Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Every Other Day

read an excerpt here

Every Other Day
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
329 pages

Available December 27, 2011

Satisfying, taut, and gripping this non-stop action paranormal thriller features a feisty teen heroine who is a monster-hunter every other day. On the days she's not slaying demons, Kali D'Angelo is a "normal" teenage girl. Too bad the day she sees a strange tattoo on popular cheerleader Bethany's back, she's in teenage--not monster slayer-- mode. How can Kali defeat the monster who wants to claim Bethany when she is just a weak teenage girl?

Skylar is an elfish goth sidekick who just happens to be a little "psychic"--and a lot feisty and precocious. She and Kali team up with Bethany to defeat the monster and become a teen trio to be reckoned with.

Kali seeks answers to why she is able to defeat monsters--what makes her so special? When her mother becomes part of the enigma, the story goes into teen angst overload and serious midnight page-turning mode.

To find the answers she needs and to save Zev, a voice in her head who is actually "like" her, Kali will risk everything to overthrow the evil corporation that is studying weird science and strange beings like herself. All the clues point to her father's corporation, and Kali needs to find a way in.

Teens will love the gritty and determined Kali who is equally headstrong and funny. Skylar will tug at heartstrings and girls will cheer for her. Readers will love that mean girl Bethany turns over an almost new leaf.

Highly, highly recommmended grades 8-up. Some mature situations, mother is an evil person, vampire and monster violence, lots of gore. The mother's best friend (who is also female) made me think there may be some romance between the two ladies--not overt--but read between the lines.

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Giveaway-Unraveling Isobel--A Ghostly Romance

I have 5 copies of this fantastic new ya novel.

Unraveling Isobel
by Eileen Cook
Simon Pulse
304 pages (according to publisher's website)

Available January 3, 2012 (date from publisher's website)

Read Chapter One here

Clever, creepy, creative, and seductive, Unraveling Isobel is my new favorite ya title. Full of Gothic appeal and details--a creepy, moss-covered mansion fallen into disrepair bulging with dusty antiques hand-crafted by dead ancestors, portraits of said dead ancestors peering down from its ancient walls, a step-father who reeks of disdain and old money, a mother who is so in love with wacktastic step-father that she can't even see what a horse's patooty he is, and a hot and sexy step-brother--all part of Isobel's new life.

Read the rest of my review here

Giveaway opens January 2, 2012 and runs through January 12. Deadline is January 12, 2012 at noon MST.

Post a comment and include your email address and city, state. I like to know where the readers are! I need your email address to notify you in case you win. Winners are chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email on Jan. 12. Please check your email. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email to claim your prize. Books will be shipped from NYC. Thanks, Venessa and Simon & Schuster!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Girl Pick: Forever Four

Forever Four
by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Grosset & Dunlap
208 pages with illustrations
cover not yet available

Available January 19, 2012

Paulina has a great idea! She will enter her middle school's Curriculum Education Program competition with her project. The best project wins funding for the entire year, and her fabulous idea is to create and publish a magazine about girls for girls. The problem is that three other girls want to do a magazine, too. Principal Finley calls all four girls to her office and puts them on a team. She wants the four girls to work together to bring her one cohesive magazine.

The girls are each horrified! Miko is part of the P-Quits --Prom Queens in Training--and she's a fashionista and a brainiac, her hair, clothes and nails are always runway perfect and her grades superior to everyone else. Tally is the drama queen--both figuratively and literally--she stars in all the school's drama productions and over-exaggerates everything. Ivy is the new girl, fresh from New York City with a hot-shot magazine editor mother and uber-trendy East Village vintage clothes, and Paulina who juggles school, a younger brother obsessed with space aliens, cooking dinner, babysitting Kevin, and now her magazine.

How can four individuals--especially girls who never even speak to each other--Miko and Paulina, for example--come together and create a magazine that will excite middle school teens?

There are other teams in the competition out there trying to beat the girls. The girls' softball team is giving them stiff competition, and when they accuse the magazine girls of cheating, the 4girls come up with a unique way of defending themselves and showing the athletes what they're made of.

The girls highlight Pitch In's project and write a story about how girls' sports are often underfunded. Because of their unselfish acts, 4Girls wins the competition and shows the true meaning of sportsmanship.

Recommended grades 5-up. This is a great read for girls and shows that even if they are different, they can work together to produce something great.

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

My Defense for Top Ten Picks 2011

I posted my Best of the Best--Young Adult Titles 2011 here

Many people wondered how I chose the books I did. Here are the reasons why:

Main reason: When I'm reading the book, I know exactly what teen I'm going to recommend it to. For those boys who love to read and have a sense of humor, I knew Notes From the Blender would be a hit. For the zombie fans, Ashes and Dark Inside are solid reads. For girls who like high school angst, Choker and Spoiled come to mind. For girls who like a sweet story, Moonglass fills the bill. For dystopian fans, Wither, Eve, and All These Things I've Done come to mind. For the careful and serious reader, Shine "shines."

Here are 10 more reasons for my picks:

1. If a book is soooooo unique, so different, unlike anything I've read--and it's good storytelling with solid characters, it's in! Notes From the Blender, Choker,Spoiled, and Beauty Queens were all so different and unlike anything else I read all year.

2. If a book is paranormal, it must be a new "take" on the genre or have such amazing characters and be a solid page-turner, it's in! If it makes me forget all about Edward and Jacob, it's in! The Pledge and Wolf Mark make it in!

3. If a book can make me fall in love with something new or something I didn't like before I read the book--like zombies--and I fall in love with the book, it's in! Ashes and Dark Inside made it! Plus, both books had solid storytelling and great female protagonists.

4. If I dream about the book, not once but numerous times, it's clearly got me thinking about it well after reading it! Shine, Ashes, Dark Inside, and Wolf Mark had me dreaming some serious dreams.

5. If I think...hmmmm....what will happen next...if I worry about the characters...if I dream about what happens in the sequel, it's in! Wither, Dark Inside, Ashes, and Eve all had me wanting to get my hands on the sequel.

6. If I am LOST in that dystopian world and forget about 2011 and what is around me, it's in...Wither and Eve were great dystopias.

7. If a book bothers me, tortures me, grosses me out, worries me, takes me out of my comfort zone, makes me want to take action---it's in--Shine fits this category.

8. If a chick lit book is soooooooo sweet with a feisty girl protagonist with a unique teen voice, it's in! Moonglass and My Life Undecided fit here. Spoiled wasn't sweet but the snarky teen voices grabbed me.

9. If the writing is poetic and sings off the page...it's in! Shine "shines" here. Beauty Queens is the most well-written novel I've read in a long time, and Libba Bray is wicked funny and is teens' answer to David Sedaris.

10. If a book has a number of these characteristics, it's in!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

High School Pick: Chopsticks

Watch the video here

by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral
304 pages with illustrations and photos

Available 2/2/12

from the back cover: "A fully interactive electronic version of Chopsticks with music and video will be published simultaneously and sold separately."

Truly unique, this is a novel approach to storytelling, and Chopsticks is a different kind of ya experience--part novel, part photo album, part art portfolio, and part love song, this teen-age love story will tug at the heart-strings.

As the novel opens, we learn that Gloria Fleming is missing. She has walked away from the "hospital" her father placed her in. Television newscasts are having a field day.

Flashback 18 months before: Glory is a musical prodigy--by age fourteen she is playing sold-out shows in New York. Reviewers compare her to piano greats and her father is planning a world tour. Glory misses her mother but puts all her energy and grief into her music until she meets Frank, a new student from Argentina. Suddenly, music and touring are not that important anymore.

Frank is creative and passionate about his art and Glory falls hard for him. When she leaves to tour Europe, Glory has trouble focusing. Suddenly, she can't play the piano anymore. At a concert, she begins playing "Chopsticks"--her and Frank's song--the audience holds its breath. Her father is at first embarrassed, then angry. She is falling apart.

Glory is admitted into a "facility"--Golden Hands Rest Facility is an institution for musical prodigies in New York. Her grasp on reality is frail and Frank continues to try to reach her. When he returns home to Argentina, Glory makes her move.

The reader has to glean clues from the photos, news clippings, Frank's drawings, piano programs, instant messages, and illustrations. The novel ends with Glory missing, and the reader assumes she is on her way to Argentina to see Frank. Did she have a "breakdown" or has the hospital made her crazy? Will she be able to function in the outside world?

My seventeen year old daughter read this novel first and loved it. I read it next and we talked it over. What I thought happened was a very different view of what my daughter thought happened. That's the fun of this novel--teen readers will have very different opinions of Glory--is she crazy? or is the world crazy?

Highly recommended grades 9-up. Mature situations and Frank draws an artistic picture of a nude Gloria--it's more artsy than graphic.

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pamela's Picks: Best YA Titles 2011

Here it is--The Best of the Best Young Adult Novels. I consider each of these a fantastic read and would recommend them for any young adult collection.

Read my review of The Pledge here

Why I picked The Pledge:
So entertaining and I loved the two main characters and the strong female protagonist. Also, it was kind of a fairy tale, romance, and dystopian novel all rolled into one. Great storytelling and the cover will speak to teens.

Read my review of Eve here

Why I picked Eve: Wonderful plot and easy to read. A real page-turner, and as an added bonus, it will be a trilogy. I see it becoming a movie, too! Nice cover art.

read my review of Dark Inside here

Why I picked Dark Inside: Who knew I was a zombie fan? I wasn't before this chilling book. Loved it!

Read my review of Ashes here

Again, who knew I was such a fan of zombies? Just as good as Dark Inside. Loved both books. Ashes will also be a trilogy. Creepy cover will attract lots of readers.

see my review of Wolfmark here

Why I picked Wolfmark: I loved the way Native American myth and legend was interwoven with werewolf lore from Europe. Loved the main character, too!

See my review of Beauty Queens here

Why I picked Beauty Queens: Libba Bray has a wicked sense of humor and there's nothing funnier than a bunch of beauty queen divas stuck on a deserted island! Eye-catching cover will sell teens.

See my review of Wither here

Why I picked Wither: The idea of people only living into their twenties and girls being used as "breeders" is interesting. Great dystopia. Another trilogy. Beautiful cover also.

See my review of Shine here

Why I picked Shine: Such a departure novel from the girly TTFN and other girly books by Myracle. Shine is a book that matters!

See my review of Notes From the Blender here

Why I picked Notes From the Blender: Hysterical, need I say more?

See my review of Choker here

Why I picked Choker here: Great plot and unexpected twists. Cool. Great storytelling.

See my review of Spoiled here

Why I picked Spoiled: Sister drama and fashionista, spoiled brat Hollywood celebutante fun! The authors make fun of reality stars, too! Cover is sure to appeal to the fashionista in all of us!

Too good to miss---These are books I loved, but I could only pick the Top Ten--these are close contenders:

See my review of My Life Undecided here

Why I picked My Life Undecided: I liked the idea of the main character using her blog to make her life decisions. Great fun!

See my review of All These Things I've Done here

Why I picked All These Things I've Done: I loved the idea of the mafia and organized crime dealing chocolate as a commodity. Loved the dystopian New York City.

see my review of Moonglass here

Why I picked Moonglass: Loved the feel of this book. Story was great and poignant. Beautifully told. The cover art is the most beautiful cover of the year.

High School Pick: Fix Me

Fix Me
by Rune Michaels
160 pages (page count from publisher's website; my copy had 149 pages)

Complex, chilling, cutting, and caustic, Fix Me is Rune Michaels' latest ya novel. This time, the characters are disturbing as well as disturbed. Leia's mother and step-father die in a car accident and she and her abusive brother live in their home with their aunt as the guardian. There is no love lost in their twisted and tormented relationship. Aunt Phoebe is cruel and mouthy, Brian is controlling and sadistic, and both Brian and Leia turn to cutting for pain relief.

When her world starts crashing in, Leia turns to the only place she can feel safe, the zoo. It is a sanctuary for abused animals after all, and it is among the animals she feels safest. She stays at the zoo all day, hiding out at lock-up time and finding an old, empty tiger cage to sleep in. Never mind the fact that Brian and Aunt Phoebe are probably looking for her; Leia knows they aren't really too worried.

The zoo owner's son Kyle offers Leia a place to shower and sleep and gets her fruit and food to eat. He tells her she can stay there at night if she'll help him out feeding the animals and cleaning their cages. Leia loves the elephants and doesn't mind the hard work. Then Tina arrives. She is a traumatized chimp who suffered from human abusers. She can't be put with other chimps and she can't be left in the wild. Leia decides that Tina will be her project--they have much in common.

Leia stops cutting for awhile but then is triggered by a stranger's presence. In a disturbing flashback, the reader learns the true depth of cruelty and shocking abuse Leia has had to live with. In the end, Leia faces her demons and ruinous past and begins the painful process of healing. The reader is left with a feeling of timorous hope.

This is not a "feel good" read; however, it is compelling and well-written and a solid page turner. Teens who like "problem" novels with grit will like Fix Me.

Recommended for high school collections grades 9-up. Mature situations, child abuse, sexual abuse, violence, cutting. Not for middle school.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

High School Pick: Burnout

by Adreinne Maria Vrettos
McElderry Books
193 pages

click here to read an excerpt

Caustic, cutting, creepy, and dangerous, yet achingly poignant, Burnout is the 21st century's Go Ask Alice.

It's the day after Halloween, and Nan wakes up in a subway car--disheveled and dirty, hungover and ill, with no memory of how she got there, where she's been, or why she's wearing a plastic dress a couple of sizes smaller than she is. A subway worker helps her up and loans her his jacket and offers to call for help, but before the police can arrive, Nan is on the run. Whatever happened, she can't talk to the police. They will think she's a runaway or an addict and take her into custody. She's been clean for months, but now Nan feels like she's been drugged.

The only way she can find out what happened to her is to retrace her steps from the night before. Her memory begins coming back in bits and pieces and she realizes that she's the lucky one. She is still alive, but where is her friend Seemy?

The book is written in jumps and starts, skipping over information and then throwing in bits and pieces to emulate the way Nan is processing information and remembering things. This is at first a bit jarring, then the reader is able to appreciate the author's craft. A quick read for reluctant readers and a sure page turner, this novel is easily read in one sitting.

Recommended for grades 9-up. Drugs, mature situations, alcohol, drug rehab.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ghostly Pick: Unraveling Isobel--A Must-Read

Unraveling Isobel
by Eileen Cook
Simon Pulse
304 pages (according to publisher's website)

Available January 3, 2012 (date from publisher's website)

Read Chapter One here

Clever, creepy, creative, and seductive, Unraveling Isobel is my new favorite ya title. Full of Gothic appeal and details--a creepy, moss-covered mansion fallen into disrepair bulging with dusty antiques hand-crafted by dead ancestors, portraits of said dead ancestors peering down from its ancient walls, a step-father who reeks of disdain and old money, a mother who is so in love with wacktastic step-father that she can't even see what a horse's patooty he is, and a hot and sexy step-brother--all part of Isobel's new life.

Her mother met Richard, the new step-father, on the Internet and married him after only three months of dating. She moves Isobel to a small island off the coast of Washington state--it's Isobel's senior year and she can't believe how ignorant and self-serving her mother is acting. She doesn't care that Isobel has to leave her home, her school, and all her friends. She wants only her own happiness with not a care for her daughter.

Weird things happen the first night at the mansion. A ghost of a child appears to Isobel and she finds a puddle of sea water on the window seat of her room with a bit of slimy seaweed. Isobel knows that Richard's first wife and young daughter drowned last year. She suspects that Evie is trying to reach out to her, but can't figure out what the child-ghost is trying to tell her. Isobel enlists the help of Nathaniel, her hot step-brother. Soon, there's passionate and scintillating sparks whenever they're together.

At school, mean, but popular girl, Nicole befriends Isobel--but she has an ulterior motive. By being friends with Isobel, she gets to see Nathaniel--who she has had her eyes on for some time.

Evie appears to Isobel and Isobel really isn't afraid of her--she's more afraid that she may be going a little crazy; her dad suffers from schizophrenia, after all. She knows that it is an genetic disorder and can sometimes be passed on to the next generation. Is Evie for real, or is Isobel "losing" it?

Isobel visits the library to get some answers about the girl's drowning and befriends one of the librarians, Mandy. She helps Isobel find articles about the mansion and tells her about two girls who vanished there some years ago. They were never found, but Isobel discovers their secrets.

Unraveling Isobel is delightful gothic romance. Isobel has a great teenage voice dripping with sarcasm, hyperbole, and funny metaphors. It is a clever ghost story--as enthralling as it is entertaining. I was spellbound and speechless when Mandy's true identity becomes known! This is a must read for fans of gothic romance, ghost stories, and anyone who enjoys a vulnerable, yet strong, heroine.

There are two things I have some trouble with: One is the depiction of the older librarian--so typical of the old-school librarian--nearly Nazi-like behavior and demeanor--an old lady who likes things tidy and silent. We all know today's librarians are much more fun (if I do say so myself). Secondly, the cover does not have much teen appeal. Girls may not pick up this book unless they hear about if from a friend or a blog.

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Some language, some kissing. Isobel call's her new step-dad "Dick" since his name is Richard and he truly lives up to his nickname. Isobel knows her mother and new step-father are having a passionate romance, but she can't stomach imagining her own mother ever having sex. Pretty funny stuff-sheer teen-age angst.

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nobel Genes: Now out in paperback!

Nobel Genes
by Rune Michaels
Atheneum (Simon & Schuster)
181 pages

Now out in paperback, this novel is sure to please readers who love a quick-paced plot and taut suspense. See earlier review of the novel (hard back) here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Giveaway--The Pledge--A Must-Read!

I have 5 copies of this fantastic new novel! You don't want to miss this one! It is a MUST READ! I just LOVED LOVED LOVED it! Highly, highly recommended! See my review here

Simply post a comment here and be sure and include your email contact information. Please put your city and state, too, as I love to see where followers/entrants are from. I would love any input you have about the blog, the giveaways, and the reviews.

Deadline is December 15th at noon MST. Winners will be chosen by Randomizer and notified the afternoon of the 15th. Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing addresses. If they do not respond within that time, the next number chosen by Randomizer will win. Books will ship from Simon & Schuster, NYC. Thanks, Venessa!

Good luck, and start posting now!

Mystery/Thriller Pick: The Pineville Heist

The Pineville Heist
by Lee Chambers
MISFP Publishing
193 pages

watch the trailer here

Well-written and thrilling, this little page-turner will keep readers guessing who the bad guys are and who can you really trust. When the Pineville Bank is robbed, Aaron Stevens is accidently in the wrong place at the wrong time. He witnesses the thieves hiding the money and one thief turning on another and a murder!

He runs to the only safe place he can think of: his high school. Too bad the bad guys know where he is. He confides in his drama teacher, Amanda Becker, and together they try to outsmart and outrun the bad guys.

With plot twists and turns, evil thieves, back-stabbing characters, a surprise ending, and a breakneck pace, this book will score with reluctant readers and mystery lovers alike. Readers will empathize with Aaron and cheer when he triumphs. When his millionaire father finally shows some fatherly interest in him, Aaron basks in the moment.

Author Lee Chambers is a well-known writer and producer, and this is his debut novel in ya lit. I'd say he's found a new niche.

Recommended grades 7-up. No sex.

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

Top 15 Groundbreaking YA Books That Have Movies

The Huffington Post has a nice slide show with videos from Youtube of each title: Featured is Hugo--from The Invention of Hugo Cabret (movie out just in time for Christmas!)

See the top 15 YA books that have feature films here

See the trailer for Hugo here

Edublog Awards

Edublog is awarding Best Blog Awards. It is open until tomorrow, Dec. 2
Nominate an educational blog and recognize your collegues. It has a library category!

Click here to nominate