Archive | September, 2014

Banned Books Week Giveaway

21 Sep

I believe strongly in the freedom to read and appreciate the brave and empathic work of Ellen Hopkins, an author who often finds her work challenged or banned in schools and libraries. In recognition of Banned Books Week, I am offering a giveaway of two of her verse novels for teens.

Hopkins’s first verse novel for teens, Crank, though published in 2004, found its way onto the ALA’s Top Ten Challenged Books List for 2010. This was the year that Fallout, the final book in the Crank trilogy, was released and the same year that she was disinvited from the Teen Lit Fest held in Humble, Texas.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004
Challenged for: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
Crank

Life was good
before I
met
the monster.

After,
life
was great,
At
least

for a little while.

Kristina Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.

Then, Kristina meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul—her life.

Hopkins’s latest verse novel for young adults, Rumble, was just released in August and so far (knock on wood) I haven’t heard any news of book challenges or bans for this particular title.

Rumble by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014
Rumble

Matthew Turner knows it doesn’t get better.

His younger brother Luke was bullied mercilessly after one of Matt’s friends outed Luke to the whole school, and when Luke called Matt—on the brink of suicide—Matt was too wrapped up in his new girlfriend to answer the phone. Now Luke is gone, and Matt’s family is falling apart.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting those he blames off the hook—including himself. As Matt spirals further into bitterness, he risks losing Hayden, the love of his life. But when her father begins to pressure the school board into banning books because of their homosexual content, he begins to wonder if he and Hayden ever had anything in common.

I picked up a signed copy of Crank when Hopkins paid a visit to the Hudson Children’s Book Festival back in May 2014 and received a copy of Rumble from the publisher to celebrate its August 2014 release. Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win these two books! The giveaway is open to readers 14 years of age and older. US entries only please.

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You can also read reviews of Identical and Tilt by Ellen Hopkins on Love YA Lit.

TBR + Giveaway: Burn for Burn Trilogy

10 Sep

AshesToAshes“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating. This week I’m highlighting the third book in the Burn for Burn trilogy and offering a giveaway for those who still need to catch up!

It’s hard to discuss later books in a series without spoiling things for new readers. This is particularly the case with books in a series like the Burn for Burn trilogy from Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian where spoilers would ruin so much of the fun. I’m including the publisher’s description of Burn for Burn (#1) below to give potential new readers a sense of what this series is all about. I enjoyed Burn for Burn and I thought Fire with Fire was even better, and so I’m hoping that Ashes to Ashes will offer an exciting conclusion to this interesting, ever-surprising series. Ashes to Ashes will be released on September 16.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds.

But bad things can happen, even to good girls . . . and sometimes, the only way to make things right is to do something wrong.

Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her little sister from the same fate.

Kat is over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person–her ex-best friend. Someone needs to teach her a lesson, and, with Lillia and Mary behind her, Kat feels up to the task.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. Now that she’s got friends who have her back, he’s going to be in big trouble.

Three very different girls who come together to make things right. Will they go too far?

Still need to dive into the world of Jar Island? Enter the giveaway below. If you win, I’ll be sending you a paperback copy of Burn for Burn and an ARC of Fire with Fire

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You may also wish to enter the giveaway that SimonTEEN is offering on goodreads for 1 of 50 sets of the full series!

Sisters

8 Sep

SistersI love Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel memoir, Smile, a coming of age story that explores the impact of years of dental work caused by a fall in sixth grade as well as typical middle school stuff: crushes, changing friendships, school, pimples, self-confidence, and family. In the follow up to Smile, Raina revisits her childhood years and explores her relationship with her younger sister, Amara. With Sisters, rather than dental drama, a family road-trip provides the framework of the story. Raina, Amara, their baby brother, and their mom head off to a family reunion in the family van, traveling from their home in San Francisco to Colorado. Along the way the family survives life on the road with crazy storms, van issues, unwelcome creatures, and changing relationships. The story jumps in time between the road trip adventures and various memories from Raina and Amara’s childhood, showing the sisters at their best and at their worst.

In one of the flashbacks, we learn that as a child Raina wanted a baby sister (and playmate) more than anything, but then Amara arrived and she wasn’t quite what Raina had in mind. Amara was a grouchy baby and cried all the time, which is perhaps normal for a baby, but her mood didn’t seem to improve much as she grew older. The girls are very different from one another and though they share a love of art, they fight over art supplies and Raina feels some stress about her art skills being compared to her younger sister. But even with all the nagging, fighting, and angry glares, Telgemeier also presents some sweet moments where the sisters come together as a team.

SistersSarahEm

Here’s me and my big sister, Sarah, being especially cute together.

While my sister and I generally got along growing up – I would even go so far as to say we were friends – Sisters brought back plenty of memories from family road trips, both the good and the bad. Telgemeier’s “Anatomy of a Road Trip” illustration offers a great reminder of times past for anyone who grew up taking road trips with family in a mini-van. Many readers will relate to the dynamic between the siblings, and between Raina and her other family members, but even those who don’t will find much to enjoy here. And while technically Sisters is a follow-up to Smile, both books work well as stand-alones, so those who have yet to read Smile will not feel lost. (Though why haven’t they read Smile yet?).

Sisters is written for a young audience and I’m curious if young readers will pick up on some of the plot developments before they are announced – some family issues and a surprise road trip visitor – or if they’ll be surprised at the turn of events. The foreshadowing wasn’t especially subtle, but it didn’t negatively affect my enjoyment of the story or make the “big reveals” any less impactful. Telgemeier strikes a fine balance in her visual story telling offering both subtle details and exaggerated expressions, mixing quirky humor with emotional depth. Sisters covers some emotional territory, but never forgets the light moments along the way. Telgemeier’s artwork is expressive and she brings warmth and a sense of humor to the story of battling siblings who figure out how to get along…well, when it matters at least.

Em’s Rating: 4 out of 5
Title: Sisters
Author/illustrator: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Graphix (August 2014)
Note: Review copy received from publisher.

September 2014 TBR

1 Sep

Did August fly by for anyone else? This blog took a bit of a nap in August and I’m planning to be more active with blogging this month to make up for that. While I didn’t really blog last month, I did read a lot and am looking forward to writing up some reviews to share with you all of my favorite summer reads – a few giveaways too! I’m really excited for all the fabulous books coming out this month and hoping to make time to read all of these titles (fingers crossed). Wish me luck! (note: there will be some spoilers in the descriptions for series titles below)

100sidewaysmiles100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Simon & Schuster BYR, Sept. 2
I’m planning to catch up on my Andrew Smith reading this fall. Too many of his books have been on my TBR for too long (I’ve only read Winger so far. Loved it.). Here’s another one to add to the list!

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

lyga_bloodofmyblood_hcBlood of My Blood by Barry Lyga
Little, Brown BYR, Sept. 9
I loved I Hunt Killers and Game. I can’t wait to see how this series wraps up! I’m starting reading this one tonight!

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

AshesToAshesAshes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Simon & Schuster BYR, Sept. 16
This series is not what I would normally consider an “Em series”, but for some reason I really enjoy reading these books. Perhaps its the solid writing and character development? (High five ladies! Go team!) Whatever the reason, I’m excited to see what comes next in this series especially after the cliffhanger ending of Fire With Fire.

They only meant to right the wrongs. It was about getting even. Burn for burn.

But the fire they lit kept raging…Reeve ended up hurt, then Rennie ended up dead.

Everything will turn to ash if they don’t stop what they started. But now that Mary knows the truth about what happened to her, will she want to?

Secrets drew Lillia, Kat, and Mary together. The truth might tear them apart.

GiveYouTheSunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Dial BYR, Sept. 16
This book sounds fantastic – chapters alternating between the twins’ perspectives as well as time frames. I’m told this book will make me FEEL. I’ll do my best to be prepared.

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

infiniteseaThe Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR, Sept. 16
I enjoyed the audio recording for The 5th Wave and am hoping to score again with the audio for The Infinite Sea.

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

afterworldsAfterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Simon Pulse, Sept. 23
I haven’t read Scott Westerfeld in a while and I’m hoping this one will be a better fit for me than the Leviathan series (steampunk just isn’t my thing). It sure sounds promising!

Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

riseofaurorawestThe Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope
First Second, Sept. 30
I LOVED Battling Boy and am enjoying reading more stories from that world! I have an eGalley of this title, but am looking forward to seeing it in print where I can really take in the full spread. Wish it was in full color. Ah well.

The extraordinary world introduced in Paul Pope’s Battling Boy is rife with monsters and short on heroes… but in this action-driven extension of the Battling Boy universe, we see it through a new pair of eyes: Aurora West, daughter of Arcopolis’s last great hero, Haggard West.

A prequel to Battling Boy, The Rise of Aurora West follows the young hero as she seeks to uncover the mystery of her mother’s death, and to find her place in a world overrun with supernatural monsters and all-too-human corruption.

BelzharBelzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Dutton Children’s Books, Sept. 30
I started Belzhar this weekend and am enjoying it so far. It reminds me that I still need to read The Bell Jar. Am I the only person who hasn’t read that yet? Yet another book for my ever-growing TBR!

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks. She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

Happy Reading this month!