Saturday, August 28, 2010

In My Mailbox (August 29, 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.

There were just two books in my mailbox this week.
I received a copy of Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin for review courtesy of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. Here is the product description from Amazon:
Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe - but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt. Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasn't been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?
The book will be released on September 7, 2010.

I also received Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud by Andrew Lane. I bought this one through Amazon Marketplace because I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories and thought that this might be a way to introduce my middle school students to Sherlock Holmes. I already have the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer.

Here is the product description from Amazon:
The year is 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. His life is that of a perfectly ordinary army officer's son: boarding school, good manners, a classical education - the backbone of the British Empire. But all that is about to change. With his father suddenly posted to India, and his mother mysteriously 'unwell', Sherlock is sent to stay with his eccentric uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. So begins a summer that leads Sherlock to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent. "The Death Cloud" is the first in a series of novels in which the iconic detective is reimagined as a brilliant, troubled and engaging teenager - creating unputdownable detective adventures that remain true to the spirit of the original books.

Both of these sound good to me. I can't wait to read them.

Also, waiting for me at work to pick up on Monday will be my copy of Mockingjay and a few other books too. They will be in my next mailbox since I don't want to go over and pick them up today. I am reluctantly eager to read Mockingjay because I know when I have read it the series will be over. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (August 31, 2010)

Description: Three angels are sent down to bring good to the world: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. But she is the most human, and when she is romantically drawn to a mortal boy, the angels fear she will not be strong enough to save anyone—especially herself—from the Dark Forces.
Is love a great enough power against evil?

My Thoughts: This is the fourth book by Adornetto who is a young Australian author. Sources vary but she was either born in 1992 or 1993. This is her first US publication.

This book reminded me a lot of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. It had the same over-the-top melodrama and flowery speech. For example, the heroine awakes after being kidnapped by the villain and spends an entire page describing in minute detail the room where she wakes up. One other reviewer mentioned that she was glad the author had a thesaurus but felt it was a bit overused. I agree. 

The three angels come to a small town to try to influence it to be good. Bethany is a seventeen-year-old and is a new angel. She is nearest to human and eager for human experiences. Naturally, she falls in love with a boy with a tragic past who is beautiful, honorable and very mature. Their romance is the kind that many teenage girls dream of. The feel incomplete without the other and count the seconds until they are together. But then another boy shows up and tries to break up the relationship. Of course, he is evil and wants to create  more followers for Lucifer.

I recommend this book for the YAs who fell in love with Twilight and love their romance with a hefty helping of melodrama. Unfortunately, I have outgrown that stage in my life and found myself rolling my eyes and jeering at the book frequently as I read it. Even so, I am eager to share it with some of my students who will take the book to heart. The messages in the book are positive and innocent but not very feminist.

Here is a new trailer:

Favorite Quote:
Mingled with my guilt and shame was a new latent anger at the thought that my fate wasn't mine to determine. Xavier had put that idea into my head. My relationship with him would be decided for me, and the worst part of it was that I didn't know when it would happen. My time on earth came with an unknown expiration date. What if I didn't even get to say good-bye to him?
Concerning the quote: We all come with an unknown expiration date. That is part of the human condition. This is not a unique situation even though most teenagers don't yet believe in death after life.

Challenges: RYOB, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (August 22, 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 week I didn't purchase a new book but I did receive three from contest wins.
I received Halo by Alexandra Adornetto from Stephanie at Steph Su Reads. I have been so eager to read this book. My own finished copy was pre-ordered quite a while ago. I have heard such excellent things about this book and I love the trailer.

I also won And Then Everything Unraveled and And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman at a contest at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf. These both sound amazing too.

What was your week like?

On My Wishlist: Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where people list all the books they desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. It's also an event that you can join in with too - Mr Linky is always at the ready for you to link your own 'On My Wishlist' post. If you want to know more click here.

I am a big fan of Tamora Pierce. I love her writing style and her characters. My one complaint is that she does not write fast enough. Naturally, I was excited to see that I only have to wait until February 2011 for my next taste of her work.

Tortall and Other Lands is a collection of stories. Here is the product description from Amazon: 
Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy's fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.
I can't wait (but I do think it might be a little early to hit the pre-order button at Amazon).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway

Almost to Die For
Author: Tate Hallaway
Publication: NAL Trade (August 3, 2010)

Description: Twilight meets The Princess Diaries in the new series from the author of Honeymoon of the Dead 

On her sixteenth birthday, Anastasija Parker learns that her so-called deadbeat dad is actually a vampire king. And he wants Ana to assume her rightful position at his side, in spite of the fact that she has witch's blood running through her veins-from her mother's side. 

Too bad witches and vampires are mortal enemies. And now Ana's parents are at each other's throats over her future. It's up to Ana to make a choice, but deciding your eternal destiny is a pretty big deal for a girl who just wants to get through high school.

My Thoughts: This was an interesting story about a girl who is an outsider. She has few friends in high school. Bea is her best friend. They have known each other since they were small because Bea's parents are also True Witches. There personalities are very different. Bea is loud, outgoing, and flirtatious. Ana says she is something of a diva. Her other friend is Taylor who is a Muslim and a geek and who knows all about living int two worlds. Ana is a hereditary witch but doesn't seem to have any magic herself. On her 16th birthday she learns that her father is a vampire. Her mother hadn't told her anything about him. She learns that witches and vampires are enemies. Witches kept vampires as slaves until they rebelled. 

Ana struggles to learn more about her vampire heritage and her place in it. She also begins a couple of romances. The first is with Nik who is a member of her coven and who, she learns, is in training to be a vampire hunter. The other is Elias who is Captain of her father's Praetorian Guard and who is guarding her. 

An important part of the story concerns Ana's quest for her own identity and independence. I recommend this book to YAs who like paranormal stories with teens searching for independence.

Favorite Quote:
My tongue sought the errant blood, and I sucked it into my mouth greedily. For  a second, the irises of my eyes refracted like a cat's.

I looked like a vampire--in gym shorts.

Hysterical laughter bubbled up, and I giggled until I realized exactly how crazy I looked. I wiped the remaining blood off my mouth with the back of my hand.

Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

Author: Lili St. Crow
Publication: Razorbill (July 29, 2010)

Description: It’s a good thing Dru Anderson is fast. Because the sucker chasing her isn’t slowing down—and he won’t rest until he has tasted her blood and silenced her heart . . .

Dru’s best friend, Graves, and her strange and handsome savior, Christophe, are ready to help her take on the ultimate evil. But will their battle for Dru’s heart get in the way of her survival?

My Thoughts: Dru has arrived at a new schola but she is feeling anything but safe. She doesn't understand what is going on and no one seems to be telling her what she wants to know. The only one she really trusts is Graves now the Christophe seems to have abandoned her again. Dru has abandonment issues. She should. Every one she has loved has left her - one way or another. Her mother killed by vampires; her grandmother dies; her father is turned into a zombie. 

She knows the vampires want to kill her but she is also afraid that someone who is supposed to be on her side is also trying to kill her. She is one of only two svetocha - female dhampir - and the other one is used to being the favored darling of the dhampir. What does Anna want with her? And what is she willing to do to her?

This was an exciting, action-packed episode. I like Dru's character. She is stubborn, loyal and tough. Sometimes that toughness and inability to depend on anyone else causes problems for her. Graves is hurt that she seems to hold him at a distance. 

I recommend this story to YA readers who enjoy the Vampire Academy and House of Night books. They will find lots to love here.

Challenges: 2010 YA Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep

Kiss Me Deadly:
13 Tales of Paranormal Love
Edited by Trisha Telep
Publication: Running Press Kids (August 3, 2010)


The Assassin's Apprentice by Michelle Zink - Rose is on the hunt the demon Bael who killed her family. Asher is also hunting Bael.

Errant by Diana Peterfreund - A unicorn hunter and her old tired unicorn come to perform a pre-wedding ritual in Commarque.

The Spirit Jar by Karen Mahoney - A vampire named Moth meets a half-Djinn named Adam when they both try to steal the same book. Adam needs it more and Moth helps him.

Lost by Justin Musk - Sasha has always had a talent for finding lost things. She meets a tutor named Haiden who helps her refine her talents. Her talent helps find her best friend who is in a coma and changes her future.

The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan - This is a story of what Peter Pan is up to now in his adventure with the many times great granddaughter of Wendy.

Dungeons of Langeais by Becca Fitzpatrick - We get to see why Chauncey hates the angel as much as he does.

Behind the Red Door by Caitlin Kittredge - Jo explores a haunted house and meets a murderous ghost.

Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan - This is a story about choices from the same world as In the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Familiar by Michelle Rowen - Reluctant witch Brenda needs a familiar. Somehow she chooses a shapeshifter who was thrown out of his pack. 

Fearless by Rachel Vincent - Sabine is a mara who feeds on nightmares. She is sent to a group home and finds out that none of the girls can be coaxed into nighmares.

Vermillion by Daniel Marks - This one was completely baffling to me. It took place in Purgatory.

The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater - Bryant and Sullivan are best friends and Irish punk gods in D.C. until Sullivan meets and falls in love with one of Them.

Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters - Mandy and Jake are in love but both die in a car accident. Only Jake comes back and Mandy does not. The story is told from the viewpoint of Mandy's father.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology. It introduced me to some authors I want to try again including Daniel Waters. My favorite story was Familiar by Michelle Rowen. I also really enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor of The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Challenges: Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Infinite Days
Author: Rebecca Maizel
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (August 3, 2010)

Description: "Throughout all my histories, I found no one I loved more than one."

Those were some of Rhode's last words to me. The last time he would pronounce his love. The last time I would see his face.

It was the first time in 592 years I could take a breath. Lay in the sun. Taste.

Rhode sacrificed himself so I, Lenah Beaudonte, could be human again. So I could stop the blood lust.

I never expected to fall in love with someone else that wasn't Rhode.

But Justin was...daring. Exciting. More beautiful than I could dream.

I never expected to be sixteen again...then again, I never expected my past to come back and haunt me...

My Thoughts: Rebecca Maizel has taken the current theme of humans becoming vampires and turned it around. Lenah Beaudonte is a vampire who is newly made human by her sire and love Rhode. Sadly, the ritual to return her to human life costs the life of the vampire who performs it. This leaves Lenah alone at age 16 in an exclusive boarding school mourning her love and trying to adjust to human life after 500 years as a vampire.

The story is told in the first person and we see frequent memories of earlier events in Lenah’s life as they are triggered by current situations. We see her committing atrocities and forming a coven with four other male vampires that she sired. I had a hard time connecting with Lenah especially as I read about her memories. Maizel’s vampires are so completely alien to human life that I just couldn’t connect with her. I think that the first person lends itself more to telling about what happens as opposed to showing what happens. I found that viewpoint to be distancing.

When Lenah ventures out of her apartment at the beginning of the school year her first friend is Tony who is one of the art geeks at the school. But she is also immediately attracted to the Big Man on Campus Justin Enos. He is also attracted to her and dumps his girlfriend in her favor. He is something of a daredevil and encourages her to try a number of things including scuba diving and bunge jumping. As best I can tell, the basis of their relationship is that they are both beautiful (which seems shallow to me). Lenah is also attracted to him because he makes her feel more human.

Her new life is endangered by her coven especially Vicken. In Maizel’s mythology the love between vampires is eternal and irrevocable. Except when Lenah became human the connection was broken from her end leaving Vicken in more than the usual vampire pain.

The story and the mythology were very complex. I recommend this book to older YAs who want to read a different kind of vampire story. 

Challenges: 2010 YA Debut Author, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge

Teaser Tuesday: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

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!

I just began Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel a few minutes ago. I hope this excerpt isn't a teaser but I am not far enough into the story to know.
Vicken's face came to my head and because of the fear that came with it, I reached for some rosebuds. Rosebuds in your tea will bring you love.
In this story a vampire becomes a 16-year-old human girl. It a by a 2010 YA Debut Author. I have heard very good things about this book.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WoW: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I am highlighting the final book in the 39 Clues series. This will be Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It will release on August 31.

Product description: Throughout the hunt for the 39 Clues, Amy and Dan Cahill have uncovered history's greatest mysteries and their family's deadliest secrets. But are they ready to face the truth about the Cahills and the key to their unmatched power? After a whirlwind race that's taken them across five continents, Amy and Dan face the most the difficult challenge yet- a task no Cahill dared to imagine. When faced with a choice that could change the future of the world, can two kids succeed where 500 years worth of famous ancestors failed?

My middle grade students and I have been following along in this series by reading the books, visiting the website and collecting the cards. I personally am eager to know how the final book will tie up the loose ends. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (August 8, 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 got four YA books this week.
These two are YA Debuts and both have something to do with vampires. 

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel is her first book. In it a vampire becomes a 16-year-old human.

Almost to Die For by Tate Hallaway is her first YA book. Publishers Weekly gave this one a starred review. I like her Garnet Lacey series and hope this is as good.

Unexpected Magic by Diana Wynne Jones. I am a big fan of Diana Wynne Jones. I just discovered this book of short stories that I haven't read yet. 

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore has been getting a lot of publicity on the blogs I read. It sounds like a great adventure story with some science fiction elements.

This is what I added to my TBR stack. What did you get?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Manifest by Artist Athur

Author: Artist Arthur
Publication: Kimani; Original edition (August 1, 2010)

Description: When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.

But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener—and everything she'd ever want—except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door—Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good?

My Thoughts: This was an interesting paranormal mystery. Krystal was taken by her mother away from New York City when she divorced his father and remarried. Krystal is very resentful and is determined to make her mother and step-father as unhappy as she is. She doesn't try to fit in at school. She also sees ghosts. When a ghost named Ricky comes to her and asks her to try to find out who killed him she is very unwilling. She joins up with two other students - one from the rich part of town and one from the poor part of town - because they were all born at about the same time, have similar birthmarks and all have psychic powers. 

The teens try to learn about their powers, solve Ricky's murder and prevent another student from being killed. The book was filled with exciting situations. Krystal seems very young for 15. Her mother, especially, treats her as a much younger child. She does send Krystal to a psychiatrist to help her work out her resentment and unhappiness but does not give her any information about why she divorced her father. This lack of information caused most of the conflict between mother and daughter and seems an unreasonable way to treat someone 15. 

The book did include some contemporary issues like sexting and sharing pornographic pictures over cell phones too. 

I recommend this book to younger YAs who want to read a mystery romance with ghosts.

Challenges: 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, E-Book Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Debut Author Challenge