Friday, February 26, 2010

Just in case you were not aware of what I am trying to do with this blog . .

This blog is to promote books I think people in their teens and twenties will enjoy reading.
I am also interested in promoting NEW AUTHORS, and meeting authors, and reviewing their work for the entertainment of others.
I know not EVERYONE will like EVERYTHING on this blog.
However, if it is a book that I personally do not think anyone I know would like, or one that I hated, I will not post it here.
Yes, I know mean reviews are HILARIOUS to read, but what good are they doing? 
Well, they are not promoting authors who do good work.
Which is what I want to do.
I am taking this mission on singlehandedly for the good of all mankind.
To quote Masi Oka, the guy who plays Hiro in the TV show Heroes  (go watch it NOW if you have not already), while some of what you learn from stories such as graphic novels isn't applicable to real life, the things he always read 'enhanced his imagination and enriched creativity.'
This, I feel, is very important.
If we no longer have imaginations, we will never think of anything new, we will never think of ways to solve problems, and we will lose our real selves in the tough world out there. It's especially tough for those of us in the targeted age group, we have huge decisions about what to do with our lives and how to make our dreams happen.
And for those things, we have to fight.
Because the world is a hard rough place, and even stories that are not 'realistic' can help us find our way. Though some that are can help too.
It takes all kinds, you see.
Any authors who stumble across this blog, tell me about your book.  Maybe I'll feature it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Have you not read this yet? Seriously?!
This book, is like, so freakin' awesome you will pee on yourself.
In the vein of Battle Royale, in which a bunch of Japanese students are dumped on an island and told they all have to kill each other until there's only one left (also available on DVD-Battle Royale: Director's Cut), Katniss Everdeen gets sent off to the annual Hunger Games, in which two kids from each district in this dystopian future are dressed up, given weapons and sponsors, and told, 'GO KILL EACH OTHER UNTIL THERE'S ONLY ONE LEFT!!!"
Now, the reason they do this is because there had been a rebellion at one point towards the ruling Capitol, and to remind the districts that they are so beneath the Capitol that the Capitol can make all their kids kill each other for fun and profit.
The first few districts are richer than the ones further away, and yes, Katniss is from District 12, which is as low as you can get.  The closer ones have the Career Tributes, chosen from kids who train all throughout their childhood to compete in The Hunger Games, and consequently, one of them usually wins.
Katniss, then, has got very little going for her.  Her fellow District 12 tribute is not someone she would like to kill, but if she survives, she pretty much has a free ride the rest of her life.  Everything is provided, she just has to help train the tributes from her district every year, and her family is taken care of.
This is an issue for Katniss, as her father is dead, and her family has hardly any money and pretty much survive off of what Katniss illegally kills in the woods.
However, her hunting skills can be very useful when it comes to killing people, even those who want to kill her.
So maybe she's not as disadvantaged as she thought she was . . . but how can she win and still live with herself?
This book takes you through trickery, suspense, and though people die left and right, it's not graphic and horribly gory, so even younger people can read it, and you will probably not want to stop reading it ever in your life.  
It's that good.
But it's the beginning of a trilogy!  Hooray!
The second is Catching Fire, which will also be reviewed, and the third, Mockingjay, is due out in August.
If you do not read these books, you will have missed out on what of the greatest things in the entire world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

So right now I'm reading Graceling, and I was considering some of the similarities between this book here, which is a more classic fantasy, and so said, 'Ah!  I must review this one!  It is brilliant because it's about an assassin!  You just can't go wrong there!'
And see, Graceling concerns this girl who kills people because the king tells her to, much like Fitz in this book.
Poor Fitz, his mother couldn't keep him so he was dumped off at the castle since he's the prince's bastard, and he just doesn't have a place.  No  one wants him.
Until one day the king decides to have him trained as an assassin in secret.
So he learns about poison and fighting and all that good stuff.
Then this sort of zombie thing breaks out because people from across the sea are 'forging' people (essentially making them zombies), and he eventually spends a lot of time killing them, which you really can't feel too bad about, because they're pretty much dead anyway.
He also falls in love with a candlemaker girl who has NO IDEA that he's royalty.  She thinks he's just some kid who works for them.
This creates complications in Book Two, Royal Assassin.
But back to Book One.
Fitz grows up, killing people, and then he's given an assignment he REALLY doesn't like, and has to come to terms with what he does, who to trust, and what is really important in life.
He's still quite young at the end of the trilogy, and is so conflicted and doesn't know who or what he really is.
This is the sort of thing that happens to a lot of people.
Many people have commented on how a female can write so understandingly about what a young man goes through growing up.  I knew a guy who felt that he was Fitz, and though he was probably insane, that kind of gives you an idea about how well she writes.
This is a series that anyone can enjoy.  Male, female, old, young . . . there's something in it for everyone.
And if you can't get enough . . . . don't worry, Robin Hobb has written a SECOND Fitz trilogy starting with Fool's Errand (Tawny Man, Book 1), though this one is about him as a much older man, and has written another series in the some world , just a bit south (starts with Ship of Magic :The Liveship Traders) and then she's just started another one in this world too, beginning with Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rain Wilds Chronicles
So if you like it, you're in luck!  There's plenty to read!
I read these as a teenager and quickly became obsessed, so if you aren't looking for something that will keep you busy for a long time . . . you may want to wait til you're in a situation in which you have nothing to do for a long time, like if you're recovering from a surgery or something.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

First off, let me warn you that this book is:
Majorly Depressing.
I mean, it's about an anorexic girl whose bulimic best friend died.
Lia is the main character, and she is plagued by negative self esteem and the mysterious death of her best friend, Cassie.
Lia has been in special care before for her anorexia, but is on her own again, attending school, dealing with family problems, and trying to hide from them how she is losing weight.
It goes from tampering with the scale so that instead of 90 lbs, it says she weighs 105 lbs, and then trying to figure out how to get down from 90 to 85, then to 80, then to 75 . . .
And all the while she keeps seeing Cassie.  Haunting her. Her best friend for years. They swore when they were younger that they would be the skinniest girls in school.
She hears things in her head, telling her she's stupid and fat, stupid and fat, all the time.  Her parents are disappointed in her, her young stepsister is confused, she thinks she should run away . . .
She doesn't know how to tell anyone that Cassie is following her around, talking to her.  She doesn't know how Cassie died.  No one will tell her, not even her mother, who is a doctor.
She can't figure out what she is running from.
Even if you're not anorexic, which statistically speaking, you're probably not, you may find something that strikes you as you. Chances are, you may have a negative self image, or you may be trying to hide something, and this book may help you find what it is.
That's what it did for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It - Adam Selzer

Need an antidote for Twilight?
Well, here you go.  This is a pretty obvious attack on the current vampire love story fetish among so many young people these days, but at least it's a funny one and not something stupid like that book I saw in Borders about how girls should like Jesus more than vampires (seriously, it exists: Escaping the Vampire: Desperate for the Immortal Hero) because honestly, that's just a desperate and sad excuse to get people to go religious.
I mean, it's one thing to like vampire love stories.  I like them sometimes, but at least I can make fun of them too.
And Adam Selzer does a great job of making the whole thing seem pretty ridiculous.
It starts off with Alley making fun of that dumb girl who wants to marry a vampire classmate and become super-post-human herself.  Alley makes fun of everyone though, because she's smarter than them and thinks she has the best taste in music.
And of course everyone thinks vampires are hot shit so almost everyone dresses goth.
So when goth Doug gets up on stage and starts singing Leonard Cohen and Cole Porter, Alley thinks the man of her dreams just showed up.
After a few dates, people clue her in: Doug is a zombie.  That's why he smells like formaldehyde: he has to drink embalming fluid every four hours or he'll crumble into little pieces and stay as dead as he is.
And so Alley thinks it's time to dump him.
But then he saves her from a bunch of 'new' zombies who actually do attack humans and try to eat their brains (most zombies get over that stage within a few hours, you see), and she decided she's still smitten with Dead Doug, and they continue their relationship.
This leads to a lot of complications, such as the emo jerk vampires getting all pissy with her and saying she should go vamp instead of zomb, and Alley herself wondering if she should die and become a zombie, even though being a zombie kind of sucks because of the low energy levels and the embalming fluid and the smell and the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong . . .
Most people think of zombies as stupid dead brain eating monsters.  However, before the vampire fetish hit literature, people thought of vampires as dead blood-sucking fiends.
So it's really not that much of a stretch.
Okay, maybe it is, but isn't that the point?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fallen - Lauren Kate

This book definitely wins the 'OMFG this cover is GORGEOUS' award.
Because honestly, it's so pretty I want to hang the book on my wall.  Maybe in a nice glass box or something. With gold edges.  I can't bring myself to put it on my bookcase, because then I would only see the spine.
I read about this book in Publisher's Weekly, then quickly forgot the title.  I remembered thinking it sounded fascinating, because it had the doomed love through the ages reincarnation type thing, which I drool over because I'm secretly a hopeless romantic teenage girl (shh don't tell anyone, it's a SECRET).
So then I saw it in the bookstore and drooled over the cover.  And I told my husband, 'If we leave this store without buying this book I will cry.'
So after buying it, I read it rather quickly.  It starts with Luce starting at reform school in Georgia because of a suspicious fire she survived, though her friend did not.
I was quickly hooked, not only because I live in Georgia (that's a secret too, don't tell anyone that either), but because Luce sees things that either aren't there or at least no one else sees.  Shadowy things.  So I think, 'hmm, is this going to be a mental illness or something supernatural?'
I figured supernatural early on because that's kind of the trend in young adult literature these days.
The she sees Daniel.
Oh, Daniel.
She is inexplicably drawn to him, not just because he is rather pretty, but because she could swear she knows him from somewhere.
However, he's not always very nice to her, in a sort of Edward Cullen way.  Like, "I'm going to smile, and then I'm going to glare at you, so that you get really confused.'
And much of the book consists of Luce being confused about him and this other guy, Cam, who is also good looking but is very forward with her.
"Should I date Cam, since he's so open and friendly and obviously wants to date me?  Or should I just flounder around until Daniel associates with me?" she asks herself, though not in those exact words, and of course all the while is having weird detentions, near accidents, and boring classes.

Somehow, even though this sort of thing happens for most of the book, it is still ridiculously addictive.  I could not put it down.  It had that addictive factor that Twilight had for me (yes I am a secret Twilight fan too, SHUSH).
I actually thought that maybe Cam was in reform school because he was a rapist or something, but I was wrong (I also thought maybe she should stick with him because his physical description sounded a lot like my husband, even though that doesn't necessarily mean he's the best person in the world.  I just prefer dark hair and green eyes over pretty much everything).

There's a lot of misery, since she's in a horrible reform school, and that in itself is rather depressing, though she does make some friends, and some enemies, and since these are reform school kids you know they're going to be a little wack, but that's a plus for me.
And there is a death.
And then later she does get Daniel to associate with her.
Soon after, the action explodes, and almost all secrets are revealed, and you see that something major is happening, but at the end, you will still have questions, which means you will be happy to know that there is a sequel, Torment.  With a name like that, it HAS to be good!
Now, if you are not a fan of Christianity, or 'Christian mythology,' or whatever you want to call it, you may not like this book.  Because there is rather a lot of that in there, dealing with angels and stuff.  I'm not normally a fan of books like that, bu tI still enjoyed this one.  I mean, it had all this reincarnation stuff, and it takes place in a reform school too, and as I said before, 'drool.'  And it was dark, and secretive, and star-crossed lovers and come on!  That's good stuff there!
But those handsome young men will probably not like it.   And neither will 'Bob.'  But I know some people who will.

This wasn't as good as I hoped, but it does have some good stuff in it, and personally I think it's worth buying just for that cover.  Maybe someone should make it a poster or something.  I'd buy it.  And put it in a nice gold frame . . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Soul to Save - Rachel Vincent

Dude, this one was EVEN BETTER than the first one!
In this one, Kaylee finds out some pop stars sold their souls to demons in return for fame and riches.  In fact, the media company they work for actually forced them to do it!  They had to sign contracts and everything!
So one of them, Addison, is actually her boyfriend's dead brother's ex-girlfriend, and since his brother is now a grim reaper, they get the low-down on what's going on. 
Turns out Addison is about to die anyway from suicide, which she doesn't realize, and so Kaylee, upon finding out that when you sell your soul to a demon they torture it for all eternity, becomes determined to get Addison's soul back.
Nash is not so hot on this idea, since it means they'll have to barter with demons in the Netherworld and that's not exactly a safe place for teenage banshees to be, especially ones who've only known about their abilities for six weeks.  However, his grim reaper brother is still rather fond of this pop star, and so he goes along with it enthusiastically.
Interestingly enough, Kaylee turns out to be much smarter than the other two more experienced fellows.  She's the one who comes up with the ideas on how to do this.  She's the one with the guts to talk to fiends.  She's basically brilliant when it comes to this sort of thing, and since Nash is in 'protect the girlfriend' mode, he pretty much is a hindrance.
Ah well. At least he's good looking and the same species, right?
She also has to deal with teenager things, such as, 'Oh crap my dad grounded me again,' 'Does Nash think she's prettier than me?' 'Why is my cousin such a bitch?' and so on. And that is a nice break from the soul sucking demons, really.
What I loved about this book was that it pretty much said that media moguls and insurance companies were the denizens of evil.  Which is AWESOME. And of course the humor and action.  There was some romance, but it was very minor, like the first book, My Soul to Take. But the idea that all these pop stars sold their souls?  Brilliant.

Hey Disney, I've got my eye on you.  *glare*

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Speak- Laurie Halse Anderson

Here is a modern day classic.
This is the book that made Laurie Halse Anderson a major figure in young adult literature.
They even made a film of it!  And it has Kristen Stewart in it (you know, Twilight girl, looks just like me [or so I'm told by like EVERYONE]).
You can buy both of them on the left, if you are so inclined.

But let me tell you why this book is so groundbreaking.

It's about a new freshman, Melinda.  Melinda is a pretty regular girl.  She has some friends, does normal high school things, but not so much anymore.

See, over the summer, she was raped by a senior student at a party.
She didn't tell anyone.
Thus, she did not Speak. 
It's taking a toll on her.  She's screwing up in school, doesn't know how to talk to her friends, feels so out of place, so worthless, so in pain still, but she refuses to even think about it.
She just goes through the motions of being in high school, wondering why everything she draws in art class has to involve a tree, and everything another girl draws has to involve a clown.

There's a lot to think about here.  You think about how odd high school really is, since most of the time Melinda is just observing.
You wonder why some guys are so popular even though they're horrible people who rape incoming freshmen.
You wonder what the point of it really is.
You wonder whether she should speak, or should she stay silent?
Will he hurt another girl?
Will Melinda ever be able to move on from it?

P.S.- Interesting fact: this book is published by Speak.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Beautiful Creatures- Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Have you heard of this?
It came out in November.
Someone already bought film rights for it.
There are going to be like five sequels.
In other words, this is GOOD.

Here we have a supernatural romance set in small town South Carolina.  Everyone in town is still obsessing over the War of Northern Agression.

Ethan doesn't like there.  He thinks the people are boring and he really doesn't want to participate in a Civil War Reinactment. His mom died, his dad is absolutely nuts, so he's raised by the Voodoo practicing housekeeper.
She's the niece of the town outcast.  Her name is Lena . . . but maybe it's not. Voodoo housekeeper says, 'stay away from that girl.'
We all know that doesn't work.

She's different.  And pretty.  And he saw her in his dreams.
She saw him too.
She also has special powers. 
The other kids don't like her.  Ethan can't get her out of his head.

It turns out they communicate telepathically.
And Lena is a Caster, which is like a witch, only . . . not.
But Ethan is just a regular guy.  So no one can figure out what's going on there.
And they fall in love.
However . . . there is a curse on their families.
It started during the Civil War with one of Lena's ancestors and one of Ethan's great great great uncles.
They were in love too.
But someone shot Ethan the first, and then Genevieve did something wrong.
Very wrong.
So wrong that Lena may become evil on her sixteenth birthday without her consent. It happens to all her family members.

Uh oh.

This book is NOT Twilight.  It is however, the sort of thing Twilight tries to be. Supernatural romance, small town, some sort of issue in the relationship, one is mortal, the other is . . . something else . . .
But I assure you: Lena does NOT want to eat Ethan.
Doesn't mean he won't die because of her though . . .

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Goth Girl Rising - Barry Lyga

There are many things you can learn from this book, the sequel to The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.
1.  There are a lot of really skanky girls out there.
2.  Some people, well, don't fit in.
3.  Parents often do really really hurtful things thinking they're helping, and it turns out they caused way more trouble and should be verbally thrashed (after you explain how this turn of events led to your arrest).

Kyra Sellers, Fanboy's gal pal and maybe crush, has been in a mental hospital for months because "Daddy Couldn't Handle Her.'
So as you can see, this book does not start off joyful.  Most people are still pretty bummed after they leave, even if they're glad as hell to be out.
It would appear that her friends . .  don't care about her?  Eh?  Should she seek revenge? Eh? No emails over the summer?  Nothing?  What's this about?
Well, if you read the first book by Lyga I reviewed just recently, you will know that Kyra doesn't let anyone get in her way.
However, she is the most bewildered badass there ever was.  She is still like, 'erm, feelings?  why do i have these?  and my mom's all dead and stuff, i'm not sure how i feel about that' only when she says it she doesn't sound stupid, because Kyra is a pretty smart girl and I'm just--well, nevermind.
Kyra comes up with some interesting ideas on how to combat things in her life.  Such as: Switching from Goth black to pure white, shaving her head, wearing blue lipstick, seeking revenge, and contemplating who she wants to kiss and what sex they are.
Now, I must warn you: this book, while it ends on a 'yeah i can get by' kinda note, can easily depress you.  Especially if you're me, because I was already a bit down, and then I was completely down, and Mr Husband blames that Goth Girl who kept staring at him. I'm not sure this is justified.
However, if you're a 'wheee i love life lalala' type person, you might be interested in this book because you can see how much life can suck for other people and how people who are sadder by nature think.  It could give you more understanding and whatnot.
Plus the cover looks AWESOME.  I want blue lipstick now. Then maybe I can creep out Mr Husband.
As a sequel, it is satisfying.  In fact, I want some more.  I want more on Fanboy and Goth Girl, but I'm not sure how Lyga would pull some more brilliance on these two for a book three.
Maybe I can just ask him nice and he'll tell me what happens to them.

PS- Barry Lyga is giving away signed copies on his facebook.  But only a few, and only if you answer the question to his satisfaction.

Now, on another note, I would just like to point out something for discussion.
Male authors who write about sad female teens seem to focus on sexuality.  Jay Asher has Hannah Baker depressed because everyone thought she was a skank when she wasn't, and Lyga has Kyra Sellers dead set on keeping anyone from thinking she's a sex object and scorning those who want to be thought of that way (even when they're her friends).
Now, I realize there is a great deal of sexuality in young adult books, but I notice that there don't seem to be as many teen girls written by women struggling with it the same way as those written by men.
Personally, I think this is fascinating.  You may not.  But if you have comments on this subject, do comment!