Thursday, October 27, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Amplified by Tara Kelly

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition (October 25, 2011)
ISBN-10: 080509296X
ISBN-13: 978-0805092967

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it...

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

Thrown into such life-challenging situations, the reader can witness for themselves how irrevocably engaging Kelly's writing soon comes to be. She takes being an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent to a whole new level. That's how I came to love Jasmine's realistic view of the obstacles taking over her life and debating which path she should--and wants--to take. She ultimately had the perseverance to work out the inner demons stopping her from going full-out on her dream of being a rock star. Not once did I hate any of the characters in Amplified, at most I was just mildly annoyed with a few. As a supporting role, Veta was eccentric and sometimes dramatic but totally trusting, and as a love interest, Sean had the baggage and barbell but unexpectedly dependable when he wanted to be.

It was easy to see how Kelly's writing portrayed Jasmine as such a captivating character because of her obvious vulnerability, from the history with her father to being left to her own devices in an unfamiliar situation. Jasmine encounters grueling life decisions at the brink of adulthood when most of the population would still categorize her as a child. Shining a light on her weaknesses, Kelly was easily able to pinpoint them as attributes that eventually manifest themselves to progress the story. The music and her love of playing the guitar gave support to all her choices and mistakes, coinciding to become the basis of her life. Dealing with a whole new scene, this contemporary read rocked hard.

Grade: A-


Monday, October 17, 2011

DNF Review and Giveaway: The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen; First Edition (September 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0765327228
ISBN-13: 978-0765327222

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger.

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.
Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…
Did-Not-Finish Review:

Pick-pocketing the streets of Victorian London, Tiki knows who to go after in order to feed the stomachs of her orphan brothers and sisters. Caring for her family in Charing Cross has become her life since the death of her parents and running away from her perverted uncle. In order to keep her family healthy enough she--and Shamus and Fiona--must risk thieving in the flagrant pubs and teeming shops around their home. As her nose leads her astray in a kitchen where a feast is being concocted, Tiki soon finds her in a library of Buckingham Palace, where she proceeds to steal the most invaluable treasure in all of London; the truce that holds the threads of their home together, the Faerie Ring.

Thrust into the world of cobblestones and horse-drawn carriages it is immediately evident the atmosphere of a thief in 1871 London will be carried through in every word, phrase and description of this book. It's when the characters are introduced and when the faeries are thrown in the mix that things got a little "out of wack." I wanted to sympathize with these orphans that take care of each other while living under terrible circumstances. The only time I felt that really happened was whenever little Clara was being taken care by Tiki wholeheartedly. Usually each of the characters all have a little background shown in the beginning of the book so as the story progresses the reader gets a growing sense of who they are as a person. However, in The Faerie Ring all the characters were immediately introduced without so much as a physical depiction of their appearance, except for Rieker who Tiki feels an unquestionable attraction to. I'm getting tired of all these romances that have no basis to explain the connection and develop the relationship between two prominent characters.

When the faeries come in the picture and the truce is actualized, I couldn't help but just put the book down and inwardly complain about the elusiveness of such creatures. I have NOTHING against faeries as a whole, one of my favorite series ever has faeries as the forefront characters, but the author failed to pronounce the importance of these creatures in the plot line. I got up to page 172 before I finally gave up and said, "I don't care what happens with the ring, the faeries or Tiki and Reiker." Honestly, it just didn't matter to me what was going to happen next. Out of the half of the book that I was able to swallow, I only appreciated the setting and the fleeting chapters where Prince Leo and Prince Arthur were talking. That's it, and that is sad. Obviously it wasn't the author's writing style or originality that lacked something, just the plot and characters weren't enough to carry on this tale of "gritty slums and glittering ballrooms" and the Otherworld that held the creatures seeking the reclamation of their city. The suspense and dangerous tone came through loud and clear, but the romance was white noise at best.

Source: Publisher


In order for you to make up your own opinion of The Faerie Ring I'm giving away a finished copy to one lucky person. Just fill out this FORM and you'll have to be a US resident and wait till October 30th to find out who the winner is...


Teen Book Scene: Amplified Author Interview with Tara Kelly

Introducing author Tara Kelly...

Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She's a YA author, one-girl-band, web designer, video editor, digital photographer, and literary agent intern. She lives in Portland with her ten guitars, supercool bf, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

Onto the interview with some book line answers...

What instrument would you play if you were in a band?


What sorts of advice would you give other musicians to pursue their dream?

I had to know if I was meant to be a musician. Otherwise, I’d spend the rest of my life regretting it. Asking myself…what if?

Have you ever had an instance where you were performing in front of an audience and couldn't play?

A second grade talent show comes to mind. I thought it would be a fun idea to sing “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos. Only it turned out I didn’t know the lyrics as well as I thought I did. And I hadn’t quite learned the concept of projection. The teacher ended up asking me if I wanted to lip sync.
Let’s just say “Cornflake Girl” remained my nickname throughout the course of my elementary school career—and nobody meant it as a compliment.
Author’s Note: The only difference between Jasmine’s story and my own is that it wasn’t “Cornflake Girl” by Tori Amos that I sang. It was a song by an artist I’m far too ashamed to name. And no. I won’t tell anyone. Even you.

Are there any songs and artists that both you and Jasmine love to listen to?

The Birthday Massacre, The Cure, Assemblage 23, Rob Zombie, and Placebo.

Would a boy ever distract you from playing?

No boy is getting in the way of me and my guitar. Music is far too important to me.

Thanks to Tara and Teen Book Scene!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Cracked Cover Feature

Introducing author of Cracked, KM Walton...

K.M. Walton writes contemporary YA, middle grade suspense, picture books and nonfiction. Her debut contemporary YA novel, CRACKED comes out from Simon Pulse ~ Simon & Schuster in January 3, 2012. She is fortunate to be represented by the lovely Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown Ltd.
K. M. had a dream when she was a little girl. Actually she had a gazillion dreams, and she spent a large amount of her childhood wondering what her future would hold. Her biggest dream was to be a teacher. Teaching became a reality for K. M. and she taught for twelve glorious years – some of it in Osteen, Florida and most of it in Springfield, Pennsylvania (Hi, Osteen Elementary and ETR Middle School!!). But, it turns out writing is K. M. Walton’s favorite thing to do in the whole world. Even the hard parts – and there are a lot of hard parts.

First, a sincere thank you to Lili for hosting me today on Chica Reader.
The love the cover of CRACKED, and I know I’m a bit partial, being the author and all, but it’s true. When my editor asked me if I had any cover ideas I’d like her to pass on to the art department I replied: I’ve got nothing. The only thing I requested is that there be no people on the cover. I’m a big fan of simple covers like these:

As well as John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA and the Twilight covers. So when my editor sent the email with the cover image attached, I screamed out loud with happiness. It was everything I wanted, even though I didn’t know I wanted it. Part of the novel takes place in the psych ward of a hospital, hence the pill cup. I like to think that the two pills represent the two main characters—Victor and Bull—but I’ve never had that confirmed by the talented people who created it. Perhaps one day I will be able to ask them in person. The feedback I’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. Everything from, “Wow, you hit the cover lottery!” to “If I were a teenager in the bookstore I’d definitely pick this book up!”
I can’t wait until January 3, 2012!

Thanks to KM and Teen Book Scene!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Character Interview with Aunt Clacy

Introducing author of Kane Richards Must Die, Shanice Williams...

Shanice Williams graduated from high school in England at the age of sixteen and went on to college where she is currently studying English literature, politics, and sociology. Playing the piano and writing are some of her hobbies. Her accomplishments have included penning a published poem and becoming a debut author when she signed her first publishing contract for Kane Richards Must Die on her eighteenth birthday. She currently resides in South London with her family.
Onto the interview with protagonist Suranne's Aunt Clacy...

How did you feel about having to take care of your sister's kid so out of the blue? What was it like having her there?

Well, my sister was so vague about the whole thing. I knew there was definitely something she wasn’t telling me, but I trusted her when she told me it was important. At first I was like sigh because I was planning on using my female charm and my awesome vintage couch throws to get Mike to give that stupid Copyeditor Jane the boot and give the position to me instead. But hey, family’s more important right? And Suranne is a good kid. She wasn’t a nightmare or anything like some of these teens you see with all kinda emotional problems who fail on making up their mind on whether they love a girl or not. Which definitely sums up that boyfriend of hers.

What was your first impression of Kane Richards when you got to meet him?

Well the name Richards was always familiar to me. It seems everyone knows pretty much everyone in my town y’know? So I’d heard about the mother I think, and how she had started losing it or something. I’m totally against gossip, unless I hear something extra juicy and then, well it usually just kind of slips, but I always try and avoid it. He seemed a bit too bloody cocky for my liking. And you see those kind of fella’s everywhere. I’m not sure on how I feel about him right now. I saw a different side of things at the airport.

How did you manage to juggle a teenager and your work when Suranne was staying with you?

Suranne’s always been responsible… even from a young age. I know it was something my sister was always going on about, being able to hold your own and whatnot. So for me, as long as there was food in the cupboards, a chip in her phone, and money in her pocket she was fine. I’m not really cracked out to be a doting parent. It’s probably the reason I don’t have any kids of my own, so having Suranne stay with me was more of like a really long sleepover. Or something.

Would you ever consider moving to London to spend time with your sister?

Sigh. I miss home sometimes. I think I’m going home next Christmas just to see everyone, but I don’t know if I could move back there. I’ve made a life out here for myself, and I don’t want to lose that. I miss my family, but they’re only a phone call away. And if I miss my niece too much, hey I could always fly her back!

What is your dream vacation and who would you spend it with?

I think I would like to go to the canary islands. Just ‘cus it sounds fun. Who would I spend it with?
The Queen.

More info or to buy Kane Richards Must Die:

Thanks to Shanice--Aunt Clacy, and Teen Book Scene!


Waiting On Wednesday (10)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on...

Lightbringer by K.D. McEntire

Hardcover: 300 pages
Publisher: Pyr (November 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1616145390
ISBN-13: 978-1616145392

A YA Urban Fantasy/Romance in a world a breath away from our own. Similar in tone to Tithe and Unleashed, Lightbringer tiptoes down the line between love and horror as an independent young woman discovers herself and the darkest parts of the afterlife.
Hearing great, haunting things about Lightbringer and it's been on my radar for a while.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Teen Book Scene: Second Hand Heart Vida's Books Picks: Vida

Introducing author of Second Hand Heart, Catherine Ryan Hyde...

I'm the author of the newer novels When I Found You (UK), Diary of a Witness, Chasing Windmills, The Day I Killed James, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, Love in the Present Tense, and Becoming Chloe. My older works are Funerals for Horses, Earthquake Weather, Pay it Forward (adapted into a movie starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment), Electric God, Walter's Purple Heart. Electric God, Love in the Present Tense and Chasing Windmills all have possible futures as films. Forthcoming is Jumpstart the World (Knopf '10), a Young Adult work on the subject of transgender. I'm also fairly well known in the UK (actually doing better there with my adult novels than in the US) and have a new adult novel due out from Transworld in 2010. Hopefully I'll have a US date for it soon as well.

And onto Vida's Top Ten Book Picks...

Number 1 on Vida’s list, without a doubt: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. I like the book a lot, but Vida worships it, because of the way it’s written in letter format, and to a person we never see or meet. Vida relates to being so alone in the world, and the way the main character confides in this unseen person just breaks her heart, but in the most satisfying way possible. And of course it reminds her a little of her own journaling.

Second on her list would be Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. This is the one that came immediately to mind, but when I thought of the Stephen Chbosky book, I knew it came to mind first but as book number two. (Funny how I think and talk more like Vida as I do this exercise.) Vida likes the sense of quirky spiritual order in this one. It comforts her to see her inner knowing about the world reflected back in this way.

Number three is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Because the little boy who narrates it is so precocious and so vulnerable, all at the same time. And he has such a direct and heartbreaking experience with loss. Which Vida can feel. I guess I make it sound like she almost wants to have her heart broken, but it’s more like this: when your heart is broken, it feels good when something comes along to help you feel it. Otherwise it’s all just in there, trying to get out, which hurts more. And yes, I do realize I’m talking about hearts a lot. That’s part of how the whole heart thing works, I guess. It works on two levels.

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, for number four
Closely followed by Love, Stargirl for number five. Or maybe even reverse the order on those two. And I’m not even sure I need to say why. I think anybody who has read these books knows they’re about being different. Granted, Vida is different in a less happy and fun way than Stargirl, but it’s still nice to get the message that being ordinary isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Since Vida never had a chance in hell at being ordinary. There was no point in even trying.

Number six has to go to Walter’s Purple Heart, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Okay, I realize it may sound a little self-serving. But look at it this way. Vida is my character. So it’s not like she never heard of me when choosing her books. Vida likes this book because it presents a fictional view of what happens to us after we die. And since she spent all those years looking death in the face, Vida is quite drawn to reading about people who are gone, but not gone. Walter dies in the war but is still present in some ways. It underscores Vida’s theory that death is about where you are, not whether you are. And it places a huge value on every human life, even the ordinary ones. Which makes Vida happy.

Number seven, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. Because it was written from the point of view of a dog. For Vida’s money, the whole thing could just have been about dogdom, and Stein could have skipped the bit about the false accusations against his owner. Maybe that’s not enough story for everybody, but in Vida’s mind, being a dog has an importance all its own. It’s enough.

Number eight, The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff. Because it’s calm and lovely, and it makes sense. And, after reading it, she tends to think that life makes sense. Whereas, at other times, she often worries that it doesn't.

Number nine is Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss. Because Horton is an elephant who meant what he said and said what he meant. And Vida likes people who do that. Even if those people are elephants.

Finally, number ten is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Because it’s narrated by death. Someone Vida feels she knows. And because, even though it’s sad, and death claims many lives, and wins many battles, in the end, death has to stand in awe of the human spirit. Which means the human spirit wins out over death, even when someone dies. Vida always hoped that was true. And she still does, even now, when she gets to live.

Thanks to Catherine and Teen Book Scene!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (November 15, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0062085484
ISBN-13: 978-0062085481

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


Adam. I loved Adam, he was almost too perfect for Juliette but ultimately fit her character so well. They had the element of history that's subtle but slowly crescendos as you get sucked into their connection. Adam's character in general ameliorated some of the intense-ness of the book, he relieved Shatter Me just by being a reassurance toward Juliette and electrified the pages as their passion grew.

Originality. The pre-meditated dystopian world feel of Shatter Me lent an attractable quality that made the book a nonstop page-turner. I read the book in two whole sittings, I was more than half way done the first time I picked it up to start reading it.

The ending. It was one of those endings that tries to turn the whole book around by giving the reader a whole new perspective of the main character's dilemma in just the last 50 pages, but it did pull it off nicely. It definitely set the tone for the next possible book in the series and permeated an assurance of how the rest of Juliette's story will progress.


Warner. Being that he's the son of the leader of The Reestablishment, he's pretty much Adam's polar opposite. Where Adam's sweet, gentle and unfathomably understanding, Warner's psychotically sick, cruel and in denial.

The writing style. I understood how some of the crossed out sentences and repetition in the writing represented and emphasized the main character's "voice," but for the love of me, I couldn't get used to the constant, extreme transitions between scenes. One moment it's action-packed and the MC is flustered, frustrated, trying to fight back....the next second she's calm, and everything's going to be fine. This did drive me a smidge up the wall, but thankfully the other characters were able to pull me back.

The plot. Overall, I did love the relationship between Adam and Juliette, I could appreciate the significance of Warner's villain-ness, but Shatter Me was only specifically centralized around Juliette's one, dominating flaw and The Reestablishment. The Reestablishment isn't fully explained and that's why I'm pretty certain this is going to turn into a series. The constant reminder of destruction of the earth and how The Reestablishment is taking over soon became redundant, especially since I felt like the author was just rephrasing the same background information on how their world came to be that way.

Grade: B-

ARC Source: Borrowed


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (December 27, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1606841696
ISBN-13: 978-1606841693

Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.


I had my expectations when I heard first read about Every Other Day in the back of the Trial by Fire ARC Egmont had sent me. In some ways I was disappointed, mostly because I've come to expect from Barnes's writing, but in others I was pleasantly surprised that she'd tackle this spectrum of the paranormal--preternatural--base. Kali was introduced as a different sort of being, not knowing any one else like her, she considered being alone and not caring was how she was going to spend the rest of her days. Except, after another day of hunting and going back to being "human", she gets approached in a pep rally at school by a psychic, and the rest is history.

Writing: I have an acquired taste for Barnes's brutal, no-nonsense style of writing. It entertains while it informs, and I don't have to worry about any bullshit being thrown at me. At times, the writing felt a bit amateur-ish, like perhaps this was a debut, but I understand the Barnes was dipping her toes into new territory, I just wish she had grown more as writer to max out this book's potential.

Plot: As expected, the plot was pretty fast-paced and didn't leave anything to be desired. It was satisfying, but some interactions with different characters and the preternatural beings themselves didn't have a sense of originality. The insta-romance between Kali and Zev was not overly done so I can't say anything bad about it, it just reminded of Bryn and Chace--from Raised by Wolves--a hell of a lot. Honestly, comparing the two novels, I have to say that Every Other Day was more intense and delved deeper into the goring aspects than Raised by Wolves, but it lacked personal connections that the latter had. Kali's regulated abilities were an interesting twist and added a much-needed originality to an otherwise unoriginal book. Even the scientist that are seriously corrupt helped the book move along, and kept me intrigued enough to finish it till the very last page.

Characters: This has to be what peeved me the most. When others read Every Other Day, they'll probably say that they had an affinity for Skylar's character the most because she was down-to-earth, helpful towards the main character, and obnoxiously cute. The only part of that sentence that I deem true, is the use of obnoxious. I know why she was such in an important--being Kali's one true friend--but I'd pick Bethany over her any day. The quality that made her the most important in the book was what ended up irritating me the most about her. Hell, I liked the brothers better and they were only semi-better characters. I just felt like the characters were very underwhelmed, not greatly developed and didn't support the plot as much as they could have. Zev, as a love interest, was so disappointing because he was just like a voice almost throughout the duration of the novel. You weren't able to see those facial expressions that tell more than words, no background on him whatsoever. Kali, however, was a well-rounded girl, being confused all the time and what not, and she was definitely more personable than any of the others.

Overall: Weighing the pros and cons, I have to say there were a lot of cons that were piling up in my head as I was reading this book, but I can't help myself from recommending it even if you're a virgin to the author's works. It will might not suck readers in immediately, but I would like to believe you'll warm up to it. I do hope this stays as a stand-alone, as I think there are way too many series out there already. However, I can see them turning into a series because of the semi-cliffhanger.

Grade: C+

Source: Netgalley