Top Ten New To Me Authors of 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

I’ve read some pretty fantastic books this year written by some pretty fantastic authors.  I love reading debut novels, so many of the authors featured on my list are debut authors.  I’d love to know which “new to you” authors of 2012 are your favorites!

1. Trish Doller–I’ve been raving about Something Like Normal since I read it this spring.  It’s a stunning debut and I absolutely CAN’T WAIT until Trish’s new book, Where the Stars Still Shine, releases next year.

2. Matthew Quick–I know his YA debut released in 2011, but I didn’t read one of his books until this year when I read Boy21.  This is another book that I rave about on a regular basis.  I love Boy21 so much I’m reading it out loud for the second time this year since I have a brand new group of students this trimester.

3. R.J. Palacio–I was late to jump on the “Everyone needs to read Wonder!” bus, but peeps, Everyone needs to read Wonder!  I’m so impressed by how Palacio wrote this book and has been able to reach so many readers across age levels.  I have sophomores reading Wonder and singing its praises.  I’ve been telling teachers I work with to buy it and read with their kids.  I will buy R.J. Palacio’s next book without a doubt.

4. Tammara Webber–Sigh…I LOVED Easy.  I hope Tammara Webber writes more New Adult novels because I had the worst book hangover after reading Easy.  I want more of her books!

5. Jessica Brody–I’m way late on this one!  I was asked to be part of the 52 Reasons to Hate My Father blog tour, so I was lucky enough to receive a copy to read.  And it was so much fun to read!  Since adding it to my class library, a few of my students have requested that I buy more of Brody’s books which I’m happy to do because I want to read all of them.

6. Jordan Sonnenblick–Again, he’s been around for a few years, but only this year have I been aware of his books.  I read Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip, and since then I’ve been reading more and more of his books.  They’re great as audio and great as a traditional read.  His writing is engaging and his stories are heartwarming.

7. Jessica Spotswood–I bought Born Wicked on a whim and then read it straight through.  I’m usually hesitant to read historical fiction, but Jessica Spotswood wrote her debut in the best way.  Her historical fiction is romantic, magical (hence the witches), and engaging.  The language of the time isn’t overdone, but balanced and easy to read.  I can’t wait to read the sequel; I wish I didn’t have to wait until this summer!

8. Miranda Kenneally–I’ve read both Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker and love them both.  They’re incredibly popular in my classroom which made me eve more excited to find out that Kenneally is signed on to write six more books with Sourcebooks.

9. Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns released in 2011, but I didn’t read it until this summer.  I love Rae’s writing style and the characters she’s included in this high fantasy trilogy.  The sequel, The Crown of Embers, just released this fall and its been receiving lots of rave reviews.

10. S.J. Kincaid–I read Insignia last fall, but it didn’t release until this summer.  S.J. Kincaid is an exciting new voice in YA with the Insignia trilogy.  It’s exciting and refreshing and full of guy-appeal.

2013 Sophomore Reading Challenge

Shanyn from Chick Loves Lit started the Sophomore Reading Challenge this year, but unfortunately I didn’t participate like I wanted to.  Thankfully she’s running it again this year, so I’m making sure to participate!  I love reading books by debut authors, so it’s exciting to read their sophomore releases as well.

Go here for all of Shanyn’s challenge guidelines.

We’re challenged to read at least 10 sophomore releases.  Here’s my list of 10 (as of right now)…

1. Revel by Maurissa Guibord (Goodreads)

Debut: Warped

Releases: 2/12/13

There’s an island off the coast of Maine that’s not on any modern map.

Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn’t her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia’s not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night.

Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it’s Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water’s edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive.

2. Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood (Goodreads)

Debut: Born Wicked

Releases: 6/18/13

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

3. Hysteria by Megan Miranda (Goodreads)

Debut: Fracture

Releases: 2/5/13

After stabbing and killing her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mallory, who has no memory of the event, is sent away to a boarding school to escape the gossip and threats, but someone or something is following her.

4. Vortex (Insignia #2) by S.J. Kincaid (Goodreads)

Debut: Insignia

Releases: 7/2/13

The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

5. Prodigy by Marie Lu (Legend #2) (Goodreads)

Debut: Legend

Releases: 1/29/13

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?

6. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads)

Debut: Between Shades of Gray

Releases: 2/13/13

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

7. Who Needs Magic? (Magic #2) by Kathy McCullough (Goodreads)

Debut: Don’t Expect Magic

Releases: 7/9/13

No summary available

8. Empty by K.M. Walton (Goodreads)

Debut: Cracked

Releases: 1/1/13

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—gets all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of the heartbreak and name-calling stop?

9. Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) (No cover art yet) by Leigh Bardugo (Goodreads)

Debut: Shadow and Bone

Releases: 6/4/13

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

10. All That Was Lost by Trish Doller (final title & cover coming soon) (Goodreads)

Debut: Something Like Normal

Releases: 10/2013

Callie is skilled in the art of leaving. She and her mother have crisscrossed the country for more than a decade, on the run since the day her mother–who suffers from borderline personality disorder–abducted her. When her mom is arrested, Callie is reunited in Tarpon Springs, Florida, with a father she doesn’t remember. There Callie must learn to navigate the life of a normal 17-year-old girl–one that includes friends, guys, and an extended Greek American family she never knew existed. But a childhood secret and her mother’s reappearance threaten the tentative security of her new life, and Callie must choose between staying and leaving–and what she’s willing to leave behind.

Waiting on Wednesday–Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I know, I know, Vortex doesn’t release for almost a year, but I’m super excited about this sequel!  Plus, none of my friends on Goodreads have added it which means I should help draw some attention to it 🙂

If you know anything about me and my blog, then you know that finding books with guy appeal is really important to me.  Insignia impressed me and entertained me as a book with awesome guy appeal and as a fantastic debut.  It wins over the guys in my class on a regular basis.  If you haven’t read it, you have lots of time to do so before Vortex releases!

P.S. How cool is that cover?!  I really like the bold color choices for this series.  They’re vibrant and gender neutral.  Fantastic!

Title & Author: Vortex by S.J. Kincaid

Release Date: July 2nd, 2013

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Summary (From Goodreads): The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.

Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.

Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?

Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

Book Trailer Thursday (72)–Insignia by S.J. Kincaid & Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Why feature only one book trailer when I can feature two book trailers, right?  It’s Insignia’s book birthday week, so it only makes sense to post the trailer for it this week (and because I love the book).  I read a review for Tiger Lily @ Good Books and Good Wine not too long ago, and since then it’s been on my mind.  The review sold me on the book, so I’m looking forward to reading it this summer.

I’ve noticed that as book trailers are becoming more popular, some get the full movie-type treatment and others are more simplistic like these two.  I’m not sure if I prefer one style over the other, but these two trailers work for me.  What do you think?

Summary of Insignia (From Goodreads): More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

 

Summary of Tiger Lily (From Goodreads): Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

 

 

 

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Title: Insignia

Author: S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author / Guy Appeal

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.

If you’re looking for a book that will appeal to guy readers, make sure you hand them Insignia by S.J. Kincaid.  This debut has everything a book needs for guy appeal: humor, action, gaming, and more.  Even better?  Considering this type of book isn’t always my first choice, and knowing how much I enjoyed it, I’m positive girls will like Insignia as well.

Tom Raines’ character is written well and is perfect for this book.  At the beginning of Insignia, we find out that he’s conniving and quite the talented gamer.  We also find out that his dad is a short-on-his-luck gambler who isn’t really taking care of Tom the way a father should.  With Tom being left to his own devices, he doesn’t take school very seriously even though it’s obvious that he’s smart.  I think it’s safe to say that if Tom were a real teenager in my class, I’d really like him despite the front he puts up.  He’s full of wit and quick humor and easy to like.  He’s perfect for this book because he’s not over confident, nor is he too down on himself.  He knows he’s talented, but I don’t think readers will find it annoying; I think they’ll connect with him and look up to him, especially if they’re gamers as well.

I’m not a gamer, but I have to admit that the world S.J. Kincaid created is pretty cool.  How cool would it be to interact in a virtual reality?!  Being a superior war machine really isn’t my idea of a good time (pressure much?), but I sure like reading about them!  Kincaid did such a fantastic job creating the setting and the world Tom lives in, it felt like it could be real even though Insignia takes place in the future.  Setting and world building is one of the most important features in science fiction and dystopians because so much relies on these two features.  If they aren’t written well and with detail, then how am I supposed to buy in to the story, especially when sci-fi and dystopias are supposed to be believable?

I was fortunate enough to read Insignia back in November, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release since then.  It’s a page-turning debut that I couldn’t put down, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with other readers.  The release of Insignia is especially exciting because I’m using it in my YA Lit II class this upcoming school year.  I let a few of my students read my copy early to get a feel from them, and was happy to hear rave reviews.  S.J. Kincaid is an exciting new talent in the world of YA, and I can’t wait to read the next book!

More Insignia Reviews:

Wyz Reads

IceyBooks

Heise Reads & Recommends

My Literary Achilles’ Heel

During our lunch break at the ALAN conference this past November, my friends and I were discussing which breakout session to attend.  There was quite a bit of debate, because much of our decision was based on which authors we wanted to listen to.  I was originally planning on attending the session about Chicago as a setting in YA, but I didn’t for two reasons.  One reason was that our lunch took FOREVER (that poor restaurant was packed and understaffed), but the other reason was because of something Donalyn Miller said.  She of course wanted to listen to Chris Crutcher and Matt de la Peña (and who wouldn’t?!), but her primary reason for attending was because sports fiction is her Achilles’ heel.  This  really made me think because I know which genres are my least favorite, but I never thought about putting a name to it (Thank you, Donalyn!).

I’m bringing this post up because it’s been on my mind, but now even more so after winning my Teacher of the Year award.  I received a $500 check to use in my classroom, and I’m thinking about spending it on books–real predictable, right? 😉  On Thursday I told my students about it and asked them for their input on how I should spend the money.  We all agreed that a spinning book rack would be great because we could display books according to genre.  That’s easy enough, and something I’ve wanted to purchase for a while, but then I started thinking about my literary Achilles’ heel again.  I love contemporary fiction and plenty of the paranormal fiction that’s been released, although I’ll admit I’m getting worn out trying to keep up with so many series, but that’s another post altogether.  I know I could be better about reading more sports fiction, but I think I’m doing alright, especially now that one of my YA Lit students keeps reading them before me and recommending them.  Plus I love Chris Crutcher’s novels and couldn’t get enough of Geoff Herbach’s Stupid Fast, just as a couple examples.  I’ve been beefing up my knowledge of graphic novels, and in the process I’ve found that I really enjoy them.  I love novels in verse, so that part of my library is ever expanding, even though I know that’s not a genre of YA.  My greatest Achilles’ heel is high fantasy and science fiction.

I grew up loving fantasy.  I remember reading every unicorn book I could find when I was in elementary and middle school.  The Bunnicula books, even though those aren’t exactly fantasy, were some of my favorites.  I tried reading The Hobbit in 6th grade, and even though I didn’t finish it, I remember really enjoying it.  I could picture the setting and the characters easily.  In high school my dad handed me a copy of The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.  I couldn’t get enough of that book!  I was over the moon in 10th grade when we started our King Arthur unit.  I wrote my essay on the Lady of the Lake and actually enjoyed doing the research (I didn’t enjoy the research involved for my Oliver Wendell Holmes essay in 11th grade–I had no choice in my author assignment).  So why do I struggle now to enjoy high fantasy novels?  I read Graceling by Kristin Cashore and adored it.  I tried reading the companion, Fire, but even though I’ve tried reading it twice now, I can’t stick with it.  I am looking forward to the release of Bitterblue.  I tried the first in The Heir Chronicles by Cinda Williams Chima, but that was really a struggle.  I have no desire to finish the series, but I do have all the books in my class library.  I’ve heard great things about the Seven Realms series, so I’m thinking about trying that.  My students requested that I buy the rest of the Eragon series, which I did yesterday, but even those I don’t really care for.  I might not like Eragon because I saw the movie first, but I still don’t know if I want to read them.

 Science fiction has never been a genre that I enjoy reading.  I read Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (releases in July 2012–review coming closer to the release date) and loved it.  It’s about gaming and virtual reality, so I’d qualify it as science fiction.  I read Tempest by Julie Cross, and even though there are some plot points that I didn’t like, I enjoyed reading the novel overall.  The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness could be seen as dystopian, but I also look at it as science fiction because it takes place on a different planet, much like Beth Revis’s Across the Universe and A Million Suns.  I’m not sure what I’m missing in this genre.  I’ve obviously enjoyed a few novels that fit within in, so why don’t I find myself reading more novels in this genre?

I’m writing about all of this because I feel like I’m letting my students down, in particular the students who do enjoy reading these genres.  I have a few titles that I can discuss with them and recommend, but I don’t have enough to feel like I’m doing a good enough job.  Does anyone else feel like this?  What’s your literary Achilles’ heel?  And if you love these genres, please leave me some recommendations!  I have that money to spend, so I want to buy some worthy YA titles in each genre to provide for my students.  And since I don’t have that much going on this weekend (FINALLY!), I think I’m going to break out of my comfort zone and try reading one or two.  So please, if you have any recommendations, or if you feel the same way I do about these genres or others, leave me a comment 🙂

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