Sunday, February 28, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. Of course I only mention things like books! As ever with thanks to The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie who host and inspired this meme.

And this week I'm feeling very very lucky. Just look at the books I got to see why:

1. Prophecy of Days by Christy Raedeke

Yes, I talked about this in my WoW meme and by the weekend I had a copy. All I can say is thank you. For a product descript, see my WoW this week (click here)

2. The Gardener by SA Bodeen

Since first reading about this, I've had my fingers crossed each time I look in my mailbox.

Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener.

3. Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

Sequel to Eyes Like Stars, which I loved. This I clutched to my chest in delight when I saw it.

Growing up in the enchanted Thèâtre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn’t know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, ready for the outside world. But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Thèâtre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between Nate and Ariel. Nate is a prisoner of the Sea Goddess. To save him, Bertie and her fairy sidekicks embark on a journey aboard the Thèâtre’s caravan, using Bertie’s word magic to guide them. Along the way, they collect a sneak-thief and meet Bertie’s father. Bertie’s dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it’s Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess’s lair?

4. Once by Morris Gleitzman

Felix, a Jewish boy in Poland in 1942, is hiding from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage. The only problem is that he doesn’t know anything about the war, and thinks he’s only in the orphanage while his parents travel and try to salvage their bookselling business. But when he thinks his parents are in danger, Felix sets off to warn them— straight into the heart of Nazi-occupied Poland. To Felix, everything is a story: Why did he get a whole carrot in his soup? It must be a sign that his parents are coming to get him. Why are the Nazis burning books? They must be foreign librarians sent to clean out the orphanage’s outdated library. But as Felix’s journey gets increasingly dangerous, he begins to see horrors that not even stories can explain. Despite his grim surroundings, Felix never loses hope. Gleitzman takes a painful subject and expertly turns it into a story filled with love, friendship, and even humor.

What did you get this week?

Friday, February 26, 2010

My So-Called Death - free first chapter

I thoroughly enjoyed Stacey Jay's debut novel, You Are So Undead To Me (to see my review, click here), and have just seen that you can read the first chapter of her new book, My So-Called Death on the Flux site for free - FREE! Click here to get to it. THANK YOU FLUX!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - Review

How do you keep from falling apart when your older sister dies suddenly and unexpectedly and you find yourself standing in the spotlight, the position she normally occupies? Lennie is the quiet sister, the bookworm, the girl who plays second clarinet, always in her sister’s shadow. She does not know how to go on after Bailey dies. She doesn’t want to see her friends, doesn’t want to play music, writes poems that she scatters all over.

In her grief, Lennie is drawn to Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby, who misses Bailey as much as she does. They understand each other’s sadness, comfort each other, and connect through Bailey somehow in an unexpected, dark, compulsive way. Sparks fly from the page in their scenes together. And then there’s the new boy, Joe, who is cheerful, gorgeous, and incredibly talented. Suddenly there are two boys vying for her attention – the sun and the moon – polar opposites. Both are real, complex, and utterly convincing.

The Sky is Everywhere is a heartbreaking, intense debut novel that takes a long look at loss and grief and how to cope with it. The language is beautiful, almost poetic, sensitive, true, an emotional rollercoaster. It talks of family bonds, the dichotomy between desire and love, and almost explodes with heartbreak, love, and passion for life. But take my word for it, read this with a box of tissues – you will need them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

So the book I've just read about and want, really want to read right now is

Prophecy of Days by Christy Raedeke

Here's what the back cover says about it:

When her safe-cracker mom and code-breaker dad inherit a Scottish castle on the Isle of Huracan, sixteen-year-old Caity Mac Fireland is the only one in the family who's not happy about it. Ripped from her comfortable life in San Francisco, taken away from her best friend Justine whom she's known since preschool, and relocated to the dreary island fortress, Caity's secret fantasy of being discovered by a Hollywood agent, talent scout, or even just a pageant coach seems more unlikely than ever.

But when Caity stumbles across a hidden room in the castle, its walls covered in strange symbols, her life takes a bizarre turn. She finds herself center stage in an international conspiracy involving warring secret societies (complete with their own scouts, double agents, and assassins), the suppressed revelations of the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012, plus the fate of humanity. With the help of her friend Justine back home, and Alex, the mysterious and gorgeous boy next door, Caity must rely on her own courage and creativity as she races to decipher the code and reveal its message to the world before time runs out.

Sounds a book worth waiting for.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

This meme originated with MizB of Should Be Reading and anyone can play along. Just do the following:

-Grab your current read.

-Open to a random page.

-Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others.)

-Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This week I'm reading The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (oh, it's SO good, very hard to put down) and here's my teaser:

Everything is happening too quickly. I just want to sit here and pretend that nothing has changed. But I know it's useless. Everything is changed. My best friend will be taken away. The council will find out my mother's gone. And Catcher will die.

The only question is, what will be left of me in the end?

(arc, p156)

Monday, February 22, 2010

2009 Nebula Award Nominations

They've just announced the Nebula Award nominations for 2009 and here's the list for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

* Hotel Under the Sand, Kage Baker
* Ice, Sarah Beth Durst
* Ash, Malinda Lo
* Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev
* Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi
* When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
* The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
* Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld

(Blush) OK, I'll admit that I've only read two of them - Ash and Eyes Like Stars - but both were extremely good. And I've been meaning to get to Ice for age. How many have you read and which would you pick to win?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. Of course I only mention things like books! As ever with thanks to The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie who host and inspired this meme.

So here are the books I acquired this week:

1.Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Yes, a werewolf story. And I love werewolf stories. (Looks a bit Blood and Chocolate-ish to me - and I loved Blood and Chocolate.)

2. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Another book with werewolves. Do you sense a theme here? This one is a dark fairy tale full of sisterly love and a sizzling romance.

3. 7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando
Oooh, a thriller in which a girl is murdered and her soul is trapped in limbo. So she has to relive the day of her death through the eyes of 7 people.

4. Vampire High: Sophomore Year by Douglas Rees
Companion novel to Vampire High

Almost finished Dead-Tossed Waves (and oh, it's so good) and then to these. What did you get this week?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eclipse trailer news

By now we all know that Eclipse is coming out June 30 even though we've only seen this poster and a few photos. But I've just read (here) that the first Eclipse trailer will debut in theaters on March 12 before screenings of Remember Me (that also stars Robert Pattinson). So I guess they hope fans will go to see Remember Me for the trailer.

So - let me ask: do you want to see Remember Me anyway? Are you more likely to go now you can see the Eclipse trailer? And what do you hope they include in the trailer? Leave me a note and let me know.

JK Rowling and the plagiarism charge

Did you read about this? J K Rowling says she'll go to court to have a claim of plagiarism made against her by the estate of the late Adrian Jacobs (who died in 1997) dismissed because it is without merit. She says the accusation is "not only unfounded but absurd" and said she was " "saddened that yet another claim" has been made about the source of the Harry Potter books. The claim alleges that Rowling borrowed ideas from the previously unknown book The Adventures of Willy the Wizard. Bloomsbury dismissed the allegations as "unfounded, unsubstantiated and untrue" back in June.

In a statement released through her publicist, Rowling said she had never heard of the author or the book before an initial approach was made in 2004, and had "certainly never read the book". (to read more about this, click here.)

So - have any of you read The Adventures of Willy the Wizard? Heard of it? Makes me want to track down a copy just to see for myself...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong - Review

Remember Chloe Saunders? She’s the genetically enhanced necromancer who is running for her life from the Edison Group, the people who turned her into a living science experiments, with Simon, Tori, and Derek. That’s right – with a witch, a sorcerer, and a werewolf. Oh, and to complicate the situation, she’s drawn to both Simon and Derek in very different ways. But oh, she wishes she could live a more normal life

Life on the road is hard and at the start of The Reckoning, Chloe and her friends have met up with Andrew, a friend of Simon and Derek’s father, and a splinter group who oppose the Edison Group. But Chloe is worried about Rae and her Aunt Lauren, who they left behind. She’s not sure who she can really trust, whether this safe house is indeed safe, and what the Edison Group really want. And of course she’s still plagued by ghosts, zombies, and half demons.

This is a great nail-biter of a finale to a fabulous series, full of action and adventure, complex relationships, teen angst, glimpses of humor, and an undercurrent of romance. It remains rough at the edges, dark, and realistic with plenty of surprises you don’t see coming. Bravo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heather Brewer visit

I admit it - I am a huge fan of Heather Brewer and her Vladimir Tod series. And so was just jumping with excitement as she arrived at Kepler's, on the heels of the event with Carrie Jones and Alyx Harvey. Wearing a gorgeous corseted black dress and to-kill-for leather coat, Heather told us about her path to writing. How she was bullied at school, took refuge in libraries, and how it was not until her youngest child was in kindergarten that her husband encouraged her to follow her passion and write. (OK, I'm a sucker for stories where the right person at the right time says just the right thing and helps you along the path you should be on anyway. But you probably knew that.) Apparently she also likes to dance under a full moon, attend renaissance faires in costume, and doesn't believe in happy endings...unless they involve blood. And she tries not to bite people on tour.

She read chapter one of Eleventh Grade Burns:

And then answered all and every question. Gave away t-shirts, posters, bags, and buttons. Signed anything (within reason) - she explained that she used to say she'd sign anything, and signed everything from foreheads, backpacks, shoes, but drew the line when someone wanted her to sign their butt(really!). She was very gracious, a delight to host, and I hope she had fun. I know the Minion horde did.

Here's Heather talking about Eleventh Grade Burns if you want a synopsis:

And, as ever, here's a few photos (and yes, that's me in the last photo):

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Carrie Ryan to Visit - and Waiting on Wednesday

Yes I'm combining my WoW with great news!

Did you love The Forest of Hands and Teeth as much as I did? It kept me reading late into the night (but with the lights on!) and asked questions that still haunt me.

So I was delighted to discover that Carrie Ryan is visiting with her companion novel, The Dead-Tossed Waves on
Monday March 22 at 7.00 pm

Put in on your schedule.

Here's the blurb for The Dead-Tossed Waves

Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carrie Jones and Alyx Harvey

I've been talking about their visit for weeks so I was absolultely delighted to meet and host authors Carrie Jones and Alyx Harvey who were an absolute delight. They charmed their fans, signed books galore, and answered as many questions as we had. I only hope they enjoyed their event as much as we did.

Here's Carrie talking about Need and Captivate:

Here's Alyx talking about Hearts at Stake:

Here's Alyx with a reader who had made a myspace fan page for her:

Here's Carrie with some fans:

And here's the authors with the always lovely Heidi Kling

And I'm going to add an apology about how small the photos are here. I uploaded them to picasa and then downoaded them for the blog and can't seem to enlarge them. Sorry.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Remember my contest to win an arc of either Captivate by Carrie Jones or Hearts at Stake by Alyx Harvey? Well, I got them signed on Friday just for you.

And here are the winners:

Donna of Donna's Blog Home wins a signed arc of Hearts at Stake

SF Robertson (of blog with same name) wins a signed copy of Captivate.

I've emailed both of you to send me your addresses.
And of course thanks to all who entered.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. Of course I only mention things like books! As ever with thanks to The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie who host and inspired this meme.

And this week I got an interesting collection of books. Just take a look...

1. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

2. Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Set in New Zealand, Ellie's main concerns at her boarding school are hanging out with her best friend Kevin, her crush on the mysterious Mark, and her paper deadline. That is, until a mysterious older woman seems to set her sights on Kevin, who is Maori, and has more than just romantic plans for him. In an effort to save him, Ellie is thrown into the world of Maori lore, and eventually finds herself in an all-out war with mist dwelling Maori fairy people called the patupaiarehe who need human lives to gain immortality. The strong, fresh voice of the narrator will pull readers in, along with all the deliciously scary details: the serial killer who removes victim's eyes; the mysterious crazy bum who forces a Bible on Ellie telling her she needs it; handsome, mysterious Mark who steals the Bible from her and then casts a forgetting charm on her. All of this culminates in a unique, incredible adventure steeped with mythology, Maori fairies, monsters, betrayal, and an epic battle.

3. Siren by Tricia Rayburn

After her sister's sudden death, seventeen-year-old Vanessa investigates a series of inexplicable drownings off the coast of Winter Harbor, Maine, and uncovers an unimaginable secret that changes everything.

Oh, they sound good. What did you get?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Miss Carrie Jones, Alyx Harvey, Heather Brewer Tonight

Just wanted to remind you not to miss seeing Carrie Jones, Alyx Harvey and Heather Brewer at Kepler's tonight. Carrie and Alyx will be here to chat about Captivate and Hearts at Stake respectively at 5.30 then Heather will be here at 7.oo to talk about what happens next to Vladimir Tod in Eleventh Grade Burns.

Very exciting. Will post photos and video over the weekend in case you can't make it here to meet them yourself.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Final Hunger Games Book gets a title: Mockingjay

Like everyone else, I can't wait to get my hands on the third book in the Hunger Games series. I want to know what it will be called, what will happen, and I can't believe there won't be any arcs. But today, there is news. Although plot twists are secret there's now a title! Mockingjay. And a cover. It will have a one-day laydown date of August 24, 2010, and a first printing of 750,000 copies.

Film rights for The Hunger Games have been optioned by Lionsgate, and Suzanne Collins is currently in the midst of writing the screenplay, as well as putting the finishing touches on Mockinjay.

August 24 just can't come quickly enough for me.

Neil Gaiman and Dr Who

Many of us who grew up in England are fervent Dr Who fans, remembering a time when we could be found watching the show avidly from behind the sofa. So it's with great delight that I read in the Guardian that Neil Gaiman has just announced that he is writing an episode of the television series detailing the adventures of the Time Lord. Gaiman said in his acceptance speech for winning best comic at the SFX awards that he had been a fan of Doctor Who since he was three years old, when he too would watch the show from behind the sofa. "And while I know it's cruel to make you wait for things, in about 14 months from now, which is to say, NOT in the upcoming season but early in the one after that, it's quite possible that I might have written an episode. And if I had, it would originally have been called The House of Nothing. But it definitely isn't called that anymore," revealed the author, who won the best comic prize for his Batman story Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter - Review

For all those Ally Carter fans out there - and I know there are thousands (including me, of course) - here's my colleague Adriana's review of Ally's new book, Heist Society. No, it's not a Gallagher Girl adventure this is NEW and sounds fantastic. Another one for my toppling TBR pile...

Kat is one of few teenagers who would give anything to be able to just go to school. From the age of 3, she has been stealing priceless paintings from secure locations as part of her family tradition. The daughter of the world's most respected art thief, she shocks everyone when she trades a life of adventure and stealth for an ordinary one.

But her retirement is brief. When 5 paintings are stolen from a powerful thief, he assumes that Kat's father has them and threatens to kill him if he doesn't return them within two weeks. Kat aided by the most talented underage thieves in the world, takes off on an impossible mission. The goal: to thwart a master thief, honored with a title feared for five centuries, by stealing the missing paintings from the most secure local in the world.

Action packed and very clever, this thrills with unlikely heroes, and more than a little bit of danger. Think The Italian Job 15 years earlier and 5 times smarter, with a touch of To Catch a Thief. Many a child dreams of moving their vice-principal's car onto the top of a fountain, or of operations involving smoke, flames, personal submarines and the perfect getaway. Kat and her friends don't dream, they do. And I, for one, am jealous.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New series from Libba Bray

Did you hear that Libba Bray, hot on the heels of her Printz win for Going Bovine, has just landed a new book deal at Little, Brown for a new YA series called The Diviners (to be published fall 2012).

In The Diviners, a supernatural fantasy series set in Manhattan during the 1920s, Bray follows a teen heroine she says is reminiscent of two of the era's most famous literary women — Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker. Bray, who admitted to having always been fascinated by the Jazz Age, said she's looking forward "to offering readers a wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy — and all manner of things that go bump in the neon-drenched night.”

Sounds great. And I did so love the Gemma Doyle series. For more information, click here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain - review

I talked about it for the smoochies, which reminded me that I didn't post a review. So here it is.

Grace, a pastor's daughter, knows that things will change now that Daniel has returned. Daniel, her brother's best friend, who lived with her family for a while, and then disappeared after a bitter fight with her brother. He's the classic bad boy, the prodigal son. Will she ever find out what happened that night they fought? Why, oh why, will her family not give him another chance when they are known to always do the right thing? And despite everything her family say to her, can she stay away from him? Finally the question becomes: What will she have to sacrifice to save those she loves?

I don't want to say much more than this. There's a secret, of course there is, but you'll want to find it out as Grace does and let it creep up on you rather than read it in a review. And not much teen fiction takes on biblical parables and reinvents them. I'll just add that the myths work in quite a different way, that it's a wonderful teen romance with a twist, and that I read it in a gulp. You will too.

And what a gorgeous cover!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Smoochies

The Printz, the Newbery and the Morris have been awarded, so over on Heidi R. Kling's live journal you get a chance to get down to less serious literary business: THE BEST YA KISS OF 2009.

Eligibility: A YA novel published in 2009 with an awesome kissing scene.

And there are 3 categories:

BEST REALISTIC KISS (from a realistic novel either contemporary OR historical)

BEST OTHERWORLDLY KISS (from a fantasy novel--high fantasy or urban fantasy or dystopian)

BEST KISS OVERALL (best kiss involving a mix of humans/vampires/faeries whatever--EVERY KISS! )

Go here for more details and to enter! (I have already - of course I have.)

And if you're wondering, I voted for:

Best realist: Katniss and Gale (Catching Fire)
Which leads me to wonder about all those Peeta fans in my poll...

Best otherworldly: Sam and Grace (Shiver). But this was hard. I also loved Grace and Daniel in The Dark Divine. And Nora and Patch...

Best overall: No contest. Nora and Patch in Hush Hush. Hot.

What about you?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Captivate by Carrie Jones - Review

Remember Zara and her phobias? Well she's back in Captivate a few months after Need ends with Zara, Nick, Devyn, and Issie (why do they remind me so much of Buffy's friends?) continuing to keep the pixies locked up, watching for any new pixies to appear. They know it's only a quick fix but Zara hates what they've done to her father and his pixies -- after all she's a keen writer of letters to Amnesty International. How can she do this and live with herself

She's weakened her father by keeping him needy and captive and now he's in real trouble, especially when a new king, Astley, arrives to challenge her father for his territory. He's young and good-looking, seems kind, and thinks that Zara is destined to be his queen. And as war looms on the horizon, he leads Zara to question everything she's ever thought about pixies and how they're treated. Are they really just like humans - some good and some evil? Or is he just another pixie tricking Zara to believe what he wants her to believe? And when it comes down to it, can she really trust him? He really is a wonderful addition to this world. (Although I'm getting tired of these love triangles, really I am.)

With a pixie war looming, and the arrival of a third king, Zara realizes it's mostly her decisions that have led them here - and she is guilt-ridden, conflicted, trapped, heartbroken. And in her most difficult moment, reaches out to Astley to help her save the people she loves, despite the incredibly high price.

I liked the new characters, the twists, the top-ten-things-to-remember-when-dealing-with-pixies, and the way Carrie Jones wove Norse mythology into the plot line. And that cliffhanger ending - no, I hadn't seen it coming.

And remember, you can meet Carrie Jones February 12 at 5.30 at Kepler's. AND my competition to win a copy of Captivate is still open!