Saturday, February 27, 2010

IndieBound Kids' Indie Next

If you ever need a book recommendation, and I'm not here to answer your question directly, the next place I would send you is to the IndieBound website. 
I have a graphic on my left side bar for the current IndieNext lists - the best of the best in new books.  For some reason, I am having trouble having more than one IndieBound graphic over there, so I am dedicating a post to my one of my favorite resources in finding my next great read.

The Kids' Next list for Spring 2010 is especially exciting.  Take a look at the Top 10 and you'll see what I mean!

Here are some of the Kids' Next List Notables:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Very cool new YA novel!

A serial killer on the loose.
A girl with a morbid ability.
And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

There are so many books coming out in the first quarter of 2010, but there are a few that caught my attention. The Body Finder is one of those books. I first heard about it on the 2010: A Book Odyssey, a website celebrating the debut authors whose books are being released this year. (See the "Tenners" widget on my left sidebar).

The Body Finder caught my eye because it sounded original, hinted at the promise of a love story, and had an element of the supernatural without being about vampires...again.

From the time she was eight years old, Violet has had the ability to hear the echo of a dead body -- human or not. Each death gives off its own sound, smell or echo, and Violet can sense not only the location of the body, but the hunter, animal, or murderer responsible for the death as well. The predators also carry with them a unique imprint of their prey. Violet has been able to block most of these echoes, which usually consist of her own cat's murderous tendency to bring home the marks of his various mice and whatnot. That is, until a serial killer starts kidnapping girls too close to home, and she may be the only one who can help catch a monster.

Her best friend, Jay, has been by her side since the beginning. He is the only person outside her own family who knows of her strange ability. He is protective of her, yet there is a comfortable relationship between them, almost like a brother and a sister. But, maybe, there could be more...

I really enjoyed this book when I first read it a few months ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. It was as original as I thought it would be, well written, and perfectly paced. I loved the tender relationship between Violet and Jay.  It is a perfect match, without it seeping into the sugary-sweet.  There is a strong connection between the two, but I don't think the author overdid it or crossed the line for the Young Adult audience.  We all need a Jay in our lives. 

Now to the action.  Kimberly Derting has the ability to get a reader's heart pumping. There were moments in the book where I thought, "Oh no, oh no, oh no!" but then she twists it at the last second to reveal something you're not expecting. I would literally hold my breath until I could let out a sigh of relief...or at least I hoped I could!

Part thriller, part love story, and part supernatural fantasy. Well done!

Parents' Note: There is teenage drinking, references to some drug use, and some talk of sex but nothing graphic.

Visit the Author's website.

Book Trailer below.

Kimberly Derting's second novel, Desires of the Dead, is due out in 2011.

About the Book:
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (March 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061779814
ISBN-13: 978-0061779817

This book was borrowed from a fellow book lover.  Thank you!!

Please enter my contest for a
by Kimberly Derting - thank you for sharing the love, Kimberly!

To Pre-Order the Book:

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: Seven Up (Stephanie Plum #7) by Janet Evanovich

Not my favorite, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Totaled car?  check. 
Viewing at Stiva's? check. 
Bad guys?  check. 
Hot guys?  check and check. 
Random guys breaking into Stephanie's apartment?  check.
Quips about NJ and all its beauty?  check.

So, what's different?  Stephanie is trying on wedding gowns and her previously perfect sister is trying on lesbian for a while.  Moon Man and Dougie are missing, a mobster has a heart attack, and there are a pair of old Italian ladies that makes Grandma Morelli look like Mother Theresa.  Things get ugly in Seven Up...including Stephanie's hair color.

I laughed so hard while reading Hot Six I couldn't wait to go for Seven Up.  I think reading the two books back-to-back took away some of the hilarity.   Usually I read a few heavier books in between, making the Janet Evanovich series feel like a cold beer on a hot day.   I'm taking another break, and I'll be back with Hard EightSeven Up might not have been my favorite, but I'm still moving on to No. 8. 

For an excerpt or audio sample, go to the Seven Up page at Janet Evanovich's website.

This book was read as a part of the Stephanie Plum Challenge.  Click on the link to see my progress and to read other reviews of books from the series. 

Feel free to join me!  You might just have a few laughs.

About the Book:
Seven Up (Stephanie Plum #7) by Janet Evanovich
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishers; 1st edition (June 4, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312980140
ISBN-13: 978-0312980146

New Book Trailer and Swag Givewaway!

To go along with my Author-Signed Swag Giveaway, here is the new trailer for Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder:

If my little contest makes you wanting more...head on over to author Kimberly Derting's website. Tell her Alison sent you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review: Hex Hall (Hex Hall, Book 1)by Rachel Hawkins

Another Tenner hits it out of the park!

When I saw the ARC for Hex Hall sitting on a friend's bookshelf unread, I grabbed it. He thought I was nuts, by the way, at how giddy I got over it. This is one of the Tenners books I had been looking forward to reading, and since I don't yet have (ahem) a contact at Hyperion, I was so excited to get my hands on this one.

Rachel Hawkins introduces us to Sophie Mercer, a normal, somewhat rebellious, somewhat snarky teenager. She's a witch with no impulse control. When a spell goes wrong and turns a perfectly lovely school dance into a "Carrie Prom" she is sent to Hex Hall, a boarding school for misfit witches, warlocks, faeries, and shape shifters. It's like Hogwarts meets Sunnydale.

On Sophie's first day, she finds out that her roommate is a vampire, she already has a crush on a hot (and unavailable) warlock, she has caught the attention of three of the prettiest and darkest witches at Hex Hall, and she's being stalked by a ghost. She is just trying to get through her days and make some friends. Unfortunately, students are being attacked, and they are all members of the same coven - a coven she may or may not have agreed to become a part of. Several groups have been known to hunt witches, especially the L'Occhio di Dio, but she can't make all the pieces fit. She somehow finds herself in the middle of this dangerous mystery, all while learning some startling news of her own family's past...and present.

Hex Hall has everything a YA reader wants -- cool supernatural beings, a gorgeous love interest, girls we love to hate, laugh-out-loud witty banter, and a main character we can root for.

I was happy to learn that Hex Hall is the first in a series by Rachel Hawkins. While she wraps up her story nicely, she leaves us thirsty for more. I look forward to the next installment of Hex Hall!  Congratulations to Rachel Hawkins for a knockout debut novel!

Parents' Note: While some YA books cross the line of what may or may not be appropriate for younger readers, Hex Hall is one that I recommend without hesitation. Yes, there is a love interest, and discussion about girls losing their V-Card (thank you, Sheri, for translating what this was), but Rachel Hawkins doesn't cross the line. It's steamy without being dirty. And while the supernatural action is exciting and spooky, it's not too gruesome or gorey.

Rachel Hawkins's website.
Rachel Hawkins's Blog.
The Tenners Website (all the amazing debut YA authors in one place!)

About the Book:
Hex Hall (Hex Hall, Book 1) by Rachel Hawkins
Reading level: Grades 9-12
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (March 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423121309
ISBN-13: 978-1423121305

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, February 22, 2010...Inquiring minds want to know...
What.  Are.  You.  Reading?

What are you reading? is a weekly event now hosted by the lovely Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.   It's also where I can take a moment before the craziness of the week sets in to gather my thoughts, and set my goals for the upcoming reading week.  This week...I have some issues.  Wish me luck.

Books I Completed Last Week:

Books I am Currently Reading:

Books I Plan to Read This Week (go ahead, start your guffawing, I have library books due!):

Six books in one week?  Only one YA in the bunch and no Stephanie Plum (that might change).  I might be stretching it, but the weather in New Jersey is supposed to be downright gross this week, which always helps the reading habit.

Review: Hot Six (Stephanie Plum #6) by Janet Evanovich

My favorite of the series so far! Janet Evanovich is on FIRE.

The good news is we find out who showed up at Stephanie's apartment at the end of High Five. The bad news is, there is still a gray area of which man she wants.

"...two of the men on my list of desirables actually desire me back. The problems being that they both sort of scare the hell out of me."

Morelli and Stephanie join forces to find out who killed Homer Ramos, the son of an international black-market guns dealer, Alexander Ramos (a man who has a habit of jumping into Stephanie's car). Security cameras caught one man leaving the building before it went up in flames - Ranger. Now he is the hunted instead of the hunter. But, with Ranger as the FTA, Stephanie is thrown off her game. Can she find a man who has no known address? Will her nemesis, Joyce, find him first? If Stephanie finds him, who will end up handcuffed? Will she have the muscle and the nerve to actually turn him in?

Stephanie also has a new roommate, Grandma Mazur, who not only snores and keeps Stephanie from sleeping, she's also keeping Stephanie and Morelli from other nighttime activities.

Between getting her Honda Civic torched (nothing happens to Big Blue!) and getting conned into babysitting Bob, a Labrador Retriever whose owner doesn't want him back, Stephanie Plum is hysterical in this fast-paced, fun, exciting, and, of course, hot, sixth book.

There were times that I was cracking up so hard I could barely continue reading. How does Janet Evanovich keep coming up with this stuff?

Interestingly, at the end of my notes for this book (which I read almost two weeks ago), I wrote, "why hasn't this been made into a TV series yet?" Let's face it, I'd rather read a Stephanie Plum novel than waste an hour of my life watching garbage like Private Practice.

Sooner than I had hoped, I answered my own question.

Regardless of the movie/tv news, I already have Seven Up on my nightstand ready to go. This series is pure entertainment!

FTC Statement: I borrowed a copy of this book from the library -- and if I don't bring it back today, I am looking at some fines, so bye!

About the Book:
Hot Six (Stephanie Plum, No. 6) by Janet Evanovich
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; First Thus edition (June 5, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312976275
ISBN-13: 978-0312976279

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Giveaway: The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano (CLOSED)

It's February, and it's time I showed you some love with a new Book Giveaway!!

This month's book, The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano, sounds like a page-turner!  See the synopsis, read an excerpt and read some review links (I left lots of link love below).  If this sounds like your kind of book, hit me with a comment below! 

PS.  I'm hearing this is a great Book Club pick!

Thanks to Hachette Book Group (you guys ROCK), I have TWO copies to give away. 

Contest runs until midnight, Friday, March 12, 2010.  Winner will be announced on Saturday, March 13th. 

How To Enter:
1.  Click on the Google Friend Connect button over to your left (since my url change two weeks ago, my "Followers" went back to me some love! )

2.  Comment below with your e-mail address.

3.  Extra entries for sharing this contest on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.

4.  Open only to residents of the US and Canada, and, sorry, no P.O. Boxes.

When Melody Grace McCartney was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changed their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody's name, her home, her innocence, and, ultimately, her family. She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others--everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself. So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another town, she's stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name.

About the Author:
David Cristofano has earned degrees in Government & Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for different branches of the Federal Government for over a decade. His short works have been published by Like Water Burning and McSweeneys. He currently works in the Washington, D.C. area where he lives with his wife, son and daughter. THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE is his first novel.

About the Book:
The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 10, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582212
ISBN-13: 978-0446582216

Reading Group Guide

Read an Open Book excerpt

I have not yet read The Girl She Used To Be, so allow me to link you to a few of my book blogging friends who have.  Check out their reviews (just don't forget to come back and enter to win!):

Booking Mama (Julie)

*This is the review that made me want to read this book!
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