DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum-Danna W.
PRIDE AND POPULARITY by Jenni James
UNCOMMON CRIMINALS by Ally Carter- Chen Chang
UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand- Jennifer Thomas
PRIDE AND POPULARITY by Jenni James
UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand- Jennifer Thomas
In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
Okay so it’s no secret by now that I am an angel lover. The mythology, the biblical references, the source of the nephilum. This book though…WOW. It’s refreshing, mesmerizing. I picked it up I will unabashedly admit, based on the cover that called to me from the shelves at Barnes and Noble and was not disappointed.
Unearthly is slower paced and took a while for me to get into, but once I clicked, watch out. Locked, loaded, and eyes transfixed until the very end. Easily five stars to this one.
Cynthia Hand emphasizes functional family relationships and I loved that Clara’s mother tries her best to protect her children and keep them innocent. Despite the fact that she is a single mom, she holds her family tight and encourages them to follow their purpose. The idea that each of us has a unique role to fulfill in life and that we have the power to change the course of history is a powerful theme that rang through.
Clara, the main heroine is quirky and awkward so there’s quite a few places to chuckle. What I love is that while she’s half angel, she’s also very human, a believable teen. Tucker, one of the main men is a rodeo cowboy with wicked blue eyes and a fun easy personality. It’s cute how much he looks up to Clara and adores her. I have to say though- I am team Christian and was from the very start. He appears to Clara in her visions, is there to catch her when she falls. Granted he’s also popular and acts unaffected by Clara’s preparatory swooning, but near the end I really hoped Clara would accept his reciprocal interest. I was frustrated when their relationship was left hanging by a thread.
There were a few things that I wondered about. Like why does her hair turn orange? Can’t they take her some where professional and get it done right? And if her dad lives in New York, why didn’t she follow Christian there over the summer to be closer to him? I’m hoping book 2 has a lot more back story and Clara/Christian time! I’m predicting something not so good is up with Clara’s brother.
Unearthly is so far the best book I’ve read in 2011. I would recommend it to all as a clean, fun paranormal read. This book lives up to its hype and when you get to the last page you’ll be craving more.
Visit Cynthia’s website to learn more about the series. http://www.cynthiahand.blogspot.com/
Fire and Ice is giving away one copy of Unearthly to our followers as part of Best I’ve Read 2011. To enter to win click here and fill out the form. Good luck! Be sure to check the BIR home site and blog list for additional giveaways!
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.
Ally Carter has once again crafted a fun, quirky twisted tale of a girl raised criminal tuned to rightfully returning stolen items to their original owners. In book two Kat starts out on her own executing risky heists from the ex-KGB in Moscow and planning more jobs solo until Hale catches up to her and makes it very clear he wants “in.” Soon the old crew- Simon, Hamish, Angus, and Gabrielle are together, hired to get back a cursed emerald. But this job may very well be their last. Cleopatra’s Emerald hasn’t been seen for 30 years, it’s forbidden to steal it and after all the crew is “just kids”…up against the biggest con artist they have ever faced. Kat has her work cut out for her as the clock is ticking.
Ally’s writing style is the same as book one with meticulous details of each heist and amazing descriptions of character and setting. This is a series you’ll stay up late in the night to finish. Picture Oceans 11 with teens plus just the right dash of romance.
The love interests, Hale and Nick…how is one to decide? Chemistry is building between Kat and the two young men who wish to capture her attention when her heart is wrapped up in the thrill of the steal. I haven’t had this much fun with a love triangle in a long time! Hale is ever the perfect gentleman and loyal companion, while Nick seems to pop up unexpectedly to stir things up. Overall, Uncommon Criminals is a squeaky clean read I’d highly recommend to all readers ages 12 and up. Ally Carter is a master mind of deceit and twist of plot. Her clever style will capture you instantly, and if you haven’t picked up book one, Heist Society yet, get thee to your nearest store or library to get started today!
We are giving away one copy of Uncommon Criminals to our followers as part of Best I’ve Read 2011. To enter to win click here and fill out the form. Good luck! Be sure to check the BIR home site for today’s additional giveaways!
By Elana Johnson
Published: June 7, 2011
by Simon & Schuster
Summary: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them…starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous–everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn. This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.
I first picked up this book from Simon Schuster as an E-ARC and then last week when I got a paper copy in the mail you know what I did? Something I’ve only ever done with a handful of books…I read it again. The paper in my hands and the awesome cover was too big a temptation to pass up. I loved Possession even more the second time around with it’s layers of meaning and depth. Once you know what’s going on with the main characters and reach the surprise ending, I’m sure you will want to do the same.
I felt an immediate draw to Possession’s protagonist Vi with her sarcastic, fiery personality. She is one strong 15 year old who stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to throw punches. Victoria Schoenfeld is a water worker living in the Goodlands with mom after her father went missing and sister died working in the hands of the government. Vi’s a free thinker who’s had more than one brush with the law. So when she’s caught crossing borders to meet her match Zenn, a newly recruited special forces agent, the Greenies want consequences for Vi. They wish to rule a society where their model citizens, Goodies are “walking paper dolls” devoid of personality. All must plug into transmissions including messages about not lying and sticking to the rules. But Vi has stopped plugging in and has a mind of her own. Those in charge have an upper hand with advanced technology capable of modifying memories, scanning fingerprints and tracking identities. Vi can feel the tech in her bones and though her father invented it, she’s not convinced it’s not all that it seems. In the end it’s a choice for Vi between “control or don’t control, alone or together, Zenn or Jag, duty or death.” (p.366)
Jag…oh Jag. Bad boy who likes to read, leader of the Resistance, lover of wicked hair and distributor of hair gel & illegal tech. He stole my heart with his laughter, calmness, and laid back personality. He’ll snag yours the first time he utters the words “nice” and shrugs his shoulders. But readers beware that Jag is not alone in his efforts to win Vi and freedom, Zenn is fighting behind enemy lines.
Elana Johnson is genius. She’s crafted characters that push and pull you in all directions. There is not a clear cut line between what is bad and what is good. The last 1/3 of the book feels like a choose your own adventure quest for the truth, full of action and suspense. Possession is an ingenious mix of dystopian, paranormal and science fiction that had me thinking long after I finished the book. If you’re a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, prepare yourself for something even more mind blowing. Control or be controlled? Join the Resistance.
Guest Post by author Elana Johnson: Choose to Conform
Wow, Heather’s hitting me with the hard stuff. She’s asked me to talk a little bit about the pressures teens face today to conform or be controlled (a theme in my dystopian novel POSSESSION).
I think there’s a lot of conformity that takes place during the teen years. As a mother of a teenager, I find myself doing it all the time.
Clean your room. Take out the trash. Get your homework done.
I find myself saying all that. And it’s not like, “Clean your room today sometime.” It’s “Clean your room right now.”
Basically, “Do what I say, when I say it.”
I think they face similar situations at school. They have to be in class by the time the bell rings. They have to take certain classes for graduation. They have to get certain grades to play sports, be a student aide, or participate in the special extra-curricular activities—not to mention the pressure to get into a “good” college and have the opportunity to have a “good” career.
Everything is set up to reward those that conform—and not just as a teen. I believe adults face similar situations at work, college, and life in general.
So yeah. I think there’s a lot of conformity going on. Do I think it’s all bad? Not at all. But I believe a couple of things:
1. There comes a point in your life when you have to decide what’s “good.” Your parents may be pressuring you to go to a certain college. Your friends may be pressuring you to do something you’re not sure about.
Ultimately, you need to take a step back and take a good hard look at your life. What do you believe? Why do you believe that? Who are you listening to? Why is what they’re saying right for you?
Those are the kinds of questions the main character in POSSESSION is constantly wrestling with. I think teens go through a similar period of their lives, and dude! I’m still regularly analyzing my life and where I’m spending my time and making what I do fit with what I believe and who I listen to.
It’s a life-long process, I think, that should be repeated each time you arrive at a cross-roads in your life. And with each decision you make based on your own personal belief system, the more confidence you’ll achieve. Confidence that you can live the best life—for you.
2. We can overcome obstacles by making informed decisions. Don’t just show up to vote because you can. Read and study and make an informed decision about the candidates.
Don’t just go to the same college as your parents. Read and study and make an informed decision, based on what you want to do with your life and the quality of the programs offered.
Don’t just go along with your friends, doing what they do or dressing the way they dress. You have to live inside your skin forever, and the decisions you make determine whether that skin is too tight or just right.
So yeah, I think there’s a lot of people out there conforming to societal rules and regulations. I don’t think they’re all bad. Not at all. But I do think each person has the opportunity to live the best life they can, and in order to do that, they need the freedom to make a few decisions on their own, after truly examining what it is they believe/want and then making life choices to support those things.
When we do choose how we will conform, self-confidence will be won and obstacles overcome.
Choose to Conform
About the Author: Elana’s debut novel, Possession, is available now from Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). Learn how to spell and say her name.
Elana wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.
Using her boring human powers, she graduated from Southern Utah University with Summa Cum Laude honors in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics. She started her teaching career as an upper grade music and art specialist. After a four-year stint in 3rd grade, she is currently the technology specialist.
In her world, Oreos and bacon would be the only food groups. Everyone would drive 10 over the speed limit. Winter would be eliminated as a season, and Jeff Probst would be President. As it is, she lives with her husband and two kids in central Utah, gets cited when she drives too fast and eats Oreos only on special occasions.
Find Elana on her blog/facebook/ twitter/ goodreads
We have one copy of Possession to give away as part of Best I’ve Read 2011 courtesy of Elana and Simon & Schuster. To enter to win fill out this form. And be sure to check the Best I’ve Read home site for a chance to win Wolfsbane and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer as well.
This modern high school adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” is a battle of wits as Chloe desperately tries to remain the only girl who can avoid the inevitable—falling for Taylor
What lessons do you hope to pass on to your readers and teens?
Mostly, that teens today aren’t as the YA world has been portraying them lately. That they can be normal and still be cool and get the guy at the end. I guess I’m championing for all the normal teens out there. J
My most favorite author (apart from Jane Austen of course) is Judith A. Lansdowne. She’s a regency romance writer… and an incredible friend and person. I love love love her! While living in England, I’d emailed her to ask for some pointers on the ball I was throwing, we began emailing back and forth. It was during one of these emails she encouraged me to write, telling me that through my letters she could tell I’d make a wonderful writer. I thought back on that conversation often a year later when I finally sat down and began writing.
We heard you have some exciting movie news…can you share?
*waggles eyebrows* Do I ever?!?! Hehehe! But, er… I can only say this much: I have a producer *very* interested in making all 6 of the Jane Austen Diaries into movies and filming in Farmington, NM… which would be amazing for Farmington. Oh, and I can say—recently, as of *very* recently—I’ve had significant interest from an amazing director who’d like to come on board.
What has been the biggest surprise about this whole process?
How much fun writing is! I so thought it’d be boring, but I was way wrong. Writing your own stories is so much more amazing than reading someone else’s.
Oh goodness! What don’t I like to do? I love to paint portraits and sing and plan elaborate parties and cook and bake and well… a whole bunch of things. My favorite movies tend to lean toward very sappy and wonderfully romantical love stories. –The simple, cute, perfect ones. *sigh*
When I’m not writing up a storm, I enjoy reading, acting, portrait painting, directing plays, cooking, planning elaborate parties and chasing my kids around the house. Oh, and before you ask–I haven’t been to college, YET! But I’ve always been able to write one mean essay when I needed to. *wink*Learn more about Jenni James on her website/ blog/ Goodreads / Twitter/ YouTube
My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.
Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.
Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.
While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family’s—in jeopardy for a chance at love?
Kate is a recently orphaned teen who has moved with her sister Georgia to Paris from the United States. The death of both her parents turns her inward, cutting off socially and finding relief in books, museums and hidden cafes. Kate is so completely immersed in grieving and going through the motions of life, which all changes the day she spots a handsome dark boy watching her intensely and she returns the stare. Vincent is kind and wise, handsome and chivalrous, but a little rusty on his people skills. So the two of them have many waters to navigate before they decide to get to know each other and trust one another. Their attachment, while seemingly immediate, takes trials and time to come into fruition.
Die for Me captured my attention so fully that from the moment I picked it up yesterday morning to the completion of the book at the very end of the day, I fell into the story and could not come out. Amy Plum paints a lush beautiful portrait of Paris from a native eye and sketches each character out fully and realistically. Harperteen does not disappoint with the quality of books they are releasing in the paranormal YA genre. Everything about this book felt new and untouched. The concept of revenant, the mythology and plot are spot on and achingly romantic. Besides falling in love with the main characters, I found a place in my heart for each member of the cast. Especially for funny, flirty Jules and Kate’s older sister Georgia. I hope book two will flesh out full roles for them. I also have my fingers crossed that the publisher chooses to stick with the cover on the advanced reader’s edition. It is breathtaking with Kate in a red boat on the Seine.
What can I say other than I won’t forget this book. I’m literally speechless. Die For Me leaves a mark in my mind as fresh as a stoke of a paintbrush and as lasting as a masterpiece. There are a few gruesome scenes that make it for readers who can stomach violence. Otherwise it is refreshingly clean and absolutely amazing. I love that it highlights the arts and history of France as well as close family relationships. Will I be picking up book two? As soon as I can get my hands on it!
You might also like: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand and Hereafter by Tara Hudson.
DIE FOR ME’s THEME SONG: Kiss Me Slowly (Parachute w/Lady Antebellum)
Zombie (The Cranberries)
American Girl (Val Emmich)
Mad World (Donnie Darko soundtrack, Gary Jules)
Marian (Nouvelle Vague)
Pretty (The Cranberries)
Parallel Universe (Gypsy and the Cat)
I’m Not Done (Fever Ray)
Requiem for Anna (Portishead)
The Waltz (Diving With Andy*)
About The Author: Amy Plum is the author of the International Bestseller DIE FOR ME, which is an Indie Next List pick, Romance Times top pick, and recipient of a starred review from School Library Journal. DIE FOR ME is the first novel in a YA trilogy set in Paris.
After being raised in Birmingham, Alabama, in a rather restrictive environment, AMY PLUM escaped to Chicago to an even more restrictive environment at a university that expelled people for dancing. (And where she was called to the dean’s office for “wearing too much black”.) After all of that restrictiveness, she was forced to run far far away, specifically to Paris, France, where she only wore black and danced all she wanted.
After five years in Paris, she ventured to London, where she got an M.A. in Medieval Art History, specializing in Early Sienese Painting (1260-1348) mainly because it promised almost no hope of finding a paying job afterward. During grad school she married a ridiculously handsome Frenchman named Laurent, who she subsequently dragged with her to New York after securing her degree.
Amy worked in the world of art and antiques in New York, while Laurent used his French guy charms and started a very cool wine shop in Brooklyn. But after almost a decade of high-pressure lifestyle in the Big Apple, they decided to swap their American city for a French village of 1300 inhabitants. With their Bronx-born big red dog Ella, they moved to a tiny town in the Loire Valley down the road from Laurent’s father.
After signing with HarperCollins for the DIE FOR ME series, Amy left her job as an English professor at Tours University to write full-time. She juggles restoration of their old French farmhouse, with writing fun stories in her hundreds-of-years-old office (a stone house on the other side of her garden), and playing with her two extremely energetic pre-school age children.
She is a huge fan of Edward Gorey and Maira Kalman (and collects both of their books/art), as well as David Sedaris, Amadeo Modigliani, and Ira Glass.
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.
So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.
I have been anticipating this book since I very first heard author Myra McEntire announce it on twitter, and can I just say what is there not to love about Hourglass? It is a-ma-zing. From the cover to the first page which contains my favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, to the end which left me reeling with a mind full of impossible possibilities.
Snarky, sarcastic Emerson has just moved from a boarding school in Arizona to the deep south town of Ivy Springs. She’s sent there to her brother/guardian Thomas, who is a well known architect in the area and his wife Dru. Thomas’ historic renovation sites are layered in history and as a result begin to trigger visions that only Emerson can see of people from the past.
Enter in Michael Weaver, a secretive and angtsy consultant hired by her Thomas from a foundation called Hourglass. Michael’s hired under the agreement that things are to stay strictly business and must not get personal, But not getting personal could prove dangerous for these two. And things get even more complicated when Emerson has to pick between the three men who suddenly take an interest in her: Michael who is fully understanding, Kaleb who is sexy-bad but offers more than meets eye, or Jack- the man who Emerson’s not even sure is real.
Oh my Myra. I was messed up (in a good way) after reading Hourglass. She masterfully explores the issues of grief and depression with skill I have never before seen in young adult fiction. McEntire takes a heroine from a broken fragile past and gives her some black belt hard core sass. Then she adds in Southern charm, and supernatural sci-fi elements. This is a book that will surely soar to the tops of the bestseller list as the best in time slip YA romance. Hourglass struck me deeply and had me in tears which very few books have ever had power to do. It’s gutsy, intelligent and inspiring with a voice you will never forget. I can’t wait for you all to read it!
To learn more about the book Hourglass visit Myra McEntire’s website/ Tumblr/ Twitter/ Goodreads/ YouTube/ Facebook
Tell us a little bit about how Hourglass came about and what inspired you. It started as a prompt for a writer’s club, and when I got to the end of the first five pages, I knew I had to go on!
Have you always been interested in time travel? What kind of research did you have to do for Hourglass? I haven’t! Really! I always loved Doctor Who, but I guess I thought of it as more of a crime fighting/alien show. For research, I read a lot of internet articles on scholarly type websites, and then I started watching Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman!
Your main character struggles with thinking she is crazy. Does depression or emotional illness play a part in her personality? And what do you hope teens/ readers take away from her experience? Yes, depression totally does. Her humor is a defense mechanism. If a real life person had bounced back the way she did, they’d be super human. I want people to take HOPE away from her story.
Who do you see as the perfect cast members for your main men and women? I really can’t say. I think I’d like all unknowns cast if Fox ever makes the movie! But Ryan Gosling could be anyone. Heck, he could be EM!
What has been the most rewarding part of this whole process of being published? Any other projects works you can tell us about besides book two- Timepiece? I can’t. I have more Hourglass books in my mind, but Egmont bought two. I’m working on a story with the code name Aggie. That’s all I can say!
Favorite all time reads? Snacks? I love cozy mysteries. I can read those without thinking. And right now I have a thing for Peppermint Hershey Kisses!
Who is your hero? My husband. I wouldn’t be where I am without him!
About The Author: Myra McEntire knows the words to every R and B hit of the last decade, but since she lives in the country music capital of America where her lyrical talents go sadly unappreciated, she chose to channel her mad word skills into creating sultry Southern timeslip novels.
But if you catch her at a signing, she can probably be convinced to rap with you anyway. We are giving away one signed copy of Hourglass. To enter click here and fill out the form. Open to U.S. addresses only. No PO boxes. Good Luck and be sure to head over to our home site for another Best I’ve Read Giveaway of Haven by Kristi Cook.
Be sure to stop by all the participating blogs for your chance to win a new book every day this week!
•Best I’ve Read
•A Good Addiction
•Books Complete Me
•Fire and Ice
•I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
•Late Bloomer Online
•Once Upon a Twilight
•Page Turners Blog
.Portrait of a Book
Thank you so much to all of our readers for entering all of our giveaways! Today marks the end of BIR2010, and you have until tonight at Midnight to enter any of our prize packages. Then on Monday December 20th we will announce all winners. And, don’t forget to enter the The Grand Prize on the Best I’ve Read Blog.
Muchas gracias to all of the bloggers who coordinated efforts to plan and make this possible! Also, a huge thank you to all of you readers who took the time to read and enter our contests. As well to those who commented on our posts and retweeted our links! And the biggest thanks to the Authors and Publishers that contributed so many books for each of our blogs.
On Monday December 20th all winners will be announced. Please note that the prizes will probably not arrive until the New Year.. Many of the prizes are being shipped directly from Author or Publisher. If you have any concerns or comments about Best I’ve Read please feel free to contact us.
The Icing on The Cake by Elodia Strain
Luck of the Draw by Rachael Renee Anderson
Being Sixteen by Ally Condie
The Road Show by Braden Bell
City of Angels by Sheralyn Pratt
True Miracles in Genealogy by Ann Bradshaw
The Remarkable Soul of A Woman by Dieter Uchtdorf
Rebound by Heather Justesen