Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (February 27)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

Invisible by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth. 

Published by Philomel Books
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (February 26)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"Sam did not know how long it had been since last he'd slept, but scarce an inch remained of the fat tallow candle he'd lit when starting on the ragged bundle of loose pages that he'd found tied up in twine. He was beastly tired, but it was hard to stop."
-A Feast for Crows, page 101, by George R. R. Martin

Well, I finally gave in and started reading it. I'd been trying to hold off since this is book four, book five has been released, but I anticipate another year or two until book six is published (sobs). Plus, this quote is a great example of how I feel when I get sucked into a book.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Snark and Circumstance Blog Tour

Today I'm welcoming author Stephanie Wardrop, whose new book Snark and Circumstance is out now! She's going to talk a bit about the media portrayal of teen girls. It's a topic that I've become more interested and aware of in my counseling work, and with the growing popularity of YA I think it's an important one.

1911 illustration by J. W. Smith,
It seems that more and more of late, the media portrays young women in two ways –as Victims or Vixens.  And neither one is even remotely empowering.

Of course, girls have been seen as victims since at least the days of the Brothers Grimm or whoever created the timeless lesson in Little Red Riding Hood that girls who stray from the proscribed path will be eaten by wolves.  (And in the original, non-Disneyfied versions, the lesson is also that they deserve to be).

Young female victims abound in the news right now.  There’s the unnamed  victim survivor of a gang rape at a Steubensville, Ohio party and a world away another young woman was gang raped on a bus in India.  She did not survive, but hopefully the lurid attention drawn to the case will alter laws and consciousness about such crimes and the people who commit them.  Radio, TV, and news outlets are also currently discussing “revenge porn”, or the proliferation of compromising videos and photos of trusting young women posted by ex-boyfriends on Facebook and the internet to delight other scummy young men and humiliate their former flames.  And even famous girls can be victims, we learned, in the brief media frenzy about a month ago that resulted from a report that Ariel Winter of the sitcom Modern Family was removed by authorities from her real family surrounding allegations of mental and physical abuse.
So how can we also, paradoxically, see young girls as predatory, as dangerously sexy little vixens on the prowl for unsuspecting men? Because it’s the logical flipside to the Little Red Riding Hood story (a girl punished for straying) and to this day the most popular adult women’s Halloween costume is a sexified Little Red.  

Reality TV has brought us a horde of frightening, vampirous young women scarier than the ones who attack Jonathon Harker in Dracula.  There are the Teen Moms, who just keep breeding without remorse, and the Bad Girls and freaky Housewives.  Even Nickelodeon’s Teen Nick Channel has bought a ticket on the vixen express.  Once girl-empowering shows like iCarly and True Jackson, VP have been replaced by a show debuting this week called Life with Boys.  The name says it all.  Carly and True and their friends had plenty of other concerns besides boys, but the two fourteen-year-olds on this new show inform us that their boys are their number one concern because – duh! – they’re fourteen-year-old girls.,_Taylor_(2007)_cropped_2.JPG

Neither designation, victim or vixen, is going to get any girl anywhere.  And that’s why we need YA novels.  They seem to be the only place where a girl can see a vision of herself that is in any way realistic or worthy of aspiring toward.  Outside of the YA novel, the best we can look to might be Taylor Swift, who could be America’s Sweetheart because she manages to embody both the victim and vixen roles at once.  

Her songs chronicle her victimization at the hands of numerous perfidious suitors or clueless boys who could not see her value (and since most of us were “in the bleachers” and not the “cheer captain”, we can relate).  But her list of romantic partners is long and checkered, and a less charitable person could say she just might, like Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus”, “eat men like air.”  And then, like Plath, write something really nasty about her latest morsel.  (You’re a great songwriter, Taylor, and we come from the same town, but I worry about you.)

So, young women of America and beyond, I urge you:  Keep reading.  And be assured that you can be more than what’s presented to you by most media outlets.  The most real young women are not on reality tv.  They’re on the pages of books.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

TV on Thursday: Once Upon a Time

This is a new non-book post that I'm thinking of doing weekly. Along with reading I was a lot of TV...probably an unhealthy amount of TV, actually. My goal here is to spotlight some of the shows (and occasionally movies) that I love, watched in the past, and share why I love them. For week one I'm going to write about a series that I've already professed my love for on this blog: Once Upon a Time

Why I love it: I'll be the first to admit that this show isn't perfect. Sometimes the minor plots don't completely grab me, and I don't think that I can hear the phrase "I'll always find you" one more time. Despite all of that, the show is exciting, fun, fresh, and is a total TV addiction for the fairy tale lover (read: me). During the commentary for an episode of the first season, we learn from the shows creators that the entire series revolves around what happens after "happily ever after", and acknowledging that it isn't the perfect scenarios that many of us imagined for our favorite characters. If that's not enough to draw you in, there's more...The premise of this show is that the evil queen places a curse on all the people in Fairytale Land (AKA The Enchanted Forest) to bring them to a place where everything that they love will be torn from them. They're sent to our world, Storybrooke, Maine, with no memories of who they truly are, and time stands still. There is someone who can break the curse, she just actually has to believe in it.

Who's who? Alright, I can't really spoil this one for you, half the fun is remembering or guessing which character in Storybrooke is which character. Emma, our heroine, is played by Jennifer Morrison. She does a great job playing the closed off skeptic. Interestingly, as Emma's arrival begins to change Storybrooke, it also changes her and helps her grow. We all know how much I love character growth. Other characters who pop up include Belle, Rumplstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella, and we've been getting snippets from Alice in Wonderland.

Where we're at: We're a little over halfway through season two, and the twists and turns haven't stopped yet. I don't want to spoil anyone, so if you're interested, it's available streaming via Netflix (go, now!).

My ultimate question: A little boy named Henry knows about the curse because of a book given to him by his school teacher. It depicts everything that happened pre-curse, and he uses it to help Emma accept who she is. My question is this: everyone else in the world probably has still heard all of the fairy tales. There's no reason to believe that a random person on the street wouldn't be able to tell you Cinderella's story. So, how is it that these stories came from The Enchanted Forest? Will they give us a backstory on the Grimm brothers? What about those characters who are from other authors?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (February 19)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"This is not like the society. The lines are already becoming blurred." 
-Reached, Page 86, by Ally Condie

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . 

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed... (From Goodreads)

*This review contains some spoilers regarding relationships, etc.

Best Bits: The premise of this one was really interesting. I love all things ballet (even though I was a tap and jazz girl), so I was eager to read a YA book involving it with some paranormal elements. Vanessa was, for the most part (see Nit Picks), a relatable main character. She has the feet for ballet, but her heart isn't in it. Why would she accept a spot at the prestigious New York Ballet Academy? Vanessa's sister went missing from the same school, and she's determined to find her. At points, the story reminded me a bit of Center Stage (my favorite ballet movie). Vanessa becomes close friends with some dancers, there's the girl who expects the lead who fits the part of the mean girl, and the director is a jerk. Not to mention a bad boy who readers (or viewers, in the case of the movie) are hoping their protagonist doesn't fall for. 

The paranormal/mystery aspect of the book was done well. Although it was clear who some of the baddies were, there were two people who I wasn't quite sure about. I hoped that Vanessa could trust them, but my instincts aren't always correct.

Nit Picks: Please note that my nitpicks are based on the galley, and some things may have changed in the final version. Let me briefly explain my above comment about Vanessa. As a reader I was able to understand her motivation to attend the same dance school as her sister, but beyond that she didn't always make the wisest choices. As she begins to understand there's something sinister happening at her school she should limit who she trusts with information. Instead, she spills everything to a couple different people. That is the book equivalent of when characters in horror movies walk toward the creepy sounds/shadows/etc that ultimately lead to their demise. It just seems to me that as things started getting worse, she would want to guard her secrets. 

There was some insta-love, which brings me to a general nit-pick in the books I've read over the last year or two. Insta-love and blind trust. I think I would have found it more interesting in this book if Zep had befriended Vanessa, and from there she would have had to choose whether to trust him, instead of basing it on a relationship that's inconsistent.   

Dance of Shadows
By Yelena Black
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Received via NetGalley
Rating: C

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (February 16)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews! It's a way to highlight the books that everyone got throughout the week.

Won from Kristi at The Story Siren!

Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler

Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out.  Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire? When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.”  What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

Sixteen-year-old Devon Mackintosh has always felt like an outsider at Keaton, the prestigious California boarding school perched above the Pacific. As long as she’s not fitting in, Devon figures she might as well pad her application to Stanford’s psych program. So junior year, she decides to become a peer counselor, a de facto therapist for students in crisis. At first, it seems like it will be an easy fly-on-the-wall gig, but her expectations are turned upside down when Jason Hutchins (a.k.a. “Hutch”), one of the Keaton’s most popular students, commits suicide. 
 Devon dives into her new role providing support for Hutch’s friends, but she’s haunted by her own attachment to him. The two shared an extraordinary night during their first week freshman year; it was the only time at Keaton when she felt like someone else really understood her.  As the secrets and confessions pile up in her sessions, Devon comes to a startling conclusion: Hutch couldn't have taken his own life. Bound by her oath of confidentialityand tortured by her unrequited love—Devon embarks on a solitary mission to get to the bottom of Hutch's death, and the stakes are higher than she ever could have imagined

Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde — a perennial sidekick — to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?

Glass Heart by Amy Garvey 

Wren can do things that other people can only dream of. Make it snow on a clear, crisp day. Fly through an abandoned tunnel. Bring a paper bird to life.

Wren knows her abilities are tinged with danger--knows how easy it is to lose control--but she can't resist the intoxicating rush. And now that she has Gabriel by her side, someone who knows what she can do--what she has done--she finally feels free to be herself.

But as Wren explores the possibilities of her simmering powers, Gabriel starts pushing her away. Telling her to be careful. Telling her to stop. The more he cautions her, the more determined Wren becomes to prove that she can handle things on her own. And by the time she realizes that Gabriel may be right, it could be too late to bring him back to her side.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating--Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they're directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they're playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

Shadow on the Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Part three of a series, I didn't read the synopsis in an effort not to spoil myself!

Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne

Hannah can't wait to sneak off for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Colin. He's leaving for college soon, and Hannah wants their trip to the lake house to be one they'll never forget.
But once Hannah and Colin get there, things start to seem a They can't find the town on any map. The house they are staying in looks as if someone's been living there, even though it's been deserted for years. And Colin doesn't seem quite himself. As he grows more unstable, Hannah worries about Colin's dark side, and her own safety.
Nothing is as perfect as it seems, and what lies beneath may haunt her forever.

Survive by Alex Morel

Hatchet meets Lost in this modern-day adventure tale of one girl's reawakening

Jane is on a plane on her way home to Montclair, New Jersey, from a mental hospital. She is about to kill herself. Just before she can swallow a lethal dose of pills, the plane hits turbulence and everything goes black. Jane wakes up amidst piles of wreckage and charred bodies on a snowy mountaintop. There is only one other survivor: a boy named Paul, who inspires Jane to want to fight for her life for the first time.

Jane and Paul scale icy slopes and huddle together for warmth at night, forging an intense emotional bond. But the wilderness is a vast and lethal force, and only one of them will survive.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Don't spread the word!
Three-day weekend. Party at White Rock House on Henry Island.
You do NOT want to miss it.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (2nd copy, expect a giveaway in the future)

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: Magic Under Stone by Jaclyn Dolamore

For star-crossed lovers Nimira and Erris, there can be no happily ever after until Erris is freed from the clockwork form in which his soul is trapped. And so they go in search of the sorcerer Ordorio Valdana, hoping he will know how to grant Erris real life again. When they learn that Valdana has mysteriously vanished, it's not long before Nimira decides to take matters into her own hands—and begins to study the sorcerer's spell books in secret. Yet even as she begins to understand the power and limitations of sorcery, it becomes clear that freeing Erris will bring danger—if not out-and-out war—as factions within the faerie world are prepared to stop at nothing to prevent him from regaining the throne. (From Goodreads)

Best Bits: I really enjoyed the previous book, Magic Under Glass, so I knew going in that I was going to enjoy the characters. There was one additional character I really enjoyed, Ifra. He's a jinn, and is sworn to the command of the fairy king. This new perspective added a whole new level to the story (and potentially to the world if ever Dolamore wrote another book in this universe). He was someone who understood what it was like to be different (like Nimira), but also what it was like to see bits and pieces of the world but be unable to fully participate in it (like Violet, another new character who I wasn't very fond of). 

Nit Picks: Unlike Magic Under Glass, this book didn't flow as well for me. Most of the book Nimira was fretting about what to do with Erris, and he wasn't present all that much. Yes, the reader knows that trouble is brewing, but when it actually occurs everything happens extremely quickly. It's a lot of buildup for a short number of pages. It wraps up all of the loose ends, but the relationship between Erris and Nimira is very brief. It was cute, but unfortunately it just didn't click with me. 

Magic Under Stone (Magic Under 2)
By Jaclyn Dolamore
Published by Bloomsbury USA
297 Pages
Rating: C

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (February 6)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff

Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia. 

Published by Delacorte Press
Release Date: April 9, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (February 5)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers

"And now I can't sleep. Except, that is, when I access my memories of sleeping."

-Level 2, Page 2, by Lenore Appelhans

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again. (From Goodreads)

Best Bits: Vee was an interesting protagonist. She doesn't like her ability, in fact she does everything she can to avoid sliding into someone else's consciousness (she's self-medicating). It's really fascinating, and she has to be careful not to touch anything that might hold an emotional charge. That's new to me, although there is a similar line of paranormal fiction. Over the course of the book she realizes just how important her power is, even though it leaves her vulnerable. The reader gets to see how vulnerable when we experience a past traumatic experience of Vee's from another person's eyes. I can say that the ending surprised me, although I had earlier suspected them. Hathaway made each character believable as the killer, so up until the end I was guessing. I'm really looking forward to reading the follow up novel, Imposter, that's out this March. 

Nit Picks: My nitpick for slide involves the romantic relationships. So, it's pretty obvious that Rollins is into Vee. She doesn't quite trust him with her secret, and he knows that there's something that she isn't telling him. I wish that hadn't been a point of conflict for them, because their friendship was deep enough that I'm not sure I believed her excuses for not confiding in him. Her relationship with Zane would fall into the insta-love category. Rollins' withdrawal from Vee and Zane's understanding of loss makes it just believable enough, but I still felt like it needed to be fleshed out.

By Jill Hathaway
250 Pages
Published by Balzer + Bray
Rating: A 

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