A website dedicated to books in the Young Adult genre, featuring book reviews, author interviews contests and much more!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Top Ten Paranormal Books by Amy Garvey, Author of Cold Kiss!

Top Ten Paranormal Books 
My favorite! I love scary books (and movies and TV and haunted houses). I read a lot of really bad horror when the genre was at its pulpy, mass-market height way back when, and I love that it’s coming back now, and the books are even better. Some of the books below aren’t horror, per se, but they all have that paranormal twist, and I think you all should run right out and read them. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

1) Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp. I’m not even sure if this is still in print; I bought it at a Scholastic Book Fair at school when I was in fourth grade, and I still have my very worn, falling-apart original copy. It’s still a great read even now, which is the mark of a really good book. It’s 1912, and Louisa is taking her niece Jane to her grandmother’s house after her parents (Louisa’s sister and her husband) are killed in a carriage accident. But there’s a spirit waiting in the quiet house in Lynn, and it wants Jane … Spooky and atmospheric, and Louisa and Jane both are spunky and likeable.

2) Ghosts I Have Been, Richard Peck. The second in the Blossom Culp books, but this time the psychic Blossom has visions of the Titanic sinking. Set in 1913 – I was a sucker for historical set fiction then, and still am. Richard Peck is all-around genius, too – any of his books are worth reading.

3) The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson. One of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, and I mean that in the best possible way. Forget the movie (although the original is fantastic – please forget the horrible remake with Liam Neeson) , the book really raises the hairs on the back of your neck, and takes you so far into Nell’s experiences at Hill House, you begin to wonder if you’re going crazy with her.

4) Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr. I loved Holly Black’s Tithe, too, but Marr’s version of faerie was so richly detailed, and so surprisingly realistic in terms of character motivations and interactions, I was blown away. These are fae the way I always imagined them – sexy, dangerous, impulsive, otherworldly. A gorgeously written start to a great series.

5) The Witching Hour, Ann Rice. Oh, Anne Rice. You got me with this one. The New Orleans setting, the tangled family history, the love story between Rowan and Michael – I unabashedly love this book.

6) Ghost Story, Peter Straub. This is one of those books that’s a fabulous read and also requires, like, a doctorate if you want to actually unravel all the allusions and homages to the genre in it. (Stephen King does a great job in Danse Macabre, actually.) So fabulously atmospheric and scary.

7) Salem’s Lot, Stephen King. It took a minute to pick just one King book, because I’m a huge fan of his, but as a strictly paranormal, fantastically terrifying book, this is the one. Vampires! Really scary ones, too. So delicious.

8) A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray. Not horror, obviously, but so wonderfully paranormal. Gemma’s discovery of the Realms and her place in them – as well as the effect it has on both her and her friends – is mind-blowing. I loved this series so much.

9) White Cat, Holly Black. So incredibly original – curse workers! The whole premise captured my imagination, and Black is such a sharp, honest writer. Cassel’s voice is amazing, too.

10) Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill. Stephen King’s son! Not that he needs the name-check – this book is as horrifying as anything his father ever wrote. An aging rock star gets a “gift” in the mail, but it’s not a gift anyone would want. And it will not go away. The tension in this book is almost unbearable, and the contents of the box are both genius and seriously disturbing. Read this one with the light on.

Cold Kiss 
“It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder.
That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.”

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Damned (Crusade Book 2) by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
Read: Chapter 1

There is a fine line between love and sacrifice…. Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question.

Jenn, the newly appointed Hunter, aches for revenge against the Cursed One who converted her sister. And with an even more sinister power on the rise, she must overcome her personal vendettas to lead her team into battle.

Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.

I first became acquainted with the plot of the first book CRUSADE upon reading the short story in the vampire anthology, THE ETERNAL KISS: 13 TALES OF BLOOD AND DESIRE. If you haven't read this story, entitled Passing, and you've started CRUSADE anyways, you don't have to worry about being lost. But, I would highly recommend reading it anyways --it really is a fantastic short story and provides a good amount of background for this series. CRUSADE was a 5-star read for me (read review here) and DAMNED did not disappoint. Though the first book is definitely my favorite of the two (the foray in Damned with monster-ish hybrids lost me a bit), DAMNED still packed one heck of a punch. For me, the strength of this series lies within the complex relationships and motivations of the supporting cast as well as Jen Leitner's journey to becoming a confident, self-possessed leader.

All the vampire hunters had interesting and well-drawn out personalities. In fact, I could see future spin-offs centering around each of the characters-Jamie, Holgar, Eriko, Skye and Antonio. Skye, with her witchcraft and dark secrets fascinated me the most. Holgar, the fierce hunter with supernatural tendencies, was a close second. Antonio, the ex-priest turned vampire was utterly fascinating and at times, heart-breaking in the way his conflicting desires weighed upon his conscience. As a vampire hunting his own kind, I was immediately drawn to his character and found myself looking forward to any and all scenes involving him. The scenes in which Antonio veered from his normal persona were the best though. It was a great way to change things up and get the heart racing. I'm glad they did it--it showed another layer to his personality and endeared his character to me even more.

With non-stop action, DAMNED is sure to make your heart race while you battle alongside the hunters as they take on some truly frightening vampires. I look forward to the next installment in this thrilling series and highly recommend CRUSADE and DAMNED to both adult and teen readers who enjoy scary, action-packed vampire books.

Nancy Holder has published sixty books and more than two hundred short stories. She has received four Bram Stoker awards for fiction from the Horror Writers Association, and her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages. She has written or cowritten twenty Buffy and Angel projects. Her books from Simon Pulse include the New York Times bestselling series Wicked and the novel The Rose Bride. A graduate of the University of California at San Diego, Nancy is currently a writing teacher at the school. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, and their growing assortment of pets. Visit her at nancyholder.com.

Debbie ViguiÉ holds a degree in creative writing from UC Davis. Her Simon Pulse books include the New York Times bestselling Wicked series and the Once upon a Time novels VIOLET EYES, SCARLET MOON and MIDNIGHT PEARLS. She lives in Florida with her husband Scott. Visit her at debbieviguie.com.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guest Post with Kendare Blake, Author of Anna Dressed In Blood

In Which I get Serious
(For like five minutes and then I go back to being a dingus)
Kendare Blake

“The hard thing isn’t becoming a writer. It’s staying a writer.”

Look at that quote. Read that quote. Repeatedly. I know I did, back when I was hip deep in the “becoming” part. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember that it was a writer I admired, Harlan Ellison, maybe, and that for a time, it floated around a circle of writers that I really looked up to, as they lamented the business that is “Staying a Writer.”

I don’t mind telling you: I called BS. The hard part isn’t “becoming”? I wanted to shout. Really? All this writing and soul-searching, and revising and submitting and being politely or less politely rejected…this isn’t the hard part? Because if that’s true, then what. The. Frick.

I told myself then that I would never forget what it took to “become”, if ever I was lucky enough to see publication. I wouldn’t forget the nail-biting and the self-loathing and the fleeting triumph of finishing a project just to see it dashed against the rocks as not-quite-good-enough-not-what-we’re-looking-for.

And I haven’t. The sheaf of unpublished literary stories on my hard drive remind me. The spreadsheet tracking all the agencies and magazines I submitted to remind me. But here I am. Out of the becoming, and into the staying, and I find…that the staying isn’t easy either. Looking back at one of my old journal entries I told myself that if I had a book published I wouldn’t whine or moan no matter what happened. I’d only be grateful. And now I get to call BS on myself.

That’s not to say I’m not grateful. Of course I am. It’s magical and wonderful and blah blah blah to the moon and back. But there’s struggle and strife and drama of Southern Belle proportions (vespers, I think they call it vespers) in my future, and that’s just the human condition. Because I know now what those writers meant. It’s hard at every turn. At every stage. But it’s also fan-fricking-tastic at every turn and every stage.

If I were to give advice (and I hate to give advice, what the heck do I know) it would be that if you are travelling a similar worn road, SAVOR every triumph. But don’t forget to glance back once in a while, to remember what it took you to get there.

And returning to dingus mode in 5…4…3…

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna Dressed in Blood, #1)
(August 30th 2011)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
Kendare Blake
Author Bio: Kendare Blake is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents. You know, that old chestnut. She received a Bachelor's degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master's degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn't make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis.Official Website

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Character This or That Picks: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler


Boarding School or Public School?
Boarding schools can be a challenge, what with the wealthy snobs you often encounter, but I would much prefer to board than to attend a day school that requires me to go home at night.

Horseback or carriage?
I never learned how to ride, so it’s a carriage for me. Riding the train is best, however – if one can afford it.

Hair up or down?
In the Oklahoma wind, I’d have to say hair up – with a considerable number of pins to hold it in place!
Reading or writing?

Reading! I’ve never been good at expressing myself in writing – never really realized how bad I was until it came time to mark essays.

Gowns or simple dresses?
All I have are simple dresses. It would be marvelous to have a gown that was made just for me.

Small towns or bustling cities?

I’ve never seen a bustling city, but I think it would be grand to visit one. I’m certain I’d find good theater there. I’d love nothing better than to see a Shakespeare play with professional actors and a decent costume budget.

Family or friends?
Friends, please. Especially ones like Olivia Adair. Since Papa died, I do my best to avoid family. That’s not something a proper young lady should say, I know, but I just can’t be myself around my family.

Dancing or singing?
I’m no singer. And technically we’re not allowed to dance at the seminary – not with boys, anyway – but I do love to watch the younger girls dance. They put on secret performances on the third floor, and I’ll certainly never tell on them!

Staying home or going on an adventure?
Adventure, always! At home it’s all drudgery.

The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release: June 14, 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

About the Book:
When Willie arrives in Indian Territory, she knows only one thing: no one can find out who she really is. To escape a home she doesn't belong in anymore, she assumes the name of a former classmate and accepts a teaching job at the Cherokee Female Seminary.

Nothing prepares her for what she finds there. Her pupils are the daughters of the Cherokee elite—educated and more wealthy than she, and the school is cloaked in mystery. A student drowned in the river last year, and the girls whisper that she was killed by a jealous lover. Willie's room is the very room the dead girl slept in. The students say her spirit haunts it.

Willie doesn't believe in ghosts, but when strange things start happening at the school, she isn't sure anymore. She's also not sure what to make of a boy from the nearby boys' school who has taken an interest in her—his past is cloaked in secrets. Soon, even she has to admit that the revenant may be trying to tell her something. . . Courtesy of Goodreads.com

About the Author:
Sonia Gensler is a former high school teacher turned full-time writer living in Oklahoma with my husband and cat. Her debut novel, THE REVENANT (Knopf 2011), is a ghostly mystery set at a Cherokee girls' school. 

Want to learn more?  Website & Goodreads