Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Giveaway: Opens July 6th at 12:01 a.m.

5 copies of The Hot List by Hillary Homzie will be up for grabs! This is a very cute and funny tween novel that girls will love! More details and rules for entering will be posted July 6, 2011.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tween Pick: Odd Girl In

Odd Girl In
by Jo Whittemore
Mix (Aladdin Mix)
234 pages

Funny, snarky, laugh out loud punny (puns everywhere!), and wickedly entertaining, Odd Girl In is a surprise! I read this tween ya novel with wild abandon and laughed at the antics of tomboy Alex (Alexis) Evins and her twin brothers Parker and Nick.

When Alex accidentally sets fire to the neighbor's patio furniture, (she actually lit a bag of dog poop on fire--on the neighbor's porch, no less--in the hopes he would stomp it out, get dog poop all over his shoes, and "then maybe wave a wrinkly fist and yell Old People Gibberish"), she was hoping for a funny sight but instead was cited for a misdemeanor. It's the last straw for Alex's long suffering professor father. He has had enough of the twin's practical jokes and all the siblings' fighting, and he enrolls them in a special program for Champs!

The kids can't think of anything more degrading than a program to build their self-esteem, make them team players--and make them work together, instill pride and leadership skills, and allow them to practice athletic ability and making friends. Each of the Evins' children has to make progress or else Dad will send them to a private school the following school year.

Poor Alex! She really has no girl-y-ness about her. Growing up in a household full of testosterone and without a mother figure, she's hopelessly lame in make-up application, glitter penmanship, and fashionista know-how. Now she has to attend slumber parties and listen to girls moon over dreamy boys. She decides to make the best of it and takes a leadership roll when trying to explain the rules and basics of hockey to the Hockey Boosters--girls who joined the club because the boy hockey players are so cute!--not because the girls know anything remotely about hockey. They actually think a Zamboni is a sports car! ( for those of you who don't know, Zamboni is the brand name of a machine that smooths the ice on the rink surface).

Alex is far more entertaining than most tween protagonists! Her practical joker brothers remind one of the Weasley twins, Fred and George, in Harry Potter. Jo Whittemore has a wicked sense of fun, and I personally couldn't get enough of Alex!

A must-read for girls ages 11-15 and older if they like a spunky female character who is OVER THE TOP FUNNY!

Highly, highly recommended grades 4-8.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bewitching Pick: Guest Review: The Coven's Daughter

The Coven’s Daughter
by Lucy Jago
Disney Hyperion Books
256 pages

Blogger's Note: This review is from Leslie Rush, my BFF in ya novels and avid reader and now fellow reviewer. This is Leslie's third review. You can find Leslie's reviews at A Book and A Hug

Cecily Perrin has just turned thirteen. In 1500s England, for most girls this might bring a new skirt and cap, or maybe the boys would come courting. But Cess is not most girls. She is a bastard, with no father and no friends. She lives with her mother, both of them village outcasts. She is lucky to have a roof over her head and her job as a poultry girl at the local lord’s estate. She wishes she could look like a lady. She wishes she knew something about her father—anything! On her birthday, she wishes with all her heart that today will be different.

If only her wishes came true the way her dreams often did! Since she was a little girl, Cess has had premonitions, but learned quickly to keep quiet about them, lest she be accused of being a witch.

Cecily’s birthday wish comes true when she finds an unusual and valuable locket in the chicken coop. But it’s May Day, and as the local festivities begin, the locket and the Maypole get overshadowed by the disappearance of several boys, including her only friend, William. The villagers fear that it may be the work of witches, and their suspicions turn to Cess.

Cess must find William before it’s too late. In her quest to save him, and prove her innocence, she becomes entangled in the dark and dangerous world of political intrigue. Aided by the local coven, Cess calls upon her powers to rescue William and battle the perilous forces that swirl around her, threatening her life, her village, and England itself!

A strong sense of time and place makes this paranormal adventure worth reading. The often disgusting details about daily life in the late 1500s will fascinate budding fans of historical fiction.

Recommended for ages 11-15. Implied sexual references, one cussword.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I shared the arc with Leslie Rush, my friend and ya novels enthusiast and now fellow reviewer/blogger. This is Leslie's third ya novel review. Look for her reviews on A Book and A Hug website. Thanks, Leslie, for your review! Pamela

Book Giveaway: Hourglass

5 copies of the new ya novel Hourglass by debut author Myra McEntire are up for grabs!

Hourglass--a different type of paranormal. When Emerson realizes she's seeing dead people, she tries everything to shake it. Her brother hires a cadre of people to "help" her get "over it," but no one can stop the dead Confederate soldiers from appearing, the swooning Southern belles in hoop skirts who torment Emerson, or any other ghost from the past who happens to pop in.

Enter Michael from Hourglass. Michael is different. He seems to know Emerson on a deeper level. When she realizes he knows her from the future, Emerson begins to learn the truth.

Teens will love this book, and girls will love Michael--way sexier and dreamier than Edward (Twilight).

Simply post a comment here and be sure to include your first name, email contact, and city location( I'm just nosy--I like to know where all of y'all are from) smile.

Deadline for posts is Thursday, July 1, at noon MST (Mountain Standard Time). Books will ship from Egmont Publishing in New York City.

I will notify winners by email. Winners will have 24 hours to respond to my email and send me a street mailing address. If a winner does not give me his/her address withing 24 hours, the book copy will be forfeited and given to the next person who commented. Sorry, time is of the essence. Good luck! Pamela

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tween Pick: The Hot List

The Hot List
by Hillary Homzie
Aladdin Mix (Simon & Schuster)
244 pages

Click here for the book trailer
it takes a couple of moments to load (please be patient)

Hilarious, poignant, and believable, The Hot List will have tweens and teens rooting for Sophie!

Tweens will love Sophie Fanuchi, the principal's daughter who (cringe) can't stand the fact that she goes to school where her dad is the principal, and they will be equally drawn to her BFF Maddie. Maddie and Sophie have been BFF's since grade school: having sleepovers, discussing magazine clothing and make-up, staying up late, sucking down Cherry Slurpee's, but then Nia Tate--the most popular girl at Travis Middle School--starts texting Maddie and wants to be her friend. Sophie feels left out and comes up with a brilliant, on-the-spot, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants idea: why not create a hot list? A list of all the hottest boys and girls in the middle school? What could go wrong?

Sophie and Maddie get right to work and post their colorful, glittery creation in the last stall of the girls' room. Sophie should know better than to write on walls with permanent marker, but once in the moment, she wants to impress Maddie and keep her as her very own BFF--excluding Nia.

When word gets around about who is hot and who is not--the social fabric of the entire school changes. Everyone is talking about who made it and who didn't. If you were lucky enough to be on the Hot List, you have an instant "in" with all the popular crowd and you are suddenly fabulously cool. When Nia makes an impossible bet with Sophie, Sophie will go to any lengths to make nerdy Squid Rodriguez "cool" and list-worthy. The Hot List becomes its own entity--like magic, someone keeps posting a new list weekly. It's not Sophie and it's not Maddie.

How can Sophie win her BFF back and control the list?

Highly, highly recommended for tweens ages 11-14.

No sex, no language--just middle school angst.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this novel from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Fantasy Pick: The Dragons of Chiril

The Dragons of Chiril
by Donita K. Paul
Waterbrook Press
2011 (first published in 2009 as The Vanishing Sculptor)
398 pages (with glossary)
Available June 21, 2011

Magical, charming, witty, whimsical, and soul-satisfying, The Dragons of Chiril is a masterpiece! Rich in fantasy, this novel adds new fantastical words to the English language much like J.K. Rowling did in Harry Potter's world. Donita K. Paul belongs in the pantheon of top fantasy writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Cassandra Clare!

Tipper's mother, Lady Peg, is daffy, batty, and just plain over the edge. Her artist father has long vanished from the home, and Tipper longs for his return. Lady Peg acts as if she talks to him every day, yet Tipper knows that this is impossible, and chalks it up to her mother's "condition."

Left to care for her family's estate, young Tipper is forced to sell off works of art from her father's studio just to put food on the table. Verrin Shope has left Beccaroon, a giant parrot, in charge of looking after Tipper and Lady Peg. Being brought up by a pompous and arrogant, yet wonderfully regal, parrot is taxing! Beccaroon loves Tipper but can't stand PDA's (public displays of affection). They ruffle his feathers--yes, yes, pun intended.

When a weird wizard shows up with a prickly librarian, Tipper is forced to go on an odyssey that will turn up three statues carved by her father--sold years earlier hither and yon. The group of adventurers include Tipper, Wizard Fenworth--who loves to turn a phrase, the librarian Libretowit (love to say his name!)--who spars linguistically with the wizard--much to Tipper's dismay, an artist with an attitude--Bealomondore, and Beccarroon, the regal guardian, who leads the way.

Between the bickering over dangling participles--the wizard, the librarian, and Tipper, and the wizard's weird ways, Bealomodore's moodiness, and Verrin Shope's, (Tipper's father) strange comings and goings, Tipper gets an education along the way.

Tipper's father makes appearances on the journey! He is caught between this world and a gateway to another dimension and keeps disappearing. The gateway is affecting Tipper's world, too, and unless the band of misfits find the three sculptures and piece them together, this world may vanish!

Full of rich detail and whimsy, this novel delivers to lovers of fantasy and adventure. Dragons abound--minor house dragons keep Tipper out of trouble and fire-breathing dragons in the Sunset Mountains carry the band on their quest.

Highly, highly recommended for readers of fantasy and adventure grades 5-up. Language level is for advanced readers of fantasy--readers who loved the Harry Potter books will love this one! Slightly more difficult reading than Potter; more like The Lord of the Rings.

No sex; no profanity.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners Announced!

Two recent giveaways of Forbidden and Notes From the Blender winners have been notified. I like to share first names, first initial of the last name (for privacy reasons) and location of winners--just to show that everyone has a chance of winning.

Winners of Forbidden:

Heidi Z. of Stoughton, Wisconsin
Olivia G. of Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Valerie F. of Northglen, Colorado
Susan N. of Boise, Idaho
Susan L. of Wisconsin

Winners of Notes From the Blender:

Jenn B. of Columbia City, Indiana
Kristine W. of Los Angeles, California
Lynne M. of Ventura, California
Jackie K. of Fredricksburg, Virginia
Sindy C. of Rochester, New York

Congratulations winners!

Middle School Pick: The Lovely Shoes (Guest Reviewer)

The Lovely Shoes
by Susan Shreve
Arthur Levine Books
256 pages

(Blogger's note- This review was written by my friend Leslie Rush, an avid reader of ya fiction and new to the review scene. This is her second guest review)>

Francine Hall is facing a quadruple threat: she is 14, the age when conformity is crucial. She lives in a small town in Ohio, where everyone knows everything about everyone. It is 1956, smack in the middle of the Conformity Decade. And Franny was born with a withered, defective foot.

Even though she is pretty and smart and fun to be with, Franny is deeply insecure about where and how she will fit in as she begins her freshman year in high school. She buys her friends presents, and pretends words like “gimp” and “cripple” don’t really bother her.

She hates her ugly orthopedic shoes, and tries on her mother’s clothes and shoes, imagining a future where she is beautiful--a future she is positive will never happen. She writes stories and letters that express her inner world with sly wit and vulnerability, in a way that only a 14-year-old can.

A cringing embarrassment at a school dance reveals to Franny exactly how much she will never fit in, and so she decides to stay in her bedroom, never to emerge ever again.

Franny’s loving mother is also different. She is from Denmark, and is incredibly beautiful. She does everything a mother can do to help Franny fit in, and after the disastrous dance, presents Franny with an amazing hope, a dazzling set of new possibilities, in the form of Salvatore Ferragamo. Yes, THAT Salvatore Ferragamo!

Franny realizes she must emerge from her self-imposed prison to find out who she is, find her own voice and create her own expectations. Even if it means facing her fears --- and the fears of those who love her--- she must find her own path to true beauty and acceptance.

Loosely based on a true story, this is a sweet journey of self-determination .

Although the jacket says grades 4 and up, mature themes and a few sexual references make this inappropriate for elementary school. Recommended for ages 12 and up, grades 6-10. One sweet kiss !

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I gave the arc to my friend and fellow reviewer and ya novels reader Leslie Rush. Lesly has been a high school teacher and avid reader for many years and shares my love of reading and ya novels. This is her second book review. I/We received no monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

High School Pick: Notes From the Blender

Notes From the Blender
by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
229 pages

Cantagious, comedic, cantankerous, and full of teen angst and teenage spasmic hyperbole, Notes From the Blender is a hilarious romp of a ya novel. Told in chapters by Neilly and Declan, both male and female readers will laugh out loud at the characters and most likely, their very own foibles.

Declan is a sixteen year old who loves black Death Metal, violent video games, porn sites, and girls! A random thought through Dec's head is most likely sexual--even if it is about his middle-aged therapist. You would think that Dec with all his character flaws would not be a likable character; you would be dead wrong. Dec is a flawed underdog, to be sure, but his sense of humor and comedic timing as well as his delivery of biting sarcasm to his bullies make him charming and lovable.

Dec misses his mom who died in a car accident--Dec was in the car but not injured and has blamed himself for her death since then. Dec's dad is worried that Dec is getting becoming too goth and dark and sends him to his Aunt Sarah's church which happens to be a little different than most churches--she is the paster and her life partner, also female lives with her. When Dec's dad springs the news on him that he is remarrying, Dec goes off the deep end.

Neilly is thrown for a loop when her father leaves her mom for a man! Now her father is marrying that same man. If that isn't enough, her mom has been hiding secrets from her, too. When Neilly goes home from school one day, she walks in on her mother cooking in the kitchen wearing nothing except a towel. Dec's dad is playing house with Neilly's mom! And that's not all, they are getting married and expecting a new baby. Neilly and Dec will become step-siblings....

Laugh out loud, swallow-your-milk-and-choke-on-it-until-it-comes-painfully-out-your-nose funny--this is the funniest novel of the year, and I would say it is bound to garner all sorts of ya and YALSA attention. Anyone with a sense of humor will love this book. I love Dec and Neilly!

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Mature themes, F word, sex, masturbation, condoms.

There is a book giveaway posted on my blog for Notes From the Blender. Deadline for posting is June 14, 2011 at noon. Don't miss your opportunity to win a free copy. Post your comment today.

FTC required disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Giveaway: Notes From the Blender

Five free copies of Notes From the Blender are up for grabs! Writers Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin team up for a funny ya novel full of heart. More information click here

Post a comment with your email contact information and state (I'm just nosy and like to see all the states everyone is from--and I appreciate those people who live in the state of paranoia or the state of denial, but I'm looking for actual U.S. states, feel free to lie if you are embarrassed by your real state's name, smile). Deadline for posting is Tuesday, June 14 at noon MST (Mountain Standard Time) Winners will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond to my email. If there is no response, the book will go to the next poster in line. Copies will ship from New York City.

Good Luck!

Ghostly Pick: The Near Witch

The Near Witch
by Victoria Schwab
288 pages
Cover not final

Available August 2, 2011

Beautifully written, masterful storytelling, and poetic prose almost too beautiful not to be a song--this novel soars! Part fairy tale, part ghost story, part fantasy, part romance, part a tale of witches, The Near Witch is a pleasurable jaunt. Debut author Victoria Schwab weaves this tale magically and shows her writing chops. This novel will resonate with readers who love a good fairy tale.

The Near Witch is just a child's rhyme, isn't it? The wind over the moor calls to children at night; don't listen too closely because the moor needs children. When a stranger comes to the town of Near, Lexi's Uncle Otto is determined to run him out of town because in the town of Near, there are no strangers. Lexi is curious about the strange boy who seems to vanish into thin air, and curious-er still that the boy is taken in by the strange elderly sisters who live on the edge of the moor. It is said that they practice magic.

Then the first child vanishes from his bed, and suspicion falls on the newcomer. When the stranger offers to help Lexi track the missing child, she accepts and learns more secrets about him. A second child is missing, then a third. The town of Near heats up, and a mob of men are after Lexi's new friend.

Lexi and Cole go to the ancient sisters for help, and together they track the missing children and attempt to save the town of Near.

Highly, highly recommended grades 6-up; ages 12-up. Don't miss this magical novel! Kissing, no sex, no language.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dystopian Pick: Possession

by Elana Johnson
Simon Pulse
page count not yet determined; the arc was 404 pages

Available June 7,2011

Possession is a debut dystopian ya novel that teen readers of both romance and action will like. Vi (Violet) is always breaking rules--the Thinkers in this future dystopia decide how everyone should live and the rules are made to "protect" the society. Girls don't walk with boys, hats will be worn at all times, skin will be covered, kissing is not allowed. When Vi sneaks out and meets her boyfriend, she is apprehended and taken to a prison. Her "trial" is presided over by robots called mechs and evil, humorless mortals.

Her punishment: banishment. She goes on the run with fellow rule-breaker and bad boy Jag. Together they try to thwart the Thinkers and their plans. Creepy family relationships get in Vi's way, and when she finds out her true identity, or calling, she is appalled. Can they control Violet? Or is she strong enough to break their control?

The twist at the end was totally satisfying! This novel is similar to Matched by Ally Conde in that both female characters find themselves in a love triangle with "strings attached" and weird family twists. Both societies are somewhat parallel as well. If a reader loved Matched, chances are he/she will love Possession.

Recommended grade 9-up. Sleepover with boyfriend, kissing, violence, cruelty.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not received monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Girl Pick: Things I Know About Love

Things I Know About Love
by Kate Le Vann
153 pages

Sweet, simple, poignant, and evocative of Love Story and The Notebook, Things I Know About Love will delight girl romance readers.

Seventeen year old Livie Stowe is writing a blog about all the things she knows about love--she doesn't know much since most of her teen-age years have been spent in hospital rooms. Livie was diagnosed with leukemia, but after a bone marrow transplant she's doing fine. She convinces her "Mum" to let her travel to Princeton to visit her older brother Jeff who attends uni (university) there.

That's when she meets Adam again--one of Jeff's mates (friends). After seeing Livie, Adam writes short entries from his point of view. Both take a "fancy" to each other and soon they are dating and traveling to New York City to sightsee. It's refreshing to see both the boy and girl telling his/her side of falling in love. Spoiler alert: this is a major weeper. Bring tissues.

Readers will love the English (British) colloquialisms: uni, Mum, telly, fancy, flat (apartment), holiday (vacation), and snogging (kissing). Livie has great fun with American-isms and says of a day-old doughnut--it was, "full fat, full-sugar American delicious."

Simply a "fab" read. Highly, highly recommended for grades 9 and up. Mature grade 8 is also probably okay. Mentions sex, being afraid to have sex, virginity. No language. No sex.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paranormal Pick: After Obsession-Guest Review

After Obsession

Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel
288 pages (the arc is 288 pages; actual page count may be different when published)
Available: Sept 13, 2011

This is the cover of the arc; the final cover may be different.
(guest reviewer: Leslie Rush, high school teacher instructional coach and avid ya reader)

Aimee Avery is finally getting past her image as a freak. The whispers surrounding her mother’s mental illness and suicide have died down, at least publically. Privately, Aimee still struggles with unanswered questions about her mother’s unusual abilities, which she seems to have inherited. Aimee has dreams that sometimes come true, and hands that sometimes can heal. But no one needs to know about that.

And no one needs to know that sometimes Aimee hears footsteps and smells her mother’s perfume, and that she wonders if she inherited her mother’s mental illness, along with these abilities. Especially now, when the small Maine town is still reeling from another tragic drowning. Aimee’s best friend Courtney has lost her father, and refuses to believe he is dead.

Enter Alan, Courtney’s cousin from Oklahoma, who comes with his mother, Courtney’s aunt, to help the family. Alan is half Navajo, and besides his athletic good looks, has some unusual abilities of his own.
The attraction between Alan and Aimee is almost instant, and feels like destiny.

But an evil force is lurking, rising through the river from the depths of time, gathering strength to unleash its destruction throughout the town. Strange shadows, mysterious sounds and smells, and growing tensions grip the town.

Courtney emerges as the target of this malevolent, ancient spirit. Aimee and Alan must figure out how to save Courtney before the evil possesses her completely, and destroys them all. As they battle to save her soul, and their own lives, they will confront questions about good and evil, and love that can transcend death itself.

Told by both Aimee and Alan, in alternating chapters, this book has a good ear for authentic teen dialogue, and family relationships.

Recommended grade 8-up; age 13-up. Some PG language, sexual situations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher and my good friend and fellow wannabe writer and fledgling reviewer Leslie Rush offered to review this book for me. Leslie wants to start her own blog and review books for publishers. I encouraged her to try her first review, and this is it! Way to go, Leslie!