Tuesday, 29 November 2011

2012 Contemporary YA Challenge - Completed!

As I’m hosting Contemporary YA Month in January, it seems only fitting that I participate in this challenge hosted by Katie’s Book Blog and Reading Angel.

You can sign up at either blog: KBB/RA. Here are the rules:

Level 1: 5+ books
Level 2: 10+ books
Level 3: 15+ books

You can read any contemporary YA novel that is published between January 1, 2012 and December 30, 2012 but you must read them in 2012! (All formats accepted: paperback, ARC, e-book)

Books included:
We have created a spreadsheet (organized by release date) for contemporary YA books published in 2012. If there is a book that is not on the spreadsheet that you know fits the guidelines, let us know and we will add it.  There is also a Goodreads list.  You can use either one.  Currently the spreadsheet has more books on it.


Goodreads list

If you have a contemporary YA book coming out in 2012 we would love it if you would participate. We would love it if you would be interested in donating swag/books or being featured here on Katie’s Book Blog or Reading Angel. If you are interested, fill out the form here! (You can also email me!)

Anyone who has a blog or a Goodreads where they can post reviews is eligible to participate. 

Why you should participate:
Contemporary YA is an awesome genre. Isn’t that enough of a reason?
If not, there will also be giveaways throughout the year as well as one grand prize giveaway at the end of the year. Does that motivate you? =)

How to sign up:
Create a list on your blog or Goodreads with your list of books. You can create a list of books that you want to read or start a blank list and add the books as you read them. Once you have created your list come back here and add it to the linky below! Make sure that you post it on the same blog/Goodreads that you are going to post your reviews on throughout the year.

Sign-ups end May 1, 2012”

Im going to go in at Level 3 and for my list I’m going to put on the ones I’m definitely reading for CYA Month and then leave the rest blank. Here it is:


Sunday, 27 November 2011

In My Mailbox 103

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For review:

Someone Else’s Life – Katie Dale

One secret can change everything

When Rosie Kenning’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s disease, her whole world falls apart. Not only does Rosie desperately miss her mum, but now she has to face the fact that she may have inherited the fatal disease herself. Until she discovers that Trudie wasn’t her biological mother at all...Rosie is stunned. Can this be true? Is she grieving for a mother who wasn’t even hers to lose? And if Trudie wasn’t her mother, who is?

But as Rosie delves into her past to discover who she really is, she is faced with a heart-breaking dilemma – to continue living a lie, or to reveal a truth that will shatter the lives of  everyone around her...

Thanks, S&S! This sounds fantastic and will be perfect for Contemp YA Month.


Ten Things We Shouldn’t Have Done – Sarah Mlynowski

I was about to live a sixteen-year-old’s dream.

House on the beach.
No parents.
Parties whenever we wanted.
Boys whenever we wanted.

April and her best friend, Vi, are living by themselves. Of course, April’s parents don’t know that. It’s a little white lie that begins the ten things April and Vi shouldn’t have done – things that definitely make their lives a LOT more interesting!

From Skipping School (#3) and Throwing a Crazy Party  (#8) to Buying a Hot Tub (#4) and, um, Harbouring a Fugitive (#7), April’s story is hilarious, bittersweet – and not for the faint-hearted...

My official excuse for buying this – Contemporary YA Month, but really, I just really, really want to read it!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Iron Knight - Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight – Julie Kagawa

Pages: 361
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 25th October 2011

Other Titles in this Series: The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen

My name – my True Name – is Ashallayn’darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining  son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court.

And I am dead to her.

My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl...

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own lovehad died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase – a half-human, half fey – smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery fell to to the Iron Fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of of archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Gremalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end – a quest to find a way to honour his vow to stand by meghan’s side.

To survive the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way  Ash learns something that chages everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

After the heart-in-your-throat ending of The Iron Queen, I was extremely relieved to discover that there would be one more book in The Iron Fey series and even more excited when I discovered it would be in the voice of one of my favourite characters: Ash.

As ever, Ash managed to astound me with his loyalty and dedication to Meghan and I would like my very own Ash for Christmas, please. The lengths he went to to get back to her which included defying his own nature, risking his life countless times and giving up something so very, very important to him was beyond romantic. He seemed so much more human and accessible in The Iron Knight but we also got glimpses of the true Winter Prince from before he met Meghan, which only made his quest even more incredible. I didn’t think I could love him anymore. I was wrong.

The only thing that I love more about this series than the beautiful Prince Ash is Julie Kagawa’s prose. She writes softly and poetically but still manages a serious emotional punch and a fantastically engaging plot. I’m literally in awe of this woman’s skill. Then she goes and uses human myth and legend to create the Nevernever and faery itself and I’m completely and utterly sold. The idea of existing only as long as you are talked about and remembered is actually quite terrifying and completely brilliant. I have to admit that I did kind of miss Meghan though which surprised me.

I have only two complaints about The Iron Knight and one of them has absolutely nothing to do with the actual story at all. I hate the deckle edging on the pages. While it looks all pretty and stuff I found it awkward to turn the pages quickly enough and it felt kind of odd. Though that is me being extremely petty, I know. My only other complaint is that there wasn’t nearly enough of Grim – I love that cat. In fact, I would happily read a whole spin-off series about the exploits of that particular cait sith. I really do love him.

I adore this whole series and I was so pleased to see Ash and Meghan get the happy ending they deserve. All that’s left to say is: bring on more of Julie Kagawa’s books!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Enthralled - edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions ­– edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 443
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date; 1st September 2011

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their best-selling series, while others, like Claudia Gray create new landscapes and chaarcters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels or other magical beings, each author explores th strength and resilience of the human heart.

Enthralled is a fantastic anthology that is filled with stories by some of my favourite authors.

With the overarching themes of the paranormal and journeying, you’d expect a huge variation in the stories and there really, really is. Some are literal journeys, some have a metaphorical element to them and a few are just plain strange. In the best way, of course!

I have to admit that I read the stories of Enthralled out of order. I went to the contents page and picked the stories by their author and so the first I read was Melissa Marr’s Merely Mortal. I am a huge fan of the Wicked Lovely series and having read the final book, Darkest Mercy back in March, I was in need of some faerie goodness. I loved having a glimpse at the life of Kennan and Donia after the happy ever after (of sorts). They also weren’t the characters that I followed the most in the series so I enjoyed reading about them and them only.

My next stop was Automatic by Rachel Caine which centred around Michael and Eve from the awesome Morganville Vampires series. Having recently finished the latest book in the series and having to come to terms with the fact that I have months until the next one is published, Automatic was a lovely stop-gap. My only complaint about it would be the lack of Shane, but I do feel I may just being greedy...

I was just going to pick three of the stories to focus on, but as I loved so many of them, I’m going to briefly mention some others that really caught my attention. Jeri Smith-Ready’s Bridge was a beautiful and moving story told in verse and in the perspective of Logan, one of the main characters from her Shade, Shift and to-be-published Shine. It was brilliant to get inside his head and glimpse the inner workings of his brother, Mickey. Another story that got me for the sheer fact of its surprising nature was Claudia Gray’s Giovanni’s Farewell. I don’t know what I was expecting from it, but it definitely wasn’t that! It’s the type of story that I could very easily see working as a full-length novel. Finally, I’d like to give a shout to possibly the strangest story in the anthology, After the Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show by Jessica Verday. I loved it! So much fun and very individual.

This is a fantastic anthology for catching up with the worlds of your favourite series’ as well as discovering some amazing authors that you may not have come across before. Brilliant!

A big thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy for review.


Monday, 14 November 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge

Once again, I am going to sign up for the Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren as I have managed to complete it the last two years and it’s always fun to discover new authors. Here’s what it’s all about directly from The Story Siren:

·         To read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.*

*The 2013 extension is so that December debuts can be read and count toward the challenge.

            RULES & GUIDELINES:
·         You must have a Blog to post your reviews or be a member of Goodreads.
·         Your blog must be written in English.
·         Deadline to join in may 31, 2012

·         Must be a young adult or middle grade title.
·         Must be the authors YA or MG debut, released in 2012.
·         If an author has a previous novel published for adults or children, they can still qualify for the challenge.
·         If an author has a previous YA or MG title, they do not qualify for the challenge.”

You can sign up here, read more about DAC and check out the debut lists.

I’m not going to list the debuts that I plan to read. Instead I’ll just update this page with every applicable title and its review as I read them.

1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Jennifer E. Smith
2. Cinder, Marissa Meyer
3. Someone Else's Life, Katie Dale
4. The Other Life, Susanne Winnacker
5. Legend, Marie Lu
6. Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi
7. Wonder, RJ Palacio
8. The Flappers: Vixen, Jillian Larkin
9. Bunheads, Sophie Flack
10. When You Were Mine, Rebecca Serle
11. I'll Be There, Holly Goldberg Sloan
12. The Selection, Kiera Cass

COMPLETED 25th June 2012

13. Heart-Shaped Bruise, Tanya Byrne
14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M Danforth
15. Wentworth Hall, Abby Grahame
16. Throne of Glass, Sarah J Maas
17. Pushing the Limits, Katie McGarry
18. Torn, David Massey
19. The Masque of the Red Death, Bethany Griffin
20. The Wolf Princess, Cathryn Constable
21. Lovely, Dark and Deep, Amy McNamara 


Sunday, 13 November 2011

In My Mailbox 102

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For review:

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions – Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their best-selling series, while others, like Claudia Gray create new landscapes and chaarcters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels or other magical beings, each author explores th strength and resilience of the human heart.

Thanks, HarperCollins! Some of my favourite authors are in here!

Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare

Love and lies can corrupt even the purest heart...

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, while her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will – the walls he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers to who she is and what she was born to do? As their search for the truth leads the three friends into peril, Tessa’s heart is increasingly torn, especially when one of their own betrays them...

Exclusive collector’s edition: read for the first time the letter Will Herondale writes in Clockwork Angel and the short story “Burning Bright”.

Beyond excited. Squee! Thanks, Walker! As this is embargoed until release date (6th December) don't expect a review until then.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Pages: 482
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: 6th October 2011

Other Titles by this Author: Lament, Ballad, Shiver, Linger, Forever

Every year, the Scorpio Races are run on the beaches of Skarmouth. Every year, the sea washes blood from the sand. To race the savage water horses can mean death, but the danger is irresistible.

When Puck enters the races to save her family, she is drawn to the mysterious Sean, the only person on the island capable of taming the beasts.

Even if they stay together, can they stay alive?

A breathtaking ride that will make your heart race.

The thought of a new Maggie Stiefvater book makes me simultaneously want to do a happy dance because of her stunning writing and put my heart in a lead box so she can't make me cry. I felt the same with The Scorpio Races.

As with each of Maggie’s beautiful novels, The Scorpio Races is incredibly atmospheric. The island of Thisby is imbued with a real sense of foreboding and magic that kept what is actually a very character-based and slow-moving plot moving without it feeling slow and keeping up the tension. The subtle mythology of the water horses, or cappall uisce, only added to the mood. There was no explanation of them; they were just a part of the island and were taken as the dangerous and mysterious creatures they are.

One of the things that surprised me most about The Scorpio Races was how involved I became with the connection that Puck had with Dover and Sean had with Corr. I am not a horse person at all, in fact, I don’t like them at all really, but I became extremely invested in their relationships. It really emphasised, for me, just how horrifically the islanders treat the cappall uisce: yanked out of their home (the sea), captured, trained, and then raced in a way that could lead to their death and that of their riders. Once I started to think about it, I really started to feel for them and because of some of the less than savoury characters in Puck and Sean’s lives, I was on the side of the deadly water horses.

But there was one thing in particular about The Scorpio Races that I loved more than anything else: the relationship between Puck and Sean. It was slow and soft and real. Their relationship began with fascination, moved to tentative friendship, then trust and finally, after around 400 pages, a kiss. This pace and subtlety is virtually unheard of in YA and I adored it – the tension, the questions and the promise of something to come was the only way that these Puck and Sean would be able to handle something so new to them. If Maggie Stiefvater had handled their romance in any other way then it would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

I adored The Scorpio Races and, as ever, I’m eagerly awaiting my next opportunity to become lost in Maggie’s enchanting prose.

A huge thank you to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

In My Mailbox 101

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

I went home last weekend and had plenty of packages waiting for me. I decided that I would put them into an IMM this weekend, but I forgot to write them down so only the ones I brought back to Bath will be included.

For review:

Torn – Cat Clarke

Four girls. One dead body.
A whole lot of guilt.

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares...

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down.

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...

Squee! I loved Entangled so I’m beyond excited for this. Thanks, Quercus!

Fracture – Megan Miranda (ARC)

By the time 17-year old Delaney Maxwell is pulled out of the icy waters of a frozen lake, her heart has stopped beating. She is officially dead. Then Delaney starts breathing... The doctors are mystified. But Delaney knows something is very wrong, even though outwardly she has completely recovered.

Pulled by sensations she can’t control, Delaney now finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her brain predicting death or causing it? Then Delaney meets Troy Varga. Is Troy a kindred spirit who somehow understands her weird and frightening gift? Or are his motives more chillingly sinister...

Love the sound of this. Thanks, Bloomsbury!

The Vampire Stalker – Allison van Dieppen

Amy is in love with Alexadner Banks. In fact, she’s obsessed with him. He’s brooding and handsome. He hunts vampires.

He’s perfect.

The only problem is, Alexander doesn’t exist. He’s a character in a book.

But, what if he showed up one day? What if he were somehow real?

Man, how many times have I wished fictional characters to life...? Thanks, Scholastic!

The Book of Blood and Shadow – Robin Wasserman (ARC)

From Amazon: It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up. When the night began, Nora had two best friends and a boyfriend she adored. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands. Chris was dead. Adriane couldn't speak. And Max, Nora's sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer. Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora's determined to follow the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. But Chris's murder is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life.

Really excited for this and I get to take part in a blog tour for it in January. Thanks, Atom!

This is Not Forgiveness – Celia Rees (ARC)

She’s beautiful, impulsive.
And trouble.

He wanted her to notice him.
Can’t believe she did.

Back from Afghanistan. Wounded.
Secretive. Out of reach.
Except with Caro. He lets her in.

Over the course of one summer, their lives collide and entwine with dangerous results.

The brightest flame always leave the deepest scars.

So looking forward to this – I've never read Celia Rees before! Thanks, Bloomsbury.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Where has the contemporary YA gone?

In the three years that I’ve been blogging I’ve become accustomed to the trends and fluctuations in the popularity of different genres within YA. Nevertheless, in the two or so years there is one which hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, I’d say that it has continued to grow and take over the shelves.

As a bloggers we receive many books from publishers each week and at least 95%, if not more, of those novels are of a supernatural persuasion. Now don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite books are from this genre: Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and Holly Black’s Tithe. I just think with all of the attention on the paranormal we’re missing out on some stunning contemporary YA.

It was through contemporary novels that I fell in love with YA and it breaks my heart to think that those new to the genre may be bypassing these incredible reads. Most of the authors that I discovered during my introduction are now on my auto-buy list and it happens to contain very few paranormal authors... Lots of the chance finds I made encouraged me to start a blog and shout their praises from the rooftops and have shaped my reading, my writing and just me in general.

Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen was one of those early chance finds. The beautiful cover, an intriguing synopsis and the idea of reading a new-to-me author made me buy it. I fell in love. Since that day six or seven years ago I’ve read every novel she’s written and I will continue to do so until she stops publishing her work - it crushes me that a teenage girl walking into Waterstone’s tomorrow won’t be confronted with Sarah Dessen’s beautiful stories but with rows and rows of paranormal novels. Although Sarah is incredibly popular among lovers of contemporary YA, she just doesn’t get the shelf space and her novels become drowned by the likes of Becca Fitzpatrick, Alyson Noel, LJ Smith, PC Cast and the rest of the ‘dark romance’ authors. (I really do feel at this point that I need to reiterate that I do read (some) of these authors and thoroughly enjoy their novels, I just think there’s more to YA out there.)

It is entirely possible that without these early bumbling trips to my local library and bookshops I might never have discovered the delights of Sarah Dessen, Sarra Manning, Meg Rosoff, Melvin Burgess, Kevin Brooks and Louise Rennison. Now you would need to seek them out, probably on the recommendation of a seasoned YA reader or a trusted blogger, because you’d have a fairly difficult time dragging them out from behind the vampires, werewolves and angels by yourself.

So, am I over-reacting? Or do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.