31 December, 2010

Ender's Game - Review

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
(Note: That's the proposed movie poster, not the book cover. I *love* it!)
Publication date: 1985, Audio 20th Anniversary Edition 2002

Category: Science Fiction

Format: audiobook

Keywords: Humanity, War, Evil, Power, Forgiveness

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com. 

How I found out about this book: It's a sci-fi classic, and at least one of our local schools is teaching it to their sixth-graders. 

Quickie: This book will rip your heart out, then gently pat it back into your chest and tell you you're stronger for having survived. I loved it, every syllable of every word, every iota of meaning.

My review: I know there are people out there who hate, hate, hate this book. In my mind's eye I forgive them, because that's what Ender Wiggin would probably do--he'd puzzle out the whys and hows in a millisecond and do the right thing, because that's what he does--that's why he's so special. Ender is about as ordinary as extraordinary beings come; left to his own devices he'd probably want to spend his time reading and playing with his sister Valentine, avoiding pain and violence, but when he's pretty much drafted into Battle School at a tender age--what we would think of as kindergarten or first grade--Ender can't help but do what he was made to do, which is win, at any cost--save the world, no matter what.

On the surface of the story is Ender's role as hero--he's expected to destroy The Buggers, an insectoid alien race that had, many years before, decimated the human race; but at the core of the game there is the conflict between Ender's gentle and loving nature and the evils of the world: The Buggers, the Battle School, and his psychopath older brother, Peter. The fierce rivalry between them escalates to huge--geopolitical, even interstellar--proportions, which is where, I think, a lot of readers get lost. I think those who read and love Ender's Game can appreciate the intricacies of logic, not necessarily in the academic sense (such as what you would need to explain it in, say, a book report) but the philosophical and pragmatic applications of the game as they emanate out of a single human life. 

While listening to this ensemble audio recording I had to fight really hard not to cry while sitting at my desk in the office--Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison, and others who unfortunately get lumped in as "and cast", made my first reading of this book a very emotional experience. I highly recommend it. Card's descriptions of the zero-gravity Battle Rooms where the games take place and the tenuous, at times toxic relationships Ender builds with his classmates take even more palpable shape as voiced by the readers. The woman who reads Valentine makes me tear up every time she speaks.

1994 paperback cover
Who should read this book: There is a lot of violence in this book. A LOT. It's brilliant and balletic in parts, bloody and brutal in others, and many of the negative reviews of this book call it gratuitous, as it never seems to be Ender's fault when he causes harm. Like anything parents might find objectionable, I say, to each his own. If I had an eight-year-old, I'd probably read this with him or her, as the messages about ethics, bullying, and friendship as revealed in the book are things that I would like my own child to value. 

Find the author at http://www.hatrack.com/

This author is currently on tour! I'm going to see him at Vroman's Pasadena on January 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. Check his official website for more appearance dates. 

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/2010ender

Find this book on goodreads.com, listen to a snippet at audible.com, or buy it now

Comments? What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!) 

Year End Winners and Inside Out

All right! Contest update, then I swear it's reviews reviews reviews for a few days.
Here are the final winners of my year-end giveaway:

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1) by Rachel Caine

Finished copy, signed by the author (rated 4 stars/really liked)
Won by Kimberly C.

Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Unsigned UK paperback edition (rated 4 stars/really liked)
Won by Ashley C.

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Unsigned ARC* (unread, unrated)
Won by Vivien
The non-US/Canada winner was
Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins

Unsigned UK paperback edition (rated 5 stars/loved) 
Won by Janine M (Philippines)

The winner of another signed copy of Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder is...

Congratulations to all the winners! If you'd like a chance to win a signed hardcover of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures from me, all you have to do is go to the All Things YA community page on Facebook and hit the "Like" button! I'll randomly pick a winner on 1/11/11 :)

30 December, 2010

All Things YA

I just started a new community page on Facebook: thanks to The Book Vixen for the idea! Click above to join. Responsible folks (bloggers, authors, publishers etc.) will be considered for Admin positions anytime. Just email one or both of us, and we'll add you in! Talk about books, authors, blogs, and, well, All Things YA.

If you tweet our link, it's http://on.fb.me/atya2011 and use the hashtag #atYA!

28 December, 2010

Out With a Bang

So, I'm thinking of joining this read-a-thon... may as well, right?

Related posts will be added below over the next few days. You can sign up, too! Click the image above.

Still waiting... Many ellipses...

I'm waiting for one more winner to get back to me, but if you're curious as to the other winners from the Year End Giveaway, go to the list now for a sneak peek! I'll post the new list when I get the final winner... I just don't want to do two.

Coming up soon, the reviews for Matched by Ally Condie and The Iron Queen (Iron Fey, Book 3) by Julie Kagawa!

Off to read myself to sleep... zzz...

19 December, 2010

3 More Year-End Winners

The moment you've all been waiting for...

Aurora M wins a signed finished copy of If I Stay!

Minas wins a signed finished copy of Inside Out!

Jessica (ephrielle) wins an ARC of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side!

Congratulations to all of the winners! :D These were all excellent books; I just know you're going to love them!

Just a reminder: the current winners are now out of the running for further prizes, but there are 4 more books available in the End of the Year Giveaway, including one for a non-US/Canada winner. So keep entering! Also if you have previously entered and the top 3 books that you wanted are now out of the prize pool, feel free to enter again--just change the books you want to win--your previous entries still count, but your new ones will let me know which book to send you.

As previously stated, winners are chosen at random.org. When someone wins I remove their entries from the total pool of entries to give everybody else a clearer shot at winning.

I'm also giving away another copy of Inside Out--there's no form for that one, just leave a comment. (One entry per person, ends 12/29)

If you have a contest of your own, I think you should pop over to Bookworming in the 21st Century--Kristen hosts the meme Link a Contest Thursday there. She's also doing a massive giveaway for her birthday! So go wish her a happy one.

Coming up on Read Now Sleep Later: my long-overdue Matched review; Neal Shusterman's Everlost (The Skinjackers, Book 1), and a year-end round-up!

17 December, 2010


So, I'm in Big Bear with my family.
I'll post winners next week when I get back.


Keep entering the giveaway, and don't forget to vote for Book by Book!

15 December, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


I'm totally thrilled to be reading the digital ARC for Outside In, the sequel to Maria V. Snyder's Inside Out. I don't recommend reading the blurb/excerpt for Book 2 without reading Book 1 first--it's just so much better if you have no idea what's going on. It's dystopian, and fantastic!

Because I'm so excited, I'm giving away an *extra* copy of Inside Out (in addition to the one I'm giving out in the End of the Year Giveaway), with signed bookplate and HarlequinTeen bookmark.

To enter, comment below this post with your name and email address (you can space it out like blah blah blah at blah dot com). The winner will be chosen at random on 12/29! US/Canada only unless you want to pay International shipping. Duplicate entries will be disregarded.

Outside In releases March 1, 2011. Put it on your TBR list!

Contest update: 12/31/2010 - the winner is Pointy_Star! Congratulations! :)

12 December, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

I've got a couple of things cooking as far as YA author signings in Southern California.

First of all, the superlative Lisa McMann will be signing her new novel, Cryer's Cross, at Borders Glendale: Friday, February 11, 2011 at 7 pm. I'm collecting RSVPs to better help plan the event. Just in case you haven't yet picked up her previous books in the Dream Catcher series, I want to make sure they have enough there! You can fill out the form below if you think you're going to attend.

From Goodreads.com:

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. 

Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. 

Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? 

The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

I can't wait!

My good buddy Janelle is also using her super-fangirl powers on Cassandra Clare and Holly Black... which means Borders Glendale *might* also be hosting another super-exciting Midnight Release Party as well... so if you want to be contacted about that, check the appropriate box--you'll help us show the publishers and Borders how many people they can expect at the party. If we throw it, fans will come!

I'm also going to be starting a YA publicity networking group on Facebook in the next week or so; if you want to be emailed when that launches, please check that box, too.

If you can't see the form below, click here.

P.S. as of Jan. 1, 2011 I will no longer be employed at said Borders Bookstore, but I will still be stalking all my favorite YA authors there (ha. ha.) so I remain defacto info-gatherer/disseminator for YA special events. So if you have any book signing questions, I don't have authority but I do have information, so don't hesitate to ask me things.

Shortlink to this post: http://bit.ly/hTBkpY
Link to the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=117643518301048

If you tweet it, please mention @frootjoos and/or hashtag #bordersglendale.
If you blog/post it anywhere, let me know! You can email frootjoos at gmail dot com.

10 December, 2010

Winna! Winna! End of the Year Giveway Takes Two

Congratulations to WulfLuva and Allison T!

WulfLuva, appropriately, got an ARC of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer! Check out her blog at http://wulfluva-shellsstories.blogspot.com/.

Allison got an ARC of The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood & The Duchess of Northumberland. Check out Allison's blog at http://allisonsbookreviews.blogspot.com/.

Congratulations to both winners.

You can win, too! Check out the End of the Year Giveaway here! Three, yes, three winners will be chosen next week :D

And yes, a real blog post is forthcoming. Give my brain a day or so to reboot after finals; I promise something good.

09 December, 2010

Be Right Back

I've got a linguistics final at 4:30 today, then I'll be announcing the next 2 winners in the End of the Year Giveaway, so go enter right now!

And if you haven't yet today, please go vote for Book by Book: we need your help!

Let's go!

03 December, 2010

Winner #1! The 2010 RNSL Year-End Giveaway

So we have our first winner in the Year End Giveaway!

Victoria Sloboda wins a signed copy of My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent.

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. 

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

Thanks to all who have entered so far--there have been over 300 entries! Wow!

More winners will be announced a week from now; in the meantime, except for Victoria you all can continue to enter the contest! Remember, you can enter once a day :D

8 more winners will be drawn from US and Canada, 1 winner will be drawn from the International entrants on 12/25/2010.

And if you'd like to do some good with your mouse or trackpad today, give us a click over at the Book by Book page on Pepsi Refresh:

Bloggers, you can get this handy dandy widget for your page, too. Just follow the link. We need your vote every day to make it into the top 2 and win the grant. So vote, share, and vote again!

01 December, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Okay, it's been ages since I did a meme. This one's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Warning, today's description is a little spoilery if you haven't read the first book, The Dark Divine

The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

From Goodreads.com: Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process. Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace’s relationship with Daniel is put in danger — in more ways than one. 

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her — not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

Bree Despain delivers sizzling romance and thrilling action in the heart-pounding sequel to The Dark Divine.
Bree Despain is having a contest to celebrate her book's birthday. Enter here!

28 November, 2010

Meet Hilary Duff

Meet Hilary Duff when she signs Elixir at Borders Glendale

Who: Hilary Duff, author of Elixir and all-around super-star
What: Book signing & benefit day
Where: Borders Glendale, 100 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale CA 91204
When: Wednesday, December 1 at 7 pm
Why: It's World AIDS Day and Ms. Duff is appearing on behalf of LIFEBeat.org

So, this is a kind of last minute event, so much so that I don't know if I'll be able to go! I'm supposed to give a presentation at school the next day (*crai*) and, responsible me, I probably should be at home prepping instead of joining what will probably be a huge mob of people. ;(

I recommend coming early. I have been told that wristbands are required, and you can get one by buying a copy of Elixir at Borders Glendale on the day of the event.

If you bring in the LIFEbeat voucher, up to 25% of your purchases that day will be donated to the nonprofit organization. For more info, please visit their website.

If you have more questions, call the store at 818 241 8099!

See you there, I hope!

Thanks for Helping School Libraries

I hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I sat down to a giant meal with my family and my husband's family who met for the first time (even though we have been married a while, it has been tricky trying to get everyone in the same place).

Most of this month I have seen people posting about the things they are thankful for every day. I have not been doing this, not because I'm not thankful for anything, but because I'm thankful for almost everything! and if I had the luxury of time, I'd write about them all, but since I'm a little busy, I thought I'd write about one of the newest and most meaningful things I am thankful for this year.

This year I am thankful for my friend Amber Lessa, who took the time and effort to start her own nonprofit organization this year. Book by Book is dedicated to improving California public school libraries--a daunting task at any time, but even more so now during one of the worst economic crunches our country and state have ever experienced. As a small grassroots group, the only way we can accomplish what we plan is to keep moving forward every day, one step at a time, one school at a time, book by book. I probably don't have to tell you why--you probably read my blog because you love books, too, and because you already know that reading is one of the life skills that can help kids shape hopeful, meaningful, and happy adult lives.

So far this year, through the kindness of strangers, we have restocked 6 local elementary school libraries with over 2,800 new books including stuff kids actually want to read like the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, etc. 

With your help, we can do even more to help kids learn to love books in 2011. 

This December we are competing for $250,000 in grant money from the Pepsi Refresh Project. All we need is for supporters to vote on the Pepsi Refresh site (or through iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, or Facebook apps) every single day in December (yes, weekends and holidays too!) The link for voting will go live on our website on November 30. In the meantime, you can preview our project video on YouTube. 

We are also running two book drives benefiting 11 local schools, at Borders in Glendale and at Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada/Flintridge.

One of our other goals this year is to get our incorporation papers in, which would normally cost us $3000 or more, but thanks to the kindness of friends, Book by Book is getting pro bono representation which brings our costs down to about $750! So far, we have collected $270 (36% of goal), and have more than a month left to our donation drive at ChipIn

So whether you can help us in a way that costs you money (books or donations) or in a way that is totally free (but for a few seconds of your time every day), please take a moment to email me at frootjoos [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know if you would like to help.

Visit the Book by Book website at http://www.bookbybooknonprofit.org

"Like" us on Facebook at http://bit.ly/bkbyfb

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bkbybk

Donate $ for our incorporation fees at http://bookbybook.chipin.com/book-by-book

Drop by Borders in Glendale, CA or Flintridge Bookstore to donate new or gently-used books

Follow us on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/bkbybkorg

Book bloggers and authors, please contact me if you think you can help spread the word about our cause (frootjoos [at] gmail [dot] com)

and stay tuned for instructions on voting for our Pepsi Refresh Project!

Last, but certainly not least, Thank You, dear reader!

27 November, 2010

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer - Review

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Publication date: 12 October, 2010 by Henry Holt & Co.
ISBN 10/13: 0805090983 / 9780805090987

Category: YA Fantasy/Horror
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Paranormal, Funny as Hell

From goodreads.com:

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.  

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

How I found out about this book: Eye-catching cover, no? It nearly yanked my eyeballs out of my head. I had to take it home with me. Or else.

Quickie: I nearly died laughing. No, really. At some point I actually stopped breathing; silent laughter is the best laughter I can produce.
For more details, click on "Read More"

26 November, 2010

Hunger - Review

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Publication date: 18 October 2010
ISBN 10/13: 0547341245 / 9780547341248

Category: YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Keywords: Eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, recovery

From goodreads.com:

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.” 

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? 

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

How I found out about this book: Netgalley.com

Quickie: I read this just before Thanksgiving Day this year. I thought it apropos.

24 November, 2010

End of the Year Giveaway

So, I love giving away free books almost as much as getting free books. I've been lucky enough this year that I have gotten SO many ARCs and met so many authors--I want to pass that good luck on to my readers.

So now that I have the prospect of being able to afford to mail things to people again, I'm giving away up to 10 books between today and 12/25! I will have 9 winners from US and Canada, and 1 international winner.

Here are the books, with my ratings: 

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) by Gayle Forman
If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)
Finished copy, signed by the author (rated 5 stars/loved)
Won by Aurora M.

Inside Out (Inside Out, #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Inside Out (Inside Out, #1)
Finished copy, signed bookplate, with Harlequin Teen bookmark
(rated 5 stars/loved)

Won by Minas

Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires, #1) by Rachel Caine
Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)
Finished copy, signed by the author (rated 4 stars/really liked)
Won by Kimberly C.

 My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1) by Rachel Vincent
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)
Finished copy, signed by the author, with Soul Screamers and Harlequin Teen bookmarks
(rated 3 stars/liked)

Won by Victoria S on 12/2!

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)
Unsigned UK paperback edition (rated 5 stars/loved) 
Won by Janine M

Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore
Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1)
Unsigned UK paperback edition (rated 4 stars/really liked)
Won by Ashley C.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Unsigned ARC* (rated 5 stars/loved)
Won by Jessica (epherielle)

The Poison Diaries (The Poison Diaries, #1) 
by Maryrose Wood and The Duchess of Northumberland
The Poison Diaries (The Poison Diaries, #1)
Unsigned ARC* (rated 5 stars/loved)
Won by Allison T on 12/9!

Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Unsigned ARC* (unread, unrated)
Won by Vivien

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1) by Andrea Cremer
Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)
Unsigned ARC* (rated 4 stars/really liked)
Won by WulfLuva on 12/9!
What do you have to do?

Just fill out the form here < - -
You can get additional entries for doing the "Extra Credit" tasks!

I will pick one winner on Dec. 2, two on Dec. 9, three on Dec. 16, and four on Dec. 25 (the international winner will be chosen on this last round). Winners will be notified via email. You can enter once a day between now and 12/25 (unless you win, in which case you are disqualified from further entries), so what are you waiting for? Fill out that form! Happy Thanksgiving and whatever joyous holiday you are celebrating this season.

*Just a reminder that under no circumstances are Advance Reader Copies to be resold. If you someday choose to pass it on, please do so by donating it to a worthy nonprofit, or a friend in need.

Smile for the Camera - Review

Smile for the Camera by Kelle James

Publication date: November 2nd 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's
ISBN 10/13: 1442406232 / 9781442406230

Category: Memoir, Modeling, Acting, Child Celebrity
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Determination, Success, Friendship, Exploitation

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.

How I found out about this book: I was just walking through the Young Adult section one day and saw this on the shelf. I don't know... it kind of smiled at me and I couldn't resist! (Click on Read More)

22 November, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

It's that time again. The Story Siren is hosting the third annual Debut Author Challenge. I don't care so much about winning any of the prizes, but I just *love* that the challenge keeps me up to date on the new YA and MG books. Though as a result I have giant piles of older books sitting around, gathering dust.

This post will mostly serve as a placeholder until I figure out what I'm doing, probably over the next week. I have to backtrack and update my old post, too. Links and booklists soon!

January 2011 Wishlist - GR will take you to Goodreads.com synopsis

Warped by Maurissa Guibord | GR
XVI by Julia Karr | GR
Timeless by Alexandra Monir | GR
The Rendering by Joe Naftali | GR
The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal | GR
Across the Universe by Beth Revis | GR
Vesper by Jeff Sampson | GR
Choker by Elizabeth Woods | GR
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal | GR

The Mockingbirds - Review

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Publication date: 2 November, 2010 by Little, Brown
ISBN 10/13: 0316090530 / 9780316090537

 YA realistic fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Justice, Date Rape, Recovery

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.

How I found out about this book: 2010 Debut Author Challenge at TheStorySiren.com

Quickie: I had a hard time rating this one... In the end I loved it, though I had a hard time getting started.
But when I finished, I immediately wanted to read it again, which is a sure sign that I liked it above average. As an issues book, it hit all the right notes: empathy for the main character, exploration of all the what-ifs and what-nows, and sensitive but realistic resolutions. As a novel, it did the thing I always look for in a five-star-book: kept me up till dawn.

My review: The premise is what I found initially intriguing: Alex seeks out a semi-secret student council called The Mockingbirds to help her when she becomes the victim of date rape at a private boarding school adept at turning a blind eye to the wrongdoings of its students. The novel is based partly on true events that happened to author Daisy Whitney during her freshman year of college. (There's a great interview with her on Drinking Diaries--I highly recommend reading it *after* you read the book, or if you don't plan on reading it, this might change your mind.) I thought it was going to be more about The Mockingbirds--like they are some kind of vigilante justice league--but really, it was all about Alex and how she handled becoming a victim.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters, especially as Alex is not that likeable during the first part of the book--pitiable, yes, but not until she starts showing some backbone (not to mention brains, eventually unclouded by alcohol) did I really get in her corner and cheer her on for the rest of the book. But I immediately liked everyone else--her roomies, her sister, and the other people who befriend and support her during her ordeal. Really, it is their love for Alex that makes me love her, too.

(I can't tell you about my favorite character... too spoilery. But if you read it and want to know, comment or email me and I'll tell you. I'll gush. You won't be able to shut me up!)

The Mockingbirds themselves aside (though wouldn't it be nice to have a conscientious and powerful agency such as this in our real lives?), Whitney also provides resources for rape victims at the end of the book. She doesn't preach and overdramatize. She doesn't blame the victim, though the victim, for quite a large portion of the book, blames herself! Overall, it's the realism in this cautionary tale that makes it more than just a scary story--it's an in-depth analysis of the emotional aspects of being a victim; the process of healing and recovery; and the problems, solutions, and choices available to someone who experiences this in the real world. 

Who should read this book: There are some graphic descriptions of intercourse, as the subject of the book warrants, and Whitney can be credited with finding just the right wording and cadence to arouse nothing but the worst unease in the reader as Alex begins to recall flashbulb memories of the rape. So parents of younger readers will probably not want to let them read this book--unless you are reading together, or God forbid, the young reader has been raped or molested; in this case, I highly recommend seeking understanding through reading. I am not a therapist, but in my experience, reading accounts (fictionalized or not) about difficult topics like this one do offer a measure of relief and healing in certain contexts, and I am sure that what drove me to read it is one of the things that drove Ms. Whitney to write and publish this book. 

Author photo from Goodreads.com author page.

The Mockingbirds is Daisy Whitney's first novel. (Book 1 of The Mockingbirds series)

Find the author at daisywhitney.com, on Twitter @daisywhitney

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/mkgbrds1
Find this book on goodreads.com.

What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!) 

02 November, 2010

Oh No Oh No

I'm doing NaNoWriMo, and doing pretty well... then I took a peek at what Netgalley has on offer in YA. Uh oh.
(which I already read. review forthcoming.)
Angelfire (Angelfire, #1)
The Vespertine
The Lying Game
Delirium (Delirium, #1)
Afterlife (Evernight, #4) *** squeeeee! ***
Always a Witch (Witch, #2)
The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

Also, Dark Parties, The Midnight Palace, Book 3 of 43 Old Cemetery Road, and the last two books of the Nathaniel Fludd series!

Well, what are you waiting for? Get clicking! Add them to your TBRs... if you're able, sign up with NetGalley. (BTW they just signed up Hachette--do you know what that means? Little, Brown Books for Young Readers! YESSS!) Me? I'm going back to writing my novel... yes, sure I am... [hooks up eReader to mini-USB cable]...

16 October, 2010

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publication date: October 19th 2010 (Philomel)
ISBN 10/13: 039925482X / 9780399254826

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Romance, Wolves, Prophecy

How I found out about this book: I found this while I was looking for Debut Authors for The Story Siren's 2010 Challenge, though I have pretty much dropped out of the running for challenge prizes etc. I'm just having way too much fun reading to be bothered writing reviews for most things... anyway, Penguin sent my store a very generous box of ARCs and it included Nightshade. [insert joyful howling here.]

Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.

My review: Though I wasn't 100% happy with this debut novel, it definitely kept my attention--I finished it in just under two days. I like the mythology Cremer invents for the shape-shifting Guardians. I was also able to guess some major plot twists, so that took away a little bit of my enjoyment (hence the deducted star), but Calla Tor and her cavalcade of secondary characters sufficiently distracted me during the afternoon I got my flu shot. I couldn't seem to turn the pages fast enough once I finished the first half!

Calla, the alpha of the Nightshade pack, shifts not just from girl to wolf but from naughty, mini-skirted siren to prudish, hand-slapping goody-two-shoes (wow, that's a lot of hyphenates--hold on for the parentheticals) in the blink of an eye. I found this disconcerting; that and the almost entirely predictable (well, if you've read as many mysteries as I have) puzzle of newcomer Shay Doran. Ren Laroche, the alpha of the Bane pack, to whom Calla is promised, has good reason to despise him. Shay's poaching on his territory!

I did find the setting and some of the characters a little off--do modern moms in Vail actually serve hot tea to important guests in the evenings? Was she supposed to be English-ish? Er...

What would otherwise have been a sluggish, moony-eyed romance moves at a pretty good pace as Calla, Shay and Ren play with pack politics. I enjoyed the gamboling of the young wolf pack, and the unexpected alliances and loyalties that Cremer builds into the character arcs. I also thought the plot was reasonably perilous. I've read similar YA novels where the danger is so thin, the climax feels about as tense as breaking a fingernail--annoying, but easily fixed. Nightshade manages to layer the stakes so that Calla's mistakes are not just hers--it affects the Nightshades and the Banes, and may have even greater, world-breaking repercussions.

Lastly, though I deplore love triangles in which it is completely obvious who the main character is going to end up with, Cremer does a good job of balancing Ren's bad-boy behaviors with some good intentions; this has the strange effect of making you want a happy ending for him, all the while hoping Calla ends up with Shay anyway. At least, I do!

If your brain needs an escape from whatever is stressing you out, grab this book on Tuesday!

Who should read this book: Nightshade's not for everyone--I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this to the more innocent-looking YA readers. It's very sexy. But if mom let you read House of Night and The Immortals, guess what! You'll like this one, too. Grab a warm drink and tuck yourself up in bed with this wolf-shaped guilty pleasure.

Author photo taken from goodreads.com

Nightshade is Andrea Cremer's 1st novel. (Nightshade is first in a trilogy.)

Find the author at http://www.andreacremer.com/ (BTW, *awesome* website design :D), on Twitter @andreacremer

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/callaTor

Find this book on goodreads.com, or buy it now!
What do you think? Is this something you would read? If you've already read it, put in your two cents... (no spoilers, please!)