Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: The Trouble With Spells by Lacey Weatherford

The Trouble With Spells
Author: Lacey Weatherford
Publication: Global Authors Publishers (March 11, 2011)


Description: Portia Mullins had always lived the life of a normal teenager, up until her sixteenth birthday. She is then informed by her grandma that she is actually a witch whois a descendant of a long line of witches and warlocks. After overcoming her disbelief she finds that being a member of the coven comes with one great perk in the form of the school's handsome bad boy, Vance Mangum. Vance and Portia have an immediate connection as a budding romance begins, only to be threatened by turbulent skies on the horizon as Vance's checkered past rears its ugly head to haunt them. Portia is forced to use her untried powers in defense of everything she loves in a desperate attempt to hold on to the one thing that really matters in her life.


My Thoughts: What a fun story! It made me long to be sixteen again. I was just swept into this story. Portia and Vance had a wonderful romance. I liked Portia and I really liked Vance. He is any girl's dream hero. He looks like a bad boy but has a rock-solid sense of ethics and values. He sees her and falls in love with her when she is only 14 but has to wait until she is 16 and learns that she is a witch before they can be together.


Portia has had a crush on him since she met him and is very pleased to learn that he is one of the witches in the coven that she becomes a member of on her sixteenth birthday. While she is surprised to find out that her father and grandmother are powerful witches, she adjusts quickly to her own magical heritage. Her romance with Vance helps with her adjustment too.


There romance is going smoothly until someone starts trying to hurt Portia and kidnap Vance. 


While I was swept into the story, every once in a while my cynical adult side popped up. It seems to me that Portia learned her magic very quickly and with none of the tedious studying or practice that most people have to do when they learn something new. It also seemed strange that the parents who wouldn't let her date until she was sixteen were so accepting of the relationship between Portia and Vance. They slept together - though chastely -- most nights and made vows that bound their souls together. Cynical old me thinks of all the relationships that I have seen between sixteen and eighteen year olds that have completely fallen apart by the time they are 21. 


I liked the relationship Portia has with her parents and grandmother. They were there to love and support her no matter what she did -- aside from the whole dating thing. They treat her as a responsible young adult and she doesn't hesitate to confide in her parents. 


I think teenagers will love this romantic story and will gobble up the sequels. I know I am eager to find out what happens next for Portia and Vance too. 


Favorite Quote:
Vance Mangum was in a class by himself. He was a senior who had the reputation of resident bad boy, yet despite that, every boy in school aspired to be like him in one way or another. 

They were always trying to copy the cool messed up hair, or getting their holey Levis to look just as good, even doing extra workouts, trying to build up their muscles so their t-shirts would stretch like his across their chests. But no matter how hard they tried, none of them managed to pull it off quite the way he did.
I have this book on my Kindle. I took advantage of the coupon offer that is good until April 9.
The sequels are The Demon Kiss and The Blood of the White Witch. Both are available at Smashwords too if you are looking for digital editions. Print copies of all three books are available at Amazon.

Check back on April 10 when I will be a stop on Lacey Weatherford's blog tour. You can see the whole tour schedule here. Follow the tour for a chance to win a Kindle of your very own.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It gives us a chance to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating.
I am eagerly waiting for The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong. I love Kelley Armstrong's adult books and can't wait to read this one. I pre-ordered my copy on March 18 and am impatiently waiting for April 12.

Doesn't this sound good?

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.


It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Trouble With Spells by Lacey Weatherford

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!
This week my teaser comes from The Trouble With Spells by Lacey Weatherford. This is a young adult paranormal. It is also the first book in the Of Witches and Warlocks trilogy. 


I received a free copy of the book for my Kindle by using a coupon I found here. The coupon is good until April 9. I will also be a stop on the blog tour for this book on April 10.
My teaser:
"Are you willing to become a member of the coven?"
"I thought that was a given," I replied, not realizing I had any say in the matter. I'd thought it was already a done deal. Wasn't that why she was telling me all this stuff?

Monday, March 28, 2011

ARC Review: The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks

The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group
Author: Catherine Jinks
Publication: Harcourt Children's Books (April 4, 2011)


Description: When Tobias Richard Vandevelde wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the night before, his horrified mother tells him that he was found unconscious. At Featherdale Wildlife Park.In a dingo pen.He assumes that his two best friends are somehow responsible, until the mysterious Reuben turns up, claiming that Toby has a rare and dangerous “condition.” Next thing he knows, Toby finds himself involved with a strange bunch of sickly insomniacs who seem convinced that he needs their help. It’s not until he’s kidnapped and imprisoned that he starts to believe them—and to understand what being a paranormal monster really means.


My Thoughts: This was a very different take on werewolves. Toby wakes up in a dingo pen and has no memory of how he got there. When he was first approached by Father Ramon Alvarez and Reuben Schneider and told he was a werewolf, his first reaction was disbelief and denial. He wallows in denial. His mother is convinced that he was doing drugs or something like that or that he has a medical condition like epilepsy. She is in even deeper denial than Toby.


But when he is kidnapped and taken to the same fighting complex that Reuben escaped from, he has to believe that he is a werewolf. Of course, he still has to convince his mother that not only is he a werewolf but that he is being helped, rescued and supported by vampires. That's a lot for one mother to believe.


At first I didn't care much for Toby. I thought he was a rather careless 13-year-old who was too easily led by his friend Fergus into doing thoughtless things. But I never doubted that he loved and respected his mother. As the story continued, Toby did mature and change. It took lots of very scary and dangerous activities to do it though.


I was also unhappy with Toby's mother. I think she carried her denial too far into the story. Her lack of trust in Toby was also a little grating. Her continual searching for a more rational explanation was probably very realistic though. And her love and support did work out in the end. 


I think that this would appeal to adventure loving middle graders who want to read about a different kind of werewolf. Twilight fans wouldn't recognize these werewolves and vampires though. 


Favorite Quote:

"Any support you might need, whether practical or emotional--all you have to do is ask," Father Ramon continued. "Every one of us in this room has a special burden to carry, and we know that a shared burden is always much lighter."
I read the eARC from NetGalley but you can buy it in print or for your Kindle at Amazon. This book follows The Reformed Vampire Support Group which I have not read and which apparently includes some of the character in this book. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (March 27, 2011)

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 wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

I had a really good week this week. I added four books to the TBR stack and spent only $4.99.
I have Invincible: Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon home with me from my school media center. This is the sequel to Infinity. It goes back in time and tells about Nick Gautier as he is just getting involved with the Dark Hunters.

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens is the one I spent money on. I have been seeing this one around the blogs and was very interested in it. I bought it for my Kindle.
I downloaded Retro Demonology by Jana Oliver for my Kindle. It is a free short story in the Demon Trapper's world. I have The Demon Trapper's Daughter on my TBR stack already but haven't had a chance to read it.

I also went to NetGalley and received an eARC of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross is the first in the Steampunk Chronicles. I fell in love with the cover and really like the steampunk genre. I look forward to reading and reviewing this one nearer its May 24 publication date.

Those were my additions to the TBR stack this week. What did you get?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ARC Review: Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Kat Incorrigible
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publication: Atheneum (April 5, 2011)


Description: Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she's inherited her mother's magical talents, and despite Stepmama's stern objections, she's determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa's intended fiancÉ, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?


My Thoughts: This was a wonderful historical romance in an alternate England when magic exists. Kat is the youngest of four children of a vicar. Her mother died shortly after her birth. She was raised by her older sisters. Now her father has remarried and her stepmother is determined to raise the girls with all propriety. 


Because her brother Charles has gotten the family hopelessly in debt, her oldest sister is determined to marry well to save the family. Rumor has it that Sir Neville's first wife was murdered -- by Sir Neville. Since Elisse, oldest sister, is determined to be a Gothic heroine and sacrifice herself for her family, it is up to Kat to come up with a scheme to save her. 


The middle sister Angeline is a witch. She has her mother's books of spells. She is also determined to find a way to save her older sister. Maybe a spell to find her own true love will work. Witchcraft is very scandalous in society. The family would be outcast if people found out she was a witch.


Kat snoops and reads some of the magic books. But she really learns her destiny when she searches the cupboard where her stepmother has stored all of her mother's things. She finds a golden mirror that takes her to a magical place where she is told that she is a Guardian. She is also told that her mother was a Guardian but was exiled for practicing magic. She meets two people there. One is a man who says he wants to be her tutor. The other is a snooty woman who tries to lock up Kat's magic. Kat doesn't want to be part of an organization that exiled her mother.


Kat turns them down. She is busy enough trying to save her sister from an unwanted marriage with an evil man. The book is full of adventures as Kat comes up with a variety of schemes to rescue her sister. Everything comes together at a house party that the family attends so that Elissa can be paraded before the evil Sir Neville.


The book is filled with familiar characters from Gothic novels -- the distracted father, the evil suitor, the penniless younger son, the overbearing stepmother. But they all work marvelously well in this entertaining Gothic novel for middle schoolers. I read the eARC but can hardly wait to get a print copy for my high school media center. 


Favorite Quote:
After all, no matter what Sir Neville thought he was up to, this ought to be a perfect opportunity for advancing my own schemes. if I wanted to find a way to save Elissa from him, what could be better than a private conversation, to find out what he really wanted?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

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 actually the beginning of an eARC that I recently finished. I received Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis as part of Simon &  Schuster's Galley Grab program a while ago. Since the time was running out on the Adobe Digital Edition, I decided to move it to the top of my TBR stack. I am so glad I did. This was a wonderful historical fiction story set in an alternate England complete with magic. 
I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.

I made it almost to the end of my front garden.
I have already pre-ordered my finished copy for delivery on April 5. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Of Witches and Warlocks -- The Trouble With Spells


BLOG TOUR AND KINDLE TREASURE HUNT STARTS TODAY, GO TO LACEY'S BLOG FOR DETAILS AT AUTHOR'S BLOG The Delusional Diaries ...
FOR A LIST OF ALL THE STOPS ON THE TOUR HIT LINK BELOW:

Do you want your own copy of the book? Check out this coupon at Smashwords before April 9.

Check back here on April 10 when I will have an excerpt of the book and two more clue words for the treasure hunt. Who wouldn't want to win a Kindle?


Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon Trailer

Tomorrow Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon will be published. This is her second YA book and follows Infinity. Both tell the stories of Nick Gautier when he was a young man. Readers of Kenyon's Dark Hunters series know Nick well. Seeing him as a teen provides new insights into his character.


Here's the book description:  Nick Gautier’s day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he’s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can’t even mention and the girl he’s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.
                                   
But more than that, he’s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn’t learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them...


My copy has been on pre-order for months. I can't wait to read it and donate it to my HS media center for all the students who have loved Infinity.


Check out this trailer:

Also, don't forget to check out this website to read an excerpt.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (March 20, 2011)

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 wonderful books everyone gets. You will discover lots of great blogs and lots of books that you won't be able to live without.

My mailbox was overflowing with goodies this week.
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes - I was seduced by the pretty cover.

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge - I have read a couple of her other books but I think this is her YA debut.
I am a Carrie Vaughn fan and decided to add Steel to my stack (even though I am not a big fan of pirates.)

Beastly by Alex Flinn has been on my radar for quite a while but I never bought a copy. Now I have my own to read.
I got some books for review too. The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford is the first in her Of Witches and Warlocks trilogy. My friend raved about the title. I also had a chance to get this book for free for my Kindle. There is a coupon out there and I am going to be a stop on her virtual book tour in April.

I got Relic Master: The Dark City by Catherine Fisher for review from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. I also got a second copy that I think came from Shelf Awareness. 

I also got The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter from NetGalley for review.
I also added two short stories to my Kindle this week. Fallen from Grace by M. J. Putney is related to Dark Mirror which I recently read and loved. Turned at Dark by C. C. Hunter is in the Shadow Falls world. I have Born at Midnight on pre-order and expect it at the end of the month.
These two were free this week for my Kindle. Raising the Dead by Mara Purnhagen and Faustine: Bonfire Chronicles Book One by Imogene Rose.
Based on my friend's recommendation, I went to Smashwords and bought the second and the third books in the Of Witches and Warlocks series - The Demon Kiss and Blood of the White Witch.

That filled up my mailbox this week. What did you add to your TBR stack?


Saturday, March 19, 2011

ARC Review: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Ten Miles Past Normal
Author: Frances O'Roark Dowell
Publication: Atheneum (March 22, 2011)


Description: Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she’s not. She’s smart and creative and a little bit funky. She’s also an unwilling player in her parents’ modern-hippy, let’s-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that “normal target.” She has to milk goats every day…and endure her mother’s pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation--and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good…the threat of homemade jeans, not so much.


It would be nice to go back to that old suburban life…or some grown up, high school version of it, complete with nice, normal boyfriends who wear crew neck sweaters and like social studies. So, what’s wrong with normal? Well, kind of everything. She knows that, of course, why else would she learn bass and join Jam Band, how else would she know to idolize infamous wild-child and high school senior Emma (her best friend Sarah’s older sister), why else would she get arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school (jail was not part of the assignment). And, why else would she kind of be falling in "like" with a boy named Monster—yes, that is his real name. Janie was going for normal, but she missed her mark by about ten miles…and we mean that as a compliment.


Frances O’Roark Dowell’s fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell’s relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated…and normal is WAY overrated.


My Thoughts: This was a really sweet, realistic fiction story about a girl in her freshman year of high school. Janie feels like a social outcast because she lives on a hobby farm with a mother who blogs about their life. Also, there was that day that she went to school with goat poop on her shoe!


Janie is smart and articulate and typically fourteen. She wants to fit in by being just like everyone else and she is embarrassed about her home and her family. She does go with her dad when he visits Harlan Pritchard in the nursing home to hear about his life. Mr. Pritchard and his wife were big in the early days of the civil rights movement. Mr. Pritchard was a lawyer. His wife and a friend started a Freedom School to teach blacks how to read and write so that they could register to vote. The KKK burned a cross on their lawn and the Pritchards kept it there and planted flowers around it.


Janie and her best friend Sarah are in a Woman's Studies class and they decide the Mrs. Pritchard would make a great subject for their report. Sarah is the kind of friend who always has a cause that she is agitated about. She is also bossy and opinionated. Worst of all, she has a different lunch and only one class with Janey. Janie has gotten used to hanging out in the library rather than braving the terror that is the lunchroom.


She are Sarah are also crushing on Junior Jeremy Fitch. Jeremy encourages them to come to Jam Band. The girls agree even though neither of them plays a musical instrument. Enter Monster. He is Jeremy's friend and he has a bass that the girls can borrow. Sarah quickly decides it isn't her thing but Janie does learn to play and spends time with Monster, who is a really great guy. Gradually Janie begins to find a group of friends in her new school.


This was a very nice story. I recommend it to young adults who like realistic fiction. Janie unique viewpoint and clear commentary on her life provides a touch of humor too. It is fun watching Janie grow and get a whole new perspective on what normal really it.


Favorite Quote:
We were sitting at the dinner table, eating a Stouffer's frozen lasagna that hadn't quite gotten heated all the way through ("Think of it as lasagna sorbet." my mother suggested, and I was so young and enthusiastic at the time that I actually tried to think of it that way), when I told my parents we should move to a farm and raise goats.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Beginning & Friday 56: Ten Miles Past Normal

Happy Friday everybody!!


Book Beginnings
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages 


Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. 


If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.
 
The Friday 56


Rules:
  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Freda's Voice
  • Post a link along with your post back to Freda's Voice
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
My book today is one I received for review as part of Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program. I am reading Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell. It will be published on March 22. It is a story of a girl who longs to be normal but she is not. Amazon says: "Frances O’Roark Dowell’s fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell’s relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated…and normal is WAY overrated."

Beginning:
No one can figure out where the terrible smell is coming from, but everyone on the bus this morning can smell it and has on opinion.
Page 56, Sentence 5:
In fact, two months into the school year, our small class treats Ms. Morrison as an afterthought.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ARC Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publication: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)


Description: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.


When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?


My Thoughts: This book is very hard for me to write about. I thought the book began very slowly. It felt like nothing happened for the first 80 pages which, after analysis, was not true but I didn't feel any emotional connection to the story. I think the main problem I had was that the main character herself was detached either because she was in shock or depressed. Her observations did let me get a good view of this dystopian world.


Rhine clearly felt a sense of fatalism because she knew that she would only live to be 20 years old. All young women die at 20. All young men die at 25. Genetic experimentation has gone tragically wrong. Some of the first generation - those for whom the genetic experimentation went well - are trying very hard to find a cure and allow their children to live normal lives. Others feel that it would be best to let the human race die out. Terroristic attacks on labs looking for a cure is not uncommon. Rhine lost her first generation parents in one such attack. She and her twin Rowen were living hand-to-mouth and in fear in Manhattan before Rhine was kidnapped to be a bride. 


She becomes the bride of Linden Ashby - age 21. They live in a world of privilege. Rhine and her sister wives are attended by servants. They have a wonderful, safe, worry-free life but they have no freedom. The share a house with Linden's father who is a first generation doctor and researcher and who is feared by Rhine. He controls everything and every one. 


The contrasts between the three sister wives illuminates the culture. The oldest is Jenna who is 18 and just waiting to die. When the girls were kidnapped to be Linden's brides, her sisters were taken too. However, they were not chosen to be wives and they were killed. Cecily is the youngest at13. She was raised in an orphanage and is delighted to be selected as a bride. Rhine had been raised by her parents until their deaths. She is determined to escape this life and return to her brother.


It was interesting to watch Rhine change through this story. When it began, she was determined to hate her new husband. She does learn that he is as much of a victim as they are. She does come to love him in some ways but is still determined to have her freedom. 


This is the first book in a trilogy. It will be interesting to see where the story goes. I recommend it to those who love quiet dystopias. The actions in this one are subtle. The characters are interesting and the world one that provokes a lot of thought.


Favorite Quote:
I don't want tea or strawberries. i don't want Gabriel to be my attendant right now. I want him to sit here with me and be my friend. I want to know he won't be punished for it later. I want us both to be free.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shimmer by Alyson Noel Trailer

Alyson Noel's second book in her Riley series - Shimmer -- came out on March 15. This is a good middle grade series for those who aren't quite old enough for her Immortals series. 


Alyson Noël, author of the Immortals series, continues her new series about Ever's younger sister, Riley.

Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi's advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca's sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she's not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?

Find out more about Shimmer here, including audio excerpts and Riley's diary:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

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!


This week my teaser comes from the much-anticipated Wither by Lauren DeStefano. I received an ARC from Simon & Schuster and have been saving it until closer to publication date. The book will be published on March 22. It is the first book in the Chemical Garden trilogy.


This is another in a growing list of young adult dystopias. Here is the description from Amazon: 
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 


When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?
My teaser is a description of Rhine's life before she is kidnapped.
Back home we covered our windows with burlap at night to give the impression of poverty and to keep out the prying eyes of new orphans looking for shelter and handouts. The house I shared with my brother has three bedrooms, but we'd spend our nights on a cot in the basement, sleeping in shifts just in case the locks didn't hold, using our father's shotgun to guard us.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why all the Dystopias?

I have been thinking about dystopias a lot lately. It seems that so many are being written these days. And they seem to be showing a future that is so awful and hopeless. I began by looking for a definition of dystopia and liked this one from Wikipedia:
A dystopia is, in literature, an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence. A dystopia, thus, is regarded as a sort of negative utopia and is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. Dystopias usually feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions and constant states of warfare or violence. Dystopias often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and how humans individually and collectively cope with technology that has evolved too quickly. A dystopian society is also often characterized by widespread poverty and brutal political controls such as a large military-like police.
When and why did dystopias become so popular? There have always been a few around. Brave New World which was written in 1934 is a classic in the genre. Lord of the Flies, written in 1954 by William Golding, is one that shows up frequently in school English classes. But the genre seems to have just exploded in the last few years. Check here for a list of some dystopian novels.

If literature is a reflection of our times, what does all this dystopian literature say? Now, I freely admit that I am old, but this emphasis on dystopias is a bit disturbing for me. I was a teenager in the 1960s. I have always loved science fiction. I grew up with the books of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov (among many others) whose visions of the future were mostly optimistic. The original Star Trek was one of my favorite television shows. You couldn't really find a more hopeful version of the future than that. Man would visit the stars and meet new people who would add to the richness of human experience. Boldly going where no man had gone before! The future was bright and filled with wonderful possibilities.

But now the future seems so dark and grim. Humankind has destroyed the world. Humans have so little choice and no hope. I read a lot of young adult books but I haven’t read all the current dystopias. I was even avoiding them for a while. Off the top of my head and without going back to look at my list of books read, here are the ones I have read recently:

  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • Matched by Allie Condie
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
These are waiting on my TBR stack:

  • XVI by Julia Karr
  • Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
I am curious to know what you think about the current trend of dystopias in YA literature. What does it say about us? What does it say about growing up in the current decade?

If you are a big fan of dystopias or just curious about them, I recommend joining
Danya from A Tapestry of Words and Casey from The Bookish Type from March 21 - April 18 as they host A Cornucopia of Dystopia. I know I will be following along to see if I can understand this current craze.