13 to Life

I am happy to say that I am ending the year much like I began it–reading great YA books.  I spent much of today reading, so I will have one final post before 2010 draws to a close.  My final book of the year is Shannon Delaney’s 13 to Life, a wonderful first book in what is sure to be a gripping new series.  This is paranormal YA fiction at its finest, and, in my opinion, this book will appeal to middle school, high school, and adult readers alike.  (I’m sure the same will be true of upcoming books in this series.)  The main character, Jessica, was relatable (if a bit frustrating at times), and I think many readers, male and female, may identify with her a bit.

Jessica Gillmansen doesn’t have the easiest life.  After the death of her mother, she’s doing all she can to hold everything together while convincing those around her she’s not a danger to herself.  She’s trying her best to keep everything on an even keel, but that may not be entirely possible.  Strange things are happening around her town, and Jessica’s reporter instincts tell her that there is a mysterious story unfolding around her.

How right she is.  Things get even stranger when Jessica becomes the guide for a new student at school.  He’s tall, dark, handsome, mysterious–all the things most teenage girls go nuts over–but Jessica is largely unimpressed and just wants to escape from showing the new kid, Pietr Rusakova, the ropes at school.  Pietr, however, may have other ideas.  He makes his interest in Jessica crystal clear, and, hard as it may be to admit it, Jessica finds herself drawing closer to this enigmatic guy with secrets in his eyes.

As is so often the case when it comes to teens and romance, things do not proceed smoothly for Pietr and Jessica.  See, Jessica also has the hots for popular jock Derek, Pietr is reluctantly dating Jessica’s friend Sarah (who is not exactly who she seems to be, in my opinion), Pietr’s family is wary of Pietr’s involvement with Jessica, and there’s just some weird stuff going on that the two are hard-pressed to explain to anyone else or each other.  Throw in some werewolves and some bad guys who may or may not be connected to the Russian Mafia, and you’ve got quite the mess.  It’s really a lot for a couple of almost-seventeen-year-olds to take.  But try they must.  What will happen with Jessica and Pietr?  Will they reveal their secrets to each other?  Can they really be together with so much stacked against them?  I’ll let you decide when you read 13 to Life by Shannon Delaney.

I really did enjoy this book, especially the connections made to classic literature.  13 to Life made references to several works, including Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, and The Merchant of Venice.  I just love it when that happens.  I think it arouses curiosity and may lead readers to revisit these great masterpieces of literature.  I can hardly wait to see where Shannon Delaney takes us in the next book, especially since 13 to Life ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.  The next book, Secrets and Shadows is due out in February of 2011, so at least I won’t have to wait long to find out more.

To learn more about the 13 to Life series and author Shannon Delaney, visit http://www.13tolifeseries.com/.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year, and I’ll see you in 2011!

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Eternal Ones

This may be my final post of 2010 (unless I read all day tomorrow…which is entirely possible).  It’s been quite a year, and I’m honestly glad it’s almost over.  I really hope 2011 is kinder to me than 2010 was…but that’s another story for another day.  On with the show.

Today, I finished reading The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller.  This book has been on my “to read” list for quite a while, and I finally got to it.  I am so glad I did!  This book was wonderful, and I am eagerly anticipating the next installment.  For all of you teachers and librarians out there, I would recommend this book for ages fifteen and up.  There is a bit of mature content that may not be appropriate for middle-grade readers, but I will say that the content in this book is quite understated and not nearly as blatant as many other YA novels.

In The Eternal Ones, we meet Haven Moore.  Haven has lived in a small Tennessee town her entire life.  Why then, does she have such specific knowledge of New York City?  Why is she drawn to that particular city?  And why, for as long as she can remember, has she been having visions of a girl named Constance and a boy named Ethan?  The truth is as unbelievable as it is unsettling for Haven and everyone else in Snope City, Tennessee.  Haven is remembering her past life as Constance and her relationship with Ethan.  Her grandmother is convinced that Haven is possessed by a demon, and she does everything in her power to keep Haven on the straight-and-narrow and away from New York.

But Haven is drawn to New York, and, when things go from bad to worse in her small town, she escapes to the big city to find the one thing she’s always been looking for–Ethan.  She even knows who he is now–the famed playboy Iain Morrow.  She knows he’s the love of her life (lives?), and she must find him.  What will she do when they finally meet?  Will he even remember her?

Well, Iain/Ethan knows Haven instantly, and the two seem to be embarking on a wonderful new life together, but things never really go that smoothly, do they?  Iain is lying to Haven, and she wants to know why.  She seeks help from the mysterious Ouroboros Society, a group that claims to help those who have been reincarnated.  But they may not be the help that Haven envisioned.  Who can she trust?  Who is really pulling the strings in the drama unfolding in Haven’s life?  Is there a chance that she can trust Iain, and their love story can finally have a happy ending?  Or will the forces working against them, even their own deceits, finally win and separate Iain/Ethan and Haven/Constance forever?  Read The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller to find out.

Even though I really enjoyed The Eternal Ones, I will say that Haven annoyed me a bit.  She reminded me of those girls in horror movies who insist on trusting the bad guys and doubting the good guys (who often still do stupid stuff).  I felt like screaming at her at several points, but the story kept me on the edge of my seat, and I especially liked the religious undertones in the book.  Those really made me think.

If you would like more information on this new series, including the second book, All You Desire, due out in August of 2011, I encourage you to visit http://www.theeternalones.com/, the official website of The Eternal Ones.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!  Happy reading!

Published in: on December 30, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Born at Midnight

I’m back!  After thinking I was going to be stranded in Indianapolis thanks to four inches of snow (which would practically cripple us here in South Carolina), I am finally home and ready to get back to normal.  I did finish one YA novel on my trip, an ARC of C.C. Hunter’s new book, Born at Midnight.  This book isn’t scheduled to be released until March 29th, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an advance proof of this first book in what is sure to be a wonderful new supernatural series for teen (and adult) readers.

In Born at Midnight, readers are introduced to Kylie Galen.  Kylie is going through some tough stuff.  Her parents are getting divorced, she and her boyfriend just broke up, and she gets caught at a party where drugs and alcohol are prevalent.  (She was innocent, of course.)  After the party incident, Kylie’s cold, distant mother decides to ship her off to Shadow Falls Camp for the summer.  This camp deals with troubled teens…but neither Kylie nor her mom truly realize how troubled these teens may actually be.

Kylie soon learns that Shadow Falls Camp is a refuge for troubled supernatural teens–witches, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and shapeshifters.  At first, Kylie denies she is anything like these “freaks” and does everything she can to make that point clear with anyone who will listen.  Gradually, however, she comes to accept that she may not be all that normal.  She becomes best friends with a witch and a vampire, and she has not one but two love interests.  Derek is a seemingly safe fairy, and Lucas is an anything-but-safe werewolf that Kylie has encountered previously.  While Kylie is dealing with new friendships and love interests, she’s also coming to terms with her own abilities and what this might mean for her future.

Strange things are afoot at Shadow Falls Camp.  Will Kylie embrace who she is and be a part of this new world, or will she do everything she can to return to her so-called “normal” life?  Read Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter to find out!

In this post, I just hit the basics of this awesome book.  Since I’m one of the first to review it, I didn’t want to give too much away.  I will say that the book left a lot of room for sequels, and I hope to see several of them.  There is so much the author can do with the characters at Shadow Falls Camp.  It should be a fun ride!

For more information on C.C. Hunter, Born at Midnight, and the Shadow Falls series, visit http://www.cchunterbooks.com/news.html.

Hex Hall

Thanks to an unexpected school closure today, I was able to finish my latest read, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.  I really enjoyed this book, especially the humor.  The whole time I was reading, I thought the book’s main character resembled a sarcastic, American, teenage girl version of Harry Potter.  That may not make much sense to you, but it will when you read Hex Hall.

Sophie Mercer is a witch who has a few issues controlling her powers.  After a particularly unfortunate incident at her high school prom, she is sent to a reform school for Prodigium (witches, faeries, shifters, etc.).  The school is Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall to all of its students.  And who sent Sophie to this school?  Why, her dad of course!  A man she’s never met and who just so happens to be the head of the Council (a really creative name for the law among the Prodigium).  Since Sophie was raised by her human mother, she, unlike nearly all of her classmates, doesn’t really know what it’s like to be constantly surrounded by magic.  It’s a bit of an adjustment.

Sophie immediately gets off to a rough start at Hex Hall.  She ticks off a sadistic teacher, she’s nearly attacked by a shifter, she makes enemies of the three most powerful witches at school, and her roommate is the only vampire student at the school.  Oh, and a weird ghost is also following her around.  To top all of that off, she has a monster-sized crush on the most unattainable guy at school, Archer (who happens to be dating one of Sophie’s “enemies”).  So, Sophie’s not off to a good start, and things are about to get much worse.

After some mysterious attacks that leave victims nearly drained of blood, fingers begin to point at Sophie’s vamp roommate, Jenna.  But Sophie is not sure that Jenna had anything to do with what’s going on.  How can she prove it?  Who’s really behind the attacks?  It has to be someone she knows, but who?  Could it be that the attacker is close to Sophie and is hiding right under her nose?  (Kind of gave it away there, didn’t I?)  Read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins to (sort of) uncover the mystery.

I’ll go ahead and tell you that there are going to be at least three books in the Hex Hall series.  The next is Demonglass, and it comes out on March 1, 2011 (just in time for my birthday if any of my two readers are looking to get me a gift).  Rachel Hawkins is currently working on the third book, Triple Hexxx.  For more information on this cool new series, visit http://www.rachel-hawkins.com/.

That’s probably all from me for several days.  I’ll be traveling a bit for the holidays, but I hope to have lots to post when I return home.  Happy Holidays!

Published in: on December 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Lost Hero

Well, Rick Riordan has done it again.  After the travesty that was the movie adaptation of The Lightning Thief, I thought I was done with the antics at Camp Half-Blood.  How wrong I was.  I just finished reading The Lost Hero, the first book in Riordan’s new Heroes of Olympus series, and I am absolutely hooked.  I loved how this new story and these new characters interact with the characters and events of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  There is a wonderful sense of continuity, but readers are also introduced to a new story line with its own characters and challenges.

In The Lost Hero, we are introduced to three new demigods:  Jason, Piper, and Leo.  At the beginning, they have no idea who they really are or what they can do.  After a treacherous field trip to the Grand Canyon, however, things begin to change–especially when their gym coach turns out to be a somewhat unpredictable satyr.  The three teens are spirited away to Camp Half-Blood where, one by one, they are claimed by their godly parents.  Even this is not without its conflict.  (I won’t tell you who their parents are.  That would really ruin things for you.  You’ll just have to read to find out.)

Shortly after Jason, Piper, and Leo arrive at Camp Half-Blood, they are sent on a quest–and we all know how wonderful those usually turn out, don’t we?  They must stop something truly evil from coming to life and destroying Olympus and the world as they (and we) know it.  This could prove to be a bit difficult, especially since Jason has a touch of amnesia, Piper and Leo are hiding some pretty important details, and all of the gods of Olympus have gone silent.  To sum up, things are bad, and they’re about to get much, much worse.

Can our heroes succeed in their quest?  Why were these three demigods chosen for this all-important task?  Why does Jason constantly refer to the gods and goddesses by their Roman names?  How are these events connected to Percy Jackson and his actions in the Titan War?  What will they have to do–or give up–to defeat the evil that is rising?  Read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan for the answers to these questions and more.  (I will warn you that some of these questions may be answered, but about a million more will pop up to replace them.  Awesome.)

Just like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Lost Hero (and the rest of the Heroes of Olympus series, I hope) is great for upper elementary, middle, and high school readers.  Adults will enjoy it, too!  I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, The Son of Neptune, due out in the fall of 2011.

For more information on Rick Riordan and his wonderful books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.

Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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City of Fallen Angels cover revealed!

I just received this information straight from Cassandra Clare’s blog (at http://cassandraclare.livejournal.com/45970.html). The cover for City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book in The Mortal Instruments series, has now been released! Check it out below!

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

That’s Clary and Simon on the cover.  Cool.  I cannot wait to read this book.  It will be released on April 5, 2011.

Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 2:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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Stork

It’s below freezing here in South Carolina, and I just finished a book about a girl who has a pathological hatred of the cold.  Fitting.  I’m not very fond of it myself at the moment.

Stork by Wendy Delsol revolves around Katla LeBlanc, who just moved from sunny Los Angeles to a small town in Minnesota.  Almost immediately upon arriving, Kat discovers that she is part of an ancient society–the Icelandic Stork Society.  She and her “sisters” are responsible for placing the souls of infants into chosen vessels.  If that were not enough, Katla is the youngest member of this society and their new second-in-command.  A few of these old birds are not happy.

So, Katla has all of this wonderful Stork stuff going on, but she also has to deal with her newly divorced parents, a new high school, a town where everything seems a bit backward, and two guys vying for her affections.  Actually, the guy part of the equation is an easy one to solve.  Wade, the popular, arrogant guy, is a jerk, and, after a messy encounter during the summer, Kat wants nothing to do with him.  (Of course, he has other ideas.)  The other guy, Jack, is swoon-worthy.  Well, he becomes swoon-worthy once he and Kat can be in the same room without arguing.  And it seems he has some mystical secrets of his own.  (What is up with this town?  Does everyone have magical powers?  We’ll just have to see…)

It soon becomes evident that things are not exactly what they seem in the small Minnesota town of Norse Falls.  Strange things are afoot, and Kat is in the middle of all of them.  How will this young girl fulfill her duties as a Stork?  What kind of history does she have with the enigmatic Jack?  What is so special about them?  Read Stork by Wendy Delsol to discover the fascinating truth.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I had a few problems with pronouncing some of the Scandinavian words scattered throughout.  That’s okay, though.  The story was great and made some interesting connections to Norse myth and Scandinavian folk tales.  It was pretty cool.  I look forward to reading the second book, Frost, next fall.

For more information on Stork and author Wendy Delsol, visit http://www.wendydelsol.com/.  Stay warm out there!

Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Mockingbirds

I picked up my latest read simply because I heard rave reviews about it.  It’s not my standard fare.  There are no aliens, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, or other (allegedly) mythical creatures involved.  This book is realistic fiction, and deals with a subject that many people are skittish about bringing up–date rape.  The Mockingbirds is a powerful book that demonstrates how much power students can have when they truly decide to stand up for themselves.  I think any female, and even male, readers will learn something from this book, especially that the lack of a “no” does not equal a “yes.”

Alex Patrick can’t remember what happened.  She knows she was at a concert and she had too much to drink.  She remembers flirting with a guy, Carter, but that’s where things go fuzzy.  How did she end up in Carter’s room?  What happened last night?  And why is he acting like they had the time of their lives?  Alex isn’t sure what’s going on, but she knows that something has gone terribly wrong.

When Alex tells her roommate and sister about the events of the previous evening, they bring up the worst four-letter word Alex can imagine–rape.  But she’s not sure.  If she doesn’t remember saying no, is it really rape?  Alex doesn’t want to face what happened to her, but after Carter begins telling anyone who will listen about what supposedly happened that night, Alex decides, with the help of a few friends, to take her case to the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who act as the law at the prestigious Themis Academy.

Themis Academy is known for producing Ivy League students.  So, of course, the students at Themis are above all of the typical teenage pranks, cruelty, and drama.  Most of the teachers and administration at Themis are convinced that their students are above reproach and could never do anything truly horrible.  The only thing that gets a student kicked out of this school is failing a class.  Well, the students know what really goes on.  They know people are bullied, attacked, treated unfairly, and even driven to suicide by other students.  That’s why they have the Mockingbirds.  If the adults won’t right the wrongs at this school, the students will.

As Alex and the Mockingbirds proceed with their case against Carter, Alex learns more about why the Mockingbirds exist, how the organization was created, and how they really enforce the “law” at Themis.  Throughout this process, Alex begins to return to a somewhat normal life:  She has a sort-of boyfriend, she is preparing for a huge piano recital, and she’s moving on.

But sometimes it seems as if she’s drowning in what happened to her.  She’s remembering more and more and beginning to doubt her decision to go to the Mockingbirds.  How can she ever be sure about what happened that night?  What will happen at the trial against Carter?  Will she always be known as that girl who was raped?  Find out the truth when you read The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

As I said before, this is a very powerful book, and it’s even more powerful when you learn that the author is writing from personal experience.  (Read the author’s note at the end for more information.)  The connections to To Kill a Mockingbird don’t hurt either.  While I was a bit disturbed at how most of the adults were portrayed in this book, I can honestly admit that it’s probably not too far off the mark.  From my own experiences in high school, I can say that most of the teachers have no idea what’s going on.  Even if they do, there’s not much, if anything, they can do about it.  I wish there had been an organization similar to the Mockingbirds when I was in school.  Maybe I wouldn’t have been the target of bullies so much.

I really encourage young adults, especially girls, to read The Mockingbirds.  It’s a great story, and resources on date rape are provided at the end of the book.  I would caution younger readers that this book does contain mature content, so this book may not be appropriate for middle school readers.

For more information on The Mockingbirds or author Daisy Whitney, visit http://daisywhitney.com/blog/, where I just learned that there will soon be a second Mockingbirds book.  Can’t wait!

Published in: on December 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Don’t panic, and always carry a towel.  Pretty good advice (especially if you work in an elementary school).  This is what I learned from reading Douglas Adams’ masterpiece, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  I also learned the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everthing.  (You’ll have to read the book to find the answer…or you can Google it.)

Honestly, I am ashamed that I waited so long to read this book.  It is a staple of nerd culture, and I’m just now getting to it?  Well, yeah.  But I did finally read it, and I’m now convinced it’s one of the best books ever.  (I put the rest of the series on my Christmas wish list about a minute ago.)  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is both ridiculously sublime and sublimely ridiculous.  Awesome.

I don’t want to tell you too much about this book, but I will let you in on a few things.  Earth goes kaput, a guy named Arthur hitches across the galaxy with an alien named Ford Prefect.  They run into a guy named Zaphod Beeblebrox.  This dude has two heads, is the President of the Galaxy, and he just stole a spaceship.  There’s also a depressed robot, super-intelligent mice, and lots of hilarity.  Read this book.  Now.

I will admit that I scratched my head while I was reading this book (but that may be due to dry scalp).  I was confused some of the time, but that is a common side effect when reading this book.  It’s worth it.  If you’re a fan of the ridiculous (or a complete lunatic), you might want to check out The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  As Zaphod Beeblebrox would say, “Wow.”

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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