Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Brief Note

I probably won't post anything until late next week, so don't feel alarmed. I went to Arizona to visit my grandparents. I meant to put together a couple of posts that I could just publish while here, but never had time to do so.

Let me know if anything major happens in the book world for the next week!

Hopefully, I'll get a little reading done while here. The flight was almost six hours, so I alternated between writing my own novel and reading an ARC of Lost Voices by Sarah Porter (I only have about 50 pages left now) on my nook. I just got The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, so I'll probably read that next. Both are courtesy of NetGalley. I have a few other ARCs from there as well, plus I took out two ebooks from the library. We'll see what I have time to read!

See you all in a week!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Trapped" by Michael Northrop

A fair warning: If you read this book, Mother Nature might decide to wrap up some bad weather with a bow and send it your way. Last week, it was uncommonly warm--We had weather in the low 70s (about 20 degrees Celsius)! The night I finished reading Trapped by Michael Northrop, we had howling winds (Seriously. They were going 40-50 mph. Yowch!), which set the mood nicely and made me feel more intimately-acquainted with the story. Reading a book about snow is just asking for trouble, though! We had a dusting yesterday, then woke up to a few inches of snow today. So y'all can blame me for the freaky weather. Or blame this book--It's all totally Michael Northrop's fault!

Trapped is centered around seven high school students who are stuck in school on their own for a week due to a severe Nor'easter hovering over New England thanks to a cold front from the north and a warm front from the south. The kids were all waiting for rides from their parents and didn't take the early dismissal buses. At first, history teacher and assistant football coach Mr. Gossell waits with them, but after going out to find help, he never returns and the students are left on their own.

The book is narrated by Scotty, who stayed after with his two friends to work on a go-cart until a parent could pick them up. They're accompanied by the school's hottest freshman and her female best friend, the sophomore bully, and a strange boy no one knows too well. Everyone spends the first night in the gym on top of some mats, hoping someone will come and save them. By the morning, it's still snowing and you can't even get out the door. They're officially snowed in. Hijinks such as raiding the cafeteria for food ensue as the students come to know one another in their quest for survival. The book soon takes a serious turn. Early on in the novel, Scotty mentions that not everyone will make it through the week. Northrop builds the suspense by detailing the way the pipes freeze so that no one can have any water, the way the power goes out, leaving no electricity or heat, and the way too much snow collapses a part of the roof.

Just picking up this book is enough to send a shiver down a reader's spine. First, there's the cover--The school is BURIED beneath all that snow. You can barely see the doors, let alone get inside. Plus, everything is dark--no lights anywhere. I would hate to be trapped there! Opening the book to the first page, readers are greeted with this:

There's snow EVERYWHERE, throwing you into the moment. This is one bad-ass blizzard, folks. Whenever a chapter starts, snow appears at varying levels across the top. For example:

As you read, you are constantly reminded that it's cold and snowing. Northrop continues to build suspense by alluding to things yet to come, leaving you on the edge of your toes. I was so happy to be snug in my comforter as I read this book.

Ultimately, I enjoyed reading Trapped. While I didn't care for the way Northrop chose to end the novel, I can see why he did it. This is definitely a novel for book groups and classrooms. There's so much to discuss and ponder. I have a lot of "what ifs" in my head thanks to this book. I'm also not sure I ever want to see snow again!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Loot (3)

So, um, this post contains my acquistions for January AND February because my camera battery died and I couldn't find the charger until recently. (It fell behind the dresser... Who would look there?)

F e b r u a r y B o o k s ( P u r c h a s e d ) :

Hopefully I didn't forget any other purchases this month. I had to add on two books that were hiding in the stack of "to read" near my bed... I know I have a couple of books that shipped out today with my Tortall preorder, but I'll post those in March. :)

*Delirium by Lauren Oliver: AMAZING book. Run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore (or digital store or library) and snap this up right now! I reviewed it here.

*Angel by James Patterson: Also reviewed already. Well, sort of. It's hard to talk about this one without spoiling a lot of stuff. If you haven't checked out the Maximum Ride series yet, it's really fun!

*The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal: Another book I've long since reviewed. I guess there aren't a ton of surprises for you right now! Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this and can't wait to read another book by the author.

*Daughters of the Sea: Hannah by Kathryn Lasky: I read this last year when it was out in hardcover, but finally picked up a copy now that it's in paperback. If you like mermaids, this is a book for you! I can't wait to read the second book, May, which comes out next week! (The same day as Demonglass! Decisions...)

*Gawain and Lady Green by Anne Crompton: Blind buy. I know nothing about this book, but I'm a sucker for King Arthur/Avalon books. I found out that it's a companion to Merlin's Harp, which I meant to read, but never did, so I'll have to pick that up sometime...

*Ransom My Heart by Princess of Genovia Mia Thermopolis (with help from Meg Cabot): Everyone's favorite princess has penned her first novel, a historical romance. I love Meg Cabot and The Princess Diaries. When I saw this book sitting on a B&N bargain table for only $4.98 yesterday, I couldn't resist. Ka-ching!

*Warrior by Bryan Davis: Sequel to Starlighter, which I read last year but didn't review b/c I knew this was coming out soon. I really enjoyed the first book, which is sort of kind of Dystopian, but mostly fantasy...with DRAGONS. Super awesome book, and I can't wait to read the sequel!

*Subject Seven by James A. Moore: I'm not sure whether or not this is a Dystopian novel, but it seems to have a touch of Maximum Ride and X-Men thrown in. I'm intrigued and can't wait to read it!

F e b r u a r y B o o k s ( A R C S ) :

Most of my ARCs are from NetGalley atm. I'm looking forward to reading those on the plane! But these are the bound copies I have for review right now:

*True (...sort of) by Katherine Hannigan: Her first novel, Ida B...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World won a bunch of awards and was a bestseller. I haven't read it yet, but I'm eager to check out her sophomore debut! Middle-grade.

*A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware: That gorgeous dress hooked me in. BEAUTIFUL! Adult historical fiction novel about the 1906 earthquake that tore apart San Francisco. On top of that, the novel explores the path cut by the first American female architect, who finds herself in a race to rebuild a hotel with the novel's heroine, who is destined to become the second female architect. Women's right, the use of Chinese labor, and other turn of the century issues will be explored. Sounds pretty awesome to me!

*Love You More by Lisa Gardner: Another adult novel. This was my first time winning a contest on GoodReads, so I'm excited! I think the official synopsis sums up this book better than I can: "One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?" I've never read anything by Gardner before, but when it comes to adult fiction, I'm into the hard-hitting, gritty, realistic truth. Can't wait to read this!

J a n u a r y B o o k s ( P u r c h a s e d ) :

This list was so long, I split it in two--one for hardbacks, and one for paperbacks:

*Warped by Maurissa Guibord: Great fantasy novel. I reviewed it here. Definitely one of my favorite 2011 debuts so far!

*Sapphique by Catherine Fisher: Sequel to Incarceron. I haven't read this yet (shame!), but hope to do so sometime in March. It's sitting by my bed TAUNTING me, y'all! Plus, I need more Dystopian literature in my life, yes?

*The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher: This Dystopian novel reminds me a lot of the musical Urinetown. Plus, it's a debut author! I just haven't had a chance to read it yet...

*Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell: Another Dystopian I haven't had a chance to read yet. >.< Luckily, I also happen to have an e-ARC of this one thanks to NetGalley, so maybe I'll get to read it while on vacation! *Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Yay, I'm not a total loser when it comes to books. I've read and reviewed this one. Actually, I read an ARC last year that I won through Library Thing, then went out and bought my own copy once it launched. If you're looking for teen sci-fi, this one is for you!

*Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: This is one of my favorite 2011 releases so far. I got an ARC of this at work last year and it took me forever to read it because...I just didn't want to. I don't know what I was waiting for--it was AMAZING!!! I need book two NOW! I reviewed this one, too!

*Over the Moon by Jodi Picoult, Jake van Leer, and Ellen Wilber: This is the book of a musical put together by this trio of talented people, complete with sheet music. The story mixes Shakespeare and fairytales together. Plus, it's by Jodi Picoult. What more could you want?

*Dr. Horrible by Zack Whedon, with artists Eric Canete, Joelle Jones , and Jim Rugg: Have you seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? It's a MUSICAL with the amazing Neil Patrick Harris AND was conceived by Buffy creator Joss Whedon--during the Writers Strike, no less! This is amazing, and if you haven't watched it, you should. If you have, you need to read this graphic novel. It's a collection of stories that enlighten fans about the early adventures of Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, and Co.

*Hatter M.: The Nature of Wonder by Frank Beddor with Sami Makkonen and Liz Cavalier: Another graphic novel? Rare, I know. This is the third volume in the Hatter M. trilogy, which is a prequel to the teen book series The Looking Glass Wars. If you like Alice in Wonderland, you'll like this series. Hatter M. takes place before the first TLGW book after Hatter and Alice leave Wonderland and are separated.

*XVI by Julia Karr: Not only is this a debut novel, it's also another Dystopian that I previously reviewed. The subject matter isn't for everyone, but it was an interesting book and I look forward to the sequel.

*Candor by Pam Bachorz: Again, we have a Dystopian novel on our hands. Are you seeing a theme? I am. I haven't read this one yet, but it takes place "today," which is refreshing--I won't have to learn a lot of futuristic lingo this time around!

*The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler: Yay, a fairytale novel instead of all this dreary Dystopian stuff, right? This one revolves around The Twelve Dancing Princesses, one of my all-time favorite tales!

*The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid's Madness, and Red Hood's Revenge, all by Jim C. Hines: Another fairytale series! This one is adult fiction and follows Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty. Hines weaves together old versions of the tales you may not be familar yet. For example, the first novel revolves around a plot where one of Cinderella's stepsister's is trying to assassinate her. I never knew such a tale existed before this book!

L i b r a r y F i n d s :

*Sondheim by Martin Gottfried: Only 50 cents! How can you beat that? Not only is a biography revolving around my all-time favorite Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim, but the cover features one of my favorite thespians, Bernadette Peters. I saw this on the Sale Cart and HAD to have it!!! The only thing that made me sad about the purchase was that it had entered the library on behalf of the Robert L. Brunhouse Estate and will no longer be available to the masses. Robert L. Brunhouse, I shall remember you and cherish this book!

And now, this long post has come to an end. If you're still reading, thank you for sticking with me! Next time won't be nearly so packed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cover Crazy (3)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

I found not one, but TWO awesome covers to love this past week! I figured I'd feature them both since there's a recurring theme.

How awesome is this cover? The title is composed of various types of makeup. Does it surprise anyone that the book takes place in LA and was written by two fashion
writers from the website No, me neither. Granted, I don't glam out a lot, but I do always regularly paint my nails. Then again, it keeps me from seeing them (which means I won't bite them...I've been good since this past summer!). Right now, I'm wearing two different shades of blue on top of one another, followed by that new OPI Shatter stuff that cracks and leaves black tiger streaks. It's pretty cool! I have to redo them tomorrow before my trip, though. Considering a new purple I bought...? Anyway, I LOVE this cover! The book comes out June 1st, and if this doesn't scream light, breezy summer fun, I don't know what does.

Another summer read, this one coming out May 1st. This is such a hot, sexy, intriguing cover, don't you think? Plus, this is Libba Bray's first novel since she won the Printz! First, you have the really tan, toned, shiny girl in the bikini. And then you have what looks like a gun holster...made up of lipstick containers. If that doesn't make you do a double-take, what will? A book said to be funny with a body count taking place in the world of Beauty Pageants? This looks insanely awesome. LOVE the cover! It takes your mind in so many directions...

What awesome covers are you in love with this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Rival" by Sara Bennett Wealer (Debut Author)

High school is where memories are made, be they good or bad. Whether you’re popular or an outcast, you remember that time of your life. Sara Bennett Wealer’s debut novel, Rival, recaptures high school through the eyes of two girls who couldn’t be more different...or more alike. Kathryn and Brooke are two seniors competing for the same prestigious music scholarship. Kathryn is a soprano with a light, airy voice, while Brooke is an alto, her sound rich and deep. Brooke is rich and one of the most popular girls at school while Kathryn is poor and a social outcast. Their love of music should bring these two girls together in the ultimate friendship, but instead, they’re bitter rivals.

The novel flips between “current day” (senior year) and flashbacks of junior year when everything went wrong. This isn’t done in an annoying way, however. Each year is focused on from both points of view for quite a few chapters before flipping back again. Rival is so tightly written that readers want to know what happened junior year to make Kathryn and Brooke such bitter rivals. They keep alluding to something, so by the time you find out, you’re just dying to know. Wealer did a spectacular job building suspense and keeping the story feeling natural.

Rivals focuses on relationships, but not the romantic kind. While there’s a brush of romance thrown in, it’s very blink-and-you-miss-it. While boy drama is involved, the male species is not the focal point of this novel: The relationship between the two rivals is. It’s refreshing to read a book with this type of outlook. There’s so much more to life than boys, but you’d never know it perusing today’s YA market. Friendship and rivalry is very much a part of our daily life, especially in high school. At one point, Kathryn and Brooke were on the point of being friends. If what went down junior year hadn’t gotten in the way, they would have most likely been best friends. They’re so obsessed with music and have so much in common, but it’s all overlooked due to their intense dislike of one another.

The relationship between the girls is another place where Wealer got it right. Because she chose to write from the POV of both characters, readers get a multi-faceted look at them as human beings. If we had read the book from just one perspective, we’d be looking through the flawed eyes of that one character. The remaining girl would automatically be a villain. It’s amazing to see the same situation through two pairs of eyes. For example, at one point, Kathryn gets complimented on her singing and smiles at one of her choir friends, but Brooke thinks she’s being smug and going, “So there!” at her to rub it in. In another instance, Kathryn thinks Brooke’s homecoming platform revolves around her and the fact that her family is poor, but Kathryn’s circumstances never crossed Brooke’s mind when putting everything together. It’s just amazing to see the way both girls become flawed, individual characters, neither right nor wrong. There are times when I really detest Brooke’s character, but others when Kathryn is out of line as well. Ultimately, I cared for them both and wanted to know how everything ultimately turns out for them.

Harper’s art department also got it right: Rival’s design will make all the other books on the shelf jealous. I love the bright, eye-catching red. That is one gorgeous flower. I also love the significance of the one petal pulled away from the rest, alluding to the fractured relationship between two girls. Even better, the piano on the cover hints at the fact that the novel revolves around the world of music. I also love the fonts used on both the cover and inside chapter headers. The elaborate curls in the title font are hard to see in the online jacket image due to their thinness, but here is a close-up embossed on the book itself:

In addition, each chapter details what girl’s POV we’re reading, with a curl at the end that reminds me strongly of a music note. There’s a beautiful curl at the bottom of each page where the number is as well:

The last thing I want to point out that I love about Rival is the fact that it’s centered around the arts. With so many programs being cut these days, it’s refreshing to see an author focus on such students. Not only that, the high school choir is really good and constantly in competitions. Singers are regularly nominated for prestigious prizes such as the prestigious Blackmore scholarship Kathryn and Brooke are competing for. In addition, they don’t focus on modern-day pop hits the way the students in Glee do. Instead, they listen to musicals, study Stephen Sondheim, and sing hard opera songs. These are some truly talented students and, music lover that I am, I adore the way Wealer gave us a glimpse into the world of pre-professional singers.

I’m so happy with how much music is in the media right now. Love it or hate it, Glee is a phenomenon in and of itself that has paved the road for more music-centered TV shows. Rival will hopefully be popular with teens as well. Fellow 2011 debut author Jessica Martinez will release Virtuosity, focused on rivalry in the world of orchestra students, this time a boy and girl competing in the prestigious Guarneri competition. If you enjoyed Rival, I think you’ll want to read this as well. I know I do! In fact, Martinez released cover art this week and it is hot, hot, HOT!

[This entry is part of The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]

Reminder: Lori Pescatore Interview!

A reminder for all my bookworms! A Backwards Story is about to host its first author interview--and you're invited to participate! Please email questions you'd like to ask paranormal author Lori Pescatore by Sunday. I'm going on vacation next week and want to send everything to Lori before I go!

Read my review of Lori Pescatore's Human Blend here!

Pick up a copy of Human Blend from sites such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Sony today. The digital copy ranges from $1.99 to $2.99 depending on where you purchase it. You can also purchase a physical copy for under ten dollars! Have any questions about the series or writing process that you're dying to know the answer to? Now's your chance! Just shoot me an email (abackwardsstory [at] gmail)or leave a comment on this entry and it will be passed on to Lori.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nerds Heart YA 2011: Nomination Period!

The Nerds Heart YA Tournament is coming up. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a first round judge, which is super exciting. (Disclosure: If you applied to be a judge and haven't heard anything yet, emails will still be sent out for the next week or so. Good luck!)

Right now, the nomination period has begun and we need YOUR help! It's easy to nominate a book. This entry has all the details. The actual nomination form can be found here.

Nerds Heart YA is in its third year and seeks to bring books rarely blogged about more attention. According to the site, "the contest focuses specifically on books that in some way represent groups of people who are typically under represented in YA fiction."

All YA novels published in 2010 with few blogger reviews can be considered so long as a character (or the novel's author) falls into one of the following seven categories:

•Person(s) of Color (POC)
•Mental Illness
•Religious Lifestyle
•Lower Socioeconomic Status

The YA novels that have previously won are:

•2009 -- My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
•2010 -- Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

"Angel( Maximum Ride Novel)" by James Patterson

I don't even know how to begin reviewing Angel. I've both started and stopped writing this entry more times than I can say. How do you review something so reliant on other books in a series without spoiling the tale for new readers? You can't. Angel very much picks up where the last book left off and sets up the big showdown for the final book in the series. Because of this, there's no resolution, only more questions. This book is very much a bridge to the end of the series, a build-up to the volume that will hopefully rock our worlds.

I really want to read the final book and see how everything comes together. The cliffhanger doesn't make me crazy the way the one in Fang did, which is good for my sanity. It ends with just enough bite to make you want to read more, though. There are answers I need to know. There are situations that will ruin the whole series for me if they occur in the final book, and others that will make me love it forever. I have so many suspicions that go in a web of different directions. Angel didn't alleviate one of them.

For those of you coming to the series for the first time, Maximum Ride follows a teenage girl named Maximum Ride (Max for short) and her flock of bird-kids. They were all experimented on by scientists. As embryos, they were injected with bird DNA. They're 98% human and 2% bird. They have bird bones, wings, etc. I think the series was originally meant to be a trilogy, since the first three books fit so tightly together. The fourth one doesn't really meld with any of the other books, but the fifth title picks up speed again. Maximum Ride must come to terms with her destiny: Somehow, she's supposed to save the world.

It took me a long time to pick up the series and start reading it. I didn't start until right around when book five, Max, launched in 2009. Once I began reading, I couldn't stop. I was able to get the first four books from the library, but Max was still too new to check out. But I had to read it right away! At first, it was hard getting into the series. I had never read anything by James Patterson before and didn't like the way most chapters ranged from one to three pages and had a lot of abrupt sentences. I had also vowed not to read his books at one point due to his ghostwriting tendencies. This series, however, only sports Patterson's name on the cover--no one else's. This is his series. For that alone, it deserves to be read. While I still dislike the framework of the novel, I can see how the writing methods will appeal to reluctant readers and get them reading in addition to us bookworms. Plus, once I find myself caught up in the story, the particulars just don't matter as much and are easy to overlook.

I sort of wish the publisher had gone with its original cover design for this book:

It has Max AND Angel on the cover. Angel looks adorable, especially with all those curls, and Max looks like a superhero, a girl who will do anything to protect her flock. The new cover is dark and emo. Plus, who is that guy in the bottom right-hand corner? It's up to us to decide if it's Fang or Dylan...and let's not get me started on the trainwreck that is Patterson's decision to create a love triangle SIX BOOKS into the series and then focus on it in this one. *deep breath* But enough, I promised no spoilers. I have high hopes you'll do the right thing in Book Eight, Mr. Patterson!

Is it February 2012 yet? I really need to know how this series ends!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cover Art REVEALED: "Sweet Venom" by Tera Lynn Childs

I have to thank Small Review for blogging about this cover reveal.

I had no clue that Tera Lynn Childs was publishing TWO books this year. I've been dying for Fins are Forever, mermaid lover that I am, and also enjoyed reading her first book duo, based around Greek Mythology. While Sweet Venom also revolves around mythology, it revolves around villains, which is just. so. COOL! It's about triplets descended from MEDUSA who find out that "they are destined to guard the door between the world of monsters and the world of men – pitched as a mythological Charmed." (Quote from GoodReads page)

Are you guys ready for this awesome-looking cover?

Before I even knew this book was about Medusa, that braid just looked ALIVE to me. I also love the curls around the script. Lovely cover! I think a lot of people will be picking this one up!

PLUS! It comes out in October, which is when Rick Riordan's Son of Neptune comes out. I know I'm dying to find out what happens next to the Camp Half-Blood campers. How about you? ...Okay, I guess I'll settle for the second in his Kane Chronicles trilogy, The Throne of Fire, this May. (Settle? HAH! I'm dying for this one, too...but not quite so much as SON [haha, S.O.N.= SON of Neptune. That just amuses me...])

If you're like me and just can't wait for October, here are two books full of mythology coming out this spring:

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter comes out on April 19th. From GoodReads:

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini comes out on May 31st. I'm DYING to read this one. DYING. From GoodReads:

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

"Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse" by Marilyn Singer, with illustrations by Josée Masse

Yesterday, Mirror Mirror won the 2010 Cybils Award in the Poetry division. The winners are chosen because they "combined literary merit with kid appeal."

I actually purchased Mirror Mirror sometime last year because it combined interesting poetry techniques with fairytales. The first few entries were so witty, I had to go home and read the rest.

At the end of the book, Marilyn Singer states, "We read most poems down a page. But what if we read them up? That's the question I asked myself when I created the reverso. When you read a reverso down, it is one poem. When you read it up, with changes allowed only in punctuation and capitalization it is a different poem."

One of the things I loved in this picture book is that some of the poems feature the "hero/heroine" on one side and the "villain" on the other. It's amazing to see how different the same words/opinions come off. Here's an example of one of the flip poems that I particularly liked:

In the Hood

In my hood,............................After all, Grandma's waiting,
skipping through the wood,.............mustn't dawdle...
carrying a basket,.....................But a girl!
picking berries to eat--...............What a treat--
juicy and sweet........................juicy and sweet,
what a treat!..........................picking berries to eat,
But a girl.............................carrying a basket,
musn't dawdle. ........................skipping through the wood
After all, Grandma's waiting. my 'hood.

Sorry for the way I broke that up. It's not my favorite method, but blogspot strips the extra spaces away and I didn't want to use Photoshop because people with screen readers couldn't read the example. I suppose I could have written the second beneath the first, but in the book, they appear side-by-side. Doing it this way, you didn't have to scroll up and down. Sorry if it's inconvenient!

From classic tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella to beloved stories such as Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk, there are reversible poem stories for everyone. While the poetry doesn't hold up as anything special on its own, the charm comes when reading the poems side-by side. The book is further enhanced by the lovely illustrations created by Josée Masse. Each image splits down the middle in a fashion that never looks choppy, but eye-catching and fun. One example of a "split" can be seen in the above cover image.

Overall, this was a fun picturebook discovery that I really enjoy reading. I was really happy it won in its category for the Cybils Award!

This is the first time I've reviewed a picture book, but I have a couple others I've picked up due to how different and interesting they are. Would you be interested in future picture book reviews? I don't have many myself because, um, no children, but there are some really lovely books out there!

Teaser Tuesdays (6)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Angel (Maximum Ride #7) by James Patterson

M y T e a s e r s :

"Worldwide, a new generation of children with supernatural powers has appeared," Dr. Hans said..."Dedicated men and women of science are trying to find a way to save the human race. And they've been successful. Overwhelmingly successful, for the first time."..."These children, this new generation, are the ones you'll be leading, after you save the world. It's time you start leading them. Now."

(~pgs. 23-24; Pieced together from three separate "paragraphs" because the context was necessary to make sense of the final sentence(s) I wished to use this week)

After yesterday's onslaught of Maximum Ride posts, did you have any doubt about this week's teaser? Granted, I did finish reading last night, but I haven't started anything new yet. So here you are, bookworms, a snippet from the penultimate book in this action-packed series. If you haven't read Maximum Ride before, I highly suggest you pick up the first book, The Angel Experiment (also named after the character Angel) and learn all about Maximum Ride (nickname: Max) and her destiny to save the world!

The world is coming to an end, folks. Will you be there to witness it?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who Do You Love?

Happy Valentine's Day, my loves!

In the last year that I’ve been blogging, I’ve read many novels with romances designed to make readers swoon. Just this past week, I re-read Jane Austen’s literary classic, Pride and Prejudice.
This week, I’d like to express my love for several of the books that have made my heart pound since last Valentine’s Day (in ABC order):

***I chose ten because, well, that’s what fit to form a heart! Unfortunately, I couldn’t choose everything! I’m sorry if something isn’t on here ;_; Heck, there are books I read and never reviewed that deserve to be on here! I stuck with titles I’ve reviewed so you could read up on why they’re so great if you so choose ^_^

Delirium by Lauren Oliver: My current obsession. What if love was considered a disease that everyone had to be “cured” of? The characters are gorgeously-written and you truly feel for them!

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst: In my opinion, the best version of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Love blossoms and unfolds where there was once none before our very eyes. Features a strong heroine who will go to the ends of the earth to save the man she loves. (This is labeled “Teen,” but has very mature content.)

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal: Quietly romantic, the reader discovers first love alongside the characters. O’Neal explores not just romantic love, but love of a kingdom, of family, of friends…of everything we cherish in life.

Fang by James Patterson: FINALLY, the romance all Maximum Ride fans have been waiting for gets under way in the series sixth installment. The cliffhanger is deadly, and Patterson knew it. His Valentine’s gift to his readers? Releasing the seventh book, Angel, TODAY. Go out and buy it. Seriously. Right now. I plan to. You will not tear me away from this book tonight! (And there’d better be answers!! ...What do you mean that this is the penultimate book and we won't know everything until NEXT YEAR!? Didn't you know the world is ending in 2012? Tell us now! Please?)

Firelight by Sophie Jordan: A new kind of paranormal romance featuring a female draki (form of dragon) who can transform into a human and hide among us. Features a strong female heroine who falls for the absolute wrong kind of guy...a dragon hunter whose family would like nothing more than to kill her.

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier: Perhaps my favorite romance novel in the past year. A new take on the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast, this historical fantasy novel is lush and full of Celtic folklore. (Shelved in the adult fantasy section due to mature themes)

Matched by Ally Condie: One of the most highly-anticipated books of 2010 for me, this one features a love triangle. Another Dystopian love story where society controls who you marry…and our heroine falls for the “other” guy.

Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast by Charles Solomon: Not a novel, but full of gorgeous artwork and details about one of my all-time favorite Disney movies. I learned so much reading this and fell in love with Belle and Beast all over again.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: One of the most surprising reads of 2011. I fell in love with these characters. They’re fleshed out and “real;” I want to know more about everyone, even minor characters. Plus, we’ve got a love triangle that’s anyone’s game right now! Can you say Team Tucker and Team Christian? I can!

Warped by Maurissa Guibord: Another lush fantasy, this one merging time travel, unicorns, and Norse mythology. The romance is gorgeous and well-paced. Not too little, not too much. I already want to re-visit this world!

What are the most romantic books you read this past year, Bookworms? What made it so memorable, what made you care?

Cover Crazy (2)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

Happy Valentine's Day, Bookworms! I hope you're reading something you love today. I know I plan to be! (And also: It amuses me that the time is 8:14 a.m. It would amuse me even more if it was 2:14 a.m./p.m., but I was sleeping during the first momentous moment and will be working during the second.)

This past week, I discovered the UK covers of the Maximum Ride series for the first time. For the most part, I vastly prefer them to the US editions. Since today marks the release of Angel, the penultimate book in the series, I thought it was appropriate to focus on the different covers.

The first row is what the books originally looked like when released in hardcover. The second row is the recent paperback re-design of the Teen Edition. Believe it or not, there's yet a THIRD version of these covers when the books get re-released in paperback to the Adult Fiction section. The come out in Teen Paperback about a year after the hardcover release and then mass market about six months after that. I can't wait that long because I'm impatient, so I buy the hardcovers...which means that none of the books have a uniform look to them. ^^;

There may be more editions than this. A lot of these are featured on the original UK website for the series. At first the UK just used the same cover as us, but now they're getting creative and I must say, I really prefer these covers, especially the images on the top row for The Final Warning and Max. They just look "right" for the series, you know? The US editions just look like regular teens, but these versions look special. (I have no clue which version is paperback, hardback, teen, adult, what-have-you...)

Which edition do you like best? There are so many to choose from, aren't there?

I'm SO excited to read Angel! After this next post, you won't hear from me again today because I. Must. Read. ...NOW!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Hex Hall" by Rachel Hawkins

Despite its outward appearance, Hex Hall isn't your stereotypical paranormal romance. Rather than dark and angsty, Rachel Hawkins went for a blend of light and funny in her debut novel. Tinged with mystery and romance, Hex Hall was hard to put down.

Centered around a girl named Sophie forced to attend a reformation school for supernatural beings, Hex Hall explores the world of school-age Prodigium. Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall, as everyone calls it, is a sanctuary of sorts for students harboring more power than they know how to control. Sophie herself discovers she's classified as a Dark Witch upon her arrival. The school is full of fairies, werewolves, shapeshifters, and more. Her roommate, Jenna, is the school's lone vampire and the guy she loves to hate, Archer, is a warlock. Sophie soon learns more about her heritage and abilities as a witch, having been sheltered all her life due to her warlock father's absence.

The book really takes off when a girl is discovered in the shower, drained of blood, with two wounds in her neck and slashes across her wrists. Everyone blames the vampire, but Sophie doesn't think her roommate could have done something so hateful. Something about the situation doesn't sit right with her, and before long, our heroine finds herself up to her neck in danger.

Hex Hall incorporates a lot of twists and turns while building to its climax. There are some plot points readers will see coming a mile away, but others that won't be discovered until Hawkins chooses to reveal them. The characters were all well-developed. Sophie feels really real, as do her friends, enemies, and the unwanted attraction between her and Archer.

This was a great book to pick up for a lighter read that had me chuckling and rooting for Sophie, not to mention breathless as the plot began charging full speed ahead. I'm definitely looking forward to the release of Demonglass next month, as well as Hawkin's self-contained novel Rebel Belle later this year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, A Backwards Story!

Publish Post

Today marks the one-year anniversary of this blog.
A Backwards Story, Happy Birthday!!!

I should have posted this earlier, but I got home late and then decided I wanted to whip together a cute little picture as a gift for my blog. :)

Here's to another great year together, guys!

And to celebrate...

Exactly one year ago, the very first book I reviewed was The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg. Last month, the book came out in paperback, so today, I offer you a look back at my first review.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Brian Jacques: 1939 - 2011

Heartbreaking news, bookworms:

Acclaimed Redwall author Brian Jacques passed away this weekend after suffering an unexpected heart attack.

Digital Journal posted a lovely video tribute here:

Did you grow up reading Jacques' epic series? 20-odd books strong, you will be remembered, Mr. Jacques!!

Teaser Tuesdays (5) [Double Dose]

You're some lucky bookworms this week! I have another double dose for you...and you're going to LAUGH at me when you see what I'm reading!!!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

To participate:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

W h a t I ' m R e a d i n g :

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (New in Paperback)

M y T e a s e r s :

"Man, Sophie, it's only your first day and you've already befriended the school outcast, pissed off the most popular girls at Hecate, and developed a full-blown thing for the hottest guy. If you can manage to get detention tomorrow, you'll be like, legendary."

(~pg. 106)

This week, I'm in the mood for some lighthearted school stories. They put me in the right frame of mind for what I'm writing right now. Today's victim is Hex Hall. I'd seen the buzz on it when it was new in HC, but never had the urge to read it until I saw it again in a corrugated display at B&N. I finished reading it today and I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it! I'm officially in the "I Can't Wait For Demonglass Camp" now! Thankfully March 1st isn't too far away!

And here's where you'll laugh...because I'm TOTALLY reading an oldie (but goodie)!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

M y T e a s e r s :

"That is very true," replied Elizabeth, "and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine."

(~pg. 52 of B&N Classics: Nook Edition; cover art from B&N Leatherbound Classics: Jane Austen: Seven Novels b/c that's the gorgeous version I own...I'm just too lazy to read something so heavy...and I have a free edition on my nook, so...*shrug*)

On Sunday, I was working in the Music Dept. all day. We're showing the 1996 BBC/A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with the fantastic Colin Firth. After watching it all day and having disc one repeat just when it was getting good, I knew I'd be going home and picking up this oldie but goodie. Ah, my friend, it's been far too long since last we met!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cover Crazy (1)

Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."

(Thanks to Gina @ My Precious for introducing me to Cover Crazy! You all know I love to talk about awesome book covers in my review. Now there's a place JUST for such discussion! ^_^

This week, I'm choosing a cover by a debut author that was just revealed at the end of January. Are you ready?

Myra McEntire released the cover art for her debut novel, Hourglass last month. In fact, she released all the details for Hourglass because her publisher decided to keep EVERYTHING under wraps until right before the big reveal to form a viral buzz. She talks about how hard it was to keep everything a secret here.

Why I Love This Cover:

She's walking on the WALLS and her hair/dress/etc are brushing against the floor. It's so "wrong," yet it's mysterious. Plus, she's barefoot and looks so...vulnerable, especially with her hair concealing her face. The cover gives you want to read more! Who wouldn't pick this up off the shelf to see what it's about?

What do you think? What cover are you crazy about this week?

[Hourglass is scheduled to hit a bookstore near you on May 24, 2011.]

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Breaking News: Upcoming Interview with Lori Pescatore

Hey everyone, I have a fun announcement for you all! A Backwards Story is about to host its first author interview--and you're invited to participate!

Read my review of Lori Pescatore's Human Blend here!

Pick up a copy of Human Blend from sites such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Sony today. The digital copy ranges from $1.99 to $2.99 depending on where you purchase it. You can also purchase a physical copy for under ten dollars! Have any questions about the series or writing process that you're dying to know the answer to? Now's your chance! Just shoot me an email (abackwardsstory [at] gmail)or leave a comment on this entry and it will be passed on to Lori.

Please submit all questions by February 20th, 2011.

This gives you exactly two weeks to read the books and answer some questions. I'll be sending all questions to Lori after the 20th before I go on vacation, so be sure to get them in! Thanks ^_^

Happy reading, bookworms!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Human Blend" by Lori Pescatore

Just when everyone starts grousing that paranormal has been done to death and there's nothing else to explore, along comes something new. Human Blend by Lori Pescatore introduces a new breed of supernatural being to readers, one that's fresh, exciting, and unique. Pescatore builds suspense over what kind of beings her characters are by delaying full revelations until later in the novel.

Human Blend starts with an eighteen-year-old named Laney on the run. While not really eighteen, she ages slowly, so she's actually older than she appears. Kidnapped as a child, she's been used and abused for years due to her special abilities. She's always been good at seeing numbers, making it easy to predict things like lottery numbers and horse race winners, making her valuable to the men who want her back after she makes her escape. Disguising herself as "Julie Miller," she begins to reinvent herself in a small town in Virginia, where the men chasing after her can never find her...or so she thinks.

Early on, she meets a college student named Austin, who introduces her to the area. It isn't long before the two are involved in a serious relationship with one another. Julie's nervous, though; everyone she ever lets into her life winds up getting hurt due to the fact that they know her thanks to the men she's hiding from and her unwanted powers. To complicate matters even more, Julie finds herself attracted to Dr. Eli Elsworth, who works at the local hospital she volunteers at. In addition to being good with numbers, Julie is also a healer. Not only that, there's more to Eli than meets the eye as well. He knows about Julie's abilities and wants her helping out at the hospital. The two have remarkable chemistry, but both attempt to hide from it due to Julie's relationship with Austin.

The novel picks up speed once Pescatore lays out her world. The second half of the book is full of action and suspense. There are parts that are true nail-biters, and when Human Blend reaches its conclusion, readers are left wanting to know what happens next, especially with the introduction of new characters leading up to the next story arc. The second book is scheduled to be released later this spring, the second in a trilogy. Throughout the novel, I had a few questions regarding backstory and how these characters became what them are. I wanted to know more about what happened before Laney/Julie arrived in Virginia. Luckily, the second book will begin as a prequel with all of the events leading up to Human Blend before moving forward to "current day."

Human Blend started out as a Smashwords novel. It can be bought digitally for nook, Kindle, etc. for the low price of $2.99. The book is also available in paperback at your local bookstore, though it may need to be special-ordered. The early edition of the book has a few typos and inconsistencies, but nothing that can't be overlooked once the story takes over. While marketed as a teen book, be warned that this title is for older teens and adults. It has both sexuality and violence in it and shouldn't be presented to anyone not mature enough to handle such themes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cover Art REVEALED: "Uncommon Criminals" by Ally Carter

The cover to Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter, the sequel to last year's Heist Society is stunning and matches its predecessor perfectly. Today, Carter revealed the cover art on her blog.

...Are you ready?

Isn't it gorgeous? Nice, bright colors, good use of colors, intriguing stuff going on... Plus, it matches Heist Society. Look at how closely the covers mirror one another:

I love the fact that each book has a reflection of the item the MC, Kat, is attempting to steal in her sunglasses. The first time around, it's artwork, and now it's a famous emerald. The model looks like so confident and cool. Who wouldn't want to pick up such a fun-looking book? With that flirty, airy tank top, the jacket fits in perfectly with its summer release date [June 21st, the official first day of summer!].

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dystopian February

I hope everyone's staying warm (Or staying cool if you're in the midst of summer)! This weather is nasty...

You all remember how I recently signed up for Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges' Dystopia Challenge (2011 Edition), right?

Well, on Feb. 1st, Presenting Lenore announced on her blog that this month, we're celebrating Dystopian February!

Celebrate your love of the genre with by reading new titles and going back to old classics, participating in fun topics with other fans throughout the month, and, of course, fun giveaways! Check out Lenore's site for more information.

I love Dystopian literature and can't wait to participate!

So far in February, I've read and reviewed...

1) Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Delirium" by Lauren Oliver

I wanted to review this book sooner, but decided to wait until I'd seen the final dust jacket in person. Granted, my own personal copy is coming in the mail later this week since I pre-ordered online, so I have no pictures to show you. The image on the left doesn't look fantastic. In person, however, the cover is absolutely lovely. The blue color is really a little darker and very metallic/shiny. The picture on the left looks like a cut-out revealing the model's face, but the final edition has the letters raised and embossed with the same image revealed when readers slip off the jacket. Down the side, the title was re-created in beautiful shades of blue and the fancy script you get a glimpse of on the front cover can be found highlighting important words on both the back cover and inside flap of the book. I almost decided to wait on reviewing this book until I could show you the final cover...but I just couldn't because I NEED to tell you how amazing this novel is.

Delirium takes place in a world where love is considered a disease called amor deliria nervosa. When Lena, the novel's protagonist, was younger, her mother killed herself because she had been infected with the disease. Upon turning eighteen, all citizens are required to have an operation that removes a person's ability to love from their brains, successfully "curing" them. Lena can't wait for her birthday, which is right around the corner. All her life, people have worried that she was more susceptible to the disease because of her mother and she's desperate to prove them wrong. Everything changes the day she meets Alex. Their relationship resembles that of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet as Lena begins experiencing signs of the deliria and realizes that there is more to life than what the government allows.

Oliver is a strong writer who vividly builds a frightening future for her characters. Scenes are emotionally-charged in such a way, readers can't help becoming invested in what will happen. The characters are fully fleshed out and their interaction with one another feels natural. Danger lurks on each page, leaving me breathless as I hurried on to find out what happens next. I was so caught up in Lena's story that the ending hit me hard, leaving me salivating while awaiting the next two books in the trilogy. This society is incredibly constricting, and I need to know what will happen to these characters I've grown to love.

Delirium stands on its own when compared to other Dystopian novels. It's not quite like anything else out there. It's centered around love the way last year's Matched by Ally Condie was, but delves deeper and has an entirely different approach to the subject. While there are some brutal scenes, it's not gritty in the way The Hunger Games is. At the same time, fans of both these series and many others will enjoy Delirium. In my opinion, it's one of the best entries in the genre and a gorgeous novel that I think will be a runaway bestseller.

[Review based on ARC edition]

[This entry is part of Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges' Dystopian Challenge of 2011. See how I've done so far here.]

[This entry is part of Presenting Lenore's celebration of Dystopian February. See what Dystopian novels I've read in February here.]

Ones to Watch: February 2011

At the beginning of each month, I like to point out upcoming titles that seem worthy of being read. Granted, this is just my opinion on books that I personally want to read. There are quite a few books coming out this month, both in hardcover and paperback, including Delirium, which you all KNOW I've been waiting to talk about! I did pretty well last month when it came to reading everything I bought. I think I still have three books to read. That's not bad!

DISCLAIMER: I'm all over the place when it comes to genre, so there will most likely be books that don't appeal to you. There might also be something you're looking forward to not on the list. We're sure to have some titles in common, though! (There's also a good chance I won't get to every book I want to read, so if doesn't show up as a review here, it doesn't mean I didn't care for it! Plus, there are some books that I may want to look at due to a summary or cover image but may decide not to read because it's not *my* personal type of book, and that's okay, too. Still pointing them out early!)

S P O T L I G H T O N : D E L I R I U M B Y L A U R E N O L I V E R

Does this surprise anyone? I read an ARC of Delirium last year and fell in love with Lauren Oliver. I've followed the author since she did the Barnes and Noble First Look Club with her debut, Before I Fall, though that book didn't throw me through the ringer the way her new trilogy will. Look out for this one: I predict it will be one of the most popular Dystopian series on the market. It's about a society where love is a disease, amor deliria nervosa. When teenagers turn eighteen and "legal," they are required to have an operation that "cures" them. While it is similar to the recently-released Matched by Ally Condie, it's also vastly different. This is a true winner, bookworms!

o n e s t o w a t c h ( F e b . 2 0 1 1 )

F e b . 1 :

*A True Princess by Diane Zahler: A new book by the author of The Thirteenth Princess (released in paperback last month). This novel spins a new version of The Princess and the Pea.

*Delirium by Lauren Oliver: Featured above!

*Trapped by Michael Northrop: I just found out about this novel today thanks to Wendi's Book Corner. Wendi also participates in Teaser Tuesdays; this was today's teaser (You can see her post here). It sounds perfect for this time of year. The novel is about some kids who are snowed in at school...and the snow doesn't stop for seven days straight. Wendi's summary makes me think the kids might go to Lord of the Flies or Nothing (my review here) lengths when they get desperate enough...

*The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse: A lot of buzz has been growing for Mosse since the release of internationally-acclaimed Labyrinth in 2005. I enjoyed both Labyrinth and Sepulchre, so I can't wait to read more by this author! [Release Date: Feb. 3rd]

*Words by Ginny Yttrup: This debut novel sounds so sad. It's about a young girl who has been abused to the point where she no longer speaks despite her fascination with words.

F e b . 8 :

*Cloaked by Alex Flinn: Another lovely fairytale mash-up from Flinn. Her first novel set in the world, Beastly, is about to be a major motion picture. You may have already seen the trailers for it. I know I have. :)

F e b . 1 5 :

*Angel by James Patterson (7th in Maximum Ride series): I have been waiting a year to find out what happens next. Fang ended on such a cliffhanger! I love the fact that Patterson is really focusing on this series himself and not co-writing. I only hope the cliffhanger this time around isn't as bad! [Release Date: Feb. 14th]

*Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton: A much-buzzed about debut novel. I haven't had time to read my ARC yet, but hope to do so soon. The cover brings strong kick-ass females such as Buffy to mind, though instead of slaying vampires, Moulton's heroine uses angelfire to combat reapers preying on human souls...

*Outside in by Maria V. Snyder: I love supporting local authors. Snyder was gracious enough to visit my local B&N this past summer while promoting Inside Out, her debut teen novel. She's written several adult romances. Outside In is the sequel to Inside Out; both are Dystopian novels.

*Rivals by Sara Bennett Wealer: Another debut author. This cover is beautiful and eye-catching. The synopsis seems like an episode of Glee: It follows the bumpy path of two rivals competing for a music scholarship.

F e b . 2 2 :

*Haven by Kristi Cook: Previously known as Kristina Cook for her adult romances, this is Cook's debut YA novel. The book centers around a teenager whose premonitions always come true. No one believes her, though...until she enrolls in a new school and discovers that not only isn't she alone in her abilities, but something dangerous is lurking just out of reach...

*Orchards by Holly Thompson: Last debut author of the month, bookworms! This one is about a Jewish girl who is half-Japanese. After the MC and her friends say some things that may have led a classmate to commit suicide, she's shipped off to Japan in the hopes that she'll "straighten out." Since she isn't "truly Japanese," she has trouble fitting in, but manages to blossom as she learns more about her heritage. Having lived in Japan for two years and been an "outsider," I'm eager to see how Thompson tackles the subject.

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce: New Tamora Pierce! 'Nuff said. Plus, this book is a collection of stories that take place in Tortall, a land full of my favorite books by Pierce. She hasn't released anything new for close to two years now, so I'm eager to read her latest work while awaiting the launch of Mastiff later this year.

P a p e r b a c k s :

I read all of the following books when they came out in tradecloth, so hopefully you'll check them out now that they're at a more affordable price. I know I was waiting to purchase a couple in paperback myself!

*Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier: Adult fantasy author Marillier tries her hand at YA fiction for the second time in the companion to Wildwood Dancing, a rendition of the classic fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The novels take place in Transylvania. Like she did with the sequels to Daughter of the Forest, this book isn't directly based on a fairytale, but an original tale set in the original "fairytale world" set up in book one.

Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret by Liz Kessler: The fourth and (for now) final novel revolving around Emily Windsnap, a girl who is half-human, half-mermaid. I had the good fortune of meeting Kessler in the fall of 2009 at my local B&N, where she read a sneak peek of at this at-the-time upcoming novel. She said that the series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but so many fans wrote to her that she made one more book just for them.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen: The paperback edition of this novel has a lovely new cover. I think I prefer it to the original! I originally picked up this novel because the title caught my attention and the inside flap mentioned "hummingbird cake." I wanted to know what that was! This is a whimsical book about a woman who moves back to her mother's hometown to place her affairs in order. She delves into the secrets of her mother's life and realizes that the town has more to offer than what initially meets the eye.

Hannah: Daughters of the Sea #1 by Kathryn Lasky: Lasky is a staple in YA literature. I read her books when I was younger and still read them now. This past fall, Lasky achieved fame with her middle-grade series Guardians of Ga'Hoole when a movie based on the books, Legend of the Guardians, now on DVD. Her new middle-grade series, Wolves of the Beyond, is also experiencing strong sales at the moment. It would be wonderful if her latest teen series, Daughters of the Sea, also does well. The second book, May, will come out next month. This is the second mermaid book to be re-released as a paperback this month!

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher: The first in a two-part Dystopian series. The second book, Sapphique, came out at the end of December. Incarceron is about to be a movie, too. Casting has already begun. The duet is often recommended for fans of The Hunger Games. Plus, they have gorgeous covers. Win, win! (I really need to read Sapphique soon...)

White Cat by Holly Black: I didn't review this one last year because Red Glove is coming out in April, but it was fantastic. I had a lot of trouble putting this one down. The novel is based on a fairytale entitled, The White Cat. You can read both the Andrew Lang version or the Madame D'Aulnoy rendition of the tale online for free. Black's novel is based around a family of Curse Workers and a society that treats such families as the mafia. Very intriguing and original spin on the tale!

So, which books are you looking forward to this month, Bookworms? Any of the above? Something I totally missed? I'm glad last month's book drought is over, aren't you?