Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Read in December


This month I read the following the books:

1. United We Spy - Ally Carter
2. The Flint Heart - Katherine Paterson
3. Eve - Anna Carey
4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth
5. What Colleges Don't Tell You (and Other Parents Don't Want You to Know): 272 Secrets for Getting Your Kid Into the Top Schools - Elizabeth Wissner-Gross
6. The Infinite Moment of Us - Lauren Myracle
7. The Whole Story of Half a Girl - Veera Hiranandani
8. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
9. The Five Fists of Science - Matt Fraction



Picture credit: Girl Reading by Eduard Klieber

Friday, December 27, 2013

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List review

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Knopf Books for Young Readers
August 2007

First line: "I lie all the time."

This book was okay. I picked it up because I had love, love, loved Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist written by the same authors. Naomi and Ely are best friends who have grown up across the hall from each other in a chic New York high-rise apartment building. The past year has been rocky for them, as Naomi's father destroyed their family with an illicit affair with one of Ely's lesbian moms. The aftermath is awkward all around for everyone in the building. The main conflict, of course, is that Naomi still harbors a childhood crush on Ely - she's certain that they were destined for one another, and the fact that Ely has been openly and proudly gay for the last few years hasn't put a dent in her affections. Naomi and Ely are like a younger Will & Grace, full of witty banter and extremely close, and of course, totally co-dependent and wrong for each other.

Levithan and Cohn absolutely nail the awkwardness of the late teen years - wanting desperately to seem cool and hip and often tragically failing. I liked how self-conciously arch and clever the characters were, even though there were several cringeworthy moments where they were trying too hard. The book has multiple viewpoint characters, each with a very unique voice. Unfortunately, a lot of the characters were unlikeable and unrelatable. Naomi has an extremely annoying habit of substituting symbols or smilies for words, making some of her chapters read like a rebus. Ely came across as bitchy and mean. Gabriel, the doorman with a crush on Naomi, made many musical references that I'm sure went over my head, and he seemed shallow, only liking Naomi for her looks. There were several different characters named Bruce, and several characters named Robin, which I'm sure happens in real life, but still made the story a bit confusing to follow at times.  I couldn't relate to Naomi's pathetic romantic obsession with Ely, but I've known plenty of women who've fallen head over heels for gay guys and I've helped coach and counsel them through it. In my experience, this kind of thing usually happens when a girl is absolutely not ready for a real relationship, so lusting after someone unobtainable feels more "safe."

Fans of Levithan and Cohn's other works should seek this one out. The writing duo were ahead of the trend for "New Adult" fiction - mature YA featuring college-age protagonists. The New York City setting is critical to the tone and feel of the book. This story couldn't happen anywhere else. I liked how the big city excitement and fast pace didn't stop the characters from feeling like they were in a small town where everyone knows everybody else's business.

Who will I recommend this book to? Glee fans who are Rachel/Kurt 'shippers (yes, sadly, such a thing exists.) New Adult readers. Contemporary fiction readers who enjoy schadenfreude in reading about failed romances.

Compare to:
Pink - Lili Wilkinson
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance - Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Freak Show - James St. James


I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Night Road review


Night Road
by A.M. Jenkins
HarperTeen
May 2008


First line: "Cole did have a map in his backpack. He'd studied it in the parking garage. Only now that he was already on the subway did it occur to him that it might be outdated."

Three "hemovores" (don't call them vampires!) go on a road trip to teach the newest member of their ranks, young redneck Gordon, the finer points of how to survive. Johnny, the leader of the hemovores, runs a safe house for blood-drinkers in Manhattan and insists that Cole, who is quite a loner, take on the project of helping Gordon. Cole is accompanied by the light-hearted Sandor. Cole is tightly controlled, but events unfold to help him come to terms with his own unfortunate mistakes from when he was newly made. Sandor is light-hearted and jolly, and is accidentally responsible for having created Gordon after a mugging. Gordon is having enormous difficulty accepting and dealing with matters, longing to reconnect with his family and girlfriend, and has a lot of trouble seeing past his small-town hickish ways. 

The vampires - excuse me, hemovores, must avoid sunlight and must drink human blood. Typically, they are able to hypnotize their victims, and quickly draw a small amount of blood, enabling them to feed without killing. When being taught how to pick suitable targets, Cole and Sandor despair of ever making a proper hemovore of Gordon. Gordon insists on gravitating to cute girls, even when more likely targets are available and taking unnecessary risks. My favorite scene is when Sandor begs Cole to get Gordon a dog - to cheer him up, to make it easier to start small talk with humans (aka omnis), and of course, if he gets desperate, he can always eat the dog! There's a very dark and twisted humor at work here. While I love a good series, Night Road is a stand-alone book, with a highly satisfying ending, but the door could easily be open for a sequel. The writing is tight, with well-thought out characters, pacing and plot. I enjoyed it enormously.

Compare to:
Thirsty - M.T. Anderson
The Reformed Vampire Support Group - Catherine Jinks
Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel
Evernight - Claudia Gray


I borrowed this book from the public library.

Friday, December 13, 2013

All the Truth That's In Me review

All the Truth That's In Me
Julie Berry
Viking Juvenile
September 2013

First line: "We came here by ship, you and I."

If Arthur Miller's The Crucible met Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, this would be the result. Judith has survived years of harrowing captivity. Her kidnapper has finally released her from the tiny cabin that she's been trapped in, but not before cutting out her tongue. Judith returns to her tiny Puritan village, and faces the scorn and disgust of her neighbors who question her moral purity and shun her. Make no mistake, this is an intense read, with none of the light-hearted magical touches that fans of Berry's middle-grade fantasies may be accustomed to. 

The book is addressed from Judith to Lucas, the young man that she's been secretly in love with for many years.  Her obsession with Lucas, and her initial inability to speak has shades of The Little Mermaid to it.

Although everyone assumes that Judith was violated during her capture, she is unable to tell them what really happened. There's also the mystery of what happened to her friend Lottie who disappeared around the same time. Gradually, with the encouragement of her friend Maria, Judith opens up and begins practicing how to speak again. Against her mother's wishes, she tries to attend school, but even the schoolmaster sleazily demands "extra lessons" with her, with the gross implication that he's delighted she won't be able to report him for any impropriety. The theme of "finding her voice" is not too heavy-handed, and though it's a slow start, once you settle in to Judith's world, there's a very satisfying conclusion.

I can think of a few teens who were fascinated by the recent kidnapping case in Ohio who would want to pick up this intense novel. I'd also recommend this to readers of psychological thrillers.

Compare to:
Room - Emma Donaghue
I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lipmann
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson


I received a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

False Princess Giveaway

As soon as I heard that Eilis O'Neal had written an e-short story called A Royal Birthday, I got so excited! I loved The False Princess, so any little peek back into that world is highly welcome. Check out my review, if you're not already convinced.

Want to win your own hardcover copy of The False Princess? Leave a comment on the blog, I'll draw names from a hat and announce a winner next week! The giveaway is for US and Canada only.

Here's a description of the short story prequel:


A Royal Birthday
by Eilis O'Neal
Egmont USA
December 2013

This e-short prequel to The False Princess will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce, giving them a new author to love and a new fantasy world to enter, a world filled with wizardry, mystery, and just the right touch of romance. 

This prequel introduces the court of Thorvaldor, Nalia, its princess, who has reached the magical age of sixteen, and her best friend, Kiernan, the earl's son who loves her but feels he is too far below her in rank to dream of making a match with her. 

The novel on which this e-short is based has received glowing reviews, been named a YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and made numerous state master lists (Georgia, Rhode Island, Utah, and Maryland). 

Top 10 Winter 2013 Books to Read

This week's topic from The Broke and Bookish is: Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR.

Here they are - these are the 10 books that I am so excited to read next.



Yup, plenty of sequels to series I've already started, and a few new series to start as well. I'm reading The Infinite Moment of Us for my book club. With any luck, I'll tear this this set of 10 books by the end of the year!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Read in November


This month I read the following the books:

1. All the Truth That's In Me - Julie Berry
2. Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman
3. Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius - Frank Asch
4. Cam Jansen and the Green School Mystery - David Adler
5. The Devil's Storybook - Natalie Babbitt
6. Fake Mustache - Tom Angleberger
7. Dragon's Egg - Sarah L. Thomson
8. The Elite - Kiera Cass
9. The Devil's Other Storybook - Natalie Babbitt
10. Emmaline and the Bunny - Katherine Hannigan
11. Starters - Lissa Price
12. The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
13. The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
14. Happy Families - Tanita S. Davis
15. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
16. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - David Levithan & Rachel Cohn



Picture credit: The Students by unknown artist

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