Archive for the ‘ Books & Media ’ Category

YA Books I’m Super Excited About

 

There are a bunch of great YA books that are being released now or soon that I can’t wait to read. Most are sequels to outstanding YA novels I’d read previously and loved. A couple, Shallow Pond and The Tragedy Paper, are new, stand-alone releases that look amazing. Yay! 🙂

(All synopses courtesy of goodreads.)

darktriumphDark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

shallowpondShallow Pond by Alissa Grosso – Sisters uncover an unbelievable family secret

Barbara “Babie” Bunting is constantly mistaken for her sisters, but she’s determined not to end up like her family. She doesn’t plan to stick around Shallow Pond after graduation, and she certainly won’t be ruined by a broken heart. That is, until fellow orphan Zach Faraday walks into the picture, and Babie can’t deny their chemistry.

When her oldest sister, Annie, comes down with a mysterious illness—initially dismissed as “love sickness”—Babie and Zach start investigating what exactly killed the girls’ mother and why their late father became so consumed by grief. What they find changes everything

scarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer – Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner

prodigyProdigy by Marie Lu – June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

fuseFuse by Julianna Baggott – When the world ended, those who dwelled within the Dome were safe. Inside their glass world the Pures live on unscarred, while those outside—the Wretches—struggle to survive amidst the smoke and ash.

Believing his mother was living among the Wretches, Partridge escaped from the Dome to find her. Determined to regain control over his son, Willux, the leader of the Pures, unleashes a violent new attack on the Wretches. It’s up to Pressia Belze, a young woman with her own mysterious past, to decode a set of cryptic clues from the past to set the Wretches free.

An epic quest that sweeps readers into a world of beautiful brutality, Fuse continues the story of two people fighting to save their futures—and change the fate of the world.

tragedypaperThe Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan – Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their .

Hope you have some good reads to look forward to! Happy reading! 🙂

KIdLit Cares

My director at work brought this initiative to my attention a couple days ago. Created to help those affected by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, the goal of this program is to auction of things that writers and readers might be interested in with the proceeds going directly to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. I’ve perused the auction and it’s really amazing what people from all over have donated to help this cause. Anything from Skype visits to editorial critiques to autographed books to school visits. Agents, editors, authors and the like have banded together to give of their time and services in order to help those in need.

I checked out some of the auction items and was blown away both by the generosity of what was being auctioned off as well as how many people are bidding! It’s definitely worth checking out at Joanne Levy’s blog/website. As of today, there are 64 Auction items up for grabs. Stop by and see what cool stuff you can win while you help those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

 

Getting Geared Up for NaNoWriMo

For the past two years I’ve worked with my library to host a variety of National Novel Writing Month events. For those of you who aren’t familiar, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) writers are invited to sign up on nanowrimo.org (if you want to keep track of your progress and/or get some great support from fellow writers) and pledge to write 50,000 (a short novel) during the month of November. It’s crazy, but very rewarding!

This year we’re featuring a number of local NJ authors like Alissa Grosso, Charlotte Bennardo, Natalie Zaman, and Corey Rosen Schwartz, among other talented writers. They will talking about great topics that are pertinent to budding writers like publishing options, how to write successful query letters, and how to go from your first draft to getting an agent.

It’s a great time of year for me not only because I get to meet great authors and writers but it’s a great way to get inspired in my own writings and learn from the wisdom of others.

Good luck on all your writing goals this November! 🙂

Two Must-Read Books

I always love to read books that are amazing first off, but are also destined to be huge. That way when everyone’s clamoring for the next hot book I’ve already read it and can talk about it. If you’re going to read any YA books this October, here are two that I think are excellent. They are well-written, fresh, and made me want to read them in one sitting – which doesn’t happen very often!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.” Talk about starting a book with a compelling hook! But hooks must be backed with great characters, twists and turns, and a satisfying ending and Stiefvater delivers on all accounts. While there is one primary protagonist, Blue, daughter of a psychic with skills of her own, there are a whole plethora of interesting characters that Stiefvater manages to use to pull the plot along giving each one a unique personality without overshadowing the plot. And when Blue gets pulled into a world of mystery with the boy she’s prophesied to either kill or love, havoc breaks loose. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time!

 

 

  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Orphans Mal and Alina have grown up practically their entire lives together. Together they are traveling with the King’s army when they are forced to cross the Shadow Fold, a black slash across their beloved country filled with monsters that feed in the darkness. When Mal is attacked Alina calls upon a power she never knew she had to save him. Her power brings her to the attention of the Darkling, handsome leader of the Grisha, a skilled and magic-filled group trained to serve alongside the King’s army. But will her power be used to good or evil? This is a brilliant book that has already been optioned for a movie with the producer of the Harry Potter movies at its helm. I can’t wait!

 

If you have any books you’ve absolutely loved recently I’d love to hear about them too. Happy reading! 😀

Freshly Pressed Fall YA Novels

It’s always fun to find new YA authors or to grab a new release from an old favorite. This fall there are plenty of both, some out for a few months, some more recently released. While most of the ones listed below I still have yet to read, I’m excited for all the fresh voices and stories I can lose myself in during these (increasingly) chilly fall days.

  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – This YA novel is on the fast track to success with its debut on the New York Times Bestsellers list and the recent movie rights acquisition by DreamWorks. The story centers around an orphaned solider girl through a fantastical Russia as she does battle with dark forces in order to save a kingdom.

 

 

 

  Butter by Erin Jade Lange – Tired of being bullied for his obesity, a boy called Butter decides to end it all – live on the Internet. But when he begins to grow in popularity, he wonders if he will be able to go through with his pronounced death deadline.

 

 

 

 

  Origin by Jessica Khoury – Created deep in the Amazon jungle as the first of a new immortal race, Pia knows no other world. But when she happens upon a hole in the electric fence between her and the world beyond, she is faced with the stark reality of who she really is and where she came from.

 

 

 

 

  The Diviners by Libba Bray – I’m a huge fan of all Libba Bray books and was thrilled to grab an ARC of this exciting new novel at BEA this past spring. Set in New York city in the 1920s, her novel follows a group of teens endowed with special abilities that none of them quite understand. And when strange occult murders begin happening around the city, it’s up to them to put an end them and keep an even greater darkness from completely enveloping their city.

 

 

 

  Every Day by David Levithan – “A” wakes up in a new body every morning. A has always been this way, but doesn’t know how or why. And every day brings a different perspective because of the new body A inhabits. Levithan produces such an interesting concept with his latest book and takes the idea of empathy for other humans to a whole new level.

 

 

 

  The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve only read the first couple of chapters in this series debut and I’m already hooked. Blue is from a family of psychics who speak in vague certainties that always seem to come true. Blue has been told since she was little that she will cause her true love to die, but hasn’t put much merit in it since she’s never been in love. But when her crazy aunt comes to visit and tells her this is the year she will fall in love, Blue begins to worry.

 

 

 

I hope you’re finding some great novels to read this fall too! Happy reading! 🙂

Fun Vacation Reads

  I’m preparing to depart for a much needed vacation. This year we’re headed up to beautiful Cape Cod. Beaches, biking, great restaurants, and, of course, loads of reading. One my favorite parts of going on vacation is the planning. I love to have an idea of places I want to visit and activities I want to engage in while I’m visiting a certain place. Having an idea of what’s out there makes the idea of going that much more exciting.

One of the best parts of taking a vacation anywhere though is the reading. While I don’t hole myself up in a room while on vacation, I do know there’s bound to be downtime, planned and unplanned, that is ideal for relaxing with a good book. A couple years ago when I went to France I took books that centered around France and/or the French culture like Elegance of a Hedgehog and Les Miserables. It made me feel more in tune with the author’s words as I walked through their world both physically and through their words.

This year I’m opting for books that just seem like delicious reads that beg to be devoured while laying on a beach and dreaming of far away places. Here are a few of the books I’m bringing:

  Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron – Not the most uplifting subjects with this book centering around the conflicts of Rwanda, but the central theme of running and pursuing that which we love drew me to this book.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin – I’ve heard of both Albin and her highly praised dystopian YA novel for months before actually laying my hands on a copy of her first installment in the series. Crewel is about a young girl who has a gift that she doesn’t want, to weave the fabric of time and matter together and decide the fate of the world around her.

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson – I’m most excited about this novel as it detours from my usual running/YA reads. Viva Hollowat is already regretting her decision to act as chaperone to three young charges on their voyage to India. “From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of the orphans on Tamarind Street, East of the Sun is everything a historical novel should be: alive with glorious detail, fascinating characters and masterful storytelling.” (goodreads)

I can’t wait to read these vacation books! Happy reading! 🙂

Eat & Run and the Allure of Vegan Living

  I recently finished Scott Jurek’s new memoir, Eat & Run. I love reading memoirs, especially ones that center around sports or athleticism of some kind. Jurek is a renown ultrarunner (ie. running longer than a marathon distance, 26.2 miles). He’s won many events he’s entered such as the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles through Death Valley), and the Hardrock 100. In his book, Jurek chronicles his adventures and passion with ultrarunning and the people that most influenced him on his journey to ultra-greatness.

What’s even more impressive than not only finishing, but winning all these races is that Jurek does it all on a plant-based, vegan, diet. No meat. No dairy. Nada. Wowee! Before Eat & Run, I read Finding Ultra about another ultrarunner named Rich Roll. He also competes at an elite level while basing his diet completely on plants. Both these men make compelling arguments for living a vegan lifestyle. They also both impressed upon their readers how simple and, more importantly, profoundly healthy it can be, Jurek even includes recipes at the end of each of his chapters. But when I see a pancake recipe that calls for seven (SEVEN!) different types of flour, I’m a little hesitant that this is the lifestyle for me.

I’m a vegetarian, so perhaps I’m a little unjustly judgmental here, but I’m not sure I could ever convert 100% to a vegan diet. While I don’t eat a ton of dairy I definitely eat enough of it that it would be a big change for me. As I read these books I contemplated making the switch, but at the end of the day between the time it would take to find and learn how to make non-diary meals, the hassle of not having as broad a menu selection when eating outside my home, and knowing that I buy 99% of my dairy at local or family owned farms, I don’t think it’s worth it to me. But that’s really the crux of it, while it’s not right for me I can see why people would chose to switch to vegan living and I give them props for taking the time and energy to live what many deem a healthier lifestyle.

Happy Running! 🙂