Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teen Book Scene: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

The Summer My Life Began
Shannon Greenland

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Speak (May 10, 2012)
ISBN-10: 014241347X
ISBN-13: 978-0142413470
Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

Em first made it onto the island looking for nothing more than a great half-summer and a little truth about this second part of her family she knew nothing about. As she starts relaxing and having fun with her cousin and aunt in the Pepper House, Em starts to learn what it really means to have the confidence to do the things you love and not worry about disappointing others. The Pepper House soon becomes the B&B that feels like home and the people who work there like family.

Coming from the world of constant expectations bombarding you to paradise island where freedom is comforting, Elizabeth Margaret immediately goes with the flow and adapts to the life she never thought she could have. The mystery with the family secret being the main plot, I thought that Em's insistent investigative nature was helpful to push the story along and an admirable trait. It was the sub-plots that I enjoyed the most: Em's passion for cooking, the budding romance between her and Cade, the awesome cousin she shares a bonding connection with. They all amount to the developments Em makes as a character, and the developments the other characters make as well. It felt appropriate for them to have grown in different forms considering all their personalities and backgrounds. That's one thing I loved about Ms. Greenland's writing style, the fact that every person introduced in the book sounded authentic and realistic.

During the time I was reading the book, I made some off-hand reference to The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han because some of the characters in this book made similar connections with the protagonist that reminded me of another summer-beach read. I won't say they're the same because once I started The Summer My Life Began, I absolutely grew addicted and wanted to go to Outer Banks for a summer vaca, too. I certainly didn't enjoy The Summer I Turned Pretty for various reasons that I won't elaborate on in this review. However, the tone of these two books were comparatively similar and I wouldn't put it past the reader to pick up Ms. Han's novel after reading Ms. Greenland's.

I'm glad this brief summer read is being published close to the summer months because it will just add to the wonderful experience of reading the book under the warm sun.


Source: Teen Book Scene


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giveaway: Dark Parties Book-related Bracelet

To enter this giveaway, you must be a US resident and enter the form below. Giveaway ends May 29th at midnight EST.

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Thanks for entering!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Teen Book Scene: Top Ten YA Books Sara Grant Can't Wait to Read

Introducing the author of Dark Parties, Sara Grant...

Sara Grant was born and raised in Washington, Indiana. She graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, with degrees in journalism and psychology, and later she earned a master’s degree in creative and life writing Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Sara is senior commissioning editor for Working Partners, a London-based company creating series fiction for children. She has worked on ten different series and edited more than 75 books.
Dark Parties is her first young adult novel.

Onto Sara's Top Tens List...

"The Top Ten YA Books I Can’t Wait to Read"

Hi, Lili! Thanks for inviting me on ChicaReader!

Like most writers, I’m a bibliophile. I buy more books than I could ever possibly read. I try to limit myself to buying another book only when I’ve finished reading one, but with my lack of self discipline and so many truly amazing books getting’s a losing battle.

I recently turned the guest bedroom in my three-bedroom, London flat into a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves, but I’m already double stacking books. I have one shelf that’s dedicated to books I’ve purchased and are waiting – begging to be read.

I like to mix reading for pleasure with reading for inspiration and reading for instruction. Here’s the next ten books that I’d like to read.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. I’ve always wanted to read this book but never gotten around to it. I’ve started work on my third book and I think this will serve as inspiration for what I’m trying to accomplish.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. Sedgwick is on the same list as I am in the UK (Orion’s Indigo list). I’ve read a number of his books. They are always beautifully written and thought provoking. I heard him speak about the writing of this book. It’s a love story through the ages. It starts in the future and works backwards. Very intriguing indeed.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. This was pitched has Dexter for teens. Nuf said.

Wonder by R J Palacio. I’m in a book group of children’s writers, editors and agents. The group picked this as our next book. I have been so head-down revising my second novel that I hadn’t heard of it. I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle and discovered it opens with a quote from a song by one of my favorite artists – Natalie Merchant. I already feel an immediate kinship with the story.

London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. I’m dying to write a murder mystery. I’ve always loved mysteries from anything Agatha Christie to Patricia Cornwell to Law & Order and CSI. This book has been on my reading list for a while and is one of those books I’m reading as inspiration for a future project.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Okay, this is cheating a bit. I read Green’s new book in two days when it first came out. I gulped it down and now want to sit, relax and enjoy what I think is Green’s best novel.

I Am The Cheese by Robert Cromier. I read this a long time ago. I want to read it again, but this time as a writer to try to dissect how Cromier creates such a masterful psychological thriller.

Oliver Twisted by J D Sharpe. It’s the Dickens’s classic with a zombie-rrific twist. It’s written by a friend of mine. She’s a talented writer and editor and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve also read her recently published middle-grade adventure novel – Book of Wonders written under her real name – Jasmine Richards. She’s unbelievably talented!

The Demon’s Watch by Conrad Mason. It’s a fantasy for middle-grade readers. It promises to be packed with adventure and magical creatures. I work with Conrad at Working Partners, a London, England-based company that creates series for children and teens. I know first-hand that he’s a master storyteller. I have high expectations for this book.

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly. I loved Little Women as a teenager. I’m looking forward to reading this updated tribute to the classic. It’s the tale of sisters who are descendants of Jo March.

This list could be longer. I probably have 40 books on my to-read shelf. As always – too many books, too little time.

Sixteen-year-old Neva was born and raised in an isolated nation ruled by fear, lies, and xenophobia. Hundreds of years ago, her country constructed an electrified dome to protect itself from the outside world. What once might have protected, now imprisons. Her country is decaying and its citizens are dying.

Neva and her friends dream of freedom.

A forbidden party leads to complications. Suddenly Neva’s falling for her best friend's boyfriend, uncovering secrets that threaten to destroy her friends, her family and her country -- and discovering the horrifying truth about what happens to The Missing...

Thanks to Sara and Teen Book Scene!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Winner of Endure Giveaway!

The winner has been notified and confirmed. Thank you to all of the participants! Keep a lookout for the next giveaway on my blog coming soon.


Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (May 22, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1250003326
ISBN-13: 978-1250003324
Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

I breezed through this book, only took me 2 days--mind you, I have school to contend with as well. There's so much jammed pack information about the Triton and Poseidon territories to start this series off, but for me it still wasn't enough. 

Plot: We've got Emma whose violet eyes connect her to the Syrena, both Triton and Poseidon house, but her white hair and skin are anomalies since Syrena have olive skin and dark hair. Her ability says she's of Poseidon, more connected to the sea world and its creatures than any known Poseidon Syrena. One fatal tragedy in the deep oceans on the Florida coast brings out her astonishing capability in the ocean, but too late to stop the shark before it bites. She didn't know that earlier, the strange boy and girl she'd crashed--literally, she's quite the klutz--into were twin royals of the human-loathing Triton house who, after seeing her violet eyes and sensing her through touch, could . Galen may be a prince of Triton but he's also their human ambassador. He knows that if Emma is a descendant of Poseidon himself then she should be the Syrena that mates with the next in line for the Triton throne, his brother Grom. It would be the only way to stop the current bloodless war between the two Syrena from escalating to violent methods. In order to protect the people he loves he has to follow Emma back to New Jersey where he can make her understand. He doesn't anticipate, however, how difficult that might be, for her and him.

Writing: I know that the tragedy spin is supposed to give the book a somewhat darker spin--or at least, that's what I surmised from the Goodreads synopsis--but Of Poseidon was more humorous than daunting. I didn't anticipate my love for this book to grow with every page but I'd spend a long time zoned out and thinking about the dynamics Ms. Banks presents in the mythology and mythological creatures that make up this book. I've become a little wary on the topic of first books in a series since I know it's the introduction into a fantastical world that's going to unfurl as the books release. It's almost always the execution that rubs me the wrong way because some authors have all this information and creativity in their minds but the structure of their novels don't always match the level of originality. This, however, is far from spetactular execution of Ms. Banks debut novel, for something couldn't me more intriguing to read than a book from an author that knows the voices of young adults so well and can communicate that in her writing. Bravo, Ms. Banks, Bravo. 

The pacing kept me flipping the pages at break-neck speed, and the use of dialogue between characters was funny and entertaining, but sad and disheartening when called for. Is it ironic that teared up a bit in English class in a particularly discouraging scene, or just sad?

Characters: Emma and Galen have so much sexual tension writhing between them that it's plain as day to everyone but them. They got to know each other better before deeper feelings made it into the picture.  The fight and resistance that their relationship creates between them produces a tantalizing romance that made me want to see develop into something more. Rayna, Galen's twin, was also a bit of obstacle when she saw Galen getting friendly with Emma before she could even develop into a full-blown Syrena and meet their brother Grom. I suppose that's what made me like Toraf so much for putting up with her and taking her away every so often. While being able to meet all these new people becomes special to her, Emma questions her past and parents, faces the decision of what to do in the future and how to come to terms that she is part fish.

Originality: More and more sea-related stories are being written and published in the YA genre, but Of Poseidon has taken the cake in creativity and imaginative disposition. 

Now, the one thing I would caution potential readers about and feel I have to mention becomes it seemed fatal was...the cliffhanger ending almost damned me. I said so many OMGs and was pacing around my house before I could fully calm down to get a well-deserved rest. WHY?! Why do authors do such cruel things to their readers? Sigh. Sadly (or fortunately), this in no ways stops me from dragging everyone by the hair to buy this book when it hits store near you.


Source: Netgalley


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Giveaway: Endure by Carrie Jones

It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king...

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Teen Book Scene: Summer Life Began (This or That List)

Introducing the author of The Summer My Life Began, Shannon Greenland...

You name it. Shannon Greenland’s done it. Hiking, rafting, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, mountain biking, spelunking, canoeing, power lifting, running, camping, para sailing . . . well, you get the drift. She’s traveled the world extensively and is thrilled to be living in northern Virginia, looking for her new adventure. Believe it or not, Shannon dreaded reading and writing when she was a kid. How ironic that she’s now an award winning author.
Onto the author's This or That List...

Writing: Computer program or Pen and paper?

Inner-city noise or rural quiet?

Cover art: Color or design?

Dream car or Dream vacation?

Fruit smoothie or milkshake?

Pizza or Burgers?

Winter or Summer?

Long hair or Short hair?

CDs or iPod/MP3?

Books or ebooks?

A fabulous romance with a very unexpected guy...

The opportunity to explore her love of cooking...

The freedom to be whoever she wants...

This is what seventeen-year-old Em gets when she goes to spend a month at her aunt's island resort. It's a dream come true—and exactly the break Em needed from her strict family and their high expectations of her.

But when Em uncovers a long-buried secret about her family, everything changes. And suddenly, Em finds herself making some big choices about her future—choices she never dreamed she'd have the chance to make...

Thanks to Shannon and Teen Book Scene!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Endure (Need, #4) by Carrie Jones

Carrie Jones

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; (May 8, 2012)
ISBN-10: 159990554X
ISBN-13: 978-1599905549
It’s all-out war (and no-holds-barred romance) in the climactic conclusion to Carrie Jones’s bestselling series.

Zara is at the center of an impending apocalypse. True, she’s successfully rescued Nick from Valhalla, but it simply isn’t enough. Evil pixies are ravaging Bedford, and they need much more than one great warrior; they need an army. Zara isn’t sure what her role is anymore. She’s not just fighting for her friends; she’s also a pixie queen. And to align her team of pixies with the humans she loves will be one of her greatest battles yet. Especially since she can’t even reconcile her growing feelings for her pixie king . . .

Unexpected turns, surprising revelations, and one utterly satisfying romantic finale make Endure a thrilling end to this series of bestsellers.

With the escalation of missing-persons in Bedford, Maine, Zara White decides to take the duty of being the pixie queen of Astley's pixies seriously, especially since the world's about to end and all. She feels the weight of what it is going to take to fight all of Frank's pixies and find out what she has to do in order to keep the world intact. Help comes from her multitude of friends and family that she has accumulated since arriving in the tiny town of Bedford. In the middle of all the chaos, Zara soon comes to realize that the love she and Nick shared has been treading on a razor blade edge since she saved Nick in Valhalla. So many challenges face Zara as the pixie queen, as "the chosen one" in the mysterious prophecy, as Astley's partner. In the end she'll have to ask herself, "Is she willing to risk it all for the prosperous lives of the people and world she loves?"

As far as the romance that simultaneously lessens and grows in Endure, I'm super glad about the outcome. Nick is the same macho, bossy, brutish character he was in Entice and I wanted to slap him numerous times. And of course Astley's wonderfully sweet nature doesn't change and I wanted to kiss him numerous times. Pixie fate doesn't sound so bad, right? Back to Nick, though....There was one particular scene in Endure that some of the characters go back to Iceland--not going to say why--and Nick decides to tag along this time. There's a little respite from the chaos and Zara and him get to talk. Let's just say, if you were holding out for Team Nick to pull through, this scene will flush any chances of that happening down the drain. What's funny is that he thinks he hasn't done anything wrong by Zara till that point, and I'm like, "Seriously?"

Guess I should talk more about the gloom and doom climax since that's primarily what the book centers around. I don't think Ms. Jones could have down a better job at putting every piece of the puzzle in its place to cinch up the final book in the series. While I think she could have adjusted the execution of all the Norse mythology as things were heating up in the book more structurally, I liked how she re-introduced the important events that happened in previous books and made everything wrap up nicely. It was ironic how easily the whole pandemonium of the apocalypse was avoided but that didn't leave the book without its own fair share of battle scenes and war chaos. The challenges that Zara faces include standing up to multiple gods and goddesses, ruthless pixies, and acceptance that even when she thinks she's lost and there's no way they can win, it only takes the power of something she's had all along to stop the world from ending.

I sincerely loved and enjoyed reading the Need series. All the characters that I met throughout all the books develop into people with the strength to fight and endure till the very end. I would recommend the whole series to people not afraid of blue-tinted skin, razor-toothed mouths and shapeshifters who need an attitude check.


Source: Publisher via Netgalley