Monday, January 31, 2011

Guest Post by Sean Beaudoin

I recently read and reviewed You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin here on my blog. 

Then, I had a chance to ask Sean for a guest post. My question for him was why he chose to use the noir style for his young adult mystery. Here is his answer:

Market My Words
By Sean Beaudoin

I think a noir mystery/crime novel for teenagers is really no different than one marketed for adults. At least that's the way I approached You Killed Wesley Payne. Of course, some of the violence and sex might be toned down. Or it might not. My impression in general is that a book that panders to a younger audience is a book that ends up not having much of a spine. I hope the books I've written have been challenging to the teens that have read them, mostly because those were exactly the kind of books I wanted to read when I was sixteen. Of course, back then, YA didn't really exist. There was no online branding, specific bookstore shelving practices, or row after row of lurid covers. We made it through elementary school without a single precocious wizard to help transition into high school’s chaste vampiric longings. There were a handful of titles, like The Outsiders and Go Ask Alice that were known to be specifically for teens, but if you go back and read those books now, they’re pulling very few punches. Flowers In the Attic and The World According to Garp and The Basketball Diaries were all books that were sort of being handed around on the "black market" at school. We knew they would be confiscated if discovered, so we highlighted the salacious pages and giggled knowingly over them during study hall.

I feel very lucky to be writing YA in 2011. The audiences are incredibly smart and sophisticated. Tastes are eclectic and passionate. Noir can battle zombies, either on the page or at the register. YA is like the wild west--even though the breakout YA western doesn’t yet exist--in that everyone’s a gunslinger, pretty much writing about whatever they want. The limitations of the last few decades, in publisher’s imaginations and reader’s choices, have completely disappeared.

So I like having my back against the saloon wall, twin revolvers in my hands, plenty of bullets just a laptop away. It’s up to me to come up with something excellent—either an impossible shot or an brilliant escape plan. Which is exactly the way I wanted it way back in junior year, when I looked up from a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, busy understanding only half of it (gleefully so) and said “Hey, man-I want to be a writer!”

You can find out more about Sean and his books here

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Jan. 30, 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.

This week I got six books this week and added four books to the TBR stack.

I was surprised to receive two ARCs of The Iron Queen from Donna at the publishing company. Thanks so much, Donna! I would be glad to be on the list to receive The Iron Knight when it becomes available (hint, hint).

Since I had already received an eARC from NetGalley, read it, and reviewed it, I gave one copy to my friend and fellow blogger Bev who blogs at The Wormhole and donated the other one to my High School Media Center for my students to enjoy.

These are the ones that got added to the TBR pile:

I got The False Princess by Ellis O'Neal which is a 2011 YA Debut Author book. I am a big fan of fantasy and this one seems to fit right in.

I also got Vesper by Jeff Sampson. It is also a 2011 YA Debut Author book. I wasn't really too excited about this one until I found out that it had werewolves. I love werewolves!
I bought Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool because it won the Newbery Award. I don't remember seeing anything about this book last year. I am eager to see what it is about and if it will have any appeal for my students. So few of the Newbery's actually appeal to my readers.

Finally, I got a copy of The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney. I have been excited about this one since I first heard about it at KidLitCon this past fall. 

What landed in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Author: Tara Maya
Publication: Misque (December 25, 2010)

Description: The initiation ceremony is the gateway to ultimate power...or death. 

A DETERMINED GIRL Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan... 

AN EXILED WARRIOR Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

My Thoughts: This was an entertaining fantasy novel that is clearly the first book in a series. Warning: It ends with a major cliffhanger. But getting to the cliffhanger was a fun ride. This is a coming of age story for Dindi. For Kavio, this is a story of building a life anew after a betrayal.

Dindi has one goal in her life. She wants to be accepted into the Tavaedi. They are dancers who have magic. However, no one in her clan have ever been accepted. Her aunts and uncles discourage her from trying as do her cousins. They all encourage her to accept life as they know it and to be glad to become a wife and mother. But Dindi has dreams. Dindi can see the various fae who also inhabit their world and they encourage her to dance. She also sees other sorts of magic too. In fact, the fae try to entrap her in their circles so that she will dance herself to death. Otherwise, Dindi is a sort of clumsy, dreamy girl. Her clumsiness is helped along by the cruel comments and actions of her cousins. 

Kavio is already a dancer and he has considerable magic too. However, he is exiled from his clan because he was falsely accused of a crime by a cousin who wants his place in the clan. Because he doesn't want to play the politics, Kavio accepts and even welcomes the exile. He is very disappointed in his clan. He is in search of a new life.

The two characters meet and interact briefly when Dindi is on a journey to another tribe to be tested to determine her future and Kavio is traveling toward that same tribe to perhaps ask for asylum. Otherwise, both stories are separate. Kavio does save Dindi's life at one point but then goes away because of his exile status.

The setting reminded me of the desert Southwest of the United States but some flora and fauna don't match up. The culture is sort of Neolithic and sort of Native American. The magical elements with fae was interesting. I liked the world building and want to know more about the world.

I liked the characters too and want to know more about them. I also want them to actually meet and get to know each other. I recommend this story for lovers of fantasy. But I'd say wait until more volumes have been published. I am going to be on tenterhooks until book 2 comes out and I find out what happens next.

Favorite Quote:
High fae were not like low fae, pixies and brownies and sprites and such, but possessed grace and grandeur beyond anything human. In form they were as tall, or taller, than humans, although more beautiful, a strange, glowing people, with wings like swans. There had once been seven races of high fae, and of them all, the Aelfae had been the most beautiful and powerful and wise.
Check out Tara's blog here. This book is available at Amazon as either a print book (for a bargain price of $.99) or as a paperback.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Beginning: The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya

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.

My beginning this week is from a fantasy that I received recently from a new author. The Unfinished Song: Initiate by Tara Maya is available as an ebook and a print book from Amazon. This story is a mashup of a wide variety of cultures and traditions with magic added. 

It was an entertaining light read. I found the world engaging and the two main characters (whose stories are told in alternating sections and who meet each other only briefly) interesting.
Dindi scanned the crowd, hoping to slip into the plaza unnoticed.
This sets the scene for us and introduces a young girl who is trying to avoid the attention of her aunt. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ARC Review: You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin + Giveaway

You Killed Wesley Payne
Author: Sean Beaudoin
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 1, 2011)

Description: He's come to do a job. 
A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.

You Killed Wesley Payne
 is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.

Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere FasterFade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girlsand Heathers throwin in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.

My Thoughts: This is the book for you if you like your mysteries from the noir end of the spectrum and you like your humor dark. Dalton Rev comes to Salt River High School to find out who killed Wesley Payne and finds himself involved with all the varied cliques that inhabit the place. There are the Balls (football) and the Pinker Caskets (trash rock) who are bitter rivals. There are the Euclids (the brainy bunch) and the Crowdarounds. They all seem to have forgotten Wesley Payne because they are all so involved in their own deals.

Dalton is hired by Macy Payne - a Euclid and Wesley's sister. He also has to find out who stole $100,000 from Principal Inference who is deep into the school's corruption. The story contains crosses, double crosses and probably even triple crosses. Dalton tries to uncover what is really going on at Salt River and tries to earn his fee.

Dalton gets his inspiration from the works of Sir Barnaby Smollet who writes the Lexington Cole mysteries. Lex Cole is Dalton's idol. The books have wonderful titles like The Junkie with Two Bad Habits and The Gypsy Who Could Only Sort of Dance. The book is also interspersed with notes from Dalton's Private Dick Handbook. I was especially fond of Rule #9:

Does a showdown with this character smell like hospital time followed by about ten thousand dollars worth of Freudian analysis? Um, yeah.

My one concern with this novel is that so many of the movie references and references to the hard-boiled detective novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett will go right over the heads of today's high school students. But, this will be a great story for students with the correct sense of humor. 

I recommend it for older young adults as some of the language and situations may be inappropriate for middle school age students. 

Favorite Quote:
Hutch turned his squat torso in one motion, giving Dalton a left cross to the chin. Things went dark. A company of cartoon pigs did a production of Swine Lake on his chest. Dalton woke up, staring at tongue depressors spilled on the floor. He counted them. Twelve. He counted them again. Eighteen. 
Check out the trailer:

As an added attraction, you can win an autographed copy of Sean's second book - Fade to Blue - if you live in the US and complete this form

I will also be giving away my gently used ARC of this book. This giveaway is US only too. Fill out the same form for both contests.

The autographed book will be coming from the publicist and the ARC from me. This is just a quick contest. I will use to pick the winners on Tuesday, Feb. 1. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Authors: P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Publication: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (January 4, 2011)

Description: “My love, speak to me.  Tell me everything.”  Neferet went to Kalona, kneeling before him, stroking the soft, dark wings that unfurled loosely around the immortal.

“What would you have me say?”  He didn’t meet her eyes. 

 “Zoey lives.” Neferet’s voice was flat, cold, lifeless.

“She does.”

“Then you owe me the subservience of your immortal soul.”  She started to walk away from him.
“Where are you going?  What will happen next?”

 “It is quite simple.  I will ensure Zoey is drawn back to Oklahoma.  There, on my own terms, I will complete the task you failed.”

Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey.  Dominion over Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z.  But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there.  Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it?  Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…

And what about Stevie Rae and Rephaim?  The Raven Mocker refuses to be used against Stevie Rae, but what choice does he have when no one in the entire world, including Zoey, would be okay with their relationship?  Does he betray his father or his heart?

In the pulse-pounding 8th book in the bestselling House of Night series, how far will the bonds of friendship stretch and how strong are the ties that bind one girl’s heart?

My Thoughts: The description has it right. It was a pulse-pounding episode. It begins shortly after the previous volume. Zoe and Stark on on the Isle of Skye recuperating from their injuries. Zoe is very tempted to stay and let someone else deal with the evil that is Neferet. But her conscience and the needs of her friends pulls her back to Tulsa and back to the battle with evil.

Meanwhile, Stevie Rae is trying to come to terms with her new relationship the Rephiam. Parts of the story are told from his point of view too as he is trying to decide if he must still be loyal to his father or if he should choose light and life with Stevie Rae. 

The book was filled with heart-wrenching scenes. The loss of a major character formed a large part of this story. I don't want to spoil anyone's first reading of the story. So I can't say any more. This was a great story. The battle between good and evil rages on. Those on the side of light and life know that love is the greatest gift. And, sometimes, dark can be redeemed. 

Lovers of the series will be very eager to get this one. Recommended to followers of the series and, if you aren't already following it, why not? 

Favorite Quote:
Sgiach didn't say anything, so I took and breath and kept on babbling. "I'm a kid. Seventeen. Barely. I'm crappy at geometry. My Spanish sucks. I can't even vote yet. Fighting evil isn't my responsibility -- graduating from high school and, hopefully, making the Change is. My soul's been shattered and my boyfriend's been killed. Don't I deserve a break? Just a little one!
Check out this trailer:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin

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 is from the noir inspired mystery You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin. this one received a starred review from Bookist. It is scheduled for Feb. 1 but Amazon is shipping now. It will appeal most to lovers of the old noir detective movies and lovers of dark humor. 
Dalton watched Macy watching him. He went for That Guy Everyone's Dog Inexplicably Seemed to Like mode, but the equation had changed. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My YA Mailbox (Jan. 23, 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 got print books, ebooks, and review books this week. First, the books I bought.
I got Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan after I learned that she is very ill. She has been diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer that has metastasized to her liver. I read the ARC of The Mermaid's Mirror and really liked it but hadn't had a chance to read her first book. Her author Class of 2009 is giving away 40 sets of her books and so is her publisher. I will be receiving a set for my HS library too.

I really liked Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game but haven't been keeping up with his more recent work. I decided to buy the first books in two new young adult series that he has started. Pathfinder is a combination of science fiction and fantasy and got a starred review from Booklist. The Lost Gate combines fantasy and urban fantasy.

I received these free books for my Kindle.
Origin Scroll by Richard S. Tuttle is a fantasy and is the first in a series. I have never heard of the series before.

Magyk is the first book in the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage. We have the series in my media centers but I have never read it. This one also has some kind of bonus material.

Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Sampson is also first in a series. This is a contemporary story.

Finally, I received these books for review this week.
I received You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin from Angelo at Blog Reach Solutions. It is a well-reviewed mystery written in the noir mode with a 17-year-old hard boiled detective. It is a work of dark humor. My review will be posted on Jan. 27 and Sean Beaudoin will be guest posting on my blog soon.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre is her first YA. I do have a couple of her adult books somewhere on my TBR stack. This sounds like still another entrant into the dystopia genre. It will be published on April 12.

I also received The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. I had already read the eARC from NetGalley. This was a fun, middle grade story with larger than life characters. My review is here.

That was my mailbox. Did you get anything interesting in yours?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

ARC Review: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Publication: Simon Pulse (February 8, 2011)

Description: The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

My Thoughts: This was an entertaining and engaging mystery that edged into the horror category. It was nicely creepy in a middle grade/young adult way. I felt a few chills run up and down my spine as I was reading it.

Kendall has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). She thrives on routine and is upset when her routine is disrupted. She knows when she is being OCD and is coping really well. Her best friend is Nico. They live on neighboring farms and have been best friends since they were born. They are two of the six students in their class at their one-room high school. He loves her in a boyfriend-girlfriend sort of way. While she loves him, it is not romantic for her. She doesn't know if it is because of her OCD or just because of them. 

Kendall's routine is upset when Tiffany disappears. She is one of the ninth grade students at their school. Even after a massive search, no trace of her can be found. This happens at the end of Kendall's junior year and she has the whole summer to think about Tiffany's disappearance as she drives a tractor on her parents farm. She comes up with all sorts of scenarios - some more likely than others. But the new school year starts with no new information about Tiffany.

The new school year does bring two new students to their school of 24 students. Jacian and Marlena begin school in the Fall. Jacian is a senior like she is and Marlena is a sophomore. Jacian is a difficult person to get to know. He is quiet, sullen, and angry. He hates that he has been forced to leave his large school in Arizona where he was a soccer star and the target of college scouts to come to tiny Cryer's Cross to help out his grandfather. Marlena is a more open and cheerful person and quickly becomes Kendall's friend. One of the ways Kendall combats her OCD is by playing soccer. But the school is small and only 8 students are out for the team.

Then Nico starts to get moody and distracted. He disappears on a day that he and Kendall are supposed to go to Bozeman to check out a college. Again a massive search is organized but no trace of him is found. Kendall's world is rocked again. It is further rocked when Marlena breaks her leg in a four-wheel accident and the soccer team reduces to only 6 players. 

Kendall and Jacian start to get close after Nico disappears but Kendall is torn between her old loyalty to her best friend and this new attraction. This does feel romantic and much different than her relationship with Nico. 

She is also the only one who notices that Nico and Tiffany had both used the same old surplus desk before they disappeared. Kendall has memorized all the graffiti on the desks but new words seem to be appearing on that desk. When Kendall sits at the desk, she hears voices. Is it her OCD or is Nico really trying to tell her something?

I recommend this book to readers who are looking for a book that is scary with an attractive and sympathetic main character. It was great!

Favorite Quote:
All she can do is wearily count steps, and rows, and trees, repeating crazy sentences in her mind as she scans the vegetables and grain, and then goes on to the grassy fields and woods. Looking for the body of her best friend. Torn between hoping she finds it and hoping she doesn't.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Beginning: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

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.

This week my book beginning is from Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann. This is a mystery about kids disappearing from a small town in Montana told by an OCD high school senior named Kendall. She is upset when 9th grade Tiffany disappears at the end of the school year. There are only 24 students in the one-room high school she attends. Tiffany's loss throws Kendall. She spends the summer on the tractor coming up with more and more scenarios to explain her disappearance. But she is even more upset when her best friend Nico disappears the next Fall. Strange things are happening in the town of Cryer's Cross.

My sentence:
Everything changes when Tiffany Quinn disappears.
After this simple beginning, the mystery ratchets up in a hurry. It is fascinating to see through the eyes of someone with OCD who has to have her routines and who routinely counts things.  

I am reading the eARC that I got as a part of Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program. The book will be published on February 8, 2011. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Hexbound by Chloe Neill

Author: Chloe Neill
Publication: Signet; Original edition (January 4, 2011)

Description: Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia's School for Girls, but she's already learned that magic can be your best friend-or your worst enemy. That's why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities while fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago's nastiest nightlife-including the tainted magic users known as Reapers...

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this second visit to the world of the Dark Elite. This one takes place shortly after the end of Firespell. Lily is getting used to the idea that she does have magic. She and her friend Scout are busy with all the usual school things like dealing with classes and bratty classmates. But they are also busy patrolling the underground areas of Chicago to fight the Reapers who want to steal magic and life from other people. In this episode, the group finds some fanged, rat-like beings that leave a trail of slime and attack anyone they see. Even the vampires are worried about the new creatures.

Lily is also deepening her relationship with Jason who just happens to be a werewolf. She is also eager to find out the secrets of the Sterling Research Group and to get to the bottom of the mystery of where her parents are and what they are doing. Philosophers shouldn't be doing genetic research but it seems that they are. 

And then there is Sebastian Born - Reaper and hottie - who is trying to teach Lily about her magic. But can she trust him? What does he really want? Is there really a gray between the black and white that she wants to believe in?

This was an excellent addition to the series and would be entertaining for young adult and middle grade lovers of the paranormal. I can't wait to find out what happens next for Lily, Scout, and their friends.

Favorite Quote:
"Lils, any thoughts about running away and joining a circus?"

I smiled over at Scout. "Are we talking pink poodles and clowns stuffed into a car, or creepy freak show?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ARC Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (February 15, 2011)

Description: First there are nightmares.

Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.

When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.

Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

My Thoughts: This book reminded me of the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with angels. This is not a slam. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was well-written, exciting and had engaging and memorable characters. This book matches that in all ways.

Ellie is almost 17 and concerned with friends, school, movies and the fact that her parents are constantly arguing and her father's personality seems so changed. He is demeaning and, when he is not absent, is constantly belittling and saying hurtful things to Ellie. Ellie is troubled with nightmares and has been for years. She has had therapy and has learned to hide the nightmares from her parents. 

Will shows up in her life and tells her that she is the Preliator and is reborn. Her task is to kill the reapers who kill humans and send their souls to Hell. Needless to say, Ellie is skeptical! She is just an ordinary teenager. But, when she faces her first reaper, skills she didn't know she had blossom along with two flaming swords that she can call into being. Will is her Guardian and has been for over 500 years. He is also looks like a hot 20 year old. But Ellie's life is somehow different this time. She isn't remembering her past and Will is reluctant to tell her about it. 

At first the relationship between Will and Ellie is adversarial. She finds his secrecy annoying. He tells her that he is her Guardian and doesn't explain what it means. But gradually they fall in love - which they have never done before in all of her lives.

The main task in this story is to find a mystical being called the Enshi and to keep it out of the hands of the reapers since they would use it as a weapon against her. There are a great many battles and both Ellie and Will take damage repeatedly. Luckily both have magical abilities to heel most wounds.

I found Ellie's concern for her 17th birthday present - a white Audi that she names Marshmallow - especially entertaining. She doesn't have the car more than a month before it is scratched by reaper claws and then totaled in an accident when reapers attack her and Will. Coming up for creative excuses for the damage is necessary because her parents can't know about her secret life as the Preliator.

I recommend this book to young adults who like paranormal stories. It was exciting and entertaining.

Favorite Quote:
"How was I created?"

"We don't know what you really are. Your body and soul are human, but your's something very different. There are a lot of things about you that we still don't understand."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

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 Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton. This is her YA Debut novel and will be published on Feb. 15. I was lucky enough to receive and ARC from NetGalley for this one. This story reminds me of all the things I loved about the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and has angels too.
I stared at him for a few moments, unable to decide how to respond. I settled for the easy thing. "You're completely out of your mind."
If this wasn't already on your wishlist, I would be sure to add it. It was exciting, well-written and entertaining. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why I haven't been entering contests...

There are so many wonderful contests on the blogs I read. I could be entering at least a few every day. And then there are the giveaway hops... But I don't enter contests very often. I would like to give you visual evidence of why I do not.

Here they are -- my TBR stacks.
These are young adult books that I have received since late August. I also still have a number of books on pre-order. They are all wonderful choices that I was really excited about when I ordered them. But they keep getting covered up by new and even more exciting arrivals.

Next are the adult books that have arrived since late August. These piles are two-deep. They are also wonderful and exciting books that I need to find time to read -- as soon as each day expands to 36 hours

Lets not foget the crates of books that I took home with me to read during my summer vacation. In my defense, I will say that I brought 4 full crates home and did whittle it down to three full crates. These are a mixture of young adult and adult books that caught my interest.

Then I have the bookshelves with older TBR books. Piled neatly on the top of this next one are young adult books. On the shelves are adult books that I just haven't found the time to get to yet.

Here are still more books that have been waiting for me to find the time or the interest to read them. On the top are the books I chose for the 2010 TBR challenge. You will notice that I was a spectacular failure at that one. All but two of my choices are still sitting on the pile. Too many exciting new books came into my house.

The ones that you can't see the titles of are adult books that I have actually finished but don't want to keep. When I finish young adult books, I donate them to my media centers if I don't want to make them a part of my home library. But I don't really have an outlet for adult books that I don't want to keep. 

I read more than 280 books last year but I bought/won/was given more than 600.  Even the 97 I donated to my school media centers didn't reduce the stacks. I think it is time to go through all the YA stuff again and donate more to my media centers. But I keep thinking that if I hold on to them just a while longer I will have a chance to read them. I hate the idea of missing something extraordinary.

Added to the problem, but not the stacks, is the fact that I have a Kindle with about 500 books on it. I am starting to get more review requests and getting review books from NetGalley which makes it harder yet to read the backlog. I may have to seriously consider retirement just so I have time to catch up on all the great books that I just haven't had time to read. 

So, I hope you understand why you won't see my name on your list of entrants for your wonderful contests (unless I just can't resist) this coming year. Now to grab my latest book and get reading.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Winner Announcement: Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner

The winner of a copy of Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner is


Your package is ready to go and will be sent on Tuesday. I am just waiting for the Post Office to open after the MLK Holiday.

I hope you enjoy the book, Lisa.

In My YA Mailbox (Jan. 16, 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 a small one this week but what I got was choice. I received two 2011 Debut Author books this week.
Warped by Maurissa Guibord is the story of a young girl who discovers a unicorn tapestry, pulls a thread, and unleashes an ancient secret. It sounds intriguing. 

Timeless by Alexandra Monir is a time travel romance and a mystery. Michele discovers a diary that send her back to 1910 where she meets a boy she has been dreaming about all her life. It has been a while since I have read any time travel books. I look forward to beginning this one. 

Those are the books that arrived in my mailbox this week. Did you get anything exciting in yours?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

ARC Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication: HarperCollins (February 1, 2011)

Description: Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

Lauren Oliver astonished readers with her stunning debut, Before I Fall. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it "raw, emotional, and, at times, beautiful. An end as brave as it is heartbreaking." Her much-awaited second novel fulfills her promise as an exceptionally talented and versatile writer.

My Thoughts: This is still another entry into the growing body of young adult dystopias. In this world, love has been identified as a disease and a medical cure has been found. But the cure can't be administered until the person is eighteen. After the cure, people are safe from love and hate. They are happy. 

Lena is nearing the date for her cure. At first she is eager. She wants to be safe from the heartache that she saw her mother go through. Her mother was not cured. She had the procedure three times but it didn't work for her. When Lena was six, her mother committed suicide. Lena remembers dancing and laughing and singing with her mother. But she also remembers that her mother kept the shades drawn and was afraid that the neighbors would hear. She learned to hide emotions. Lena has lived with her aunt and uncle for the last eleven years and has seen what it is like living "cured."

When she meets a boy named Alex, she begins to take another closer look at her society. She had believed that the electrified fence around her city kept her safe from the uncured living outside. Now she sees the fence as imprisoning her. This society has guards and night raids and regulators. They are under constant observation to make sure that no trace of the disease is sneaking in. Resisters and Sympathizers are killed or imprisoned in the Crypt.

We get a chance to see this very repressive society both through Lena's eyes and through Alex's. Alex was born outside the city and was brought in as a child to live with some members of the resistance. He knows what it is like outside the city and in a place where love is not eradicated. He brings Lena out to his home outside the fence. 

Lena has some huge decisions to make. Should she have the cure and live the life that is planned for her? Should she go away with Alex to live outside the city? And, if she decides to go, can she actually escape from the city?

This was a well-told story. The change in Lena from page one to page 448 is massive but well-done and consistent with her character. The society was horrible. It was outwardly so perfect and had such a rotten underbelly. I am eager to see what happens next in this trilogy. I recommend this for young adults who like dystopias and who like romances. The relationship between Lena and Alex is very romantic in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way.

Favorite Quote:
He leans another inch closer. And it's like the flames seep out of his eyes and light my whole body on fire. I've never been this close to a boy before. I feel like fainting and running all at the same time. But I can't move.

All credit goes to Readerchick12 for this lovely trailer.