Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: This World We Live In
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Genre: YA, Post-apocalyptic
Perfect for: At this point, I'd recommend this series to everyone
Release Date: April 2010

Life hasn't been the same since a meteor hit the moon and moved it closer to the earth. We've seen it from the eyes of Miranda, the suburban girl, and from the eyes of the city dweller, Alex. Now we come to the stunning conclusion of the story that has made us all wonder 'what if'. In "This World We Live In", we are back in the suburbs with Miranda and her family. It's April and although they survived the harsh winter, life is not getting any better. Food shortages are a threat and you never know what the weather will be doing. When her father arrives with his wife, child, a middle aged man named Charlie, and two kids, Alex and Julie Morales, life is turned even more upside down. How can they feed so many mouths, including a nursing mother and infant? And then there's Alex, the city boy just Miranda's age... Is there a place for love in this crazy world they live in? You'll find out in the conclusion of The Moon Trilogy.

Goodness me... Goodness me... Is this really the conclusion? Can I have another book or two? I'm jumping ahead of myself...

Let me start off with the characters in "This World We Live In". It's hard not talking about the characters as if they're real living breathing people. I loved seeing Miranda, Alex, and Julie together. It made for an interesting dynamic. Characters from two different worlds meeting in this completely new world where their background doesn't matter-- just survival, and in the case of Alex and Miranda--love. Is it a healthy love? I don't know. Alex is definitely not in the most healthy mindset, in my opinion and Miranda, well, it would be hard not to be a little boy starved if you've been crammed in with only your brothers for the past year of your life.

The story read like its companions and could easily be described as a page turner. I read "This World We Live In" in one sitting, that's how into it I was. The tone follows suit with its companions, as well. While there are some pretty depressing bits, there are glimmers of light, albeit small glimmers, but glimmers nonetheless. The events that happened throughout the novel didn't feel forced or out of place. They felt like they belonged in the story, however much you wish they hadn't happened. I won't spoil you with specifics, but I think you'll understand what I mean when you read this book (and you will want to read this book!).

This is definitely one of those books you'll want to talk about.. I know I turned to my mom the moment I finished and started asking her about her opinions on the book. The ending is abrupt. You'll want more. Actually, the ending irritated me, because I'm a sucker for happy endings, but really, it wouldn't be fair to the story or the readers to give us a sugar-coated ending for the sake of the ending the trilogy. (I guess)

Overall, read this book (after the first two, of course). Excellent writing combined with realistic characters and a fantastic story make this a must read.

Friday, January 29, 2010

J.D Salinger: 1919-2010

The author of 'Catcher in the Rye' died January 28th, 2010 at the age of 91. While I am not a fan of his works, he has made a huge mark in the writing world. Rest in Peace, Mr. Salinger.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Title: Give Up the Ghost
Author: Megan Crewe
Genre: YA, Supernatural
Perfect for: A rainy afternoon read

Cass has seen ghosts since her sister died four years ago and she uses it to her advantage. The local ghosts that haunt her school are her friends, feeding her information to use against any living classmates who dare to antagonize her. When the VP of the Student Council learns what she can do, Cass has no options but to help him with his request—contacting his dead mother. The dead mother part is easy, but Tim has problems that Cass can’t solve in her normal ghostly ways. Out of touch with the living for so long, she needs to learn how to help Tim when he needs her the most.

*Spoilers in review—you’ve been warned*

“Give Up the Ghost” is a strange blend between a ghost story and an after school TV special. It’s a simple, quick story perfect for a rainy afternoon. Cass is your typical ghost seeing rebel, but is fleshed out enough to be fun to read about.

The story is compelling, though I found it to read almost like two separate stories. This is where the ghost story/after school special bit comes in. The first part was definitely your typical ghost story. We see Cass dealing with Tim’s mothers’ ghost and even helping her cross over. As for the latter half of the book, it was pretty much ghost free and was more centered on Cass helping Tim with his depression/alcohol problem. I understand that the premise of the story is for Cass to get in touch more with the living and less so the dead, but I don’t think a happy medium was ever found between the two stories being told.

I hope there is a sequel in the mix, because I think Crewe left a lot of questions unanswered. Who is Keith? Why was he staring so intently at her? What does her sister need to cross over? Is Tim really over the drinking? What will become of Tim and Cass? (Personally, I don’t like Tim very much and am hoping if there is a sequel that another love interest comes into play.)

Even with the slight story problems with “Give Up the Ghost”, I do recommend this title for readers who need a quick read. It’s not something I would run out to the bookstore and buy, but is definitely something I’d pick up at the library.

For the visual... Here's the book trailer!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ARCS-- I love them!

My mom came home with a pile of ARC's waiting to be read and reviewed. Among the titles are: The World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink, Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey, Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, and The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

I'm looking forward to reading all of them, but am super excited about The World We Live In and Guardian of the Gate. Check back for reviews of these titles and more!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Book Meme-- Young At Heart

For your entertainment, here is a book meme found on the 'Book Memes and Quizzes' LJ... I'll be posting these every so often. How do your answers compare to mine?

Below the cut lies the Telegraph’s list of 100 books every child should read. BOLD the books you've read. I got 24. What about you?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Review: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Dead and the Gone
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Genre: YA, Post-apocalyptic
Perfect for: readers of its companion novel, Life As We Knew It

We've seen what happened to the suburbs when a meteor moved the moon closer towards the earth. In "The Dead and the Gone", companion novel to "Life As We Knew It", we see how the disaster changes life for those in the fast paced cities, namely New York City. The story centers around the Morales family. When both Alex's parents disappear the night of the disaster, it becomes his duty to keep him and his two sister, Bri, 14 and Julie, 12, alive in a city that is slowly falling apart. The repercussions of the movement of the moon differ from the story we heard in "Life As We Knew It", but are just as chilling. Alex must deal with a lot-- food shortages, failing electricity, an ill sister... They need a lot, but most of all, seventeen year old Alex knows he needs to get him and his family out of the city before it exists no more.

Oh my goodness. I don't know what I expected while reading "The Dead and the Gone". I enjoyed the book immensely even though it never ceased to depress me. The characters seemed real and I really felt for them. Towards the end, the book almost brought tears to my eyes, which is unusual for me!

By no means should "The Dead and the Gone" be taken as 'the same old thing'. It reads similar, yet completely different to its companion novel. One of the most intriguing things was, at times, something would affect Alex and his sisters, and I would stop and be brought back to what happened to Miranda in "Life As We Knew It".

I really enjoyed this companion novel and can't wait until the third book in this series, "This World We Live In" is released. I recommend "The Dead and the Gone" for teens and adults who find themselves the least bit attracted to the story. It's definitely a page turner!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypress

Title: Mistwood
Author: Leah Cypress
Genre: YA (though suitable for younger teens), Adventure
Perfect For: 'Graceling' fans, young and old

As a Shape-shifter, Isabels' duty is to protect the king from any and all danger. But confusion has hung over her head since Rokan, the (then) prince, came into her woods, the enchanted Mistwoods, in order to bind her to him as his bodyguard. While she knows her sole purpose is to protect and defend the king, why can't she remember how to shift and, more importantly, why does she think and question less like the Shape-shifters of legend and more like the humans she has to protect?

I liked Mistwood. It wasn't completely what I expected it to be, but was full of likable, defined characters and had a good mix of action and plot development. While the basic story about a superhuman girl who defends the king is similar to Kristin Cashore's Graceling, the rest of the story was very different. Isabel's journey to find out her past caught my attention right away and held on to it till the last page turn.

The secondary characters were nicely fleshed out. I admit, I would have liked to see a little more of Rokan, the prince/king, and Ven, the sorcerer's apprentice, but what can you do? All the characters acted and spoke naturally, which is always a delight. The story became slightly predictable toward the end, but by the time it happens, you'll be so involved in the novel, you won't really care.

Mistwood has a good mix of fantastical elements, action, and even a bit of romance intricately woven together, making a story that I happily recommend to YA readers. Mistwood hits bookstore shelves May 2010, but is available for pre-order now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

News: Book Award Winners Announced at ALA Midwinter

Announced at ALA Midwinter, here are some of the winners of various book awards! Congrats to all the winner! (Hopefully my name will be among yours one day!)

The John Newbery Medal: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The John Newbery Honor Books: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Randolph Caldecott Medal 2010: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Caldecott Honor Books: All the World: illustrated by Marla Frazee/written by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon, Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors: illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski/written by Joyce Sidman

Michael L. Printz Award 2010: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Coretta Scott King Author Award 2010: Bad News for Outlaws by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award 2010: My People, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr./written by Langston Hughes

William C. Morris Award: Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

Margaret A. Edwards Award: Jim Murphy (An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America)

More award winners can be found on the ALA website here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Article: Author Blogs

One of the best things the internet has done is bring the authors out from the little blurb in the books we love and in to our living rooms with fun blogs for fans to obsess over. Most new authors today have a blog and even the older authors are getting into it now. Here, I'm going to spotlight a few blogs for you to check out!

My Favorite blogging author is Darren Shan. First off, I know from meeting him in person a few times, he is a fantastic person with a fantastic view of life. His blog sounds so much like he sounds in person. He blogs about real life, his books, movie's he's seen... Always an entertaining read!

The next blog I usually check is Mary Hoffman's. She is the author of the great series, 'Stravaganza'. She usually muses on the goings-on of her life and tidbits about upcoming books. Follow the link.

I really enjoyed 'Hush, Hush' by Becca Fitzpatrick. She blogs on LJ about lots of things to real life to writing to online chats.

Read the 'Vampire Academy' series? Well, author Richelle Mead has a blog. Recently, she is posting much about her wedding and she always posts a lot of Vampire Academy type posts. This blog should help all you VA fans (like me) stand waiting for the next book release!

'A Certain Slant of Light' is one of my favorite books. Laura Whitcomb, author, has a nice little blog set up. I love the variety she has-- going from talking about her newest releases/works in progress to how to prepare a supernatural tea party. Click to read her blog!

Think an author deserves a spot on this list? Comment with the URL and I'll add them!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

News: Babysitters Club Being Reprinted!

I'm super excited by what I found out in this article about Ann M. Martins Babysitters Club series. Yes! They are slowly being updated and reprinted! As a person who grew up with the first printing of the Babysitters Club and having two books signed by the author, I can't wait to see these on store shelves again. Better news, to kick off the series, Ann M. Martin is writing a prequel novel "The Summer Before", about the lives of the Babysitters Club members before book one in the original series "Kristy's Great Idea".

Are you excited about this? Do you have any grand memories of the BSC books? Comment and share your experiences with the BSC series!

Review: Betrayals: A Strange Angels novel

Title: Betrayals: A Strange Angels novel
Author: Lili St. Crow
Genre: YA, Supernatural, adventure
Perfect For: fans of the original novel

In Betrayals, On Cristophe’s urging, Dru and the shapeshifter Graves find themselves at a school used to train djamphirs and werewulfs in their abilities. You would think the school would feel safe and secure, but something is wrong. The teachers refuse to train her, her best (only) friend is becoming arrogantly popular, and someone is out for blood--- mainly Dru’s.

In all honestly, I don’t know if I’m ever going to love a book in this series. I enjoyed Betrayals, but still had issues with certain things. To start out with the pro’s—the story had a good mix of characters. I liked the new characters that were introduced in Betrayals, especially Dibs, the shy werewolf. The romance was under played, but what was featured was really well done. The triangle is written so well that, like Edward and Jacob, you will definitely pick a side. (I’m team Christophe, by the way.)

I don’t know if it’s action in general or just the authors’ action sequences, but again I found myself skimming over a lot of the action bits in the book. They just didn’t hold my attention. Also, even with the new characters, there still was a whole lot of Dru alone. I’m all for characters contemplating decisions and things on their own, but I found it was done too much in Betrayals.

Overall, if you enjoyed the first book in the series, I recommend taking a peek at this book. It is a nice addition to a good supernatural action series.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfefffer

Title: Life As We Knew It
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Format: Paperback
Genre: YA, What If, Post Apocolyptic, fiction
Perfect for: Everyone should try this book

The meteor wasn’t supposed to do any damage to the Moon. All the scientists suspected was a new crater or two. The scientists were wrong—very wrong. When the meteor knocks the moon closer to Earth, disrupting the gravitational pull, life changes for everyone. Towns are decimated by tidal waves, tsunami’s, and earthquakes. Volcano’s which weren’t active for hundreds of years begin to wake up. Told from a teen perspective, readers follow junior Miranda as she and her family try to survive the crazy world in which they find themselves living in.
I admit it, I’m a little late to the party.

For all those who also let this title go by unread (like myself), don’t! Life As We Knew It is a fantastic piece of fiction that hits scarily close to home. Genre-wise, it’s not fantasy or sci-fi, so much as post-apocalyptic fiction. Life As We Knew It had me hooked from start to finish. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. As a reader, I became quite attached to the characters and their plight.

Though this title is depressing at times (many times), the glimmers of light towards the end make this a title I recommend wholeheartedly. If the characters don’t grasp you, the message certainly will. Read this book. You won’t regret it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Question of the Month

The concept behind the Question of the Month is simple. I ask a question and you chime in with your responses! Not too complicated, but always fun!

This months question centers around books and movies. Is there a movie you hate because of how far it drifted from the source material? Is there a movie where, while it did drift, you still enjoy it?

One of my favorite movies is 'The Neverending Story'. I watched this movie many times before reading the original source material by Michael Ende. For that reason, I don't care how much it drifted from the source material because Bastian and the rest have already touched me in a way all favorite movies should. I have read the book plenty of times and love that, too, but it will never change my opinion of the movie.

On the flipside, I find it hard, vary hard, to watch 'The Seeker', the movie adapted from The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper. It seems the screenwriter in charge of adapting this awesome book thought the best way to bring it to the screen was to re-write the whole thing minus the character names. We still have Will Stanton, Merriman, The Rider, but the story is nothing like the book. It was completely re-written into something far too different from the source material for me to watch without cringing or (sorry) laughing at all the silly things the characters do. In my humble opinion, that screenwriter should never adapt anything ever again. EVER.

There you have it. What are you picks?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Review: The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger

Title: The Seven Rays
Author: Jessica Bendinger
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Perfect for: Teens looking for a different sort of fantasy title

Beth is your normal teenager—smart, boy crazy, and looking forward to college. That all changes when she starts seeing things she shouldn’t. People are suddenly connected by stings of light, some coiling around, some sucking energy from others, some covered with knots. Then, out of the blue, notes in gold envelopes begin being sent to her under a name she doesn’t know, but seems somewhat familiar. Crazy, she thinks so, that is until she uncovers things her mother had tried to keep secret Beth’s entire life. Things that make everything that is happening to her seem a little less crazy and a little more real.

I had no idea what to expect from a book written by screenwriter Jessica Bendinger (Bring it On, Stick It). The voice in The Seven Rays took me a while to get used to and definitely reminded me of Bendinger’s previous work. Eventually, though, as the story progressed, I found it easy to ignore the valley-ish teen references Beth uses throughout the book. There is romance—instant romance—between Beth and college boy Richie Mac.

That being said, the point of the story goes far beyond teenage romance. Reading it was almost like reading a New Age title. The lights Beth sees are eerily similar to the cords that supposedly connect our beings to others and the scene with the ‘energy vampires’ was almost frightening (to think of meeting someone like that!).
A word to parents—sex is mentioned throughout the novel and the tension is there. What happens romantically is not vulgar or detailed so no worries there.

Overall, the messages that come through this book of forgiveness, kindness and thoughtfulness make me recommend this title to teens. The story is only just beginning, as there are many unanswered question thrown into the mix. The Seven Rays is available at bookstores everywhere.

Official Book Trailer:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St.Crow
Format: ARC
Genre: YA, supernatural, action
Perfect for: Fans of supernatural adventures

Dru’s life wasn’t normal, she knew that. Traveling around with her father and taking care of herself when her father was hunting creatures that most believed to not exist was just how it was since the disappearance of her mother years ago. When Dru’s father goes missing on a hunt, Dru finds herself running from werewulfs, zombies, and other fabled creatures. Along for the ride is Graves, an awkward high school boy who befriends Dru just as these events start, and Crisophe, a mysterious boy who is convinced Dru is much more than a normal girl.

While I can’t say I devoured Strange Angels, I do recommend this book. It has all the elements a good intro novel should have. Strange Angels is very action packed and reads much like a Supernatural episode. Romance is not the main concern throughout this novel but is hinted at. I’m sure as the characters get closer to each other, we’ll see much more in that department.

Strange Angels is the beginning of a series. Strange Angels and it’s sequel, Betrayal, are on bookstore shelves now.

For the visual, here's the official book trailer for Strange Angels: