Archive | December, 2010

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Five: Beauty Queens

30 Dec

Beauty Queens
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

“From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.
Teen beauty queens. A “Lost”-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.”
Via Goodreads

Not much is known about this novel, other than it’s brief description, and a few snippets Libba has posted on her livejournal:

“I’m writing a book about a bunch of teen beauty queens whose plane crashes on a deserted island. It’s Lord of the Flies meets Lost but with a bitchin’ talent portion and lots of sequins. Stay tuned.”

In the hands of some writers, this could be a total disaster. But I’m confident if anyone can pull this Lord of the Flies/LOST/Miss America mashup, it’s the talented and hilarious Libba Bray. It sounds unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

Beauty Queens will be released May 24th 2011, by Scholastic.

End of 2010 Survey

29 Dec

My individual “Best of 2010” posts might not be finished yet, but I thought I’d go ahead and participate in this survey from The Perpetual Page-Turner. Because you really can’t gush enough about good books. : )

1. Best book of 2010? Hands down: Anna and the French Kiss. Which I coincidentally just reviewed!

Anna and the French Kiss

2. Worst book of 2010? Nothing I read was THAT awful.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010? Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro just did not live up to the hype, in my opinion. I loved the format the story was told in, but the plot just didn’t go anywhere for me. Based on other reviews, I expected much more mystery and creepiness. The story just…existed. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater were also books that were new, to me, that I didn’t really enjoy as much as I’d hoped to. Frankly I found both a bit tedious and boring. Bonus: I cannot wait to answer this question next year, because I’m pretty sure I read an ARC of my most disappointing book of 2011 last week.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? Nevermore by Kelly Creagh. I’d heard it was good, but it was Phenomenal!

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? Vampire Academy. A lot of my friends read YA, but hadn’t heard of this series yet. I practically forced them to read it!

6. Best series you discovered in 2010? A 5-way tie: All 3 of Richelle Mead’s series (Vampire Academy, Dark Swan, Succubus), Chloe Neil’s Chicagoland Vampires series, and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series. Each one was spectacular in its own way, and completely went above and beyond my expectations.

black magic sanction

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Stephanie Perkins, Kelly
Creagh, Rachel Hawkins, Kiersten White, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Richelle Mead, Chloe Neill, Kim Harrison. I was a bit behind in my series reading, in case you can’t tell. : )


Hex Hall

8. Most hilarious read of 2010? I like the bits of humor woven into all of the Hollows/Rachel Morgan books. Rachel’s pixie partner Jenks is definitely one of my top 10 favorite characters of all time. His very inventive swearing never fails to make me laugh. Especially when it involves slandering “sell out” pixie Tinkerbell by saying things like “Tink’s a Disney Whore”.

Dead Witch Walking: Japanese Cover
Jenks and Rachel on the Japanese cover of Dead Witch Walking.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010? All 3 of the Hunger Games novels. Another great discovery I made, very late.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead.
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? Nightshade by Andrea Cremer was definitely the prettiest!

12. Most memorable character in 2010? Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy and Rachel Morgan from the Hollows.

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? I thought Carrie Ryan’s The Dead Tossed Waves had some beautifully written passages.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Vampire Academy. It made me fall back in love with reading after a long dry spell. And lead me to discover one of my new favorite authors. Pretty much starting a chain reaction of new literary discoveries.

15. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? The Hunger Games. I put book 1 on my Amazon wish list in 2008. I can’t believe I held out that long. And that people I know told me “not to read it because it was awful.” What?!?!? But in a way, I’m also glad I waited. If I had to wait a year between each book, I would have had a meltdown.

Book Blogging in 2010 (optional):

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? Too many to count! I’ve always read a few, but this year discovered some amazing new blogs.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010? I’m so new, I haven’t written that many yet. But I’m pretty proud of my Anna and the French Kiss review.

3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? I had an amazing time at both Charlaine Harris’ and Richelle Mead’s release day signings in NYC this year.

Charlaine Harris Signing 3
Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris Signing 7

Richelle Mead

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2010? Having people embrace me and friend me my very first week of blogging. Reaching nearly 1,000 hits my first week helped too.

7. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.) Paperback swap was new to me this year, and provided me with dozens of new books to read. Joining netgalley was great too. I was offered e-ARC’s to read my first week online!

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Four: Across the Universe

29 Dec

Across the Universe

“Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone–one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship–tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.”
Via Goodreads.

Chronologically, with a release less than two weeks away,Across the Universe is one of the first books on my 2011 must reads list. Even if it wasn’t one of the first books of the year, it would still rank high on my most anticipated list. I haven’t read a single negative thing about this story on goodreads, or review blogs. From what I’ve read, it sounds unlike anything else currently available for the YA market. I’m eager to read something a little more focused on science fiction, a genre I feel has been significantly absent from both my reading and tv watching life since Battlestar Galactica went off the air. ATU is author Beth Revis’ literary debut, which makes it all the more exciting to read. And it’s part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge!

The book trailer:

I’ve already pre-ordered my copy from Amazon, who *claims* it will arrive on the day of release! I’m so curious to find out if Across the Universe lives up to all the hype.

You can read the first chapter online, and learn more about Beth at her blog.

Across the Universe will be published by Razorbill, January 11, 2011.

Top 10 of 2010: Anna and the French Kiss

29 Dec

Anna and the French Kiss

“Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?” Via Goodreads.

I haven’t been running my “best of 2010” book posts in order, but it’s safe to say Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins, is my #1 pick of 2010.

I stopped reading most contemporary YA romance novels a few years ago. When I read, I want to escape reality. So paranormal and fantasy books swiftly took over my reading list. I’m so glad I broke my self-imposed rule to read this book! I’d been hearing nothing but good things via twitter posts from authors I admire (Like Kiersten White, and Rachel Hawkins) for months. So when I found Anna on the shelf a month early at the Strand in NYC, I was ecstatic…Then I let it sit on my shelf for a month. I’m a firm believer that books “choose you” when it’s the right time to read them. The blizzard that struck the Northeast the day after Christmas ended up providing me with the prime reading opportunity. Now that it’s made my best of 2010 list, I’m a bit mad at myself for not reading it sooner!

The story is so incredibly well written, honest, and REAL. Stephanie Perkins has perfectly captured what it feels like to be a teenager, and unsure of yourself or your heart. Anna is cute, smart, and has the strength to stand up for herself. Against her better judgment, she falls hopelessly in love with her (taken) new best friend Etienne St. Clair, but refuses to let him walk all over her in the process.

As for St. Clair? He’s gorgeous, charismatic, and funny, but not too perfect. From his physical appearance (he’s short, and has some crooked teeth) to his behavior (his inability to dump his girlfriend for Anna, running away from his problems), he’s a wonderfully flawed love interest.

The romance development is slow, almost painfully slow. But the story is even sweeter for it. There are dozens of accidental touches—like knees brushing in a dark theatre– before kissing comes in to play. Plenty of obstacles stand between the two lovers: a girlfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a handful of misunderstandings. And of course, time–they’re only in Paris for a year. Rather than being “soul mates” (gag) whose world revolves around their lover, Anna and Etienne get to know each other gradually over the course of that year, before realizing they’re in love. Together, they bring out the best in each other, like true love should.

Unlike a lot of books I’ve been reading lately, even the secondary characters are fully developed. From Anna and St. Clair’s circle of friends, to St. Clair’s mother (whom we never even meet!) to Anna’s little brother. I felt like I knew each of them, and was right there in the middle of the action with them. And the action just happens to be non-stop. There isn’t a single dull moment in the entire book, which had me hooked by the second page. I can’t wait to read the two companion novels “Lola and the Boy Next Door” and “Isla and the Happily Ever After”, which come out in 2011, and 2012 respectively. After reading Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins has definitely been added onto my favorite authors list. Not only is her book amazing, she has an adorable blog, with stories from her life, and trials of getting her work published. She’s so open and honest about it all, it’s like reading the blog of a close friend.

Anna and the French Kiss is the one book of 2010 I’ll be recommending to every reader I know, regardless of age, sex, or “preferred reading genre”.

It’s just that good!

Anna and the French Kiss is available now from Dutton.

5/5 Stars.

Merry Christmas!

24 Dec

Christmas 2010 -2

Wishing you a very happy holiday!

Christmas 2010 -1

Book to Movie: Water for Elephants

17 Dec

Yesterday, the official trailer for Water for Elephants was released to the world. The story of a young man who joins a Depression-era circus after the death of his parents in a car crash, “Water…” is another of my all time favorite books. It’s been passed back and forth between various members of my family for the last few years. We’re all very excited to see it come to life on the silver screen next Spring.

Water for Elephants hits theaters April 15, 2011.

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Three: The Wise Man’s Fear

17 Dec

The Wise Man's Fear
The Wise Man’s Fear

Delayed for something insane like TWO YEARS, Patrick Rothfuss’ second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series has been anxiously awaited by fantasy fans everywhere. It’s a classic coming of age story, but unlike anything to come before it. It’s at once thrilling, heartbreaking, terrifying, and epic in its scope. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read (I’m serious!) The Name of the Wind was featured on many “best of” lists back when it was first released in 2007.

“The story revolves around Kvothe, an enigmatic red-haired innkeeper who, as he shares his incredible life story with a renowned scribe, turns out to be much more than he appears. Born into a family of nomadic court performers, Kvothe’s unconventional education was broadened by spending time with fellow travelers like Abenthy, an elderly arcanist whose knowledge included, among other things, knowing the name of the wind. After his parents are brutally murdered by mythical beings known as the Chandrian, Kvothe vows to learn more about the godlike group, and after suffering through years of homelessness, he finally gets his chance when he is admitted into the prestigious University. But the pursuit of arcane knowledge brings with it unforeseen dangers, as the young student quickly learns.” Description Via Goodreads.

If The Name of the Wind has somehow escaped your attention, do yourself a favor and buy it now. I feel like nothing I could ever say will do this book justice. I have a feeling years from now, Patrick Rothfuss will be regarded with the same wonder and respect as J. R. R. Tolkien. I tell everyone who ever asks me for book recommendations to read The Name of The Wind. And word is, Wise Man’s Fear is even better.

TOR posted a spoiler free review today. Saying, in part: “It’s all light and easy to read and easy to absorb and be absorbed by. There are books that leave you feeling wrung out, and there are books that leave you feeling like you’ve had a vacation. This is definitely the latter kind.”

I didn’t think it was humanly possible for me to anticipate this book any more than I already do.

I was wrong.

Wise Man’s Fear will be released by DAW on March 1, 2011.

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part Two: Witches of East End

16 Dec

Melissa de la Cruz
Melissa de la Cruz, via her official site.

Witches of East End is New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz’s first venture into adult fiction. The new series follows the Beauchamp family, a family of three women living in the fictional town of North Hampton, who fight evil with witchcraft.

Yesterday, Melissa sent out her reader newsletter with an excerpt from the letter included at the beginning of the Witches ARC:

The Beauchamp family is composed of three fearsomely powerful women–the formidable matriarch, Joanna, and her two daughters, bookish Ingrid and wild child Freya, who have had to suppress their true magical nature for many centuries. Their story is about the joys and pains of motherhood, sisterhood, relationships, friendships, touching upon themes of loss, resurrection, true love, discovering your inner strength and female power.

I’m absolutely thrilled to write for an adult audience, as many of my Blue Bloods readers have grown up with the series, I jumped at the opportunity to create a new cast of characters to hold dear. In a cool twist, the universe of my witches crosses with that of my vampires: Freya makes an appearance in Bloody Valentine, and Blue Blood regulars Mimi Force and Oliver Hazard-Perry’s journey takes them to consult with the Beauchamp witches.

This book is a fun, delicious, sexy and frothy romp that includes star-crossed lovers, zombies, vampires and the history of Salem, a ride that begins on the beaches of the fictional town of North Hampton and leads all the way to Valhalla. I’ve always been obsessed with the tragic and beautiful tales from Norse mythology and I hope you too, will enjoy the magical, witchy soap opera that is the Witches of East End.

A little google sleuthing led me to this description of the book on Hyperion’s site:

“It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Liam, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game of desire, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

Fraught with love affairs and witchcraft, Witches of East End will capture any reader who craves a page-turning, heart-stopping story of myth and magic from an author who knows how to deliver”.

I also found a cover image, but I’ll refrain from posting it because it’s not the final version. The real cover is set to be revealed on January 7th on EW’s Shelf Life blog.

I’ve been a MdlC fan since the Au Pairs series, so I’m thrilled to see her venturing into the world of adult fiction. I was luck enough to meet Melissa at a signing back in 2007, and not only is she an amazing author, she’s also incredibly sweet. Witches, vampires, zombies, romance, mystery, Norse mythology (!!!), a Hamptons setting, Blue Bloods character crossovers, plus Melissa’s spirited storytelling? Sounds like the perfect recipe for an exciting new series!

Summer 2011 can’t come soon enough!

Witches of East End will be released by Hyperion, June 21, 2011.

11 Must Reads of 2011, Part One: Sweet Valley Confidential

15 Dec

This is the first post featuring eleven of my most anticipated books of 2011. Check back soon for the rest!

Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley High was one of my absolute favorite series growing up during the 90’s. Every time my parents took me to the mall, I’d stop in Waldenbooks and scope the shelves for new Sweet Valley titles. Sweet Valley was such a huge part of my childhood. And definitely the number one reason I wished I had a twin. So many of my friends lived vicariously through the Sweet Valley Twins, their sun kissed California friends, and their crazy adventures. The characters were so dramatic, occasionally bitchy, and full of high school angst. And the Wakefield twins were the prime example of sibling rivalry in YA literature.

Have you ever wonder what happened to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield once they grew up? Next year, we’ll all find out:

“Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.”

Francine Pascal has been quoted as saying “I can tell you that what you thought was going to happen to those people doesn’t happen. Different things happen. Ten years, from 16 to adulthood, has made very different people. And I’m having kind of good time writing it, doing what I want to do with these people.”

I seriously can’t wait to find out what’s happend to all of my favorite characters. If it’s anything like the old books, readers will be treated to plenty of drama, backstabbing, cheating, sisterly estrangement, and if the rumors are true, more “adult” concepts than the originals. Sounds like the residents of Sweet Valley have grown up right along with their audience!

Sweet Valley Confidential will be released: March 29, 2011

Get more info on the Sweet Valley Confidential Facebook page.
Read an excerpt from the first chapter here.Or via this free kindle download

Giveaway: Win a Signed Copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

13 Dec

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…

Last weekend, I picked up a brand new copy of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker at a local library sale, planning to use it for a contest. When I peeked inside to check the price, I discovered the book was signed by author Leanna Renee Hieber! Not only that, I found a second copy on the racks, also signed. Since I now own three copies of this book, I’m giving away one of the signed extras here. What better way to celebrate the second week of my blog!

To enter, leave a comment below. Be sure to include your email address where I can contact the winner! Get one bonus entry if you tweet about the contest (please provide a link to the tweet in your comment). US addresses only please! Contest ends Sunday December 19th. Winner tbd via number generator.

Good Luck!

Edit 12/19/10: And the winner is Momo!
+ Photobucket
+ Thanks to everyone who entered!