Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #3: Work Zone, No Reading Allowed

Suze Reese
The I Heart YA Carnival is hosted by Suze Reese, author of the ExtraNormal series. Each Tuesday, a blog prompt will be posted about a topic related to the YA genre. Click the button to learn how to join in!

This week's prompt is: "My inspiration for this week's prompt come from my college-age daughter, who reminded me of a condition that I'm fairly certain is genetic: compulsive over-bloated non-stop devourage of books. Especially when they're good. Or in other words, neither of us can stop reading when we get our hands on a good book, even for things like food, water, exercise, sleep, work or school. ... So what about you? Are you a nibbler or a devourer? Or does it depend? And what's the worse thing you've blown off for the sake of a book?"

I'm a procrastinator by nature - any excuse to put something off is a good enough excuse for me. And reading a good book is one of the best excuses of all!

When I get my hands on the right book, I am most definitely a devourer. If the story pulls me in, I can finish a book in a day. Hours and hours pass by when it feels like I've only been reading for maybe 30 minutes. I'll take the book to bed and read till it's late, promising myself I'll read just one more chapter... and then suddenly it's 4am and I've finished the book. And then I'm in that fuzzy between-the-book-and-the-real-world state and my mind is going a mile a minute and sleep is now impossible. But I wouldn't trade that wonderful feeling for all the uninterrupted hours of sleep in the world!

Here are some YA books that my own case of compulsive over-bloated non-stop devourage of books has led me to read in a day recently:

Review: Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot

Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot
by Joseph Cummins

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Boston Tea Party is a well known piece of American history, but it's usually talked about as a singular event: the one tea party that happened that one time. But less well known is the fact that there were actually many tea parties happening around the country during that time, all with their own unique and interesting stories. Joseph Cummins' book Ten Tea Parties brings the stories of these forgotten tea parties to light in an informative and greatly enjoyable read.

This book is in the "history" category, but it definitely doesn't read like a history book. Cummins weaves quotes and information from primary sources into his narrative, but he does it with the wonderfully conversational tone of a master storyteller. This is no dry restating of facts; Cummins makes history come alive by highlighting interesting, little known details about each tea party and their key players.

Ten Tea Parties is visually pleasing too - black-and-white woodcuts and portraits are included throughout the book. A significant quote starts off each chapter, setting the tone of the tea party at hand. The text includes transcripts of documents of the day; reading the impassioned words of the patriots along with Cummins' expert storytelling connects readers with the time period better than any history textbook ever could, in my humble opinion.

This is a great read, especially for those with an interest in Revolutionary era American history. The author's passion for the subject is clear, and contagious too; I dare you to read this book and be able to resist sharing the fascinating tidbits you learn from it!

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 YA Mythology Challenge


While browsing for memes and challenges and other ways to spice up my blog, I came across the 2012 YA Mythology Challenge at For Those About to Read. Read 10 YA or Middle Grade novels that incorporate any type of mythology? YES PLEASE.

I can't wait to get started!! :)

New Release Round-Up: January 30-February 5, 2012

Young Adult

Article 5
by Kristen Simmons

First in the Article 5 series. From Goodreads: "New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved."

Release date: January 31, 2012

by Jodi Meadows

From Goodreads: "NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?"

Release date: January 31, 2012

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Princess of the Wild Swans
by Diane Zahler

From Goodreads: "Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment—cast by their conniving new stepmother—has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam—a beautiful half-witch and her clever brother—Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved. But if she fails...all will be lost."

Release date: January 31, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time (50th Anniversary Edition)
by Madeleine L'Engle

From Goodreads: "Fifty years ago, Madeleine L’Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe. A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world. This special edition has been redesigned and includes an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis that includes photographs and memorabilia, the author’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech, and other bonus materials."

Release date: January 31, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Freebies: January 27, 2012

Click on each title to go to the Amazon Kindle edition listing. Be sure to double-check the price before you download!

The Golden Acorn
by Catherine Cooper

First in The Adventures of Jack Brenin series. From Amazon: "When Jack Brenin finds a golden acorn lying in the grass, little does he know that it is the beginning of a thrilling and magical adventure. Just an ordinary boy, Jack has been chosen for a hugely important task, and enters a world he believed only existed in legend. Full of twists and turns, talking ravens and mischievous Spriggans, 'The Golden Acorn' is a hugely entertaining and exciting tale from a very talented new author."

Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

The Mind Readers
by Lori Brighton

From Amazon: "Cameron Winters is a freak. Fortunately, no one but her family knows the truth …that Cameron can read minds. For years Cameron has hidden behind a facade of normalcy, warned that there are those who would do her harm. When gorgeous and mysterious Lewis Douglas arrives he destroys everything Cameron has ever believed and tempts her with possibilities of freedom. Determined to embrace her hidden talents, Cameron heads to a secret haven with Lewis; a place where she meets others like her, Mind Readers.

But as Cameron soon finds out some things are too good to be true. When the Mind Readers realize the extent of Cameron’s abilities, they want to use her powers for their own needs. Cameron suddenly finds herself involved in a war in which her idea of what is right and wrong is greatly tested. In the end she’ll be forced to make a choice that will not only threaten her relationship with Lewis, but her very life.

Best for ages 14 and over

Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

Moon Spell
by Samantha Young

First in The Tale of Lunarmorte series. From Amazon: "No one said returning to her pack would be easy, especially after ten years without them, but seventeen year old Caia Ribeiro is unprepared for the realities of the transition. Raised in a world where kids aren’t scared by bedtime tales of the bogeyman but by the real life threat of enemy supernaturals who might come creeping into their community to kill them in their sleep, Caia is used to the darkness; she’s used to the mystery and the intrigue of the ancient underworld war she’s bound to by chance of birth. What she’s having trouble with are pack members treating her with wary suspicion, the Elders tucking secrets behind their backs, and her young Alpha, Lucien, distracting her with a dangerous attraction from her decision to uncover the truth.

But as the saying goes ‘the truth will out’ and when it does, Caia will only have so long to prepare herself before the war comes pounding on their door threatening to destroy the safe, secret lives of the wolves… and the girl they protect.

Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne
by Kady Cross

Prequel to The Steampunk Chronicles series. From Amazon: "Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined..."

Suggested tags: young adult, steampunk, short stories

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #2: Who's Your Freak?

Suze Reese
The I Heart YA Carnival is hosted by Suze Reese, author of the ExtraNormal series. Each Tuesday, a blog prompt will be posted about a topic related to the YA genre. Click the button to learn how to join in!

This week's prompt is: "Who's your freak? Do you have a favorite paranormal character? Is there a new one that has captured your interest? Do you predict one type breaking out from the pack?"

I looooove me some paranormal YA. In fact, I think more than half the YA books on my "to read" shelf are paranormal. I have always been fascinated with magical things - things that couldn't be or shouldn't be, but a small part of me likes to believe that maybe somewhere, somehow, they do exist...

I don't know if I could pick a favorite type of "freak," because I love so many different types. Ghosts, witches, and time travelers typically top my list. But, if I had to highlight one type, lately I have been really into mermaid/siren stories. I'm especially looking forward to reading these:

I'm not so into vampires or werewolves, mostly because for a while there, I felt like that was all that was on the YA shelves. I guess I'm just a little vampire/werewolf-ed out. Hopefully that will pass. I'm also not so big on zombies or angels, although I feel like both of these are gaining popularity quickly. That's not to say that I won't keep reading about them in hopes I'll find a zombie or angel book that I love... perhaps one of these?

I'd like to see more unusual paranormal types - something new and fresh out of an author's imagination, or something that doesn't really fit under a label. I like mysterious "undead" types, where they're not zombies or ghosts, but they aren't alive either. I like "psychic" types, where they can do fantastic things with their minds or senses. I'd like to read more books about banshees and aliens (guess what's on my reading list, Suze!). And I've always been really into mythology (of any kind and any culture), so I'd love for authors to draw on that and see what they can create!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Release Round-Up: January 23-29, 2012

Young Adult

by Brodi Ashton

First in a series. From Goodreads: "Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's..."

Release date: January 24, 2012

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Stealing Magic: A Sixty Eight Rooms Adventure
by Marianne Malone

Second in a series. From Goodreads: "Ruthie and Jack thought that their adventures in the Thorne Rooms were over . . . until miniatures from the rooms start to disappear. Is it the work of the art thief who's on the loose in Chicago? Or has someone else discovered the secret of the Thorne Rooms' magic? Ruthie and Jack's quest to stop the thief takes them from modern day Chicago to 1937 Paris to antebellum South Carolina. But as more items disappear, including the key that allows them to shrink and access the past worlds, what was once just an adventure becomes a life and death race against the clock. Can Ruthie and Jack catch the thief and help the friends they meet on the way before the magic—and the rooms—are destroyed forever?"

Release date: January 24, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Freebies: January 20, 2012

Click on each title to go to the Amazon Kindle edition listing. Be sure to double-check the price before you download!

The Last Chance Texaco
by Brent Hartinger

I couldn't find a real description of this book, but it's young adult realistic fiction focusing on group homes and the foster system, and it sounds like there's a little romance and a mystery. From Goodreads: "Brent Hartinger's second novel, a portrait of a subculture of teenagers that many people would like to forget, is as powerful and provocative as his first book, Geography Club."

Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction

by RJ Gonzales

First in a series. From Amazon: "Rini thought going to live with her cousins in the city of Austin, Texas while her parents rekindled their marriage on a four month long cruise, was a step in the right direction. When she makes a new quirky friend, and stumbles upon a handsome young man named Jett in the enveloping forest surrounding her cabin, she thought she was only moving forward. Well, she was wrong.

Jett and his clan appear human, just like anyone else. But take a closer look, and you will see that they are indeed Mundahlians. Legendary hybrid beings with both human and animal qualities that have been kept a heavily guarded secret throughout time--until now.

Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, fantasy

by Maria Rachel Hooley

First in a series. From Amazon: "Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Moon has been dreaming of her murder her entire life, and in those dreams, a dark presence is there, watching. When she returns home to Hauser’s Landing, the very place her father disappeared, she comes in contact with a gorgeous boy named Lev Walker, and it’s not long before she’s falling in love. But there’s something wrong with Lev. When she realizes he’s the eerie watcher in her dreams, she’ll have to discover the truth. Is he a guardian angel or a sojourner, an angel of death who has come to collect her soul?"

Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Guardian of the Green Hill

Guardian of the Green Hill
by Laura L. Sullivan

I received this book for free as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

When I was younger, I was a big believer in fairies. I liked to think that they were flitting around in my backyard when I wasn't looking and hiding when I was, laughing at the silly human girl who was flipping up all the leaves of her mom's plants to try and catch a peek of one.

This book has totally reignited my fascination with fairies. Sullivan weaves a really exciting plot, wonderful characters, and enchanting fairy lore all together into a phenomenal middle grade read. It's delightfully easy to lose yourself in the world she creates, but be careful: the real world will look a little dimmer and duller when you reemerge.

I loved all the characters, even the ones that make only brief appearances. Meg is a realistic, relatable heroine who struggles with a very big choice: she might be the only person who can be the next Guardian. She wants to do the right thing, but does she have it in her to be a Guardian? Does she even want to be a Guardian? The budding relationship between her and Finn is adorable - I can't say it any other way! - and it's told perfectly for a middle grade audience. Rowan undergoes a sort of trial (SPOILER - highlight to read: or at least I felt that the enchantment that the evil artist Gwidion put on him was a trial - a weaker and less noble boy would have certainly seen only the riches and power that awaited him as the heir, while Rowan saw responsibility and a way to make changes for good) and this immediately made him one of my favorite characters. Some types of fairies and other fantastic creatures are commonly known, but others I had never heard of before. Now I'm curious to learn a little more about fairies and see which ones are real and which ones Sullivan created. I especially liked that she included creatures from the folklore and mythology of other cultures, being the anthropology nerd that I am.

I didn't read the first book in this series, Under the Green Hill, before I read this one, so I was a little worried that I would have missed some crucial information. Sullivan handles this well, though - while there are references to the events in the first book, it's just enough to catch new readers up to speed, and not so much that it would bore a returning reader who had read it all originally. For me as a new reader, it was kind of like listening to someone talk about their their exotic vacation or their semester abroad - you can imagine what it would have been like, but you really wish that you could have been there to see it firsthand. To satisfy this wish, I'll be reading the first book as soon as I can get my hands on it! :)

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #1: What was your first?

I've been dealing with a bit of blogger's block lately, trying to come up with some creative, interesting posts. That led me to discover the world of blog memes, which I am becoming increasingly obsessed with, and today I found a little gem called the I Heart YA Carnival, which just completely made my day.

Suze Reese

It's hosted by Suze Reese, author of the ExtraNormal series. Each Tuesday, a blog prompt will be posted about YA, which Suze says is "the best reading genre possible" - and I wholeheartedly agree! I have a serious love of YA fiction, especially paranormal, historical, or dystopian.

This week's prompt is: "What was your first? Not the first you read, but the first that comes to mind when you think of YA fiction. The one that held on tight and wouldn't let go until you got to the final chapter and closed the book with a sigh--hungry and tired and wishing it hadn't ended."

I didn't even have to think about my answer to this question. Caroline B. Cooney's Time Traveler series was my first, starting with Both Sides of Time.

(The cover has been updated since I read it, but I used this one because
this is my cover. This is the image I saw in my mind when I was daydreaming
in class in middle school, dying to get home and get back to reading.)

I'm sure I probably read some other YA books before I started this series, but this was the one that made me aware of what YA was, and made me realize that I loved it. This book captivated me on page one and tightened its hold as the story progressed. I felt like I was being whisked through time alongside Annie, falling in love with Strat a little bit myself. I finished book one in a daze, wishing with all my heart that it wasn't over.

And then I learned that it wasn't over - there were 3 other books!!

(Once again, these are the mismatched covers of my own beloved collection.)

Both Sides of Time was my introduction to YA, to time travel, to spunky offbeat heroines, to handsome and devoted love interests, to true romance. When I found this book, I was ready for a little more detail and emotion than middle grade lit, but not quite ready for (nor interested in) the complicated symbolic language of adult lit. I discovered that this book spoke my language, and from there I branched out into other YA wonders that also told stories just the way I wanted to hear them.

I'm in my mid-twenties now and *should* be moving on to adult lit... And sometimes, admittedly, I do enjoy adult lit, especially historical fiction. But YA still holds my heart. I will continue reading YA predominantly until I am old and wrinkled, when I will still be dreaming about Annie and Strat and rereading their books for the 1000th+ time.