31 March, 2011

Darkness Becomes Her - Review

Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters, Book 1) by Kelly Keaton
Publication date: 22 February 2011 by Simon Pulse
ISBN 10/13:  144240924X / 9781442409248

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: Hardcover / eGalley

Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, dreams, parallel worlds

From goodreads.com:

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.

Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very... different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

How I found out about this book: I downloaded the eGalley from Simon and Schuster.

Alethea's Review: I hate to spoil things for readers when the enjoyment I got out of this book relied so much on being surprised by how things developed. So this'll probably be the vaguest book review I ever write, apart from the fact that Ari and co. have serious pottymouth issues, so if you're going to have problems with that, go read something else.

The beginning of this book really didn't interest me. There's something really kind of distant about Ari, like she's so alone she even pushes the reader away. It's like trying to read a novel at an emotional arm's length--and let's face it, I can barely read a math book with that kind of emotional distance. (I heart math.)

The middle is a little better, with some secondary characters who are a little more endearing, if a bit weird. Ok, really weird. And with pointy teeth... (That's not necessarily a bad thing.) An architectural tour of New Orleans, excuse me--New 2--follows. Apart from making me a little hungry and wishing I could go to the ALA conference there this summer, I settled back down to aloofness.

The ending is what yanked this book up from OK to loved it--and has me hankering for the next book. It had action, mystery, and just a touch of impending doom... yeah, let's just leave it at that. Read this if you like action, mythology, and swearing.

Darkness Becomes Her is Kelly Keaton's debut YA novel. Visit her online at http://kellykeaton.net, on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @kellykeaton

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/rnslAri1

Find this book on goodreads.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!)

eGalley courtesy of Simon & Schuster Galley Grab.

25 March, 2011

YA Book Bloggers Map

So for a while now, I've been thinking of making a map of YA book bloggers. I think it would be really useful for authors and publishers wishing to contact bloggers in a particular area--assuming those bloggers want to be contacted. :)

  • Locate your area by your closest medium-large to large city--not the place where you actually live. I don't live in Glendale anymore but that's where I started blogging, and I can generally attend events around 60 miles from there.
  • Register or Log In to zeemaps.com and place a marker on your City.  You don't have to log in--just go to http://www.zeemaps.com/yabkbloggers and click on Additions-Add Marker Simple
  • When labeling your marker, please use the same styles as I did:
Name: The name of your blog i.e., Read Now Sleep Later

Description: A short blurb about your blog

Email: optional, so you can be contacted

Blogger/s: name and last initial or nickname

Website: your blog's URL

City: Major to medium city, not the place where you live

Address and Zip: Leave blank, will not display

Media: Image/Audio/Youtube video ID: optional--I used a 200x200 pixel gif.
You can choose your marker's color :) If your blog has contributors from different areas, you can set up as many markers as you need.

An administrator must approve each entry.

To link to this map, use http://www.zeemaps.com/220789 or http://www.zeemaps.com/yabkbloggers

Please use the buttons below to link back to http://www.readnowsleeplater.com/2011/03/ya-book-bloggers-map.html

24 March, 2011

Nevermore - Review


Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Publication date: 31 August 2010 from Simon & Schuster / Atheneum

ISBN 10/13: 1442402008 / 9781442402003

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, dreams, parallel worlds


From goodreads.com:

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game.

Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind.

Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

How I found out about this book: This eye-candy cover showed up last fall, and though I was drawn to it, let's just say the TBR pile was overflowing already. When RNSL contributor @kimberlybuggie said she loved it, I said, TBR be damned--I'm reading this book! I'm not done yet, so Kimberly's handling this review :) ~frootjoos

Kimberly's review: I'll be upfront--I have a soft spot for books about Edgar Allan Poe. I even named my bunny after him. (Both seem to be dark and broody.)

photo credit: fishgirl182

Is it because I'm a big fan of his work? (Annabel Lee is one of my favorite poems) or a big fan of him? (his mysterious death? his turbulent life?) Maybe a bit of both.

So going in, I already had high expectations. Numerous novels have written about Poe. Even more have used his writing as a jumping off point. Poe is the grandfather of mystery stories, his C. August Dupin was one of the inspirations to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. That's a lot to live up to.

But Nevermore doesn't disappoint. Poe isn't so much a ghost or a character, but more of a tone. A shadow that hovers over the characters and the mysterious Varen, a troubled Goth teenager whose secrets are about to be revealed by, wait for it.... a perky blonde cheerleader?

Opposites attract and the book is long, but doesn't drag. Creagh has done a great job setting up the characters as individuals, and slowly watching their relationship develop.

As Isobel, our team-spirited heroine, starts to have second thoughts about her popular friends, and if they're friends at all, Varen's character solidifies, becoming richer. It sure helps they're doing a paper on Mr. Poe, doesn't it? 'Cause Poe's work is a character in this book. Big and scary and with claws. It's creepy and chilling, Creagh doing a wonderful job channeling Poe's dark, dreaming quality--ravens tap on windows, the longing of unrequited love and death always wins.

You don't have to be familiar with Poe's works to enjoy the book, but it does help, giving it an additional layer.

And if you're reading it at night, for goodness sake! Keep the lights on! You'll thank me later!

You may also enjoy:

ManwhowaspoeThe Man Who Was Poe
by Avi (YA)
Paleblueeye The Pale Blue Eye
by Louis Bayard
PoeshadowThe Poe Shadow
by Matthew Pearl

EnshadowedNevermore is Kelly Creagh's debut novel. Visit her online at http://www.kellycreagh.com, on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @kelly_creagh

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

Find this book on goodreads.com or buy it now!

Look out for the sequel, Enshadowed, due out January 24th, 2012!

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!)

Both of our copies were borrowed from our local libraries. Yay, libraries!

23 March, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (2011-4)

I'm trying something new for Waiting on Wednesday. That's right! Another podcast. We've gotten some great feedback over the last day or so on our first podcast, so hopefully the quality will only improve as we get more comfortable with it :)

In other news, Read Now Sleep Later's free podcast is now available through iTunes! Please take a moment to rate and review it.

And now:

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

Publication date: 5 April 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN 10/13: 0385738579 / 9780385738576

Synopsis: Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

Daniel Kraus's masterful plotting and unforgettable characters makeRotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.

Music credits: Bach, Cello Suite 1, BWV 1007, Prelude, Siloti transcription by Felipe Sarro from The Free Music Archive

Also mentioned in this episode:

Red Glove by Holly Black
Flip by Martyn Bedford
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Huntress by Malinda Lo
We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

RT Book Convention - Teen Day

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.

21 March, 2011

Angelfire - Review


Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Publication date: 15 Feb 2011 from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books

ISBN 10/13: 0062002325 / 9780062002327

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Keywords: Contemporary, fantasy, adventure, rebirth


From goodreads.com:

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers--monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell--she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her--an assassin who has already killed her once.

(the synopsis continues but really, that's all you need to know.)

How I found out about this book: I downloaded the eBook from Netgalley.

My review:

I really wanted to like this book--but I just couldn't get into it. I've probably watched over 1000 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and just about every event in the book made me recall something from the show. As a result I didn't want to spend any more time reading the book--I just wanted to throw on a Season 6 dvd (Spuffy all the way! er. ahem. back to the review...)

As much as I tried to pay attention to the story, I just got tired of the main character about 80 pages in. I knew I was in trouble when I kept forgetting her name :( There was hardly any mystery or anything to engage me as an audience member. Most things that Ellie (yes, I just looked that up) didn't know about her situation, I could guess, and what I didn't guess, she simply asked the ever-ready and helpful Will--and he answered. It was all so comforting, I dozed off. Yes, even when the big scary-whoosis attacks.

Maybe if I hadn't just read a friend's manuscript that was very alike in plot, though only about a 30% match in mythology. But the Buffy equation--[Chosen One + (Immortal protector x hottie) = Sorry, been there! Done that!]... Had I read this in manuscript form I would probably have said the same things to both authors: that they give up information so easily, I barely need to read the book to know what's happening.

I know there's an audience out there for this book--it's getting 4 stars on Goodreads.com--and those audience members may enjoy such reincarnation-themed books as Fallen by Lauren Kate, The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller, and Immortal by Gillian Shields, or the astonishingly mediocre alien adventure I Am Number Four by "Pittacus Lore". You guys can have it! Sadly, I don't want it.

I've given it points for effort and an eye-candy cover, and because Courtney wields khopesh swords in her author video from HarperCollins.com.

I am TOTALLY serious about giving points for the swords. She is, too. Just watch.

Angelfire is is Courtney Allison Moulton's first novel. Visit her at courtneyallisonmoulton.com and follow her on Twitter @CAMoulton

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/anGlF1re

Find this book on goodreads.com, read an excerpt, or buy a signed copy 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!) Objections to my low ratings may be posted below, once you have read my article "On Reviews and Low Ratings".

ARC acquired from Netgalley.com.

20 March, 2011

Anna and The French Kiss

Alethea and Kimberly discuss Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It's our first podcast, so take it easy on the comments! :D But please, do leave a comment.

This one is spoiler-free... Still working on editing the spoilerific one.

Synopsis from goodreads.com:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Press play on the widget below to hear the review, or click here for our podbean page. Enjoy!

(p.s. The snippets of music are from Django Reinhardt's "Wild Ride".)

Book purchased from Borders.

17 March, 2011

On Reviews and Low Ratings

In the interest of fulfilling the new year's resolution I made to review all the books that I read this year, I will be posting some reviews with less than stellar ratings very soon.

I just want to make it clear to people that when I rate books, I rate them based on how much I love them, not necessarily how much I think YOU will love them. After all, there are a lot of YOU out there, and we're all a little bit different (ok, sometimes a lot different) in our reading tastes. I give opinions so you can know what I like, and maybe, if that sounds like something you would like, too, you might read that book!

I've even chosen reading based on other people's 1-star reviews, because the things the reviewer mentions they hate about the book are things that I love, love, love! Case in point: A Reliable Wife (not YA), Runemarks, and Swoon. I think they were awesome, but most people (even some of my friends) read them and lose a little respect for me because I liked them a lot. That's ok. It evens out, since my esteem for people tends to take a little nosedive if I find out they like Fallen or Marked. :) They're very popular books, but just not my cup of tea.

As well, when I review I also take into consideration that human beings took the time and effort to produce whatever I just read. So I try to refrain from calling the author names or being too harsh. I think being critical is ok, as long as you're not just saying things to be mean to someone. If I meet any of these authors face-to-face, I try to just avoid the subject, and if I can't, I just admit that I didn't enjoy the book so much.

A friend recently told me about an author/reader blowup that happened recently, where both parties got a little out of hand. I might say that I don't like a book, but I'd never say that I wish so-and-so author and what's-her-name writer would just die already. And not because I'm an aspiring YA author (I'm not--if anything I'd probably like to write a math or science book someday, so I don't think they'll care* :) or that I'm afraid people won't read my blog. If I don't like it, I just say so, and give my reasons--and if you disagree with me, hey! That might be a great book for you to read.

So, I'm going back to reading my probably 1-star-rating book, and I'll be back in a couple of days with my review!

* I take that back. As of 3/25/2011 I *am* writing a novel. A YA novel. Never say never, I guess. I will still tell you about books I didn't like, but I won't tell you not to read/buy/like them. To each her own. :D

Lucky Leprechaun Hop - Giveaway

As of 3/21/2011 this contest is now closed! I've contacted the winner via email. The entry form is closed and deleted. Thanks to everyone who participated!

hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Over 200 participating blogs are offering a book related giveaway and we are all linked up together so you can easily hop from one giveaway to another. The Lucky Leprechaun Hop is scheduled from 12:01 AM March 17th until 11:59 PM March 20th.

While you are here sign your blog up to take part in the Fool for Books Hop (deadline March 27) or Easter Hop (deadline April 13).

I'm giving away an Advanced Reader Copy of Illusions (Wings, Book 3) by Aprilynne Pike!

Click on the cover to read the synopsis on Goodreads.com
To enter, fill out the form below. If you don't want to do anything extra, that's fine! Just fill out the first (email) and the last (Under/Over 13 statement).

Optional entries: 
+1 for reposting or blogging this shortlink: http://bit.ly/rnsLLucky
+1 for tweeting the shortlink: http://bit.ly/rnsLLucky @frootjoos
+1 for subscribing to Read Now Sleep Later via email --> see box at right -->
+1 for following All Things YA on Facebook --> click Like on the box at right -->

You must be older than 13 or have parent/guardian permission to share your email address with me (to be used only to notify the winner). The winner will be chosen via random.org. I will ship to US or Canada. My contest policy is posted here.

Good luck!

Don't forget to visit the other blogs participating in the giveaways!

16 March, 2011

Illegal - Review

Comment on this and any of the Illegal Blog Tour posts and you will be automatically entered to win a signed copy of the book.

Publication date: March 8th by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN 10: 0061953423 / ISBN 13: 9780061953422

Category: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Realistic Fiction, Illegal Immigration, Gangs

A promise.

A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthday...

Instead, Nora is on a desperate journey far away from home. When her father leaves their beloved Mexico in search of work, Nora stays behind. She fights to make sense of her loss while living in poverty—waiting for her father's return and a better day. 

When the letters and money stop coming, Nora decides that she and her mother must look for him in Texas. After a frightening experience crossing the border, the two are all alone in a strange place. Now, Nora must find the strength to survive while aching for small comforts: friends, a new school, and her precious quinceañera.

Bettina Restrepo's gripping, deeply hopeful debut novel captures the challenges of one girl's unique yet universal immigrant experience.

How I found out about this book: The author, Bettina Restrepo, contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review the e-ARC and participate in the blog tour. I said ¡Sí!

My Review: I actually doubted that I would like this book: the topic of illegal immigration is one of the many reasons I avoid watching the news--I hate listening to politicians and lobbyists make strange arguments and come up with crazy scenarios for closing borders, deporting undocumented workers, and so forth. The core of my discomfort is that I can't ever process the macro-economic consequences of illegal immigration; as a legal immigrant and naturalized citizen, my only experience is with the personal aspect of the issue. And ultimately, though it's a tough subject to read about, that's what really helped me connect with the characters and the story.

Nora's story is very different from mine. My parents started applying for American visas even before I was born, and had to keep updating their applications over 14 years (adding me and then my siblings). Apart from some turbulence and storms over the Pacific, our entry into the United States was far from dangerous. We had tons of family members who had been living here for years and who welcomed us into their homes. Nora and her mother have none of that. Their departure from Mexico is brought about by desperation and fear.

Nora and her mother nearly suffocate to death in the back of a fruit truck, despite the blessings she supposedly brings as her mama's lucky girl. Restrepo's story is achingly realistic: at every moment they face adversity, hunger, and hopelessness. So much so that Nora questions her faith in God and can only cling to the hope that they will be able to find her father before their money runs out, or the la migra--Immigration-- catches up to them. But Houston is a big place, and it seems to be filled will all sorts of opportunistic strangers. Luckily for them, there are also people who treat them with kindness and respect.

At first I had a really hard time getting through the book. When Nora's safety is threatened, Restrepo doesn't hold back--she makes it feel so real that you don't just think about Nora experiencing such horrible conditions, you also think about all the people, thousands upon thousands of real girls and women--boys and men, too--who have been victimized in this situation, and who are not as lucky (or fictional) like Nora. I had to put it down at some point and read something more entertaining.

Something about the writing style irked me at first--like it was written for a much younger reader, maybe elementary school age, even though the topics and situations are not appropriate for that age group (there are references to sexual solicitation, drugs, and gang activity). Eventually I came to understand and accept that though Nora is a smart girl, she has not had the access to education that the average American teen has, and so her voice is a little more simplistic, though no less complex and emotionally charged. It is Nora's strength and passion that will keep the reader invested in the outcome of her journey into America.

Who should read this book: Anyone. Everyone! (Ok, with an age/maturity caveat, there are some difficult themes explored in this book. Let's say high school unless the young person has already endured the same tribulations.) It's a painful, personal, and politically explosive topic. I think the author is very brave to tackle the subject, since it potentially makes her a target for people who are opposed to illegal immigration. I don't think that many adults will read this book and change their minds one way or another on whether it is right or wrong, but I hope that younger people will gain a greater sense of humanity and understanding from Nora's story.

Illegal is Bettina Restrepo's debut YA novel. The author has provided discussion questions on her website at bettinarestrepo.com. Follow @BettinaRestrepo on Twitter.

"Like" Bettina's Facebook fan page. That's where she will announce the 5 winners of the Illegal Blog Tour contest. Comment on this and any of the Illegal Blog Tour posts and you will be automatically entered to win a signed copy of the book.

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

Add this book to your Goodreads.com shelf.

Buy this book from an independent bookstore near you:
Shop Indie Bookstores

Comments? Would you/have you read this book? No spoilers, please.


  • Are you an immigrant?
  • What would worry you the most if you tried to illegally enter another country (doesn't have to be the US) in search of a better life? 
  • Do you have any questions for the author?

e-galley acquired from author in PDF form.

15 March, 2011

OyMG - Review / Chick Loves Lit Blogoversary

It's Shanyn's Blogoversary over at Chick Loves Lit, so she's hosting a giveaway carnival--check out www.chickloveslit.com for the full festivities starting today. Great blogs including The Bibliophilic Book Blog, Bookalicio.us, and PageTurners are participating! 

I'm giving away an ARC of Amy Dominy's OyMG, complete with signed bookmark! I'll ship anywhere in the US and Canada (sorry International peeps, the tax man is coming for me next month, and I have to keep those pennies pinched).

Publication date: 11 May 2011 by Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN 10/13: 080272177X / 9780802721778

From goodreads.com: Jewish girl. Christian camp. Holy moley. 

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she's sure that if she wins the final tournament, it'll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. 

His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she's confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship's benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

My review: When I was a bookseller, I often got asked (round about the Chanukah time of year) for a good YA book to recommend to Jewish teens*. For years, all I had in stock with strong Jewish themes were The Diary of Anne Frank, John Boyne's The Boy in Striped Pajamas, and Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. That selection was joined last year by Sharon Dogar's Annexed. They're great books, but usually I'd bring them out and the customers would wrinkle their noses and gently say, "Maybe something less... historical. More... festive? I want to give her something fun!"

Well, it's a shame I'm not slinging books any more, because I finally have the perfect recommendation: OyMg is a clean, fun, disarmingly poignant, and pleasingly articulate novel with a strong Jewish heroine that I would have no problem recommending to anyone, whether the buyer was looking for substance or just entertainment. That Dominy blends both seamlessly, no debate is necessary.

OyMG indeed! This book blew me away--by its cover I was expecting your typical feel-good teen rom-com, what with the cute heroine shrugging among neon hearts and doodles. That isn't at all what I got. Sure, there was a cute guy (ok, not cute, more like blindingly hot and intelligent, to boot) so there's your rom- to the novel. And it was very funny, so there's -com for you. But there's so much more!

There's Ellie: totally smart, totally driven, and totally adorable--not that she's in any way flawless--the story is in a big part about her flaws and shortcomings. Dominy makes her character change and grow in completely believable yet somewhat unpredictable ways. Some things make her tougher (debating), and some turn her into a quivering bowl of jelly (Devon). She's charmingly relatable through the whole book, and a big part of why I liked the book was because I liked her character and kept hoping for her success.

There's Ellie's Zeydeh, who reminds me of my own grandpa, though I doubt he ever made a pot of matzo ball soup when he was alive. Zeydeh's personality and pride, as well as the loving relationship he has with Ellie is so realistic that at times I could hear his voice in my head, muttering about his soup recipe. Too much salt? Or not enough? The conflicts that arise between him and his beloved granddaughter keep the story real and engaging. (Incidentally, due to his foodie obsession Zeydeh also will make you very, very hungry for Jewish food. Dominy didn't even mention latkes, but I had to make and eat some as soon as I finished reading!)

Then, there's the dilemma Ellie faces: telling the truth about her Jewish heritage could cost her not just the scholarship she covets so badly, but the smoking hot boy she likes--who might even like her back--hilarity ensues! Er, no. I was expecting a comedy of errors, and instead got deep thoughts about religion and racism. The topics that normally would make me cringe (ok, the anti-Semitic discussions did make me really uncomfortable, but trust me, there's a great discussion there) had the effect of elevating this book from a fluffy teen comedy to a well-rounded, meaningful novel.

*I just want to clarify that I'm not just recommending this for Jewish teens. I'm recommending this book for teens of all faiths (including non-faiths! :D I'd classify myself as a lapsed Catholic/agnostic and I adore this book).

OyMG is Amy Fellner Dominy's debut novel

Visit the author online at www.amydominy.com

Tweet @amydominy, hashtag #oymg

Add this book to your Goodreads.com shelf 
Pre-order this book on Indiebound.org 

Win this book! Fill out the form below. You must be over 13 to give me your contact info (or have a parent's permission). I will ship to US and Canada only. A winner will be chosen randomly at the end of the day on March 22, 2011. The winner will be notified via email.

The giveaway is now closed... the random.org-chosen winner is Winnie L! Congrats!

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.

13 March, 2011

Exposed - Review

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Publication date: February 22, 2011 by Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN10: 0375866930 / ISBN13: 9780375866937

Category: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Sex

In the dim light of the darkroom, I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred, so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.
Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is Photogirl—sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime—and the accuser is Liz's own best friend.

As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself, shifts out of focus. And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view.

Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.

How I found out about this book: At ALA Midwinter, I attended a Random House spotlight on new YA titles and received an ARC of Exposed.

My review: Whoever penned the book blurb is right--stunning, gut-wrenching, riveting--I can't think of three words to better describe Exposed. The beauty of the novel lies in how every word is so carefully chosen and placed; never have I been so struck by the visual/lexical duality of reading. It's not just because Liz is a photographer, and therefore thinks in pictures--it's more the thought-provoking way Marcus composes her poems: as meticulously as a skilled photographer frames and focuses her shots.

Raw completely describes how I felt while I read. Marcus's topic is an uncomfortable one to say the least, and of the emotions she evokes in this book I would have to paraphrase that these three remain: love, sadness, and pain: and the greatest of these is Pain. There's the pain of secrets kept by those who used to keep secrets only with you. There's the pain of lies that your loved ones swear is really truth. Hardest of all, there's the pain of not knowing what is the right thing to do.

The messages in Exposed are mixed, owing to the different perspective of the main character and the shocking outcome of the book. It's hard to discuss without giving away details about who is truly guilty of what crime, and what happens to the characters and their relationship by the end of the novel. The issues of self-esteem and loyalty explore so many gray areas that it is difficult to know who is right and who is wrong. Ultimately, Exposed leaves the reader feeling just that--vulnerable, shattered, emotions laid bare.

Who should read this book: People have asked me why I read books that address the topic of sexual abuse. I think it's so important to have books that address these issues mainly because the topic is so taboo, and when a person (of any age) becomes a victim, the incongruity between what that person needs (safety) and what they have in reality (abuse) can drive that person to behave irrationally. It can drive them to silence and depression when they really should be screaming for help.

Novels like ExposedSpeakLiving Dead Girl, and Because I Am Furniture can lead someone to the help and understanding that they need. Victims of abuse need to be reminded that all is not lost, that they are still human and have rights, and that life is still worth living.

Visit the author online at kimberlymarcus.com. She is a clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of childhood and adolescent trauma.

Follow @kimberlymarcus on Twitter.

Add this book to your Goodreads shelf.

Shortlink to this review: http://bit.ly/ph0t0g1rl

Buy this book online from an independent bookstore near you:
Buy this book online

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network can be found at http://rainn.org.

Comments: What do you think? (No spoilers, please). Would you/have you read this book?
Why or why not should books on difficult topics be written and published for young adults?

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.

11 March, 2011



I actually have a full month of posts planned, starting Sunday... so prepare to be bombarded with reviews and information.

Until then, I am supposed to be studying for my communicative disorders class...

Though really, I'm downloading and organizing my Netgalleys. I am SO glad I didn't get rid of my Sony Pocket yet, because as soon as bought the Kindle, Amazon withdrew its Netgalley support :( I hope they bring it back soon while my Pocket is still worth something used. I had been planning all along to send it to my mom in the Philippines. Then at Christmas I got a text that said she got an iPad... o_O"

I must be a little punchy too after 9 hours of studying, because I keep hitting the wrong links/menu options/shortcuts and I can't remember how to unset Reader Library as the default for acsm links (I want to use Adobe Digital Editions instead). In the words of Aly: "Grrrrrr."

The only big gripe I have about the Sony Pocket is that in Reader Library (the app that manages your eBooks on your computer) you have to manually delete all your expired Netgalleys one by one :( It can get a bit tedious at times.

As for my Kindle, the biggest plus is that I can convert my RTF notes for my classes into Kindle format! Woo! It's a little tricky, but now instead of reading fun books on my morning bus ride I get to read... class notes :( wait a minute.... 

If you want to join me in procrastinating:

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Get an eyeful at The Chemical Garden website... just a few more days until Wither comes out! Eeep!

Allright, back to procrastinating with all of ye...

08 March, 2011

RT Teen Day update

Hey all!

The Speed Dating Session 2 that was closed a few days ago is now open! There are 90 spots, so far only 1 is taken.

Authors Participating: Melissa Marr (moderator), Clare B. Dunkle, Carrie Ryan, Sophie Jordan, Tina Ferraro, Kimberly Derting, Kami Garcia, Jackie Morse Kessler, & Michelle Jaffe

For more info visit the registration site or see my guide to RT Teen Day registration.

Also, if you're a blogger/Tweeter and you want to be included in the listing of attendees (on my registration guide) please leave a comment w/ name, link(s) and Twitter name or email frootjoos at gmail dot com.

See you all soon!

The Cardturner - Guest Review

Publication date: 11 May 2010 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN 10/13:  0385736622 / 9780385736626

I turn you over once again to KimberlyBuggie, who is saving my life, one review at a time. If you want the blurb, click on the cover image above.

Kimberly's review: Growing up, I was a big fan of Louis Sachar. The Boy Who Lost His Face, There's A Boy In The Girl's Bathroom and all the stories from Wayside School.
Years later, (many, but I won't say how many), I'm happy to find that Mr. Sachar has still kept his sense of humor, good writing and sharp observations.

I'm not going to lie. The Cardturner does have A LOT of information about the game of bridge, which some may find boring. I don't know how to play bridge, nor do I have any interest in learning. And for all that information, it really is just a vehicle used to move the story. Sachar does a fun trick where he'll show you a whale, you'll have to read it to find out why, and what follows is a particularly long scene about bridge. At the end, he'll summarize it for you. (Thank you for realizing that I do not necessarily want to learn how to play bridge.)

But the story is about a boy and his search for his own identity. About his Uncle, a loner and a mysterious figure who may have more in common with him than he thought.

The story is filled with wonderful characters. (Toni, Gloria, and of course Lester) And while it's not a page turner, a thriller, a stay up late all night--it is a charming story about finding some friends, interests and yourself, in unexpected places.

Louis Sachar has written a ton of books. The Cardturner is his latest. The photo is from the Bio section of his website, louissachar.com, and no infringement is intended.

Add this book to your Goodreads.com shelf

Buy this book online at indiebound.org

Comments: What do you think? Have you/would you read this book? No spoilers please.

Book borrowed from public library.

06 March, 2011

RT Book Lover's Teen Day - April 9

I'm totally excited about a new event coming up for YA book lovers in Los Angeles. RT Book Review Magazine's Booklovers Convention will be held on April 6-10, including a special day just for teens!

WHAT: RT Booklovers Teen Day < Detailed list of events and authors attending | Facebook | Twitter | Blogspot

WHERE: Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Resort < 404 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 624-1000

WHEN: Saturday, April 9 < 11 am - 7:30 pm

WHO: Awesome YA authors! > Click here to see them all, or scroll down for a link list.

HOW: Register online. This is where it gets a little hairy. I pulled the info below from their website:

Fees: Special Saturday Teen Day Pass (11:00am to 7:00pm)

$25.00 for Adults (for Book Fair, Workshops, and party)
$25.00 for a Teen PLUS one adult (for Book Fair, Workshops, and party)
If a teen comes with 2 adults the second adult pays $15.00

  • 11am-2pm—Book Fair
  • 2:30-5:30pm —workshops
  • 5:45-7pm— Party
Book Fair Only
$5.00 per Teen for Book Fair Only
$5.00 per Adult for Book Fair Only (even if they are accompanying a teen)

Got all that?

You can skip right to the registration from here. Fill in all of the required info and payment info, including Convention Information (even if you don't need a hotel--it's not necessarily about that).

All Teen Day attendees, adults and teens both, select Teen Day Pass from the drop-down menu.
If you're still stumped, you can tweet me and I'll walk you through.

Signing up for Events

Okay, once you've paid your $25 entry fee, you get a profile page. Here's mine.

Go the the Agenda Menu (third from the left, at the top of the page) and click Search Agenda.

Every time you type "Teen" in the box, a short list of the individual events will pop up, for example, "Book Fair Plus Teen Day"is the first one.

Click on the event name and hit Submit. Make sure you're signing up just for the Teen Day events, as some of the others are part of the larger (more expensive) convention.

Look for the clickable text link that says "Reserve" and it will add your name to the list of attendees as well as update the count. At the time of this article, only about 10% of the 250 available spots have been reserved for most of the events, but that will change as more and more people hear about this awesome venue!

Go back to the Search Agenda page each time you want to add another event. Make sure you're logged in! There are workshops, "speed-dating" sessions where you get to chat with authors in small group sessions, as well as readings and a party at the end of the day!

Thanks to Jane and Leslie at YA Book Council (YABC) for the heads up on both the event and the signup instructions!

I've already gotten a lot of questions, even though I've never been to one of these events before:

What will I wear?!?
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes--dress code for conventions is business-casual.

Will I need cash?
You will be able to purchase autographed books from the authors participating in the Book Fair, so start saving those pennies! Also, at some point you may want a meal or some coffee--and convention-area food is usually $$ than normal.

We are also trying to determine if we'll be allowed to bring in books we already own to be signed by the authors; I'm thinking probably not, but it's worth asking. I'll let you know if we hear back from RT!

Here's what Jane got in response from Jo Carol from the RT Convention:

Can we bring books that we already own to get them signed?
"You are more than welcome to bring your own books for signing. Each book you bring will require a removable sticker or invisible ink stamp before you can take them in the Bookfair -- RT Convention Staff will have tables set up for this purpose. Any book that does not have a sticker/stamp showing it is your book, must be purchased. More information will be given out at the convention."

According to their tweets, it's 1 book (brought from home) per author--and anyway, you don't want to trudge around all day with 30 books in a totebag PLUS whatever you pick up at the convention. I'm planning to bring no more than a dozen books to be signed + maybe buy a couple at the event :D

For more information, please visit the RT Booklovers Convention home page. I am in no way, shape, or form part of the team producing this event, so you're better off asking them than me. I'm just an overly enthusiastic prospective attendee. :)

Short-link to this post: http://bit.ly/rnslRTTD

More cool stuff below the fold... click for more of this article!