Monday, September 22, 2008

Winners, More Free Stuff, and Book Reviews

Okay, it's Monday blog day again (I was trying to come up with a nice hybrid, but Mogday and Blonday just don't have much of ring to them . . . go figure.:))

Okay, first off, winners! It was so fun to see my Google alerts go off this week and I really appreciate you guys mentioning me! So without further ado, the winners are . . . Pink Ink and Amy!! Please e-mail me with your shipping info (Amy, I'll send yours to school with Kenny:)) at the email address you'll find up in my profile. Also, SpeedReader? When I get ARCs I will see if I can get you one for review. At this point I don't know, though. Thanks for the offer!!

And now . . . more free stuff!! In order to get a few more people watching our blog at before we start our big giveaways (The Twelve Months of Debsmas, oh yeah! It's gonna be huge!!) we are doing a couple of smaller giveaways in the next couple of months. The first one started this morning and it's super easy. All you have to do is go and comment on the thread. Super easy, and again, that's at

Okay, I have been reading a ton of books lately and I have a ton more on my TBR list. Here's a few I've really enjoyed.

This is a book I picked up in Hawaii because I was intrigued by the jacket-description and the reviews. But I didn't actually flip through it until I was on the plane. I was rather surprised to see that it was a book in verse. Free-verse rather than rhymed verse. I have opinions both ways about that. In general I didn't see the point for it to be in verse (though there were a few funny visual poems!) and what it did is turned a fifty page very-well-written short story into a very-well-written 250 page novel. But regardless of how I really felt about the format, this was a fun story! It is about the least popular guy in the entire school landing a really popular girl as his girlfriend. But he gets very concerned when being with this girl makes HER unpopular as well. He desperately doesn't want her to have to live his life. I don't want to spoil too much, but this book is full of really lovely verse that manages to capture the teenage boy's voice, observations on art, self-confidence, and loyalty, and you just can't help but cheer for this underdog of underdogs and the girl who has seen through that to who he really is. A really really great book!

Okay, I'm cheating a bit with this one, because it's not out until February. But, hey! It's up on Amazon, so that makes it free game, right? Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell is, hands down, the best book I've read this summer. (And yes, my lovely Debs, there are some very VERY close seconds, but truth is truth.:)) I am looking to this book to be an award winner and nominee next year. I didn't think I would like this book because I am SO not into ghost stories. But this is so much more than a ghost story. Iris and her friend have always pretended to do magic, but the magic turns scarily real when a ghost answers Iris one day. He doesn't say much and haunting is the least of what he does to her. This is not a book about a ghost and a girl who make friends, nor is it about a scary ghost who will make you have nightmares. This is a tormented soul looking for peace. The amazing thing about this book is that, yes, there is a ghost in it, but it is about relationships. The relationship between best friends, between girls and boys, between a widower father and his only child. It is a beautiful, creepy, amazing book. Look for it in February. This is a book you will not regret buying!

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale came out just over a year ago, but I only managed to read it this summer. This is a hard book to describe because while it is technically a retold fairy tale, it doesn't read that way at all. It reads like a rich, historic journal that surprises you with the fantastical elements at the end. The basic premise is that a sixteen year old rich man's daughter has been locked in a tower alone with only her maid, Dashti (the POV character) for company. They are condemned to stay there for seven years or until the young Lady agrees to marry the man her father has chosen for her. Although the reasons for being in the tower are all about the Lady Saren, this is really Dashti's story. A story of growth and will and rebellion and love. A really, really beautiful, if unexpected story. (Also, Shannon is one of the most friendly, funny people I've ever met!) If you haven't managed to read this one yet, you should. imagine most libraries will have it.

I have this terrible habit of getting so excited about books that I have to start reading them right away . . . because of that, I find myself reading many books at the same time as I flip-flop between them getting excited about one, then needing to read a little more of the other, then the other, etc. So here are some books I am bouncing between, but really enjoying!

Ophelia By Lisa Klein. Aside from having such a stunningly beautiful cover, this is--so far--an incredible book. It is a retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view starting from when she is a very young girl. It is meticulously researched and shows a lot about how courtly life was lived back during this time. This isn't a spoiler because it is in the first two pages of the book, but the prologue tells you right away that Hamlet dies at the end, just like in the play, but Ophelia discovers this in a letter from Hamlet's friend . . . so she must be alive . . . I am just under half-way through with this book and am looking forward to the big twist that the reviews refer to. A really beautiful book that manages to have lovely, artful prose that is none-the-less very accessible. Did I mention the gorgeous cover??

Rumors, by Anna Godbersen. So, here is my other bad habit. Reading the first twenty pages and the last twenty pages first. That's what I've done with this one.:) The thing I love about the Luxe books is that they are very beautifully and richly historical . . . without taking themselves too seriously. I have heard people comment that this character or that would never actually do that or that the times would not allow. And they are right. And I don't care.:) I enjoy the story too much to let alterations to history that enhance that story get in the way. This is not a serious historical novel. It is a historic romp meant solely to entertain. Many (most even) of the historic detail are well-researched and accurate, so don't think this is an unresearched bit of fluff, it's not. It is, however, a thoroughly enjoyable series with rich, lovely historical details . . . that sometimes strays. I just sped through the first one and can't wait to finish the second one and find out how in the world Anna got to the ending she did!! (I know, bad me.:))

Okay, last but not least, Sovay by Celia Rees. I am roughly half-way through this book and have reached just a bit of a lull. I need to get back to it and give it fifty more pages because I really enjoyed the first half. This is a Robin Hood retelling with a female protagonist set in the . . . 1700's I think? It's a fun and quite rollicking tale of adventure and love, and at this point there are three guys who could be the love interest and I'm not sure which one she is leaning toward! (Love square, anyone??) One thing to be on the lookout for, this book insists on using one quotation marks instead of two for all the dialog. I don't know who made that decision and it drives me nuts, but luckily, it has nothing to do with the actual story. This is a fun one that I really do need to get back too. It has a very interesting poem (also named Sovay) as is basis along-side the Robin Hood legends that is very interesting!

Okay, so there are some recommendations from me! If there are some books you've been reading this summer that you just adored, I'd love to here about them.

Oh and I am buying Hunger Games today. SO looking forward to that one!!!



Angela said...

Yay! More books to add to my list. I've read many of the books you've previously recommended and enjoyed them all, so I'm really looking forward to these.

I absolutely adored Book of A Thousand Days! I think it's my favorite Shannon Hale book. And the Luxe books are a fun read, but what I don't get is why you read the last 20 pages of Godberson's books when she starts the book with the ending first! Double Cheater! You already know what's going to happen, you just aren't sure exactly which characters are involved or what specific information they know that make them do what they do in the ending!! But I confess that I do *sometimes* flip to the last page and briefly glance at the words on the final pages but try not to really read too closely, just in case ...

Jessica Burkhart said...

Yay, Saundra! Woo hoo! :)

I'm adding SOVAY to my list. It sounds most excellent.

Jewel Allen said...

Yehey!! *happy dance* Thanks Aprilynne. I'll shoot you an email.

Wonderful list of books...more stuff to look forward to reading.

Ink Mage said...

I LOVED Ophelia! I want to read it again some time. Did you know the author is coming out with a new book sometime in the near future (like next month, maybe) titled Two Girls of Gettysburg. Squee! :-)

But um, Sovay doesn't have anything to do with the legends of Robin Hood. It's based off the folksong by the same name. (And in my opinion, she ends up with the randomest guy of the four.) The single quotation mark is because that's how British people write them, and Sovay was left in it's original format. A lot of Bloomsbury books are like that, and I've gotten so used to it that I don't even notice anymore. You will too, I'm sure.

Kenny said...

Ink Mage, I'm afraid you are mistaken about the Robin Hood connections. Indeed, from the flap copy of Sovay:

"Celia Rees crafts an epic tale of intrigue starring a feisty Robin Hood of a heroine..."

Aprilynne does mention (the book) Sovay's primary origin at the end of her review, but the story of Robin Hood is clearly among the book's major thematic influences.

Anonymous said...

Wow~what a great list of YA books. Now I'll have some clue what to look for when I go to the library!

My friend Patricia suggested I check out your blog as I'm also a writer and I'm so glad I did! :)

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who gets three or four books and switches back and forth among all of them.

I've seen Book of a Thousand Days at the bookstore; I may have to check that one out.

Never heard of Ophelia but I simply love Hamlet so this looks very interesting!

Thanks for your recommendations; I think I'm going to be reading these soon!

Anonymous said...

Good for people to know.

sexy said...


Anonymous said...

now I stay in touch!