Monthly Archives: August 2012

Book Review: Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

In the publishing world, certain books tend to get a lot more buzz than others. But sometimes, all it takes is one person’s suggestion to help you find a true gem. That’s what happened to me with Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught.

I was at BEA earlier this summer, and was chatting with a publicist at the Bloomsbury booth, in search of an ARC for Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas — which was getting tons of buzz, and which I certainly wanted to read. (And which I enjoyed immensely, if you read my review). But it was during this conversation that the publicist offered up another book — Freaks Like Us. “This one’s my favorite,” she said, and proceeded to give me the elevator pitch.

I was sold. So much so, that it was the first BEA book I read — devouring the whole thing on my flight home.

Freaks Like Us is a very special book. I understood immediately why the publicist handed it to me — it’s so good. A book that is different and unique and touching in many, many ways. Dark humor, an unreliable narrator, a coming-of-age story. This book nails it.

When Jason Milwaukee’s best friend Sunshine vanishes, Jason knows that something is terribly wrong, but solving her disappearance will require pushing through all the voices in his head and then getting the world to listen to him. His schizophrenia is stopping him from remembering the events leading up to her disappearance, and often he discounts his own memories, and his own impressions. But his deep knowledge that he would never hurt his friend, plus the faith of his parents and a few others in the town bring him to the point of solving the mystery. In the end, it’s Sunshine’s own love for Jason (Freak) that persuades him of his own strength and goodness.

Vaught cleverly combines the mystery-thriller genre with a psychological bender. The narrator’s own schizophrenia makes it impossible to trust him as a narrator — and yet you understand his dilemma, so that you want to believe him. Freaks Like Us is a gripping read — difficult but full of rewards to the reader who can stick with the harrowing narrative. I understand exactly why the publicist adored it so much. This little darling of a book will easily captivate readers.

Freaks Like Us is in stores September 4th.

Book Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

One of the most stunningly written and understated books of the summer, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield is a sweeping portrait of small town life, murder, and growing up.

A coming of age story told through the unraveling summer of one young woman’s death and another’s attempt to escape her small town life.

Every aspect of this novel soars: characters, mood, setting. Rosenfield’s writing is so exquisite and beautiful, it is almost painful to read; painfully beautiful. It was a unique reading experience: to be so swept up in the story, I’d be rushing along to find out what happens next — yet going back, re-reading pages and passages just to admire the beauty of Rosenfield’s phrasing and description.

There’s something so special about this book. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a haunting portrait of transition. That strange and pivotal moment in a young person’s life when they are changing from teenagers to adults; when the line between those two parts of their life is so uncertain and impossible to define. It’s a moment everyone experiences, but not everyone can describe. Rosenfield has captured it perfectly — and elevated her story through the unraveling of a deadly mystery.

It’s rare for a book to captivate me so completely, but Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone has joined a short but significant personal list that also includes The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a treat to read. It is captivating, compelling, and luxuriously written. It is in stores now. Here is the official synopsis:

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town–and Becca–into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s death.

Book Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

I make no secret of the fact that my favorite Disney movie of all time is The Little Mermaid. I mean, my hair is an extreme shade of fire engine red for a REASON! Ariel is my hair idol.

I’ve also been a fan of Jackson Pearce’s re-imagined, modern fairy tales from the beginning. I adored Sisters Red and eagerly snapped up Sweetly, even featuring it as our Book of the Month here at Novel Novice last summer.

So when you take Pearce’s writing and combine it with one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, you can imagine how excited I was to pick up Fathomless, the third book in Pearce’s collection of companion novels in her re-imagined fairy tale universe.

I was not disappointed.

Fathomless re-imagines a darker version of “The Little Mermaid,” going back to the story’s original version by Hans Christian Andersen — in which there really is no “happily ever after” for the titular mermaid and her prince. But Pearce’s retelling takes the darker, original fairy tale and brilliantly weaves it into the growing mythology of her own universe. Elements from both Sisters Red and Sweetly slowly but surely unfold and become part of the novel. The book is easy for newcomers to read — but offers it’s best rewards to those who have followed Pearce’s series from the beginning.

Dark, gritty, and filled with a realistic take on magic and fantasy, Pearce’s true brilliance with Fathomless and the other books in her fairy tale series is that the stories are about more than just the fairy tale. They are about relationships: between sisters, between friends, between enemies, and yes, romance, too. What makes Fathomless so successful is that all of the fantastic is rooted in very human emotion. And that’s what makes these stories so brilliantly relatable.

Fathomless may be Pearce’s most stunning entry in her fairy tale series yet: a human story about people who are more than just human.

Fathomless is in stores September 4th. Here is the official synopsis:

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant — until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea — a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid — all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

New YA Releases: August 28, 2012

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

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction

Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Michael Grant, Meg Cabot, Laini Taylor, and nine more of the hottest YA authors to hit the shelves explore the concepts of prophecy and prediction in this story collection edited by NYT bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan.

Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? To challenge predictions? To question fate? It’s human nature to wonder about life’s twists and turns. But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it?

From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life’s unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted by 14 of young adult fiction’s brightest stars.

This collection includes works from:
Malinda Lo (Ash)
Lisa McMann (Wake)
Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures)
Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures)
Laini Taylor (The Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
Michael Grant (Gone)
Saundra Mitchell (The Vespertine)
Richelle Mead (the Vampire Academy)
Matt de la Pena (I Will Save You)
Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries)
Heather Brewer (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod)
Diana Peterfreund (Rampant)
Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry)
Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth)

Embers & Echoes by Karsten Knight

Fan the flames: A teen goddess fires up her search for love and family in this sequel to Wildefire.

Ashline Wilde may have needed school to learn that she is actually a reincarnated goddess, but she’s ready to move beyond books. She leaves her California boarding school behind and makes for Miami, where she meets a new group of deities and desperately seeks her sister Rose, the goddess of war. But she’s also looking for love—because even though her romance with Cole had to be snuffed, Ash is a volcano goddess—and she doesn’t get burned.

This sequel to the edgy and action-packed Wildefire continues a fiery drama on an immortal scale.

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

Mia’s ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon–and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

The Dark Light by Sara Walsh

Mia is torn between two worlds in this epic, romantic fantasy.

Mysterious lights have flickered above Crownsville for as long as Mia can remember. And as far as she’s concerned, that’s about the only interesting thing to happen in her small town.

That is, until Sol arrives. Mia’s not one to fall for just any guy, but she can’t get Sol—or the brilliant tattoo on his back—out of her mind.

Then Mia’s brother goes missing, and Mia’s convinced that Sol knows more than he’s sharing. But getting closer to Sol means reevaluating everything Mia once believed to be true. Because Sol’s not who Mia thought he was—and neither is she.

The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It’s all she’s ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she’s connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab’s magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.

Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her computer-hacking skills to stay safely anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in an empty warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

Filled with action, suspense, and romance, this first book in a new trilogy offers readers nonstop thrills

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

For the comments: What new releases are you most excited to read? Any others we forgot to mention?

Book Review: GODS AND WARRIORS by Michelle Paver

For today’s Middle Grade Monday post, I asked one of my 10 year old,  middle grade reviewers to give me his thoughts on GODS AND WARRIORS, by Michelle Paver. This is a book I began to read earlier this month, and I have to say, I couldn’t agree more with Drew’s recommendation. But I’ll let him speak for himself:

Review by Drew, Age 10

While I was reading GODS AND WARRIORS, I realized that survival is harder than I thought. The main character, Hylas, went through a lot in this book. He has to fight off a shark. Hylas also had to escape the blood-thirsty Crows because they were trying to kill him. I thought this part of GODS AND WARRIORS was packed full of action.

In the beginning of GODS AND WARRIORS, Hylas’s village was invaded by the very bad Crows who kidnapped his sister, Issi. While fleeing his village and the Crows, a mysterious Outsider handed Hylas a bronze dagger. From this point on, the adventure never ends. Hylas must find a way to get his sister back and survive the wrath of the Crows.

Michelle Paver wrote a perfect book for kids ages ten and up who love fantasy adventure books. I would recommend GODS AND WARRIORS. You can buy this wonderful book beginning September 4, 2012 at Amazon.com or at bookstores everywhere. If you loved the Percy Jackson Series, then you will love the Gods and Warriors Series too. Happy reading!

Cover Reveal: Naturals (Chosen Ones: Book 2) by Tiffany Truitt

Today, we are so excited to help share the cover of Naturals by Tiffany Truitt, the second book in The Lost Ones series which began earlier this year with Chosen Ones. I think you’ll find this cover just as stunning as the first one — if not more so! Check it out:

Gorgeous, no? And check out both covers side-by-side:

I love it! And here is the official synopsis for Naturals:

Tess is finally safe from the reach of the Council, now that she is living in the Middlelands with the rebel Isolationists. With James having returned to Templeton, she easily falls back into her friendship with Henry, though her newfound knowledge of Robert’s chosen one status still stings. Even surrounded by people, Tess has never felt more alone. So she’s thrilled when James returns to the settlement, demanding to see Tess — until she finds out that it’s because her sister, Louisa, has been recruited into Tess’s old position at Templeton, and that the dangerously sadistic chosen one George has taken an interest in her.

 NATURALS is the second book in The Lost Souls trilogy, and follows the dystopian hit CHOSEN ONES.

Pre-order Naturalsnow! About Tiffany Truitt:

Tiffany Truitt was born in Peoria, Illinois. A self-proclaimed Navy brat, Tiffany spent most of her childhood living in Virginia, but don’t call her a Southerner. She also spent a few years living in Cuba. Since her time on the island of  one McDonald’s and Banana Rats (don’t ask) she has been obsessed with traveling. Tiffany recently added China to her list of travels (hello inspiration for a new book).

Besides traveling, Tiffany has always been an avid reader. The earliest books she remembers reading belong to The Little House on the Prairie Series. First book she read in one day? Little Woman(5th grade). First author she fell in love with? Jane Austen in middle school. Tiffany spent most of her high school and college career as a literary snob. She refused to read anything considered “low brow” or outside the “classics.”

Tiffany began teaching middle school in 2006. Her students introduced her to the wide, wonderful world of Young Adult literature. Today, Tiffany embraces popular Young Adult literature and uses it in her classroom. She currently teaches the following novels: The OutsidersSpeakNight, Dystopian Literature Circles: The Hunger GamesThe GiverThe Uglies, and Matched.

Follow Tiffany on Twitter & check out her blog.

For the comments: What do you think of the cover for NATURALS? Tell us below!

Jessica Brody Book Winners

We recently featured some of the books by Jessica Brody as part of the blog tour 52 Days of 52 Reasons to Love Jessica Brody and Her Books. As part of the tour, we offered up copies of three of Brody’s books to three lucky winners.

Here now are those lucky winners:

The winner of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father is: Justine Wang

The winner of My Life Undecided is: Martha Lawson

The winner of The Karma Club is: Vivien Propst

Congrats!

The Letter Q Contest Winner

We were so honored earlier this year to help promote the new anthology The Letter Q, a really unique and important book for today’s YA readers:

In this anthology, sixty-four award-winning authors and illustrators such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline, Woodson, Terrence McNally, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin, make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people. Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love, messages of understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself.

We also offered up one winner a chance to win a copy of The Letter Q and a t-shirt for the “It Gets Better” project.

The winner is: Anthony Isom

Congrats & thanks to everyone for their support of this book! It is in stores now, so go get yourself a copy!

Masque of the Red Death Writing Contest Winners

It’s time to reveal the winners of our Edgar Allan Poe-inspired writing contest, which we held to celebrate the release of Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin.

Our three winners were all asked to write a short piece inspired by one of Poe’s works. Click below the jump to see the winners & what piece of Poe’s writing inspired them!

Continue reading

Curse Workers Series: Signed Books & Writing Contest Winners

Today, I’ve got the winners from the TWO contests we ran during our April Book of the Month feature in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series. First up, the winners of our signed books by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Julie Marcinik has won a signed copy of City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Leigh Smith has won a signed ARC of Red Glove by Holly Black

Congrats! And now on to the winners of our Curse Workers Writing Contest! For this contest, we asked you to write a piece of flash fiction that takes place in the Curse Workers universe. Two winners each get a set of the Curse Workers books courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Click below the jump to see the winners & their awesome stories! Continue reading