Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking Forward To In 2013

Here's the list of books (so far) that I'm looking forward to in 2013.
Which titles are you anticipating?

March 2013March 2013February 2013February 2013
February 2013February 2013February 2013January 2013
January 2013January 2013January 2013March 2013
April 2013Sometime 2013April 2013April 2013
by Alethea Kontis
Woodcutters Series,
Book 2
June 2013Sometime 2013July 2013January 2013

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kimberly's Top Ten

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Instead of reading that other cancer kid book, I read this one by a debut author. It was a rollicking, irreverent novel with an endearing, if emotionally stunted and clueless, main character.
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
I had to wait so long for this installment of the Gallagher Girls novels, but it was worth every agonizing second. Adventure, intrigue, twists and turns, and romance as the cherry on top. Now if only I had the final book in the series…
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Novels about first love lost are a dime a dozen, but Handler’s use of the epistolary format, lyrical phrasing and meandering sentences, as well as his perfect depiction of a teenage girl’s roller coaster emotions make this one an intriguing heart-wrenching read.
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
A fascinating novel that was as much about a rock band, friendships and family relationships, as it was the realities of life as a deaf person in a hearing world. I learned just as much about Kurt Cobain as I did about deaf culture.
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
Jane Austen meets Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle in this delightful Regency romance. What the book lacks in substance, it easily makes up in charm and humor.
Son by Lois Lowry
The Giver has long been one of my favorite books, but I’ve always had questions about what the future held for the characters. With this stunning conclusion to the series, Lowry beautifully and respectfully drew the story to a close. Exactly the finale I needed.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
It was like one of the creepiest episodes of Criminal Minds in novel form.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
A story about a ten-year-old boy with extreme facial deformities entering school for the first time sounds like the recipe for heartbreak. But Auggie is an endearing little boy with astonishing insights about the people he encounters, and his is a heartwarming story of friendship, acceptance and courage.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Despite the huge cliffhanger ending that had me frantically yelling while listening in my car, this was paranormal romance at its finest. Taylor has created a complex world with fascinating characters caught in a fate not wholly of their own choosing.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
With strong female characters, fascinating period detail, and surprising twists at every turn, this is historical fiction at its finest.
Honorable Mentions
Black Heart by Holly Black
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rebecca's Top 10 of 2012

These were my 10 favorite
YA Fantasy & Speculative Fiction reads in 2012,
in no particular order. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: 'For Darkness Shows the Stars' by Diana Peterfreund

Inside, the darkness rustled around her. She moved through the space from memory.
The floorboards creaked beneath her feet, and slips of paper whispered upon her face
and hands...She lifted the shade and bathed the room in silver...Moonlight skimmed over
the foorboards...It wasn't enough to read by. But who needed to read? She new them
by heart. All around her, strung from the ceiling and wafting softly in the draft,
Kai's paper gliders glowed in the moonight like pale spring shoots
bursting from the soil.

Elliot's life is controlled by the protocols.  Laws put in place after the Lost Wars decimated the human population, leaving two classes of people, the Reduced, those with limited intelligence and speech abilities, and the Luddites, the children of the group who survived the wars unscathed by the biological weapons deployed during the conflict.  In the post-war devastation, the Luddites created a society of landowners and serfs where wealthy plantation owners harness the Reduced's physical strength and in return for providing food and shelter.  Now generations have passed and a new, unrecognized, "class" of human has developed, the Posts (post children of the revolution).  Posts possess the same levels of intelligence and skills as Luddites, but are the children of the Reduced.  As more and more Posts rise to positions of power throughout the Luddite world, rumbles of social revolution are arising, heralding changes that threaten Elliot's very existence.

There is a lot going on in Peterfreund's dystopian world; revolution, social justice, noblesse oblige, religion, science, exploration and more.  The reader is thrust into this world with little in the way of explanation which means that the first several chapters require the reader to both follow the plot and develop the world.  A prologue or brief history of Peterfreund's world would have allowed the reader to pay more attention to the initial relationship between Elliot and Kai; a relationship that informs the rest of the novel's events.  However, this initial confusion is quickly resolved and does not detract overmuch from the story.

According to Peterfreund, 'For Darkness Shows the Stars' is based on Austen's 'Persuasion'.  Having never read that particular Austen novel (I'm somewhat shamed to admit that), I have no real comment on the relationship between this story and its inspiration.  However, I do not believe that readers need to have read 'Persuasion' to enjoy 'For Darkness Shows the Stars', or that the novel needs the support of Austen's novel to stand on its own.

Elliot's emotions are at the forefront of the story and readers experience her fears, triumphs, joys and pains as though they were experiencing the events themselves. Kai is, in my opinion, not quite as likable as Elliot, but still authentic for an angry teenage boy who has been taken advantage of by multiple people.  Several secondary characters have histories that I would have loved to learn more about but, as the novel is already over 400 pages, I understand why further development of secondary characters was avoided.

This novel's strength is in the emotion behind the action, which Peterfreund conveys with poignant and sometimes unsettling efficiency.  Overall, this is a good read and has the potential to generate quite a bit of discussion in a classroom setting or book club.

Read Diana's response to questions about 'For Darkness Shows the Stars' cover art.

Book Source: Local Library
Reviewer: Rebecca

Recommended Ages: 14+ Adult themes alluded

Recommended for Readers of:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: 'Necromancing the Stone' by Lish McBride

I didn't move -- I didn't need to.  Sean may be strong and fast, but the thing about the
 undead is that they can just keep coming.  An owl swooped down at his eyes, making
 him swerve away from me.  The raccoon jumped onto his back while the smaller birds
began to dive-bomb.  Sean stopped his forward assault, attempting to swat while he
turned around and tried to get the raccoon.  But for every bird or mole he swatted, another
 took its place.  Pretty soon he was just spinning, a ball of flailing arms and feet...
And the squirrel? I watched as it slid up Sean's pant leg.

Sam LaCroix is still adjusting to life as a necromancer and his new role as member of the local magical council.  There's some stress involved, gnomes wrapping is room while he sleeps; a minotaur fascinated with puncturing his car's tires; but, generally, things are going just fine.  And then the unthinkable happens.  The assassination of a high ranking member of the council leaves Sam on unfamiliar ground and the magical world in chaos.  Suspects abound and, somehow, Sam has been put in charge of tracking down the assassin.  Just when things can't get any worse, Sam starts to wonder if a former enemy is truly out of the picture for good.

I should probably preface this review by saying that I LOVED McBride's first novel, 'Hold Me Closer, Necromancer'.  While her humor will not appeal to everyone, her style of writing and tongue-in-cheek delivery tickle my funny bone with a consistency few writers are able to achieve.  That being said, 'Necromancing the Stone' was everything a reader could have asked for in a second novel.

Sam continues to grow as a character, slowly growing into the formidable man he will likely become (the novel ends with the promise of more adventures with Sam and the crew).  Brid's part is distanced a little bit, which allows a touch of romance without slowing down the pace of the novel.  But the most interesting character, I found, was James.  When the reader meets James, he is the magical familiar/personal assistant to Douglas, a morally bankrupt necromancer set on destroying Sam.  In 'Hold Me Closer, Necromancer', the reader got the barest glimpse of the roiling cauldron of conflicting emotions, loyalties and desires that bubble behind James's serene facade.  'Necromancing the Stone' made me LOVE James!  He's one of my new favorite fictional people.

As with McBride first novel, 'Necromancing the Stone' starts with a bang and moves at a clip from start to finish.  Humor abounds (much of it of the darker persuasion), as does action, violence and camaraderie.  Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Rebecca
Book Source: Local Library

Recommended Ages: 16+ Violence, non-graphic adult content

Recommended for Readers of:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012