Thursday, March 20, 2014

Giveaway! Signed copy of "Don't Even Think About It" by Sarah Mlynowski

Want a signed copy of Sarah Mlynowski's newest book, Don't Even Think About It? Of course you do! You can enter to win below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why I wouldn't want telepathic powers like the kids in "Don't Even Think About It" by Sarah Mlynowski

Sarah Mlynowski has a new book out! I haven't read it yet, but I will very soon. It's called Don't Even Think About It, and it sounds like a lot of fun. Here is a summary, provided by the publisher:

We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming.

Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

To celebrate the release of Don't Even Think About It, I have been asked, along with a bunch of other bloggers, what I would do if I suddenly had telepathic powers. And I can tell you in no uncertain terms, I would hate it.

How difficult would it be just to figure out who was thinking what? If there are a bunch of people around you, the noise must be deafening. All I can think of is Mel Gibson's character in What Women Want, and he could only hear half the population. Or I think about the Noise in The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, which is full of violence and sex. No thank you.

Also, I'm not even sure I want to know what others are thinking. I don't want to risk hearing something terrible from someone I like, or whom I though was a good person. I think I would be sad a lot.

That said, it would be useful to know what, say, my husband was thinking at certain times (maybe not all the time), or any other person I'm speaking to and trying to figure out how to approach a subject.

It would also be really useful during job interviews, and I would totally use it then.

All in all, I can't say telepathy is really something I'd like to have, in its purest form. Speaking to someone in my head and being able to choose what they hear would be great, and being able to turn it on and off would be awesome, but I don't think that's the way it works.

Telekinesis, on the other hand... that is something I could totally get behind.

What would you do if you found you had telepathic powers? (And stay tuned for a giveaway for a signed copy of Don't Even Think About It, which I'll post later this week!)

Disclosure: This post is part of a blog promotion for Sarah Mlynowski's new book, Don't Even Think About It, sponsored by public relations firm Deb Shapiro & Company.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Audiobook review: "Etiquette & Espionage" by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher:   Hachette Audio, 2013 (print available from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Narrator: Moira Quirk

When Sophronia is told she will be sent off to finishing school, she is not pleased. Not at all. However, after a decidedly odd interview with "Mlle Geraldine," it quickly becomes clear that Madame Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not exactly what it appears to be on the surface. As it turns out, the school is not only a place young girls are trained to become ladies, they are also trained to become intelligencers. Classes include etiquette and how to execute a proper curtsy, as well as the use of seduction, stealth, and proper fighting techniques. In addition to all this knew knowledge, Sophronia and her friends do some intelligencing of their own regarding a missing prototype, an older schoolmate who failed to Finish and has been sent to study with the debuts, and other mysterious activity.

This first book in Gail Carriger's new series for teens is just delightful. Fans of her adult series, Soulless, would be well advised to pick this one up as well. Who can resist a fine comedy of manners mixed together with steam technology, the art of espionage, how to manipulate and obtain information, all while still being presentable for afternoon tea or ready to dance a quadrille at a ball? Oh yes, mustn't forget the werewolves and vampires. This book has action and humor in spades.

Sophronia herself is an excellent heroine, and a character I look forward to watching develop over the course of the next books in the series. She's resourceful, intelligent, has a good heart, and does not shy away from getting her hands dirty if necessary. I loved a lot of the secondary characters too, namely the sootie Soap, the young French engineer Vieve (age 9), and the loyal and easily scandalized Dimity (who also, I might add, is the daughter of evil geniuses and describes herself as "a good girl," to their chagrin).

Honestly, I think I like this one more than Soulless, though that might be because I listened to the excellent narration by Moira Quirk. Her accents and inflections completely made this for me, and I would highly recommend that anyone who had trouble getting into this series try the audio. This is one of the 2014 Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults for a reason.

Disclosure: I downloaded this audiobook through my local library and OverDrive.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Book review: "No One Else Can Have You" by Kathleen Hale

Title: No One Else Can Have You
Author: Kathleen Hale
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2014

I have to admit, I was sold on this book when I saw the cover. It pretty much perfectly sums up the book's contents. I've read people comparing this book to Fargo, which I can't speak to since I haven't seen it, but from what I've read about it that's probably accurate. Personally I was reminded more of the movie Hot Fuzz while I was reading this.

Eighteen-year-old Ruth Fried is found brutally murdered in a cornfield, stuffed like a scarecrow and hanged from a tree, "like a buck on a basketball hoop" (p 43). This shakes up Friendship, Wisconsin, a small town where nothing bad ever happens. The local law enforcement is used to saving pets, not investigating murders. Everyone is pleasant and polite but not overly friendly or close. Eventually Ruth's boyfriend is incarcerated and charged with her murder, but once Ruth's mother gives Kippy, our narrator, Ruth's diary and she begins to read it, she starts thinking things don't add up. Especially when Ruth's brother Davey voices his doubts as well.

Kippy Bushman is incredibly awkward and naive. However, she is aware of this, which makes her kind of endearing. She knows she's got diarrhea of the mouth and does a lot of "blurting," a word Hale uses frequently, but her heart is in the right place. Even if she does tend to bite people sometimes. She begins nosing around, with Davey's help, and starts uncovering a lot of unsavory secrets her small town is hiding.

I'm not going to lie, things get pretty freaking bleak at a few points in this novel. At one point I wasn't sure how Kippy was even going to prove anything to the local law enforcement, considering they were feeling like the case was closed, mostly because of personal vendettas. God bless her, she keeps it up.

I loved a lot of the secondary characters, like the people in the Non-Violent Communication Group, especially Mildred the lunch lady. Unbalanced but completely willing to help (and break the law).

Basically this book is the whole package. There is a lot of awkward humor, a terrifying murder, a compelling mystery that keeps you guessing—I had my suspicions but they kept going back and forth—and great characters. I think I will be nominating this for a Morris Award, it is that good. I would recommend this for older teens as there is a lot of language, but boy howdy, if you're looking for a fun, gritty mystery full of small-town charm and terror, this is the one for you, you betcha.

Disclaimer: I got this book from my local library.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Book review: "We Were Liars" by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2014

Note: This book will be published May 13, 2014 

I'm not even sure how to categorize this book. Everyone says it's better to go in not knowing anything, and that's probably the best way to read this book.

All you need to know about the plot is Cadence Sinclair Eastman is the first granddaughter of a very wealthy family (think Kennedy-esque minus the politics) on the East Coast of the U.S. She and her two first cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and Johnny's friend Gat spend their summers on Beechwood, a private island owned by their Granddad, along with their mothers and siblings. In summer fifteen, Cadence and Gat fall in love. In summer fifteen, Cadence's life changes forever.

After returning home to Burlington, VT, she can't remember most of summer fifteen--just that something terrible happened and caused her to end up at the small beach half underwater with a bad head injury that now causes her terrible migraines. When she goes is ready to rejoin her family on Beechwood for summer seventeen, she sets out to remember what happened.

So, here is my review. I started out not really liking Lockhart's prose very much. I felt it was overdone and too dramatic with the metaphors of Cadence's emotional and physical pain, and I think I still stand by that. I am not a fan. BUT I started to really get into the story, and I needed to find out what had happened two summers ago.

My favorite aspect by far was the fairy tales sprinkled throughout that are obviously meant to be parallels to the Sinclair family and Cadence's life. I thought they were really well written and well executed, and they reminded me of Anne Sexton's collection of poems, Transformations.

When I did finally finish, all I will say is that I kept thinking about this book for a good long time. I can't say it's my favorite, but it is very much worth reading. This is definitely a title to keep an eye on; I wouldn't be surprised if it garnered attention for some awards.

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book review: "Navigating Early" by Clare Vanderpool

Title: Navigating Early
Author: Clare Vanderpool
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2013

After his mother dies suddenly, Jack Baker is sent to a boy's boarding school in Maine, far from his home in Kansas, his distant father who has just returned from the warfront, and all of his memories of life before. He doesn't feel at home at Morton Hill Academy and tries to fit in with mixed results until he meets Early Auden, "that strangest of boys." It becomes clear that Early's brain works differently than most people's, and this eventually leads both boys on an adventure in the Maine wilderness, up the Appalachian trail in search of something. Whether it's the end of the story of the number pi, the great Appalachian black bear, or something a little less attainable, Jack and Early go and seek it out.

I enjoyed this 2014 Printz Honor title much more than I thought I would. It is a grand adventure, with pretty real danger, a fully human cast of characters (with perhaps the exception of the bear and dear old Bucky the frog), and grief in many forms. I think every character deals with some sort of grief, and each processes it in a different way.

I'm not sure I completely liked the parallel of Early's story of Pi, who is a character with his own tale, and Early and Jack's story. There was just a bit too much suspension of disbelief that these two stories so closely mirrored each other, mostly with the Ancient One part. It just felt off to me. But it's a small quibble, because in the end everything comes together beautifully, with some nice twists and turns in the journey, much like the Appalachian Trail itself.

Take a look at this book if you like a tale within a tale, reading about the Maine wilderness, mystery, quests, or a good old-fashioned adventure story.

Disclaimer: I received a free galley of this book from the publisher... a year ago. Sorry it took so long!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review of "Relish: My Life in the Kitchen" by Lucy Knisley up on The Broke & the Bookish

I'm making progress on my 2014 Hub Challenge! I just finished Printz Honor book Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, which I liked much more than I expected I would, and I reviewed Alex Award-winner Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley on The Broke and the Bookish today. Check it out! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book review: "Midwinterblood" by Marcus Sedgwick, winner of the 2014 Printz Medal

15792870Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
PublisherRoaring Brook Press, 2013

Seven tales are told, all set on an island called Blessed, spanning through the years. Though they are separate, together they tell one story, of pure and intense love that is heedless of time.

The seven tales begin with one set in the future, on a remote island the day a stranger arrives. It quickly becomes clear that something isn't right, and we are left feeling rattled and uncertain by the end of this first part.

Each subsequent tale takes place farther back in the past, telling the story of families, lovers, children, and violence. At first there are only the most tenuous of connections, but eventually we begin to see pieces falling into place.

This is a weird little book. I can definitely see why the Printz committee wanted to award this with the high honor, as it is full of rich symbolism, imagery, beautiful language, and layers upon layers of meaning and details a reader can unpack to see the whole, complex picture. I went back many times to check on little clues in previous stories to make sure I was making the connections I thought I was meant to make, and the smallest details are worked into the whole, with particular symbols showing up over and over. It's not a very long book, being under 300 pages, and I was able to finish it in a day, but it is very dense and could probably do with a reread to find things missed the first time around.

Yet at the end, I am kind of baffled as to how this came to be published for the young adult market. Not many of the characters are teens, and in fact most are adults. Even though there is nothing particularly racy or "adult" about the content, this book seems to be for not only mature readers, but sophisticated and discerning readers. I'm sure there are some teens who would love and appreciate this kind of literature, but I'm not sure what rationale the publisher had when it decided to place it under a young adult imprint.

Honestly, at the end I was left feeling very unsatisfied. However, it did leave me thinking for a long time, trying to piece together more clues and details long after I had finished. I wouldn't say I liked it, not really, but I can certainly appreciate it. This would be a great recommendation for people who liked the book Cloud Atlas, I think.

Disclaimer: I obtained this book through my local library.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten World's Where I'd Never Want to Live

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is one I was a part of at The Broke and the Bookish, you can check it out here! But I only had the first five of these on my list over there, so yay new content. Check out our post over there to see the full list, and to link your own!

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)

 1. The world in Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave. I don't know about you all, but the ENTIRE time I was reading this book I felt so grateful I didn't have to be in this vision of Earth. Never have I been so grateful that hostile alien lifeforms weren't targeting our planet.

Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)

2. The world in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It. I felt an incredible desire to stock up on canned foods after reading this book.

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1)

3. Much as I love these books, the world in Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant series. Because honestly, I would be one of the pitiful mortals without magic who would probably get stuck in the middle of a vampire slaughter, wizard battle, or Faceless Ones attack. And I would have absolutely no idea what was going on.

Ready Player One

4. The world in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. I would hate to live in a world where the only happy places were online, everyone interacted online for the most part, and 1980s pop culture knowledge was your ticket to popularity. Also the environment is pretty much dead.


5. The world in Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse. Because I would most likely die a painful, robot-induced death, and if not I would constantly be fearing for my life and would probably have lots of dead family and friends.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1) 

6. The world in Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. The zombie apocalypse has already happened, and everyone who has survived lives in fenced-off compounds for their own safety. Unless the fence is breached, in which case GOOD LUCK. Zombies will want to eat you, and some of them are fast.


7. The world in Alan Moore's Watchmen. To be fair I've only seen the movie and I know it's pretty different, but still. This alternate history sounds terrifying and I don't want any part of it.


8. The world in M.T. Anderson's Feed. This is another futuristic look at the world, after technology has become such a large part of our lives that people have something called the Feed implanted into their brains and consumption is everyone's main concern. Which is too bad for the dying planet, and everyone's health. Think sores that get so big and gross they are hard to ignore, thus they become sort of a fashion accessory. NO THANKS.

I Am the Cheese 

9. Adam Farmer's world in Robert Cormier's I Am the Cheese. So technically this is not a dystopian world, but our own world through the eyes of a boy named Adam Farmer. I don't want to give away too much in case you haven't read it, but if you have you know what I'm talking about. Basically the thought of being in Adam's place makes me want to curl into the fetal position yelling PLEASE GOD NO.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1) 

10. The world in Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go. I know I wouldn't even be there, because, no women. BUT if I were one of the guys in the settlement of Prentisstown on New World, I would break. No quiet ever, always hearing the Noise of everyone else's (dirty, perverted, violent, mournful) thoughts, not to mention the twitterings of any animals nearby. And oh yeah, everything else there sucks too. Being on New World would be the worst.

What are your top ten picks?

Monday, January 27, 2014


Baaaahhhhhh I'm SO EXCITED!!! The Youth Media Awards were just announced this morning and I can't wait to dig in to the winners!

I'm super, super excited because I have most of the Printz AND Newbery honor books in my library's collection, PLUS I got the Printz winner too!

Here are the big winners. See the complete list here.

Michael L. Printz Award (excellent in literature written for young adults)
Winner: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Honors: Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal, Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

John Newbery Medal (most outstanding contribution to children's literature)
Winner: Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Honors: Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, One Came Back by Amy Timberlake, Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Randolph Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children)
Winner: Locomotive by Brian Floca
Honors: Journey by Aaron Becker, Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

William C. Morris Award (debut book written by a first-time author writing for teens)
Winner: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Finalists: Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos, Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

So this year I am going to make a concentrated effort to read as many of the Printz and Morris titles as I can. I will also attempt to read books that end up on the rest of the YALSA lists, which will be announced in the coming week or so, I think. I will also do my very very best to review them here! I promise I am going to try to post more often, and this is a perfect opportunity.

Were you surprised by any of the winners? How many have you read?
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