Monday, February 27, 2012

New Release Round-Up: February 27-March 4, 2012

Young Adult

by Jessica Therrien

Release date: February 28, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 346
Publisher: ZOVA Books
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, mythology

First in the Children of the Gods series. From Amazon:

"Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules."

by Dan Wells

Release date: February 28, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 472
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Suggested tags: young adult, science fiction, dystopia

First in the Partials series. From Goodreads:

"Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials--engineered organic beings identical to humans--has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Freebies: February 24, 2012

Update: the freebies are going to be posted on Friday nights from now on, since I just don't have time to do it on Friday mornings anymore. I would write it up ahead of time, but I like to make sure the freebies are still free before I post. :)

Blue Fire and Ice
by Alan Skinner

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 336
Publisher: Sibling Press
Publication date: January 1, 2008
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy

First in The Land series. From Amazon:

"The Land is in peril... Fires are ravaging Beadledom. In the face of terrifying, unquenchable blue flames the Beadles turn to their unpredictable neighbours, the Muddles, for help. But aid from the Muddles brings its own risks... Drawn together to save The Land, seven unlikely heroes set out to find the secret of the blue fire and the identity of the mysterious arsonist who will stop at nothing to destroy them all. Full of the most unusual characters and packed with intrigue, humour and adventure, Blue Fire and Ice is the first in an exciting new series of books about The Land."

Skeleton Lake
by Angela Kulig

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 290
Publisher: Red Iris Books
Publication date: October 17, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Skeleton Lake series. From Amazon:

"Unsure if she's drowning or being saved, all Marlow wants to do is run away. Ensnared in a haunting love triangle, she realizes both boys have holes in their hearts—scars from loving the same girl, a girl who managed to stay dead. Now she is being hunted for what she has become and what she never asked to be. Even as a Skeleton Marlow isn’t the worst thing in the night—she isn’t even close."

by Angel Lawson

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: unknown
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication date: February 6, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

From Amazon:

"Freak. Weird. Crazy. These are the names tossed around seventeen-year old Jane Watts by her fellow classmates. But things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes there’s a reason for talking to yourself in the hallway at school.

Jane struggles with adjusting to her new home and school after an abrupt move. She wants one thing in life—to be like everyone else at school, but that’s hard to do when you’re the new kid. But she does manage to make one friend, Evan—he’s sixteen, charming, and protective. Everything a girl could want in a best friend…with one minor caveat.

He's dead.

Caught somewhere between life and death, Evan is tied to Jane and the living world unable to complete the journey to the other side. She thinks he’s here to be her friend, to take care of her, and that’s why no one can see or hear him.

That is until a new boy shows up at school after a rumored stretch in Juvie. Connor can see Evan and he’s not convinced the ghost is being completely honest. From his own experience ghosts tend to need something from the humans they connect to and Evan, despite his arguments isn’t any different.

Jane is resentful of Connor’s intrusion but realizes soon enough he’s right. Evan has secrets about his past and not only did his life end tragically but members of his family are still in danger. Jane must face her fears and battle Evan’s human demons to free both of them.

Friday Finds #2

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading. Each Friday, you share the great books you heard about or discovered over the past week: "books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores online, or books that you actually purchased."

The Exceptionals
by Erin Cashman

Available as: hardcover
Pages: 236
Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date: February 1, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

From Amazon:

"Born into a famous family of exceptionally talented people, fifteen-year-old Claire Walker has deliberately chosen to live an average life. But everything changes the night of the Spring Fling, when her parents decide it's high time she transferred to Cambial Academy--the prestigious boarding school that her great-grandfather founded for students with supernatural abilities.

Despite her attempts to blend in, Claire stands out at Cambial simply because she is normal. But unbeknownst to her new friends, she has a powerful gift she considers too lame to admit. Suddenly, the most talented students in school the Exceptinals begin to disappear. In an attempt to find out what happened to them, Claire comes across a prophecy foretelling a mysterious girl who will use her ability to save Cambial students from a dire fate. Could she be that girl? Claire decides there is only one way to find out: she must embrace her ability once and for all.

The Merchant's Daughter
by Melanie Dickerson

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 284
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: November 29, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fiction, Christian fiction

From Goodreads: "An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

Return the Heart
by T.K. Richardson

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 292
Publisher: Chamberton Publishing
Publication date: May 25, 2010
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Heart series. From Goodreads:

"What if your gift was a curse? To a casual passerby, Lilly Paige is anything but special. As a seventeen year old, she is faced with all the complications of a teenager, but deep down there is much more. Lilly has a gift, though sometimes it seems to be a curse. Lilly can peer into the hearts of others - their deepest, darkest secrets are there for Lilly to see - but to what end? Raised by aloof parents, Lilly has been independent her whole life, but soon she will need to rely on her friends to evade an evil that has sold her gift to the highest bidder on the black market. Lilly and her four closest friends are immersed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, that will not only reveal more about Lilly's gift, but also her link to an old Russian prophecy. Can Lilly and her friends escape the danger that is so close they can practically feel it? Where will their perilous journey lead them - to darkness or light?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #6: Female Protagonists, Tough or Over Easy?

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: "Okay, those are some of my favorite female protagonists. I like them smart, spunky and brave; sprinkled with a dash of humility. What about you? How do you take your female protagonists?"

Ooo, good question. After thinking about this for quite sometime, I've narrowed my preferences down to this: I like my female protagonists to be independent, relatable, and good team players. Allow me to elaborate...

I prefer independent heroines. I don't like reading about girls who are so helpless and whiny and needy that they would never survive a day on their own. If a girl has to have someone else (especially a guy) do everything for her, I lose interest in her very quickly.

That being said, I also don't like reading about girls who are too tough and dominant. If all she does is swing weapons around, or if she is the best at every single thing she does, she comes across to me as fake and unrealistic (even if it's fiction). I can't relate to her if she never has to really work for anything.

The "good team player" bit might sound cheesy, but I mean it in regards to the way she interacts with her friends or her love interest. I like when she's as loyal to her friends as they are to her, rather than treating them like they're in a supporting role. I'm fine with a guy helping her out of situations, but I like when she can turn around and save his skin too.

Examples? Why, certainly...

I really liked Katniss in The Hunger Games series. She was fiercely independent - she had to deal with losing both her parents (one physically, one emotionally) and take on the responsibility of providing for her family on her own. Her relationship with Gale was my idea of perfect teamwork - she was no damsel in distress with him doing everything for her; they both had to do things for each other. Same in the actual Hunger Games: she took care of herself, but she still had to rely on help from other tributes at times. She was loyal to her friends and always did what she thought was right.

In a similar sort of way, I liked Meg in A Wrinkle in Time. She's not your "typical" heroine - she isn't a beautiful princess or the popular girl in school. She has flaws which she has to work to overcome. She feels a great responsibility to her family, first in finding her father and then in rescuing her younger brother. She doesn't save him with great fighting skills or exceptional brilliance; she saves him in a very humble and relatable way. And of course there is Calvin, her unlikely teammate.

I also liked Aurelia in Aurelia. I thought at first she might be a little too princessy for me, with a little too much "woe is me, whatever shall I do," but she turned out to be pretty awesome. When there is a threat on her life, she is essentially left to her own devices by her father and stepmother, but her friend Robert stays by her side. Robert is a strong character, but Aurelia holds her own; she proves perfectly capable of saving herself.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Release Round-Up: February 20-26, 2012

Young Adult

The Catastrophic History of You and Me
by Jess Rothenberg

Release date: February 21, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 400
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, romance

From Amazon:

"Brie's life ends at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart--literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy Brie loved and lost--and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul...who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

Faery Tales & Nightmares
by Melissa Marr

Release date: February 21, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 432
Publisher: HarperCollins
Suggested tags: young adult, short stories, paranormal, horror

From Goodreads:

"Dangerous promises and beguiling threats swirl together in a dozen stories of enchantments dark and light by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr. Uncanny and unexpected creatures appear from behind bushes, rise from beneath the seas, or manifest from seasonal storms to pursue the objects of their attention—with amorous or sinister intent—relentlessly.

From the gentle tones of a storyteller’s cadences to the terror of a blood sacrifice, tales of favorite characters from Marr’s Wicked Lovely novels mix with accounts of new characters for readers to fall in love with...or to fear.

Lush, seductive, and chilling, Melissa Marr’s stories revel in the unseen magic that infuses the world as we know it.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Freebies: February 17, 2012

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

The Queen Bee of Bridgeton
by Leslie DuBois

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 245 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing
Publication date: March 9, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, contemporary, romance

First in the Dancing Dream series. From Amazon:

"When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights. Maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?"

The Wretched of Muirwood
by Jeff Wheeler

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 350 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication date: January 7, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy

First in the Muirwood Trilogy. (Book 2, The Blight of Muirwood, and book 3, The Scourge of Muirwood, are free today too!) From Amazon:

"Imagine a world where words are so precious they are only etched in gold, and only the privileged are allowed to learn how to read. Muirwood Abbey is one of the few places where learners are taught to read and engrave, and thirteen year-old Lia wants nothing more than to learn both of these skills—yet she is a wretched, an orphan, and doomed to remain in the Aldermaston’s kitchen, forbidden to read and subject to his authority. Her future is destined for preparing recipes in a privileged household until, unexpectedly, a mysterious knight-maston abandons the wounded squire Colvin at the Aldermaston’s kitchen in the middle of the night. Soon after, Sheriff Almaguer comes hunting for Colvin, and Lia is thrust into the greatest adventure of her life as she and the squire are forced into a partnership that brings her closer to her dream—and Colvin closer to his fear of dying on the battlefield."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Heart YA Carnival #5: Juicy Debuts in 2012

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: "Last week we looked at 2011 debut authors--which was even more fun than I expected, though my to-read list is getting out of control. It only seems fair to look forward this time (or maybe back if your reading list is more current than mine) and give a shout out to debut authors for 2012."

Oh, how I love browsing upcoming releases. :) It's so exciting to see all the new ideas coming out. I have a list a mile long of 2012 debuts I plan to read! Here are the newbies at the top of my list:

The Peculiars
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Release date: May 1, 2012
Available as: hardcover
Pages: 354
Publisher: Amulet Books
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy, steampunk

From Goodreads:

"On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena's father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears."

(I think I might have a thing for the word "peculiar"...)

Dark Companion
by Marta Acosta

Release date: July 3, 2012
Available as: hardcover
Pages: 368
Publisher: Tor Teen
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, gothic

From Goodreads:

"When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

Kissing Shakespeare
by Pamela Mingle

Release date: August 14, 2012
Available as: hardcover
Pages: 352
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Suggested tags: young adult, time travel, historical fiction, 16th century

From Goodreads:

"Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love…with no acting required.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Release Round-Up: February 13-19, 2012

Young Adult

by Alex Flinn

Release date: February 14, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, historical fiction

First in the Kendra Chronicles series. From Goodreads:

"Bewitching can be a beast. . . .

Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out all right. Others didn’t.

I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I’m not still here because I’m stupid; I just don’t age.

You see, I’m immortal. And I pretty much know everything after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.

I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don’t even want to think about it.

Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn’t get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn’t an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . bewitching.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
by Melissa Jensen

Release date: February 16, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 380
Publisher: Speak
Suggested tags: young adult, contemporary, romance, realistic fiction

From Goodreads:

"Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?"

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Above World
by Jenn Reese

Release date: February 14, 2012
Available as: hardcover, audiobook
Pages: 368
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy, dystopia

From Goodreads:

"Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony's survival is at risk. The Kampii's breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people. But can Aluna's fierce determination and fighting skills and Hoku's tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt - growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains - here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Middle Grade Discoveries

Do you ever find yourself leisurely browsing Goodreads (or your book-related website of choice), organizing your bookshelves or checking out your friends' updates or what have you... and you click on one innocent little link to one innocent little book... and that book looks pretty good, so you add it to your to-read shelf... and then you notice there are some related books on the sidebar there, and you think to yourself, "Well, those might be interesting too, I should check those out." ... And then before you know it, you are glued to your computer wide-eyed, clicking away furiously, and you have added 20+ books to your to-read shelf?

This happens to me more often than I should probably admit.

This morning I got hooked on a chain of middle grade recommendations, starting when I went to the Goodreads page for one of my favorite books of my childhood: The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn.

Here's the short and sweet description of this ghost story on Goodreads:

"When Ashley discovers a turn-of-the-century doll it is just the first of several puzzling events that lead her through the hedge and into a twilight past where she meets Louise, an ailing child whose beloved doll has mysteriously disappeared."

This book was in my middle school library, and once I discovered this book, I loved it so much that I didn't even browse the shelves anymore when we had library time - I went straight to this book and spent the rest of the period getting a jump start on reading it. I can't tell you how many times I checked this book out from the library, or why I never bought a copy for myself. (I'm going to fix that as soon as I can find it!)

Anyway, I saw a recommendation for another book by Mary Downing Hahn... and as my  recommendation exploring progressed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she has written other spooky stories!

Then other authors started popping up, and other genres of middle grade books, and now my to-read shelf is many books fuller! If you are a lover of middle grade books, I hope you enjoy browsing my discoveries! :)

I'm thinking this might need to become a "thing." I like sharing discoveries. :)