Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Radiate

by Marley Gibson

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 395
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Publication date: April 3, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Hayley Matthews is determined to be the best cheerleader she can. She works hard and pushes herself 110% all the time. Then Hayley finds a lump on her leg. The diagnosis is cancer. The prognosis is unclear. She could lose her leg. Or maybe her life. At first Haley is scared, terrified. In an instant, everything she’s worked for seems out of reach. But Haley is strong. She’s going to fight this disease. She will not let it take her life or her dreams."

I received this as an ebook from NetGalley.

Radiate balances the issues that a high school girl faces with the issues that someone diagnosed with cancer faces. As Hayley battles her cancer, in the midst of what will perhaps be the most difficult time in her life, she is still concerned with (by comparison) more insignificant things like being on the cheerleading team, fitting in at school, and dating. This gives the book a wonderful realism; her cancer isn't downplayed, and neither is her high school social life. It all comes to alive with Hayley's bright, spirited narration.
The thing I loved most about this book was the overwhelming feeling of hope. I doubt there will be a person who picks up this book who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way. I'm no different, and because of that, there were moments in Radiate that were difficult for me to read. I was in tears a few times. But there is never a feeling of giving in, or of being out of options. The feeling always, despite how desperate things seem, is hope.

From the moment she is diagnosed through her treatment, Hayley is of course terrified, and angry, and there are times when she questions why this happened to her. Despite it all, she can count the number of times she cries on one hand. She is unbelievably strong. She never lets the possibility of anything except full recovery become a reality in her mind. She tells her doctors what she will be able to do, rather than listening to them tell her what she won't be able to do. She becomes an inspiration to others without intending to.

I had no idea that this book was based off the author's life. If you read Radiate (and I highly recommend you do), please be sure and read the note at the back of the book. It's the perfect ending to it all. The fictional story was wonderfully written and really touched me, but knowing it was based off a true story made the book feel even more real and alive, and it made the feeling of hope even stronger.

Radiate is a beautiful, wonderful book that stares cancer in the face and cheerfully tells it to get lost. Highly recommended for YA readers, with a note that there is some strong language, including the F-word.

Final verdict: I loved it! I thought this book was great! I might buy it for myself since I will probably be rereading it. I would definitely recommend it to others.

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Release Round-Up: May 28-June 3

Young Adult

Darkness Before Dawn
by J.A. London

Release date: May 29, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 342
Publisher: HarperCollins
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, dystopia

First in the Darkness Before Dawn series. From Goodreads:
"This electrifying new trilogy blends the best of paranormal and dystopian storytelling in a world where the war is over. And the vampires won.

Humans huddle in their walled cities, supplying blood in exchange for safety. But not even that is guaranteed. Dawn has lost her entire family and now reluctantly serves as the delegate to Lord Valentine, the most powerful vampire for miles. It isn’t until she meets Victor, Valentine’s son, that she realizes not all vampires are monsters....

Devine Intervention
by Martha Brockenbrough

Release date: June 1, 2012
Available as: hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, romance

From Goodreads:
"There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.

This is not that story.

Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Sort of. He's more of an angel trainee, in heaven's soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he's just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.

Heidi, meanwhile, is a high school junior who dreams of being an artist, but has been drafted onto her basketball team because she's taller than many a grown man. For as long as she can remember, she's heard a voice in her head - one that sings Lynyrd Skynyrd, offers up bad advice, and yet is company during those hours she feels most alone.

When the unthinkable happens, these two lost souls must figure out where they went wrong and whether they can make things right before Heidi's time is up and her soul is lost forever.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

by Anastacia Hawkins

Release date: May 29, 2012
Available as: paperback
Pages: 102
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

From Goodreads:
"During a dance performance, Taylor and Leslie mysteriously fall into the enchanted land of Larkspur. With the help of Redmond, the great counselor-in-training, they discover their mission: to perform the magical Dance of the Dawn in order to help their beloved dance instructor, Madame Lumiere, find her way home from the Earthly Realm.

But first they must rescue the adored talking pet of the Fiery One and aid Little Light, the glowing princess, as she bravely sets off to rid Larkspur of the cruel Puranna and despicable Derrick of Dungeoness. If everything goes as planned, Taylor and Leslie will also play an important role in freeing Larkspur’s true king and queen from the Murky Realm, where they have been imprisoned for over a year.

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In My Mailbox #9

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren as a way to highlight the books you receive every week (or so). A full explanation and rules can be found here.

From NetGalley:

The Loners
by Lex Thomas

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 416
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release date: July 10, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia

I'm a big fan of YA survival stories; anything along the lines of Lord of the Flies or The Hunger Games is right up my alley. So I'm really looking forward to this one - sounds dark and intense!

First in the Quarantine series. From Goodreads:
"It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

Whispers from the Grave
by Leslie Rule

Available as: Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: unknown
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Publication date: April 3, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, ghosts

A ghost story with "murder, deception, and sinister experiments" - what more could you ask for?

From Goodreads:
"The similarities between Jenna and Rita were uncanny. They looked and acted exactly alike. Each was experiencing the thrill of first love. Each was empowered with a gift of the supernatural. And each harbored dark secrets. Jenna and Rita could have been sisters. Except for one thing . . . Rita was murdered over a century ago.

Out of the yellowed pages of her diary, Rita's frightening legacy is reborn. But the more Jenna reads of Rita's spellbinding past--of murder, deception, and sinister experiments--the more she fears her own future. Because Rita's history is repeating itself, moment by horrifying moment. And Jenna has to live it.

BEA BUZZ BOOKS: Excerpts From Over 30 Top Fall 2012

by various authors

Available as: ebook
Pages: unknown
Publisher: Publishers Lunch
Publication date: May 18, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, sampler

I'm really excited to flip through this one! Excerpts from lots of upcoming 2012 books, including YA!

From Goodreads:
"BEA in an eBook. Start reading exclusive excerpts from over 30 top Fall titles featured at the BookExpo America convention right now. Enjoy new work from Junot Díaz, Mark Helprin, Rhoda Janzen, Barbara Kingsolver, Jessica Khoury, Dennis Lehane, J.R. Moehringer, Neil Young, and many others in the free BEA BUZZ BOOKS from Publishers Lunch."
BEA BUZZ BOOKS excerpts from upcoming 2012 YA books include:

From the library:

The Book of the Maidservant
by Rebecca Barnhouse

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 236
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: October 27, 2009
Suggested tags: middle grade, historical fiction, adventure

I was really intrigued by the fact that this was based off the first autobiography in English, told from the maidservant's point of view. So far it's wonderfully written and quite interesting!

From Goodreads:
"Johanna is a servant girl to Dame Margery Kempe, a renowned medieval holy woman. Dame Margery feels the suffering the Virgin Mary felt for her son but cares little for the misery she sees every day. When she announces that Johanna will accompany her on a pilgrimage to Rome, the suffering truly begins. After walking all day, Johanna must fetch water, wash clothes, and cook for the entire party of pilgrims. Then arguing breaks out between Dame Margery and the other travelers, and Johanna is caught in the middle. As the fighting escalates, Dame Margery turns her back on the whole group, including Johanna. Abandoned in a foreign land where she doesn’t even speak the language, the young maidservant must find her own way to Rome.

Inspired by the fifteenth-century text
The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography in English, debut novelist Rebecca Barnhouse chronicles Johanna’s painful journey through fear, anger, and physical hardship to ultimate redemption."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Freebie Alert: Farsighted

The Kindle edition of Emlyn Chand's Farsighted is currently available for free on Amazon!

by Emlyn Chand

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 226 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Blue Crown Press
Publication date: October 17, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Farsighted series. From Amazon:
"Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, an enticing new girl comes to their small Midwest town all the way from India. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival--an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to "see" the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they suggest Simmi is in mortal danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex embarks on his journey to change the future.

Review: Death by Petticoat

Death by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked
by Mary Miley Theobald

Available as: paperback
Pages: 144
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Release date: June 5, 2012
Suggested tags: non-fiction, history

From Goodreads:
"Every day stories from American history that are not true are repeated in museums and classrooms across the country. Some are outright fabrications; others contain a kernel of truth that has been embellished over the years. Collaborating with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Mary Miley Theobald has uncovered the truth behind many widely repeated myth-understandings in our history in Death by Petticoat including:

* Hat makers really were driven mad. They were poisoned by the mercury used in making hats from furs. Their symptoms included hallucinations, tremors, and twitching, which looked like insanity to people of the 17th and 18th centuries--and the phrase "mad as a hatter" came about.

* The idea that portrait painters gave discounts if their subjects posed with one hand inside the vest (so they didn't have to paint fingers and leading to the saying that something "costs an arm and a leg") is strictly myth. It isn't likely that Napoleon, King George III, or George Washington were concerned about getting a discount from their portrait painters.

Pregnant women secluded themselves indoors, uneven stairs were made to trip up burglars, people bathed once a year, women had tiny waists, apprenticeships lasted seven years--
Death by Petticoat reveals the truth about these hysterical historical myth-understandings."

I received this as an ebook from NetGalley.

Death by Petticoat is a collection of fun, brief explanations of historical myths. Each myth is covered in a few paragraphs, making for a sufficient explanation, but I wouldn't have minded a little more depth. Some of the explanations ended a little abruptly, leaving me wishing there was more to it. But the short style makes it perfect for picking up here and there whenever you have a moment: before bed, in a waiting room, over breakfast, etc.

I would recommend this book to history lovers, especially those looking for an interesting, quick read. Serious history buffs may already be familiar with the truths behind the myths, but for the average person with an interest in history, this would probably expand upon their knowledge of the common myths and introduce them to some new ones too. (It did for me!) The ebook version that I read didn't include the photos that the text mentions, but I'm looking forward to picking up a paperback copy when it's released to see how the photos complement the myths.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Freebies: May 25, 2012

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

Between Worlds
by Yolande Krueger

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 179 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Yolande Krueger
Publication date: February 1, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, witches

From Amazon:
"Olive Trix, a sixteen year old aspiring witch, works at her family’s coffee shop called The Black Brew in the small town of Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. She uses her alchemy skills to make coffee and muffins that offer more than your average pick-me-up. Even though she excels at potion making, her ability to use magic is next to none, something she finds extremely frustrating. When a stranger comes to town cloaked in his own spell of illusion, everything changes. For the first time, Olive is forced to use her magic delving into an untapped resource she never knew she possessed."

Paranormal Public
by Maddy Edwards

Available as: Kindle edition
Pages: 232 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: unknown
Publication date: November 17, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Paranormal Public series. From Amazon:
"Welcome to Charlotte’s world of unusual powers, wonderful friendship, new love and stunning betrayal . . .

Charlotte Rollins is an elemental, but she doesn't know it yet. Now, with the help of her old friend Cale and her new friend Keller, she will fight against an evil whose only goal is to consume her.

by Taylor Longford

Available as: Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 201 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Taylor Longford
Publication date: June 12, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, romance

First in the Greystone Novels. From Amazon:
"Think you know about gargoyles? The beautiful winged race disappeared eight hundred years ago. Their greatest enemies were the brutal harpies that people today mistake for gargoyles.

Like all gargoyles, Valor is protective by nature. When he wakes to find a human girl in trouble, his first impulse is to help her. But the greatest risk to MacKenzie’s safety is himself. One scratch from the poisonous barbs on his knuckes and she’ll be lost to him forever.

Witch Song
by Amber Argyle

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 325 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Publication date: August 29, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, witches

From Amazon:
"The world is changing.

Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons. But not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fade, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can't stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her.

Because if Brusenna doesn’t, there won’t be anything left to save.

Friday Finds #13

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 Allegra Biscotti Collection
by Olivia Bennett

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 256
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication date: November 1, 2010
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction, contemporary

First in The Allegra Biscotti Collection series. From Goodreads:
"She could be a world-famous fashion designer-but can she pass the 8th grade?

By day, Emma Rose is a quiet, under-the-radar student who doesn't mix with the popular set. But when school's out, she becomes Queen of the Runway-whipping up cutting-edge designs.

When Emma is discovered by a well-known fashionista, the pseudonym Allegra Biscotti is born to protect her from the lime light. She soon discovers balancing a secret identity, boys, school, and friends isn't as easy as she thought.

This fashion-themed series features doodles throughout the book-two-color illustrations are found as chapter openers and in the margins-adding tons of delicious style detail!

The Friday Society
by Adrienne Kress

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition
Pages: 440
Publisher: Dial
Release date: December 6, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, steampunk, mystery

From Goodreads:
"Be your own hero . . .

An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns—and the heroines who use them all.

Set in Edwardian London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder—and the crimes they believe may be connected to it—without calling too much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress’s sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike—well, relatively ladylike—heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
by Rachel Harris

Available as: paperback
Pages: 304
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release date: September 11, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, time travel, romance

From Goodreads:
"On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

Stickman Odyssey, Book 1: An Epic Doodle
by Christopher Ford

Available as: hardcover
Pages: 208
Publisher: Philomel
Publication date: August 4, 2011
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy, mythology

First in the Stickman Odyssey series. From Goodreads:
"When Zozimos is banished by an evil witch (his stepmother!) from the kingdom of Sticatha-the kingdom he was next in line to rule-he trains at battle (if you call chasing after butterflies training), travels across stormy seas (thanks for that, Poseidon), slays golems and monsters (with a lot of help), charms beautiful women (not really), and somehow (despite his own ineptitude) survives quest after quest. By the love of Zeus, though, none of it brings him any closer to home!

It does, however, make for one quirky, original, giggle-provoking graphic novel sure to appeal to any kid interested in Greek mythology, or merely looking for an entertaining read.