February 11 New Releases! (and one or two from the past couple weeks…)

12 Feb

18079719Title: Grasshopper Jungle   
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Apocalypse?
Blurb: In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.
Excitement Factor: OMG

71lDO5ansSLTitle: Teen Spirit
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Fantastic
Blurb: After Julie’s grandmother passes away, she is forced to move across town to the not-so-fancy end of Beverly Hills and start over at a new school. The only silver lining to the perpetual dark cloud that seems to be following her? Clark—a die-hard fan of Buffy and all things Joss Whedon, who is just as awkward and damaged as she is. Her kindred spirit.
When the two try to contact Julie’s grandmother with a Ouija board, they make contact with a different spirit altogether. The real kind. And this ghost will do whatever it takes to come back to the world of the living.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please!

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Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

8 Feb

10836471Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Genre: fantastic
Page Count: 272

The sun does not go down.

This mind trip of a Printz medalist starts with a journalist traveling to a remote island to dig up the truth behind a peculiar but persistent rumor: the inhabitants have started to live forever. Once there he keeps catching himself in a repeating pattern of intense deja vu that starts with love at first sight and ends with ritual murder. Thus begins the first of seven narratives traveling backwards through time, all linked by repeating motifs and interlinked souls that return to the living world play out their stories, again and again and again.

First sentence is pretty good, in that it is indicative of the stark creepiness that pervades the entire book.

I will admit that as I was reading this book I was unconvinced of its Printz worthiness. It’s not terribly accessible, the seven linked narratives inhibit personal investment in the characters and their stories, it feels distant and cold. But then I finished it, and the very end of the very last chapter tied all the weirdness together, and I straight up could not stop thinking about it. I finished it days ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Do I think this book deserves the Printz? Yes. Would I recommend it to the majority of my teen readers? Hell to the no. Here’s why, on both counts.

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January 21 New Releases

22 Jan

13626692Title: Evertrue
Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Fantastic…ish? Mythology remix?
Blurb: Inspired by the Persephone myth, this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy—whose captivating first book earned a VOYA Perfect Ten of 2011 and a Whitney Award—explores the resilience of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love. (This is totally not the real blurb, but since I haven’t read the second book yet I didn’t want to look at it too closely.)
Excitement Factor: Maybe, if I’ve got nothing else to read. I enjoyed the first one but never got around to reading the second one, so if that ever happens, sure.

Best Books of 2013

2 Jan

OK, so I’m a little late doing the obligatory best books I read in 2013 post. Shit happens.

My list is going to be a little different than most biblio-centric “best of” lists, since I’m not only going to focus on 2013 publications. I read a bunch of stuff published in 2013 that I loved, but also some slightly older titles that deserve to be recognized. Also, not all of these books are YA, but I think most of them have teen appeal and could theoretically be considered crossover. So, without further ado..

157835141. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Terrifying and beautiful, this book stuck with me long after I finished it.

 

 

 

1860742. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I was a few years late on this one, but this epic fantasy is so rich and delicious I had a hard time putting it down.

 

 

 

9781423152194_custom-576e89df094fe00930112e441b559f8db507b92e-s6-c303. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wien. Get out yer hankies, people. This meticulously plotted ode to female friendship set in WWII is a doozie.

 

 

 

897244. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is the master of Gothic weirdness, and this twisted narrative from one of the best unreliable narrators of all time is creepy, disturbing, and occasionally hilarious.

 

 

 

Dream-Thieves-Cover5. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. The second in the Raven Cycle features more well-defined characters and a galloping plot paired with some heavy, resonant themes. Plus: magic and shit.

 

 

 

whales_on_stilts6. Whales on Stiltsby M.T. Anderson. I would be remiss in not passing this gift of a book on to my readers just because it’s intended for children. It is one of the weirdest, funniest things I have ever read, and honestly a lot of the jokes will go over most children’s heads. It’s just the best.

 

 

172623037. More Than This by Patrick Ness. If I can be relied on for anything, it’s loving the shit out of everything Patrick Ness does. This is no exception, but I would venture to say it’s the least accessible of everything he’s written thus far. You have to just accept that you aren’t going to understand what’s going on for most of the book, and also be ready to feel seriously depressed because this one is by far the bleakest of an already bleak catalogue for one of YA’s best writers.

 

 

letsexplore8. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. New David Sedaris. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

The-Coldest-Girl-in-Coldtown9. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Bloody, frightening, and even surprisingly thought provoking, this one is just plain fun.

 

 

 

1281255010. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Another second book in a sequence, this one marks a departure from the urban fantasy of the first in favor of straight up high fantasy. I know that Taylor lost a lot of fans with that departure, but as a lover of fantasy I still love these books HARD.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

23 Nov

The-Coldest-Girl-in-ColdtownTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Horror
Page count: 432

Tana woke lying in a bathtub.

Tana is a human girl living in a world just like our own, except for the fact that it is infested with vampires forced to live in ghettos called Coldtowns. One morning she wakes up disoriented in a bathtub, and when she emerges from her hangover coccoon she finds that everyone else in the party has had their throats ripped out and blood drained by vampires. Everyone, that is, except for her ex-boyfriend (Aidan), tied to a bed and infected (bitten but not drained), and a half-crazed vampire (Gavriel) chained on the floor next to him. In a moment of impetuous decisiveness (a character trait that continues throughout the book), Tana decides to rescue both before the culprits of the killing spree, nesting in the basement til nightfall, wake up and finish the job. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the story of Tana, Aidan, and Gavriel’s adrenaline-charged flight to the dangerous safe haven of the nearest Coldtown, a race against the clock as Aidan descends into vampirism and Tana waits to see if she, also, has been infected. And what a ride it is.

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

22 Sep

Dream-Thieves-CoverTitle: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 438

A secret is a strange thing.

After waking the ley line (or corpse road, or fairy road), nothing is the same for Blue and her Raven Boys. Ronan, a boy broken and made savage from trauma, loses himself to the seduction of being the Greywaren: a being who can pull objects from the dream world into reality. Adam’s promise to be the eyes and ears of Cabeswater is consuming him as it attempts to work its will through him. Blue still can’t make out with anyone but poor dead Noah without risking killing whichever poor boy she decides to smooch. And to make things more complicated, a hitman has been sent to retrieve the Greywaren from Henrietta and decides to make out with Blue’s mom in the meantime. Life is rough.

I will start by saying that I liked the first book in this trilogy, The Raven Boys, a lot. But you know what? I freaking LOVED The Dream Thieves. Here is why.

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September 17 New Releases

19 Sep

Dream-Thieves-CoverTitle: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Fantasy
Blurb: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….
Excitement Factor: OMG. (Hint: I am about 2/3 of the way through this one and HOLY DAMN is it good. Even better than the first.)

There are a lot of other mildly tantalizing new releases this week, but this is the only one that matters to me. GOOD NIGHT.

September 10 New Releases

11 Sep

17262303Title: More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Science Fiction-ish?
Blurb: A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .
Excitement Factor: OMG!!!!!!! AAAAAAH!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!! NEW PATRICK NESS!!!!! NEW PATRICK NESS!!!!!!!

17262236Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Miramax
Genre: Historical Fiction
Blurb: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbr ck, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
Excitement Factor: OMG. I mean, have you READ Code Name Verity??

16068905Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Blurb: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Excitement Factor: Yes, please! I’ve been really wanting to read Eleanor & Park, and this has been getting stellar reviews.

September 3 New Releases

4 Sep

It’s been several months, I know. All my writing projects hibernated for three months while I went a little manic in the unusually long Vancouver summer. But never fear, dear readers: it’s starting to rain, which means I am going to be forced to wither away indoors for nine months of dedicated writing. So, without further adieu, here are this week’s notable releases:

17063696Title: The Lord of Opium
Author: Nancy Farmer
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: Science Fiction
Blurb: Matt has always been nothing but a clone—grown from a strip of old El Patron’s skin. Now, at age fourteen, he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of ruling over his own country. The Land of Opium is the largest territory of the Dope Confederacy, which ranges on the map like an intestine from the ruins of San Diego to the ruins of Matamoros. But while Opium thrives, the rest of the world has been devastated by ecological disaster—and hidden in Opium is the cure. And that isn’t all that awaits within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombielike workers harnessed to the old El Patron’s sinister system of drug growing—people stripped of the very qualities that once made them human. Matt wants to use his newfound power to help, to stop the suffering, but he can’t even find a way to smuggle his childhood love, Maria, across the border and into Opium. Instead, his every move hits a roadblock, some from the enemies that surround him…and some from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really, but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?
Excitement Factor: OMG. This is the sequel to one of my faves, The House of the Scorpion. If you haven’t read it, what the heck are you waiting for?

The-Coldest-Girl-in-ColdtownTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Horror-ish
Blurb: Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
Excitement Factor: Yes, please! I love Holly Black.

 

 

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

14 Jun

10165761Title: Quintana of Charyn
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 528

There’s a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi.

I haven’t written a review for a long time. The reasons for this have been many, and by many I mean two: I’ve been really busy and kind of lazy about my writing, and I kind of fell out of love with YA for a while after reading quite a few duds. I’d love to say that the much anticipated Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta would undo that funk, but it didn’t. Not because it was a bad book – I really liked it – but because to be honest, I don’t really think it’s a YA novel.

This book is going to be more or less impossible to sum up since it took me a couple hundred pages to even figure out what was going on, but I’ll try. Quintana, the mad princess of Charyn who was systematically raped for much of her young adult life, has been smuggled out of the Citavita and is hiding with Charynite refugees in a cave by the border of Lumatere. She is pretty damn pregnant. Froi is searching for her and unraveling more clues about his past while working towards stabilizing Charyn for his and Quintana’s child, who will be king/queen if they survive. Isaboe is also pretty damn pregnant and trying to figure out what has happened to Froi, the spy she sent into Charyn many months before to assassinate the king. She’s also really grumpy about these Charynite refugees. In fact, everyone is grumpy. Lies. Treachery. Surprises. Grumpiness.

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