Friday, December 31, 2010

All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz - Review

Last review of the year. And it's Josephine's.
Happy new year to you all.

Aurora’s life in San Francisco suddenly ends when her activist father decides to take up organic farming. She is sixteen and finds herself in the middle of nowhere caring for chickens, composting and selling vegetables at a roadside stand. The two of them witness an auto accident where a Caucasian L.A. transplant kills a woman. No charges are pressed because the dead woman was an illegal Mexican immigrant. Aurora’s father brings the dead woman’s husband, also an illegal immigrant, to live and work on the farm. He also brings a lawsuit against the driver for the wrongful death of the Mexican woman. Meanwhile, Aurora befriends and finds herself falling in love with the driver’s son.

This is a wonderful coming of age story that addresses social justice and small-town prejudices.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Books I'm dying to read in 2011

It's Christmas Eve - I'm on my way to Vegas - and I thought I'd post a list of the books I'm just dying to read in 2011 (in no particular order) as one of my last posts of 2010. Take a look and let me know what I've missed!

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
Choker, Elizabeth Woods
XV1, by Julie Carr (am reading right now)
Dark Goddess, by Sarwat Chadda
Blessed (Tantalize series), by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Fallen Angel, Heather Terrell
Tempestuous, Lesley Livinston (Wondrous Strange series)
Unearthly, Cynthia Hand
The Water Wars, Cameron Stracher

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, by Jana Oliver
Cryer's Cross, by Lisa McMann
Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr (already read but had to include in the list - so good!)
Cloaked, by Alex Flinn
The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Chime by Fanny Billingsley
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Strings Attached, by Judy Blundell
Shimmer, by Alyson Noel
Scorpia Rising, by Anthony Horowitz (last of the series!)
Steel, by Carrie Vaughn
Demonglass, by Rachel Hawkins (sequel to Hex Hall)
Desires of the Dead, by Kimberly Derting (sequel to The Body Finder)
Wither, by Lauren DeStefano (already read but had to include because it really is SO good)
The Piper’s Son, by Melina Marchetta

Where She Went, by Gayle Forman (sequel to If I Stay)
Forever Summer, by Alyson Noel
The Last Little Blue Envelope, by Maureen Johnson
The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, by John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice #10)
Shine, by Lauren Myracle
Faerie Winter, by Janni Simner
Eona, by Alison Goodman (sequel to Eon)
The Gathering, by Kelley Armstrong
Red Glove, by Holly Black
Plague, by Michael Grant
City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #4)
Huntress by Malinda Lo

What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen
Abandon, by Meg Cabot
Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Ellen Kushner and Holly Black
Everfound, by Neal Shusterman (Book 3 of the Skin Jacker trilogy)

The Revenant, by Sonia Gensler
Trial by Fire, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (sequel to Raised by Wolves)
Fins Are Forever, by Tera Lynn Childs (sequel to Forgive My Fins)

Forever, by Maggie Stiefvater
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Happy holidays - and I'll be on vacation until the new year.
May there be many great books waiting for you under your tree.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Reads of 2010

It's that time of year and I thought I would list those books, published in 2010, that I liked most this year.

1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
4. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
5. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
6. Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
7. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
8. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
9. I am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore
10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
11. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
12. Reckless by Cornelia Funke

And there are still so many I want to read sitting by the side of my bed.

So - which were your favorites from this year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

I don't often write about the books I'm waiting for - because I have so many in my to be read pile. But this week I've just been talking about a book I really really want - and it's not out until May!

What is it?

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Now doesn't that sound good? Oh, waiting is so hard...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox

It's been such a crazy busy week at the store, as you can imagine, and yes, I finished reading (and LOVED) the Graveminder by Melissa Marr. I'm reading the Lost Saint (Bree Despain) and I loved loved loved Wither (review to follow). With thanks, as ever, to The Story Siren who started and hosts this meme.

Now to the books:

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

The sequel to the wonderful Hex Hall. And breaking news: Rachel Hawkins will be at Kepler's March 9th. So excited.

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

The sequel to Devil's Kiss. Sarwat Chadda will be touring with Rachel Hawkins and so will also be at Kepler's march 9th. How awesome is that?

Wishful Thinking by Alexander Bullen

Three wishes to change her future. The sequel to Wish. If you could wish for a new life, would you?

Dreaming of Anastasia by Joy Preble

Anastasia Romanov, daughter of the last tsar of Russia, is believed to be dead but she is very much alive - and when she sleeps she dreams. Anne Michaelson is somewhere else when she dreams. She is someone else. They seem real and absolutely terrifying. A stranger offers to explain them and claims he's been waiting for someone to help him save Anastasia.

Haunted by Joy Preble

Sequel to the above, Dreaming of Anastasia. A mysterious woman is stalking Anne and as Anne seraches for this woman's identity she exposes a startling revelations and the possible source of her powers.

Lots of sequels. And all look so good. So - what did you get?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John - Review

Another of Penelope's fabulous reviews. This looks amazing - don't you think?

Piper has just been hired as the manager of DUMB, one of Seattle's up and coming bands. There are just a few minor problems - no one outside of their high school knows who DUMB is, and Piper is deaf. She has one month to get them a paying gig and some cash for her dwindling college fund. Her friend, Ed, and the school's most popular girl join the band...and DUMB still swirls on a downward spiral.

This is one of the most heartfelt and hilarious books I've ever read. These
aren't characters as much as they are friends. You pick them up in the
middle of the night and sit until the silence moves you. They make you feel like you're about to see "THE" show, the one great show that will change everything. And then you don't even need to see it because it's all noise - fuzzy, dreamy, messy noise!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Virals by Kathy Reichs - Review

You may not know that Temperance Brennan, the forensic anthropologist from the Bones novels and television show, has a niece named Tory - a science aficionado who lives with her father on a remote island off the South Carolina coast. It all starts when Tory and her friends rescue a wolfdog pup that has been kidnapped for medical experiments and are exposed to a virus. At first they are sick - really sick - but ultimately they are left with periods of heightened abilities (strength, hearing, smell, etc.). It changes their lives.

They stumble onto some dog tags, a skeleton, and the trail of a long abandoned murder case that takes all their wits, their scientific know how, their contacts, and their newfound abilities to solve. Along the way, we are allowed a peek inside debutante balls, Southern mores, scientific research labs, and nonstop action. What a wonderful new series. I can't wait to see where Reichs takes the Virals and this series, which is sure to be a hit.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox

Well that week went so very quickly! I read Wither (review soon - OMG it was SO good)and am almost finished Graveminder (also so very good). As you can see, I'm still reading far more slowly than I'd like - but it's that time of year. Oh, and I've booked Daisy Whitney and CJ Omolulu to come to Keplers to talk about The Mockingbirds and Dirty Little Secret. With thanks, as ever, to The Story Siren who started and hosts this meme.

And now for the books:

1. Putting makeup on Dead People
By Jennifer Violi

It's been four years since Donna Parisi's father passed away, but it might as well have been four days. Donna makes conversation and goes through the motion, but she hasn't really gotten on with life. She's not close with anyone, she doesn't have a boyfriend and she's going to college at the local university with a major that her mother picked. But one day Donna has an epiphany. She wants to work with dead people. She wants to help people say goodbye and she wants to learn to love a whole person--body and soul. She wants to live her life and be loving, at grieving and at embalming and cremating,too. Even as she makes the decision, things start to change. Donna makes friends with the charismatic new student, Liz. She notices the boy, Charlie, at her table and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too. And she begins to forgive the rest of her family for living their lives while she's been busy moping.

2. Red Glove by Holly Black

(someone must have seen my wow!)
The cons get twistier and the stakes get higher in Red Glove, the sequel to White Cat.

3. Iron Witch
Karen Mahoney

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

I'll be reading Lost Saint first (because Bree will be at kepler's Jan 13), then Mockingbirds (Daisy and Cynthia will be at kepler's Feb 2).

How was your week?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trash by Andy Mulligan - Review

I've been reading a lot of best of year lists recently and saw this title on many of them. Then my wonderful colleague Penelope read and wrote this review so I add another book to that toppling to be read pile of mine! But oh, doesn't it look good?

Set against a remarkable and sobering backdrop, the story of TRASH is told in many voices shared between three young boys who call a dump site the size of a small living city home. The brave Raphael, his shrewd cousin Gardo, and Jun-Jun who lives alone amongst the rats. They, like many others who live in this City of Trash, survive by sifting through what the rest of the City throws away. Until one day they find a bag belonging to a stranger, but it's the mystery that lies within the bag and the adventure it holds that calls to them - with all the odds stacked against them. TRASH will open your world view and push every limit. It is gripping, humbling, and I urge you to pick it up!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I've done it. I've signed up for the Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

* The objective of the DAC is to read at least twelve novels from Young Adult or Middle Grade Authors. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit!

Well, that seems very doable. I'm reading my first now!

Qualifying books:

* Books must be a Young Adult or Middle Grade novel.
* This must be the authors debut with a release date in 2011.
* If an author has a previous novel published under adult fiction/nonfiction or children's fiction/nonfiction, they can still qualify for the challenge if they are releasing their YA or MG debut.

If you want to find out more about this challenge, or to sign up yourself, click here. I'll post the reviews on the blog and list them on the side of the blog.

Wither by Lauren DeStafano will be my first - and so far is is incredible.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Haven't posted one of these for ages but have just read about this sequel and I really want it. Now.

Red Glove by Holly Black

Sequel to White Cat. The cons get twistier and the stakes get higher says the product description.

Curses and Cons. Magic and the Mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordianry guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows he's the most powerful curse worker around. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. She's back, but cursed to love him. When Cassel's brother is murdered, the feds recruit Cassel to help find his brother's killer. But the mob want cassel too. So CAssel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Sacrifice Giveaway from Uniquely Moi Books

Have you been waiting and waiting to find out how Richelle Mead will end the fabulous Vampire Academy series? So you'll know it came out today - yes today and Uniquely Moi Books is hosting a fabulous competition to give a copy away for the holidays.

This giveaway will run from December 5th-15th. The winner will be announced on the 16th! There is only one rule to enter: You MUST follow her blog
That's it!

Click here to find out about the competition and how to enter or click here to go straight to the form.

I've entered. Of course I have. What are you waiting for? GO!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox

What a week - we hosted Salman Rushdie who was simply charming, it's mid-Chanukah, I finished (and reviewed) Luka and the Fire of Life, and am reading the Graveminder by Melissa Marr. I loved Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, although I'm still thinking about the twist and will post a review this week. I'm still reading far more slowly than I'd like - but it's that time of year. Oh, and I've booked Bree Despain to come to Keplers in January to talk about The Lost Saint. With thanks, as ever, to The Story Siren who started and hosts this meme.

And now for the books:

Department Nineteen by Will Hill

When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency. Fortunately for him, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against...

Clarity by Kim Harrington

In Eastport, a tourist town on Cape Cod, lives a family of freaks. My family. I'm a psychic. My brother is a medium, my mother a telepath. Tourists love us. Townies scorn us. We live in a Victorian house with no permanent ghosts, and we use the first floor for our family business: readings. Not the bookstore kind.

That's my week in books. What did you get?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie - and Rushdie himself

Let me set the scene: you are the youngest son of an acclaimed storyteller, the shah of blah. You have grown up hearing his stories, and tales of your older brother’s adventures. You have a dog names Bear and a bear named Dog. And tragically one day your father falls into a sleep so deep noone can save him. An insubstantial version of your father, Nobodaddy, appears to tell you that to save him you must journey through the world of magic and steal the Fire of Life, something that has never been done before.

And of course you don’t hesitate (why would you? Your father’s life is at stake). As in so many video game you can collect (and lose) lives, save the levels you win, make allies along the way, see things you never believed possible, and ultimately live through your father’s stories. Can you beat the Old Man of the River, for example, in a contest of riddles? Will the Insultana of Ott let you ride on her magic carpet? Can you persuade the old forgotten gods to help? Along the way you meet those who help and those who hinder, characters you recognize, and those you don’t but will never forget, like elephant birds and worms that eat holes in the fabric of time.

Hard to compare, this is an adventure, an ode to inter-generational love, a place where the magical and the real worlds collide, and includes mythological creatures from almost every culture. It touches on truth and freedom, talks of the power of storytelling, the importance of the imagination and of family, the nature of time, and will please both adults and children alike in oh so different ways. And of course is beautifully written.

From the review above, can you tell how much of a fan I am of Mr Rushdie's writing? And we had the enormous honor of hosting him at Kepler's last night. (I'm still a little high from the experience.)He was wonderful. One of my literary idols, a writer I admire tremendously, for his writing certainly but also for his courage. And he walked in by himself, no security guards, his driver trying to find somewhere to park. Unassuming, funny, warm, well he charmed us all. He talked about his writing, and the new book, and how long it took to get published after leaving university, and about being in Bridget Jones’ Diary. How he at one point wanted to be an actor, about how bad he was at video games, about Elvis Presley and being on stage with U2. (Oh, and how Bono wanted to write something with him but that every idea Bono had was terrible.) He read a few passages from the book. He chose the part with the riddles (of course). For example: What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? You can find out on page 87 (or ask me). And then took a ton of questions. It was clear he loved to talk to his audience, was interested in so many things. From poetry to music to history, he had stories about everything.

A little background: Rushdie is the author of 11 novels, a book of stories, and three works of non-fiction. His second novel, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker Prize in 1981. His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, was the center of a controversy, drawing protests in several countries and a fatwa against him in 1989. Midnight’s Children has been adapted for the stage, and was performed in London and New York. And the New York City Opera premiered an opera based upon Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

He has received many plaudits for his writings, too numerous to list here, but they do include the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the Writers’ Guild Award, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature, Author of the Year Prizes in both Britain and Germany, the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. Rushdie was also the President of the PEN American Center from 2004 to 2006. He holds many honorary doctorates and fellowships, in 2007 he received a Knighthood (so he’s Sir Salman Rushdie), and in 2008 he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and letters. In addition, Midnight’s Children was named the Best of the Booker – the best winner in the award’s 40 year history – by a public vote. (And is my favorite book!)

His books have been translated into over forty languages and a film is currently in production of Midnight’s Children (and no, he doesn’t want a cameo – I asked – he thought it would be too distracting). What next? He’s writing his autobiography apparently.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Breaking Dawn photo

OK I had to post this - you know I did.

Yes, it's the first official photo from Breaking Dawn, released by director Bill Condon and posted on Twilight's official Twitter page. The photo shows a naked arm stretched across a blanket clutching feathers.

In the novel, Edward bites pillows instead of Bella's neck when they finally get together on their honeymoon, which explains the feathers. The photo is certainly PG-rated.

And yes, this is VERY early promotion as Part 1 of Breaking Dawn will be not be released until Nov. 18, 2011.