Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

The Reformed Vampire Support Group
Reformed vampires admit to their addiction and instead of living on human blood they live on guinea pigs.  They attend a support group, work night jobs, sleep all day and just exist.  When one of them is destroyed, Nina sets out to find the killer with the aid of other vampires and the local priest.  Along the way they rescue a werewolf (who will be featured in the upcoming sequel THE ABUSED WEREWOLF RESCUE GROUP) and continue preventing more people from being fanged.

This book is laugh out loud funny and a totally different take on vampires.  It almost makes you think about what really goes on in the basement of the local church after hours. I recommend it to YAs and adults who are having TWILIGHT withdrawal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Clara is an angel-blood (part angel) as are her mom and brother.  When Clara learns her "purpose" in life through visions, she and her family move from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to accomplish her task.  Apparently she is to save Christian, the hottest and most popular boy from a forest fire.  Meanwhile, Clara befriends a few schoolmates and over the summer, while she learns to fly, she slowly falls for all around nice guy Tucker.  Cynthia Hand goes into detail about how Tucker and Clara spend their time together from hiking to fishing, how Clara learns to fly, introduces the concept of glory and begins the tale of the dark angels.  While the writing is simple the story is divine.  The Wyoming scenery is described in wonderful detail.  Clara's powers grow as the summer wears on and there is a great big twist at the end that I was not expecting. "Unearthly," the first in a planned trilogy only begins to tell the story of angels and Clara's family history.

Never in a million years did I think that I would enjoy a book about angels. And yet "Unearthy" was an extremely enjoyable, romantic, exciting quick read.  Cynthia Hand, in her debut has a pulse on what the YA audience wants.  There is just enough romance to satisfy those who crave it while it is adventurous and thrilling too.  It is refreshing to read a YA book with so much to offer that doesn't include drugs and sex (one scene with drinking but it's quite minor) .  Recommended for tweens and teens.  "Unearthly" was read as an ebook arc courtesy of HarperCollins via Netgalley.  It will be published by HarperCollins on January 4, 2011.

Incareron by Catherine Fisher

Written from two points of view this is a book I could barely put down.

Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron.  The other prisoners claim he was born there but Finn has flashes of memories of being "outside."  He and a few others attempt to escape by following the path (and legend) of Sapphique, the only one believed to make it out.  Claudia is the warden's daughter, raised and groomed to be the future queen by marrying the prince (she is not happy about this).  Claudia and her tutor discover a way to communicate with Finn and are determined to get him out of Incarceron and for Claudia not to have to marry the prince.  Claudia and the other outsiders believe Incarceron to be a paradise.  Finn and the prisoners know differently.

Dystopian literature for the YA crowd is ablaze with excitement.  "Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher won't disappoint.  Incarceron and the outside are not what they seem and teens will enjoy reading about both worlds.  Seemingly old fashioned and yet futuristic is the outside.  We are never really sure what Incarceron is or who the prisoners really are.  This is an original and exciting book and I am so glad I don't have to wait for the sequel, "Sapphique" due December 28.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES.  Katna in GRACELING.  Katarina (Kat) in THE HEIST SOCIETY.  Claudia in INCARCERON.  And now, Cassia joins the ranks of strong, intelligent and brave young women.

Cassia lives in a dystopian society. Couples are "matched," told how many children they will have, where they will work, what they eat, and when they die.  In a very rare situation Cassia is matched with a childhood friend, Xander and all seems perfect until she begins to develop feelings for another boy she has grown up with, Ky.  Cassia and Ky slowly fall in love and together they share Ky's family story, poetry, and writing (Ky teaches Cassia as writing has been replaced with computerized scribes.)  The story moves slow as the relationship blossoms and pieces of a puzzle begin to be laid out and as you near the end of the book you know
it will have to continue in a sequel.  While I do wish it was a stand alone book, I will wait a year for CROSSED, the sequel and look forward to reuniting with Xander, Ky and Cassia.

MATCHED has been compared to THE GIVER and is recommended for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy.  I concur.  I recommend it for tweens and teens (no underage drinking or promiscuity.)
While some books don't always live up to the hype, MATCHED is one that did.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Daughters Break the Rules by Joanna Philbin

This book continues right where "The Daughters" left off. To see my review of that book  click here. Carina, the daughter of a media mogul has leaked unfavorable information about her father to the press. To punish her he cuts off her credit cards, replaces her iPhone with an archaic cell and puts her on a $20 a week allowance. Carina manages pretty well recycling her own clothes and brown bagging her lunch but in the process finds a job and a nice guy and learns a lot about her parents and herself. While Lizzie and Hudson take back seats to Carina's story we do get to meet Alex who every tween/teen girl will adore. There is definitely boyfriend potential in him. Carina proves that she is a very intelligent and resourceful girl and although she claims to not want to major in business we can only imagine one day she will be a successful businesswoman. Of course the book ends right where the third in the series will begin with Hudson's story and I for one will be looking forward to reading that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Here Lies Bridget (Harlequin Teen)Publisher's book description : "Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don’t worship as attentively, teachers don’t fall for her wide-eyed “who me?” look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she’s always loved--Liam Ward--can barely even look at her anymore.
When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she’s wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a lasting impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she’s inflicted on the people who mean the most to her. And Bridget’s about to learn that, sometimes, saying you’re sorry just isn’t enough."

Reading the first half of this book made me cringe. Bridget was so mean to everyone. Teachers, her friends, her stepmom and even to Liam whom she adores. Paige Harbison brilliantly puts Bridget into their shoes and Bridget at once sees the hurt and pain she has caused. While the theme of being in limbo is not new and the premise of mean girl rules school is used a lot this book is still original in tone and a fun read. Teens will be drawn to the book for it's alluring cover and I predict it will be a hit. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Harlequin Teen via Netgalley. It will be published February 1, 2011 by Harlequin Teen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

"Darkness Becomes Her" takes place in New Orleans, now New 2 many years after Hurricane Katrina. The city has not been completely rebuilt and most of the original residents never returned. However, vampires, witches, and any odd creature imaginable inhabit the city and try to protect it from anyone or anything seeking to do it harm.

Ari, a foster child since the age of 12 enters New 2 searching for information about her mother.
And so begins a wonderful adventure that made me question why Athena has always been my favorite goddess.

The premise of this book is awesome and the author had my attention throughout. Ari is a strong, brave and intelligent female character. She meets an odd group of people who she quickly bonds with. I would love to meet them all and look forward to hearing more about them especially Sebastian and little Violet. I really enjoyed this book and I'm sure YA's and adults will too however the use of the "f' word did bother me. So I would recommend it for older YA's for that reason. Read as an ebook arc from Simon & Schuster and it will be published in February, 2011.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Teagan Wyllston lives in Chicago with her librarian dad, artist mom, little brother Aiden and has a best friend. She wants to be a vet so she studies hard, avoids boys and works in a zoo. All seems like the idyllic life until (step)cousin Finn Mac Camhaill arrives and Tea is drawn into a world of goblins, Celtic Lore and romance. After her mom is murdered and dad disappears, Finn, Tea and Aiden begin an adventure to rescue her dad that takes them away from Chicago and into another world. Tea is a strong, brave and smart female character and her love for her family is admirable. Finn is every girl's dreamboy and yet so much more. TYGER TYGER : A Goblin Wars Book is the first in a new series and Kersten Hamilton has a hit on her hands. Recommended for fans of adventure, romance, fantasy and mythology. Read as an ebook arc courtesy of netgalley.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I loved this book. I deliberately read slowly to savor every word. It needed to simmer in my brain for a while before I could write this blogpost. I laughed at the preface of each chapter especially the sayings from the Book of Shhh, the Safety and Health and Happiness Handbook. Then I braced myself for what follows. Lena, almost 18 lives in a dystopian society where love is a sickness that must be "cured." The disease known as amor deliria nervosa is prevented by operating on teens when they reach 18 years-old. When the book begins Lena is looking forward to the surgery although she knows she will forget about her relationships and feelings for her best friend and cousin. About three months before her surgery the unspeakable happens and Lena falls in love. His name is Alex and he is beautiful and romantic and he introduces a whole other world to Lena. Lauren Oliver has another great book (BEFORE I FALL, for my review click here ) and teens will be drawn to it. The writing is wonderful and the characters are believable and likable. Read as an ebook arc from @netgalley and it will be published by Harper Collins February 2011.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

THE LYING GAME introduces Emma, an almost 18 year old who was abandoned by her mother and grew up in many different foster homes. Emma finds out she has an identical twin named Sutton and sets out to meet her in hopes that she can become part of her adopted family. However Sutton's family thinks she's Sutton and doesn't believe Emma when she claims differently. Meanwhile, Emma decides to try to figure out what happened to Sutton. Sutton and her friends are not nice people and are involved in lying games which include pranks to humiliate others. Possibly my all time favorite line comes from this book. At Sutton's 18th birthday party "Three laptops sat on a table near the door: each had USB cords to upload photos to Facebook and Twitter." I still smile when I read that. But please note this is not a funny book and the author requests readers to not try any of the pranks in the book. I like Emma (and Sutton's spirit who occasionally appears and Ethan the cute boy next door) and will cheer her on. Teens will gobble this book up and will anxiously await the sequel. I read it as an e-book arc from netgalley. Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs and transfered here November 2010.

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

It's 1962 in this documentary novel by Deborah Wiles. John F. Kennedy is the president. Martin Luther King Jr. is just starting to speak his message. Pete Seeger is writing folk songs. And Franny is a girl who loves her family and Nancy Drew books. In school Franny and her classmates are taught to "duck and cover" when air raid sirens go off. She's fighting with her best friend, has a crush on the boy next store and is afraid that Cuba and/or Russia will drop an atom bomb on America. Franny's story is told interspersed with news articles, lyrics to songs, maps and illustrations in quite an amazing book. For a different kind of historical fiction book check out COUNTDOWN. Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs November 2010.

After Ever After by Jordan Sonneblick

When I saw this book on the shelf I knew I had to read DRUMS GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE first.  For that review see below or click here.  And so after that book I read this one on a long plane ride and again needed tissues. This time Jeffrey is in 8th grade and Steven is in Africa "finding himself." Jeffrey and his best friend are survivors and are going through a lot of the same stuff Steven did in 8th grade. Jeffrey misses Steven terribly and writes him letters that he never mails. Another great Jordan Sonneblick book.
Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs August 2010.

Drums GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE by Jordan Sonnenblick

While an 8th grader Steven's little brother is diagnosed with leukemia. Steven's mom spends all her time caring for Jeffrey at the hospital where he is being treated. The dad is lost in his own world and Steven stops doing his homework but is always there when Jeffrey needs him. Funny moments mixed in with sickness and heartbreak made this a one sitting read for me. I dare you to read it without a box of tissues. Originally posted August 2010.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

At the end of chapter 1 Samantha is killed in a (teen drunken) car crash. In chapter 2 Sam wakes up and it's the same day and she is very much alive. She gets to relive the day 7 times apparently to try to live that day the right way. What will she do differently? What will she do the same? I was so looking forward to reading this book based on reviews I had read. However, as a parent I found it quite disturbing. The teens drink, smoke (cigarettes and pot) regularly, cut classes constantly and are promiscuous. Restaurants serve liquor without asking for IDs. There are no consequences for not showing up in class. Parents don't seem to notice the smell of tobacco or booze. Older teens will devour this book and there are parts I did enjoy. I am happy to say that by chapter 6 there is finally a designated driver. Reading it made me feel like I did something right as a parent. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs July 2010.

Mockingbird by Katherin Erskine

Caitlin's world falls apart the day her brother is shot and killed in a junior high school shooting. As a child with Asperger's her brother was her link to the world. He helped her cope with school, clothes and behavior and since her dad is drowning in his own grief Caitlin looks in books and her dictionary for help. She figures out that what they need is some sort of closure to help put their lives back together. This is a remarkable book which lets us get inside Caitlin's head and understand a little more about people with this syndrome. Mockingbird is a quick enjoyable read. Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs June 2010.

This book won the National Book Award November 2010.

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

I found out about this book on twitter. After checking out the author's website and reading some various blog posts about the book I was curious enough to purchase the book. Tweens are going to adore it. Jess is the new girl in town and is being bullied by Lexy after beating out Lexy for the cheer team. Jess is invited into The Cinderella Society and joins a large group of girls who learn to wield their girl power by stopping the Wickeds (mean girls) from bullying the Reggie (regulars). Jess has a crush on Ryan who just happens to be Lexy's brother. I love the relationship between Ryan and Jess as they navigate their feelings and each tries to deal with their personal issues. This books proves that girls are strong and can make a difference in the world. And now we wait a year for the sequel. Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs April 2010.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What started off as a slow read turned out to be a book I couldn't put down. The year is 1947 and 15 year-old Evie's stepdad Joe has returned from the war. Joe takes Evie and her mom Bev on their first vacation to Palm Beach Florida. It is late summer and the off season so there are not many people in their hotel. However they spend a lot of time with another couple, the Graysons, and Peter, a GI that knows Joe from the war. Evie believes she is in love with Peter. Joe agrees to go into business with Mr. Grayson. Mrs. Grayson disappears every day for a few hours. Bev takes golf lessons and spends a lot of time with Evie and Peter while Joe and Mr. Grayson are out. The Graysons are asked to leave Palm Beach on a sour note and Peter, Joe and Bev go on a boat ride just as a hurricane is blowing in and only two of them arrive back safely. There is a lot of historical fiction (see below.) There is also mystery, romance and tender moments between mother and daughter. However, we learn that not everything looks as we see it and the last part of the book was like putting pieces of a puzzle back together. Highly recommended for young adults and adults. Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs April 2010.

Spoiler alert:

I did not know that Jews were not allowed in Palm Beach when this story takes place. Instead they went to Miami. I found this fact shocking considering how many Jewish people I know that have moved or relocated to Palm Beach.

The DAUGHTERS by Joanne Philbin

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the child of a celebrity? The daughters in this book are just that, living in Manhattan and growing up in the spotlight. It's not unusual for the paparazzi to follow their every move and Lizzie even has an interview published on you-tube! This book focuses on Lizzie and I'm guessing the next book will focus on one of the other two, either Carina or Hudson. Lizzie's mom is a supermodel and is quite beautiful and Lizzie has always considered herself not pretty and more of her father's daughter. However when she is discovered by a photographer who searches for a different kind of beauty Lizzie's life changes.
She also is reunited with a childhood friend (Todd) and struggles with feelings towards him. This book is perfect for tweens or young teens looking for romance or contemporary fiction. Originally posted in
April  2010 in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner is exciting and thrilling from page 1. Thomas wakes up in the Glade with no memory of where he came from, why he's there, who he is except his name. There are about 60 other boys and they farm, cook, and run the mazes surrounding them trying to find a way out. Grievers, mechanical monsters attack anyone still in the maze after the doors close at night. When a girl, Teresa arrives things start to change. Can they find a way out and survive? This is dystopian literature and will appeal to those who enjoyed THE GIVER, CITY OF EMBER, and THE HUNGER GAMES. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs March 2010.
Spoiler--it is violent and the first in a trilogy.

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han is the perfect romance novel for tweens. This sequel is due out very soon. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs March 2010.

Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow

A few years ago I read this book and this is what I wrote in my journal - "Teenage Jewish boy with acting aspirations meets Orson Welles, acts in a play, falls in love." Is this what the recent movie is about? Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs March 2010.

The Clone Codes by The McKissacks

Rarely do I read a book in one sitting but I couldn't put THE CLONE CODES down. The McKissacks have blended historical fiction into the future where clones and cyborgs are treated as slaves were before the emancipation proclamation. Leanna attends a virtual school. Never leaving the comfort of her home she puts on glasses and learns history by virtually living it. One day her mom is arrested for being part of a group trying to obtain human rights for clones and cyborgs and tells Leanna to run and get help. The first in a trilogy I'm already awaiting the second. Originally published March 2010 in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane

Molly's favorite memory of her dad is playing catch in the backyard. He taught her to pitch and she even mastered the knuckleball pitch. One night about 6 months after he died she decides that playing softball is not good enough. She wants to play baseball and tries out for the boy's baseball team. Her best friend supports her decision and Lonnie, one of the catcher's becomes her catcher learning how to deal with the knuckleball. The only thing that worries Molly besides being accepted onto the team is telling her mom. This book is recommended for baseball fans. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs December 2009.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater has written a book about a girl who falls in love with a wolf. Even before Grace knew Sam was a werewolf, she would watch the yellow eyed wolf in the woods behind her house in Minnesota and he seemed to be watching her. After being shot by a hunter, Sam takes his human shape and Grace recognizes his eyes, saves his life and they fall in love. As winter settles in Sam will once again become wolf. Some teens who have been bitten believe there is a cure. Is there? This book will appeal to fans of Twilight and is definitely a YA book for mature reader. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs November 2009.

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts

I love a fun quick read. THE BEEF PRINCESS OF PRACTICAL COUNTY by Michelle Houts is both. Libby is a 12-year-old girl who lives on a cattle farm in Indiana. Raising cattle has been a family tradition for years. When Libby's older brother goes off to college it is Libby's turn to raise a calf into a full grown steer and show it at the annual fair. After the contest the steers are auctioned off and Libby has a chance to start her college fund by getting a good price for her steer. Libby also decides to compete in the pageant to try to win the title of The Beef Princess. Middle grade girls will love this book. Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs October 2009.

Singing the Star Bangled Banner at a NY Mets game

One of the highlights of my life is singing the Star Spangled Banner at Citifield before a NY Mets game. I am in a group called the Long Island Transplant Recipients International Organization singers. Most singers are either organ recipients, donors or family members. In my case I am a family member. My brother is a kidney recipient and my dad was the donor. Enjoy 21 seconds of this event. Originally posted October 2009 in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs.

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

Penny moves with her mother to Hogs Hollow leaving her dad, apartment, friends and school behind in New York. She helps her mom and grandma in the bakery and for the entire summer does not meet anyone her own age except Charity who turns out to be a bully. At school she finally makes some friends including the boy she sees running on the beach and whom she develops a crush on. Penny is an artist and designs delectable cupcakes. However, her life has been turned upside down and we wonder can she make a new life in Hogs Hollow or should she go back to NY to live with her father if she can? Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs October 2009.

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

If you enjoy Gail Carson Levine's books you will enjoy this one. Lucinda is orphaned at 5 years old. She is brought up by an Uncle who loves her and an aunt who does not. When a prince, a mysterious lady and a thief enter her life everything changes. There is a little magic, a little romance and a little fantasy and it is a quick enjoyable read. (Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs September 2009).

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE Scott begins freshman year in high school being bullied by upper graders, having a crush on a girl he's known since kindergarten and dealing with his parents having a baby. To be near the girl he likes he auditons for the school play, runs for student council and joins the school newspaper. He also keeps a journal for his new sibling to help him not make the same mistakes when he grows up. My favorite part of this book is that Scott is an avid reader and there are references galore to children's books. (Originally published in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs September 2009).

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Some of my 6th grade girls requested "romantic" books. When I asked a few what made a book romantic they said when a boy and girl hold hands. This led me to THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY which is exactly what they want. An enjoyable read for a lazy day on the beach, a rainy day or any day.
(Originally posted in Mrs. Katz's Book Blurbs September 2009).