Thursday, January 31, 2013

If I Stay (Gayle Forman)

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: Audiobook: 4 hours
Rating: 4/5

After an car wreck kills the rest of her family, 17-year old Mia must choose between staying and coping with her enormous grief, or leaving her body and joining her family.

Normally I don’t like books that deal with death. I like escapism rather than realism. But this book was beautifully done. In the audiobook format, I really got a sense of Mia’s voice and the character came to life under actress Kirsten Potter’s portrayal.

While this book was haunting and tragic, it was also quite beautiful. We meet Mia as the catastrophe occurs, and then through flashbacks, learn her story and become quite attached to her as she decides whether to stay or go. This book will make you take a long look at how you value family, love, choice, and life. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

ARC GIVEAWAY!! Mila 2.0 (Debra Driza)

Welcome to this stop on the YA Giveaway Hop!

What book can you win? An Advanced Reader's Copy of Mila 2.0!

Title: Mila 2.0
Author: Debra Driza
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Length: 470
Rating: 2.5/5

Mila thinks she’s an ordinary teenage girl who has recently moved into a small Minnesotan town after a fire left her father dead. But when the military comes looking for her, she discovers that she’s actually part of a secret government experiment that her “mother” stole from the science lab. Talk about life-changing.
Things I loved:
1. The cover is gorgeous, and fits the story perfectly.
2. Even though the back cover hinted at what Mila is, I was still taken by surprise at what exactly she is. Plot twist!
3. Mila is such a kick-butt girl narrator who can handle just about anything.

Things I didn’t love:
1. While I loved Mila’s abilities, I didn’t love her as a narrator because it took her so long to accept herself for what she is.
2. The boys in this book seemed a little too convenient to the plot.
3. This trilogy is called the “Bourne Identity” which does not seem terribly creative.

If you like spy books, give Mila 2.0 a try and let me know what you think. It doesn't come out until March 12, 2013! (Thanks to Epic Reads for this copy of the book- sharing the love!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find a list of ALL the blogs participating the in the YA Giveaway Hop HERE!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Origin (Jessica Khoury)

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 394
Rating: 4/5

Pia has been secretly raised by a group of scientists hidden in the Amazon rain forest to be the first of an immortal race. She longs to join the scientists and fulfill her destiny, but she’s also curious about the outside world that’s been hidden from her. On the night of her seventeenth birthday, she sneaks out of the compound and meets Eio, a native who will change Pia’s life forever.

In a new wave of YA fiction (this Publisher’s Weekly article calls them mash-ups), this book is a hybrid of a couple different things.  It’s almost a dystopian that could be, as the scientists try to create a perfect race of people. They call Pia perfect as often as they can, and the Pia we meet at the beginning of the novel is a bit annoying because of it. She’s the gem of the scientist’s compound, and has been spoiled and taught to think highly of herself. Pia thinks she knows everything because she’s endlessly studied science and math, and that’s what the scientists value.

But then her curiosity gets the better of her and she ventures into the unknown. She realizes how little she really knows about the world around her, and suddenly, curiosity (and an attractive local boy) humbles her, and she becomes a much more likable character. Like the main characters of many YA dystopians, Pia must decide whether to be a perfect and safe bird in a class cage, or to give up everything for freedom and a chance to fly.

I liked the moral questions this novel brought up. What is right? The perfection of science or imperfect arts? Should you be who you want to be, or what everyone needs you to be? Origin takes the coming of age story to a whole different level, and it’s one you’ll most likely enjoy. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

FFTF: Models, Greens, Trends, and Bookshelves

It's been so long since my last FFFT (Friday Food for Thought) that it was incredibly hard to choose what to share with you. My YA folder of web-awesome was overflowing. I've narrowed it down to the best (/weirdest/craziest) so that you too can stay in the YA know.

First up, celebrities modeling for book covers before they became famous. There are some really great ones over at the HuffPost, but here's my favorite:

As a supplement, if you follow the Kardashian bandwagon, you'll like this cover too.

Are you a John Green fan (TFiOS)? How about Hank Green (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)? If you are, you already know all about the Night of Awesome. If you aren't, check it out, because they are literally the coolest EVER. I got to see the live rehearsal of the event the day before, and it made my jaw hurt from smiling so much.

TRENDS: past and present. Publishers Weekly wants to blow your mind with a very inclusive list of the YA Best of 2012. And then Scholastic tries to predict the future, with 10 Trends in Children's Publishing in 2013. Both seems like magic to me.

And finally, mind-blowing bookshelves. Real ones:

And interactive ones like this one from Scholastic that includes all sorts of great info and recommendations.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Carnival of Souls (Melissa Marr)

Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper (HarperCollins)
Length: 306
Rating: 3.5/5

Mallory is raised by witches in the human world and trained to hate daimons, never knowing that she is one, and that her real father is the daimon ruler of The City. At the heart of The City is the exotic Carnival of Souls, where once a generation, fighters vie for a spot in the ruling elite. Kalab and Aya are some of the last remaining fighters. But when Mallory’s daimon father discovers where she is, all three teenagers are dragged into the centuries-long war between daimons and witches, where they must fight for more than just their lives.

This book was addicting and The City and Carnival of Souls was intoxicating. But, it was hard to keep up with all the cultural and otherworldy differences, especially when the first person view point kept switching characters. While the relationships between the characters were a driving force to keep reading and often surprising, they often seemed to develop a little too fast. But maybe that’s an otherworldly cultural difference I didn’t understand.

The worst part about this book is that it ended just when it got really good! The book felt like the first half of a really good book, lots of wading through the set-up details, but I didn’t want to stop reading when it ended. What a tease.   

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Emily's Best Books of 2012, Part 2

I read so many great books this year, I had to divide them into two categories. Part 1 can be found here, and it includes my favorite books published in 2012.

Isn't this the cutest pillow ever? Thanks to author Laini Taylor(#2 below), I'm obsessed with this website now: 

Best Books I Read This Year 
(that were published earlier than 2012)

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Charlie starts high school alone, but quickly finds a group of friends and learn to embrace his wallflower status.

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Karou is a talented art student with blue hair whose only family is a group of other-worldly monsters.

3. The Name of the Star: Rory is spending her senior year in London, which is fantastic enough, until she sees a ghost that murders people in the spirit of Jack the Ripper.

4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian: Hilarious, moving story of a boy whose dreams are bigger than the Indian Reservation where he lives.

5. Dairy Queen (and it's sequels*): You will love D.J., her milk farm, her boy troubles when Brian Nelson is sent to train with her, and her decision to play football in high school.

6. Anna and the French Kiss: Anna is shipped off to Parisian boarding school, where of course, she falls in love.

7. Princess Academy: Can Miri become worthy of a prince? Does she want to?

8. The Scorpio Races: Desperation drives Puck to be the first girl competitor in the annual and deadly Scorpio races.

9. Wonderstruck: Half pictures, half words, two stories fifty years apart collide in unexpected ways.

10. City of Fallen Angles: I reviewed many in this series by Cassandra Clare, but this way my favorite of the year.

11. Graceling and Fire: That's right, these books are so good, I put them on both lists. They're full of magic, monsters, mind control, and super awesome heroines.

* Reviews coming soon!
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And these are just the YA Books! Don't forget to check out the new Juvenile/Middle Grade section of the blog HERE.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Emily's Best Books of 2012, Part 1


My apologies that this post isn't as timely as last year's. That happens when a blogger moves to NYC in an attempt to fulfill her dreams of working for a YA/children's publisher at the beginning of a new year! But don't worry, I'm back on the blogging wagon, just from a new location.

(Pretend this is me, chasing 2012 into a book)

Best Books Published This Year 
(in no particular order, reviews are linked*)

1. Insurgent: Sequel to Divergent (which made the Best Of list last year) in which war looms and Tris must embrace her divergent status and decide who to trust.

2. The Fault in Our Stars: The best book about cancer you will ever read, in which two teens embrace their dying and decide to live.

3. Such a Rush: All Leah wants to do is fly planes and get out of her trailer park life. But when the company she flies for is inherited by two cute teenage boys, her life gets messy. I really love author Jennifer Echols.

4. Bitterblue (companion to Graceling and Fire, which are amazing): 18-year old Bitterblue struggles to reigns over a country just ten years removed from the rule of her mad-man father.

5. Cinder: It's a cyborg Cinderella. What's not to love?

6. Every Day: A wakes up in a new body every day, never making an impact until one day, A falls in love.

7. Pandemonium: Sequel to Delirium, in which Leah has learnt love, and lost everything.

8. Crewel*: Adelice can weave the very fibers of reality, but must decide if it's worth controlling the world when you can't control your own life.

9. Goblin Secrets*: In a world in which acting is illegal for humans, Rownie takes up with a troupe of goblin actors in search for his brother.

10. Shadow and Bone*: With Darkness looming over her country, Alina discovers her hidden ability to summon light, and quickly becomes an unwitting pawn.

. . . . . 

What books have you read that I missed? Books such as The Raven Boys, Reached, and Days of Blood and Starlight sit on my shelf, begging to be read, promising to be good (so many wonderful late releases this year!) Leave me a comment if you think I left a great book out.

*The unlinked books have been read, loved, and reviewed by me, they just haven't made it up on the blog yet. Reviews and links will soon follow!

. . . . . 

Look for Emily's Best Books of 2012, Part 2 which will feature all the great books I read this year, not published in 2012. There were too many for one post!