Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday - The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 20, 2011

Once every century, one person is chosen for greatness. But the prophecy is vague, and Elisa, always overshadowed by her accomplished older sister, has no idea why she was chosen or how she will fulfill the expectations. Her future is unknown and her potential is tremendous—even if she doesn’t realize it. A king asks her to save his troubled country. A savage enemy hunts her for its own—dead or alive. A revolutionary asks for her heart. And in the midst of ferocious battles and harsh quests, Elisa will find herself. She will find the strength she’s always possessed. She’ll find deep and abiding love. She’ll awaken the power that only she can control. And she’ll face those who want to rip all of it away. Lush, adventurous, and wrenching, The Girl of Fire And Thorns is the first in a trilogy for fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books. (Summary from the HarperCollins Catalog)
Basically, I want to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns because the summary mention both Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Tamora Pierce's Tortall books. I'm hoping that Elisa will be as strong a character as Katsa, not in physical strength, but strong as in memorable and able to carry the story. Also, I love the dress the cover model is wearing!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

**So when I scheduled this post over the weekend the cover above was the cover I found and then on Monday, Rae Carson revealed the new cover:

Thanks to Cait, who alerted me to the new cover!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review - Legacy by Cayla Kluver

Legacy by Cayla Kluver
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Source: Publisher through NetGalley

A historical fantasy about a princess and the feud between two nations, Legacy had a lot of elements that could have made it a new favorite. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

The Kingdom of Hytanica has had a long standing feud with its neighbor Cokyri. During the last war, Cokyri kidnapped forty-nine newborn boys, slaughtering and returning all but one. For sixteen years an uneasy peace has existed. But it’s about to shatter as a Cokyrian boy is found within the walls of Hytanica. In the midst of this, Alera, the seventeen-year-old crown princess of Hytanica, has one year to find a husband and get married. Her suitors must be capable of ruling a kingdom, because after Alera is married her husband will become king. Her most persistent suitor, Steldor,  has the backing of the king despite the fact that Alera can’t stand him. As Alera gets to know Narian, the Cokyrian, she is shown that there can be more to life than being the king’s wife. But, Narian’s past brings with it new questions and tensions with Cokyri.

After a prologue that set up the story and gave the reader more information about the war between Hytanica and Cokyri than some of the main characters had, Legacy got off to a slow start. There was so much description, especially of rooms and clothing, that it really slowed the narrative down. I normally like description in books, especially if it is important to the plot, but I also like to have some room to imagine how things look on my own and that didn’t happen with Legacy. A lot of the descriptions were not important to the storyline – which I think was the tension between Hytanica and Cokyri and Alera’s marriage – but more Alera’s observations. An example is that Alera explains that the throne room has four entrances and that one of them leads to the King’s study, but it never comes up again.

Most of the time, reading Legacy felt like reading someone’s journal as they look back on the past year of their life and examine what happened. At times, Alera felt disconnected from what was happening, again she came across as an observer not a participant. It’s not until events start to affect her personally that there is a spark in her personality. For someone who questions a lot about her country, she remained ignorant of some of the most important pieces of its history. And this more than anything made dislike her for a great part of the book. It wasn’t until more than halfway through that the real Alera came to the surface.

What saved Legacy for me was an intriguing love interest, even though it was part of a love triangle. Alera’s connection with Narian was evident from their first meeting and I was hoping for more of their romance. The historical feel of Legacy worked well for the story. The way Hytanica was described it put to mind an Italian city-state or small medieval nation. I also liked that Alera was a rule-breaker at heart and she did go after her heart’s desire. I just wish that she hadn’t been so passive, especially in her dealings with the king. It took meeting Narian for Alera to consider that there were places women did more than serve their husbands. 

While Legacy didn’t win me over completely, it will appeal to those readers who enjoy books with a historical feel. If you’ve enjoyed reading books like Entwined, Book of a Thousand Days, you might enjoy Legacy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Picture Books on a Sunday:

Title: Snowball's Antarctic Adventure
Author/Photographer: Tim Ostermeyer
Publisher: Wildlife Adventure Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Source: From Publicist for Review

Snowball's Antarctic Adventure is packed with beautiful photographs and information about different types of Antarctic animals. Snowball explores Antarctica and comes across Chinstrap Penguins, Kelp Gulls, Minke Whales, Seals, Gentoo Penguins and Adelie Penguins. He also gives information about icebergs and weather in Antarctica.

Mr. Ostermeyer does a great job of combining Snowball's adventure with information about Antarctica. The story text goes along well with his photographs, some of which are lovely close up shots of Snowball and his family. When it comes to the information pages however, there is too much text and information given on one page. It makes it seem more like a fact sheet on each animal than part of a story. I would have preferred for the animal facts to be laid out across a two page spread. This would have made the information more visually appealing and given each animal more page time.

Snowball's Antarctic Adventure
would work well for a read aloud, especially if the reader can find a way of incorporating the animal facts into the narrative rather than simply listing them. The amount of information included also makes it appropriate for independent readers as well.

Overall, Snowball's Antarctic Adventure is a visually impressive book. It's worth buying simply for the photographs. The information gained from reading this book is icing on the cake.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review - Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2011
Source: Library

An accident by the river at a boy’s boarding school; a set of friends who cover up the truth; a young teacher connects with a student through poetry; one student desperate to keep his biggest secret hidden; a journal writer attempting to piece all the information together; all of these pieces come together in Paper Covers Rock.

What really happened the day Thomas drowned? Alex and Glenn make a pact to cover up the truth. Alex feels a lot of guilt over Thomas’s death and begins to write journal entries (what he likes to refer to as his “great American novel”) trying to piece everything together. Except that it wasn’t just Alex and Glenn by the river, it’s possible that their English teacher, Ms. Dovecott, witnessed everything. As the semester goes on Alex finds himself putting more and more of his thoughts on paper, in his journal and his English assignments, while Glenn becomes more paranoid about what Ms. Dovecott knows to the point that he hatches a plan to intimidate her into silence. Will Alex go along with Glenn’s plan or will his guilt force him to come clean?

I’ve wanted to read Paper Covers Rock since I first heard about it earlier this year. The cover copy reminded me slightly of A Separate Peace. The comparisons are easy to make - both novels are set at a boy’s boarding school, a tragic accident occurs, lies are told about what really happened, but that’s where the similarities end. A Separate Peace was set during World War II; it was almost a character itself in how it affected the lives of the characters, while Paper Covers Rock is set in 1982, where boarding school politics take center stage.

Overall, Paper Covers Rock lived up to my expectations. It is beautifully written and the author’s background as teacher, poet and playwright are evident in the way the story was set up and executed. Alex’s journal entries and the homework assignments he adds give a picture of a boy who feels a lot of guilt over what happened to his best friend. He is desperately trying to figure out why and how Thomas could have died and through is writing learns the reason behind the death. I love that he hides out in the library when he’s writing and that he hides his journal behind a copy of Moby Dick because he knows no one will be checking it out anytime soon.

 The action really focuses on Alex, Glenn and Ms. Dovecott. They are the most developed characters. Alex does mention other students in his year and some of them are introduced in English class, but they mostly seemed like filler. Not every character has to be fully developed, so I was okay with this. I only wished that Alex’s dad had gotten a little more page time, I know he had a very small part to play, but it would have been interesting to see that relationship a little more.

There were a couple of things that took away from my enjoyment of Paper Covers Rock. The first was Alex’s voice; it didn't always sound like a sixteen-year-old boy’s voice. Occasionally, it sounded like a much older person talking about events that happened to them a long time ago. The second was Glenn, he was such a manipulative character and he expected that everyone would just go along with his plan. Alex calls him a “golden boy” because he seemed to be able to do nothing wrong (or at least not get caught despite the fact that he was often in the spotlight). I just never liked him as a character or connected with him.
 Paper Covers Rock has a more literary feel than other recently published young adult books. It will appeal to certain readers and it’s not a book I would recommend to everyone. It talks about some weighty issues (death, drinking, and teacher-student relationships), so I would recommend it mostly to older teens.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Top Tens List with Suzanne Young

Today, Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful is visiting The Serpentine Library and sharing her top ten favorite guys of YA.

Top Ten Guys of YA Lit

When it comes to reading, there are several things I look for. A cool plot, characters I like, hot guys. Okay, who am I kidding? Hot guys are the number one things I look for. And with that being said, here are my top ten favorites:

1.     Nick- The Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan

2.     Jace- The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

3.     Etienne St. Clair- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

4.     Dexter- This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

5.     Keenan- Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

6.     Adrian- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

7.     Peeta-The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

8.     Alex - Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

9.     Will - Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

10. And okay, this isn’t YA, but Eric Northman from The Sookie Stackhouse series. And I LOVE him on True Blood.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Character Interview - Bethany from Bitter End

Today, I'm happy to welcome Bethany from Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Welcome Bethany! Can you describe yourself in 5 words or less?

Loyal, passionate, studious, and friendly.

What's your favorite thing about being friends with Alex and Zack?

Our history. We really know each other. Well…we used to, anyway. I’m not so sure I know Alex anymore. I’m hoping that will change soon. But, anyway, there are no secrets between us. We have our “roles,” if you will, and we all know them. We don’t have to act all supercool when we’re around one another. We can let down our guards and be little kids again if that’s what we want. And we always have fun together.

What was the first thing you though when you met Cole?

That he was super hot. There’s no getting around it. I was a little jealous at first, honestly. But it didn’t take long for me to see that there was something not so hot lurking underneath with that guy. But even I didn’t know how far it really was going.

What was it about Cole that made you question the way he was treating Alex?

Mainly the changes in Alex. She was my best friend. She was always all-there for me, you know? And then all of a sudden, she stopped wanting to do much with us. She stopped having a sense of humor. She started acting like Zack was a big problem. She just changed. And then there was the night of the lake party. Everything changed that night.

I love that you're an organizer and planner, and that through everything you didn't stop planning the trip to Colorado. What's another destination you would love to plan a trip to?

Someplace foreign and fabulous where I can learn about another culture that is very different from ours. Where I can try food I can’t pronounce and sleep in little huts under mosquito nets and raft in rivers that sound frightening and exciting. And where I can meet a super hot guy of my own…one who digs organic living and treats me like a queen.

About Bitter End:
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole--a handsome, funny sports star who adores her--she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate...someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, and increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose--between her "true love" and herself.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BEA Recap

BEA was fun and tiring and jam-packed. Instead of doing a traditional recap, I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of the highlights (at least for me) and then some of the books I learned about at BEA; books I didn't know that much or anything about before last week.

Highlights (I'm not a picture person, so I have no pictures...sorry):

(But, if you want awesome BEA pictures head on over to Midnyte Reader, she's got pictures of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!)

1. Meeting so many bloggers. It's so great to be able to put faces to blogs and twitter handles. It also made standing in line (of which there were many) much more fun.

2. Getting to meet a lot of authors. I even got to meet Sarah Rees Brennan! It was very close to the end of the day on Tuesday and she was standing will Ally Carter, I felt sorry about interrupting their conversation, but they were both so very nice. I think I nattered on about how excited I am for The Demon's Surrender.

3. The YA Editors Buzz Panel - Listening to editors talk about books they have spent so much of their time and energy on and that they love, made me excited to read all five of the books discussed. Two of them, (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone), I was already eagerly waiting for. Except, they showed a new cover for The Daughter of Smoke and Bone (right there on the left). Isn't is so pretty and mysterious...

4. Getting away from the Javits to have relaxing lunches with new bookish friends. As fun and crazy as BEA was, it was a relief to get away from the exhibit floor.

And the most important part New Books, I didn't know about before BEA:

(sounds like it could be an episode of ALIAS, you know, with teens)

 Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham 
(Yes, that's Bill Willingham of FABLES fame!)

 Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
(set in Ireland, more books need to be set there)

Tuesdays At The Castle by Jessica Day George
(a Middle Grades fantasy that sounds awesome!)

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart
(which sounds hauntingly sad)

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
(another Middle Grades fantasy, this time with a Nordic twist)

Author Interview - Leah Cypess

Today I'm excited to welcome Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood and Nightspell to The Serpentine Library. Not only does Ms Cypess write awesome characters like Isabel, Clarisse, Darri and Callie, she's also a fan of The Queen's Thief series! Plus she has some awesome books on her TBR.

Welcome to The Serpentine Library, Ms Cypess! Can you tell us a little about Nightspell?

Nightspell is set in a kingdom where an ancient spell forces murder victims to come back as ghosts and seek vengeance on their killers. Centuries later, this has resulted in a society where the living and the dead co-exist uneasily. When a warrior princess rides into this kingdom on a quest to save her sister, she will be forced to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned – and untangle a conspiracy that threatens the balance of power between the living and the dead.

Was it easier or harder to write a second book set in the same world as Mistwood?

I wrote the first draft of Nightspell before getting the offer for Mistwood, so though they were theoretically set in the same world even then, there wasn’t any explicit connection between them; after all, I didn’t know if Mistwood would ever be published. After both were accepted for publication, I decided to connect them more closely. I didn’t realize how difficult that would be, and how much would have to change. It was one of the most difficult revisions I’ve ever done.

If you could bring any of your characters to life, which one would you choose?

Ven. He could explain magic to me!

I read that you are a fan of country music. If a country song was written about Nightspell, what would it be called and who would you want to sing it?

Mmm… “Ghosts of Yesterday” sounds like a country song, doesn’t it? And I would want Trisha Yearwood or Lee Ann Womack to sing it.

If you could choose any character from another book to come “visit” your characters and spend some time in Samorna, who would they be?

Eugendies from Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia series. I would love to see him come up against Isabel or Clarisse. In fact, I would pay a lot of money to witness either of those confrontations. (**sidebar: so would I!)

I’m a complete Megan Whalen Turner fangirl! Her Queen’s Thief books are high on my list of favorites. How did it feel to have her blurb Mistwood?

I promise, I answered the last question before I read this one! But as you can tell, I share your Megan Whalen Turner fandom. In fact, I was rereading The King of Attolia when I got the formal offer for Mistwood, and I couldn’t believe I was going to be published by the same imprint as her! Later, I met her at ALA, and she asked if I had an extra ARC. Needless to say, I gave her the one in my bag. I was ecstatic when I found out she blurbed the book.

I love hearing about books authors are excited about reading. What are three books on your “to be read” list or three books you’re looking forward to reading?

I’m really looking forward for three soon-to-be-released books: The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, and Prized by Caragh O’Brien.


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