Monthly Archives: November 2010

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie


In a post-Hunger Games world, it seems dystopian fiction is all the rage. And as more dystopian titles are released, it means authors will have to work even harder to stand out from the crowd. Ally Condie does just that with her new book Matched, in stores today. The first in a new trilogy, Matched has earned all of the buzz its been receiving.

Matched is set in a saccharine and disturbing dystopian future that, in some ways, is more terrifying than the world of Panem from The Hunger Games. Whereas Panem is blatantly oppressive — and its citizens know they are being wronged by their government — the world of The Society is deceptive. The ruling body — “The Officials” — act as though they are serving the people’s best interests, and sugar-coat their control in such a way that most citizens believe in what’s being asked of them.

As the synopsis says, “In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.” But for our heroine, Cassia, this has always seemed like a small price to pay for the perfect life. And she’s spent her youth looking forward to the day when she turns 17 and will be Matched with her perfect mate.

And at first, all goes well. The face that appears before her is her best friend Xander. They’ve grown up together, and their Matching seems ideal. Except for a brief moment when another boy’s face, Ky, appears on the screen. What begins as a moment of doubt leads to Cassia questioning her entire existence, her entire world and her purpose in it.

The book is slow-paced at times, but it works — with the tension building moment by moment. Like when Cassia and Ky sneak hand-holds. Or read illegal poetry in the woods. Destroy a scrap of paper. Throughout the book, seemingly innocuous scenes buzz with an eerie and disturbing quality. On the surface, things seem fine — but Condie writes the scenes so that you sense a lurking danger.

This hum of unease builds upon itself until the book’s climax, which peaks with a cunning, cinematic quality that readers will devour. The book ends with the perfect set-up for its sequel, which will hopefully hit stores next year. (Matched is the first in a new trilogy — so you’ve got lots to look forward to!)

Best of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick


Today marks the end of our Book of the Month feature on Hush, Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick — and while we’re sad to say goodbye, we are excited to look back at all the wonderful goodies we put together for this past month. Here are the highlights:

Hush, Hush Series Character Tweet Contest

You’ve got until midnight (PT) tonight to enter this contest for your chance to win one of five finished copies of Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. Be sure to check out the complete rules & details first, and use the entry form to submit your entry.

Dive Deeper into the World of Hush, Hush & Crescendo

We wanted to further explore the world created by Becca Fitzpatrick, and we did so with a variety of posts about topics related to her books:

We also explored the covers of the books & how they came to be:

Crescendo Desktop Wallpapers

Show your love with these original desktop wallpapers! We also showed our love with a look back at our staff book reviews. Then Becca showed her love for us with a little shout-out:

Get the Inside Scoop from Becca Fitzpatrick

We wanted to know more about the world of Hush, Hush & Crescendo, as well as more about Becca herself and her writing process. So we got the inside scoop with an exclusive interview and more:

The Hush, Hush Series in the Classroom

We love finding ways to use a good book like Hush, Hush and Crescendo in the classroom, and here are a few ways to do just that:

For the comments: What was your favorite feature this past month?

News Update: Gifting, Giveaways & More Goodies


Usually, we save our news posts for Saturdays — but occasionally, a lot of news comes in that’s just worth sharing sooner. That’s the case today. Check out these headlines!

* Reelz Channel is giving away 7 copies of Eclipse on DVD — before it’s even in stores! Check out their website for the exciting details.

* Speaking of Reelz Channel, they also have a gift guide for fans of some popular YA series: Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Shiver, Uglies, Maximum Ride, The Mortal Instruments and Vampire Academy. We’ll have our book-based gift guide out next week, but this is a good place to start getting ideas for book-related swag!

* Want more gift guides? Check out NextMovie’s guides! Many are movie-focused, but some feature movies based on books — and their guide for Twilight fans also features other books and related swag that Twi-Hards might adore.

* Need another gift for the Twilight fan in your life? We’ll have ideas next week amidst our shopping guides, but here’s a quick reminder for you: The FAME: THE CAST OF TWILIGHT graphic novel from Bluewater Productions goes on sale THIS Wednesday!!! And we’ve seen an advanced copy here at Novel Novice, and it is GORGEOUS. Seriously, there is some beautiful artwork in this book & any Twilight fan would be happy to have it. The book includes the sold-out biographies of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner & Stephenie Meyer.

Want to win some free books? Here’s your chance …


Today marks the first of several weeks of really awesome giveaways here at Novel Novice. What’s the occasion, you ask? Well for starters, it’s the holiday season — and therefore, we’re in a jolly, giving spirit. Secondly, we’re taking a two month hiatus from our Book of the Month features — but we still want to give you the chance to learn about new books and win some great prizes. And thirdly, we’ve got this massive pile of books just begging to be given away (see photo!).

So today, we thought we’d kick things off with a random giveaway for three different titles. Each title has a different entry form, and you can enter for one, two or all three of the books! One winner will be chosen at random for each book.

Remember these simple rules for each contest:

  • One entry per person, per book
  • You may enter all 3 contests
  • U.S. only (sorry, we can’t ship internationally)
  • Use the individual entry forms to enter the contests

ENTRY FORM: Misguided Angel: A Blue Bloods Novel by Melissa de la Cruz

After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the five remaining gates that guard the earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods.

Back in New York, Mimi has been elected Regent of a crumbling coven. Struggling with her heartache over the loss of Kingsley and with her overwhelming desire to destroy Jack, she must focus all of her energy on a perilous new threat. Vampires are being abducted and their captors are planning to burn them alive online…for all the world to see. Help arrives in the form of Deming Chen, a Venator from Shanghai, who must untangle the web of deceptions before the killers strike again.

As the young vampires struggle for the survival of the coven, they uncover a deadly secret, a truth first discovered by Schuyler’s mother during the Renaissance but kept buried for centuries. And as the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler to a terrible choice that will ultimately map the destiny of her heart.

ENTRY FORM: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? Has goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced, and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies — not humans — and most likely triggered by Artemis’s dabbling with fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind — and the grips of a giant squid — in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?

ENTRY FORM: Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Blast from the Past by Meg Cabot

Allie’s excited about her class field trip. Sure, it’s to a historic one-room schoolhouse, built back before there was the Internet or even cell phones, and Allie’s teacher is encouraging everyone to dress up in old timey costumes, which some of Allie’s friends are actually doing. GAH! But at least she gets to ride on a bus, which she’s never gets to do, living so close to school that she actually has to walk there every day!

But then Mrs. Hunter announces that every student in Room 209 has been assigned a “buddy” for the day–from Allie’s old 4th grade class at Walnut Knolls Elementary School, with whom Pine Heights Elementary is pairing up for the trip. And Allie’s buddy just happens to be her ex-best friend Mary Kay, who betrayed Allie right before she moved! Allie is going to have to spend a whole day sharing an old-timey desk with a big crybaby!

As if things aren’t bad enough, with renovations going on at Allie’s house–there’s a hole in the wall that her kitten, Mewsie, keeps disappearing into. What if Allie’s mom and dad and Uncle Jay make a mistake, and Mewsie gets trapped inside the wall forever?–and with Cheyenne O’Malley and Brittany Hauser getting assigned to be “buddies” together, it looks like this is one blast from the past Allie may not survive. In fact, she’s had enough with old-timey things. It might be time to employ some new rules!

The deadline to enter all three of these giveaways is Sunday, December 5th at midnight (PT).

And be sure to check for more great giveaways throughout December & January, and all year-long here at Novel Novice!

Introduction to Matched by Ally Condie


Today, we’re kicking off another week-long book feature here at Novel Novice — this time, we’re looking at the new book Matched by Ally Condie — in stores tomorrow! We’ve got some fun & exciting goodies planned for you this week, but we begin with what it’s all about:

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

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

Here’s where you can learn more about the book & the author, connect with other readers & check out an excerpt:

Hush, Hush series: What we know about the third book!

Will there be a third book? YES!

Will it be called Tempest? MAYBE!

Will it be a best seller? DEFINITELY!

On Sept. 10 Becca Fitzpatrick was able to share with her fandom that yes, there will be a third book in her Hush, Hush series, tentatively called Tempest.

Here’s the official announcement from Publishers Weekly:

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers will publish Tempest, the third and final book in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush trilogy, on October 18, 2011. The book will be edited by executive editor Emily Meehan and will have a first printing of 250,000 copies. The second book in the trilogy, Crescendo, has just gone on sale. Meehan negotiated the deal with Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management for North American, audio, and e-book rights.

Becca said — despite the above statement — that she has no idea if this is the last book in the series, but earlier this month, she did share EXCLUSIVELY with Novel Novice the first sentence of the third book (keep in mind these things can always change!):

As a rule, I kiss with my eyes closed, but tonight temptation got the better of me, and I stole a glimpse.

Eeek!

 And get this — Becca already has a playlist for The-Book-Tentatively-Known-As-Tempest on her website! Does it give away any clues? Listen and find out! Then leave your best guesses in the comments!

Modern legend Salman Rushdie on best sellers list

One of our time’s most acclaimed and controversial authors is back on the best sellers list with his latest, Luka and the Fire of Life, by Salman Rushdie. The other new entrant to the top 10 is Hero by Mike Lupica. Neither authors, however, has come close to dethroning Rick Riordan, who claims both the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.

This Week    Children’s Chapter Books Weeks on List
1   THE LOST HERO, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) A return to Camp Half-Blood and semi-divine characters old and new. (Ages 10 and up) 6
   
 

 

2   THE RED PYRAMID, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $17.99.) Ancient gods (this time from Egypt) and a mortal family meet. (Ages 10 and up) 29
   
 

 

3   JUSTIN BIEBER, FIRST STEP 2 FOREVER, by Justin Bieber. (HarperCollins, $21.99.) A musician reaches out to fans with short takes and photos. (Ages 6 to 12) 6
     

 

4   CRESCENDO, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster, $18.99.) A world where the truth is sought and feared; a sequel to “Hush, Hush.” (Ages 14 and up) 6
     

 

5   HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY, by Brian Sibley. (Collins Design/HarperCollins, $39.99.) Deep background, subtext and behind-the screen details from the moviemakers. (Ages 18 and up) 5
     

 

6   LUKA AND THE FIRE OF LIFE, by Salman Rushdie. (Random House, $25.) The Nobodaddy haunts the younger brother of Rushdie’s Haroun. (Ages 10 and up) 1
     

 

7   TORMENT, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $17.99.) A novel about the nephilim, the children of humans and fallen angels. (Ages 12 and up) 8
     

 

8   TALES FROM A NOT-SO-POPULAR PARTY GIRL, by Rachel Renée Russell. (Aladdin, $12.99.) The further reflections of Nikki Maxwell on the agonies of middle school; a “Dork Diaries” book. (Ages 9 to 13) 19
     

 

9   DORK DIARIES, written and illustrated by Rachel Renée Russell. (Aladdin, $12.99.) Reflections of a junior Samuel Pepys of the female variety. (Ages 9 to 13) 28
     

 

10   HERO, by Mike Lupica. (Penguin, $17.99.) When his father is killed mysteriously, a boy hurtles toward superhero-dom. (Ages 10 and up) 1
     
This Week    Children’s Paperback Books Weeks on List
1   THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak. (Knopf, $11.99.) A girl saves books from Nazi burning. (Ages 14 and up) 167
   

  

2   WITCH AND WIZARD, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. (Little, Brown, $9.99.) One of each, a sister and brother, flex their new powers. (Ages 10 and up) 3
   
  
3   FALLEN, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte, $9.99.) Love is thwarted at boarding school. (Ages 12 and up) 8
   
4   THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKean. (HarperCollins, $7.99.) To avoid a killer, a boy lives in a cemetery. (Ages 10 and up) 8
   
  
5   STEFAN’S DIARIES: VOL. 1, ORIGINS, by L. J. Smith and Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec. (HarperCollins, $9.99.) The story behind a vampire love triangle. (Ages 14 and up) 3
   
 
6   HUSH, HUSH, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster, $17.99.) A love story of immortals and ancient battles. (Ages 14 and up) 8
   

 

7   THREE CUPS OF TEA: YOUNG READERS EDITION, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (Puffin/Penguin, $8.99.) A former climber builds schools in Pakistani and Afghan villages. (Ages 9 to 12) 95
   
8 SAVVY, by Ingrid Law. (Puffin/Penguin, $7.99.) Mibs is about to receive the supernatural abilities that run in her family. (Ages 9 to 12) 25
   

 

9 THE FLEDGLING HANDBOOK 101, by P.C. Cast with Kim Doner. (St. Martin’s Griffin, $12.99.) A compendium on vampirism for neophytes. (Ages 12 and up) 4
   

 

10 THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner. (Delacorte, $9.99.) A stone wall imprisons teenagers who live by their wits and have no memories. (Ages 12 and up) 6
   

The Saturday Past: Feathers, Best Books, Trailers & More


* For all our fellow Twilight Saga fans, Bill Condon delivered fans a Thanksgiving message and a photo from one of the most anticipated scenes in Breaking Dawn:

“Happy Thanksgiving and a crazy Black Friday to all of you and yours.” – Bill Condon


Yes. Those are FEATHERS!!!

*Over at NPR, If I Stay author Gayle Forman wrote about her top YA books of 2010:

Lately, I’ve found that this transcendent reading experience I so crave seems to occur more often with young-adult novels. Maybe it’s because YA books — like the adolescence they depict — are so often about transformation, told through the lens of universal issues like grieving, war and first love. Or maybe it’s because at heart I’m an emotionally stunted 17-year-old. Or maybe it’s because so many talented authors are choosing to channel their talents into writing YA. Whatever the reason, 2010 brought a bumper crop of fantastic books, including these gems.

See her complete list at NPR!

* Planning a vacation? MSNBC has a list of six trips for book lovers — including destinations for Twilight fans, Harry Potter fans and more.

* In case you missed it, Scholastic released the official book trailer for Elizabeth Eulberg’s upcoming new novel, Prom & Prejudice. We’re making our own trailer for this book (look for it Dec. 1st), but in the mean time, here’s the official one:

* Speaking of book trailers, Simon & Schuster wants to make sure you check out the trailer for Elixir by Hilary Duff:

The Hunger Games – Videos to Use in the Classroom

Last week, we looked at how student-made trailers can be used to enhance the teaching of The Outsiders. Today, we are happy to share with you a few of the videos out there right now for The Hunger Games.

I used this video to preview the novel before we began reading it. Predicting is a skill struggling readers have a hard time with, and using such intense and mesmerizing visuals really got the kids excited about predicting what The Hunger Games was all about.

There are two videos that I will be using during the emotional scene between Rue and Katniss. I feel like it’s a big turning point for Katniss in the novel, and intend to spend a good deal of time on it when we get there. First, is a video we showcased earlier this week. It’s a wondrous recreation of the scene. The second video is Rue’s lullaby with the lyrics. I intend to have the students analyze the lyrics, and discuss the song’s tone.

and because even though we’re only halfway through the book and the Team Peeta / Team Gale debate has already started without any prompting:

I’m all about the teachable moment. I plan on reviewing the rules of debate, and allowing the students to argue their teams. Even the boys have a favorite.

Team Get Some Week: Favorite Hot & Steamy Scenes in YA


All this week we’re teaming up with YA author Suzanne Young to show our support for Team Get Some … that is, the hottest romances in YA fiction.

Throughout the week, we’ve featured our favorite guys from different categories: The Best Friend, The Awesome Boyfriend, The Hot New Guy, The Bad Boy and The Classic Literary Crush.

Today, we’re getting Hot & Steamy with some of our favorite, most romantic scenes from YA fiction. These authors show us how to write romance well … so well, that we’re inevitably jealous of the female protagonist and like to imagine ourselves in their places. And because we really want to share the wealth, today’s picks include specific page references — so you can check them out for yourselves.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

One of the steamiest scenes in the book — though appropriately chaste, considering the book takes place in Victorian London — occurs on pages 285 to 293. Here’s an excerpt:

For a moment their mouths pressed hotly together, Will’s free hand tangling in her hair. Tessa gasped when his arms went around her, her skirts snagging on the floor as he pulled her hard against him. She put her hands lightly around his neck; his skin was burning hot to the touch. Through the thin material of his shirt, she could feel the muscles of his shoulders, hard and smooth.

Be sure to check out Clockwork Angel to read more. Another steamy scene worth noting happens on pages 462 to 465.

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

There’s plenty of hot & steamy in Hush, Hush and Crescendo, but things definitely start out on a high note in Crecendo with the scene on pages 20 to 28. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

I unlatched my seat belt and bent across the console, finding Patch’s mouth in the darkness. I kissed him slowly, savoring the taste of sea salt on his skin. He’d shaved this morning, but now his stubble rasped my chin. His mouth skimmed my throat and I felt a touch of tongue, causing my heart to bump against my ribs.

And it only gets better from there! Find even more goodies like that in both Hush, Hush and Crescendo.

White Cat by Holly Black

Holly Black’s White Cat isn’t really about a romance — but that never stopped me from loving her imaginative and action-packed tale of magically-gifted mobsters. Still, the underlying tale of lost love between bad boy-trying-to-be-good Cassel and his former best friend Lila is enticing — and builds to a true climax by the end of the book. (It’s this ending that really leaves you hankering for book 2, Red Glove, in stores this coming Spring). The hot & steamy comes in on pages 303 to 310. Here’s a taste:

She leans in close, and everything about her is dizzyingly warm and soft.

“I missed you, too,” she says, voice low and breathless.

I laugh, which helps me clear my head a little. “You wanted to kill me.”

She shakes her head. “I always liked you. I always wanted you. Always.”

“Oh,” I say stupidly. And then I kiss her.

Her mouth opens under mine and she lies back, drawing me down onto the bed with her. Her arms twine around my neck and she sighs against my mouth. My skin feels pricklingly hot.

Read the rest in White Cat and keep your eyes peeled for Red Glove this March.

Jane by April Lindner

Though marketed simply a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane by April Lindner definitely offers some things you’d never expect to find in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel — most notably, a truly steamy scene between Jane and Nico Rathburn (this book’s version of Mr. Rochester). You can find this stand-out moment on pages 201 to 212. Here’s a little sample:

And he kissed me again, his hands in my hair, and then on my waist. His lips were gentle at first, then more insistent. Then he released me. I opened my eyes and looked up at him. When had it gotten so dark out? With one finger he traced my profile, from my forehead, down my nose, to my chin, and then down my throat to the top button of my blouse. Looking me straight in the eyes, he undid the top button. Then, when I didn’t object, he undid the next one.

Be sure to read the rest in Jane … it’s definitely worth it!

And check out Suzanne’s hot & steamy scene choices on her website, and share your favorite romantic scenes in YA lit in the comments below! (Page numbers are especially appreciated!)