Title: Audition Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe Publisher: Viking Juvenile Pub. Date: 10.13.2011 Genre: Contemporary Keywords: Fine Arts, Ballet, Relationships, Family, Competition Pages: 464 Description (from Goodreads): When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
AUDITION wasn't exactly what I was expecting... it was even better.
I'm not sure I didn't know this prior to reading, but AUDITION is told entirely in verse. I generally love novels told in this format, but I think it was a particularly good choice for this novel. AUDITION is about the pressures of becoming a professional ballerina while simultaneously leaving home for the first time, living in an foreign environment, and falling for an older, off-limits man... These are all rather intense events and nothing conveys intensity and emotion like verse. Interestingly enough, this format, with it's patterns and movement, almost reminds of a dance, which is appropriate.
I've been reading quite a few fine arts themed novels lately (dancers, pianists, violinists, etc.) and each has had it's own twist, but, much to my surprise, I found Sara to be the strongest main character of the group. At the beginning of the novel, I didn't think things would end well for our budding ballerina, but she proved me wrong... and I ended up quite proud of her.
I found Sara's story inspiring. For me, the aspect of the novel that was most important is the fact that, even though Sara was so invested in pursuing ballet, she still decided to do what was right for her. Forget that she left home and dedicated hours and hours of her life to ballet: when she realized her true passion was writing, she followed that dream. This might sound suspiciously like she gave up after experiencing the pressure of ballet, but, in Sara's case, she wasn't giving up, but growing up. I think many realize that they aren't doing what they truly love in life, but instead of making the effort to follow their dreams, they don't want to put in the effort or they worry that it's too late for them. I think Sara's story can teach each of us a thing or two about second chances.
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Title: How to Save a Life Author: Sara Zarr Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Pub. Date: 10.18.2011 Genre: Contemporary Keywords: Adoption, Single Parents, Loss, Family, Relationships Pages: 341 Description (from Goodreads): Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?
Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?
I'll be honest: I didn't immediately love this book. I liked Jill well enough, but I wasn't sure how to feel about Mandy. She's... different. But, the more I read, the more I came to care for both of these characters.
I found Jill easy to relate to. I think I would have been just as moody and skeptical if my mother decided to adopt a baby just before I went off to college and directly after my father passed away. Truthfully, I think I would have been moody and skeptical regardless of the circumstances.
Mandy wasn't quite so easy to understand at first, but, in retrospect, I think this made the novel better and built a stronger bond between the character and reader. Little by little, Zarr reveals pieces of Mandy's past and, as the reader begins to fit these experiences together, her actions and thoughts start to make sense.
I liked how incredibly different Jill and Mandy are. Both have survived horrible things in their lives... and they've both dealt with their experiences in entirely different ways. On the outside, Jill appears tough and independent, but, on the inside, she's falling apart. Mandy may appear naive and soft, but she's much stronger and determined than one would guess.
I loved getting to know both of these characters. There are wonderful friendships in this novel, a hopeful romance, and a fantastic mother figure, but it was these two young women and their strength that have inspired me to recommend this novel.
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown Delacorte/Random House/6.12.2012 Description (from Goodreads): Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
The only brother of murderous mermaids...? Seduction and murder... and accidentally falling in love? Count me in! Plus, that cover is soooo pretty!
Title: Paradise Author: Jill S. Alexander Website Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Pub. Date: 7.5.2011 Genre: Contemporary Keywords: Music, Relationships, Bands, Love, Romance Pages: 256 Description (from Goodreads): Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town. Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.
It isn't easy for me to coherently explain my feelings about Jill S. Alexander's sophomore novel, PARADISE. I really enjoyed Alexander's first novel, THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY, but I wasn't at all prepared for how much I would adore PARADISE. Not only does PARADISE feature a fantastic plot and engaging setting, the characters are phenomenal.
The main character, Paisley, caught me off guard... The name Paisley seemed a bit pink to me. I literally pictured a pink paisley pattern when I first saw her name and that didn't seem all that appealing at the time. (Okay, I never find pink paisley appealing... I'll admit it.) Eventually I stopped picturing her as a pink psychedelic pattern and accepted her for the badass she is. I think her parents really wanted her to be a Paisley, she just refused to be one... She's spunky, direct, and a drummer. And the fact that she's a drummer was, in my mind, a key part of her being a legitimate badass. She wasn't up on stage do wear skimpy clothes and dance around, she was behind an entire drum set rocking out and being awesome. Love it!
And then there's Paradise. Not only was he an interesting character on his own, he was a great match for Paisley. I liked that they challenged one another and didn't immediately fall madly in love. Paisley may have acknowledged his good looks early on, but she didn't fall for him for shallow, physical reasons, which sometimes happens and leaves the reader perturbed and not at all supportive of the relationship. I appreciated the banter between the two and the small moments that eventually led them to develop feelings for one another.
And the ending... oh my goodness. I definitely didn't see it coming at all. Since I read this novel in one sitting, I actually reread the ending a couple times just to make sure I wasn't just getting a bit loopy and imagining things. After becoming so invested in PARADISE's characters, I may have cried a bit to see it end, especially so surprisingly.
Okay, I'm lying, I cried a lot. Sobbed really. This isn't a bad thing though: if I hadn't cared about the characters, I wouldn't have been moved to tears... Especially not big, sloppy tears. I won't be forgetting about Paisley and Paradise any time soon.
Alexander is one of those authors whose books are, for me, an automatic buy. I highly, highly recommend both her debut and sophomore novels.
Mike Mullin, author of the recently released ASHFALL, is in Michigan this week and will be doing 3 different events! If they're in your area, I urge you stop in... I haven't read ASHFALL yet, but it's been highly recommended and many booksellers were singing it's praises at the trade show I attended this weekend!
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever. Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away. Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.
Monday 10/17 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Tuesday 10/18 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Schuler Books & Music
1982 Grand River Avenue
Okemos, MI 48864
Thursday 10/20 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Cromaine District Library -- Crossroads Branch
1788 N. Old US 23
Howell, MI 48843810.632.5200
Whoa... wow... I don't even know what to say. Today something magical appeared in my inbox: links to 4 commercials showcasing each of Daniel Nayeri's new novellas. These novellas will be released October 11, 2011 by Candlewick in a collection called STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW. I'd never heard of it before today... I now NEED this collection.
Written entirely on an iPhone, this quartet of YA novellas by Another Pan and Another Faust author Daniel Nayeri showcases four different genres.
This bold collection of novellas by Another series author Daniel Nayeri features four riveting tales. These modern riffs on classic genres will introduce young adult readers to a broad range of writing styles that explore universally compelling themes such as identity and belonging, betrayal and friendship, love and mortality.
Straw House: A Western sizzling with suspense, set in a land where a rancher grows soulless humans and a farmer grows living toys.
Wood House: This science-fiction tale plunges the reader into a future where reality and technology blend imperceptibly, and a teenage girl must race to save the world from a nano-revolution that a corporation calls "ReCreation Day."
Brick House: This detective story set in modern NYC features a squad of "wish police" and a team of unlikely detectives.
Blow: A comedic love story told by none other than Death himself, portrayed here as a handsome and charismatic hero who may steal your heart in more ways than one. With humor, suspense, and relatable prose, this hip and cutting-edge collection dazzles.
Description (from Goodreads): After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend Ilven kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven's death has called out of the sea a dangerous wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg's caste system, and the whole city along with it.
I want it. Seriously. Awesome description and such a moody cover... The only thing I'd change is possibly making the title larger. There's almost too much open space around it. Otherwise, I love it.
Zeitghost Media has kindly provided a copy of Jessica Brody's MY LIFE UNDECIDED for one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!
About the Book
PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!
Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.
Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.
But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!
Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.
But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.
I currently work remotely for Brilliant Books in Traverse City, MI. In my spare time, I blog here at The Hiding Spot, reviewing books, interviewing authors, giving away must-reads, and chatting & connecting with other bookish people!