Saturday, October 31, 2009
Publication Date/Version: December 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Age Group: 12 and up
Received From: ReaderViews
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
First off, let me just say "wow." This book was truly a great work of literature, and it's sure to be a huge hit. I think the universe has an unspoken law that any book this large has to be good - otherwise, it's just a waste of paper. ;) And this was definitely not a waste of paper!
Beautiful Creatures had it all: mystery, suspense, some serious romance, and plenty of twists. All the makings of a perfect story. I was drawn in from the very beginning, and although a darker tale, Ethan's sarcasm had me laughing all the way through. Each character had a great story, and each was well-developed. Characterization was a large part of this book.
The storyline itself was simply amazing. The rich setting added tons to the complex plot. There was always a new twist to comprehend, and I felt as though I was there with the characters. The pacing was spot on; never did I have to put the book down because of slow points. The story came to life with wonderful details, and overall, the book had a great voice to it.
Normally, I'm not a fan of male protagonists, but Ethan was awesome. He was so easy to connect with, and you'll root for him the entire time as he searches for a cure to Lena's dark curse. His attraction to Lena was adorable, and their romance had me swooning. I couldn't get enough of them. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have created an absolutely wonderful book that is bound to be incredibly popular. And by the looks of it, there's definitely a sequel!
Overall: Beautiful Creatures weaves a complex story filled with darkness, hope, first love, and endless emotions. Truly original.
My Advice: Preorder this! You won't regret it.
The Cover: I would have liked to see something a bit brighter, maybe Lena's eyes. The writing is very pretty, however, and I like the slight sparkle it has.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman
(HC/August 2009/Delacorte Press)
Andromeda Klein has a few problems.
Her hair is kind of horrible.
Her partner-in-occultism, Daisy, is dead.
Her secret, estranged, much older, and forbidden boyfriend-in-theory has gone AWOl.
And her mother has learned how to text.
In short, things couldn't get much worse. Until they do. Daisy seems to be attempting to make contact from beyond, books are starting to disappear from the library, and strangely and suddenly, Andromeda's tarot readings have begun to predict events with bizarrely literal accuracy.
Omens are everywhere. Dreams; swords; fires; hidden cards; lost, broken, and dead cell phones... and what is Daisy trying to tell her?
In the ensuing struggle of neutral versus evil, it's Andromeda Klein against the world, modern society, demonic forces, and the "Friends" of the Library.
I received this from the publisher in order to write a review for Teens Read Too. They also sent along a postcard and a cool CD that has four songs on it, three from King Dork and one from Andromeda Klein, as well as a Q&A session with Frank Portman and a sneak peak at Going Bovine.
I got some other really great things as well this week. I recently won a contest for a a prize pack of James Patterson books. I came home to a nice big box filled with:
Maximum Ride: Max, Angel Experiment, School's Out - Forever, Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, The Final Warning, Manga
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
Daniel X: Watch the Skies
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Million-Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica
(ARC/November 2009/Philomel Books)
What would you do with a million dollars, if you were thirteen?
Nate Brodie is nicknamed "Brady" not only for his arm, but also because he's the biggest Tom Brady fan. He's even saved up to buy an autographed football. And when he does, he wins the chance for something he's never dreamed of—to throw a pass through a target at a Patriots game for one million dollars.
Nate should be excited. But things have been tough lately. His dad lost his job and his family is losing their home. It's no secret that a million dollars would go a long way. So all Nate feels is pressure, and just when he needs it most, his golden arm begins to fail him. Even worse, his best friend Abby is going blind, slowly losing her ability to do the one thing she loves most—paint. Yet Abby never complains, and she is Nate's inspiration. He knows she'll be there when he makes the throw of a lifetime.
I don't normally read books about sports, especially ones with male protagonists, but this sounds especially moving. Thanks to Penguin for sending me an ARC.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Publication Date/Version: August 2009/Paperback
Publisher: Strident Publishing
Age Group: Middle school and up
Twelve-year-old Bree McCready has a mission: she has just one night to save the world!
It starts when a clue inscribed on a Half-Heart Locket leads Bree and her best friends Sandy and Honey to an ancient magical book. With it they can freeze time, fly and shrink to the size of ants.
But they soon discover the book has a long history of destruction and death. And it's being sought by the monstrous Thalofedril, who will stop at nothing to get it.
Using its incredible powers, he could turn the world into a wasteland.
Bree, Sandy and Honey go on the run - hurtling off city rooftops, down neck-breaking ravines, and through night-black underground tunnels - to keep the book out of his lethal hands. Little do they know that the greatest danger of all lies ahead, in the heart of his deadly lair...
Can Bree find the courage to face this terrifying evil, and to confront the secrets of her tragic past?
Bree will always hold a special place in my heart, simply because it was the first book ever offered to me for review by the author herself. Hazel, by the way, is a sweetheart. Now, onto the book.
Good friends, action, and thrills, oh my! Bree had all of it. The mystery of the Half-Heart Locket starts out quickly, within the first chapter, and the pace never slows down from there. Bree is easy to relate to, and her best friend Sandy is just as quirky. Then along comes Honey, the girl with the looks, but none of the attitude. It was refreshing to see the pretty girl turn out to be the nice girl, as well.
I really enjoyed Bree, seeing how I love a good mystery with plenty of tasks to complete. This book had just that. It took a little to get used to the different grammar and slang, but it was fun! The entire book was about the three friends' quest to keep Thalofedril, who is incredibly creepy, away from the magical book. Their journey is fast paced and the idea of seven wishes really keeps the book moving. It was interesting to see how the friends reacted to each new wish they were given. At times I wished I could be in their places, just to experience the crazy adrenaline rush.
One thing I wished we could have seen more of was character development. I would've enjoyed learning more about Sandy and Honey, especially Honey. They both had such interesting families, and I would've liked to known more about their pasts. Hopefully, we'll get some new information in the sequel.
Bree is targeted for a younger audience, and I believe that's clear in the lack of any bad morals. All ages could enjoy this, however - I know I did. It was nice to read a book that wasn't filled with cussing, desire, or drinking. Bree is a perfectly good book without all of that, and is therefore accessible to all readers.
Overall: Although targeted for a younger audience, I found Bree to be incredibly enjoyable and filled with fast paced action and ideal friends.
My Advice: This book is currently being published in the UK, but is still available for order from Amazon. Definitely pick up a copy of this! You won't want to miss this, and all ages will be able to enjoy it.
Cover: I really like the title, with its cool font and color. The characters are portrayed perfectly, right down to Honey's multi-colored nail polish.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I get asked lots why I wrote this particular book. To be honest I didn’t plan it this way. “Bree McCready” started out as a short story about bullying called “In Her Shoes”. Things spiralled from that point and before I knew it the characters had taken on their own personalities. I started writing like my characters lives depended on it. Soon the broken locket and the magic book were being thrown into the mix and suddenly I had this kind of fantasy/adventure book with emotion running through it. Someone once described “Bree McCready and the half heart Locket” as being like “Indiana Jones written by Jacqueline Wilson”
As a deep-thinking and misunderstood youngster I was always on the lookout for books that contained real characters, ones that I could identify with and who had a story that struck a chord in me. I remember falling in love with Holden Caulfield as I read “The Catcher in the Rye” when I was fourteen. Right from the beginning I really wanted Bree to have that affect on her readers. Despite being really clever and wise Bree feels a bit like a square peg in the circular hole of life. She feels like something is missing in her life and I think a lot of young people will relate to her because of this.
Once I finished writing “Bree McCready” I had absolutely no idea where to start getting it published. I didn’t know anyone in publishing. I didn’t even know anyone who knew anyone. All I knew was that I had a good book that I felt certain children would like. My first stop was the internet. I got the names of some well known publishers and I sent a copy of my synopsis and the first three chapters of the book to them. After that I thought I had nothing better to do than to sit back and wait for the offers to come flooding in. What I hadn’t realised was that hundreds of other aspiring writers were doing the same! When I started getting rejection letters I tried not to let it bother me. Everyone knows that even J.K Rowling got rejection letters. One kind publisher advised me to invest in a copy of the ‘Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook’ which I did. This was very helpful not least because it advised me how best to structure my covering letter to publishers and how to lay things out so my manuscript wouldn’t get chucked in the bin before it had even been read. I did a lot of waiting and felt a lot of disappointment before my luck finally changed. A lovely lady called Alison read my manuscript and despite the abundance of mistakes she loved it. She saw something special, something promising and she really believed in me and my book. That was all it took, just one person to see the potential and then the ball started rolling.
It took me until I reached the age of 34 to even consider trying to write the novel that I knew was inside me from an early age. There were times when I thought I would never see my book in print. This has not been an easy journey - I have lots of rejection letters and a few gray hairs to prove that! There were times when I seriously doubted myself but even during those dark moments I never stopped believing in Bree. This has been a most important learning curve for me, pursuing the one thing that has always mattered most. It took me a while but with a lot of hard work, and a sprinkling of good fortune I got there in the end!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Publication Date/Version: September 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Age Group: 15 and up
Pushed into indentured servitude for her stepmother in the City to pay off her father's debts, Ash is consumed with grief. She misses her family and her happy life at the edge of the Wood where old magic used to linger in the air like fairy breath. Her only joy comes from the brief, stolen walks in the woods with the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean. Ash's single, unspoken hope is that someday he might steal her away, as fairies are said to do.
But on the day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, from Kaisa she learns the art of the hunt, how to ride and track. Their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, but it grows and changes, and with it, Ash reawakens her capacity for love - and her desire to live.
Entrancing and romantic, Ash is an empowering retelling of Cinderella about choosing life and love over solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.
I received Ash by Malinda Lo from ReaderViews for review.
Ash starts out strong and never fades. The beginning is intriguing and I was instantly drawn in by the old fairy magic and tales. Each fairy story really added something to the book, and they helped to create a feeling of magic. The setting was gorgeous and added a lot to the storyline. The atmosphere overall was lovely, and seemed like the perfect setting for unusual happenings.
Although a retelling of Cinderella, Ash strayed far enough away from the original plot line that it didn't feel like a complete copy with only new names and places. This story truly developed into something unique; I rarely remembered that this was a retelling. Ash was a good character, and I enjoyed learning about her mother and father. It was enjoyable to read about her step family's exquisite lifestyle, even though I was always hoping that neither of her stepsisters would find a husband. Kaisa was an interesting character, and I wished we could have learned more about her. It would have been really great if a few chapters had been told from Kaisa's point of view so we could get an idea of how she felt about all of the happenings.
Sidhean, unfortunately, didn't do much for me. It was a though we were told he was handsome and had a romantic relationship with Ash, but I myself never really saw it. I didn't feel much of a connection between the two and was somewhat disappointed.
Malinda Lo has created a wonderfully lyrical piece of literature, and she is sure to gain many new followers. I look forward to reading more of her work.
Overall: Ash was composed of beautiful prose, and an even better setting.
My Advice: Definitely pick up a copy at your local book store. This is a book you'll want to have on hand so you can reread it again and again.
Cover: The cover is interesting. It doesn't quite do it for me, however. I like the title font and color, but all of the black is too dull for my tastes. Maybe a finished copy would be prettier...