Sunday, October 31, 2010

Announcing the Winner of My Matched ARC

Thanks to everyone who entered my contest for my copy of the ARC of Matched. Random.org tells me that the winner is.....

Marcie Turner

Congratulations! Your book is packed and ready to go. I hope to get to the Post Office tomorrow after work. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

In My YA Mailbox (Oct. 31, 2010)


The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
 
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without. Here are the books that followed me home this week.
 
I spent last Friday and Saturday at KidLit Con 2010. These books are the result of that experience.
 
I had a chance to meet Swati Avasthi and hear her speak about how she was promoting her debut book Sweep. However, the bookseller was sold out and I had to get mine from Amazon after I got home. Luckily, I did have her sign a bookplate that I put in my new book when it arrived.

I won a copy of  Carney's House Party/Winona's Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace for asking a question at the Blogging the Backlist session. I haven't read these. I feel behind because Lovelace is a much-beloved Minnesota author.

I also had a chance to get an ARC of The Hole in the Wall by Lisa Rowe Fraustino. This is a middle grade novel being published by Milkweek Books.

I also bought The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff and had a chance to get it autographed. This YA books has gotten mixed reviews and I am eager to see what I think.

These books actually did appear in my mailbox this week.

Eternal: More Love Stories With Bite edited by P. C. Cast has a number of stories by authors that I read.

The Fledgling Handbook 101 by P. C. Cast is for fans of the House of Night series who wish to learn more in a pseud-nonfiction book about being a fledgling. I thought it looked interesting. I know I have students who will be interested in this one.

I also bought Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. I have already lent it to a student who has promised to read it and write a review for this blog. I didn't know when it would rise to the top of my TBR stack. So I am grateful for her help (and I love to feed reading addictions.)
I also decided to buy a few books that have been on my wishlist for a while. All of them are either or both steampunk or dystopias.
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is up for some awards this year and I thought it was time that I read it.
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld has been out for a while and I had been considering buying it for quite a while. The publication of Behemoth tipped me over the edge. 
These are the books that have found a home on my TBR stack. What did you get this week?



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: We the Children by Andrew Clements

We the Children
(Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School)
Author: Andrew Clements
Publication: Atheneum (April 6, 2010)


Description: Benjamin Pratt’s school is about to become the site of a new amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true! But lately, Ben has been wonder if he’s going to like an amusement park in the middle of his town—with all the buses and traffic and eight dollar slices of pizza. It’s going to change everything. And, Ben is not so big on all the new changes in his life, like how his dad has moved out and started living in the marina on what used to be the "family” sailboat. Maybe it would be nice if the school just stayed as it is. He likes the school. Loves it, actually. It’s over 200 years old and sits right on the harbor. The playground has ocean breezes and the classrooms have million dollar views…MILLION DOLLAR views. 


And after a chance—and final—run-in with the school janitor, Ben starts to discover that these MILLION DOLLAR views have a lot to do with the deal to sell the school property. But, as much as the town wants to believe it, the school does not belong to the local government. It belongs to the CHILDREN and these children have the right to defend it! 


Don’t think Ben, his friend Jill (and the tag-along Robert) can ruin a multimillion dollar real estate deal? Then you don’t know the history and the power of the Keepers of the School. A suspenseful six book series, book one, We the Children, starts the battle on land and on sea. It’s a race to keep the school from turning into a ticket booth and these kids are about to discover just how threatening a little knowledge can be.


My Thoughts: This was an interesting start to a new series. This book provided primarily introduction to the forthcoming series. We meet Ben Pratt who is a good student and is dealing with his parents' recent separation. He spends one week with his dad on his boat and one week with his mom in their house in town. He is unhappy about the separation and about the up-coming changes in his life. We meet Jill who is a childhood friends and confidant. She lives in town with her parents and siblings. She is smart and cute. Ben is just beginning to notice her as a cute girl and possible girlfriend. We also meet Robert who is one of Ben's chief rivals both at school and at the sailing club where they are both learning to race sailboats.


We also meet the school itself. It was built by Captain Oakes who had made a lot of money in shipping during the Revolutionary war and wanted to provide a continuing contribution to the town and the country. He gave the school to the children. Now the school is being threatened by developers who want to build a historic themed amusement park where the school stands.


A school janitor gives Ben a gold coin and the task of protecting the school just before he dies. Ben and Jill (with some help from Robert) are determined to find a way to save their school and the town from these developers. 


The book was a quiet story up until the last couple of chapters. Young readers will be excited by the sailing race and Ben's heroics and will want to keep reading to find out if the students do manage to save their school.


Favorite Quote:
He had to admit Jill's questions had been fair. Yes, he'd known about the theme park idea for almost two years now, and yes, swapping an old school for an amusement park used to seem like a good idea. But he was allowed to change his mind, wasn't he? Especially after what Mr. Keane said. But maybe Jill was right. Maybe he was just scared about change--any kind of change.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WoW: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


I am eagerly awaiting Across the Universe by Beth Revis. This is her debut YA novel and it comes out Jan. 11, 2011.


This book has been on my radar for quite a while. I have already pre-ordered it at Amazon. It has a lovely cover and a terrific premise. I love science fiction, mystery and romance.
A Story of Love, Murder, and Madness Aboard an Enormous Spaceship Bound for the Future


Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.


Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.


Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.


Across the Universe is Titanic meets Brave New World.
Doesn't that just sound amazing?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tween Review: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity 
(Brixton Brothers)
Author: Mac Barnett
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; Reprint edition (May 4, 2010)


Description: Steve Brixton is an average 7th grader. Until one Saturday at the library when he finds himself caught up in America's most top secret case.


My Thoughts: Seventh grader Steve Brixton is obsessed with mysteries. His favorite book is the 
Bailey Brothers' Detective Handbook. His next favorite books are the 58 books of the Bailey Brothers series. He reads and rereads them and is something of a detective himself. When his teacher assigns him a homework assignment of an essay on American needlework, Steve doesn't know that he will soon be involved in a case to recover a national treasure. 


This is a humorous middle grade mystery with a likable main character. I liked that he was using the Bailey Brothers as guides to proper detective behavior. He had adopted the style and vocabulary of those old mysteries. I was reminded of the many Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books I read when I was young. 


I liked the idea of librarians as secret agents who are determined to keep the country safe. However, they think that Steve is a detective in the employ of the mysterious Mr. E (mystery, get it?). So he is on the run from them and from the police, including his mom's new boyfriend. After many perilous adventures, Steve solves the case and embarks on his new career as a detective.


I think that middle grade adventure lovers who want some humor in their books will really like this one. 


Favorite Quote:
Mackintosh winced. "Just loaned people books? Listen, Steven: Librarians are the guardians of knowledge. And yes, we make sure knowledge is available, gratis, to everyone. 'Just loaning them books,' as you put it, is an important job." He paused and looked right at Steve. "But it's not the reason we're proficient in seven different kinds of martial arts."
Gee, I seem to be seven different kinds of martial arts behind. I can loan people books with the best of them though.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (Oct. 24, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

I'm getting this ready to post quite early this week. I will be attending KidLit Con 2010 this Friday night and all day Saturday and don't know when I'll be getting home Saturday night. My friend said something about going to the casino on the way back!

I received three books this week.

First, is the much anticipated Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. I pre-ordered this one quite a while ago. I am eager to get a chance to read it. I have been eager since I saw the first review and the current crop of reviews has done nothing to change my mind. I am a big fan of werewolf books. It also doesn't hurt that Cremer is from Minnesota. (I like supporting local authors.)



I also won an autographed copy of Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers and it arrived this week. I liked the product description here:

If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be?

Are you sure about that...?

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance--even her closest friends--and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions--for Hell--and she possesses a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he's as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn't stand a chance.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn't get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay...for all of them.
This one sounds like another winner.


The final book I got this week was Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World. I couldn't pass up that title. I know I have middle graders at my school who will really enjoy this one. It looks like it will have humor that is right on point for that audience (and I need a break from all the teenage angst and love triangles that I have been reading lately.) This one is described as a comic step-by-step guide to world domination.


Those are the books that appeared in my mailbox. What did you get this week? While you are here don't forget to enter my ARC Giveaway. This contest to clean my shelf of ARCs ends on 10/31.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Matched ARC Giveaway

I have an ARC of Matched that I have read and reviewed. I also lent it to a friend who also read and reviewed it.


I would be glad to send it on so that others have a chance to read and review this remarkable book before it comes out on Nov. 30.


Here is the description: 
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.


The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
Here is the Book Trailer made by PenguinYoungReaders:




Here are the contest details:
  1. Contest is open to old and new followers only.
  2. Entrants must live in the US or Canada (Sorry, International Folks, it is too complicated and costly to ship an ARC.)
  3. Entrants must fill out the form below.
  4. Contest closes on October 31 at noon CDT.
  5. Duplicate entries will be deleted.
Here is the form. Good luck.

Review: The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular by Jimmy Gownley

The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular
Author: Jimmy Gownley
Publication: Atheneum (April 6, 2010)


Description: Do you know there’s no true opposite to the word “catastrophe”?


Amelia McBride and company are about to embark on their most daunting mission yet: navigating the promises and pitfalls of popularity at Joe McCarthy Elementary. A tricky task when you consider an unmatched pair of socks alone can cause ridicule for years to come. Really, though, all the gang wants is not to be unpopular. Rising and falling through the ranks of nerd, geek—and cheerleader?—with advice from wacky popularity expert Dr. Victoria Medeochrias, Amelia and her friends encounter riotous mobs, unfortunate makeovers, and bad catch phrases. Even after things go from bad to worse, Amelia learns there are some things that are just a little bit more important than being popular.

In his first brand new volume in two years, Jimmy Gownley dishes up another hilariously satisfying dose of Amelia Rules!, in what Comics Buyer’s Guide has called “a timeless manner to which readers young and old can easily relate.”


My Thoughts: This attractive graphic novel was all about popularity. It was filled with great activities that reminded me of middle school. None of Amelia's gang are among the popular crowd. They are all uniquely quirky characters. 


When one of the group finds a guide to not being unpopular, the kids sort of get sidetracked into trying to be someone they are not. Luckily, good advice from Mom and Aunt Tanner help get Amelia to realize what is actually important. 


I enjoyed the art in the book. I usually don't think that graphic novels tell enough of a story. It is hard to get any subtleties into a book where all the speech is dialog but this one was different. I got the whole story in the text and pictures of this book. The expressions on the characters faces were especially well done. I like the comic book style of illustration and think they were well-suited to the story. 


I think middle graders will like getting to know Amelia and her buddies. 


Favorite Quote:
Ages 12-16 -- Dress like an 18-25-year-old, act like a 25-30-year-old
Ages 17-21 -- Dress like a 25-30-year-old, act like a 12-year-old
Ages 22-30 -- Dress like a 16-year-old, act like an old Madonna song
Ages 31-45 -- Dress like a 50-year-old, read your old yearbook a lot
Ages 46-up -- Just try to stay indoors as much as possible
Other books in the Amelia Rules! series:

  • The Whole World's Crazy
  • What Makes You Happy
  • A Very Ninja Christmas
  • Superheroes
  • When the Past is the Present
  • True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know) 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title:  Matched
Author:  Ally Condie
Number of Pages:  366
Genre:  Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher/Year:  Dutton Books / 2010
To Be Released:  November 2010
Source:  Advanced Reading Copy
Rating:  5/5


Why I Read It:  It was recommended by a friend and I am grateful for her recommendation.
                                                                                   
First Impression: 


I love book covers, and how they are able to draw readers to the story waiting on the inside.  This cover is fabulous! The shimmer of the background almost makes the “globe” appear in 3-D.  I truly wanted to get inside the book so I could experience, for myself, Cassia’s Society.  I do wish the diameter of the “globe” was equally “Matched” to the title.  I think that would create even more of a first impressive physical draw to the book.

Quote:
“Cassia.  Do you regret your decision to be Matched?  Do you wish that you chosen to be single?”

“That’s not it.”

“Then what is it?”

I think people should be able to choose who they Match with,” I say lamely.

“Where would it end, Cassia?” she says, her voice patient.  “Would you say next that people should be able to choose how many children they have, and where they want to live? Or when they want to die?”

I am silent, but not because I agree.  I am thinking of Grandfather.  Do not go gentle.

Synopsis:


In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.
Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.


Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic. (From the back cover of the Advanced Reading Copy.)

Brief Review:


Seventeen year old Cassia is able to establish, from the beginning, that though her Society is supposed to be perfect, there are flaws.  I appreciate her ability to try to abide by the governing rules because of her love:  love for her family, and love for both Xander, her Match, and Ky her passion; though she is rogue enough to question the many rules in her Society.  She knew the decisions she made, in every avenue of her life, would effect every person in her life; thus her dilemna.  Should she accept her “perfect Match” and ease this match provides or should she follow her heart and her passion?


The emotional romances in this love story are charged with intensity.  Condie did an excellent job presenting the development of every character and this allowed me to make strong emotional bonds with each person.  I wanted to know more, to experience more, to share more, and to not have the story end. I couldn’t put the book down, and I am already waiting for the next book in this story.


Created by Deb Vosler, Phy. Ed. teacher and avid reader


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka

Spaceheadz
Author: Jon Scieszka
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (June 22, 2010)


Description: Michael K. just started fifth grade at a new school. As if that wasn't hard enough, the kids he seems to have made friends with apparently aren't kids at all. They are aliens. Real aliens who have invaded our planet in the form of school children and a hamster. They have a mission to complete: to convince 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. But with a hamster as their leader, "kids" who talk like walking advertisements, and Michael K as their first convert, will the SPHDZ be able to keep their cover and pull off their assignment?


My Thoughts: This was an interesting and very funny illustrated novel. It is filled with Jon Scieszka's trademark zaniness. 


Poor Michael K. would just like to slide seamlessly into his new fifth grade class but he has a couple of problems. Bob and Jennifer (and their supervisor Captain Fluffy who appears to be the class hamster) are aliens who have come to Earth to recruit 3.14 million plus 1 recruits to keep Earth from being turned off. The aliens have gotten their information about Earth from listening to commercials. The are constantly throwing in advertising slogans in their conversations. They have picked Michael K. to help because he appeared in a television commercial for an off-brand cereal under the slogan  "I can do anything." They are being pursued by a very inept AAA agent. This time AAA is an acronym for Anti-Alien Agency. Agent Umber is trying very hard but the poor man just isn't very bright.


I liked the over-the-top humor and thought it would play well to middle school and upper elementary grade students. I also liked the link to the website that Michael K. set up at www.sphdz.com. You can bet that I registered. I don't want the Earth to be turned off. By the way, you may now refer to me as Ultrasoft Dill Pickle. 


The illustrations by Shane Prigmore added a lot to the humor in this book. Scieszka also managed to sneak in some informational pages about a number of topics too. Readers will learn a bit about electromagnetic waves, animal communication and lots of other topics as they laugh along with this book. 


Favorite Quote:
Agent Umber tried to argue his case.


But no one, on any planet, in any galaxy, ever wins an argument with the school nurse.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

In My YA Mailbox (Oct. 17, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

This was another rather busy week. I got books almost every day and the Media Center was busy with our first book fair of the year. I couldn't resist:
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman. We have the hardcover in the Media Center but I wanted to have my own because I have no idea when I will get a chance to read it.

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the third in The Missing series. I intend to read and pass this one along to my Media Center.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger has such an intriguing title. I have read about this one on a few blogs and thought it sounded good.

I also won the Spaceheadz Middle Grade pack from Jana at Milk & Cookies. These look like a lot of fun. I'm thinking of having a personal MG Read-a-thon this weekend to read all of them. The package included:
Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka
We the Children from the Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School series by Andrew Clements
The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity which is a Brixton Brothers book by Mac Barnett

Then, I couldn't let Amazon believe that I had forgotten about them, so I bought these too.
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan interested me after a saw a number of blog posts about it. I did wait until I could get a copy on Amazon Marketplace before placing my order though.

I couldn't wait for The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. I liked his Percy Jackson books and wanted to see what more he had to say in that world. 
I had to have Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl because Beautiful Creatures was my favorite book of 2009 and I need to know what happens next for the characters.

Stork by Wendy Delsol is a 2010 YA Debut. I was intrigued by the Minnesota setting of this one.

The final book I added to my stack this week was another eARC from NetGalley. I have heard a number of good things about Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Screiber.
Don't forget to visit my other blog -- Inside of a Dog and enter my ARC Giveaway Contest. You could win Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin or Halo by Alexandra Adornetto or Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James. There are other ARCs available too. Any follower is invited to enter the giveaway.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week is from Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn. This is the first in a new fantasy series. The product description says "Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. 

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court."



My teaser is from page 68:
Everyone had a gift to bestow; everyone had a lifespan to complete; the world would change whether you wished it to or not. These were among the immutable truths that she could not alter by weeping. She closed her eyes and finally managed to summon a haunted and unsatisfactory sleep.
Thus far, I am loving the story and the language in this one.


Just a reminder, US and Canadian followers! Don't forget to enter my ARC Giveaway at Inside of a Dog. The contest ends on Oct. 31. New followers are welcome to enter too.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In My Mailbox (Oct. 10, 2010)

The weekly In My Mailbox post is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is fun to see what everyone else gets in their mailboxes, shopping bags, and library visits. Click on the link to The Story Siren's site to see the rules and join in the fun.
I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the cool books everyone gets. You will discover lots of wonderful blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

I went way overboard this week and bought too many books - but they all sounded really good.
Sweep by Cate Tiernan contains the first three books in the Sweep series. "The first three Sweep books bound into one gorgeous edition at a fabulous price! Morgan Rowlands never thought she was anything other than a typical sixteen-year-old girl. But when she meets Cal, a captivatingly handsome coven leader, she makes a discover that turns her whole world upside down: she is a witch, descended from an ancient and powerful line. And so is Cal. Their connection is immediate and unbreakable; Cal teases out Morgan's power, her love, her magick. But Morgan discovers too soon that her powers are strong--almost too powerful to control. And she begins to suspect that Cal may be keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that could destroy them both."

In honor of Banned Book Week, I decided to buy a copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler to see what all the fuss is about.

A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde was recommended to me by a poster on LibraryThing. She is an avid reader and thought I would enjoy this. An added attraction for me is that it was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. I love her work.

I also visited the Kindle Store this week and downloaded these two free titles.
Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison is a debut title and is supposed to be a blend of suspense and paranormal romance.

The New World by Patrick Ness is a prequel to the Chaos Walking series. I haven't read that series yet. So I thought I'd start with the prequel.

I also visited NetGalley and scored these eARCs for books that are coming out in 2011.
Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough follows Once a Witch. This one won't be published until August 1, 2011.

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks has been on my radar since I saw the first review. I love the title. This one comes out April 4, 2011.

Angelfire by Courney Allison Moulton has a gorgeous cover. I have seen nothing but good reviews for this one. It is due out in February.

These should keep me nicely busy for a while. What did you get in your mailbox?

Review: Selling Hope by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Selling Hope
Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (November 9, 2010)


Description: It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe.  Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?


My Thoughts: This was a nice work of historical fiction. Hope was a character in search of a home. She was on the vaudeville circuit with her father who was a magician. She acted as his assistant. She was very tired of the constant travel and wanted to have a home. When they got to Chicago amid all the fear and confusion of the impending arrival of Halley's Comet, Hope comes up with a way to make some money to provide some security for herself and her father. Her anti-comet pills offer hope to many frightened people. At first, she is just in it for the money but she quickly sees her customers as people in need of hope.


I liked the descriptions of the vaudeville life including the dirty boarding houses, the shabby theaters, and the train travel. I thought the evil manager was a good villain for a middle grade book. He held power over his acts and was a thief too. Hope's father wasn't very parental. He treated Hope more like a partner than a daughter and didn't watch over her very closely. Both were grieving for Hope's mother in their own very different ways. I know that Hope was looking for financial security. I think that Hope's father was just hoping to outrun his grief.


I liked the one-liners that Hope punctuated the story with. I think my favorite was "That gal's mouth is so big, she can whisper in her own ear!" 


I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction who like to read about feisty characters.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ARC Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Publication: Dutton Juvenile (November 30, 2010)


Description: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.


The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.


My Thoughts: This was an interesting young adult dystopia with a rather frightening world. Everything is perfect as long as you do exactly what the Society tells you to do. The society controls where you live, what job you do, what you eat, and who you marry. Sometime around the age of 17, young people who choose to be matched attend a banquet and see the face of their spouse. They also get a holocard with information about them. Cassia is surprised when Xander is announced as her match. She has known and been friends with him since she was a small child. The next day, when she checks the holocard to see what they decided to tell her about Xander, she sees the face of another boy. Ky is also known to her. He came to her neighborhood after the death of his parents to live with his Aunt and Uncle. An official meets Cassia and tells her that he couldn't be her match because he is an Aberation and is unmatchable. But she becomes fascinated with him and eager to learn his story.


While the romance was interesting, I thought the most interesting part of this book was the world that Condie created. It reminded me of Camazotz, the world that Meg visits in A Wrinkle in Time. Everything was controlled. Everyone was specialized. They had boiled down all of art and literature to 100 songs, 100 poems, 100 paintings. And, since they even monitored dreams, there was no way to rebel. This quote sums it up:
"I think people should be able to choose who they Match with," I say lamely.


"Where would it end, Cassia?" she says, her voice patient. "Would you say next that eople should be able to choose how many children they have, and where they want to live? Or when they want to die?"
I was especially repelled by the idea that people automatically died at age 80. Cassia, at first, seems to accept this. She attends her Grandfather's last banquet. He has given her an Artifact - an old make-up compact that had belonged to an ancestor. He shows her a secret compartment with two poems in it. The poems are not on the list of 100 poems. They are Crossing the Bar by Tennyson and a poem by Dylan Thomas called Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night. Those poems become her secret. She shares her secret with Ky and he shares drawings of his life before he met her.


I recommend this dystopia to young adults. It was very thought-provoking and the romance was sweet.


Favorite Quote:
And then I picture my father closing the door gently but firmly and keeping me safe inside this house. Inside these walls where I have been safe for so long.


But this house isn't safe anymore, I remind myself. This hiuse is where I first saw Ky's face on a microcard. Where they searched my father.


Is there a safe place anywhere in this Borough? In this City, this Province, this world?
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge