feet. The whole bath. If he is in his loving mood, we sometimes don't need a shower at the end of the day he bathes us so much (but of course we do). My outdoor cat is a big marshmallow and I do not mean he is fat. If you can stroke him (which is normally, just sometimes he is skittish) he will start drooling (literally) and purr and rarely (and this has only every happened with my dad and I) he might do a quick lick to the hand. They are both my little babies and we all love them so much so that I think I give Merlin too many kitty treats.

And here is Merlin:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Let me preface this review by saying I've read all of Kingsolver's novels.  I absolutely adored PRODIGAL SUMMER and THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, but was kind of meh about the others.  The topic of THE LACUNA - an American boy growing up in Mexico and experiencing Mexican history - sounded at least as ambitious as POISONWOOD and I always enjoy books that can give me a history lesson in an entertaining way (which this one does).

Lacuna is defined as an empty space or a missing part. (It's the name of the company in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND that erases people's unhappy memories).  And there are lots of lacuna references in this novel.  It's the underwater cave where Harrison goes diving as a teen, and returns to as an adult.  It refers to the missing diaries or "holes" in Harrison's story, and the gap between what is true and what is assumed. And, in my opinion, it also refers to Harrison, who never makes a strong impression or is really very present in the novel even though he is the main character.

In the beginning portion of the novel, it's Harrison's mother Salome who steals the show.  At mass, "Salome walked to the head of the line, accepting the host on her tongue as if this were a bakery line and she had plenty of other errands." (p 23).  Even the kitchen boy Leandro is more memorable than Harrison in this section. In the second third the focus is on Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Lev Trotsky and the third, Harrison's stenographer Violet.  Is it a stylistic choice for Harrison to fade so completely into the background of his own story?  Could be.  But my lack of connection with him made my whole reading experience tend towards the meh end of the Kingsolver spectrum, despite the lush descriptions and the skillful inclusion of history.

THE LACUNA is now available in paperback.  Find out more about it at the author's website.

This review is part of a TLC book tour.  Visit the other stops for more opinions on Kingsolver's work.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Daniel's mini Buffalo Book Tour!

So, I will be in the US soon - yay!  Daniel has a mini book tour to promote IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?

Hope I will see you at one of the following events:

Saturday September 11, 11 am-4 pm

Princeton Children's Book Festival, signing
with author Audrey Vernick
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, New Jersey

Tuesday, September 14, 4-5 pm
powerHouse Books, reading and signing
with author Audrey Vernick
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, New York

Sunday, September 19, 1:30 pm
Hooray for Books, reading and signing
with author Audrey Vernick
1555 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia

Tuesday, September 21, 10:30 am
Watermark Books, storytime
4701 East Douglas
Wichita, Kansas

Saturday, September 25, 2 pm
Watermark Books, reading and signing
4701 East Douglas
Wichita, Kansas

You can also see us at the Brooklyn Book Festival on this Sunday.  Just hanging out and attending a few panels.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review: The Whole World by Emily Winslow

Polly and Liv are both Americans studying at Cambridge University. They hit it off and then become involved with Nick, a fellow student. When Nick disappears, it sets off a chain of events that show Polly and Liv how little they really know about each other.

I really enjoyed reading this one. Though it gets off to a bit of slow start, I was soon embroiled in the intrigues and secrets of the characters. The narrative is set up a bit like a puzzle, switching point of views five times through the novel and each time giving us a clearer picture of events. This really worked on a plot level , and held my attention well.

None of the characters comes off as particularly likeable. I did start off liking Polly when she opened the book with her narration, but after seeing her through the others characters eyes, she seemed hard and unforgiving. Debut Author Winslow did a fabulous thing here though – she made me sympathize with her unlikeable characters, and she made me care. And that, of course, is quite a difficult feat to achieve.

THE WHOLE WORLD is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BBAW is coming up...and I am on award shortlists!

You might recall that I registered my blog for Book Blogger Appreciation Week (September 13-17) back in July and put Presenting Lenore up for awards consideration in two categories, Best YA Blog and Best Author Interviews (see which posts I picked here).

Well, I am thrilled to say my blog made the shortlist in both categories - yay!  And alongside such amazing blogs too.  Thank you so much for your support :)

But of course, BBAW is not just about awards. BBAW has their scheldule up already for next week's festivities, so check it out and see how you can get involved. Though I'll be traveling, I am going to try to participate as much as possible!  Hope you will too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

I went into this not knowing it is the first book of a planned when I got close to the end, I was all like "No way this can wrap up everything this a SERIES?!!!?"

Now that I got that out of the way...

Obviously, I HAD to read this novel, what with my name being so associated with Poe and all. I was a bit afraid that it would be too scary for me, but though it was creepy quite a bit, it never felt like horror to me. So ok.

Honestly, I could have done without the "paranormal" part of the plot. The whole "dream world" part was often too fantasy for my taste and the transitions were not as seamless as I would have liked.

What I LOVED was the exploration of a relationship between two people who ordinarily would never have anything to do with each other. Isobel is a peppy cheerleader better at dating the star of the football team than at schoolwork. Varen is a sullen goth type who barely talks and never smiles.

When the two of them are thrown together for a school English project, both are properly horrified. But as they get to know the real person under the sterotype, they warm to each other.

I liked that there were stakes to the plot, and that the characters took them seriously. I also really liked many of the supporting characters such as Isobel's brother and schoolmate Gwen.

Poe is integrated well and the final project presentation is hilarious! One of my favorite scenes.

NEVERMORE is out in hardcover now.  Find out more on the author's very awesome website.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Kitteh Visit

Last weekend, Daniel and I drove down to Stuttgart to visit the new kittens.

Just look at this kitty pile!

We are pretty much decided on getting 2 more kittens. (Yes, two.  Don't judge. We wanted them all.)

This is Kaia.  She's a blue-tabby point and can come home to us mid-October.

This is Lu.  He's a creme point and we can get him in early November.

Doesn't he bear a striking resemblance to Kiefer Sutherland in the Lost Boys?

This is how Emmy took the news.

That is all.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Where My Last 20 (erm...40) Books Came From (9)

So it's been awhile since I've done this!  Here's where I got my last 40 reviewed books. 1/4 are bought or borrowed! That's pretty impressive :)

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnes Gill - Bought
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - Bought
First Light by Rebecca Stead - Borrowed from a friend
Escape from Furnance: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith - Given during tour of MacMillan
The Limit by Kristen Landon - Picked up at BEA
Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez - Picked up at BEA
The Gardener by SA Bodeen - Can't remember!
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher - Got signed copy at BEA
For the Win by Cory Doctorow - Requested review copy
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz - Requested review copy
The Blending Time by Michael Kinch - Requested review copy
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman - Borrowed from friend
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer - Amazon Vine program
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony - Requested review copy
Gone by Michael Grant - Library
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd - Library
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge - Amazon Vine program
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan - Bought
Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien - Bought
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi - Requested review copy
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen - Bought
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin - Accepted review query
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller - Unsolicited review copy
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando - Requested review copy
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein - Unsolicited review copy
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus - Accepted review query
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar - Requested review copy
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - LT ER program
Borderline by Allan Stratton - Accepted review query
Slept Away by Julie Kraut - Accepted review query
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready - Got signed copy at BEA
Yes, My Darling Daughter by Margaret Leroy - LT ER program
The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch - Got signed copy at BEA
This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas - Accepted review query
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase - Bought
Alison Dare: The Heart of the Maiden - Accepted review query
Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures - Accepted review query
Persuasion by Jane Austen - Borrowed from a friend
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - Accepted review query
Matched by Ally Condie - Got signed copy at BEA

Where are your books coming from?

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Mailman Steals My Books / Guest Post by Ivy Devlin about Low Red Moon

When I was contacted about reading LOW RED MOON for a blog tour, I immediately said yes.  Though I am not a huge paranormal fan, I liked the idea behind this one, and was excited to read it.  Unfortunately...the review copy that was sent to me was one of books that did not make it to me this summer.  Which is why I think the mailman is secretly a book lover and must have quite a stash of my books by now.

Rest assured, I will be reviewing this as soon as I can get my hands on a copy, but for now, I have the summary and a guest post by Ivy on world building.

Summary (via Bloomsbury):

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver – deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed her parents, she can’t, and there’s nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school – Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she’s ever experienced before. When Ben reveals he’s a werewolf, Avery still trusts him – at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she’s not the only one who can’t remember the night her parents died. Part murder mystery, part grief narrative and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, LOW RED MOON is a must-read for teen paranormal fans.

And's Ivy!

World Building: LOW RED MOON

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but what the heck, here goes: Once I got the idea for LOW RED MOON, I sketched out (roughly! very roughly! I'm the world's worst sketcher!) what the layout of Woodlake was like, just so I knew where everything was in my head. I also wanted Ben to have a last name that was appropriate, so I did some research, found something that made me go "hmmmmm......" and knew I'd end up using that.

The rest of it evolved as I was writing, and for me, that was one of the most exciting things about LOW RED MOON--here was this story I wanted to tell and the people and places in it started to fill themselves out (sometimes in ways I didn't see coming!)

I really admire authors who do very detailed charts and create whole character profiles, etc., but I've never been able to do that--for me, the world that comes out--and the people who live in it--are already there. They're just waiting for me to find them and let me let them tell their story, if that makes sense. (I hope it does!)

Thanks Ivy!  Can't wait to read this!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dystopian August Recap + Penguin Prize Pack/Reader Survey + Contest Winners

What a month! It's was A LOT of work to bring you all this dystopian fun, but it was well worth it!  Thanks for all your comments and support.  Here's a recap of what went on.

I reviewed 24 dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels and rated them between 1-5 on the Zombie Chicken scale.  Basically, I went into every book expecting a solid, worthwhile read which is 3 Zombie Chickens.  If a book wowed me, it got an extra Zombie Chicken (for 4), and if I fell in love with it, it earned a perfect 5. If I had some reservations about it, I docked it a Zombie Chicken (for 2) and if I really didn't like it, it only got 1 lonely Zombie Chicken.  Here's a recap (links lead to my review):

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

 Razorland by Ann Aguirre
Black Hole Sun by David Macinnes Gill
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi


Matched by Ally Condie
The Limit by Kristen Landon
The Gardener by SA Bodeen
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
The Blending Time by Michael Kinch
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Gone by Michael Grant
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan


First Light by Rebecca Stead
Escape from Furnance: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien

Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I also had the pleasure of interviewing 5 authors. 3 of the author's books are already out, and 2 are coming up early next year.

Paolo Bacigalupi (Ship Breaker)
Lesley Hague (Nomansland)
Joelle Anthony (Restoring Harmony)
Cameron Stracher  (The Water Wars)
Lauren Oliver  (Delirium)

District 10 Mockingjay Tour with Hunger Games Playlist
Recap of BEA Dystopian Panel
YA Titles coming up in 2011 and 2012
Upcoming Dystopian Sequels
Upcoming debut dystopias from the League of Extraordinary Writers

This was a series of discussion posts about different aspects of the dystopian genre. Many thanks to my excellent volunteer panel for their answers!

Some recommendations of more obscure dystopian novels
What would you miss the most?
Mockingjay Predictions
Which dystopian characters would you want on your team?
Discussion: What about plausibility?
Discussion: What fascinates you about the genre?

Win 1 copy of Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

I used to pick the following winners.  Everyone but the Mockingjay winner needs to e-mail be at lenoreva AT hotmail DOT com to claim your prize.  

8GB iPod Touch engraved with the Mockingjay Symbol = Monica Bailey (will ship to address provided)
1 copy of Matched = Kaya (aka k_anon)
2 copies of The Water Wars = The Witty Librarian, Charlotte's Library
1 copy of The Unidentified = Jill of the O.W.L.
1 set of 3 books from the Gone series = kjovus
3 copies of Ship Breaker = Mrs. DeRaps, Hawkeyegirl, Ladytink_534
6 book Macmillin Prize Pack = Jacqueline C. for her review of Inside Out

Trish is leading a discussion of the dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood over at The Classic Reads Book Club.  They are currently in the middle of the book, but you can always catch up!

Darren at Bart's Bookshelf is bringing back the popular YA Dystopian Reading Challenge.  Read 1 or more YA dystopian novels between Oct 1 - Dec 19.

Read Diana Peterfreund's essay Team Shay (about the Uglies series) over at Smart Pop for free for a limited time.

Speaking of Diana Peterfreund, she has a story in the upcoming Zombies Vs Unicorns anthology, and in her honor, I got Daniel to draw a unicorn chicken!  Check him out in a fight vs the zombie chicken:

Penguin has kindly donated a 4 book prize pack for one lucky winner!  I will open this one internationally - meaning if someone international wins it, I will receive it myself and send it on. Here are the books you can win:

Matched by Ally Condie (ARC)
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony (Hardcover)
Grace by Elizabeth Scott (Hardcover)
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (US ARC edition)

All you have to do to enter is fill out my Dystopian August Reader Survey! And even if you don't want to enter, I'd love it if you'd fill out my survey (just enter n/a in the address field).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stop #10 on the Ten Things You Might Like To Know About Where She Went tour + Giveaway

Of all the YA novels I've read over the past 3 years, IF I STAY is in my top 10.  (Read my gushing review). 

That's why I was super excited to hear there is a sequel told from Adam's POV. If you haven’t read IF I STAY, the mere existence of a sequel is sort of a spoiler, so you really should not pay attention to this teaser tour and should go read IF I STAY first (and you should check the end of the post for a GIVEAWAY). But for the rest of you, who felt the book left you hanging and wondered what would happen after that squeeze of the hand, the wait is almost over:  WHERE SHE WENT comes out April 2011. Still, a long time, I know, but right now Gayle Forman is doing a teaser tour to give IF I STAY fans the scoop on what they can expect from Mia and Adam’s new chapter.

Teaser Number 10:

10. Remember how by page 17 in IF I STAY, Mia’s parents were killed and Mia herself was like a ghost? Well, guess what? Nobody dies in WHERE SHE WENT.

But…I wouldn’t suggest you put away your box of Kleenex just yet. You might still need them.

See the first 9 stops on the tour. (Totally worth it!)

Watch the IF I STAY paperback trailer:

Preorder your copy of WHERE SHE WENT!

So, I have one signed copy of IF I STAY to give away to one lucky reader in the US.  To enter, just tell me in the comments which novel you think needs a sequel that drops in on the characters 3 years later.  Contest closes in one week (Sept 7th 11:59 CST), so spread the word fast.  Hope you love it as much as I do!