Monthly Archives: May 2011

Chick Lit Review: Hotel No Tell by Daphne Uviller

Equal parts dynamic detective tale and deliciously entertaining Chick Lit treat, Daphne Uviller’s Hotel No Tell is the story of a brilliant, yet bumbling NYC junior detective who exudes all of the wit and charm of the book’s title.

You may find yourself more drawn to the perks and pitfalls of Zephyr Zuckerman’s personal life: her newly single status due to a kaput relationship with the love of her life (he wants kids, she doesn’t), and a colorful group of girlfriends who provide Zephyr with plenty of excitement outside of her already exciting professional adventures – all divulged with her shockingly realistic and hysterical stream-of-consciousness storytelling. Or, you may find yourself more engaged with the suspense of a money laundering/attempted murder case Zephyr has been assigned to – her first undercover investigation.

Whether it’s her detective dealings as an incognito concierge at a hotel, or her utterly relatable insecurities as a woman who’s not truly over her ex, but not truly sold on the idea of having kids with him or with anyone, it’s hard not to find a friend, or just pieces of yourself in Zephyr.

Her approach to solving the case, clumsy as it may be, is essentially the same approach she applies to solving her life’s most confounding problems. Zephyr follows her heart, allowing her gut instinct to guide her through her investigations – both personal and professional.

Hotel No Tell will leave you wondering what trouble Zephyr will find herself tumbling into next, and how the heck she’ll manage to find her way out of it – relatively unscathed. Hopefully Ms. Uviller will give us much more where that came from!

Post-BEA: Scholastic’s VIP Party & This is Teen Celebration

One of the highlights from my time in NYC for BEA last week was attending Scholastic’s VIP party to celebrate the launch of This is Teen, Scholastic’s new initiative celebrating teen literature and all of its YA releases.

The party, held at Scholastic HQ, included a chance to mingle with fellow YA bloggers, members of the Scholastic team, and some of Scholastic’s #1 authors: Maggie Stiefvater, Libba Bray, and Meg Cabot. (Seriously, Scholastic folks — thank you for the invite! You throw a great party!! Scroll down for party photos.)

We also got a chance to further explore the This is Teen website & Facebook page, and all of the features offered there. One of my favorites is the Book Finder — which lets you search for more books based on ones you already like. Not only is it really slick to use, but it’s incredibly good at finding books based on your tastes. I already gave it a whirl based on my preferences, and while it did pull up a few books I’ve already read, it also offered me TONS of new books to check out. Definitely give it a whirl.

This is Teen also has some GREAT contests that you can enter to win great prizes. Plus, follow This is Teen in general to get videos, interviews, insider info & much more on your favorite books & authors.

These are some of the books from This is Teen authors we got to check out at the Scholastic party:

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she’s never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she’s moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can’t. Because even here, he finds her. That’s how desperately he wants her back. She knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A “Lost”-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater.

In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse

“Wonder Twins” on the run–and running amok–in Vegas. Road Trip!Paisley and Beau are boldface names again. Last time, paparazzi called them the “Wonder Twins,” two kids found alone but alive in the woods of exotic New Jersey. Three days after their mom’s death — and before their dad’s criminal misdeeds.

Flash-forward to now: Their so-called lives? Suck out loud: Hating on their cougarized, Botoxic grandma, they’re totally clueless about the location of ex-con Daddy. Till they discover a stash of old letters. That’s when they decide to jack the Pontiac and hit the road. Holding up donut shops in Sin City might seem extreme, but if they can just get their pretty bad faces back on TV — or TMZ — they might wrap up their whole gaga saga with an Oprah-worthy reunion already!

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York.

When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn’t have much. She’s fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she’s broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who’s enlisted in the army.

The city doesn’t exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that’s not going to last very long. She needs help–and then it comes, from an unexpected source.

Nate Benedict is Billy’s father. He’s also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal–he’ll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.

As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

For the Comments: What are your favorite Scholastic teen books?

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the party:

Me (Sara) with Meg Cabot, author of ABANDON and many other fabulous books

Me (Sara) with Libba Bray, author of BEAUTY QUEENS and several other fabulous books!

It turns out that Libba & I are both Team Zombie. This is our "awesome Zombie pose."

This was the gorgeous view of NYC from Scholastic's party space in their building on Broadway.

Book Review: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

When it comes to YA dystopian literature, The Hunger Games pretty much set the bar. Blood Red Road by Moira Young may have just raised that bar.

Absolutely stunning & completely original, Blood Red Road stands out from the many dystopian titles hitting shelves these days. It tells the story of 18-year-old Saba, who sets out across the wasteland of her world to find her twin brother, Lugh, when he is kidnapped by four mysterious men. All their lives, Lugh has been the one to lead, and Saba has been the one to follow. But without Lugh to guide her, Saba learns a lot about herself — and what she’s capable of, all while facing brutal violence, a seemingly impossible journey, and her own inner demons.

Saba is an imperfect character, but in a perfect way. Young has created someone wholly realistic, with flaws that are genuine and relatable. Yet Saba is not a static character;  she changes and grows and matures in a way that feels natural with the progression of events throughout Blood Red Road.

Saba is surrounded by an engaging cast of characters who help to flesh out the story, as well as populate this harsh futuristic world with warmth and color. The characters that Saba encounters not only change her — but are changed by her. They all interact in a way that just feels familiar, even if the setting and the situations they are faced with are so foreign to most readers.

But what readers will notice first when they pick up Blood Red Road is its unique voice. Young writes with a simplistic and stark style that is at first jarring, but only at first. Readers will soon find themselves easily slipping into the cadence of Saba’s narrative voice. The colloquial spellings and lack of quotation marks suddenly become non-issues; this is simply Saba’s voice, and it pulls you into the story in such a way that you feel immersed in Saba’s world.

Blood Red Road has it all: a compelling story, an engaging cast of characters, a unique voice, a beautifully stark writing style and bloody violent action that drives the plot forward. This is fiction in its finest, most perfect form. I can’t wait to see what this author does next.

Blood Red Road hits stores next Tuesday, June 7th.

Exclusive Guest Blog from Amanda Bell, Divergent Examiner

It’s been an exciting debut month for Divergent by Veronica Roth. After hitting store shelves earlier this month, it was featured as our book of the month, has hit the NYT Bestseller’s list three weeks in a row, AND got its own column on The brain behind the Divergent Examiner is none other than our good friend, Amanda Bell — who’s been rocking the Examiner world for a while now as the Twilight Examiner. We’ve always loved Amanda’s extensive coverage, and we’re so excited to see her now following Divergent. We’re delighted to offer a bonus Divergent post today, in the form of a guest blog from Amanda!

*          *           *

The first time I started to read Divergent, I expected a lot from it. The caliber of praise surrounding the book set the bar pretty high. It seemed like every book-lover I knew was thumbs-upping Divergent, and, of course, the film rights were picked up right away by Twilight film studio Summit Entertainment. (Disclaimer: That last bit intrigued me, especially, because of my work on the Twilight Examiner column.)

Fortunately, though, Divergent didn’t disappoint; in fact, it well exceeded my expectations. What came off as the story of a girl’s critical choice between futuristic factions was actually an exciting, action-packed foray into the world of bravery, both real and false.

I was sure right away our girl “Tris” was someone worth admiring, this was a story I’d happily follow into a full trilogy, and that I wanted to see a fan base evolve around this new series. So, I started up the Divergent Examiner page. Already, it’s been too much fun: fan-casting the characters, watching Divergent hang tough on the New York Times’ Bestseller List, smiling when people I know become hooked on the story . . .

Books are often the start of something. Sometimes, it’s a well-rounded career for an author; very rarely, it’s a major motion picture franchise; and even rarer still, books can be the beginning of a great community of fans. I have a feeling Divergent is a first breath for all three.

The Best of Divergent by Veronica Roth

Today marks the end of our May Book of the Month feature on Divergent by Veronica Roth — so as always, we bring you a look back at this month’s highlights:

What’s Your Faction? Writing Contest

Want to win a copy of Divergent and some faction temporary tattoos? Then enter our What’s Your Faction? Writing Contest before midnight (PT) tonight!

Need some help choosing your faction? Check out our features on all 5 of them:

Exclusive Content from Veronica Roth

We got to know more about Divergent author Veronica Roth in this exclusive goodies:

Plus check out our Q&A with her editor, Molly O’Neill for more insight into what went into creating Divergent!

Education Content

It wouldn’t be Novel Novice without tying in other classroom & reading potential. Here’s our favorites from this month:

Our Content:

For the comments: What was your favorite part about the Divergent Book of the Month feature?

New Young Adult Book Releases: May 31, 2011

Here are some of the highlights from today’s new YA releases:

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

And in stores tomorrow, June 1st:

The Ivy: Secrets by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Gregory or Clint? Clint or Gregory? Matt, anyone? And what is Lexi up to . . .exactly? When we last saw Callie Andrews, she was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Lexi was threatening to expose all of her safely guarded, deeply buried secrets from high school, and Callie had just hooked up with bad-boy Gregory–despite the fact that she had a perfect (sort of) boyfriend and her BFF Vanessa had claimed (sort of) Gregory as her own. Yow. Entertaining, hilarious, addictive, scandalous, sexy, and smart, The Ivy series is an insider’s look at freshman life at Harvard University. This isn’t high school anymore!

Recovering from the Awesomeness of BEA 2011 & NYC

As most of you probably know, I was in NYC last week for BEA (Book Expo America) and Book Blogger Convention.

Oh. Holy. Wow.

What a whirlwind few days!

Vania & I are tired after BEA!

I’m still recovering from the exhaustion & awesomeness of everything that happened last week, but I’ll be blogging about my experiences, the bloggers & authors I met, the books I found out about, and everything in between over the next several days. But first, here’s a quick post about WHY I went to BEA, and a brief look at my NYC experience.

A lot of people think bloggers go to BEA for the “free books.” And while there were a handful of disappointingly rude people there (not just bloggers) who were clearly just after the freebies, let me correct this assumption.

First of all, I did not just go to BEA for the “free books.” My number one reason for going was to network — with the publishers, the authors, and with fellow bloggers. I wanted to meet the people I’ve spent the last year and a half working with remotely (via email, Twitter, phone, etc.). It was so nice to finally put faces with names, and to hang out in person with all these cool folks I’ve been working with — people like Vania of VLC Productions, Chrissy at S&S, and Allison at HarperTeen.

I was also there to build new relationships with publishers, publicists, authors, etc. Novel Novice is something I want to continue to grow and build, and it’s developing these sorts of relationships that helps make that possible.

Me with "Will Herondale" at the S&S booth for the cover reveal of Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK PRINCE.

And yes, getting the books was very nice — but I wouldn’t call them “free.” It would be much cheaper to just buy the books myself than to spend the money I did on traveling to NYC, staying there, eating there, registering for BEA, etc. The costs add up — and books themselves would be much less expensive. So while I didn’t pay for the actual books I received at BEA, I wouldn’t necessarily call them “free.”

As I said, I’ll have much more in-depth looks at the authors, bloggers, books, etc. later … but during the rest of my time in NYC, I managed to squeeze in some brief sight-seeing and time to hang out with my good friend Erin. She & I went to college together before she moved to New York — and Erin is the one who let me crash on her sleeper sofa all last week, gave me personalized directions for getting from her house to the Javits Center using the MTA, and took me out for some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. (Over four nights, we enjoyed: meatballs, pizza, Jewish deli, and customized mac ‘n’ cheese.) We also nabbed tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and it was spectacular!

And in case you’re thinking about going to BEA next year, here’s a few quick words of advice:

  • Start saving your $$$ now … NYC is expensive
  • Be prepared to walk A LOT. Even using the Subway/Bus systems, there’s a lot of walking, and many New York city blocks are longer than you might expect. Hailing a cab is also far more difficult than you might think, so don’t always plan on having that as a back-up. You’ll also be on your feet almost the entire time at BEA itself. I’ve got the blisters to prove it.
  • Besides sore legs & feet, expect some aching shoulders/neck muscles from carrying around bags of books.
  • Pack an extra phone battery. I think the Javits Center has some secret cell phone battery sucking capabilities. And it’s hard to find an outlet for charging.
  • Be polite & friendly! Not only does it show you are a professional, but it just makes for a better experience overall.
  • Make friends with fellow bloggers … it’s more fun to wander around with a group, then solo.
  • You can sleep when you get home. While at BEA, drink lots of coffee! :)

Here’s a few more of my photos from NYC:

I had to visit the NYC Public Library while I was there. Less so because of the books in this case, and more because it was where they filmed "Ghostbusters."

With my friend & hostess Erin outside the NYC Public Library!

The glittering lights of Times Square! (Which made me nostalgic for the days when MTV still aired TRL.)

Grabbing some drinks with Stacy & Shannon from The Girls in the Stacks

And of course, I had to see the Statue of Liberty. We took the free Staten Island Ferry to catch this great view on a sunny, warm evening!

And as a bonus, here’s a “highlights” video from How To Succeed:

Introduction to Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Today kicks off our week-long feature on Blood Red Road by Moira Young, an outstanding new dystopian YA novel set to hit store shelves next week, June 7th. This book completely blew me away — and frankly, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m beyond ecstatic to see it make its way into the world, and to watch as more and more readers discover just how truly brilliant and amazing this piece of literature really is.

Throughout the week, we’ll be bringing you our review, plus Q&As with both Moira herself, and her UK editor — and of course we’ll have a chance for you to win the book, too!

But before that happens, head on over to Simon & Schuster’s Blood Red Road website to read an excerpt, download the desktop wallpapers, and more!

Meanwhile, here is the official synopsis:

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.

Guest Blog: The Divergent Trilogy Fan Site

Today, we’ve got a very fun guest post from the folks behind the Divergent Trilogy Fansite! If you’ve been enjoying our Book of the Month, be sure to check them out for even more!

*          *          *

I would love to say that Divergent came to from another blogger or just landed on my doorstep from Harper, but that’s not the case.  Back in January I googled – “What’s hot in YA, 2011”, and Divergentwas on the list.  After reading the synopsis I reached out to my friends at Harper and received a copy the next day.Divergent arrived on a Friday, I spend Saturday reading and avoiding everyone.  I was hooked from the first paragraph until the last and totally in lust with Four.  But who isn’t, right?

The Divergent Trilogy website came along after a few more friends picked up the book at my urging.  We each kept going over the ‘train’ scene and the mention was made on how a website dedicated to the ‘train’ should be made.  We took it one step further and created the website.

We’ve worked closely with Harper and Roth’s agent making sure everything is exactly how they want it.  Since the launching of The Divergent Trilogy website, the community has gained a Divergent Examiner which we gladly host an rss feed for.

We have many events planned for the site and are very excited to be part of Novel Novice’s book of the month club.  Our team is small but always welcoming more bloggers so stop by and let us know if you are interested, we’d love to have you.

Now let’s countdown to book two … I know I can’t wait!

Divergent, Throne of Fire in third week on top ten list

 No new titles on the top 10 this week, but Veronica Roth’s debut dystopian Divergent  (and our Book of the Month) is in its third week on the list, along with Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire.

This Week    Children’s Chapter Books Weeks
on List
1   THE THRONE OF FIRE, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) The Kanes seek the sun god, Ra; Book 2 of the Kane Chronicles. (Ages 10 and up) 3
2   WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE, by Sarah Dessen. (Viking, $19.99.) A girl rediscovers herself after her parents’ bitter divorce. (Ages 12 and up) 2
3   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) 55
4   THE LOST HERO, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99.) A return to Camp Half-Blood and semi-divine characters. (Ages 10 and up) 32
5   THE TWILIGHT SAGA: THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Stephenie Meyer. (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown, $24.99.) A definitive guide to all things “Twilight.” (Ages 12 and up) 6
6   DIVERGENT, by Veronica Roth. (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $17.99.) A girl must prove her mettle in a dystopia split into five factions. (Ages 14 and up) 3
7   SUMMER AND THE CITY, by Candace Bushnell. (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, $18.99.) Carrie Bradshaw explores the Big Apple. (Ages 14 and up) 4
8   TALES FROM A NOT-SO-POPULAR PARTY GIRL, by Rachel Renée Russell. (Aladdin, $12.99.) Further reflections of Nikki Maxwell. (Ages 9 to 13) 40
9   DORK DIARIES, written and illustrated by Rachel Renée Russell. (Aladdin, $12.99.) Tales of a junior Samuel Pepys of the female variety. (Ages 9 to 13) 40
10   ONE CRAZY SUMMER, by Rita Williams-Garcia. (Amistad, $15.99.) Delphine and her sisters spend the summer of ’68 in Oakland with their estranged mother. (Ages 9 to 12) 2