Best Book I Have Not Read

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare October 28, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:44 am
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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

young adult

release date August 31, 2010

ARC courtesy of publisher

Infernal Devices Book 1

  • This series is a prequel to Mortal Instruments and takes place in 19th century London. In an interview you can see on Amazon, Cassandra Clare is seen talking about the year she spent researching by reading books set in Victorian England and taking several trips to London. It is certainly reflected in the setting of the book!
  • While checking links on this review, I very happily discovered that the cover for Book 4 of The Mortal Instruments will be released December 2010, with a book release April 2011. I mistakenly thought The Mortal Instruments was a trilogy. Who knew there was going to be another book in the Mortal Instruments series, much less a 5th and 6th!? I also found  a Publisher’s Weekly Article I had missed. Happy news!
  • I happen to love the Mortal Instrument inspired jewelry on Etsy that I found through a link on Cassandra Clare’s blog or website.

In Clockwork Angel, the main character Tessa Gray, has traveled to England to meet up with her brother. She is unwittingly kidnapped by the Dark Sisters, an evil of an unknown variety. Against her will , the sisters begin to teach Tesaa about her power-one she never knew or suspected. She can transform into another person. The Dark Sisters are intent on Tessa perfecting her power, so she can be married to The Magister.

Much to Tessa’s good fortune, she is rescued by Shadowhunters, Will and Jem and through their protection, is rescued from the Dark Sisters. England is not what she thought it would be, and Tessa finds herself reliant on the protection that Will and James are able to provide her through The Institute. The other occupants, Charlotte Branwell, Jessamine Lovelace, Henry, and others all become key to Tessa learning who she is and what she is capable of.

As the group work together to try to find Tessa’s brother and to get to the bottom of Dark Sisters, The Magister and The Club, Tessa finds herself torn between James, the handsome warrior who keeps a dark secret and appears physcially fragile on occassion and Will, angry, unpredictable, and extremely handsome.

I loved seeing a few characters from the Mortal Instrument Series are blended into the story. It was like coming across an old friend and learning even more about them. Mundanes, Nephilim, Vampires, Warlocks. This book has it all in a breathtaking adventure story.

Don’t wait, go read Book One of The Infernal Devices for yourself!


 

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar October 25, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:11 am
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The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Young Adult, 352 pages

The Cardturner first hit my radar at ALA. I received a review copy of the first couple chapters and I found the cover intriguing as well as the first couple chapter titles. Finding the book in my local library on audiobook was a recent happy find. Every other Saturday I drive an hour one way to grad class. Audiobooks help make the time more enjoyable.

When I first put in The Cardturner, I have to admit I had a healthy dose of skeptism. I have to admit that if I’d had another audiobook or wasn’t starting an hour drive at 7 am on a Saturday morning, I might have turned it off. That would have been a mistake! What led to my initial reaction? First, the author narrates the book, and I wasn’t too sure at first about Louis Sachar’s voice being the right choice for audio. I really like his other books though, so I decided to try to get over it.

Second, The book starts with an author’s note, while very witty, also made me feel skeptical about the book. Did I really want to read a book about the card game Bridge? I’ve never played it. I don’t know anything about it. I couldn’t imagine there was enough to fill a book about that would hold my attention.

Good thing for me, there was no turning back.

The Cardturner is a great story of Alton Richards, a teenager who doesn’t have too much going for him. His parents don’t seem to have very many positive interactions with him, but despite this, he does not turn into “angry teen” or “misunderstood teen”. This was a nice change of pace in a contemporary young adult book.

In an attempt to procure some of his wealthy uncle’s money for the family, Alton’s mother volunteers him to be his uncle’s cardturner for a card game. Uncle Lester is gruff, terse, wealthy, and blind. She doesn’t bother to mention that the card turning is not just for a single game, but multiple times a week. For the whole summer.

Through Alton’s cardturning for his Uncle Lester, the reader learns about the card game Bridge, just as Alton does: one card at a time. Much to Alton’s initial disbelief, his uncle Lester can play the game as well as he did before he became blind just by Alton reading the hand he is dealt to him at the beginning and then playing the cards instructed to him.

I have to admit that I became pretty intrigued by the idea of Bridge as a pairs game. Why don’t people play more cards? Do I know anyone who plays Bridge? How does one go about learning to play? Could I have friends over to play Bridge or some other card game and have it be fun for all? Hmmm….

In addition to the unfolding relationship between Alton and his uncle Lester, I also really enjoyed Alton’s relationship with his younger sister. Once again, it was refreshing to have such a positive brother-sister relationship portrayed without it being any big deal. Eleven year old sister, sixteen year old brother. Not usually a relationship that includes helping each other, playing cards together, and an unspoken alliance to survive their dysfunctional parents.

Alton’s friend Cliff and new friend Tony, also are realistic relationships that Sachar does a wonderful job of developing.

I kept being reminded of Richard Peck’s Grandma Dowdel. I even typed Peck’s name a few times in place of Sachar’s and had to watch myself for that oversight. The age difference between characters, the back story that is revealed about uncle Lester, all is reminisent of the storytelling variety found in A Long Way from Chicago.

I think this book might make a fun read aloud, with time spent actually trying out some of the card hands Alton learns. I also think it would be big fun to make the foghorn sound whenever the reader got the whale symbol in the book, indicating the reader is coming to a part that might be difficult to understand, as it is mostly “bridge jibberish” (Alton’s words) explained in detail. A nice summary box comes right after, allowing the reader to choose to skip the “jibberish” if it’s not to their liking and still be able to understand the story.

Overall a great contemporary young adult story that I highly recommend.

 

Books Floating Around the House September 8, 2010

Filed under: audiobook,book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:03 am

Reviews to write:

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I’ve stalled reading The Replacement and it is creeping me out. I don’t think I can get through it.

I am loving Revolution by Jennifer Donnley. It’s a book that keeps amazing me with how good it is!

I’m still reading The Magician by Lev Grossman to see if it might be a good fit for my book club.

 

‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll August 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 am

‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll.

It’s quite the big deal: 18 authors, 12 days, 11 cities. Kicking off on September 13 in Austin, Tex., and wrapping up on September 25 in Brampton, Ontario, the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour is entirely organized and funded by the participating paranormal romance writers. The grassroots tour was masterminded by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series) with the help of Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series), both of whom will appear at every event, as will a third headliner, Alyson Noël (the Immortals series). Aside from this trio, the author lineup will change at each venue, with six to nine Chicks in attendance. Here’s how it all came together.

Marr, one of the driving forces behind the group tour, will appear at every event.

The seeds of the tour—so titled to emphasize the strong, capable heroines in the authors’ fiction—were planted in June 2009, when Marr was slated to take part in several group author events for her publisher, HarperCollins. “In addition to that, on my own I had set up group signings during the RT Booklovers Convention in April and during BEA in May,” Marr says. “And my friend Kelley Armstrong and I were also signing together during RWA. So the idea of group touring was on my mind.”

During that BEA, Marr mentioned the idea of doing a multi-author tour to Holly Black, who Marr recalls “indicated that she thought it sounded like fun.” From there, Marr broached the subject with Armstrong, who says, “I jumped right in. Melissa and I then came up with a wish list of who, besides Holly, we wanted to be with us on the tour and where we wanted to go. Our wish list was so long that we didn’t get nearly down to the bottom of it before we had a full lineup.”
The criteria for making that list were quite simple. “We included authors whose books Kelley and I have enjoyed because of their strong female protags, and then we read books by some debut and up-and-coming authors,” Marr says. We then started sending out invitations, and in short order had even more authors than we expected. Almost everyone said yes.”

Kelley Armstrong also helped organize the tour, which is entirely funded by the participating authors.

Bookseller response to the tour was equally enthusiastic, leading Marr and Armstrong to expand the tour from the originally planned six or eight cities to 11 (there will be two events in Houston). The authors publicized the tour on Facebook, and Marr sent an e-mail to booksellers she knows. “I wrote, ‘I know you do good events and I’m wondering if you’re interested.’ They all said ‘yes!’ Then booksellers I didn’t already know reached out, and readers requested we visit their cities, so we added a few more stops.”

The organizers then sent out a questionnaire to the authors to help them decide who would attend which events and eventually devised the schedule, taking into account authors’ preferences and some stores’ specific requests for authors. “In some instances, we scheduled authors to appear at events near their hometowns, since they prefer less travel,” says Armstrong. “But some authors told us to send them anywhereexcept close to where they live.”

The authors hired Media Masters Publicity to help with the tour’s rather daunting logistics. Karen Wadsworth, a partner in the firm, eagerly tackled the organizational challenge. “Making sure the 12 hosting booksellers and 18 participating Chicks stay informed and organized is priority number one for us,” she says. “Spreadsheets, detailed itineraries, and open lines of communication have been key.”

Melissa Marr with fans at a Miami appearance.

As the launch of the tour approaches, Wadsworth notes, “We are now immersed in the details, like making sure the Chicks, who are coming from all corners of the country as well as overseas, are wherethey are supposed to be whenthey are supposed to be there.” To promote the tour, Media Masters is sending participating bookstores posters, t-shirts, and swag baskets to give away, and has been contacting local press and librarians to help spread the word. “This has been a terrific experience,” says Wadsworth. “We can’t wait to tackle Smart Chicks Kick It Tour 2.0!”

Also upbeat about the tour is Suzanne Dupree, young adult program coordinator for Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. The bookstore is hosting nine authors (Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Carrie Ryan, in addition to the headliners) at a September 21 event at Encinitas County Library. “This is the first time we’ve had this many authors at one venue,” she says. “Our store provides the books for publishers’ booths at Comic-Con, and we’ve been joking that this is our mini Comic-Con.”
The bookseller, who began organizing the event in March and expects some 300 fans to attend, has ordered copies of nearly 60 different novels for the signing. “A lot of these authors are big favorites of our staff, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the tour,” she remarks. “I think these authors are the smartest chicks in the world to do this on their own—it’s a great idea.”

Armstrong signing books at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, one of the stores that will host the tour this fall.

Barbara Hudson, PR and events coordinator for Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, will host six Chicks on September 24. She anticipates between 150 and 300 attendees, and has ordered a significant number of books for the event. “I tend to go heavier with the buying when there are multiple authors, since people are often being introduced to new authors they decide they’d like to read,” she says. “These are big-name authors, and with this group it’s going to be electric. Hearing their conversation will be the biggest and best part of the evening.”

Indeed, the authors hope that the tour events will engender lively conversations among them and their audiences. At each venue, the participants will briefly introduce themselves and their books, and then a Q&A session will take place before the authors sign books. “We will encourage people to ask us broader questions about writing and books in general rather than about specific books or series, so that all of us can answer and take part in the conversation,” Armstrong says. “When readers come up to us during the signing, we’ll be happy to answer questions about individual books.”
Marr understandably has high expectations for the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour. “It is an excuse to spend time with some great women, to visit booksellers and librarians, to chat with readers, and in all, have fun,” she says. And she hopes that fans, too, will enjoy the events. “Ideally, we’ll all walk away thinking, smiling, and glad we spent some time together. It’s no different than time with friends or family: it should nourish our spirits in some way.”
In addition to the authors mentioned above, tour participants are Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jessica Verday, Kimberly Derting, Melissa de la Cruz, Jennifer Barnes, Jackson Pearce, and Jeri Smith-Ready.
 

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver June 28, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:41 pm

The first time I laid eyes on before i fall by Lauren Oliver was at NCTE last November. I was given a spiffy swag postcard for a free digital download. The cover is captivating, memorable, and had me intrigued.

When I got around to downloading the book (I wasn’t in a huge hurry; my jury is still out on digital books), the offer had expired.

Imagine my delight when I was returning some books to my public library, when I looked behind the librarian and spotted an advance review copy of the book that someone had deposited in the night drop several weeks before.

My delight over spotting only grew more as the librarian agreed to let me take it home to read.

Imagine having to live the day you die over. Again. And again. At the moment Sam realizes she is dying, she awakens to start the day all over. Each “death/awakening” leads her to make different choices. She ranges from rash-trying to seduce her high school teacher, to touching-spending the whole day with her younger sister.
This page-turner will lead readers to think about how the choices that are made affect others and how even small actions, can influence others. That’s a message that middle school and high school readers can’t hear enough in my opinion.

Samantha is brutally honest about how she came about being one of the most popular girls in her high school. The things she and her friends have done over the years to secure their spot in the high school food chain is not pretty.  Despite my first opinion of Sam-a pretty unlikable character, I found myself rooting for her and wanting the outcome to be different. I found it to be quite the tear-jerker as I raced through the book.

I keep looking at the cover to see if there are images in those eyes if you look close enough?

A great read. I look forward to reading her next book when it comes out in February 2011. The author was delightful while she signed autographs at ALA this past weekend.

 

Mortal Instrument series: City of Bones, City of ASHES, City of Glass January 6, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:23 pm
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The Mortal Instruments series

by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones

City of Ashes

City of Glass

Margaret McElderry Books, 2007, 2008, 2009

541 pages

I first had City of Bones recommended to me at Teachers College this summer by TC staff developer Mary Ehrenworth. I had seen it on the bookstore shelf before that, but had passed over it due to the heavily inked male torso that makes up much of the cover (not a fan of tattoos).

Even though I was initially put off by the cover, I picked it up when I was in New York this summer. The other book she had been recommending was Hunger Games and I certainly loved that book, so I figure we had to have a similar taste in books.

I immediately started reading City of Bones while I was there, which was not good thing when it came to finishing my assigned reading each evening. Adding to the happy reading experience for me was the New York City setting. I was able to recognize parts of the book in the city. I still would have enjoyed the book without having had a New York City experience, but it would have impacted my reading some.  It made the setting feel more like an old friend, rather than some of the settings in books where I have never been (say LA or London).

The Mortal Instruments will find fans among those who enjoy Percy Jackson books as well as those who enjoy Twilight books. Main character Clary witnesses teenagers Jace, Isabella, and Alex kill another teen, but no one can see the body, or killers, besides her. Clary goes on to find out that the teens are Shadowhunters, humans with powers to track and kill demons. Soon enough, her own mother is kidnapped by demons, and it is the Shadowhunters who come to her aid.

The “human” characters of Clary, her best friend Simon, and surrogate father, Luke are compelling characters, as are Jace, Isabella, and Alec, the “Shadowhunter” characters. A great fantasy story set in “modern-day” New York City, you’ll be happy that all three in the trilogy are already out for your reading pleasure!




 

Hush, Hush-a great gift for your teen reader December 12, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:25 am
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Hush, Hush

by Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster, 2009

400 pages

Young Adult

Check out that cover. Can you help but be intrigued by what appears to be an extremely well-built angel falling from the sky? Besides being intrigued by the cover, I had seen a little bit about this book when it first came out in October. Then it, and the author, seemed to be receiving a great deal of attention/publicity at NCTE. The publisher had a special invitation to a cupcake “party” and author signing at NCTE that was attracting additional interest. My curiosity was piqued. I picked it up and started reading it immediately. I stayed up late and was hard pressed to put it down to sleep. The next day at the Middle School Mosaic: Being the Book to Being the Change session I had the opportunity to sit at a table next to the author for one of the roundtable discussions. The woman sitting on the other side of me had stayed up late and was within pages of finishing. She loved the book! The author, Becca Fitzpatrick was kind and charming. She had wanted to be a spy when she went to college. As a birthday present, her husband had been torn between getting her Japanese cooking classes or an online writing class. That was 6 years ago, which is when Hush, Hush was born. I think her readers will agree with her that we are glad she didn’t get the Japanese cooking lessons.  While there are similarities to Twilight that critics and readers will notice, but author Becca Fitzpatrick states that her ideas are her own and she wrote for the entertainment of her sixteen year old self. She was drawn to YA by Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Hush, Hush is the story of Nora Grey, a young high school girl who wasn’t very interested in boys, despite pressure from her best friend Vee. Enter bad boy Patch, the new dark and mysterious student at her high school. Soon her encounters with danger are oddly paired with the appearance of Patch. I don’t have a background in fallen angels or nephilium, but just as I had no background in vampire lore, I was able to completely lose myself in the book. Mind candy. Sometimes you can’t beat it. I enjoyed the smart girl, bad boy love story that was fraught with suspense and tension (not just the sexual kind!).

A great holiday gift for those looking to push the Twilight reader out of the rereading rut and into another book. You can listen to the first chapter on the author’s website.  Also check out the fan site FallenArchAngel.com.

The sequel is planned for fall 2010. Just in time for the next year’s holiday gift.