Monday, October 31, 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray Review

By Claudia Gray

Sept. 13, 2011
HarperTeen, 336 pages
Source: Purchased

Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.

Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.

In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.

— description

When you just read the description of this book, easily summed up as “werewolves on the Titanic,” admit it, you were sort of like, “Seriously?!”

But no, stop and think about it. The Titanic, thanks to Leo & Kate, is engrained in all* our minds as a setting prime for adventure and steamy looooove. Add werewolves into the mix? Hello, murder! What up, drama!

And, truly, it all came together and just WORKED IT. This is my favorite of Claudia Gray’s books to date. I think it has something to do with how seamlessly the romance was blended with the historical setting and paranormal. Three genres in one, and fans of all three will probably be delighted!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

*If you haven’t seen this movie, I worry for you. Do you have electricity? Cable? Okay, good. So turn on your TV and go to the search area. Titanic is bound to be playing sometime in the next 48 hours. Hit record. Trust.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In My Mailbox 26

"In My Mailbox" is a weekly post hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren about what new books we got in the mail (or library or whatever) this week.

First of all HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Here's a pic of my some members of my book club at a big party Friday night. Why, yes, I am sitting next to Katniss Everdeen...

From NetGalley:

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

(Thank you to NetGalley, Random House, Tanglewood and Sourcebooks!)

From Publishers:

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes (There was a lot of !!!! involved when this one came, details later)
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

(Thank you to Candlewick, Little, Brown and Scholastic!)


This month's book club pick -- Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder ... because April told me to!

From the Library:

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima


In the mail today, a surprise gift from Sash that had me screaming "WHAT!" Then, "YES YES YES!"

A Million Suns by Beth Revis. This is my "I cannot believe a stranger could be so kind to me/my day is made" face. I LOVE YOU, SASH!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Friday, October 28, 2011

Anna's Foray into Romance Novels

I saw Sarah MacLean's Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord recommended time and time again online. I've never read a romance book before, so I figured, why not try it out?

Well, holy heck I loved them. I thought these books would be trashy and anti-feminist, but they were surprisingly smart and funny.

But they left me thinking: How the heck do people read these books in public? Seriously, this was a big hangup. You should have seen me on the El on the way to work, trying to hide the covers with my hands.

So, romance readers, two questions:

1. Seriously, do you just read these as eBooks or just not in public? Or are you just less shy than I am?
2. I liked these -- so can you share any other recommendations in the genre?

If anyone else is nervous about branching out to these much-maligned genre, I say give it a go!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr Review

How to Save a Life
By Sara Zarr

Oct. 18, 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.

— description

I can’t stop thinking about this book. And that actually shocks me. Because it’s about teen pregnancy. Which I don’t like to read about. Which is why it took me months to read it after I picked it up at BookExpo America earlier this year.

But here’s the thing, it’s also by Sara Zarr. The woman who brought me Cameron Quick and one of my favorite book covers of all time (Sweethearts). So why did I ever doubt her?

No clue. I’m such a fool. Instead of being preachy and all made-for-TV-movie-ish, this book is equal parts serious and swoony. And it’s more than just a book about a kid who got knocked up. It’s also about death and hope and BOYS and family.

Jill and Mandy, our narrators, did piss me off sometimes. But in a good way in which I’m like “Wow, I think this book is challenging my emotions and thought processes. Sneaky Sara Zarr!”

But, okay, honesty moment: One of the real reasons I can’t stop thinking about it is because Sara Zarr has created a boy who, in my opinion, seriously gives Cameron Quick a run for his money. SERIOUSLY I LOVE HIM.

I’ll let you figure out who he is for yourself because that’s part of the fun of the book, but seriously, don’t make the same mistake I did -- read this book STAT. It’s a keeper.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to shine a spotlight on upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney
By Abby McDonald
336 pages
Candlewick, to be released January 24, 2012

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession — ahem, affection — is her best friend,Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie’s feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep blue eyes).

For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett’s constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to ’80s indie rock — all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder — until he calls to say he’s fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she’s finally had enough. It’s time for a total Garrett detox!

Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

— description

Ahaha this sounds like JUST my brand of humorous, contemporary fluff. Garrett sounds like a lot of jerks I knew in high school, and I can't wait to follow Sadie as she learns what I know now -- nothing good ever comes from crushing on these self-centered, pretentious types.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Monday, October 24, 2011

Top 10 Halloween Books for Teens

It's Top 10 Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) and the topic is:
Top 10 Books to Read During Halloween

name of the star maureen johnson book coverShadowland Mediator Book 1 Meg Cabot

Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Shadowland: The Mediator, Book 1 by Meg Cabot

Ashes Ilsa Bick book coverForest of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan book cover

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Body Finder Kimberly Derting book cover

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Prom Nights from Hell book coverMorganville Vampires book cover Rachel Caine

Humor/general insanity:
Prom Nights from Hell, stories from Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer and more
Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine

Replacement Brenna Yavonoff book coverCryer's Cross Lisa McMann book cover

Spooky books I still want to read:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Replacement by Brenna Yavonoff
Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

Anna Reads young adult book blog

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan Review

I'll Be There Holly Goldberg Sloan book coverI’ll Be There
By Holly Goldberg Sloan

May 17, 2011
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 400 pages
Source: Library

Sam Border wishes he could escape. Raised by an unstable father, he's spent his life moving from place to place. But he could never abandon his little brother, Riddle.

Riddle Border doesn't talk much. Instead, he draws pictures of the insides of things and waits for the day when the outsides of things will make sense. He worships his older brother. But how can they leave when there's nowhere to go? Then everything changes. Because Sam meets Emily.

Emily Bell believes in destiny. She sings for her church choir, though she doesn't have a particularly good voice. Nothing, she feels, is mere coincidence. And she's singing at the moment she first sees Sam.

Everyone whose path you cross in life has the power to change you--sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in ways greater than you could have ever known. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel deftly explores the idea of human connection.

— description

Granted, Emily is painfully off-key when she performs this song in I'll Be There, but I thought sharing this gorgeous Jackson 5 version would be a fitting tribute to such a gorgeous book.

I'll Be There is a beautiful work of art that speaks to the power of human connection and the universal hope that love, justice and kindness will prevail. Huge themes, but they are masterfully tackled by Holly Goldberg Sloan* in one shattering scene after another. 

If you read this book and don’t feel moved -- don’t just OOZE empathy for these characters -- I fear you are a robot. Because oh, my word, is this a powerful story. I'll Be There is one of the most intriguing books I've read this year, and one I highly recommend.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

*Fun fact: The author is the writer/director behind movies Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies Review

A Beautiful Dark Jocelyn Davies book coverA Beautiful Dark
By Jocelyn Davies

Sept. 27, 2011
HarperTeen, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

A Beautiful Dark is the first book in a captivating trilogy by debut author Jocelyn Davies.

— description

If you think you're over love triangles in paranormal books, think again. I mean, sure, this may look textbook to some: One boy’s brunette; the other blonde. One’s a “bad boy”; the other’s shy.

But it never felt that way. The characters -- the boys, the best friends, the main character -- all felt like strong personalities.

Okay, so if I had to choose, Asher may have been my favorite. He's jokey and overly confident, and I'd have been happy if he'd been in every scene.

But the point is, this is just what I wanted: Something to remind me why I keep coming back to this genre again and again. There's some good stuff, even if it's all sort of been done. Paranormal fans will love it, and those who are iffy -- like me -- should give it a go.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Click here to enter to win my giveaway of A Beautiful Dark and four other HarperTeen titles! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick Review

Ashes Ilsa Bick book coverAshes
By Ilsa J. Bick

Sept. 6, 2011
EgmontUSA, 480 pages
Source: Publisher

It could happen tomorrow . . .

An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

— description

I would not survive the zombie apocalypse. I just wouldn’t. My face would be eaten, donezo, end game, over and out. I can’t make a fire, my knee is too janked up to run fast and I can’t stay quiet long enough to stay in hiding.

But I’m cool with that. Someone’s got to feed the angry hordes.

Instead, I read about it. I’m such a girly girl, but I can’t help but LOVE books about kids trapped in the woods and forced to defend themselves (a la Hunger Games, Eve, Blood Red Road, The Road, etc.).

There’s something about isolation that makes a character reveal her true self, plus there’s no better way to push someone over the edge than to force her to rely on the kindness of strangers.

And Ilsa Bick did this so freaking well in Ashes. My emotions were toyed with, my heart was pounding, and I could not put it down. Alex’s strength was amazing and the little makeshift family she found for herself in the woods was just…agh, even thinking about it gets my heart aching.

But, be warned. This book does have a bit of multiple personality disorder. Halfway through the book, the setting shifted, characters were added and I was in serious “WTF mode.” Is this the same book? Is this real life? Did this just happen? Yeah.

However, the first half was so insanely strong, I have to believe the choices in the second half were made for a reason. Maybe I’m holding on to a thread here, but I have to say this book is worth a read, and I’ll be sticking around, crossing my fingers, praying the sequel helps me see the light.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HarperTeen Authors on Fictional Crushes, High School and More

On Sunday, HarperTeen's Dark Days tour came to Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., and I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with four fantastic authors -- Jocelyn Davies, Amy Garvey, Claudia Gray and Kiersten White.

Subjects covered include:

1) Kiersten's history as the high school loudmouth
2) Amy's dream day in NYC
3) Why Jocelyn would make a good mermaid (besides her pretty hair)
4) And what would lead Peeta Mellark to tell Claudia, "I will love and defend you forever. Here's a cupcake."

Our chat, with the narration and camerawork of my dear friend Heidi from YA Bibliophile...

Love 'em? Want more? Enter below for a chance to win their books, plus Eve by fellow HarperTeen author Anna Carey.

Authors, I cannot thank you enough for sitting down to talk to me and being so friendly. What a treat!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Monday, October 17, 2011

Best YA Book Covers and Best YA Book Titles

It's Top 10 Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) and the topic is
Top 10 Books with Covers or Titles That Made Me Buy Them

5 Books I Judged (Positively!) by Their Covers:
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

5 Titles That Had Me at Hello:
Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Anna Reads young adult book blog
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