Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January New Release Recap!

So, I wish I could read every new release each month, but that won't happen until I retire.  In the meantime, I'll just give you a recap of many of the new books that came out this month!  If I've missed any, just leave them in the comments.  Also, let me know if you read any of them and what you thought.










Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:  Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks.

Now, my sister is in a book club and honestly, they read some of the most boring, unappealing books I've ever seen.  So, I decided that I would think about what books I would do with a YA book club if I had to choose all the books.  I think it needs to be a good mix of many genres, so I've chosen contemporary realistic, multi-cultural, LGBT, non-fiction, fantasy, science fiction, humor, historical and classic.  So here's my list.  Let me know what you would choose!





 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This book has something for everyone.  It is humorous, multi-cultural, partly autobiographical and just plain fun!  We are actually reading this one next in the Teen Fiction Club that I have at school.











The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This would be assuming that everyone had not already read it.  This is a must-read for YA.  If everyone had already read it, I would choose another dystopian like Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Delirium by Lauren Oliver or Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky.




 

 Born to Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

This book would cover sports and non-fiction.  And it managed to accomplish the impossible and make me want to buy some barefoot running shoes and take up running as a hobby.



 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

This is not only a fabulous story, but it is told from 2 perspectives:  a straight male and a gay male, so it would be a great way to help kids see issues in different ways.








 Beauty Queens  by Libba Bray

This book is funny and full of satire.  It would really be fun to read this one in conjunction with Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and have students compare the two and see how they are alike and different.





 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I'm probably cheating by putting this one on the list since it is the only one here that I have not actually read.  But this book is a classic for YA lit and would open up so much discussion about controversial issues.







 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The thing I love about this series (besides Jace, of course) is that I think it holds appeal for both boys and girls.  Plus, it has lots of elements of fantasy, not just one.








Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Of course, every good book club needs a classic.  I chose this one not only because I love Jane Austen, but also because there are suddenly so many re-tellings of this story that I thought it would be great to go back to the original.






Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

This one was so much fun and it would be interesting to compare to Jane Austen's version.






Vixen  by Jillian Larkin

I know that I would need an historical novel and this is the only one I've read recently.  Bad reason to choose it, but what are you going to do?  ::shrugs::

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

    Book:  Incarnate
    Author:  Jodi Meadows
    Publisher:  Katherine Tegan
    Date:  January 31, 2012
    Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
    My grade:  A+

    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.

    NOSOUL
    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?

    HEART
    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?

    Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.


    My Review

    This. Book. Was. Beautiful.

    Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that touched me this much.  The story grabbed me from the first page and I had a hard time extracting myself from this world and from Sam and Ana.  I felt so much for Ana in this story and I was so sad to finish it.

    I was a little worried when I decided that this was the next book I would read.  I had just read a pretty scathing review of this book and I was concerned that I wouldn’t like it.  Now I’m starting to wonder if I read the same book as that reviewer!

    This book was so heartfelt and also heartbreaking.  Ana’s story is so sad, yet the book ends with so much hope that I can’t wait to see this story continue.

    The plot is so fresh and original.  The idea of one new soul being born into this world of constantly reincarnated souls was very intriguing.  I really think that Jodi Meadows captured the reactions that people would have to this type of situation.  Some were excited, some were angry and resentful and some just didn’t care.  Even though this was a total fantasy world, I could relate so well to the people in the story and their reactions and lives felt very real to me.

    I felt so sorry for Ana.  The way her mother treated her was just horrific.  So, when she found Sam, I was really rooting for them!  And Sam was such a fabulous character.  He was kind and gentle, yet mysterious at the same time.  I think that I am completely and madly in love with him now!

    I loved the cover of this book.  The butterfly is perfect because of the references made to butterflies in the story, but also, the idea of a soul with wings is portrayed with the butterfly image.  This is a case where the beautiful cover leads to a beautiful tale inside.

    This is a book that I cannot seem to get out of my head.  It keeps reappearing in my thoughts and I find that I don’t really want to let it go.  If I could, I think I would jump right into the pages of this book today so that I could keep this world and this story with me.  I feel so privileged to have been able to read this book and share it with others.

    Giving this book a grade almost seems wrong, because I’m not sure I can place a numerical value on the pleasure I gained from reading this book.  Obviously, nothing less than an A+ will do, but really, how can you quantify a thing of such beauty.  You can’t.  All I can really do is encourage all of you to experience this book for yourself.

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    The Maze Runner by James Dashner


    Book:  The Maze Runner
    Author:  James Dashner
    Publisher:  Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
    Date:  2009
    Source:  Purchased on my Nook
    My grade:  B+

    When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

    Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

    Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

    Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

    My Review

    I really, really liked this book.  Many people kept recommending it to me and I have wanted to read it for a while.  Luckily, the teen fiction club that I sponsor at school decided to read this one for January, so I had to move it up in the TBR pile.  Hooray!

    One of the things I love about dystopian novels is that the premises, while similar, are also very unique.  Even though there is a big, bad government entity,  there is so much variation in what happens.  The Maze Runner is no exception.

    I’m not going to lie.  I sort of thought that this was going to be like the Arnold Schwartzenegger movie, The Running Man.  It was nothing like that.  The maze running is a totally different concept and the Glade is a really neat setting for the whole book.

    So here’s the plot:  There is this created environment called the Glade.  Once a month, a new boy shows up there with no memory of his life before.  The boys must do everything on their own to survive.  The Glade is surrounded by stone walls that close every night to keep out the Grievers, these horrible half-robot, half-worm monsters that will kill them.  There is also a maze surrounding the walls and every night, the passages of the maze change.  There are maze runners who spend all day, every day, running the maze trying to find a way out.

    When the protagonist, Thomas, shows up, everyone assumes it’s just like normal.  But the very next day, a girl shows up in the Box, with a note that says everything is changing.  So of course, all hell breaks loose.

    The plot was amazing.  I also liked the characters.  The boys were very interesting.  Of course, Thomas was a wonderful protagonist, but there were other boys that were great characters as well.  I really liked Newt and Chuck was just a little sweetheart.  His whole story just about broke my heart.  I have read reviews that compared this book to Lord of the Flies.  Now, it’s been a long time since I read that one, but I recall the boys being a lot more vicious than they are in The Maze Runner.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  They are more than willing to stick to the rules when someone violates the rules, but they don’t really resort to the sort of gang/tribal mentality that is going on in Lord of the Flies.

    It was fascinating to see how the boys figured out everything.  The ending was sort of what I expected, but it was still very engaging until the very end.  I am excited about reading the next 2 in the series, although I have been told that they are not as good.  I hope that person is wrong!

    My grade for this book is a B+.  I really liked this book.  There’s a lot of dystopian floating around these days, but this book is definitely worth your time.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Friday Future Read


    FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS
    by Diana Peterfreund

    Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

    Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

    But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.


    Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.


    This week's Future Read is a book that I am so excited for!!!  When I went to YALLFest in November, Diana Peterfreund was there and she talked about her newest book in the dystopian society panel discussion.  This book has several things going for it.  Of course, it is a dystopian and I am so in love with those, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but even better......IT IS BASED ON JANE AUSTEN'S NOVEL, PERSUASION!!!

    So, dystopian and Austenian?  Yes, please!

    Also, as a footnote, if anyone is even still reading my blog ::grins:: and you like this feature, leave me a comment and I'll keep doing it.  If you don't like it, let me know that as well!

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Top Ten Tuesday





    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a blog choice, which means I get to make any top ten list I wish! So here goes.....

    You know those books that you look at the cover and think "Ugh!" and so you put off reading them and then when you do read them, you get so mad at yourself for judging a book by it's cover? Well, that's my list this week. So here they are:

    Top Ten Worst Covers on the Good Books

    Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

    I looked at this cover and dreaded reading this book and then I did read it and it totally bowled me over.



     



    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    Again, I had heard of this book and taken one look at the cover and thought......Ugh!  But I am so glad I finally picked this one up and read it.  The cover gives you no idea at the brilliance that is inside this book.





     
    Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

    The actual cover for this first novel is not that bad, but the next 2 are terrible.  What is terrible about this cover is the tagline......."She can control her pack but not her heart."  What???!!!!  Where's the picture of a wine bottle to go along with that cheese?


     

     
    Ditched:  A Love Story  by Robin Mellom

    Ok, I know they wanted to capture poor Justina on the morning after, but this cover just doesn't do anything at all for me.  Sorry.  How about a picture of those ugly blue satin shoes in some dirt or something?






     
    The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

    This cover looks like it was designed by the Billy Ray Cyrus fan club.  The hair on this chick looks sooooooo much like a mullet, I just can't look at it.







    Delirium by Lauren Oliver

    This cover is just boring to me.  I don't think it captures the goodness that is inside this book.






     
      The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 
       
      This cover was also very off-putting to me with this book.  I waited a long time to read it because the cover was just unappealing to me.

       
       
       
       
       
      Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
       
      I have to say that at least the publishers realize what a horrid cover they have for this book and they are working on it.  But all the subsequent covers are pretty ugly too.  Of course, I'm not really sure what kind of cover they should put on it, so........

       
       
       
       
       
      New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

      I loved the cover of Twilight.  I think it was a fabulous to way to capture both the vampire mood with the black and red and the idea of temptation with the apple.  The rest of the covers are terrible and this is one of the worst.  I mean, what does a tulip have to do with anything going on in the book???

       
       
       
       
       Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
       
      This cover is atrocious and this is the second cover.  The first one is even uglier.  And this book is amazing.  






      So, there they are.  Ten of the ugliest covers I've seen on good books.  Now, I've seen some ugly covers on bad books, but those are cases where I'm glad I judged the book by the cover.  These books?  Not so much!  

      I"d love to hear from some of you about bad book covers!

      Monday, January 23, 2012

      Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith


      Book:  Diabolical
      Author:  Cynthia Leitich Smith
      Publisher:  Candlewick Press
      Date:  January 24, 2012
      Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
      My grade:  A

      Prepare for a hell of a ride as Cynthia Leitich Smith calls on characters from her previous novels - and conjures up new ones - for a climactic showdown.

      When "slipped" angel Zachary and his werewolf pal, Kieren, arrive under suspicious circumstances to a mysterious New England boarding school, they quickly find themselves in a hellish lockdown with an intriguing assortment of secretive, hand-picked students. Plagued by demon dogs, hallucinatory wall d├ęcor, a sadistic instructor, and a legendary fire-breathing monster, will they somehow manage to escape? Or will the devil have his due? Best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites heroes from the previous three novels in the Tantalize Series - including Zachary's girl, Miranda, and Kieren's love, Quincie - along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.

      My Review

      Holy hot trips to Hell!!!  This book was great!  This story was very original, very fast-paced, very engaging and very witty!

      Again, one of the things that I love about these books is that they don’t take themselves so seriously.  The tongue-in-cheek narration is wonderful.  I also love the memos from the archangel Michael that show up from time to time. 

      In this installment, we get to finally see all the characters together, sort of.  The chapters are narrated in differing points of view and switch between Zachary, Kieren and Miranda.  Cynthia takes us all over the place:  Heaven, Hell, Vermont.  It’s cool to see her interpretation of Heaven and Hell.  They are not Dante’s for sure!

      The new characters in this book are definitely fun.  They were so different and they were new to the book series, but I still felt like I got to know them fairly well.  I was very surprised by some of the reveals about the new characters also.

      It’s really interesting to see how Cynthia was able to play again with the Dracula plot.  She took one small detail, the Scholomance School, and turned it into a whole book.  The school was great and the way she portrayed the evil was fabulous.  Imagine Dolores Umbridge as a minion of Satan and you’ll get the idea. : ) 

      I loved the way she brought all the story lines together in this book.  Unfortunately, I think it is probably the last book, but it wrapped up Zachary and Miranda’s story for sure and didn’t really leave a terrible cliffhanger for Quincie and Kieren, although there is room for a continuation of their story.  ::gets down on knees::  Please, please, please let there be a 5th book, Cynthia!

      I don’t want to give away too much about the plot because I want you to have all the surprises as a reader that I had.  The plot in this book is as riveting as Blessed and she keeps throwing in plot twists that I never saw coming but that make perfect sense when they are revealed.  Let me just say that even if you were lukewarm about the first or second books in this series, keep reading!  The last 2 books totally made the first 2 worth the time and effort!  Honestly, this is one of those series that would be great for the publisher to bind into one of those huge paperbacks they seem to like these days.

      My grade for this book is an A.  It was witty, exciting and engaging.  I loved it and I didn’t want it to end.  I finished it this morning and I can’t get it out of my head!

      This book will be available tomorrow!!  

      Much thanks to Candlewick Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I received no compensation for my review.


      Sunday, January 22, 2012

      Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith


      Book:  Blessed
      Author:  Cynthia Leitich Smith
      Publisher:  Candlewick Press
      Date:  January 25, 2011
      Source:  Purchased
      My grade:  A

      With a wink and a nod to Bram Stoker, New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites the casts of Tantalize and Eternal in a delicious dark fantasy her fans will devour.

      Quincie P. Morris, teen restaurateuse and neophyte vampire, is in the fight of her life -- or undeath. Even as she adjusts to her new appetites, she must clear her best friend and true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, of murder charges; thwart the apocalyptic ambitions of Bradley Sanguini, the seductive vampire-chef who "blessed" her; and keep her dead parents’ restaurant up and running. She hires a more homespun chef and adds the preternaturally beautiful Zachary to her wait staff. But with hundreds of new vampires on the rise and Bradley off assuming the powers of Dracula Prime, Zachary soon reveals his true nature -- and a flaming sword -- and they hit the road to staunch the bloodshed before it’s too late. Even if they save the world, will there be time left to salvage Quincie’s soul?

      My Review

      I did a really dumb thing.  I know it’s shocking, right! ::grins::  I somehow missed the publication of this book altogether!  So, I received a copy of “Diabolical” to review and when I started reading it, I realized that it didn’t really make sense.  I proceeded to pull up trusty ol’ Goodreads and realized that I should probably read the 3rd book in the series before tackling that 4th book!  Who knew??

      I have to say that at first, I wasn’t sure about this book.  It begins with the characters from Tantalize, which was not one of my favorite books.  I mean, I liked it, but I wasn’t completely in love with it.  I liked the second book better, so that’s what compelled me to want to read the rest of the series.  Also, it had been a while, so I didn’t exactly remember what had gone down in the previous 2 books.

      After I got into the story, none of that mattered!

      This is my favorite book in this series so far!  I loved the way she brought the characters from the 2 books together and then blended that world so seamlessly with Bram Stoker!  It was a stroke of brilliance!

      Not many people these days give dues to the original master of the vampire book, but Cynthia Leitich Smith paid her regards to Stoker and then took his mythology and expanded and twisted it and updated it and made it even more fabulous!  I absolutely adored the Dracula tie-in in this novel and I found the book very difficult to put down. (Much to the chagrin of my family!  You’d think they’d be used to it by now.)

      I really learned to love Quincie in this book.  She was just a so-so character for me in the first book, but I’m a fan of hers now.  And a fan of Kieren, the hot wolf man as well!  I feel like I know these characters a lot better now and it makes it easier to care about them.

      This book had a lot of action in it.  It also has a lot of tongue-in-cheek stuff.  I like it that the author seems to be able to throw in some cheesy things from time to time and laugh at herself for doing it.  The story is fast-paced and a lot happens, but this is not a book that takes itself too seriously.  I appreciate that.  There are some other vampire series out there that include the cheese, but are so serious about it that it just makes me roll my eyes……and totally flounce the series.

      I’m really glad that I already have book 4 in my possession.  In fact, I’m reading it now.  I closed out Blessed and immediately opened Diabolical.

      If you haven’t read this series, I recommend it.  The books are quick reads and the story is engaging.  If you haven’t read Dracula, you don’t necessarily have to read the whole book, but checking out a SparkNotes or Wikipedia summary might be a good idea.  Cynthia does a great job of filling in the Dracula story, but I think a little deeper understanding of it has to help the reader appreciate the tie-in a little better.

      My grade for this third installment is an A.  It’s been the best one so far, in my humble opinion.  I hope that book 4 continues with the trend of getting better!


      Saturday, January 21, 2012

      The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe


      Book:  The Way We Fall
      Author:  Megan Crewe
      Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
      Date:  January 24, 2012
      Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
      My grade:  A

      It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in.

      And then you're dead.


      When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn’s community, the government quarantines her island—no one can leave, and no one can come back.

      Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest. 

      Because how will she go on if there isn't?

      Megan Crewe crafts a powerful and gripping exploration of self-preservation, first love, and hope. Poignant and dizzying, this heart-wrenching story of one girl’s bravery and unbeatable spirit will leave readers fervently awaiting the next book in this standout new series.

      My Review
      This may be one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.  Not scary in the Stephen King horror sort of way.  Or a Freddy’s coming to get you sort of way.  No, it’s scary in the “Oh my goodness, this could really happen in the world!” sort of way.  

      This book is about a mutated virus that starts infecting people on an island.  As more people become infected, they start overwhelming the local hospital and then people start dying.  The government decides to quarantine the island to stop the spreading of the virus.  Then soldiers contract the virus and die.  Suddenly, the people sent in by the government abandon the island. 


      After this, anarchy breaks out on the island.  Gangs are killing infected people and stealing food and supplies.  It becomes very much like Lord of the Flies.  But amidst all the chaos, there are also people doing good things and trying to make the situation better.  And somehow, in the middle of this horrible situation, the author manages to also find a wonderfully human story about a girl and her family, a girl and a former enemy turned friend and a girl and a boy.  And amazingly, the whole thing is very believable.

      What made this book so compelling is the fact that I could see this very situation playing out in real life.  With threats of avian flu and the scares with SARS and Swine Flu, I think this plot is quite plausible.  And knowing human nature, many of the things that happen in this book, both good and bad, would probably happen in the real life.  After all, we’ve witnessed some of these very things when natural disasters strike, like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

      I loved the characters in this book.  I became so close to them as I read it.  I could feel myself worrying about them and stressing over who might become infected.  I had a really hard time putting this book down.  Kaelyn and Gav were both fabulous characters, showing how humans can rise above the situation to become everyday heroes.  I loved Meredith, the little girl and her situation just ripped at my heart.  I also found myself growing to love Tessa as Kaelyn learned to love and appreciate her.  Of course, there were also people who showed how low humans can sink in a crisis situation and it was difficult to read about that, especially since it seemed so real.

      I liked the way the book was written.  Kaelyn had a falling out with a friend who is no longer on the island and she started a journal addressed to him before the epidemic began and then she simply keeps writing to him.  It makes for an interesting narrative.

      This is an incredible book.  I think this is the type of YA book that we should be bringing into our classrooms.  It is a book that makes one really stop and think about how we cope with crisis situations and it is a book that examines the best and the worst of the human spirit.

      My grade for this book is an A.  It was a compelling read, but it was not necessarily an easy read.  This is definitely a book for people who want to read something that will make them think.

      Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.  I did not receive any sort of compensation for this review.

      Friday, January 20, 2012

      A Friday Future Read?


      So, I'm thinking that I might start featuring a book every Friday that I know I want to read in the future.  They might be new books or they might be old books that I just haven't gotten around to yet.  I mean, as much as I love reading about new books, I wish someone had told me sooner to pick up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian!  So this will be an equal opportunity feature! : )

      The book I'm about to share is what got me thinking about doing this sort of feature.  I have not been this excited about a new book in a while!  Of course,  I love vampires and I have not been so keen on a lot of the current vampire stuff out there (the Blue Bloods series notwithstanding!).  So when I read this one, I was jumping for joy.  Here goes......






      Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London

      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....

      This book will be released by Harper Collins Publishers on May 29, 2012.  Doesn't it look fantastic!  I know that the cover is very similar to the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, but those covers are gorgeous, in my humble opinion.  So, why not copy them??  This book is like the best of 2 worlds; I get vampires and dystopian society!  Hooray!  I hope it's as good as it sounds!

      Add it to your Goodreads account here  .
      Pre-order through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.


      Tuesday, January 17, 2012

      Top Ten Tuesday



      So, I've decided that I really like this wonderful meme, Top Ten Tuesday, started by the wonderful folks over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new Top Ten list of books.  Hooray!

      This week's list.......

      The Top Ten Books You Would Recommend to Someone Who Doesn't Read YA.

      1.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:  Well, duh.  This one is such a no-brainer, it almost feels like cheating to put it on my list.

      2.  The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare:  I think that the whole Shadowhunter world is so action-packed and so different that you forget you are reading about teens.

      3.  The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare:  Ditto the above and then add cool historical stuff.

      4.  Delirium by Lauren Oliver:  I think that adults can read this on a whole different level because of our experience with love,

      5.  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray:  Again, I think this book is a totally different read for adults.  Plus, there are tons of references that are more enjoyable if you are a grown woman of a certain age. : )

      6.  Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson:  This is such a compelling story about growing up that I think anyone of any age could relate to it.

      7.  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson:  This book is just much fun.

      8.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins:  This book I would recommend to any female person.  Who could not love this book?  It is precious!

      9.  Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini:  I am so in love with this book that I recommend it to everyone.

      10.  Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton:  She already writes for an adult audience so I think her YA book would have wide appeal also.  And it's just an action-packed story!

      I would also like to give an honorable recommendation to Ditched:  A Love Story by Robin Mellom.  I would recommend this book to all women who grew up in the eighties!

      Wednesday, January 11, 2012

      Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

      Book:  Clockwork Prince
      Author:  Cassandra Clare
      Publisher:  Simon and Schuster
      Date:  December, 2011
      Source:  Christmas present!
      My grade:  A++

      In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends. 

      With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.


      Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? 

      As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.


      My Review

      Oh Cassandra Clare!  How your very existence makes me happy!  I love your books so much.

      I was scared to start this series when it first came out.  I didn’t think that there was any way I could like it as well as The Mortal Instruments, but I was sooooo wrong!  This series is just as great as The Mortal Instruments and the second installment is as fabulous as the first one was.  Even better in many ways, since we get to discover some more information and dig a little deeper into personal stories and the main plotline.

      I’ve spent a good deal of time today thinking about this review.  Really, I was thinking about what it is that I love so much about Cassandra Clare’s novels.  There are several things and they all apply to Clockwork Prince, so I’ll just spell those out right now.

      First there is the complexity.  There are family, friendship and romantic story lines taking place and intertwining with the main plot.  And the main plot is always layers deep and filled with surprises.  This makes for a wonderfully interesting read because every little bit of the book feels important to the story.

      Second, there is the rich characterization.  Cassandra Clare’s characters are so multi-dimensional.  They are as complex as the story line.  They are not flat, one-dimensional characters.  They all have strengths and flaws.  This is true of the secondary characters as well.  In fact, at times it feels as if there are no secondary characters.  As a reader, I know a lot about all the characters involved and I get to see the good and the bad.  Also, trying to figure out what it is that motivates her characters is intriguing.  They always have some interesting stories to tell.

      Finally, there is the way she tells the story.  I have heard people accuse her of purple prose, and perhaps there is some of that. ::shrugs::  I love the detail and the flow of her books.  Again, every word feels deliberate and necessary, yet the story keeps moving at a great clip.

      This book is no exception to these things.  It picks up where it left off with everyone back at the Institute and we discover that Charlotte is going to have to prove that she can run the Institute or the Clave is going to give it to someone else.  Jem is still struggling with his illness and Will is still heartbreaking.  This book has some major, major reveals, but for every secret that is uncovered, it seems that there are always more to replace it.

      I was thoroughly satisfied with this book.  There were developments that I didn’t see coming and there are developments that I don’t really know what to think of or how I really want to work out in the end.  What I do know is that I simply cannot wait to get my hands on book number 3!

      My grade for this book is of course, A++!  I am still a crazy devoted fan and I wish I had a Shadowhunter too!

      Of course, my source for this book was my fabulous hubby, who got it as a Christmas present.  He’s not a Shadowhunter, but he’s still wonderfu

      Tuesday, January 10, 2012

      The third and final list for 2011

      It seems that all YA novels these days are part of a series, so I made a special list of the best sequels I read all year.

      My Favorite Sequels in a Series
       The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

      This novel accomplished the impossible.  It made me love Ash.

      But I am still firmly Team Puck, at least for myself! : )






      Passion Lauren Kate

      I love this series and this book did not disappoint me.  I loved going back and seeing what happened to Luce in all her prior lives.And I suppose Daniel Grigori wasn't bad either..... : )





      The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

      This is a series that I don't think gets enough recognition for being so awesome.  And this installment was action-packed.  I can't wait to see where she takes the story from here.






      Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

      I know this book came out in 2010 but I didn't read it until 2011, so I'm including it on my list.  I love this series.  It's such an interesting take on vampires.  And I met Melissa de la Cruz at YallFest and she rocks!







      In the Forests of the Night by Kersten Hamilton

      3 words are really only necessary for this book:  hot Irish guy!  Of course, this book is so much more than that!  This story is so original and so engaging and then add a cute guy with an Irish accent.  That equals total win!





        This is the last of my lists for 2011.  Tomorrow we will return to regular programming.  Same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!

        Saturday, January 7, 2012

        My lists for 2011 part deux......and of course, late.

        I had a French professor in college who used to say "Time is an invention of man, not of God, mademoiselle."  Obviously, I took that saying to heart and made it my life motto! : )

        I know it's late, but here's my second list of books I loved from 2011:


        Books That I Can’t Believe I Waited Until 2011 to Read! (Yes, there are only 9, not 10.  Sue me!)


        1.  Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

        This book suffers from an appallingly cheesy tag line on the cover.  I'll admit, it made me hesitate.  I will not hesitate again.  But whoever put that line on the cover of this book should be fired, just saying.....

        I loved this book so much and I can't wait to jump into the next 2 books.  I may be the only person in America who is Team Ren, but I wear it proudly!



         2.  American Born Chinese by Gene Luan Yang

        This little jewel wasn't even on my radar until I saw it on the required list of the other section of YA lit in my grad program this summer.  I knew that Dr. Becnel had chosen some great books, so I decided to give it a looksee.  Wow!!  This is a brilliantly written graphic novel.





        3.  Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

        You will probably notice a lot of overlap in this list with the list I made earlier of books that made me love contemporary realistic.  Why on earth did I wait this long to read a Laurie Halse Anderson book?  It's really inexcusable.  This book was powerful!



        4.  Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

        Just see the above commentary and substitute Sarah Dessen's name.

        Seriously, I want to read at least one or two more of her books this year.  This is especially shameful for me since she is from my home state!







        5.  The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

        Ok, this series had been on my radar, but it was just one of those things I kept pushing to the side for other things.  Totally dumb.

        I hate these covers though.  The first one makes the girl look like she has a mullet.  For reals.



        6.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

        I remember reading a recommendation of this book from Stephenie Meyer.  I remember looking at the cover and thinking "Ugh!"  Yes, I know the old adage, and everyone still judges the book by the cover!  Thank you again, Dr. Becnel, for putting this one on your list of required reading for your YA lit class.  I then read it for mine and proceeded to recommend it to anyone who would bother listening.



        7.  Unwind by Neal Shusterman

        I remember seeing this book and thinking that I would read it when I could.  Luckily for me, it is a challenged book.  I had to read 2 challenged books for my YA lit class and this was one that wasn't a million years old or a guide to sex for gay men.  I knew that I was interested, so I read it.

        This is another book that I have recommended to random people on the street.


        8.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

        This is probably the most shameful one.  I mean, I am a FRENCH TEACHER!!!  I should have been waiting at the book store on the day this one was released.  Quel dommage!







        9.  Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

        I really thought this book was a sappy, Twilight follow up.  You know how there were a million vampire books after Twilight?

        Oh Beth Fantaskey!  How I underrated you!  This book began in a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek manner and then, BAM!  I found myself engrossed in it and actually liking Lucius!  And I love books that can make fun of themselves.


        So here you have it:  my list of shame!  The books that I should never have put off reading!  If you haven't read some of these books, dear Lord!  What are you waiting for???