Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Me on Harmonic Feedback

Title: Harmonic Feedback
Author: Tara Kelly
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 278 (Hardcover)

This seems to be the fall/winter where I read a lot of contemporary YA. Not that I'm complaining or anything. I've been enjoying it. :)

Plus, I'm continuing my trend of reviewing books that haven't gotten a lot of publicity and aren't that well known, which sucks for the author because the book's really good.

So, Drea has to move to Bellingham with her single mom to live with their grandmother, which sucks. Plus, she's got issues, some of which might be ADHD and "a little bit of Asperger's." She's not perfect, but who is? And then there's her love of music and sound editing (which I think is really cool).

She meets Naomi and Justin, forms a band, and then is forced to deal with the rougher side of life when all she wants to do is run and hide behind her sound equipment.

I was surprised that I loved this book so much. I mean, I don't read books unless they interest me, so I figured I was going to like it, but it was so much better than I expected.

Drea's coping with the Asperger's and the ADHD didn't overshadow the plot and other characters, which was good. It's not about her and her problems, but more about her learning how to cope in a world that isn't perfect, that might chew you up and spit you out, leaving you to regain control over your life. The curve balls thrown her way keep piling up: Naomi and her questionable choices, Justin's surprising interest in her, her mother and the cavalier way she gets involved with all the wrong men, her grandmother's bitterness.

I was surprised at the grit and the realism in this book. The alcohol, the drugs, the car races, the bullying, the cops and crime, the overdose, the teen sex. I think contemporary YA needs the realism to be compelling. If it's not realistic, if it doesn't cover the good and the bad of life, then it's more like outrageous fantasy. The grit in this book surprised me a little, I wasn't expecting it, but it made the book.

What's YA without a little romance? ;) There's a couple different situations where romance starts: the main character gets together with their crush, or the main character gets surprised by someone who has a crush on them. What happens to Drea is the latter. She meets Justin, thinks he's weird and annoying, but he's drawn to her and her offbeat unique ways. I don't want to say adorable, but it's adorable, in a realistic teens mature enough to have sex after facing trouble and hardship way.

In short, go read this book. It's a great debut, like Mindi Scott's Freefall (hi, Mindi). It's on my Christmas list because the copy I read is from the library. I want my own copy. Proof that it's a great book, right?? ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Ok, so I missed doing this last week, and maybe when I was sick, too. Sorry. :) Check out Jill at Breaking the Spine for more Waiting on Wednesday fun.

And I'm doing three because there are 300+ books on my to-read list right now. ;)

Title: Defiance (Strange Angels #4)
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill

From Goodreads:

The heart-stopping fourth novel in New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series.

Now that sixteen-year-old Dru's worst fears have come true and Sergej has kidnapped her best friend Graves, she'll have to go on a suicidal rescue mission to bring him back in one piece.
That is, if she can put all of Christophe's training to good use, defeat her mother's traitor, Anna, once and for all, and manage to survive another day . . . 

I love this series. Totally love it. Dru kicks butt like only Buffy could, but there's no cutesy California high school vibe. She's such a hard ass, with a hint of teen girl social awkwardness and loads of attitude. It's rough and nothing's ever easy for Dru, and it's so awesome. One slam after another after another and she's grasping at straws to stay alive. I can't wait for next spring when this book comes out.

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

From Goodreads:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

I miss reading science fiction some days, and it's looking like this is going to be really good. The early buzz is positive, almost everyone I know on Goodreads has this on their list, and the cover is so pretty. :)

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 240 (Hardcover)

From Goodreads:

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

I've only read one book by McMann before (Wake), and I liked it. This book sounds so messed up and so cool. I think writing about teens with anxiety disorders (look at Tara Kelly's Harmonic Feedback, Dia Reeves' Bleeding Violet, or Christine Feehan's Water Bound (this one's a romance novel)) and not totally focusing on them makes the characters stand out more. Sure, they're not "normal," but who is, especially when they're a teenager? No one's totally perfect, physically or mentally, so why shouldn't they be included in the books we write? It sounds pretty spooky, but I recently read and loved The Replacement.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Me on In My Mailbox (4)

I'm behind. Nuts. Well, first I was sick, and then NaNoWriMo took over a little, and then I didn't get any new books. But I've got some now. And check out The Story Siren for more IMM fun. :)

Borrowed from the library:
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
City of Ashes, City of Glass, and Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

And those 10 books are mine for the next three weeks. I think I'm going to have a Cassandra Clare overdose or something. So saving those for last. ;)

And and with any luck, I'll have a review up soon for Harmonic Feedback. So so good, and I don't usually read contemporary YA, but this year I've read Freefall and You Wish and Take Me There and really enjoyed them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Me on Random Monday (1)

Ok, so I made this up because I've picked up a coldy fluish thing, complete with aches, sinus pressure, a cough, and a stuffed up nose. Basically, my head feels twice as big as it should be with all the extra goo.

Now that I've grossed you out (sorry), I'm going to have some fun.

Which is just an excuse to put up some pretty pictures of book covers. :D

Go forth and drool over the prettiness. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Me on In My Mailbox (3)

IMM is once again brought to us this week by The Story Siren. :)

And strangely enough, I did get some books this week, even with NaNoWriMo (which I'm behind in) and me possibly getting sick. I'm starting to feel the sinus pressure. Ouch.

Since I'm sick, I don't really feel like taking pictures and then fiddling around with moving them from my cell to my computer. Pictures will return next week or whenever I get some more books.

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
Immortal Sea by Virginia Kantra

Plus I have most of the library books from last week to read.

So, not a lot, but I've been busy pushing for my 1667 words a day. And since I missed most of yesterday, I have 2500 words to write today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Me on Nightshade

Title: Nightshade
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Pages: 454 (Hardcover)

I've been meaning to write this review for at least a week. First, I wasn't quite sure how to word it. Then I got busy with my own writing. And then I wasn't sure how to word it again.

Not surprisingly, since this is how a bunch of my ideas for my undergraduate work came out of my head, I wrote down a list of bits and points in the middle of the night.

A lot of my readings and outlines were written in the middle of the night.

A lot of my reading now is done in the middle of the night. This book was no exception.

This book is wonderful, an exciting mix of romance, rebellion, werewolves and witches. I was forever swept away by the twists and turns, the danger and the secrets, the different characters. I didn't want it to end, and when it did I wanted to scream for the next book, Wolfsbane.

On purpose, as with another recent release (Becca Fitzpatrick's Crescendo), I avoided all early reviews and spoilers, like the blog and videos centered around the character of Shay Doran put out by the publisher. That isn't to say I thought they were pointless. Once my pre-ordered copy arrived I read the blog, watched the videos, downloaded the prequel. It enhanced the book for me, introducing the book through a different viewpoint. Of course, it did make me want more of Shay. ;)

Part of my reason for loving this book is Calla. Confused as any human teenager would be, torn between two potential boyfriends as any high school girl would be. She was believable, realistic, even with her being a werewolf. Teens are often pulled in certain ways by their emotions, their hormones, their families and friends. Adding the supernatural/paranormal element only serves to make the novel more mysterious.

The mythology. The werewolves and the witches were unique in terms of their purpose, their abilities, their history. Such a relationship has been done before, like where werewolves protect vampires during the day at the peak of their vulnerability, but using witches as the dominant power was interesting. I've often enjoyed novels that include werewolf or witch/wiccan characters, such as Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series (werewolves & vampires), Carolyn MacCullough's Once a Witch (witches), Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld books (werewolves, witches, vampires, & demons), and for the romance novel crowd, Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series (werewolves, vampires, witches, demons, valkyrie, & fae).

The romance. I liked the love triangle, even though it's become a cliché. But this wasn't a standard triangle where Calla was always drawn to both Ren and Shay. Her uneasiness to the mating with Ren was okay with me. Sure, there's the physical attraction between the two of them, but I couldn't find the emotional connection that Calla had with Shay. She's torn between them for different reasons: she wants Shay but forces beyond her control push her towards Ren.

This book is why I love YA, why I read it, why I write it, and why more people need to read it. So much has been crammed into 452 pages but it's not overwhelming. It's all connected, all related, all important to the story.

This book has so much to do with control, with adults and their control over youth, with secrets and boundaries, the difference between truth and lies/right and wrong/moral and immoral. So much about choices, about consequences and facing them when the situation turns dangerous. So much about finding your place in life, in the world, and justifying your reasons to the ones in control.

So much about defiance when you don't believe in what you've been taught anymore, about knowledge and how dangerous uncovering the truth can be.

So much about hiding who you are to protect others, about control leading to abuse, about speaking out instead of keeping silent.

So much about following your heart when it's constantly at war with your head.

During my undergraduate years, I took a children's lit class. If I was taking it now, I would write a paper on Nightshade. It's beautiful.

So, for everyone who was wondering if I was going to enjoy this book, if I thought it was going to live up to all the early buzz, I did and it does.

It so does.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Props to Jill at Breaking the Spine for hosting Waiting for Wednesday every week. :)

Title: The Lost Saint
Author: Bree Despain
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

From Goodreads:

A family destroyed. A love threatened. An enemy returns.

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with the werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process. When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do. She must become a Hound of Heaven.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot—a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero. But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel is put in danger—in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her—not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

I loved The Dark Divine, it had twists and action, secrets and more secrets at the end. This has been another case of me being jealous of reviewers who got ARC's a few months ago. So jealous. I'm curious if anyone else thinks it sounds a bit like Linger, which came out this past summer.

I'm trying to get another review up later this week. Stay tuned. It'll be on Nightshade. :D