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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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fantasy Pick: The Wizard of Dark Street

The Wizard of Dark Street
by Shawn Thomas Odyssey
346 pages

See videos here

Magical, mysterious, and delighful, The Wizard of Dark Street is a captivating read. For those readers who enjoyed Harry Potter and other wizarding books, Oona Crate is an appealing new wizard--but one who doesn't want to use magic. Oona, you see, would give it all up to be a detective and use her brains, her powers of deduction (nod to Sherlock Holmes), and clues to solve mysteries. Her uncle, the current Wizard of Dark Street, finally prints an ad in The New York Times for a new apprentice, since it appears his neice will never be able to take over his role.

Dark Street is a magical world the reader will fall in love with. A world just inside New York City yet invisible to most non-magical folk. The gates to the street only open for one minute each night at the stroke of midnight. Most children are fast asleep in their beds at that hour, and most adults would miss that minute. Even if they thought they saw something out of the corner of their eye, upon a second glance perhaps the gate would already close, and they'd think their eyes had played tricks on them.

Dark Street has always existed, "In one form or another it had always been there, a bridge between the fantastic and the ordinary, between magic and reason, between the Land of the Fay and the city that never sleeps."

Oona makes it her business to discover who stole all the designer dresses from Madame Iree's dress shop. The hopelessly bungling police detective Inspector White is laughable, and he sure doesn't want a little girl upstaging him, even if she is the neice of the reigning Wizard.

When her own uncle goes missing, Oona uses her wits and the help of her magical pet raven Deacon, an enchanted know-it-all who holds encyclopedic information about the history of the enchanted world and all its inhabitants, to solve the mystery.

Mystery fans and fans of magic will love the fantastic world of Dark Street. Strange characters abound along with skullduggery. The beautiful cover art will draw readers in, and the author's website is fantastic! check it out here

Recommended grades 5-up. Good readers grade 4 may want to give it a try.

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

Book Giveaway: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

I have 5 copies of this fantastic new MUST READ up for grabs! Recommended grades 6-up; good readers grade 4 and 5 may want to tackle this fantastic read! Well-written and imaginative. See my review here

Simply post a comment here. Be sure and include your email contact so I can email you should you win. Also, I would like to know your city and state just to see who's out there! Contest opens NOW, November 30 and closes Dec. 15 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen at random by randomizer. I will email winners on December 15. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email. If I do not hear from you within 48 hours, I must give the copy to the next person chosen by randomizer.

Start posting now, and good luck!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chick Pick: Paradise

by Jill S. Alexander
Feiwel and Friends (MacMillan)
248 pages

This is the second novel for Jill S. Alexander. Her first, The Sweetheart of Prosper County, was a 2010 Texas Lone Star title. Her refreshing characters, witty dialog, strange and quirky surroundings, small town angst, Texas-isms, and memorable details make Paradise a great southern gothic read.

Paisley is the youngest daughter of Texas-born-and-bred-and-damn-proud-of-it mother Diane Tillery, a wannabe Martha Stewart with an attitude as big as the state of Texas itself. Diane has big plans for daughters Paisley and older sister Lacey--no small town marriages for them, no sir. These girls are going somewhere! They won't be stuck in the middle of nowhere married to some redneck cowboy loser.

The girls, of course, have no intention of following Mother's careful planning. Lacey wants to go to beauty school and get a business degree to help her manage her own salon. Paisley, in true, spunky cowgirl Texas fashion, is the drummer for a country rock band. She is weeks away from hitting the big time at the Texapalooza festival in Austin where all the bands play and some even get "discovered" by talent agents from Nashville, L.A., and New York.

Enter Gabe. He's new to town from Paradise, Texas, and answers the band's ad for a singer. Not only does he sing, he plays a mean accordian--yep, the old-timey accordian but with a hep-cat attitude and mean cowboy rocker finesse. Paisley is instantly smitten. Too bad she never knows that Cal, the guitarist, is infatuated with her. Cal writes song lyrics--included in the book--about being in love with Paisley and the heartache he feels when she latches onto Gabe--now known as Paradise to all the band members.

Uncle L.V. flies a couple of small planes, and the band uses his hangar for band practice. I truly expected him to be a drug runner--he seemed silent, brooding, and plotting, but he never turned out to be the drug kingpin I thought he would be.

Lacey and Paisley sneak around and their father helps cover for them. At Texapalooza, the band blows the doors off the competition and stars are born. The surprise ending was unexpected and poignant.

Girls will love Paisley and her cowgirl swagger and likely be enthralled by Paradise with his dark good looks and rock star demeanor.

The cover left a lot to be desired. The cover art is ho-hum at best, and the back cover has two quotes about the earlier book--The Sweetheart of Prosper County--but no information about Paradise. The publishing company dropped the ball on packaging this gem of a story. Girls will not likely choose this book themselves--due to the cover and back cover quotes. They will miss out if they pass this one up.

Recommended grades 9-up. Sexual innuendo, mature situations, lying, sneaking around, alcohol, partying, some good old boy situations--ya'll know what I'm talking about, wink.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chick Pick: The Pledge--A Must-Read

The Pledge
by Kimberly Dertin
Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster)
323 pages

Part fairy tale, part romance, part paranormal, The Pledge is well-written, satisfying, and sensational! Words simply cannot do this remarkable novel justice! I was hooked from the first words of the prologue.

In a world where the class lines are clearly enforced--the lower classes speak one language, the upper class another, the royalty--a language only they can understand, but Charlaina can understand and speak them all. She must keep it a secret; however, for the safety of her family and herself. She must avert her eyes and show no sign she understands the bullying of the richer Counsel students--her own merchant class is subservient and poor. They are allowed to attend a different school only because they must read and write in order to do business.

The Queen has control--but her grip is slipping. There is talk every day of rebel forces fighting and a revolutionary band of forces forming to topple the Queen's stifling regime. They want people to be free--free to speak whatever language they wish, free to attend school, free to learn and grow and to achieve higher class status. The Queen is ancient and her magic is growing weaker. She needs a younger pureblood to inhabit. She would be able to live on in a younger body, but there is no one. Or is there?

Charlie meets Max, a dangerous and dark bad boy, who causes her to have strange feelings. The tension between them is palpable; girls will love the seductive tension. When Charlie is taken "prisoner" by the rebels, she grows closer to Alex, their leader. She is confused how Max and Alex know each other. Then, her parents are taken to the castle by the Queen's forces and Charlie learns that Aron, her childhood friend, has been tortured at the castle and hangs on for dear life.

Alex, Max, and Charlie join forces to meet the Queen and save her parents and Aron. The Queen has other ideas entirely. Will Charlie's "gift" be enough to save her? Can the Queen use her magic one last time?

Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up. Max is a great new sexy addition to ya romantic lit--Edward and Jacob, you are so over! Teens will love the enticing cover and the quote on the back cover from Carrie Ryan (author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth) is reason enough to give this book a try.

There is a mention near the end that Charlie and Max are now sleeping together but no mention of sex. No language. If you have The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Hunger Games, and Twilight, this novel is a good addition to your collection.

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Giveaway: Coming Soon! Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Coming Soon! Book Giveaway Opens November 30-December 15. I have 5 copies of this magical novel up for grabs! Keep posted here. I will post the giveaway November 30. After that, you can enter for a chance at a copy of this fabulous books. Read my review here

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Girl Pick: The Survival Kit

The Survival Kit
by Donna Freitas
Frances Foster Books (Farrar Straus Giroux)
351 pages

Poignant, deeply moving, and amazing, The Survival Kit will tug at your heartstrings. Fans of Sarah Dessen books will relish this captivating novel about grief, loss, and love.

It is the day of Rose's mother's funeral, and it is all Rose can do to keep it together. She finally retreats to her mother's closet just to feel close to her again, to smell her perfume on her clothes, to see familiar dresses and hold her soft sweaters. It's then that Rose sees the brown paper bag and the dress made of night, her mother's favorite dress sprinkled with sparkling stars that she would wear to sit in the garden on beautiful summer nights. Rose lifts the bag down and sees it's one of her mother's survival kits but this one is "Rose's Survival Kit". Her mother, in her final days, has given Rose one last gift.

The bag contains: an IPod, a picture of peonies, a crystal heart, a paper star, a box of crayons, and a handmade kite. Rose doesn't open the bag right away; she just can't. She is grieving and quits the cheerleading team. She distances herself from her boyfriend of two years, popular football star Chris. They used to be THE couple, but she can't stand it when he touches her now. She doesn't want closeness. Rose can't listen to music anymore. Each song reminds her of her mother. She won't hang around with her old friends and she won't attend parties.

Rose is not the only one grieving. Rose's father is having a hard time, too. When he's not weeping, he's drinking. Rose's brother Jim is away at college and comes home only for the holidays. As Rose gets more and more distant, she finally opens the survival kit. The first thing she sees is the small kite--the kite is a symbol for letting go but just keeping close enough, too. Rose's mother used to hand out Kindergarten Survival Kits--not to the kids--to the kids' parents. So many of the parents were terrified of letting go of the children--the kite helped them see that their kids could fly high but always come home.

Rose's best friend Krupa gets her to finally agree to attend a hockey game--well, not the whole hockey game, just until after Krupa performs the national anthem, and then Krupa and Rose agree to leave. Rose accompanies her and sees some of the cheerleaders in the stands. She talks to them and is soon enjoying the game. She is having a good time for the first time in months. Will is the star of the team; he is a boy who cuts their lawn and carefully tends to her mother's manicured garden. She has never really spoken to Will--he's never noticed her either as far as she knows. Will's father died of cancer two years ago. Now they have something in common--the loss of a parent to cancer.

Can the loss of a beloved parent ever be overcome? Can sharing a loss lead to friendship--or maybe love?

Rose opens the survival kit and sees the picture of peonies. She asks Will to help her plant some peonies in her mother's garden. Come spring, there will be a bed of peonies to greet them.

As Rose begins healing and surviving, her father has a car accident and ends up in the hospital. She has to face going back to the place with all those bad memories. She asks Will for a ride to the hospital, but he appears to be in shock. He can't move. Why won't he offer her a ride?

I loved the idea of a survival kit. There would be many kinds--a survival kit for the first day of high school, the first day of college, moving into a new home, the first baby, the first job, moving away from home, going on a big trip, any big life experience could be cushioned by a survival kit.

If there is one thing I didn't like about the book--the cover art is not appealing--I would have liked a little about the book on the back cover as well. The book is so well-written with the beautiful, yet tortured, characters of Rose and Will that the cover just doesn't do it any justice at all. Do not judge this book by its cover--the story is amazing--ignore the cover.

Highly recommended grades 9-up and readers who love Sarah Dessen. Mature situations, alcoholism, grief, death, sex.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Bloodlines

by Richelle Mead
RazorBill (Penguin)
432 pages

Read the first four chapters and see the book trailer here

First in the Bloodlines series, this spin-off of The Vampire Academy is sure to be a hit with teens. If you haven't read the Vampire Academy books, get started right away. Although you can still read Bloodlines without reading the previous series, you may not understand the back story of Rose and Sydney.

Sydney is a human teenager who has been raised to be an alchemist, a group of humans who practice magic and alchemy to protect the human world and vampires who live in the human world. Humans must never learn that vampires live freely among them, and the alchemists protect their secrets.

When Sydney is rudely awakened and dragged from her bed, she knows something terrible has happened. She learns that she has been chosen to travel to California and pretend to be Jill Dragomir's sister, keeping Jill, younger sister of the vampire Queen, safe from both Moroi and Strigoi, those who would kill her. Sydney and Jill enter Amberwood Prep, a private boarding school in California.

Sydney bears the mark of the alchemists--a golden tattoo that gives her healing and magic powers. When students at Amberwood Prep start turning up with strange tattoos of their own, Sydney and Adrian investigate. It seems that they have more to fear than their own kind, there's a band of vampire hunters infiltrating the town and they seem to have Amberwood Prep on their minds. Noone is safe anymore.

It's easy for the reader to lose herself in the world of vampires and alchemists. Sydney is uptight and tight-lipped, controlling and scientific, cautious and quiet, but there's also a dangerous side to her that is appealing. Adrian is a great vampire party boy who scores high in the bad boy category and will keep girls reading.

Recommended for paranormal readers and those who loved The Vampire Academy books. The publisher says ages 12 and up, but I would caution younger readers.

Grades 9-up and mature younger readers. Violence, some sexual innuendo.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Funny Pick: Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, book 6)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
by Jeff Kinney
217 pages
Available everywhere November 15, 2011

Creative, amusing, silly, and just plain fun, Jeff Kinney's latest book in the series is a must-have. Just in time for Christmas, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever will delight any reader no matter what age. Charles Schultz did it with Charlie Brown and Peanuts, now Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid, aka Greg Heffley, and his shenanigans have taken over the reading market. This series is not just for children or boys, it is a gem with enjoyable characters, humorous situations, comical illustrations, and a lot of heart. The wimpy kid appeals to the wimpy kid in all of us.

Every kid has tried to figure out what gifts he/she is getting for Christmas, even unwrapping and rewrapping his own gifts, but probably none have gone to the trouble that Greg does. He knows one of his gifts is the video game he's been wanting to play, so he carefully extracts the disc replacing it with a hard rock cd from his brother Rodrick. He forgets to put it back and come Christmas morning, the cd rolls out of the case. Greg's mom is upset because the store sold her a Headless Asylum cd instead of a game fit for children. Greg's mom takes the cd back and complains of the "inappropriate content" being sold to minors. Of course, Greg does not admit that he switched the discs.

Kinney has his eyes and ears on the school pulse, too. Bullying and anti-bullying programs are getting a lot of attention in schools. When Greg's school holds a contest for the best anti-bullying slogan, two groups of girls come to physical blows over which group has the best anti-bullying slogan. If that's not hilariously ironic, nothing is!

Greg isn't the only one in the family who does sneaky things. His mother gives him an autographed copy of a ya novel. When Greg takes it to the comics books dealer, the dealer tells him the signature is forged. It seems Mom didn't want to stand in line for three hours, so she just signed the author's name herself and passed it off as autographed by the author.

The wimpy kid is not going anywhere. He lives on in all of us, and Kinney has found a way of making us laugh at ourselves and remember all the nutty things we did as kids. Some of us will never outgrow wimpy kid, and that's a good thing.

Highly, highly recommended for everyone of all ages--especially those with a sense of humor.

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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Giveaway: Dystopian Romance: Eve

I have ONE, yes only one, SIGNED copy to give away of this exciting new paranormal romance.
See my review of Eve here

Post a comment here. Include your email contact and your city and state. The winner will be chosen at random by randomizer. The winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond. Anna Carey will sign and ship the winner her/his copy. Deadline is Friday, November 18 at noon MST!
Hurry and post! Good luck! Pamela

Book Giveaway: Dark Inside

I have 5 copies of this exciting new thriller to give away! See my review of Dark Inside here.

Exciting zombie thriller!
Post a comment. Include your email address and city and state. Winners will be notified by email. If you are a winner, you will have 48 hours to respond to my email with your full name and mailing address. Books will ship from New York City courtesy of Simon & Schuster. Winners picked by randomizer.

Deadline for posts is November 30, 2011.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Heard It Here First: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Watch the book trailer here

My review will post on November 15 at 12:01 a.m. Watch for my review! It's gonna be great!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (book six)
Available everywhere 11/15/11

Magical Pick: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes--A Must-Read

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
by Jonathan Auxier
400 pages

Visit The Scop, the author's website

Beguiling, mesmerizing, totally transporting, and inventive, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is a quick-paced, intelligent novel in the capable hands of a master storyteller. Auxier deftly blends fantasy and obscure and strange words from bygone days with a substantial plot.

Peter Nimble is a ten-year old blind orphan raised to be a master thief and pick-pocket. He happens upon a traveling haberdasher (hat salesman) and steals a box which he later discovers holds three pairs of magical eyes. When he puts on the first pair, he is transported to another world entirely where he learns his quest: to rescue a long vanished kingdom from a horrible, evil king who just so happens to be an imposter to the throne. With his "enchanted cat-horse-man creature" sidekick, Peter ventures off on his journey.

From the fantastic cover to the imaginative chapter titles, this novel shows a writing finesse not seen since the Harry Potter series. From utter absurdities to the well-imagined characters, this novel gives a wink and a nod to Charles Dickens. Auxier is a true scop (the title of his website)--a scop is a storyteller or minstrel.

Readers who loved Harry Potter are in for a real treat. Peter Nimble is a feast for the eyes and imagination sure to have readers chuckling to themselves.

Highly, highly recommended ages 10-up. Publisher recommends ages 10-up, but the younger readers may have some trouble unless they are accomplished readers.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thrilling Pick: Trash

by Andy Mulligan
David Fickling Books
240 pages

Soon to be a thrilling movie!

Set in the future a few years from now, two dumpsite boys find a treasure in the mountains of garbage they sift through on a daily basis. Raphael and and Gardo live in severe poverty, part of the dump itself. They rarely have enough to eat, they live in large families with four or five children to a bed, they go to school only once in a while, and disease and sickness surround them. The government is corrupt and the police are brutal and on the take.

When what seems like the entire police force shows up at the dump, Raphael knows he did the right thing by hiding his treasure. They offer a huge reward, and he realizes that there is more to what he found than just a note, a key, a map, and some money. The two boys seek out Rat, another dumpsite boy who lives under a pile deep in the garbage, and he helps them with the mystery.

The boys realize that the man whose wallet they found is dead--no doubt murdered by the police. Why do the police want his wallet so badly? Who was this man? It is said he stole millions of dollars from the Senator. Is that why the police will stop at nothing to find out who found the wallet? What does the key open? What about the cryptic letter and mysterious map?

Raphael is taken in, questioned, beaten, and finally released when the police can't "break" him. Three uneducated boys will take on the entire corrupt system. They enlist the help of a British social worker and the priest who runs their school. Gardo visits a prisoner who tells them about a secret Bible code. The boys--remember uneducated boys---break the code and beat the system.

The fast-paced plot is told in chapters by each boy, the social worker, the priest, and a gravestone maker. This thrilling page turner will likely dominate the box office.

Recommended grade 7-up. No sex, some violence, police brutality, murder.

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

Book Club & Foodie Pick: 52 Loaves

52 Loaves
by William Alexander
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
339 pages with recipes and bibliography

Laugh out loud funny, seriously entertaining, almost overly informative--I did not know anything about threshing wheat until William Alexander explained it pain-stakingly for me--this food-for-thought journey of one introspective, insanely driven, nearly crazy man to bake the "perfect" loaf of bread sustains the reader. I was sorry when his journey ended and I turned the last page.

When Alexander tastes the perfect bread in a restaurant, he sets out to find how to bake the perfect loaf from scratch--I do mean scratch--he wants to plant his own seeds, harvest his own wheat, make his own flour, build his own bread oven--he wants to "return to the earth"--this is a serious labor.

He decides to tweak the "perfect" recipe and does a mountain of research, buying the best books about bread and seeking out bakers who live on the east coast. He even enters a bread contest in New York. Still not satisfied, he travels to Paris and enrolls in the hoity-toity French school Ecole Ritz Escoffier. He ventures to Morroco where he almost dies and ends up in a monastery in Normandy where he instructs monks to use their centuries old oven to begin baking the monastery's bread.

Each chapter tells that week's successes and mostly--failures. To sum up, Alexander tells the reader what he's learned in his year-long experiment:

"--Bread in a healthy diet doesn't make you fat.
--Too much bread, washed down with wine, does.
...Do not untake any project that promises it can be completed in a week-end.
--Do not drink the water in Morroco. Or the tea, or the coffee. In fact, you might think about skipping Morroco altogether. I hear Barbados is nice this time of year.
--Trust strangers. Well, some. Only those you can trust.
--Choose one thing you care about and resolve to do it well.
--Whether you succeed or not, you will be the better for the effort.
--Bread is life." (from the novel)

I could almost smell the aroma of baking bread as Alexander described each week's offering. Well-written prose almost sings off the pages. Alexander has the knack of mixing his memoirs with hysterical, often biting, humor that targets mostly himself. This is a great Christmas gift for book lovers who also happen to love food or for that "closet" wanna-be baker.

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up and serious food junkies. This is a great book club pick for all kinds of book clubs.

Only one mature situation--Alexander gives up sex with his wife because he's worried about timing the yeast rising in his latest batch of dough.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Paranormal Pick: The Mephisto Covenant & Book Giveaway!

The Mephisto Covenant (win a free copy here)
by Trinity Faegen
438 pages

Sexy, smoldering, scintillating, and smoking hot, The Mephisto Covenant is the new, beguiling, solid page turner for teens who eat up paranormal romance. The cover art is as dynamic as it is beautifully mesmerizing, and the quote from P.C. Cast says it all, "A timeless love story with unique mythology that captivates the imagination. I loved it."

From the first hundred pages, readers will be captivated by the complex plot rife with mythology, theology based fiction, and a story that unfolds quickly. Sasha grieves for her murdered father and so badly wants answers about his death she is willing to do anything, well, almost anything. When she agrees to meet in an abandoned warehouse with a creepy group of school kids, she hears of a leader named Eryx who can find answers for her if she'll agree to be one of his followers and call herself a Raven. Sasha realizes the crazy cult behavior too late and finds herself in real danger. The kids turn on her and pelt her with stones; she falls down and is nearly killed if it weren't for a tall, dark and handsome stranger. He stops time--somehow--and heals her wounds. Then Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome erases her memory and Sasha wakes up to find herself alone in the warehouse with no injuries and no memories of the fateful events.

When she arrives home, her mother is packing. Sasha learns that her father and mother aren't who she thinks they are. Sasha's father was a CIA agent in Europe when he was murdered. Her mother is a kind of double agent working with America, but now she is being deported since her husband died. Sasha must go and live with her uncle and her evil, mean-spirited aunt in Telluride, Colorado--which just so happens to be home of Jax (Ajax--Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome himself) and his band of brothers from Hell. The funniest line Jax himself says, "We don't live in Hell. We live in Colorado."

Sasha meets him again, of course, and realizes she remembers him. Her memory is coming back and she knows he was there that night in the warehouse and that he saved her life. As she learns more about him, she realizes that she is Anabo, a daughter of Eve through Aurora, destined to save humanity. Jax, on the other hand, is Mephisto, a son of Hell. If Jax can find Anabo, they can unite and have children that will save the earth from the malevolent Eryx--the evil son of Satan. It is all very complicated and sometimes hard to follow--yet darkly fascinating.

Sasha is fierce and daring though sometimes naive. Jax is captivating, protective, sweet and I found myself liking the son of Hell more than I thought I could; he is hard to hate. This is an imaginative and enticing tale of sinful romance that girls will find hard to put down. Even at over 400 pages, the book is a quick read with an action-packed plot.

Lustful sex, seductive scenes, lots of trashy talk, not for younger girls.
Recommended grades 10-up mature readers. This isn't for tweens and Twi-hards.

Don't forget to enter the contest to win your free copy here

FTC required disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. The publisher will mail out copies of the book to the winners. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fun Pick: Just Your Average Princess

Just Your Average Princess
by Kristina Springer
Farrar Straus Giroux
197 pages

Just Your Average Princess is a delighful romp in America's heartland where small towns hold quirky festivals in which the whole town populace gathers to watch a parade complete with a coronation float and a princess who holds the title of Pumpkin Princess or Potato Princess or Sweet Pea Sweetheart.

amie Edwards dreams of the crown of Pumpkin Princess; after all, she has worked the past eight years alongside her parents at the Pumpkin Patch, her family's business. Not only do they sell pumpkins, there are hayrides and a petting zoo for the kids, a candy apple stand, a pumpkin chucker where you can see how far you can launch a pumpkin with a contraption Jamie's father created, a gift shop, and a pumpkin tower.

Jamie has been crushing over Danny for two years. He works at the Patch but barely notices her. He is nice enough but Jamie wants him to ask her out. It is not until her rich Hollywood Kardashian-wanna-be celebutante cousin arrives in town that the real fireworks start.

Milan is the pampered, bratty diva daughter of Hollywood royalty; both her mother and father a mega-stars in Hollywood, and their only daughter spends her time shopping on Rodeo Drive and complaining about everything and everyone else. Jamie thinks it's suspect that Milan arrives during the school year--doesn't she have to attend school in Beverly Hills? When her parents put Milan to work at the Patch, she parades around in barely there size one outfits and high heels. She does as little work as humanly possible and starts grabbing lunch with Danny.

Milan acts like a haughty queen around Jamie constantly belittling her and making her look bad. Jamie can't believe it--she has been nothing but nice and accomodating with Milan. Why is Milan so mean-spirited and snarky?

First her mom, then her co-workers, then her hot crush Danny, and finally her usually conservative and quiet dad falls under Milan's magical spell. Dad allows Milan to buy a fancy latte machine and serve pumpkin lattes to the tourists. Then he stocks a fancy pumpkin facial that Milan gushes about in the gift shop, but the last straw is when Milan enters the Pumpkin Princess contest. Jamie can't stand it--that crown is hers!

What can she do to grab the crown? How can she make Danny notice her long enough to ask her out? Why can't her parents treat her as nicely as they treat Milan? Is the whole town crazy? Jamie knows she has to work to win that coveted crown--and fast.

Fun, cute, quirky, and highly entertaining, Just Your Average Princess is a light read that teen girls will love. Girls who read and liked The Teashop Girls, The Cupcake Queen, The Sweetest Thing, and It's Raining Cupcakes will like this novel.

Highly recommended grades 7-up. No sex. Mean girls behavior--Milan. Mention of Milan making a sex tape but no details. Girls hear worse gossip on Entertainment Tonight than in this novel.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Girl Pick: Past Perfect

Past Perfect
by Leila Sales
Simon Pulse
303 pages

Fun, quirky, and captivating Past Perfect is the latest from Leila Sales author of Mostly Mean Girls.

Chelsea has dreams of escaping her parents constant attentions and working with them in Essex Revolutionary War re-enactment village again this summer. She wants to work in the air-conditioned mall like a "normal" teen not dress in heavy, 10 pound dresses complete with petticoats and a mobcap (a weird droopy bonnet women used to wear) in the stifling summer humidity of Essex, Virginia. When her BFF Fiona convinces her to work in the village just one more summer, Chelsea gives in. She soon realizes that the only thing worse than wearing 10 pound dresses, enduring the summer heat, and working with her parents is working with her ex-boyfriend Ezra, the ONE who broke her heart.

Just across the street from the Revolutionary War village is yet another historical tourist attraction: the Civil War village. There is a heated battle between the summer hires each year for supremacy. The kids call it "war" and it involves mostly harmless and funny pranks, but when Chelsea's general is "wounded" and several of the Civil War's team is hospitalized, the war is really on! Chelsea is kidnapped by a boy on the other team, and she soon finds herself falling for him. This is treason! This is not acceptable!

The clever banter between Chelsea and her friend Fiona and Chelsea and hottie "enemy" Dan is charming. When Fiona wants to work in the village, Chelsea says, "Since she seemed to envision it as a constant Gone With the Wind experience, minus the death and destruction."

Chelsea switches "tribes" and soon finds herself without a "country." Later, Chelsea thinks over her dating relationship with ex-BF Ezra and realizes that he was the one who treated her poorly and she was guilty of allowing him to treat her so badly and she is finally ready to move on.

Brilliant teen dialog, a darling, spunky heroine, a quirky setting, and a hot guy will keep teen girls reading. Some kissing and light petting. No sex. Some talk about "doing it" and a couple of "bad" words.

Recommended grade 9-up because of light petting, language. It would probably be okay for grade 7-8 if you have other edgy titles.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chick Pick: The Poison Diaries: Nightshade

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade
by Maryrose Wood
Balzer + Brey (HarperCollins)
288 pages

available October 25, 2011
enter the world of Nightshade

Stunning, magical, and other-worldly, Nightshade envelops readers in its deadly atmosphere. I was immediately swept away and captivated by the character of Jessamine and the premise of the novel. Master storyteller Maryrose Wood weaves a believable tale of a boy who can communicate with all flora--plants, trees, and even weeds--his name is Weed, in fact. He studies with a noted plant expert in Northumberland during the reign of George II. The teacher has a few dark secrets: his passion is poisons and dark plants; in fact, he has even tested poisons on his own lovely wife and unborn child some years ago. He keeps a secret, evil, poison garden behind a locked gate.

His daughter Jessamine follows in his footsteps, learning all about plants that cure and plants that kill. She falls in love with Weed (book one, The Poison Diaries), who has run away from her in this installment. She longs for him and begs her father to tell her where he has gone.

Jessamine learns to hate her father, and once she realizes he is the one responsible for her mother's death, she wants revenge. She says:

"I am Jessamine Luxton. Poison ran in my veins before I was born. I know how to cure. And I know how to kill. I have tried for so long to be good, buth there is no need to fight my destiny anymore. I am my father's daughter, after all."

Once her evil deed is done, Jessamine must flee Northumberland. She takes passage on a stagecoach, trying to put as many miles between her and her crime. When some fellow passengers call her a witch, she must flee again. She learns to use her knowledge of poisons to make a living. Some people will pay handsomely for a poison to kill a spouse or business partner. As Jessamine slips into a life of crime, her mind is addled by opium. She still dreams of Weed and yearns for his touch. Another man is haunting her thoughts and overtaking her dreams; Oleander is the master puppeteer and encourages Jessmine to choose the dark side.

Weed in the meantime is searching for her. He hurries back to Northumberland and finds Thomas Luxton dead. He realizes that someone has poisoned him and suspects it was Jessamine. He follows her footsteps through Europe, but stops in Italy to learn more about poisons and their antidotes. Weed learns that King George himself is traveling to Italy and that some noblemen want him dead. Weed plans to attend the banquet for King George and prevent his death.

Will Weed find Jessamine in time? Can he steal her away from Oleander's evil clutches? Will Jessamine even know him through her drug haze?

Beautifully written, inspired storytelling, captivating characters, poetic prose, and magical settings make Nightshade a teen tour de force. Readers won't be able to wait to get their hands on book 3. I did not read book one and still enjoyed this book--book 2. There is enough back story for the reader to understand book 2 without reading book one.

The publishers say grade 7 and up. I must warn you that Jessamine is a fallen woman who sleeps around and does drugs--drugs that are legal at the time in Europe, but are now illegal in the U.S. She becomes a harlot and murderer. There is no sex but the savvy reader knows that Jessamine is not a "nice" girl. Even though Jessamine slips into a life of crime, readers will feel empathy for her and the love she has lost.

Watch the book trailer here

I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Teen Thriller: Dark Eden

Dark Eden
by Patrick Carman
Katherine Tegan Books
336 pages
Available November 1, 2011

watch the trailer here

Dark Eden is one of those rare books where you think you know what's going to happen, but you would be wrong--very wrong! This is a sleek psychological thriller for teens; it is the Shutter Island for the teen crowd.

Will Besting finally goes along with his parents' wishes to go into a special program where his psychiatrist assures them that he will come out a "new man," unafraid of his fears. The van takes him and six others to Ft. Eden, a deserted looking bunker out in the middle of nowhere and drops them off. There is no way to walk back to civilization.

Will knows the six other kids, but they don't know he knows them. Will began snooping in his psychiatrist's office when she leaves him alone. He has stolen the tapes of all six of his van-mates. He knows their deepest, darkest secrets and their crippling fears and nightmares. Will has a suspicious mind and when everyone goes into the fort, Will runs for the woods. His plan is to stay hidden and figure out just what Ft. Eden really is.

He finds a way in--he sneaks past the groundskeeper and hides in the cellar of her bungalow. There he finds a secret entrance into Ft. Eden. Will also discovers a video room with ancient equipment where he can eavesdrop on the six teens. He has video but not an audio feed so it's guesswork what people are saying. Will watches in horror as each teen is led to a dark room and fed images that will "cure" them.

When Marisa tells Will that everyone is cured, Will doubts it. What is Marisa's secret fear? And what happened to Avery?

The teens have to face their worst fears to get out. Creepy and twisted, Dark Eden will resonate with teen readers who like adventure and who crave dank cellars and things that go bump in the night.

Recommended grade 7-up. No language, no sex.

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

November YA Paranormal Book Giveaway: The Mephisto Covenant

The Mephisto Covenant
I have 5 FREE copies to give away of this fantastic new ya paranormal read!
To be eligible, post a comment here. You must have a gmail account to post a comment. Include your email contact address so that I may contact you in case you win. Please include your city and state just because I'm nosy! JK--but not really.

Deadline for posts is November 11 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by randomizer. Each post is given a number, first post is number 1; second post number 2, and so on. Any post that does not contain an email contact is not counted. Once I contact you by email, you have 48 hours to reply with your mailing address. If you don't get back to me, I have to give your copy to the next poster in the comments.

See what Egmont says about this book (from the Egmont USA website):

About this Book

"A timeless love story with unique mythology that captivates the imagination. I loved it."—P.C. Cast, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the House of Night series

"Trinity Faegen bursts onto the young adult scene with an exciting debut novel told in a fresh voice, and with a unique spin on a timeless tale."—#1 New York Times best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon

"This is a fantastic book with everything a paranormal fan craves, from action to suspense to an absolutely sizzling romance. Fans of P.C. Cast and Lauren Kate will not regret buying this book. Faegen is an author to look out for!"—Romantic Times

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—she is an Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx always looming, Jax knows he has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

from the Egmont webpage

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Carrier of the Mark

Carrier of the Mark
by Leigh Fallon
342 pages

Romantic, captivating, powerful, and all-consuming, Carrier of the Mark is a different kind of paranormal romance.

When Megan moves to Ireland with her father, she has a mini-culture shock. School is Ireland is a little different than back home in the U.S. For one thing, all the schools wear school uniforms, and math classes are referred to as "maths." Irish names are confusing and the people speak so quickly, Meg has a hard time keeping up with their almost musical accents. Her first day is going smoothly until she sees Adam, that is. Adam DeRis is movie star handsome and darkly mysterious; other students steer clear of him--he's a little "odd." There are stories about witchcraft and strange goings-on at the DeRis mansion. Megan is intrigued and wants to know more.

Megan gets closer to Adam and his family and soon finds out that they are all bound by fate. In the days of the druids, carriers of the mark were selected to be the four elements: earth, wind, water, and fire and control the balance and equilibrium of nature. Meg doesn't know it but she controls wind, and she needs to learn to harness her power before she causes damage and death. The three DeRis siblings Adam, Aine, and Rian instruct Meg in her history and Rian helps train her. There is a battle coming, and traitors called the Knox will stop at nothing short of destroying their order.

Adam and Meg are drawn to each other but can never be together as a couple. The druid texts say the marked ones can never love another because elements feed off of each other and the balance would be imperfect. Floods, earthquakes, fires, droughts, and destruction would ruin the Earth. The Order forbids them from being together. Megan isn't fully "marked;" she has to go through a ceremony on the Summer Solstice in order to gain all her power, but knowing that she will give up Adam, she decides not to go through with it. She would give up ultimate power to be with Adam, but her fate was sealed before her birth. She can sacrifice her love to save mankind.

Readers of paranormal romance will be fans of this novel. What sets it appart from other novels of this genre is the setting of Ireland--the weather, the school, the names, Trinity College, the catacombs, the druids, Irish history.

Recommended grades 9-up. The cover art is striking and sure to draw readers to it. Lots of kissing, petting, and intimate situations. Meg and Adam sleep together--use your imagination.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reluctant Reader: Guys Pick: 12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn

12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn
by James Proimos
Roaring Brook Press
121 pages

Available November 8, 2011

Snarky, funny, quirky, and punny (funny, too), 12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn is a short but hilarious read that will attract reluctant boy readers--and maybe some girls, too. Laugh-out-loud antics and "boy" humor, bathroom jokes, and "bad" language make this suitable for high school readers.

Hercules Martino has just buried his father--oh, don't be sad, you see, Herc couldn't stand his father and calls him a number of expletives throughout the book. They have a dysfunctional relationship. Herc's father is a beloved, almost-Godlike, t.v. self-help coach and best-selling author who helps other families with their problems, but at home, he bullies and belittles his only son. Herc's mother is mortified when Herc gives a less than politically correct eulogy, so she ships him off to visit his Uncle Anthony, his father's brother.

Herc doesn't see what the big deal is--he was only telling the truth about his father. He decides two weeks with Uncle Anthony won't be so bad--even though his uncle lives in the most boring town in all of America. On the train there, Herc sees a gorgeous "older" woman--at least college age--and tries to flirt with her. He accidentally falls asleep and when he wakes, she's gone BUT she left her book on the train. Herc decides to find her somehow and return her lost book.

Uncle Anthony and Herc have a funny relationship--they get along famously, more like frat brothers than uncle and nephew. Anthony decides to give Herc a list of things to do so he won't get bored while Anthony is at work every day.

Day One is easy: choose a mission. Herc has already decided he must find the beautiful but unattainable girl from the train. Day two happens by accident: find the best pizza place in town. The tasks begin to get harder; when it comes to day seven, Herc has to go on seven job interviews. He decides to have some fun with this one. When interviewing with Starbucks, he fills in the application as name: "Juan Valdez" and states he wants compensated with, "only the finest hand-picked Colombian coffee beans." When he fills in the application at Super Tan, he writes "Mel Anoma" as his name and his favorite hobby is "baking." This is punny stuff!

On Day Eight, Herc is supposed to think Great Thoughts and write them down. One of Herc's entries is: "Baseball games are too long. Outlawing spitting and scratching one's crotch would cut off a few minutes from each game." Not exactly rocket science.

Herc is a believable, almost tragic, hero. His quest to find the girl becomes of monumental importance. When all his dreams finally come true, he finds himself walking on air. Sometimes things aren't as sweet as they seem and the higher the high just means you have farther to fall.

Reluctant readers with a sense of humor will love Herc and feel empathy when Herc is stood up. With only 121 pages, this is a quick read and the cover art will appeal to teens.

Recommended grades 9-up. Language, sex, mature content.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bonus: Early Peek at Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield

by Cheryl Rainfield

Available December 2, 2011

Cheryl posted a free ebook on smashwords; an early peek at her novel and some bonus material. Here is what Cheryl says:

Hi all, (smiling at you all)

I just released a free ebook--PinPoint: A HUNTED Bonus Short Story, to help
celebrate my upcoming novel HUNTED (Dec 02) and help get the word out about
it. I hope you'll download the ebook and enjoy it, or let other people know
about it! It's available for Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony, your computer, and
many other formats.

Read it here

I LOVE ebooks (and paper books), so it was fun getting this together. I hope
you don't mind me letting you know.

Cheryl Rainfield (posted to Kidlitosphere)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dystopian Romance Pick: Eve

by Anna Carey
336 pages

Stunning, skillful, shocking, and smoldering, this first novel in a planned trilogy will have teens talking and leave teen girls a little light headed. This is the best dystopian novel I've read all year!

From the first pages, I was mesmerized by the world Eve lives in--a girls' boarding school in the middle of nowhere that has armed guards patrolling the grounds. Are they keeping the bad guys out or the girls in? The girls all came to the school as orphans--all except for Arden, that is. She arrives at age eight and never really fits in. Arden likes to break rules and Eve has never really been friends with her.

It is the day before graduation and Eve can't wait to give her valedictorian speech. She runs into Arden near the gate and realizes that Arden plans to run away. Arden tells Eve the "truth." Eve can't believe it. She knows for sure after graduation the girls go to the building across the lake where they all learn their trades. Then the lucky ones will go to the city and live fabulous lives. That's what the teachers have always told them. They wouldn't lie, would they?

Years before a plague has killed most of the population. Cities and civilization have fallen and one man unites the people: the King. In order to make sure his subjects don't die off, the King has factories where girls like Eve are kept tied to their beds--with one job only--grow the population. At least one baby per year. They are used like farm animals and treated far worse. When Eve learns that her future will not be filled with dinner at glamorous restaurants with white napkins and high fashion gowns, she escapes that night with the help of a concerned teacher.

She heads out not knowing where she's going really, but knowing to stay out of sight because MEN are bad--MEN will hurt you, MEN are not to be trusted. She heads west and looks for signs that read 80 hoping to find Califia (California).

Eve's journey is terrifying and provocative. The King's men have a special reason to catch this runaway. The King himself fancies Eve as his own wife and wishes her to bear his offspring. Now that she's missing, the King has put a price on her head. As she's running, she is saved by a boy on horseback. She doesn't trust him because she's always been taught that MEN are bad. Caleb saves both Eve and Arden, taking them to a safe place in the forest where his band of boys hide out from the King's men.

Eve soon fits right in and meets the youngest boys, Benny and Silas, and begins to teach them to read. In a poignant scene Benny asks Eve, "Are you my mother?" The young boys are evocative of The Lost Boys in Peter Pan. The leader of the pack is mad at Eve for embarrassing him in front of the others and fighting off his advances. He wants revenge. Leif tells a hunter where Eve is and he comes and picks up Arden and Eve.

An elderly lady comes to their rescue and they are able to escape to an Underground Railroad of sorts. Eve tries to send a message to Caleb but puts everyone, including herself, in danger.

Thrilling and well-written with compelling characters, this novel really rocks! My seventeen year old daughter read it first and told me, "Mom, you better read this!!" Also, she told her non-reading friend about it, and the non-reader called her the next day to tell her, "I stayed up after two in the morning reading Eve! I love it!"

Readers who liked The Hunger Games and The Forest of Hands and Teeth will love this new trilogy. I predict it will shoot up the Best Seller list and become the new Twilight. Are you listening, Hollywood? This would make a great movie!

Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up. Mention of girls being used to populate the country, no sex, no language, except when Caleb sings a silly song about "balls."

view the book trailer here

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