Monday, January 31, 2011

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney - Review

Alex is horrified. She wakes up one morning and can't remember what happened the previous evening, nor the name of the boy asleep next to her. She remembers a concert, dancing, and - eek - a drinking game.

But as she reflects on the evening, she realizes she was drunk - so drunk that she passed out, too drunk to have been able to say yes. And thus, she concludes, she was date raped. And now she has two options: stay quiet and do nothing as Carter tells everyone his version of the evening. Or enlist the help of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who right the wrongs of the school.

This is a powerful, honest book that tackles a difficult subject. The writing is sharp and polished, the heroine strong, thoughtful, and brave. It's a testament to doing the right thing and standing up for yourself. It's about justice. It should be on every high school reading list. It is a very impressive debut novel.

Oh, and remember you can come and hear Daisy talking about The Mockingbirds (with CJ Omololu talking about Dirty Little Secret) this Wednesday at 7.00 at Kepler's

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox

Another week and not enough time to read. I read Divergent (which is absolutely brilliant) and the Iron Witch (also great). And we'll host Daisy Whitney and CJ Omololu on wednesday this week. Join us if you are in the area. February 2nd at 7.00. With thanks, as ever, to Story Siren for hosting this meme.

Now to the books I go this week:

1. Drought by Pam Bachorz
I loved Candor so I'm really looking forward to this one.

2. Hereafter by Tara Hudson
A paranormal romance between a girl whose spirit is stranded near a dark river and the boy who almost drowns in it.

3. Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
One cute boy, one tough girl, one giant killer fairy. What could possibley go wrong?

4. Dead Rules by Randy Russell
Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were destined to be together forever. Of that, Jana was sure. But Jana just died. So she decides to take matters into her own hands and bring Michael to her. Think Romeo and Juliet meets Heathers.

5. Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe
A riveting and courageous portrait of a teen struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder.

All look good. SO what should I read next? I'm still thinking about Divergent and I need something to take me out of that world. Suggestions?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jane by April Lindner - Review

I adore Jane Eyre, so it was with excitement and trepidation that I picked up this modern retelling ... and it is fabulous! We first meet Jane in Discriminating Nannies, Inc. looking for work. She has just lost her parents, her siblings are awful, and she doesn't have enough money to stay in college. What's a girl to do? Become a nanny, of course. But Jane is unusual. She dresses differently, listens to classical music, and doesn't watch TV. She seems like a perfect fit to care for the daughter of Nico Rathburn, the rock god and poster child for the rock and roll lifestyle who is on the verge of a comeback tour. Jane wants to save enough money to go back to college, but despite her practicality, reserve, and independence, she soon falls in love with her brooding employer. But can they overcome the secrets of his dark past?

If you have read Jane Eyre, there is no mystery here. You know the secret, but it just doesn't matter - you'll still need to keep turning the page. While staying remarkably close to the original, Lindner makes the story totally hers, makes it work, and makes you fall in love with this Victorian gothic all over again. If you haven't read Jane Eyre, there is no better introduction. And if it leads you to the original, all the better.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interview with Antony John

If you've read Penelope's review of Five Flavors of Dumb, you'll know how much she adored this book. And here's her wonderful interview with Antony John.

For those who happen to be scanning the shelves for their next great read and happen to spot Five Flavors of Dumb (the cover is so boss!), can you tell them a little bit about your book?

Isn't the cover great! (Of course, I had nothing to do with it whatsoever, but I'm happy to bathe in reflected glory.) Five Flavors of Dumb is the story of Piper Vaughan, a high school senior who becomes manager of her school rock band (named Dumb) as a way of rebuilding her college fund after her parents raid it to pay for her baby sister's cochlear implant. The trouble is, she doesn't know the first thing about music. Plus, she's deaf. But she's also smart, resourceful, and determined, and getting the five dysfunctional band members to play in harmony might just bring out her own inner rock star.

Piper is a truly unique heroine, not only because she happens to be deaf but because her fierce, witty intellect sometimes makes you forget about the silence. Who inspired Piper?

Honest truth: Piper inspired Piper. Somehow she came to me more fully formed than any character I’ve ever written. Of course, I did a lot of research into deafness, too, to make sure I got the details of her experience right, but I just had an innate sense of who she was, how she thought and felt, and how she would communicate that through the written word. I think that's why she's also my favorite character from my books.

Music is almost it's own separate character in the book, were there any bands or records in particular that fueled the fire during the writing process?

Absolutely! My playlist for the book was over 100 songs, but the biggest influences were (not surprisingly) Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. I watched movies of them obsessively, listening to the music, but also watching them: how they moved, their facial expressions, their clothing, etc. Not only did I never get bored of listening to their music, I actually found all the studying really inspiring -- it made
it easier to convey the enthusiasm some of the characters have for these artists.

I love Piper's parents, at times they reminded me of teenagers themselves but in a dreamy sense, did they ever attend a Nirvana gig themselves?

I like Piper's parents, too. There's some of each of them in Piper herself, though she'd probably deny it! I think they're absolutely the kind of parents who would've attended a Nirvana gig back in the day. But since then, "adulthood" has overwhelmed them, and neither of them is entirely comfortable with whom they've become. I really believe that by the end of the book, they're on the road to recovery, and a few more rock concerts might be in their future.

You have such a great voice for YA (very reminiscent of John Hughes, had he written for YA). what made you want to write for this genre?

First off, thanks for the compliment! (I'm not convinced I'm anywhere near John Hughes' league, but it's a nice thought.) The truth is, every idea for a book I've ever had, has been YA. I don't know exactly why that is, but I think it's a sign. I also happen to like YA more than any other genre.

As for what makes me want to keep writing YA . . . I think it's the fact that the teen years are such a dramatic, stressful, and highly emotional time of life. I had a great high school experience, but that doesn't mean I always felt comfortable, or like I belonged. Writing books gives me the chance to revisit the issue of self-identity and examine it from multiple perspectives. It's very therapeutic.

What books are you an evangelist for at the moment?

There are so many. That being said, there's one book that almost no one I meet at schools seems to have read, and I find it hard to believe: HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. It won the Printz Award in 2005, and the British equivalent (the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year) in 2004. It's a staggering book, and the voice is extraordinary. It's impossible to put down. Everyone should read it.

What's next after Dumb, working on anything new?

Oh, yes! My next YA, entitled The Hallelujah Book Tour, will be coming out spring 2012, also from Dial Books. It's the story of a 16-year-old boy who writes a spiritual self-help book that becomes a bestseller. When he's sent on a promotional tour along Route 66 things don't exactly go as planned, particularly when a former crush hitches a ride.

After that, around fall 2012, the first book in my Elemental trilogy will be released (again with Dial). It's set in a dystopian colony of the United States where everyone is born with powers of the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire—except for one boy who is powerless . . . or is he? I'm so psyched
about it I can barely see straight.

Thanks for having me along. And thanks to all your readers!

If you'd like to find out more about Antony his website is:

He can also be found on Facebook at:

Monday, January 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

A little late this week but time seems to be rushing past me. In the past couple of weeks I hosted Bree Desapin (who was awesome), read The Lost Saint, The Mockingbirds, Iron Witch (reviews soon), and am now in the middle of Divergent. And it is every bit as good as the hype. Have written a ton of reviews - will post soon, I promise. We are hosting Daisy Whitney and CJ Omololu next week - join us if you are in the area. February 2nd at 7.00. And have booked Rachel Hawkins and Sarwat Chadda for a visit in March! With thanks, as ever, to Story Siren for hosting this meme. And to Nancy, the Ravenouse Reader, who brought me two of the following books.

Now to the books.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Well, as I said above, I put this right at the top of my reading pile. I am in a dysptopia frame of mind and this one is very very good. Can't say enough good things about it. But so far, it is rather violent.
Background: In this world at 16 you get one choice to choose a faction and change your life. And this choice affects everything.

2. Wolfbane by Andrea Cremer
Thanks to the lovely Nancy, the Ravenous Reader, who brought this for me from ALA. I adored Nightshade and am delighted, simply delighted to have my hands on this sequel. Oh, this will be my next read.

3. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Again with thanks to Nancy for bringing me this coveted copy. I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Dead Tossed Waves and can't wait to get to this.

4. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
I loved the Georgia Nicolson series - am always in search of things really funny - and have read Wuthering Heights several times. So how can this not have my hame stamped clearly all over it?

5. Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw
Set in a bookstore, this called to me. Kate isn't who she thinks she is. Burned out of her family bookstore, pursued across a country riddled by war,she comes to discover who she is and her destiny. Another dystopia already a senation in England apparently.

They all look wonderful. If only I could read faster!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bree Despain talking about The Lost Saint

Bree Despain was at Kepler's last week - on her birthday - to talk about The Lost Saint, the sequel to the very wonderful Dark Divine. She was wonderful.

Here's video of Bree telling us about the book

I'll post photos tomorrow

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Upcoming Events

I have booked some amazing events for the coming months and wanted to let you all know details.

February 2
Daisy Whitney (The Mockingbirds) and CJ Omololu (Dirty Little Secret)

February 8th
Ellen Hopkins, Fallout

March 7th
Jon Scieszka, Spaceheadz #2
(younger readers I know but he is SO funny)
(event at the Menlo Park Library)

March 9th
Rachel Hawkins (Demonglass) and Sarwat Chadda (Dark Goddess)

March 17th
Alyson Noel, Shimmer

March 25th
Anthony Horowitz, Scorpia Rising (yes, the last in the series!)

April 14th
MaryRose Wood
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery
(event at the Menlo Park library)

Awesome events, awesome authors. Can't wait. Join us if you can.

And remember, if you can't make it to these events but want a personalized signed book, you can order one from Or contact me at

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Genetic engineering is to blame in DeStafano’s dark and sinister dystopia where boys don’t live past the age of 25 and girls die at 20. Gatherers wait to kidnap unsuspecting young girls out alone, forcing them into loveless marriages with rich young boys. And alas, this is exactly what happens to Rhine who, along with two others, is married to Linden, and told there is no escape by his frightening father, Vaughn.

What happens to Rhine, her sister wives, and the young attendant Gabriel to whom she is drawn, kept me turning page after page, well after I should have been asleep. This world seems all too real, a world where in trying to claim victory over illness, scientists create a virus so much worse than anything that came before. And Rhine is such a likeable heroine who is strong, self-directed, angry at being taken and kept from her brother, yet fascinated by her new world and all it brings her. And she comes to understand that Linden is as much a prisoner as she is in this glittery, luxurious cage. With time running out, Rhine has to decide how much freedom means to her. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Pub date: March 22
It is THAT good, preorder it now here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Trailer for Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

How do I love the Wicked Lovely series - let me count the ways

I was lucky enough to get an advance reader copy of Darkest Mercy and raced through it at a gulp. I will post my review later this week. But I've just seen the book trailer and felt the need to share.

It's awesome, don't you think?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher - Review

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

What would the Ancient Mariner have made of Stracher's future where we have run out of drinkable water? Where the ice caps have melted, counties dam their rivers and suck clouds from the sky, where the rich control what is left of the drinkable water, millions have already died, and countries are at war over water rights. It's a bleak, stark world, so real you can taste it, feel the ever-present threat of dehydration. Who would you blame? Who and what would you sacrifice? And how far would you go to protect your last shred of hope?

Meet Vera, a girl whose mother is sick, whose father can barely provide enough food and water for the family, who meets Kai, a boy who has water to spare, who travels with a guard, who talks of a secret untapped river that he will one day show her. Kai disappears as suddenly as he appeared in their lives, leaving behind his medicine and a dead bodyguard and Vera persuades her brother Will to help her try to find him - with no idea how dangerous or difficult this will be. And thus starts a non-stop action thrill ride as Vera and Will traverse the country, looking for clues, running into water pirates, the people's environmental liberation army, and the evil desalination corporation, Bluewater. All to save a boy who could be the world's last hope.

This is a compulsive, utterly gripping read with a strong environmental message that will appeal to Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Life as We Knew It fans.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bree Despain, The Lost Saint

Tonight. Bree Despain will be at Kepler's tonight - at 7.00 - to talk about The Lost Saint. I've just finished it and wow, loved it. Will post a review later this week but if you are in the area, make sure you come and hear her. It will be such fun. And by the way, it's her birthday!

2011 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults

So the ALA have just announced their ten best books for young adults this year.

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker.
Nailer is a light crew scavenger tearing up old hulks of ships, living day to day, until a rich girl and her gleaming ship run ashore in a storm on the beach and his life gets more dangerous.

Donnelley, Jennifer. Revolution.

Haunted by the death of her brother, Andi is taken to Paris by her estranged father where an encounter with a mysterious diary may bring her back from the edge.

*Marchetta, Melina. Finnikin of the Rock
Finnikin and his fellow exiles from Lumatere wish to return to their cursed homeland. Finnikin must go on an epic journey with a mute novice named Evanjalin to return home.

Matson, Morgan. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.

Amy and Roger must both learn to deal with loss while on a road trip across the country which doesn't go as expected.

McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

When Sam discovers he is a necromancer he must learn to control his power in order to defeat a powerful and corrupt rival and save his friends.

Mulligan, Andy. Trash.
Three garbage-picker boys find an item of great value to a corrupt politician on their rounds, setting off a tense hunt to see who will triumph.

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People.
Chiko, a Burmese soldier and Tu Reh, a Kerenni refugee meet on opposite sides of war and each must learn what it means to be a man of his people.

Reinhardt, Dana. The Things a Brother Knows.
Boaz is back and hailed as the hometown hero, but he is not at all the same. Can his younger brother Levi help him truly make his way home?

Saenz, Benjamin. Last Night I Sang to the Monster.
Weeks in therapy go by and 18-year-old Zach is still unable to remember the monstrous events that left him alone and haunted by nightmares.

Sedgwick, Marcus. Revolver.

Sig is alone with his father’s body when the lawless man his father had managed to escape appears out of the icy wilderness.

Nice list. How many have you read? Hm, OK really must get to Ship Breaker...

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 ALA Youth Media Award Winners

The 2011 John Newbery Medal goes to:
“Moon over Manifest,” written by Clare Vanderpool,

Newbery Honor Books:
“Turtle in Paradise,” by Jennifer L. Holm
“Heart of a Samurai,” written by Margi Preus
“Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night,” written by Joyce Sidman
“One Crazy Summer,” by Rita Williams-Garcia

The 2011 Randolph Caldecott Medal goes to:
“A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Caldecott Honor Books: “Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill a
“Interrupting Chicken,” written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

The 2011 Michael L. Printz Award goes to:
“Ship Breaker,” written by Paolo Bacigalupi

Printz Honor Books:
“Stolen,” by Lucy Christopher
“Please Ignore Vera Dietz,” by A.S. King
“Revolver,” by Marcus Sedgwick
“Nothing,” by Janne Teller

And the William C. Morris Award goes to:

"The Freak Observer," written by Blythe Woolston

The Morris Honor Books are:
"Hush," by Eishes Chayil
"Guardian of the Dead," by Karen Healey
"Hold Me Closer, Necromancer," by Lish McBride
"Crossing the Tracks," by Barbara Stuber

Congratulations all.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In My Mailbox

Oh that week went by so fast. We hosted John Lescroart (adult fiction - thriller - Damage, I wrote interview questions for David Levithan and read the very wonderful The Lover's Dictionary. Finished XVI and The Water Wars too (it was dystopia week for me last week!). We're hosting Bree Despain on January 13th - can't wait - The Lost Saint was excellent (just finished). Join us if you can. So now I have a ton of reviews to write. With thanks, as ever, to Story Siren for hosting this meme. Now to the books.

This week:

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster

Kyle volunteered to be hypnotized at a local talent show, But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. TV and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone's acting strangely. It's as if Kyle doesn't exist. Is this a result of the hypnosis? Will he wake up to roars of laughter? Or is this something mroe sinister?

The Nightmarys by Dan Poblocki

Timothy July has been having nightmares. About his brother, who is in a coma after being wounded in Iraq; about his best friend, Stuart, who is behaving like a jerk; about the old biology specimens in jars lining the walls of his classroom; and about Abigail, the new girl who seems to be a magnet for trouble.

Suddenly Timothy’s nightmares are coming true. His brother, his face decaying, approaches Timothy on the street. Stuart ends up in the hospital, terrified that monsters are stalking him. And the specimen jars are tormenting not only Timothy but his teacher as well.

What is the secret in Abigail’s past that is the key to these horrors? And can Timothy figure it out before his nightmares become a deadly reality?

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.

Oooh, these look good. Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds first though.

What did you get this week?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - Review

So I realized I had put this on my top ten of the year yet didn't post a review - so here it is:

Jennifer Donnelly brings together the stories of two troubled teenagers, born centuries apart, living on separate continents, but both in desperate circumstances.

Andi lives in New York, a brilliant musician who is failing high school because she's torn apart by the loss of her brother. Her father takes her to Paris with him over winter break where he is examining a heart that may or may not belong to Louis Charles, the son of Marie Antionette, who was imprisoned in a tower during the French Revolution and supposedly died there. Andi stumbles across a journal, hidden in an old guitar case, written by Alexandrine Paradis, a would-be actress, a spy, who took care of the young dauphin. Both have secrets. And as their fates twine around each other they both find out that it's never too late to do what you feel you have to do.

This is an incredible book full of music and love, betrayal and danger, intrigue and redemption. Often brutal yet exceptionally well researched, Revolution is simply a must read for anyone interested in the history of music or historical novels in general. I could not put it down and although I was disturbed by the twist in the book when I first got there, it grew on me, pulling all the strands together beautifully. Don't miss this one.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hunger Ganes Director Chosen

OK, so I'm on a movie kick at the moment. But I am a huge huge fan of the Hunger Games trilogy and so am watching the news about the movie adaptation.

Entertainment Weekly has reported that they have chosen a director - Gary Ross - who directed Seabiscuit and Pleasantville. Apparently Ross discovered the books after listening to his twin 15-year-old son and daughter rave over them! After he devoured the trilogy he flew himself to London to meet with producer Nina Jacobson (who was on the set of One Day) to plead his case. “I felt very protective of the book,” says Jacobson, who already had a long line of interested directors at her door. “There was a version of the movie that could be made that would in fact be guilty of all of the sins of the Capitol and portray this violence among youth irresponsibly. If you put the visual wow as your priority over the character of Katniss, you risk making junk food out of something which is anything but. And Gary had a real feel for the balancing act between the epic adventure and the intimate love story.”

Maybe we can all let out a sigh of relief after hearing that.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Maze Runner Takes Another Step Toward the Big Screen

The Los Angelese Times reported that like The Hunger Games, James Dasher's Maze Runner is poised to make the leap to the big screen. A film version is set up at Fox, and Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) signed on a month ago to direct it. Now the project has hired a screenwriter: Noah Oppenheim. Noah is a former Today show producer and is writing the English-language version of the Swedish thriller Snabba Cash for Zac Efron.

Not all movie adaptations of publishing hits are successful (cough, The Golden Compass or Alex Rider, cough) and studios want to know that there's not only a built-in fan base but a viable way to tell the stories cinematically (and on a reasonable budget).

But oh, it could be SUCH a good movie if done correctly. Let's cross our fingers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Haven't done this for ages but I love this book and it is perfect for a short teaser as it is written in dictionary format. 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 the teaser is from The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. OK, a few teasers. It's hard to choose.

Yesterday, n.

You called to ask me when I was coming home, and when I reminded you that I wasn't coming home, you sounded so disappointed that I decided to come home.

Only, adj.

That's the dilemma, isn't it? When you're single, there's the sadness and joy of only me. And when you're paired, there's the sadness and joy of only you.

Corrode, v.

I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

Utterly perfect.
Oh, and I did mention that this is not a YA but an adult title, didn't I?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In My Mailbox

First of the year, I received some very lovely books. Some of which I've already read (reviews soon). Can you tell how much dystopia seems to be calling me? We're hosting Bree Despain on January 13th. And I'm writing questions for a video interview with the very talented David Levithan this week. With thanks, as ever, to Story Siren for hosting this meme. Now to the books

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Vera and her brother Will live in a world where water is hoarded, rivers are dammed, polar caps have melted, and clouds are sucked from the sky. A world where water is more precious than gold or oil. Yes, an environmental dystopia (and a very good one - review to follow).

XVI by Julia Karr
Imagine a future where the Government brand girls on their 16th birthday. And that XVI on your wrist is a sign that means you are ready for sex.
(Just finished this and that's as far as I've got writing my review...)

Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Abby swears she's psychic and she's dreamed that horrifying creatures are hunting her friend Teagan. Goblins!

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
In her dreams Anne is somewhere and someone else. Then a astranger offers to explain them and claims he has been waiting fo someone to help save Anastasia

Haunted by Joy Preble

Sequel to Dreaming Anastasia in which a mysterious woman is stalking Anne, haunting her. As Ann searches fo who this woman is, she finds the possible source of her own power

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

David's first book for adults is a story of a relationship as told through dictionary entries. I've already read this and am in love with this exploration of love

What did you get this week?