Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book of the Week 11/30

Here is the YA book you should be paying attention to, due in bookstores on Tuesday...

Matched (Ally Condie) - Finally, the long-awaited Matched makes its way to bookstores.  Buzz has been building around this book for awhile, about a girl coming of age in a Utopian society that she discovers isn't everything it's cracked up to be.  When she is matched with her ideal mate - her best friend - and another boy "accidentally" comes up on the screen for her match, she second-guesses the system, and falls in love when she shouldn't.  An excellent book - read my review here.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Reaper (A Soul Screamers Novella) (Rachel Vincent) - Available only as an e-book.
Fixing Delilah (Sarah Ockler)
Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)
Pretty On the Outside (Fame Unlimited Series) (Liane Bonin)
If You Come Softly and Behind You (Jacqueline Woodson) - An omnibus collection.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide

Wondering what to buy for the teen on your list?  Here are some ideas to make your shopping a little easier going into the holidays...

If they liked Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Ally Condie's Matched.

Matched (in stores November 30th) has similar themes of rebellion in a Utopian future society, with a forbidden love that you can't help but root for.

If they liked Stephenie Meyer's Sophie Jordan's Firelight.

Firelight has a supernatural creature and a human, dangerous to be around one another, but with shape-shifting dragons, and a less passive female protagonist than Bella Swan.

If they liked Christopher Paolini's Alison Goodman's Eon.

Eon has plenty of dragon action going on, but is steeped in a fully-realized and absorbing Chinese-based mythology.

If they liked Cassandra Clare's City of Kiersten White's Paranormalcy.

Both books see humans and non-humans battle supernatural creatures in action-packed stories with a good dose of romance.

If they liked J.K. Rowling's Harry Michael Scott's The Alchemyst.

Trying to get them to move on after Harry Potter?  This teen title is full of action, magic and danger and is the sure trick to get them addicted to something new.

If they liked Sara Shephard's Pretty Little Sara Shephard's The Lying Game.

Sara Shephard's new series featuring bad girls begins with The Lying Game, which hits stores on December 7th.

If they liked Lauren Kate's Alexandra Adornetto's Halo.

More angels.  Halo is the first in a new trilogy of dark romance books featuring the battle between good and evil.

If they liked Kristin Cashore's Elizabeth C. Bunce's StarCrossed.

Both fantasies with very capable female protagonists and political intrigue.

If they liked Markus Zusak's The Book Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution.

Revolution sees the award-winning author behind The Northern Lights returns with a powerful, unforgettable story about two girls whose lives become intertwined despite the centuries that separate them.

And here are some general recommendations, by genre...

Action/Adventure: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore about an alien teen living in a small town to escape the notice of his pursuers.

Horror: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is the critically-acclaimed book about a boy aiding a monster hunter.

Mystery: Ruby In the Smoke by Philip Pullman follows the wonderful character Sally Lockhart as she tries to piece together the mystery behind the disappearance of her father.

Romance: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han features the ultimate summer romance triangle.

General Fiction: Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford is about three sisters who make confessions in an attempt to get back in the good graces of a relative, in a novel of self-discovery and family.

Graphic Novels: Gunnerkrigg Court (Volume 1): Orientation by Thomas Siddell is a fantasy full of magic and wonder, praised by the likes of Neil Gaiman, Publisher's Weekly...and me.  I can't recommend this one enough.

Graphic Novels - Superheroes: Astonishing X-Men Omnibus by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and John Cassaday is a bit pricey, but worth every penny.  Full of unforgettable characters, humor and plenty of action, this is a complete blast.

Manga: Pluto by Naoki Urasawa is based on an Astro Boy story by manga master Osamu Tezuka, and features a future populated by robots amid a murder mystery.

And if I gave just too many choices for you to decide number one recommendation for a gift this holiday season is Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  It has something for everyone: action, humor, horror, romance, and a plucky protagonist.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book of the Week 11/23

Here is the YA book you should be paying attention to, due in bookstores on Tuesday...

Pathfinder (Orson Scott Card) - Orson Scott Card's classic Ender's Game (and sequels) has already made its way from the science fiction sections of bookstores to the teen section to introduce new readers to the out-of-this-world tale.  Now Card brings an original story directly to a YA audience, featuring a boy who can see the paths of people's pasts.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Threads and Flames (Esther M. Friesner)
Invisible Things (Jenny Davidson)
Drama Queens (The Good Girlz Series) (ReShonda Tate Billingsley)
When the Stars Go Blue (Caridad Ferrer)
Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (Barry Gifford)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Kiersten White

Paranormalcy is hands-down one of the best paranormal books of the year.  The story follows Evie, who works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, which tags and processes supernatural creatures, while covering up their existence in the first place.  Evie is one of the best characters that I've had the pleasure of getting to know in a very long while.  Since she was raised by IPCA, she has a warped view of society (most of what she knows of other teenagers she learned from a television show she's obsessed with), although she thinks of herself as rather normal for a girl with a best friend who lives in a big fish tank.  And a pink taser she decorated with rhinestones.  Evie is also invaluable to IPCA, as she has the unique ability to see through glamours.  So all those werewolves, vampires, hags and whatever else is out there that can hide from other IPCA members have no chance when she's around.  But Evie's world is turned upside-down when a shape-shifting paranormal infiltrates the IPCA, and she's forced to face some hard question, looking at things through new eyes.  What is she doing?  Who is she?  What is she?  It's a very compelling story, with tons of action, and is also really, really funny.  White seems to effortlessly create a wonderful realm of creatures, and offers interesting takes on creatures such as faerie, but also introduces a good dose of horror through others.  And while the action and story would have easily been enough to sustain a pretty damn imaginative book, the characters are what really make this book something special.  Evie herself is absolutely delightful, but the characters that surround her all feel very real and human (even when they're not).  Kiersten White hits a home run with Paranormalcy, which is at the top of my favorite YA books that I've read this year.  Two sequels are currently in the works, so jump on the bandwagon now, because there's no way you're going to want to miss this ride.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Teen Retro: Extreme Zone

Another series that could be reprinted in wake of Pittacus Lore's I Am Number Four is a series that saw publication between 1997 and 1998 called Extreme Zone.  This series was written by M.C. Sumner, kind of riding off of the success of The X-Files television show.  It even has an eye in the cheesy logo, like the one in the opening credits for the show.

There were eight books in the series in all.  The synopsis for book one, from the publisher:

"Noah Templer:  Every night I wake screaming, drenched in a cold sweat, my heart racing.  I remember glowing figures bending over me, cutting me open with alien instruments - but that's it.  If I don't find out where these nightmares come from, I'll go insane...or am I already too far gone?

Kathleen 'Harley' Davisidaro: From the moment I arrived with my father at the Tulley Hills Research Facility, I didn't trust the people - or their top-secret project.  Now my father's disappeared.  And nobody will tell me where he went.  They want to ship me off the base, but I'm not going anywhere - not until I find out the truth!

The moment Noah and Harley meet, they find an immediate connection - a connection that goes deeper than either ever could have believed.  Alone, both are lost in their personal terrors of the night.  Their last hope lies in learning to trust each other, but in the Extreme Zone, they can never trust anyone - including themselves..."

This series certainly capitalized on the government-conspiracy-paranoia stuff from The X-Files, but set in a high school, with a good amount of romance between the characters.  I remember this series being pretty action-packed with aliens that were genuinely frightening to me at the time.  It's more of a traditional abduction/cover-up tale than books about aliens that came later, like I Am Number Four, and even Roswell High, which debuted in 1998, but it's good scary stuff that could potentially be republished in the current market.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book of the Week 11/16

Here is the YA book you should be paying attention to, due in bookstores on Tuesday....

The Back Door of Midnight (A Dark Secrets novel) (Elizabeth Chandler) - I read these in the early 2000's when they were coming out in little mass market editions, and while they didn't have the most catchy premises, I remember really loving the thrillers.  This latest volume of the omnibuses that have been recollecting the series is the first brand-new story in the series, one that was solicited for release years ago that never saw the light of day.  Fans surely won't be disappointed with another family saga full of mystery from this talented writer.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Night Star (Immortals Series #5) (Alyson Noel)
Garden of Shadows (Dollanganger Series #5) (V.C. Andrews)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Volume 3): Carnival of Souls/One Thing or Your Mother/Blooded (Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder & Kirsten Beyer)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Sophie Jordan

The first book in Sophie Jordan's Firelight series introduces us to Jacinda and the world of draki.  Draki are descendants of dragons with the ability to shapeshift to human form, their greatest defense from those who hunt them.  This book begins in full fantasy mode as Jacinda enjoys spreading her wings and flying with another draki, only to be pursued by dragon hunters, barely escaping.  In fact, the only reason Jacinda was able to escape is because the human hunting her threw the others off her trail, a human she felt a connection with.  Jacinda is confused by her encounter, but doesn't have long to dwell on it, as her mother forces her and her twin sister to leave the draki's hidden sanctuary in the middle of the night, and move to blend in with humans "for her protection."  Jacinda has been branded special ever since her abilities have manifested.  Almost all drakis manifest a particular ability, whether it be to be able to thrive underwater or turn invisible, and Jacinda managed to manifest what no dragon has in a very long time: she is a fire-breather.  Her people see her as very important for their future, meanwhile her twin sister never manifested at all, and sees this new change in surroundings to be the chance she's waited for: to be normal.  Jacinda at first finds her new home to be brash and horrible, but that all changes when she meets Will at her high school, the hunter who helped her escape from the draki-hunters, whom she remains inexplicably drawn to.  Much like with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hunter and hunted are drawn together, although Jacinda does all she can to protect her secret from Will, and his hunter family, and guard the one secret the hunters don't know about draki yet - their ability to change into human form.  Firelight is quite a fast-paced thrilling read.  That fantasy aspect is there, but this story very quickly morphs into a paranormal romance with the spirited sort of female protagonist readers didn't get in Twilight.  The draki history and hints of other aspects to the story, such as their natural enemies whom they know little about, could keep this rich premise going for several books to come.  I really enjoyed Jacinda and Will's relationship, and really all of the main characters are pretty fully-realized and fun to spend time with, with even some one-note secondary characters coming into their own by the book's end.  There were some revelations that you could see coming a long way away, and some things hinted at that you have to wonder why Jacinda never got clarification for until it was conveniently revealed at the perfect moment, but overall, Jordan does a pretty good job of maintaining suspense all the way throughout this novel.  The ending left a tad bit to be desired, with several loose ends.  It's more of an abrupt ending than usual for a book like this, and it's a shame that this book has to suffer for the sake of the larger series, but I'm sure most readers won't mind as soon as the next installment rolls out.  Firelight is definitely the sort of book that paranormal romance readers will eat up, ravenously.  It's original, exciting and leaves you wanting more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book of the Week 11/9

Here is the YA book you should be paying attention to, due in book stores tomorrow...

The Marbury Lens (Andrew Smith) - This is supposed to be a brutal, disturbing book, but sounds pretty original.  It follows sixteen-year-old Jack who is kidnapped, tortured and almost raped by a serial killer after getting drunk at a party.  He escapes, but when he and his best friend encounter the man again, they kidnap him and accidentally kill him.  Left traumatized, the two check out prep schools in London, as they'd previously planned, and a stranger gives Jack a pair of glasses that end up transporting him to the horrible postapocalyptic world of Marbury, perhaps tipping him over the brink of sanity.  Proceed at your own risk with this one.

Other Noteworthy Releases

Sweep (Volume 2) (Cate Tiernan)
Factotum (Monster Blood Tattoo #3) (D.M. Cornish)
Spray (Harry Edge)
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro (Jen Bryant)
The Painted Boy (Charles de Lint)
The Dear One (Jacqueline Woodson)
Teenage Waistland (Lynn Biederman & Lisa Pazer)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Monstrumologist

Rick Yancey

For Halloween this year, I wanted to read something really scary.  Not just something with monsters from the Dark Romance section, but something with real elements of horror.  I picked The Monstrumologist, because I've heard good things about it, and it was a Michael L. Printz Award honor book, as well as an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalist, so it's been recognized as one of the best young adult books from this past year.  And I wasn't disappointed.  Right from the get-go, it's apparent that this is good writing.  Yancey cares that this book is written well and really crafts characters that instantly become kind of classic voices in this universe.  The story takes place in 1888 in a world where monsters exist in the shadows of society.  Will Henry is a young orphaned boy who comes into the care of a monstrumologist when his parents die, learning the trade from an eccentric doctor.  The world that Will Henry is thrown into is brutal, harsh and violent.  And it certainly contains moments of horror.  Much of the horror takes place in flashbacks as people are interviewed about the creatures that this book centers around, but it all builds toward an epic battle in which the headless Anthropophagi (with roots in several places in literature, as is referenced at the beginning of this book) are confronted by Will Henry and a team of men that must hunt them down.  The parties involved in this book all have differing opinions on the subject of monsters, and argue about their philosophies quite a bit, but I like how the Anthropophagi are pretty much explained as being natural beasts in the wild, like any animal, only more brutal.  It makes their nightmarish behavior even more scary somehow.  Yancey has a knack for describing the events of this book in splendidly gory detail in a story that is action-packed and terrifying, but with flawed characters that are very human, each plagued by their own personal demons.