Monthly Archives: February 2012

Book Review: Perception by Kim Harrington

Last year, I fell in love with Clarity by Kim Harrington — and this year, it’s happened again with the sequel Perception, in stores this week.

In this sequel, Harrington returns us to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the wake of everything that happened in Clarity. The summer is over though, now. The tourists have gone home and the Halloween decorations are coming out. And even though Clare has already solved one murder mystery, there’s a new crime to tackle.

In Clarity, the murder-mystery was definitely the focus of the book. But in Perception, Clare herself takes center stage. She’s still torn between two boys: her remorseful ex Justin and the conflicted Gabriel. Then there are the strange gifts and messages she starts receiving from a secret admirer that soon turn from being flattering, to creepy! And on top of all that, Clare is drawn towards helping solve the disappearance of a classmate, even though no one wants her to get involved.

The main focus of the book really is Clare herself and the decisions she will have to make: about her love life, about her friendships, and about how she will use her talent. At times, I longed for a bit more of the suspense that I loved so much in Clarity, but at the end of the day I just loved spending more time with Harrington’s wonderful cast of characters. And some of those topics left open-ended at the end of Clarity? Expect some resolutions and new information to come forward as you dive into Perception.

And as with Clarity, Harrington’s signature sense of humor shines through, lending the book all the extra charm that elevates it above other mysteries on the YA shelves today. Clare is a psychic wanna-be detective with snark and sarcasm, and by golly, she’s not afraid to use it!

Perception is in stores this week. Here is the official synopsis:

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

The Best of A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton

Today marks the end of our February Book of the Month feature on Darkness Becomes Her and the newly-released sequel A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. 

So as we bid farewell to this month’s featured book, here’s a look back at highlights:

Greek Mythology-inspired Writing Contest

Create a short story based on your favorite story from Greek mythology! You’ve got until midnight tonight to enter this contest. Winners will get a set of Kelly’s books, Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Virtual Visit to New Orleans

Kelly’s books take place in “New 2″ which is an alternate version of New Orleans. So during this past month, we explored the city and some of its landmarks featured in Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil:

Greek Mythology 101

We also explored some elements of Greek mythology that are featured in Kelly’s books, as well as offered some essay & writing project ideas based on both books:

More from Kelly Keaton

During her exclusive guest blog for Novel Novice, Kelly shared some of the actual revision notes she received from her editor for A Beautiful Evil. We also chatted with Kelly in a three-part interview:

Plus, check out our review of A Beautiful Evil and our wallpapers for both books!

Exclusive Excerpt from Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Today, we are thrilled to be featuring an exclusive sneak peek at Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. Below, you’ll find a note from Elizabeth plus an excerpt from Take a Bow, in stores April 1st!

*          *          *

When I was little, I was the star music student at my little private grade school. I always got first chair and the solos. Then I went to public high school. It was so weird for me to go from being the featured soloist to third chair, but I wasn’t as good as the other students. I was suddenly the tiny fish in the big pond. This was my inspiration for Sophie Jenkins.

Sophie was always the star in Brooklyn, the most talented singer without question. But then she gets into the NYC School of the Creative and Performing Arts, where super talented is the norm. While she was the most confident going in (as you’ll soon read), when you meet her again senior year, you’ll see the toll that it has taken on her.

I don’t want to say that Sophie is my most controversial character, but she is definitely someone that people will have a strong reaction to. I will say that it was really fun to write from Sophie’s point of view because we are such different people. I found myself sitting up straighter, typing away with purpose.

Sophie really shows that he road to fame is not easy… and that there are some people who will do anything to be a star.

SOPHIE

It’s all going according to plan.

This audition is just one more box to check off on Sophie’s Plan to Superstardom.

Basically, the list so far has consisted of me performing at every possible talent show, wedding, sporting event, bar mitzvah, birthday party, etc., in the Brooklyn area (check!), getting Emme to write me a can’t lose original song for my audition (check!), and getting into CPA.

Of course, once I’m accepted, I’ll have my work cut out for me. I’m not that naïve. So once I get in I need to become the star pupil, land the lead in every play, get the most coveted spot at the Senior Showcase, and then get a record contract by the time I graduate.

I will have a Grammy before I turn twenty. Even if it kills me.

I’m not even nervous. Are you kidding me? I LOVE being on stage. I LOVE the glow of the spotlight. It’s the waiting that’s killing me.

I look around and notice a few other contenders for the vocal department at CPA from different talent contests that I’ve done . . . and won. They’ve got nothing on me and they know it.

All the singers (at least in Brooklyn) are jealous of me. While they’ll all be auditioning with songs from West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music, I have an original Emme Connelly song written just for me.

For a second, just a second, my stomach drops. I hope Emme gets in. Her audition is in a couple weeks for the music composition program. Although her acceptance (or rejection) won’t really affect my Plan. She’ll still write songs for me. It would just be easier if she would also be at my school. Don’t get me wrong, she’s talented enough to get in, but being center stage really isn’t her thing. She gets nervous.

Not everybody can be a natural.

“Sophie Jenkins.”

I hear my name and enter the auditorium. I can’t wait to show the panel what I’m capable of. I’m ready to move on with my Plan and be the star that I know I am.

This is just one small step.

Check.

Excerpt from Take a Bow, published by Point/Scholastic, copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Eulberg. Used with permission.

A Beautiful Evil author Kelly Keaton’s adult books

Besides her Young Adult series that includes Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, Kelly Keaton is also the author of an adult series under the pen name Kelly Gay. Here’s a look at her Charlie Madigan series:

The Better Part of Darkness

Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She’s recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.’s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim. But can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?

The Darkest Edge of Dawn

Deep beneath Underground a cunning bid for power and revenge has begun, one that threatens to make Atlanta the new battleground in the ultimate confrontation between heaven and hell. The powers of hellish Charbydon have the upper hand after plunging the city into primordial night. And under the cover of darkness, a serial killer targets the most powerful Elysian’s in the city, the angelic Adonai. For detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner Hank, tracking deadly predators is all in a day’s work. But this case will test the limits of their strength and friendship as it draws them into a deadly world of power plays, ancient myths, explosive secrets, and a race against time that risks all that Charlie holds dear.

The Hour of Dust and Ashes

To save her sister, she must stop a silent killer. . . .

Protecting Atlanta from the off-world criminals of Underground is tough enough, but now Detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner, Hank, learn that the addicts of the offworld drug ash have begun taking their own lives. Ash makes humans the perfect vessels for possession, and something or someone is leading them to their deaths. Charlie is desperate to save her addicted sister, Bryn, from a similar fate. As New Year’s Eve approaches, Charlie makes a deadly bargain with an ancient race of beings and embarks on a dangerous journey into hellish Charbydon with Hank and the Revenant Rex to save Bryn and make it back before time runs out. Only, for one of them, coming home means facing a fate worse than death. . . .

Shadows Before the Sun

Between life and death lies a chasm of pain beyond imagining. . . .

Elysia may be a heavenly off-world destination, but beyond it, in the siren city of Fiallan, the Circe have punished Charlie Madigan’s partner, Hank, into a tortuous state between life and death. With all the proper legal channels cleared, Charlie heads to Elysia, not knowing what she’ll find, or if she’ll ever see the siren again . . . while at home, jinn crime boss Grigori Tennin has begun an all-out hunt for the divine being Ahkneri. Tennin’s tactics set off a chain reaction that puts Charlie in the crosshairs of the shadowy creature known as Death, and stirs Ahkneri from her long sleep—and if Vengeance wakes, Atlanta will never be the same.

For the comments: Have you read any of Kelly’s adult books? Do you plan to now?

New Young Adult Book Releases: February 28, 2012

Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Partials by Dan Wells

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question–one where our sense of humanity is both our greatest liability, and our only hope for survival.

Fugitives by Alexander Gordon Smith

Forever altered by his experience in Furnace Penetentiary, Alex has done the impossible and escaped. But the battle for freedom is only just beginning. Charged with his superhuman abilities, Alex must uncover the last of Furnace’s secrets—the truth about the man who built the prison, the man known as Alfred Furnace. And to do that he must stop running and finally confront his greatest fears.

Bad Boy by Dream Jordan

Dream Jordan is back with a follow-up to the acclaimed Hot Girl

Kate is devastated to find herself back in a group home after a peaceful year of living with her loving foster parents, Lynn and Ted. The fantasy life of having the perfect family has come to an abrupt end and Kate’s reeling from having to return to the place she’s fought so hard to avoid.  Sad and lonely, Kate soon falls prey to the dangerous affections of Percy, a good looking but shady young man.  He treats her well at first, manipulating her already broken heart, and soon a cycle of controlling and abusive behavior begins. Now Kate finds herself trapped and unable to be the strong, independent girl she’s tried her whole life to be. But this Brooklyn-born girl is never one to let a bad situation keep her down for too long. Told in Kate’s sassy, witty voice, Bad Boy is all about staying strong and remaining true to yourself even when it seems like the whole world is out to get you.

When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend, Ilven, kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven’s death has called out of the sea a dangerous, wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg’s caste system, and the whole city along with it.

A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford

Eden won the battle-she saved her true love from the darkest evil. But the war has only just begun. With secrets swirling around her, powerful allies unraveling, and life-and death-as she knows it eroding, Eden and those she loves tread dangerous ground. Can she trust anyone? Will her unearthly powers be her salvation or her downfall? A sweeping, dark, and sexy paranormal romance that will haunt readers with an inventive mythology and a cinematic New York City filled with shadows and longing.

In Stores March 1st:

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great – her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.

For the comments: Which of these new releases are you most excited about?

Enter to win The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

As we continue our weekly countdown to the release of The Night She Disappeared by April Henry, we’re giving you a chance to win this exciting new thriller!

Here’s how:

The Contest:

Fill out The Night She Disappeared Contest Entry Form, and tell us your favorite thriller. It can be another book by April Henry, or something from another author … but we want to know about your favorite thriller that kept you on the edge of your seat!

The Prizes:

One grand-prize winner will receive a prize pack, including a copy of The Night She Disappeared.

Two runners-up will each receive a copy of The Night She Disappeared.

The Rules:

  • U.S. only
  • One entry per person
  • Use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Monday, March 5th.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments & we’ll reply!

A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton: Essay & project ideas

Books like Kelly Keaton’s A Beautiful Evil (and Darkness Becomes Her, the first book in the series) are gold mines for us at Novel Novice. We totally dork out at all the history, lore and real-life tie-ins. The possibilities for using this series as a springboard are practically endless.

Below, you’ll find some ideas to kickstart your projects.

ESSAY PROMPTS

  • Voodoo is mentioned several times in the Darkess Becomes Her series. Do some research and write an essay discussing the way it’s portrayed in popular culture versus the way practitioners view it. How does it compare to other religions?
  • Read up on the myth of Medusa and the Gorgons, comparing how it is portrayed in Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, to more traditional versions. In particular, compare the versions that say Medusa seduced Poseidon, and those that say she was raped.
  • Research Athena in classic Greek mythology and compare traditional stories to her portrayal in Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil. Examine how the persona of Athena is similar/different.
  • Examine the figures from Greek mythology featured in Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil, and compare & contrast their portrayals in the novels to how they are depicted in classic Greek mythology.
  • These days, you hear about “Pandora’s Box” — but traditionally, it’s referred to as a “jar.” Explore how language and translation lead to the change, and look at other examples of where this has happened historically.

"Pandora" by John William Waterhouse

PROJECTS IDEAS

  • The Darkness Becomes Her series features a ravaged New Orleans, but many of the structures remain. Pick one that interests you and research its history. What is its history in real life? What is it used for now? How is it used in the books? Go really crazy by building a scale model or drawing an elevation.
  • Create a family tree of all the Greek gods and goddesses in Darkness Becomes Her and A Beautiful Evil. How do their “births” compare to other creation myths?
  • Greek figures and myths are often depicted by artists. Pick a favorite and discuss its representation. Better yet, create a work of your own.
  • Create your own version of “Pandora’s box” (or “jar,” to be more accurate). According to Greek mythology, it contained all of the world’s evils. Using magazine and newspaper clippings, fill a box or jar with what you perceive to be today’s “evils” of the world.

The Saturday Post: J.K. Rowling rocks our world & more

Saturday is almost over, but better late then never, right? Here’s the highlights from this weeks news …

* By far, the biggest news this week … J.K. Rowling is publishing a new adult book with Little, Brown!

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.”

JK Rowling also later tweeted this message:

As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.

I am SO freaking excited about this! As I said on Twitter … JK could write a phone book, and I’d read it.

Read more here.

* USA Today has a sneak peek at Changeling by Philippa Gregory, her first YA novel:

Scheduled for release on May 22 from Simon & Schuster, Changeling opens in 1453 Rome.

The male protagonist – 17-year-old Luca Vero – has been expelled from his monastery, his home since age 11. Meanwhile, the heroine, Isolde, has just lost her adored father. After she refuses her elder brother’s demand that she marry slimy Prince Roberto, she is forced into a convent against her will. The couple meet when Luca is sent to investigate why young nuns are developing stigmata.

See more here.

* Stunning cover revealed for Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life– a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

* Also a gorgeous cover for Ten by Gretchen McNeil:

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

* And there have been TONS of stories about The Hunger Games lately. Stay on top of it by checking out The Hunger Games Examiner!

Book Review: Partials by Dan Wells

If you’re sick of the same-old dystopian stories hitting store shelves these days, rest easy. Partials by Dan Wells is an action-packed, science fiction adventure of the highest degree — and while it does bear some of the earmarks of dystopian fiction, it is not another cookie-cutter story from today’s “It” genre.

Humanity is all but extinguished after a war with partials–engineered organic beings identical to humans–has decimated the world’s population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out.

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask.

Partials starts off with an interesting premise, and a chilling faux quote that sets the mood for the rest of the novel to come. Wells layers in science and science fiction to create a top notch and fully-realized futuristic world. And while there are “oppressive government figures” at work, they are not the sole focus of the story — nor are they the sole source of conflict. The greater enemy for much of the novel is the virus RM itself, and the mysterious Partials.

Kira is a gutsy, albeit flawed heroine, who is easy to root for. Her heart is in the right place, so you want her to win — but she’s clearly not perfect, which makes her a more relatable character. Her friends and cohorts throughout Partials are equally appealing — and between them all, every reader should find one character to relate to and root for.

Partials isn’t without its flaws, though. At times, the pacing felt a bit slow — since a lot of time is spent in world-building or on the science. And while the character of Samm is meant to be less than human, his inhuman qualities were still a bit too strong for me to feel much of a connection to him. I’m hopeful this will develop more in the second book of this planned trilogy, but it would have been nice to see Samm have a bit more presence and character development in the first book.

Even with my complaints, Partials is a fun, fast read — and the last page sets things up nicely for a thrill-ride sequel.

Partials is in stores on Tuesday, February 28th. Read a free excerpt here.

Exclusive Q&A with A Beautiful Evil author Kelly Keaton: Pt 3


Today we bring you the third and final part of our exclusive Q&A with A Beautiful Evil author Kelly Keaton. Today, she tackles our flash questions!

Private concert: who’s playing?

One Republic

Pizza toppings?

Pepperoni

Book you can’t stop re-reading?

A DANCE THROUGH TIME, THE MORE I SEE YOU, and MUCH ADO IN THE MOONLIGHT (all by Lynn Kurland.) I read them every year and *love* beyond words.

Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with?

My grandparents

Perfect vacation?

Touring the British Isles for the summer, or a villa in Crete so I could poke around the palace of Knossos.

Look at your desk right now. Name five things within reach.

Don’t have a desk, but the side table next to me has my iPod, a cup with pencils and pens, the Wii control, a empty bag of Sour Patch Kids, and A CLOCKWORK ANGEL.

Thanks again, Kelly!