30 October, 2011

Author Signing - Laini Taylor at Book Soup

Last week frootjoos, friend Kate and I attended the Laini Taylor signing at Book Soup in Hollywood. Frootjoos and I are big fans of Laini's last book, Lips Touch Three Times and were excited to see that she was coming to town to promote her new book Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

There was a good crowd at the store. I'd say 30 - 40 people, though I am terrible at people counting so let me know if I am way off, frootjoos.  Laini is sweet and funny and totally passionate about her work. She also has awesome pink hair.  She talked about being a perfectionist and how it is hard for her to write the first draft of a book. She spoke a little bit about how Daughter of Smoke and Bone came to be. She was working on a sci fi book when the idea for Daughter of Smoke and Bone came to her. And even though she wanted to stop and start the new book, she made the decision to finish the sci fi book even though she didn't think it was very good and would probably never see the light of day.

Then Laini read an excerpt from the book which involved essential and non-essential parts. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, well, you'll find out. :) We topped off the night with chili dogs and fries across the street. Yum! I am so glad we were able to make this event. Below are a few more pics we took throughout the night. Enjoy!

Find Laini Taylor at www.lainitaylor.com or follow her on
Twitter @lainitaylor

21 October, 2011

The Poisoned House - Review

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford
Publication date: 1 August 2011 by Albert Whitman & Co.
ISBN 10/13: 080756589X | 9780807565896

Category: Young Adult Mystery
Keywords: Ghost story, Victorian thriller, Historical
Format: Hardcover, ebook

From Goodreads

Life can be cruel for a servant girl in 1850s London. Fifteen-year-old Abi is a scullery maid in Greave Hall, an elegant but troubled household. The widowed master of the house is slowly slipping into madness, and the tyrannical housekeeper, Mrs.Cotton, punishes Abi without mercy. But there's something else going on in Greave Hall, too. An otherworldly presence is making itself known, and a deadly secret will reveal itself—-a secret that will shatter everything Abi knows.

Kimberly's review: 

Abigail, a maid in Greave Hall, has a hard life. She works for the mean, out-to-get-her housekeeper; the master of the house has gone mad; and just last year her mother died during a cholera epidemic. She's all alone, when news comes that her childhood friend, and son of the master of the house, Samuel is returning from the war. Wounded and in need of care, the already established bond between Abigail and Samuel grow. That is, until mysterious things start happening around the house. Abigail must solve the mystery if she's to escape with her life.

What is not to like about this book? A haunted house, the Victorian age, family secrets and a housekeeper that reminds me of Mrs. Danvers! Michael Ford has done an excellent job on pace and tone in this novel. The first scare doesn't hit until after he's established all the characters, but wow. It's a pretty good scare. The book reads slowly, the characters being introduced in all their eccentricities, one by one. Ford's house leaps out of the page- the air of uneasiness, long dark corridors, and handprints on windows. There's even a Ouija board.

I really enjoyed this book and found it perfect for Halloween. It was easy to scream at the book- “Don’t do that!” or “Don’t go in there!” like you would watch a horror film. Is there a ghost out to get Abigail? Or is the ghost trying to protect her? You'll have to read this well written mystery to find out!

Received this book as an eARC from Netgalley.

Follow @thewindypages on Twitter

Find out more at Albert Whitman & Co. and Bloomsury UK

18 October, 2011

Kerfuffle - Giveaway

If you pay any attention to YA at all (hrm, why would you be here if you didn't?) you probably know by now that Lauren Myracle was nominated for a National Book Award by the NBF... Except, well, someone screwed up and somehow misheard CHIME as SHINE (and also misheard, possibly, "Franny Billingsley" as "Lauren Myracle"--I know, anyone could have made that mistake x_x).

This resulted in Lauren Myracle being told, sorry--we'll keep your nomination; we'll just have six nominees this year instead of the usual five. Nice, right?

Wrong. Apparently NBF doesn't have a "no backsies" clause... they subsequently de-nominated her "to preserve the integrity of the award." (link goes to PW)


Lauren Myracle proved the rumor to be true--you know, the one that says she's made of sunshine, ticklish kittens, peace, love, and baby ducks--by withdrawing from the fray. YA readers and writers are turning out in support for her and her book, which, by the way, you should read (unless you're squeamish--it's an uncomfortable topic, to say the least).

From goodreads:

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. 
Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Want to read Shine? Here's your chance to win a copy.

All entrants must be older than 13 years of age. US only... I will be buying a hardcover copy of Shine from an independent bookstore and mailing it to the winner, so unfortunately I'm not going to be able to afford international shipping in this case. If you enter but you already have a copy of Shine, I will donate the hardcover to a public library of your choice (again, domestic shipping only!).

For 1 mandatory entry, leave a link in the comment section to an article/blog post you have read re: the NBF/Shine kerfuffle, preferably with your thoughts on the topic. DO NOT leave your email address in the comment--it WILL be deleted!

For additional, optional entries you can...

tweet with the hashtag #isupportshine as in
"@nationalbook Announcing #NBA11 Young People's Finalists, did you mean "Psych! jk nm lol"? @LaurenMyracle #isupportshine" 
You can be less snarky than me ;) just make sure you tweet @nationalbook and use the correct hashtag. Express disappointment/displeasure but on no account be uncivil. I reserve the right to disqualify inappropriately worded entries.

follow @LaurenMyracle on Twitter

and/or add Shine to your Goodreads shelf.

Good luck, and Shine on!

Radiation Vibe by h.e.m.

(Radiation Vibe performed by Hem)

Check out these other giveaways and add your own at I am a Reader, Not a Writer!

17 October, 2011

Warm Bodies - Review

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Publication date: 26 April 2011 by Atria 
ISBN 10/13: 1439192316 | 9781439192313

Category: Adult Speculative/Science Fiction
Keywords: Zombies, Futuristic, Dystopian, Romance? ;D
Format: Hardcover, audiobook, eBook

From goodreads:

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.

Alethea's review:

This novel from Isaac Marion floored me. No, not with a shovel to the head or some buckshot to the knees--though there's some of the going on in the book, what with all the zombies running around. This novel had poetry, humor, romance, and imagination. That's saying something in this era of books which is reaching the choke point where the undead are concerned.

It was scary, too--in the old-fashioned blood-and-guts sense, as well as the OMG-we-might-actually-be-headed-for-this-kind-of-social-collapse-in-the-real-world way. Somehow there's nothing unbelieveable about a zombie's affection and desire to protect Julie, the girlfriend of the boy whose brain has somehow stimulated R's capacity for love--and his will to live. I ate it up quicker than you could say "BRAINS!"

I know this book was originally intended for adults, and there are a couple of things more conservative parents might object to, but all in all I thought the references to sex, drugs, and alcohol pretty tame--and usually very funny. I definitely see it appealing to a certain type of YA reader, the kind who can appreciate playful language and pathos in the midst of absurdity. I hope someone nominates it for the 2012 Alex Awards. And I really, really hope our real world doesn't come to this. Humanity can learn some pretty solid lessons from R about life, liberty, and the pursuit of--more brains...

Check out the author's website for music--written and performed by him--that goes with the book.

Yep. You just read that sentence.

I purchased this book because Maggie Stiefvater said it was awesome, and she was right!

Visit the author online at burningbuilding.blogspot.com and follow @IsaacInSpace on Twitter

16 October, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Alethea is participating in NaNoWriMo -- well, attempting it again. You can help keep her motivated, and sponsor young writers and other programs from The Office of Letters & Light -- a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit -- click on the widget above to donate to OLL!

The Graveyard Book - Review

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Publication date: 01 October 2008 by HarperCollins 
ISBN 10/13: 0060530928 | 9780060530921

Category: Middle Grade Ghost Story, Fantasy Fiction
Keywords: Orphan, Ghosts, Suspense
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

From goodreads:

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Kimberly's review:

After a tragic event and a narrow escape from a man named Jack, an 18-month-old baby finds himself adopted by the ghosts of the local graveyard. He grows up to be known as Bod, his full name "Nobody," and the novel follows young Bod from his rescue into his teenage years. As he grows more curious and fascinated with the outside world, his ghostly family watches his transformation, and experience what they haven't had in years- growing up.

A haunting and amazing adventure, Bod's got a strong voice and his adventures and growing pains are very real. His band of ghostly parents are vivid, both physically and character wise. Like other Gaiman writing, this book is suspenseful, spooky and creepy. I couldn't help reading late into the night, craving to know what was next for Bod. And for the man named Jack, who has come back to finish what he couldn't complete years ago. (The man named Jack still sends chills up my spine. Even in the middle of the day.)

For me, Gaiman's writing impacted me the most in this novel as well as Coraline. I don't know if I'm just partial to his Middle Grade/Young Adult writing more than his adult writing. Or if these stories transport me to a time long ago when I was a kid reading ghost stories under my bed with a flash light, scaring myself awake for many sleepless nights.

Visit the author online at www.neilgaiman.com and follow @neilhimself on Twitter

Find more of Kimberly's review at The Windy Pages and follow @thewindypages on Twitter.

All Hallows Read

Whoa! Last week really got away from me... Expect a slew of reviews this week while we catch up.

More spooky book reviews are on the way!

In the meantime, check out All Hallows Read - Year 2. 
Neil Gaiman says, "Give somebody a scary book!"

Here are some Halloweenie book recommendations from YABC

In the meantime, here are the scary books we've reviewed so far:

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

Picture the Dead - Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

Kimberly is also giving away books from Richelle Mead's adult series on The Windy Pages. Follow @thewindypages on Twitter! She has YA reviews there, too.

10 October, 2011

Ninth Grade Slays - Review

Ninth Grade Slays (Vladimir Tod #2) by Heather Brewer
Publication date: 17 April 2008 by Dutton
ISBN 10/13: 0525478922 | 9780525478928

Category: Young Adult Paranormal
Keywords: Fantasy, vampires, middle school, horror, humor, bullying
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audio CD, Audible

From goodreads:

Freshman year sucks for Vlad Tod. Bullies still harass him. The photographer from the school newspaper is tailing him. And failing his studies could be deadly. A trip to Siberia gives study abroad a whole new meaning as Vlad connects with other vampires and advances his mind-control abilities, but will he return home with the skills to recognize a vampire slayer when he sees one? In this thrilling sequel to Eighth Grade Bites, Vlad must confront the secrets of the past and battle forces that once again threaten his life. Find out why author D. J. MacHale calls The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod "Gruesome, heartwarming, spellbinding."

Thuy’s review:
Vladimir Tod is back in Ninth Grade Slays! Having survived eighth grade and the surprising revelations in the last book, all Vlad has to do now is make it through his freshman year of high school. Unfortunately school bullies, a photographer with keen eyes, and a vampire slayer threaten to make this year even more dangerous than the last. 

Things aren’t all gloom and doom though. Vlad’s still hanging out with Henry, his best friend and faithful drudge (still love that word). He also makes a new friend when Henry’s cousin Joss comes to town. Vlad’s still crushing on Meredith and makes a little headway in that direction. She and Vlad are too adorable together and I found myself saying a mental “awwwww” more than once when reading. Otis also comes back and takes Vlad on a trip to Siberia to learn about vampire culture and get training from Vikas, an old friend of the family. He also learns what the Pravus is and the prophecy behind it. It explains why the Council is so afraid of him but Vlad is having a hard time believing that he can be the Pravus.

What can I say except that I am now a full fledged member of Brewer’s minion horde? This book was just as good as the last one, if not better. It’s darker and moodier - Vlad’s being hunted by a slayer and missing his parents more than ever. Friendships are put to the test and evil lurks in unexpected places. There’s also a big twist in this book that took me by complete surprise.

Brewer captures the angst and confusion of adolescence perfectly - the teachers, bullies, crushes, jealousies, fears, friendships and the difficulty of trying to figure out who you are - half vampire or not. While I was never bullied or made fun of like Vlad and am definitely not part vampire, I can still relate to him. I also just like Vlad. I want to give him a big hug and and invite him over for a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies (he can bring the O positive).

A fantastic installment to the series and I am looking forward to reading the next one. (Special thanks to Alethea for getting some books signed by Heather at OCCBF for me since I couldn’t make it).

Visit the author online at www.heatherbrewer.com and follow @heatherbrewer on Twitter

08 October, 2011

Picture the Dead - Review

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown (illustrator)
Publication date: 1 May 2010 by Sourcebooks
ISBN 10/13: 140223712X | 9781402237126

Category: Young Adult Historical Suspense
Keywords: Ghosts, secrets, Civil War
Format: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle

From goodreads:

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell’s life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancĂ© falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone—or something—stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

Alethea's review:

At first I wasn't so sure about the illustrations--the pictures of Jennie's extended family, the spirit photographs--they reminded me very much of the time I got addicted to the cutout filter in Photoshop. But as the story began to take shape, the more I looked forward to the next image. While they don't tell the story on their own--even, occasionally, give a little too much away, I enjoyed them.

Griffin's story-telling is pitch-perfect, making for a good historical. While the story is mysterious, it's not too frightening. It's a perfect spooky book for wimps like me! I don't want to say much more--I think this is one of those books where the less you know beforehand, the more you'll enjoy it as the answers are revealed.

I purchased this book because @kimberlybuggie said it was awesome, and she was right :)

Visit the authors online at www.adelegriffin.com and www.americanchickens.com. Follow @adelegriffin and @lisabrowndraws on Twitter.

07 October, 2011

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) - Review

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
Publication date: 16 August 16 2007 by Razorbill
ISBN 10/13: 0316015849 | 9780316015844

Category: Young Adult Fantasy
Keywords: Vampires, Boarding School, Best Friends, Fighting
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

From goodreads:

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Kimberly's review:

Lissa Dragomir is a vampire princess and must be protected from another kind of vampire race, the Strigoi, who are fierce and dangerous vampires. Rose Hathaway, a half human-half vampire, is her classmate, her best friend and her partner in crime.

After two years of freedom, the BFFs are captured and dragged back to their exclusive boarding school where they have to train to become, respectively, a political figure and a fighter/bodyguard. But they soon realize that inside their school, it's just as dangerous as outside its gates.

Rose is a strong, fun and cocky character. She is quick-witted and throws herself into dangerous situations--my kind of girl! Her narration is very clear; you learn a lot about her character.

Lissa is seen through Rose's eyes and while Rose is the physically stronger and more aggressive of the two, Lissa is not a whimp. She has some special powers (not going to tell you!) and a few problems of her own. She is the last Dragomir princess alive. Um, that's a lot of pressure.

This is a great female relationship. They're totally loyal to each other. It's easy to see how they are best friends. It's refreshing to see a functioning, healthy friendship where the two characters genuinely care about each other, instead of other dramatic relationships where there is a lot of jealousy and backstabbing.
And oh, the boys! Dimitri, stoic, hot and Rose's instructor, is sexy and a lean mean fighting machine. The chemistry between them is ... whew. Sorry. Got hot in here. Lissa finds her match in an unlikely hero.

I want to stress that the story is about way more than boys, even cute vampire boys. It's about friendship, about growing up and finding oneself. Lissa and Rose may have been dragged back to St. Vladimir's unwillingly, but that doesn't mean they stop fighting for what they want, what they believe in. They continue to grow as characters, not just through the book, but throughout the series. Their relationships with each other grows and evolves, the best parts of each of them coming out to protect the other. Showing their courage and strength right when they need it most.

I enjoyed Vampire Academy so much, I devoured the rest of the series and then made my way onto another Richelle Mead's series (which is not at all YA)!

It's fun, awesome and one of the rare book series that actually get better as the books go on. I know I'm only reviewing Vampire Academy, but the continuing adventures of Rose, Lissa and their friends are fantastic fun.

Richelle Mead's spin off series, Bloodlines, came out at the end of August.

Pick up Vampire Academy and the rest of the books before venturing into Bloodlines. You'll be so happy you did! And yes, thank me later. 

Visit the author online at www.richellemead.com and follow @richellemead on Twitter

06 October, 2011

Eighth Grade Bites - Review

Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1)
by Heather Brewer
Publication date: 16 August 2007 by Dutton Children's Books
ISBN 10/13: 0525478116 | 9780525478119

Category: Young Adult Paranormal
Keywords: Fantasy, vampires, middle school, horror, humor, bullying
Format: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audio CD, Audible

From goodreads:

Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: his mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: he’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

Thuy's review:

Vladimir Tod’s just like any other normal eighth grader. Well, a normal eighth grader who also happens to be a vampire. Born to a human mother and vampire father, Vlad must navigate the minefield of adolescence while maintaining his cover as a human. Only his best friend Henry and his caretaker, Nelly, know his secret.

Then Vlad’s favorite teacher, Mr. Craig disappears, and Vlad has a bad feeling about the new sub. Mr. Otis is a little too interested in Vlad and he starts to suspect that he may have had something to do with Mr. Craig’s disappearance. When Vlad finds his father’s journal, he uncovers information about a secret society of vampires--one that his father fled and hid his family from. Was the fire that killed Vlad’s parents really an accident, or are the same people he suspects of murdering them also after him now?

This was a really fun book and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The plot is original and has a good mix of horror and humor. Vlad is an extremely likable protagonist. He struggles with the things that most boys his age struggle with; bullies, homework, girls--but also has to deal with hiding his fangs, eating blood at lunch and making sure he wears his sunscreen so he doesn’t burst into flames. 

Brewer’s descriptions of Vlad’s eating habits manage to be both gory and mundane. I love the ingenious method Nelly has of packing his lunch and it’s nice to know that vampires like chocolate chip cookies, too. Henry is an awesome best friend. He takes everything in stride, even when things get really crazy. His confusion about being called a drudge is one of my favorite parts of the book (and made want a drudge of my own). Once I got started, this book was hard to put down. You could easily devour (ha!) it in one sitting.

Though Eighth Grade Bites is aimed at middle grade readers, the story will appeal to all ages. I know I am hooked and can’t wait to read the next one! 

Visit the author online at www.heatherbrewer.com and follow @heatherbrewer on Twitter

05 October, 2011

Author Signing at Once Upon a Time in Montrose

Thursday, October 6 at 7 pm

2207 Honolulu Avenue, Montrose CA 91020

Becca Fitzpatrick @becfitzpatrick
Moira Young @moira_young
Elizabeth Miles - @milesbooks

If you can't make it to that signing, 
these lovely ladies will be at 

1030 Bonita Avenue, La Verne, CA 91750

the following day--Friday, October 7 at 5 pm 

See you then!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Publication date: 7 June 2011 by Quirk Books
ISBN 10/13: 1594744769 | 9781594744761

Category: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Keywords: Fantasy, magic, monsters, photographic
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audible

From goodreads:

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


Alethea's review:

I saw this trailer at the end of spring and got the heebie-jeebies. The concept itself is pretty creepy on it's own--coupled with the photographs, it gave me chills! However, upon reading the book, I didn't really get scared all that much past the middle of the story. By then I was already drawn into the tale and imagining myself some weird talent (really, not a hard thing to do if you're me) and running alongside the peculiar children.

I hate giving out spoilers, and the jacket copy above is already pretty revealing, so I won't say much more.  I thought the words were well written, but the photos are what really made this novel so fun and appealing! There is a large cast of characters, and I must have been really engaged by the story, since I didn't find it confusing and always knew who was who. I'm not usually surprised to find out who the bad guy is, but Ransom Riggs caught me off guard! It's the kind of feeling I relish--one of the reasons I love reading and watching mysteries.

As a horror novel though, it's not very scary once some secrets have been revealed and you know what's going on. This is still a great book for Spooktacular October, but if you really want your spine to tingle, pick up Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender. While there are no actual photographs included, it creeped me out the way I expected Miss Peregrine's to do. It turns out Miss Peregrine's is suitable for scaredy cats like me--at least I was able to sleep after that! :P

And hey, if you love spooky books like Kimberly, Thuy, and I do--read 'em both! Check back tomorrow for more Spooktacular reviews.

Bad Girls Don't Die trailer:

Visit the author online at www.ransomriggs.com and follow @ransomriggs on Twitter

03 October, 2011

Coraline - Review

Coraline by Neil Gaiman 
Publication date: 29 August 2006 by Harper Perennial 
ISBN 10/13: 0061139378 | 9780061139376

Category: Middle Grade Fantasy Fiction
Keywords: Alternate Realities, Suspense
Format: ebook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

From goodreads:

Coraline has often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. 

Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures. 

Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.

Kimberly's review:
Coraline Jones has just moved into a large old house, with eccentric neighbors such as the "Crazy Old Man Upstairs" and Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. While exploring her new house, Coraline finds a small door which throws her into a creepy and scary adventure.

She comes out on the other side to a replica of her house, an Other Mother and Father who have buttons for eyes and who are way more fun and attentive than her real parents and a black cat that can talk! But even though Coraline likes this new world, something seems off. And of course, it is.

I'm a fan of Gaiman, but this may be my favorite book. While I was reading Coraline, I was surprised by how creepy the story became. I figured it can't be that scary! Well, I was wrong. Goosebumps ran down my arms, especially when Coraline realizes what her Other parents want from her...

Coraline's search for her kidnapped real parents and her adventure to close the door to seperate the worlds is a wonderful journey. She is brave, smart and resourceful. The book is filled with fun filled characters, humans and animals alike. The setting is beautifully crafted. I could feel the house, the rain, the Other parents and their world.

Most of all, kudos to Mr. Gaiman. The overall tone and feeling of the book is eerie, like going down a long staircase when you can't see the bottom. The story moves so fast, feeling at times like an action film. (And oh, it was. If you haven't seen the film, read the book first. I did, and it made the film that much more magical.)

And I won't look at a button the same way again....

Visit the author online at www.neilgaiman.com and follow @neilhimself on Twitter

Check back tomorrow for more Spooktacular reviews.

01 October, 2011

Spooktacular Blog Hop - Giveaway

Read Now Sleep Later and Nite Lite are participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Rhianna at The Diary of a Bookworm.

Click here to find all the Spooktacular posts for the month of October.

Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender (and, if I can buy one at Mrs. Nelson's on Oct. 30, you'll also get a signed hardcover copy of Bad Girls Don't Die! If I can't get a signed one, I will send you a regular hardcover copy, purchased from an indie bookstore)

Seriously, these are books that kept me up all night! O_O The author, however, is one of the sweetest, non-scariest people you can ever meet--if she's on tour near you, stop by and say hello!

Katie Alender

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Crank - Banned Book Review

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Publication Date: 5 Oct 2004 by Simon Pulse
ISBN 10/13: 0689865198 | 9780689865190

Category: Young Adult Realistic Novel in Verse
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, eBook/Kindle
Keywords: Based on a True Story, Addiction, Drugs, Sex, Banned

Alethea's review:

Ellen Hopkins's debut YA novel is a cautionary tale first and foremost. This collection of poetry tells the story of her daughter Kristina--a bright, pretty, but damaged girl who makes some painful and disastrous decisions in her young life. Underlying it all is tragedy--the author's family drama made public. The scandalous subject matter coupled with adults' perception of how a tale like this might affect its intended audience--teenagers and other young people made to witness mature topics "before their time", has led to its being challenged and banned in various communities.

Kristina seems to go from zero to sixty into a drugged-out, sexed-up downward spiral--this abruptness is what I liked least about the book, though I can see both that a) it's very possible it really happened this way and b) for storytelling purposes, it still works better than a gradual decline. The language is cutting, crystalline, harsh--the alignment (disalignment? malignment?) of the printed words emphasize the disorder and compulsions that drive Bree, nee Kristina, to waste and wither even as a new life develops within her body. The overt lessons in Crank are quite direct--don't do drugs, don't be careless with sex, seek help when you need it, but miss that last hit of credibility. The voices of the character and the author both seem unreliable somehow. However, while Crank is not my favorite of Ellen's books, it's a must-read to set the stage for the rest of her stories. 

I have met Ellen Hopkins and I trust her writing. I have listened to her read from some of her later books (Fallout, Perfect) and her words have moved me to tears. I believe that, dark as it is, her narratives are important and even necessary to touch topics no parent wants to have to talk about with their kids. It's hard enough to do it as a preventative--what do you say when your child is, or--heaven forbid--you are the one with the addiction? Hopkins will touch the topics no one else will touch. She wrestles with the monster in the hopes that other Kristinas (and maybe even Adams) will be saved; not just to prevent teens from using drugs, committing crimes, or being sexually abused, but also for those teens who have been there and done that, and who no longer believe they can be redeemed.

If you ever go to one of her signings, especially in a place even a teensy bit urban, watch the end of the signing line. You might see some grave faces, usually of young men, hanging back and letting the girls go first. Baggy pants inched just a bit higher than normal, freshly washed, facial hair, piercings and tats, moderate bling. Deep voices speaking softly and respectfully, almost shyly as they ask her to sign her autograph. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. Hopkins turns more than just pages.

To ban Ellen Hopkins is to wash our hands of good people who do bad things; generally something frowned upon by faiths that preach forgiveness and good will. You can find out more about her at www.ellenhopkins.com, and read a banned book story from one of my favorite librarians, Dr. Karin Perry (www.karinsbooknook.com)

Follow @ellenhopkinsya on Twitter and keep up with her on Facebook.