28 February, 2011

2011 Reading Schedule

It's been a turbulent start to 2011 for me, and I thought I'd start getting organized in the new digs we moved to by alphabetizing my YA collection.

  171878 1884114229722 1447367039 2168669 3760057 o

erm... that's just the YA and middle grade books minus all the ones that have been borrowed... and all the ones double-parked behind these... ahem.

Anyway, I also thought that I'd be clever this time and try to read books about the time they're due to come out, so that I'm not reviewing them ages too early or too late. I have a little bit of backtracking to do (about a donzen books so far), but this should make for a pretty organized reading year.

Release dates are approximate (Delicious Library pulls them from Amazon.com) and subject to change. If you end up using this calendar for yourself, please make sure to link it back here if you're posting it. I'll be making changes as I go, and adding links (when I have an hour or 6 to spend on it).

If you have suggestions for more things I should read this year, feel free to comment!

Without further ado:

RNSL's 2011 Reading Schedule

January 1
Wishful Thinking - Bullen
Trapped - Northrup

January 4
DONE - Unearthly - Hand - REVIEW (2K11)
DONE - Choker - Woods - REVIEW (2K11?)

January 6
DONE - XVI - Karr (2k11)

January 11
Timeless - Monir (2k11)
DONE - Across the Universe - Revis (2k11)
Running Dream - Van Draanen
Warped - Guibord (2k11)
Other Words for Love - Rosenthal (2k11)

January 18
Children of the Lost - Whitley

January 20
DONE - Hexbound - Neill

January 25
DONE - Iron Queen - Kagawa - REVIEW
DONE - Vesper - Sampson (2k11)
DONE - Throat - Nelson
Dark Goddess - Chadda
Drought - Bachorz

January 28
DONE - So Shelly - Roth (2k11) - REVIEW

February 1
DONE - Delirium - Oliver - REVIEW
DONE - Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance - Franklin/Halpin
Pink - Wilkinson

February 8
DONE - Cryer's Cross - PODCAST (YABC)
DONE - Iron Witch - Mahoney (2k11)
DONE - Fourth Stall - Rylander (2k11) - REVIEW

February 15 
DONE - Angelfire - Moulton (2k11) - REVIEW
DONE - Desires of the Dead - Derting - GUEST REVIEW
Rival - Wealer (2k11)

February 22
DONE - Exposed - Marcus (2k11) - REVIEW
DONE - Darkness Becomes Her - Keaton (2k11) - REVIEW
DONE - Outside In - Snyder
NET - One Hundred Candles - Purnhagen
Visconti House - Edgar (2k11)
Wonderland - Nadin
Haven - Cook (2k11)
The Iron Thorn - Kittredge (2k11) - YA debut

March 1
After Hours - ed. Bay
DONE - Hidden Gallery - Wood
DONE - Demonglass - Hawkins - REVIEW
I Am J - Beam (2k11)
Strings Attached - Blundell
DONE - Clarity - Harrington (2k11)
Afterlife - Gray
DONE - Sean Griswold's Head - Leavitt
Darkest Mercy - Marr
How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy - Allen (2k11)
Falling Under - Hayes (2k11)

March 7
DONE - The Vespertine - Mitchell - REVIEW

March 8
Human.4 - Lancaster (2k11)
DONE - Playing Hurt - Schindler - REVIEW
DONE - Illegal - Restrepo (2k11) - REVIEW

March 15
Beyonders - Mull

March 17
Chime - Billingsley

March 21
Those That Wake - Karp (2k11)

March 22
DONE - Wither - DeStefano - REVIEW (2k11)
Ten Miles Past Normal - Dowell
Between Shades of Gray - Sepetys (2k11)

March 29
Entwined - Dixon

April 1
NET - Cinderella Ninja Warrior - Maureen McGowan (2k11)
Alice in Time -  Penelope Bush (2k11)
This Girl is Different - JJ Johnson (2k11)
Fury of the Phoenix - Cindy Pon

April 4
NET - Theodosia & Last Pharaoh - RL LaFevers
NET - Abused Werewolf Rescue Group - Catherine Jinks
Lipstick Laws - Amy Holder (2k11)
The Year We Were Famous - Carole Estby Dagg (2k11)

April 5
DONE - Red Glove - Holly Black
Flip - Martyn Bedford (2k11)
Where She Went - Gayle Forman
Rotters - Daniel Kraus
Huntress - Malinda Lo
We All Fall Down - Nic Sheff
Emerald Atlas - John Stephens (2k11)
Time-Traveling Fashionista - Bianca Turetsky (2k11)
Kat, Incorrigible - Stephanie Burgis (2k11)

April 8 
DONE - Rage - Jackie Morse Kessler

April 9 
RT Book Convention - Teen Day - Authors Attending

April 12
Enclave - Ann Aguirre
Bird in a Box - Andrea Davis Pinkney

April 15
Out of Shadows - Jason Wallace (2k11)

April 19
Invincible Summer - Hannah Moskowitz

April 26
DONE - NET - Goddess Test - Aimee Carter (2k11)
NET - Bumped - Megan McCafferty
NET - The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson
Future Imperfect - K. Ryer Breese (2k11)

May 1
DONE - Shine - Myracle
Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset
DONE - Divergent - Roth (2k11)

May 2
NET - Til Death Do Us Bark - Klise
Dead is Not an Option - Perez

May 3
NET - Midnight Palace - Ruiz Zafon
NET - Girl Wonder - Martin (2k11)
NET - Magnolia League - Crouch (2k11)
IP - I'll Be There - Sloan (2k11)

May 10
NET - Tale of Two Castles - Levine
Noah Barleywater Runs Away - Boyne
Bitter End - Brown
Flawless - Chapman (2k11)
Tempest Rising - Deebs (2k11)
Ruby Red - Gier (2k11?)
Tighter - Griffin
Lucky Kind - Sheinmel
Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Valente
My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies - Zadoff
Corsets & Clockwork - ed. Telep
Pull of Gravity - Polisner (2k11)
The Sweetest Thing - Mandelski (2k11)
DONE - NET - Die for Me - Plum (2k11) - REVIEW

May 11
DONE - OyMG - Dominy (2k11) - REVIEW

May 17
NET - Mercy - Lim - GUEST REVIEW

May 23
IP - NET - Awaken - Kacvinsky (2k11)

May 24
NET - Angel Burn - Weatherly (2k11)
NET - Junonia - Henkes
Beauty Queens - Bray
Blood Magic - Gratton (2k11)

May 31
NET - Starcrossed - Angelini (2k11)
NET - Girl's Guide to Homelessness - Karp (2k11)

June 1
Spoiled - Cocks/Morgan (2k11)
Nightspell - Cypess

June 7
IP NET - Hereafter - Hudson (2k11)
13 Curses - Harrison
Tiger's Quest - Houck
Forgotten - Patrick (2k11)
Blood Red Road - Young (2k11)

June 13
NET - My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star - Raskin (2k11)

June 14
IP - Imaginary Girls - Ren Suma (2k11?)

June 21
Vicious Little Darlings (2k11)

July 1
IP - A Need So Beautiful - Young

July 4
IP - NET - Lost Voices - Porter (2k11)

July 11
NET - My Favorite Band Does Not Exist - Jeschonek

July 5
Falling for Hamlet - Ray (2k11)
White Crow - Sedgwick

July 26
Wolfsbane - Cremer

August 1 
NET - Always a Witch - MacCullough

August 2
Mostly True Story of Jack - Barnhill (2k11?)
Queen of Hearts - Brooks

August 3
Dark Parties - Grant (2k11)

August 23
Sweetly - Pearce

October 1
The Faerie Ring - Hamilton (2k11)

November 14
Wherever You Go - Heather Davis (2k11)

Earlier than 2011
DONE - A Match Made in High School - Walker
DONE - Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters - Standiford
DONE - Breathe My Name - Nelson
DONE - Ship Breaker - Bacigalupi

Guest Reviews
The Cardturner - Sachar - kimberlybuggie


2K11 - 2011 Debut Author Challenge
DONE - finished reading
GUEST REVIEW - special guest reviewer ;) link
IP - In Progress
NET - Netgalley
REVIEW - wrote review, link

23 February, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2011-3)

New WoW Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Sweetly

Sweetly (A Sisters Red novel) by Jackson Pearce
Publication date: 23 August, 2011 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13: 0316068659 / 9780316068659

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, adventure, disappearance, fear

Guest Review by KimberlyBuggie


Find the synopsis on goodreads.com.

How I found out about this book: I picked up Sisters Red almost as soon as it came out last year and it had me practically kicking and punching invisble wolves as I read. I recommended it to my excitable and kickass friend KimberlyBuggie, who also agreed to write a guest post. I got the ARC at ALA and can't wait to get it back from her so I can read it, too! I'll be holding a contest for the ARC when I'm done... one winner will get it (sorry, US only--I'm postage poor) and the rest of you will have to wait until August! :(

Without further ado, KimberlyBuggie's Guest Review:

Honestly, I was skeptical. I mean, I love fairy tales. I like twisted new versions of fairy tales and all that, but one of my least favorite stories is of Hansel and Gretel. So I thought... Really? I mean, how good could this really be?

The answer is ....

friggin good!!

I had to read it slowly and carefully, savoring every line. Samuel. Ansel. Gretchen and Sophia. So bittersweet, like a chocolate cookie you get from your mom after you get hurt. All the characters are richly complex, especially Gretchen, who suffers from both her need to start over and belong and to her pull to the past and desire to stand out.

And the witch. The witch. The witch is scary. The witch is real!

Pearce has actually warmed me up to the story of Hansel and Gretel. Her spin on this fairy tale is more satisfying than the original for me. It's the kind of sweet that doesn't make your teeth hurt, but leaves you feeling rich and full.

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!)

18 February, 2011

Desires of the Dead - Guest Review

Desires of the Dead

Desires of the Dead (The Body Finder, Book 1) by Kimberly Derting
Publication date: 15 February, 2011 from Harper Teen
ISBN 10/13: 0061779849 / 9780061779848

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, synesthesia, death

Guest Review by KimberlyBuggie

Find the synopsis at goodreads.com.

How I found out about this book: I read and loved The Body Finder (Book 1) last year. When I spotted the ARC at ALA Midwinter I let out a squee! My friend and fellow YA fanatic KimberlyBuggie agreed to do a guest post.

Guest review: I'm always hesistant when it comes to sequels. There's usually a lot to live up to compared to the first book. The author has to keep everything moving, while re-establishing the characters, bringing in a new storyline and, fingers crossed, not doing the expected. Lucky for us, Kimberly Derting does not disappoint. Desires of the Dead is a very solid sequel. Derting does a great job capturing the tone and suspense of the first novel without sticking to a formula.

I sat down on Sunday to read only a couple of chapters, 'cause I had errands to run, rooms to clean, etc.

Well, yeah. That didn't work out. Like The Body Finder, I found myself with this urge to keep reading, keep going, to find out what the mystery was and oh no! I won't stop until it's done! 'cause really, what's one more chapter?

All right, one more. Just another one. Yep.

Hours later, I left the couch, really really behind schedule but not feeling guilty about it at all.

As Jay and Violet's romance continues to grow, the lines blur between their old best friend relationship and the new romantic one. It was refreshing to see Jay and Violet's relationship develop in this book. It had a realistic forward momentum, and an endearing quality.

New characters are introduced and while they propel this story forward, it seems that the author is just laying the groundwork. I have no doubt Sara and Rafe will play even larger roles in the next books. Especially Rafe, who keeps his own secrets.

Can't wait for the next one!

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!)

Book Trailer

Vania from VLC Productions made the official trailer. Check it out!

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.

16 February, 2011

Mercy - Guest Review


Mercy by Rebecca Lim 
Publication date: 17 May, 2011 from Disney-Hyperion 
ISBN 10/13: 1423145178 / 9781423145172

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover 
Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, adventure, angels 

Guest Post authored by fishgirl182


Find the synopsis at goodreads.com

How I found out about this book: I picked up the ARC from the publishers at ALA Midwinter 2011. My pal and YA fan fishgirl182 agreed to do a guest post since I'm occupied with school and other things right now. Thanks! 

Guest review: 

This book had an interesting premise but, unfortunately it falls short of its potential. The first 50 pages or so of the book was slow and I was afraid I was never going to get into it. Luckily that wasn't the case and the book gained momentum. 

Mercy, who we discover is a fallen angel, has been doomed to wander earth flitting in and out of different bodies for short periods of time. Like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, Mercy has no say in when she comes into or leaves a body. The problem is that she has no real recollection of who she is or what she is meant, if anything, to accomplish while she is in these women's bodies. 

She remembers bits of her previous hosts but her only real connection to her true self is Luc, who appears to her in her dreams. There is a mystery element to the book as Mercy and her new host Carmen end up in the home of a family whose young daughter, Lauren, was kidnapped two years earlier. Thanks to her unique gift of being able to probe people's minds with a touch, Mercy is able to see the visions that Ryan, Lauren's twin brother, has of Lauren and she believes him when he tells her that Lauren is still alive. I quite like the dynamic that Ryan and Mercy have: their dialogue is the sort of bantering antagonism that I so enjoy. 

I think the main problem with the book is Mercy herself. She's just not very likeable. Without any context to her circumstance, the little we know about her comes from her own memories and feelings. Since she doesn't know much about her past, she and the reader have very little to go on. We do get the idea that she may not have been the nicest person in her real form and that she doesn't care what other people think about her (this latter repeated several times throughout the book). Though she seems callous at times, we can see that Mercy is trying to do good (i.e. helping Ryan, standing up for Carmen) but, even then, her motives are unclear. 

Part of the problem may also be that, as this is the first book of a series, the author is holding back key pieces of information for the sequels. I think if she had just given us a little bit more it would have made this book much better. Perhaps her intention was to draw the reader into reading the second novel. If so, it worked. I just wish it hadn't been to the detriment of this novel. 

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!)

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.

12 February, 2011

An Open (Love) Letter to Borders, or, Borders I Love You (But You're Bringin' Me Down)

I don't do Valentine's Day. That's not about love for me. I love people, and books, and all kinds of other things every day, not just on February 14th. But there's one thing I love that I've recently had to give up, and I think that not expressing how I feel about it has been seriously stopping up my book-reviewing chi.

So I'd like to take a few thousand words to say how I feel, just to get it off my chest and onto the Internet where it can continue to fester for as long as we both shall live.

If you don't have a half hour to waste, go look at some rabbits.

Maggie Stiefvater talking about Linger. After the signing, she attack-hugged me! Best. Birthday. Present. EVAR.
Dear Borders,

Well, it seems like this might be goodbye. I hope it isn't. I sincerely hope someone out there takes a chance on you and gives you the capital to keep your doors open. Your doors opened for me in 1996 when I took my very first job right here at your store in Glendale, California. I was the youngest hire, and so thrilled and grateful to come to work each day. Throughout the years, despite difficulties, setbacks, and certain horrors that only the retail bookstore environment can produce, you have also been a source for learning, friendship, and excitement in my life. Almost all of my best friends were my coworkers there, among them my best friend of all--who is now my husband.

But even now that I have joined the ranks of ex-Borders employees, and with you on the cusp of bankruptcy, when people ask how I feel about you, I can only tell the truth: I love you, Borders. I wish you well.

My actual Borders Store, appearing in The Simpsons.

Sure, you've made some mistakes, and now you're paying for them, but in my heart the ideals that kept me coming back over the last 14 years, as an employee and a customer both, remain possible, though maybe just out of reach. The selection and eclecticism, the passion and knowledgeability, the commitment and enthusiasm that set Borders apart from its competitors a decade ago lives on only in the hearts and minds of those that can say we "knew you way back when," and who continue to lament, "If only."

If only you had taken the time to promote from within, so that key decision-makers like district managers and corporate heads could have seen things from the sales floor instead of their far-away offices--you could have been the greatest bookstore ever. Instead you helped perpetuate the joke that chain bookstore employees are illiterate, lazy morons who know nothing about real literature and care nothing for their customers. You hired executives with zero bookstore experience and knowledge, who never had to handsell a book to a reluctant reader; who never had to do a floor set while the store was open (near impossible, by the way), and who never had to kick a "patron" out of the store for defecating in the elevator or worse*.

The last middle manager I worked for bragged about their addiction to James Patterson and Dan Brown--a sure sign that their previous book-buying needs had been easily satisfied by a drugstore or supermarket. They asked about my favorite books and authors, and had never heard of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Garth Stein, or Margaret Atwood.

Bet they didn't know who Lauren Myracle was, either.

Even the buyers seemed to be headquartered in some remote cave dwelling. It took us months in 2006 to get you to let us have more than 2 copies of Twilight and New Moon at a time when no one even knew who Stephenie Meyer was (we were ordering them by the dozens, even though it was against the rules by then--no special orders!) Could you have taken a hint from the huge spike in our sales? In 2008 barely 5 stores carried the critically acclaimed Graceling by Kristin Cashore or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Getting them into the inventory was like pulling teeth. Yet every store in the country got a boatload of I Am Number Four, by someone who contractually can't even put their name on their published work, because somehow they didn't look closely enough at the contract to realize they were getting the long end of the stick thrust into uncomfortable parts of their anatomy. (But that's a whole 'nother rant. Let's leave it at that for now.)

Yes, our town has its own Dumbledore.
You took away the fun of entering a bookstore: the home-town individuality that our late-90's Borders were encouraged to foster and promote gave way to cookie-cutter displays--so you could walk into any store in the country and feel you were walking into the same store every time. That really took the steam out of my game of Borders BINGO**.

One of my YA displays in 2010
If only you'd realized that book people would miss the thrill of walking into a bookstore and discovering that gem of a book, that obscure literary treasure that just happens to catch your eye as you pass. What happened to troubadours on Friday nights, plucking away on their guitars while the coffee flowed like wine? Or the Expert program that meant anyone could ask for anything from romance novels to discrete mathematics and get a good recommendation from a human being instead of an online algorithm?

Maria V. Snyder, debut of Storm Glass (2008)
My most-recommended author of 2007.
It's not a coincidence that one of her books has a bookseller in it named Alethea.
If only you'd been clearer about when policies existed to be bent but not broken, or how far we needed to bend over backwards in the name of customer service. We never knew if we'd be protected if we upheld the policy, or berated for letting the customer walk all over us. If a customer tries to return 26 copies of an outdated computer book they purchased 3 years ago (approximately 1000 days after the return window closed), is denied according to policy and responds maturely by throwing one of the books at a manager's head***, was that really a customer we wanted to keep? You changed your mind as often as you changed CEOs... which was A LOT.

C.J. Omololu signing Dirty Little Secrets (2010)
Paperback available March 15. READ IT!
You threw your weight behind the blockbusters and forgot about the long tail of smaller authors whose loyal fans could have bolstered your sales--and it wasn't enough for you not to carry them--you actively blocked store managers from being able to order them in, even if we knew they were guaranteed sales! How could you expect us to run the race when you were cutting us off at the knees? We were recommending books we didn't have available to sell; you held us accountable for selling books we didn't care for one whit. Then you turned around and taught customers to expect something for nothing, to buy our products at cost, and then wonder where the money went.

I get that it's not all your fault. Who else is to blame? The economy, the competition, or 9/11****? The digital reader, the Internet, and Amazon.com? (IMHO, consumers are partially to blame, too.) Sure, they all probably had a little something to with your past decade of decline, but you had so many chances to save yourself. So many customers that still prefer paper to e-book. So many great employees still trudge in to work every day, waiting for the other shoe to drop. They're still trying to save you.

Escaping your retail hell was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, and yet I miss it every day.

If only you had let us help.
If you're in the Glendale area, pop in to Borders and say hi. The staff are friendly and well-informed (well, most of them, anyway). They might not have the book, but they'll offer to order it for you! Their Young Adult section is one of the best. Their monthly Big Kid Storytimes are a blast and a half. There are experts on staff for mysteries, literary fiction, cooking and baking, children's books, manga, sci-fi fantasy, nursing, philosophy, and film. All the cafe staff are avid readers and can help you in the bookstore as well. They also make the perfect white mocha :) 
Thanks to Amber L, Mike T, Scott K and all the amazing people I've had the privilege to work with in the last 14 years, who are too numerous to name. I love you guys.

With all that said, kindly Support your local independent bookstore. Because the big ones never love you back.

* I have many horrible, indigestible stories about working at Borders. I tried to pick the least gross one for this article. If you'd like to hear more stories... DON'T. ASK. I don't want to remember.

** Borders BINGO had no real objective except to visit every Borders you could.  I've been to Borders in Los Angeles (7), San Diego (2), San Francisco (2), Santa Barbara, New York (City and Upstate), Las Vegas, and several airports. It used to be fun back when each store's staff could tailor their selection and display to what was popular in their area. When the company decided all our stores should look exactly the same, well. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all.

*** True story.

**** That's a joke from Arrested Development. If you haven't watched it, you should. GO. NOW!