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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Title: The Naughty List
Author: Suzanne Young
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 2/4/2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Spying, Cheating, Relationships, Love, Lies
Pages: 272
Plot (from GoodReads):
As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility!

Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!
When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?
The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

Suzanne Young's debut novel was so unbelievably fun! I loved the entire premise and the characters and dialogue had me laughing aloud! THE NAUGHTY LIST has prompted me to make sure I always have room on my bookshelf for Young's novels.

The most noteable aspect of Young's novel is the creative language. Tessa, the main character, doesn't curse, but uses substitute words and phrases. I too use substitutes for swearing, so I found Tessa's practice entertaining - and I picked up a few more phrases to add to my repetoire! And that is so strawberry smoothie!

My favorite part of the novel was all the spy tactics and undercover work the girls do to catch cheaters in action. The action was great and I could clearly imagine all of the sticky situations they found themselves in!

I really identified with Tessa, especially her hopelessness about guys and their faithfulness. I definitely understood why Tessa slipped into her negative mindset, especially with all the cheating she observes. I liked that Young kept readers unsure about Tessa's boyfriend's faithfulness... I really wasn't sure if her was cheating or not until near the end of the novel.

I feel that I must mention that this book is not as "fluffy" as the summary may lead you to believe. Yes, it is an extremely fun read, but I feel that it has some substance too!

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Total: 48/50 (A)

Cover Comments:
I thought that the cover of THE NAUGHTY LIST fits the feel of the book. The pink was eye-catching and as cute as the Smitten Kittens themselves. The fact that the shades are partway down draws attention to spying aspect of the novel. Plus, I love the tagline: Is your boyfriend on it?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

WoW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine!

Title: The Deadly Sister
Author: Eliot Schrefer
Scholastic, 5/1/2010
Plot Summary from GoodReads:
Abby Goodwin is sure her sister Tabitha isn't a murderer. But her parents don't agree. Her friends don't agree. And the cops definitely don't agree. Tabitha is a drop-out, a stoner, a girl who's obsessed with her tutor, Clyde Andrews...until he ends up dead. Tabitha runs away, and leaves Abby following the trail of clues. Each piece of evidence points to Tabitha, but it also appears that Clyde had secrets of his own. And enemies. Like his brother, who Abby becomes involved with...until he falls under suspicion.
Is Abby getting closer to finding the true murderer? Or is someone leading her down a twisted false path?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Title: Dirty Little Secrets
Author: C.J. Omololu
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: February 2, 2010
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Hoarding, Friendship, Family, Mental Illness, Secrets
Pages: 212
Plot (from GoodReads):
"Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.

For sixteen years, Lucy has kept her mother's hoarding a secret. She's had to -- nobody would understand the stacks of newspapers and mounds of garbage so high they touch the ceiling and the rotting smell that she's always worried would follow her out the house. After years of keeping people at a distance, she finally has a best friend and maybe even a boyfriend if she can play it right. As long as she can make them think she's normal.
When Lucy arrives home from a sleepover to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she starts to dial 911 in a panic, but pauses before she can connect. She barely notices the filth and trash anymore, but she knows the paramedics will. First the fire trucks, and then news cameras that will surely follow. No longer will they be remembered as the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children -- they'll turn into that garbage-hoarding freak family on Collier Avenue.
With a normal life finally within reach, Lucy has only minutes to make a critical decision. How far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?"

After reading the plot summary of DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, I was both horrified and intensely curious. I couldn't imagine how Omololu could make such an extreme situation work. In fact, I worried throughout the entire novel about how it would all be resolved, but I honestly cannot think of a better or more satisfying conclusion than the one Omololu wrote.

Omololu picked an extreme situation as the focus for a novel, not to mention for a debut novel. I've never read anything about the subject of hoarding, but I've always had a sort of fascination with it. I think that Omololu's portrayal of hoarders, and living with hoarders, was written in a way that I could imagine how such a situation like the one in the book could develop. It seems almost too crazy to be possible, but when one considers that hoarders have a psychological compulsion to do so, it is a lot easer to imagine.

I'm so glad that Omololu wrote a YA novel. Not only does DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS expose teen readers to the subject of hoarding, a largely undiscussed topic, having a younger narrator really made the story come to life. Lucy's age brought SECRETS to a whole new level. She knows that her mother has a compulsion to hoard, that she really can't control her hoarding, yet her youth impedes her ability to get help for her parent and pushes her towards hatred towards her mother and bitterness. If Lucy had been older, SECRETS would have been a completely different story - a story that I think I would have found lacking.

Omololu has the amazing ability to make me actually feel Lucy's emotions. I think I had such anxiety about how the story would end because it would have had such a dramatic impact on Lucy, and I so wanted her to be free of her mother's madness. So many novels just end with a wrap up; the action is, understandably, the climax. SECRETS, however, kept me guessing and on an emotional high all the way to the last page!

Ratings (out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10 (minor, but strong)
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A!)

Cover Comments:
I love the cover art. Not only are the colors gorgeous, the content and layout perfectly correspond to the plot. I love the girl's face as well; she looks so uncertain and afraid.

Cover of the Week (2)

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pub. Date: September 2010

I love Beth Kephart's writing and am super excited about this novel. The only information I have about the book is from an interview that Beth did for The Hiding Spot back when I reviewed her (amazing) book NOTHING BUT GHOSTS:

     " September 2010, I am releasing, with Egmont USA, DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, an historical novel that takes place in Centennial Philadelphia. It’s about two twin sisters, a devastating accident, and a terrifying fire. It’s about loss and love and guilt. "

Um, yeah. It sounds pretty awesome! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

WoW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine!

Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: September 14th 2010
Plot Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Pearl DeWitt and her mother live in Fallbrook, California, where it’s sunny 340 days of the year, and where her uncle owns a grove of 900 avocado trees. Uncle Hoyt hires migrant workers regularly, but Pearl doesn’t pay much attention to them . . . until Amiel. From the moment she sees him, Pearl is drawn to this boy who keeps to himself, fears being caught by la migra, and is mysteriously unable to talk. And after coming across Amiel’s makeshift hut near Agua Prieta Creek, Pearl falls into a precarious friendship—and a forbidden romance.

Then the wildfires strike. Fallbrook—the town of marigolds and palms, blood oranges and sweet limes—is threatened by the Agua Prieta fire, and a mandatory evacuation order is issued. But Pearl knows that Amiel is in the direct path of the fire, with no one to warn him, no way to get out. Slipping away from safety and her family, Pearl moves toward the dark creek, where the smoke has become air, the air smoke.

Laura McNeal has crafted a beautiful and haunting novel full of peril, desperation, and love.

Monday, February 15, 2010

LINGER Contest brought to you by Maggie Stiefvater!!

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mini Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Usually I don't do this, talk about a book before I review it, but I just can't help it. Today I read one of those novels that leaves bookworms like me so emotionally drained yet so incredibly joyful. You've heard it from me before... after reading Kristina McBride's THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES, Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL, and Melina Marchetta's JELLICOE ROAD... some books just resonate with you. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is another one of those books for me.

Jandy Nelson's debut novel has left me speechless and completely in love with her writing. There were so many times that I just wanted to read a passage or line over and over again. To write it down. Remember it forever. It was so unbelievably beautiful.

When I finished it, way too quickly, I had to talk about it. I immediately went to find a friend, only to discover that I couldn't even really speak coherently about it... except to say: You have to read this book. Which she promised she would. She was totally laughing at me because of how excited I was about this book, but, I'm telling you, you should be.

So. After that, I leave you with the book trailer. It is so deceptively simple, but, watching it now, it almost makes me cry. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is not a novel I'll soon forget.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

WoW is hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine!

Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw
Publisher: Headline
Pub. Date: May 13, 2010
Plot Summary:
Ten years ago Kate Winters' parents were taken by the High Council's wardens to help with the country's war effort. Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane -- the High Council's most feared man -- recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council's experiments into the veil, and he's convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft -- a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. To help Artemis, Edgar and herself, Kate must honour her pact with a murderer and come face to face with the true nature of death.

I need a good YA Fantasy! Can't wait for this one!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pub. Date: 2/9/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Thieves, Love, Family, Heists, Mystery
Pages: 304
Plot (from Good Reads):
When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history.

HEIST SOCIETY is absolutely amazing! When I heard that Ally Carter was writing a new book that wasn’t a Gallagher Girls book, I was intrigued. And, after reading the premise, I was unbelievably excited. Carter continues to write books that rock my socks off. For readers who love the GG books, HEIST SOCIETY is a must read and won’t disappoint. For those of you who haven’t read an Ally Carter book, for goodness sake, what are you doing!? Go out and pick one up now!

First off, I have to start off by saying that one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME is The Italian Job. So Ally Carter writing a book about a teenage thief who pulls off intense heists while attempting to solve a mystery definitely appealed to me. I mean, it would appeal to most people, but I was so excited that I literally jumped up and down. If HEIST SOCIETY wasn’t amazing, my heart would have been broken. Thank you, Ally Carter, for not breaking my heart.

The action in Carter’s novels has never disappointed me before, and HS was no exception. Carter includes all the little quirks that you would expect to find in this type of novel, but doesn’t fail to make it her own. I love stories about thieves because even though you know stealing is wrong and you would never do it. You want to hear about it, especially when it is so epic it can be called a heist.

The characters in Heist Society are fun and realistic. Kat was a great main character. I liked that she had all the skills and is one of the best, yet she wanted out of the family business. It added a twist to the story and, I think, made her easier to relate to. I main character who wants to steal from people is a bit hard to relate to. A girl who doesn’t really want to steal from people, but does it to save her father and just happens to be amazing at it is a lot more relatable.

And, of course, there is a boy. The boys in the GG books were good, but, in my opinion, they don’t hold a candle to Hale. He is definitely swoon-worthy! He always says the perfect thing and it is so obvious that he adores Kat… My favorite scenes in the novel were the ones with Kat and Hale!

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 10
Writing: 10
Romance: 10
Originality: 10
Total: 50/50 (A!)

Cover Comments: I'm a big fan of Heist Society's cover! I think the cover model looks gorgeous and the reflection of in her sunglasses fits the novel perfectly! (A)

Heist Society is one of my favorite 2010 novels that I've read so far. I can always count on Carter’s books to make me laugh, fall in love, and keep me on the edge of my seat and I'm so glad that HS maintains that truth. Heist Society is definitely a book that I'll be buying hardcover - because I just can't wait for the paperback!

Cover Alert: Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Forget You by Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Pub. Date: July 20, 2010
Zoey’s life in her Florida beach resort town is happy and organized. She’s the captain of her high school swim team, and she works for her dad at his popular water park. Then her dad has an affair with one of his employees, and her mother has a breakdown. But Zoey begins a committed relationship with a hot lifeguard, which makes her feel stable, even if things aren’t perfect at home. Everything is still under control.

Until she has a car accident that she can’t remember. She should have been with her boyfriend that night, but he doesn’t seem to know anything about the accident—and he doesn’t seem to care. The person who does care, and knows more than he’s telling, is Doug, Zoey’s darkly handsome arch-enemy who saved her from the wreckage. As Zoey begins to piece together what happened that night, she finds her sense of control over her life was only an illusion. And she inches closer to discovering the darkest secret of all: why Doug has fallen in love with her.

GOING TOO FAR is one of my all-time favorite books, so I've been looking forward to Echols' next MTVBooks novel pretty much since I finished the last line in GTF. The cover art for FORGET YOU is just as compelling as Echols' last novel... and the plot summary sounds amazing as well. This book is definitely one that I will be rushing to the bookstore for. And devouring. Immediately.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Traveling Arc Tours!

Traveling Arc Tours, a new arc tour group run by yours truly and the fabulous Drea, of Book Blather, is looking for book bloggers interested in reviewing and promoting YA and MG titles, as well as authors and publishers looking for a great way for one arc to reach a number of reviewers!

We already have some great titles that are waiting to be sent out on tour - and we want YOU to be part of those tours!! To determine if you are the type of blogger we are looking for, check out our Blogger information page, here. If you feel that TA Tours is a good fit for you, fill out the form found at the bottom of the information page. After you have sent us the required information, you can sign up for tours that you are interested in participating in, here.

Traveling Arc Tours is an easy and efficient way to expose one arc of a novel to a large number of reviewers and bloggers. For more information, visit our Authors and Publishers page, here.

Feel free to email us with questions or comments: travelingarctoursATgmailDOTcom

Cover of the Week (1)

Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub. Date: 11/2/10
Check it out on GoodReads, here!

I love Robin McKinley, so I was pumped to see that she has a new novel being released in 2010. And then I saw the cover art. Oh. My. Gosh. It's amazing! I'm definitely buying this book when it comes out, based on the cover art alone! Although, to be honest, I'm not really worried about the novel itself disappointing either!

Cover of the Week is a weekly feature in which a novel will be highlighted based on its cover art. Novels featured may or may not be already released.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Review: A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

Title: A Match Made in High School
Author: Kristin Walker
Publisher: Razorbill
Pub. Date: 2/4/10
Genre: YA
Main Themes: High School, Marriage, Stereotypes, Romance, Humor, Pranks
Pages: 288
Plot (from back of arc):
"Congratulations! Your school has invited you to participate in a revolutionary misguided course called Trying the Knot!

When a mandatory course forces Fiona to "try the knot" with super-jock Todd Harding, she's convinced life couldn't get any worse. Until her crush is paired with her arch enemy (otherwise known as Todd's obscenely hot, slightly sadistic girlfriend). But that's nothing compared to her best friend's fate - a year with the very goofy, very big Johnny Mercer.

A series of hilarious pranks leave Fiona wondering: is there something her "best friend" hasn't told her? Could there be more to Johnny Mercer than an awesome music collection? And most intriguing, could Todd Harding have a heart beneath his pretty-boy exterior?"

A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL was not at all what I had expected, but it was still a really great debut novel! I feel that the summary from the back of the book fit the story pretty well, but it led me to make some assumptions that weren't at all true - which left me a little disappointed. However, the book did have a great plot line and satisfying ending - even if it wasn't what I had expected!

The premise of MATCH caught my attention from the first mention I heard of the novel. I've always been fascinated by the health classes in which students have to take an electronic baby home for the week... And I admit to daydreaming about an assignment in which my crush and I would have to raise a baby together and how much fun it would be. So Walker's novel in which guys and girls are paired and "married," for the entire school year, including having a job together and attending counseling sessions togethe, I was intrigued. And kind of amazed that Walker was the first YA author to sit down and write the story! :) After all, I'd been playing out a similar story in my head all through junior high! I'm happy to report, however, that Walker's version of the story was much better than the one in my head... and had a much better lessons to impart.

The aspect of MATCH that really stands out to me is the focus on stereotyping. In high school I was much like Fiona when it came to stereotyping.... and sometimes I still catch myself writing people off without getting to know them. The marriage assignment served as a great venue for Walker to focus on how often people don't get to know people, settling for just a glance at their exteriors without a second  thought for their interior.

The only part of the novel that I didn't really love was the romantic elements. I understood why Fiona fell for the guy she ends up with, but I really didn't see any sparks flying. They are a good match, but I could have used more of something. It just lacked passion... There was another character that I liked as Fiona's match, if only for the dialogue between the two. They really didn't make much sense as a couple, but I really enjoyed their back and forth.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 10
Characters: 9
Writing: 10
Romance: 7
Originality: 10
Total: 46/50 (A-)

A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL is definitely worth checking out! I really liked the premise of the novel - it was something that I could relate to - and I think Walker's story shed some light on how wrong stereotypes can be and how they can limit you. Also, I feel that I must add that this book was released in paperback, which means that it is relatively cheap! So go find it at the bookstore right away!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In My Mailbox (16)

IMM is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren!

For information, including a plot summary, publications dates, and publisher information, about the books below, click the title.

Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Molly Fyde and the Land of Light by Hugh Howey

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Firespell by Chloe Neill

A Most Improper Magick by Stpehanie Burgis

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

Monday, February 1, 2010

Week Off

Hi Everyone!

Just wanted to let all my readers know that I will be taking this week (mostly) off from blogging. I've been extremely busy with school lately... and while I've been reading, most of the books I've finished are for future months. I have many, many books for review for the month of February, so there is a lot to look forward to. I need some time to get organized - and then The Hiding Spot will be back on track and better than ever! :)

Also, I'll go through and calculate the winners of CAPTIVATE and THE DARK DIVINE soon. I also have prize books to mail out soon (300 Followers Contest winners). Thank you for being patient!