Book Trailer Thursday (129)–Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Book Trailer Thursday

Kami Garcia’s first solo book, Unbreakable, released on October 1st. I’m really looking forward to reading this after reading the summary and watching the trailer. It sounds like a great fall/Halloween read! Based on what I know about it, I’m thinking my Anna Dressed in Blood and The Mortal Instruments fans will be interested in reading this.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableSummary (From Goodreads):

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in this action-packed paranormal thriller, the first book in a new series from New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia.

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray

Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 18th, 2012

Interest: Historical Fiction / Supernatural / Ghosts

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

I’ve never read any of Libba Bray’s books before, but after watching the trailer for her newest book, The Diviners, I knew I had to read it.  The 1920s is one of my favorite time periods, and I love a good ghostly mystery.  It’s exciting when books like The Diviners release in the fall because the setting and tone fits the fall weather perfectly, especially if you choose to read this on a dark, stormy night 😉

In a nutshell, I enjoyed The Diviners and I’ll read the sequel.  The story is engaging, and the characters are interesting.  Unfortunately, the writing itself kept me from enjoying Libba Bray’s new novel as much as I hoped to.

My first roadblock was Evie’s constant 1920s slang.  It’s important to make the language fit the time period when writing historical fiction, but the heavy use left me with the impression that Bray wanted to show she did research.  When it becomes that distracting, then it’s not done very well.  Evie uses the slang the most, which fits her character wanting to be a Flapper; she’s trendy, vivacious, and energetic.

The biggest roadblock is the constant jump from character to character.  I love reading novels with multiple points of view; I love reading novels written in third person which switch between characters.  Libba Bray included too many characters and didn’t write them cohesively.  The Diviners would have benefited from a set up like Neal Shusterman’s Unwind where each character jump is marked by a section header with the character’s name.  While reading I had a better understanding and visual of the setting than the characters, so it was hard to figure out right away which character was the new focus.  Considering the amount of details written into the story, I expected to have a better picture of Evie.  I kept picturing her like a little girl, not an older teenager.  Think Shirley Temple.  Maybe it’s how naive she is, or because so many people around her keep treating her like a child, but I had a really hard time visualizing her.  The only character I could picture clearly was Memphis and he has significantly fewer scenes than Evie.  I found Memphis and his brother Isiah to be two of the most interesting characters in The Diviners.

On a more positive note, the suspense and mystery is excellent in The Diviners.  So many scenes had me holding me breath and racing to get to the next page.  I love it when an author builds up the suspense like that because it keeps me reading and engaged.  The degree of creepiness is perfect.  None of the scenes are too graphic (for me) and they’re not too scary either.  Libba Bray has included an excellent blend of creepy, mystery, and humor.

Even though the writing didn’t work out as well for me as I wanted it to, I still think The Diviners is worth reading.  It’s awfully long at over 570 pages, so some of my students may be wary of reading it.  I hope the second book cuts down on the overwritten scenes and is clearer when switching characters.  I especially hope to learn more about what the purpose of the Diviners is going to be.  We met them, and we know their abilities, but it will be great to know how they might all come together.

Book Pairing: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Sophomore Reading Challenge + Top Ten Tuesday

I’m a big fan of Top Ten Tuesday posts (I LOVE lists!), and Shanyn at Chick Loves Lit is one of my favorite bloggers.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  Shanyn started a new challenge this year called the Sophomore Reading Challenge.  The goal is to read past debut authors’ sophomore book releases.  You can learn more about it here because Shanyn explains it much better 🙂  Hopefully you’ll join her challenge if you haven’t already!  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about authors that we wish would release new books, so I figured these two topics blend well together.

1. Kelly Creagh–I LOVED Nevermore and  many of my students do as well.  Creagh’s debut released in 2010, so I’ve been waiting a long time to read her second book in the series titled, Enshadowed (Goodreads).  It’s set to release on my birthday (yay!) which is August 28th.  I really hope it actually releases this year because it had an earlier release date that fell through.

2. Veronica Roth–Divergent is awesome, so waiting until May to read Insurgent (Goodreads) feels like forever!

3. Kirsten Hubbard–Like Mandarin was one of my favorite 2011 debuts and it really didn’t get enough hype.  Hubbard’s sophomore release is titled Wanderlove (Goodreads) and it releases in March.  I hope more stores will carry this title, so Kirsten Hubbard’s talent is exposed to a wider audience.

4. Denise Jaden–Denise’s debut, Losing Faith, released in 2010.  It was one of my favorites that year, so I’m so excited that she finally has a second book releasing this year!  Her new book is titled Never Enough (Goodreads) and it releases in July.

5. Nina LaCour–Hold Still is one of those books and I positively LOVE it.  It’s extremely popular with all of my students, so the fact that Nina LaCour FINALLY has a new book releasing next month is HUGE!  Her new book is titled The Disenchantments (Goodreads) and releases on Feb. 16th.

6. Kendare Blake–Kendare is one of my favorite 2011 debut authors.  I’m not a horror fan, but Anna Dressed in Blood rocked my socks!  The sequel, Girls of Nightmares (Goodreads), doesn’t release until August 7th.  That’s a long time to wait for more greatness!

7. Ann Aguirre–Last school year my book club decided to read Enclave.  I wasn’t sure if the girls were going to enjoy it and they ended up loving it.  They enjoyed it so much, they told me to look for an ARC of Outpost (Goodreads) at NCTE which I didn’t find. We’ll have to wait until September to read the second book.

8. Michelle Hodkin–I was fortunate enough to read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in June, but it didn’t release until the fall.  Now I’ve been waiting even longer than normal for the second book to release (Goodreads), but it doesn’t have an official title OR release date.  I really hope it releases sooner rather than later!

9. Tom Leveen–I read Tom Leveen’s 2010 debut, Party, during a plane ride and decided right away that I wanted to read more of his books.  He finally has a sophomore novel releasing on April 24th.  His new book is titled Zero (Goodreads).  It’s not on Shanyn’s Goodreads Sophomore Reading Challenge list, but I’m still counting it 🙂

10. Kim Harrington–Clarity is a wonderful YA mystery debut with a touch of the supernatural.  It’s hooked some of my reluctant readers, so I’m really excited to read the sequel, Perception (Goodreads) which releases in March.

Book Trailer Thursday (46)–After Obsession by Carrie Jones & Steve E. Wedel

I’ve read some good reviews for After Obsession, and I haven’t finished Need by Carrie Jones yet, but from what I’ve read so far I know I enjoy her writing.  Carrie was at NCTE signing her books so I finally bought my copy of After Obsession.  I love how eye-catching the cover is, and this trailer is sure to grab some interest as well.  Enjoy!

Summary (From Goodreads):

Aimee and Alan have secrets. Both teens have unusual pasts and abilities they prefer to keep hidden. But when they meet each other, in a cold Maine town, they can’t stop their secrets from spilling out. Strange things have been happening lately, and they both feel that something-or someone- is haunting them. They’re wrong. Despite their unusual history and powers, it’s neither Aimee nor Alan who is truly haunted. It’s Alan’s cousin Courtney who, in a desperate plea to find her missing father, has invited a demon into her life-and into her body. Only together can Aimee and Alan exorcise the ghost. And they have to move quickly, before it devours not just Courtney but everything around her.

 

Filled with heart-pounding romance, paranormal activity, and rich teen characters to love-and introducing an exciting new YA voice, Steven Wedel-this novel is exactly what Carrie Jones fans have been waiting for. Meet your next obsession.

 

Top Books Read in October

Can you believe it’s already November?!  There’s only a few more weeks until NCTE/ALAN and the end of the school year’s first trimester.  October was a good reading month for my students, so hopefully that trend will continue through November.

Freshmen: Top Books Borrowed & Read in October (7 times):

Borrowed 4 Times:

Borrowed 2 Times:

My freshmen read 40 different titles this month.  Many of them are giving booktalks and creating book posters for my classroom to advertise their favorite books.

Various Popular Titles Among My Freshmen:

The following books are the most popular among my YA Lit students.  In the month of October, they borrowed and read close to 50 different titles.

Top Book Borrowed & Read in October (4 students each):

Borrowed 3 Times:

Borrowed 2 Times:

Various Popular Titles Among My YA Lit Students:
 
 

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake Anna Dressed in Blood

316 pp.  Tor Teen  2011

Source: Finished copy received from the publisher

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Summary (From Goodreads):

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

Horror novels and horror movies aren’t my thing.  I love suspense and thrillers, but all the gore and nastiness of the horror genre freaks me out.  Despite all of that, I was excited when Kendare Blake signed up to be interviewed by my students because I know many of them enjoy horror novels and movies.  I passed a couple copies around for them to read prior to the interview, and was happy to hear so many rave reviews from my students.  They couldn’t stop talking about this debut which really grabbed my interest.  Honestly, I was getting a little jealous that I couldn’t read one of my own copies!  On Friday, one of the boys who borrowed Anna Dressed in Blood, returned it after school and told me it’s the best book he’s ever read.  That did it for me.  It was the end of the day, so no other students could claim my copy.

Anna Dressed in Blood is gripping and edgy.  It’s full of humor and a little bit of romance.  And of course, there’s gore.  Kendare Blake, however, balances all of these aspects perfectly.  Cas Lowood has a gruesome job that I would never want to be involved with.  Killing ghosts isn’t pretty or neat-n-tidy.  Considering I’m someone who doesn’t like horror, I was nervous about whether I’d like this book.  Yes, the details of the ghost killing and such is gross, but it’s not overdone with needless detail and extra amounts of blood.  Plus, Cas has an excellent witty attitude and sense of humor, which is usually incorporated to break the tension.  I also appreciate that the gore isn’t on every page; it’s evenly balanced and paced throughout the novel.  The romance in the novel builds slowly which I appreciate because it isn’t the primary focus of the plot.  The humor and romance mixed well with the mystery and suspense, which is why I couldn’t put this book down.  The story just keeps moving which had me completely engrossed.  There are plenty of scary scenes, but a scene towards the end with Cas and his mom was probably the creepiest.

The cast of characters in Anna Dressed in Blood really takes the novel to another level.  Cas is wonderfully sarcastic, but he’s also one who keeps to himself.  Avoiding the living isn’t as easy in Thunder Bay because he meets Thomas and Carmel, who won’t leave his side and stop helping him.  I wasn’t expecting characters like these to be included in the story, but I enjoyed them.  They bring out a different side of Cas which makes him more dynamic.  Anna, of course, really steals the show.  She’s beyond scary, but there’s something more to her which I’ll let you figure out when you read the novel.  Let me just say I have  soft spot for Anna, even if that sounds crazy.

Anna Dressed in Blood is unlike any other novel I’ve read; it really brought me out of my comfort zone.  I can’t wait to finally have the opportunity myself to rave about this book in my classes!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson The Name of the Star

372 pp.  Putnam (Penguin Young Readers Group)  2011

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Considering that Maureen Johnson has written quite a few YA novels already, I’m a little embarrassed that The Name of the Star is the first of her books that I’ve read.  However, if you’re in the same boat as me, I highly recommend you start with this novel.  I thoroughly enjoyed the humor and mystery.  There is a nice element of romance, but it isn’t the focus of the novel.

I love a good mystery, especially when I can find one in YA.  Rory has moved to London for her senior year of high school and murders very similar to the Ripper murders are happening again.  This adds an instant element of suspense, while Rory’s quick wit and sense of humor  provide comic relief to break the tension.  Rory is a memorable character who kept me laughing through most of the novel.  There were times during SSR that I had to keep myself from snorting with laughter.  She keeps her sense of humor throughout the novel, but there’s a definite shift in mood once the Ripper murders get too close for comfort.  The mystery is excellent; I was making predictions the entire time I was reading, which I love.

Quite a few people I follow on Twitter have been reading The Name of the Star and have said things like “I shouldn’t read this at night.”  Some of the murders are gory in their descriptions, and Rory is put in some suspenseful situations, but I never felt like I couldn’t read this at night.  Please note that I am not some tough, loves to watch scary movies, kind of woman.  The Name of the Star just wasn’t scary in my opinion, but that isn’t a complaint.  The atmosphere becomes spookier as the novel progresses which I know will resonate well with readers.  And the ending?  Wow!

There were a couple holes in the story, although minor, that I wish were resolved. **Note: This may become spoilerly**  Rory has a budding relationship with Jerome, but by the book’s end, nothing about it is mentioned again.  What happens with him?  Does he still care about her?  Will it be resolved in the second book?  Not much is mentioned about Rory’s parents or her relationships in general.  Like I said, these are minor, but however small I still noticed them.

If you’re looking for a novel that will keep you reading and on the edge of your seat, then I highly recommend The Name of the Star.  For a big chunk of the novel it reads like realistic fiction, but it has a fresh supernatural element that many readers will enjoy.

Students Want to Know: Kendare Blake

I’m happy to post this interview between Kendare Blake and my students, I only wish that I’d get the chance to read Anna Dressed in Blood.  My students holding the interview read Kendare’s book first and have been raving about it.  Courtney very excitedly told me that I HAVE to read this book.  The problem?  Now that Courtney and Christian have been talking about Anna Dressed in Blood, I can’t get my hands on either of my copies.  They’re hogging it!  ** Which I’m very happy about 🙂 **

Summary of Anna Dressed in Blood (From Goodreads):

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

** Kendare’s Website **
** Kendare’s Blog **

Christian:

  • Where did you come up with the idea of the athame?
    When Cas showed up in my head, he had a knife in his hand. I knew he had to kill stuff, and I knew he was a very physical guy, so a knife seemed like the only way to go. But I didn’t want to just call it a knife. So I called it an athame. Which is a witch’s knife, or dagger.
  • What made you want to write?
    Well, I read a lot. I think it all came from that. I lived a lot of stories in my head, and I guess my brain just got used to it. Now there are stories in my head most of the time. I’m a freak like that.
  • Are any of the places in the book real?
    Yes! Glad you asked. Thunder Bay, Ontario is a real place. Morfran’s antique shop (and his antique shop dwelling Labrador) is based on a bunch of different antique shops in the area, and also one in Michigan. Kakabeka Falls, where they have the party at the beginning of the book, is real, and so are a lot of the ghost stories they tell.

Courtney:

  • Are you going to write a sequel? PLEASE!
    Of course! But I think just one. It’s called GIRL OF NIGHTMARES and it’s coming out next year. I hope you like it!
  • Did you have to research the “obeahman” power, or did you make it all up?
    Obeah is a real thing. I researched it as much as I could. But there really is an air of mystery around it. Obeah guards its secrets. And yes, whatever didn’t quite work for me, I tweaked.
  • Do you personally believe in ghosts?
    Sure. Why not? You can’t really prove that they DON’T exist. I guess you could say that I believe in them and don’t believe in them in equal measure. I’d love to have a ghost story happen to me though. I should start hanging out in more haunted places.
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