Sunday, January 17, 2010

In My Mailbox (22)

I'm baaaaack from Puerto Rico! I ended up not reading as much as I would've liked: I finished Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (it was okay) and The Help by Kathryn Stockett (which I really enjoyed), and also read parts of the four other books I brought. I think I'm going to put those books aside for now and delve into some beloved young adult reading!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme inspired by Alea and hosted by Kristi. Check out Kristi's post to see what other bloggers got in terms of books!

These are the books I received for review within the last, like, month:

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
(Walker Books / Dec. 29, 2009)

The Blakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.

Thanks, Anna!

Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan DeNiro
(Spectra / Nov. 24, 2009)

What’s a girl to do when her world is invaded by warriors from the ancient world? That’s the problem faced by sixteen-year-old Macy, who sees her quiet, normal life in suburban Minnesota turned upside down when things that should never be possible begin to transform the landscape all around her. The cable stops working, the phone lines die–and then the horsemen come to town. It’s not the same America that she last went to sleep in.

Ticketed to a refugee camp by the marauding Scythian armies, Macy and her family come to believe that heading down the Mississippi by boat is their one escape from the encroaching madness. But as they make their way downriver, Macy’s world just keeps getting stranger, and the wooden submarines, wasp-borne plagues, and talking dogs are the least of her problems: For in this upside-down world, old identities warp and family bonds are sorely tested.

Thanks, Alan!

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen
(Wendy Lamb Books / Feb. 9, 2010)

Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for the patriot cause. And he learns that he must go deep into enemy territory to find his parents: all the way to the British headquarters, New York City.

Watchlist by Jeffrey Deaver
(Vanguard Press / Jan. 5, 2010)

Watchlist is a unique collaboration by twenty-one of the world’s greatest thriller writers including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plot in motion; In turn, the other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing each novel to its startling conclusion.

The Chopin Manuscript - Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton possesses a previously unknown score by Frédéric Chopin. But he is unaware that, locked within its handwritten notes, lies a secret that now threatens the lives of thousands of Americans.

The Copper Bracelet - Harold Middleton returns in this explosive sequel to The Chopin Manuscript as he’s drawn into an international terror plot that threatens to send India and Pakistan into full-scale nuclear war.

The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry
(Ballantine Books / Dec. 1, 2009)

The only thing rarer than the vintage editions Cotton Malone sells in his Copenhagen bookshop is the time he actually gets to spend there. Retirement has been anything but relaxing for the onetime U.S. government operative, who’s been drawn into one perilous adventure after another, crisscrossing the globe from the Sinai Desert to Antarctica, while racing to uncover some of the most precious secrets in recorded history.

Back home in Denmark, Malone’s barely had a chance to rest and regroup after his last high-risk mission when trouble comes knocking again. Actually, it breaks and enters–in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of would-be assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces Malone to follow his unexpected new ally into the night–and into another all-too-close encounter with certain danger.

Their first stop is the secluded country estate of Malone’s good friend Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon’s eyes and ears around the world have uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires out to manipulate the global economy. Only by matching wits with a murderous terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for the legendary lost treasure of Napoleon Bonaparte can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy. But Thorvaldsen’s objective is much more personal: to avenge at any cost the murder of his beloved son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Through the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, a breathless game of duplicity and death will be played, all to claim a prize of untold value–or to suffer consequences of unthinkable magnitude.

Wish by Alexandra Bullen
(Point / Jan. 1, 2010)

For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.

With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.

Thanks, Sheila Marie!

The following seven books are all from Random House:

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
(Delacorte Books / Sept. 22, 2009)

Cameron Smith, 16, is slumming through high school, overshadowed by a sister “pre-majoring in perfection,” while working (ineptly) at the Buddha Burger. Then something happens to make him the focus of his family's attention: he contracts mad cow disease. What takes place after he is hospitalized is either that a gorgeous angel persuades him to search for a cure that will also save the world, or that he has a vivid hallucination brought on by the disease. Either way, what readers have is an absurdist comedy in which Cameron, Gonzo (a neurotic dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god cursed to appear as a yard gnome) go on a quixotic road trip during which they learn about string theory, wormholes and true love en route to Disney World.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
(Wendy Lamb Books / July 14, 2009)

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

(My review is here.)

Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes, and Promises to Myself by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli
(Knopf / Oct. 13, 2009)

From an esteemed husband-and-wife team comes a book of daily advice and insight. In dated entries meant to be read one per day, the Spinellis open with a brief quote from children’s literature, write a paragraph of lively advice inspired by that quote, and end with a “Today I will . . .” promise. The entries range from the broad (self-esteem, the environment, gratitude, and openmindedness) to the simple and specific (Today I will call a grandparent . . . smile at a new kid . . . take a walk . . . and send a snail-mail letter.).

With wide appeal to fans of both children’s literature and advice books, this cozy page-a-day volume (with black-and-white spot art) offers inspiring quotes, gentle guidance, and 366 “Today I will . . .” promises to thoughtful readers everywhere.

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
(Point / Feb. 1, 2010)

Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.

She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant.

Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.

In the midst of all this, her parents drop a bombshell that threatens to change her New York life forever...

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
(Delacorte / Jan. 12, 2010)

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora
(Knopf / Jan. 12, 2010)

Beloved children's book author and speaker Pat Mora has written an original collection of poems, each with a different teen narrator sharing unique thoughts, moments, sadness, or heart’s desire: the girl who loves swimming, plunging into the water that creates her own world; the guy who leaves flowers on the windshield of the girl he likes. Each of the teens in these 50 original poems, written using a variety of poetic forms, will be recognizable to the reader as the universal emotions, ideas, impressions, and beliefs float across the pages in these gracefully told verses.

Dream Life by Lauren Mechling
(Delacorte / Jan. 12, 2010)

Claire Voyante's first semester at Henry Hudson High School was eventful, to say the least. As she heads into her second semester, things are calming down a bit. But Claire has a few secrets that are getting harder to keep. Her biggest secret of all? The onyx and ivory cameo necklace her grandmother gave her for her 15th birthday. Ever since she started wearing it, her dreams have been coming to her in black and white and turning out to be oddly prophetic.

Becca’s been hanging out with her old prep school friends and never seems to have time for Claire anymore. And soon, Claire discovers why—there’s a secret group of society girls with a mysterious identity. And, turns out, a mysterious enemy who’s out to get them. The second she sniffs out trouble, Claire jumps on the case. But is it someone close to Claire who’s in danger again—or could it be Claire herself whose life is at stake?

Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
(Curbstone Press / May 1, 2009)

Daniel’s papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi—all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile’s military regime.

After papá’s arrest in 1980, Daniel’s family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, playing guitar in a rock band and dating Courtney, a minister’s daughter. He hopes to become a US citizen as soon as he turns eighteen.

When Daniel’s father is released and rejoins his family, they see what five years of prison and torture have done to him. Marcelo is partially paralyzed, haunted by nightmares, and bitter about being exiled to “Gringolandia.” Daniel worries that Courtney’s scheme to start a bilingual human rights newspaper will rake up papá’s past and drive him further into alcohol abuse and self-destruction. Daniel dreams of a real father-son relationship, but he may have to give up everything simply to save his papá’s life.

Thank you, Lyn!

Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
(Arthur A. Levine / Jan. 1, 2010)

For middle schooler Reggie McKnight, being called “Pukey” is the least of his problems. School elections are coming up, but he’s as far away from being school President as he is from shutting down his enemy Donovan or meeting up with the beautiful Mialonie. His friends Ruthie and Joe C. have his back, but let’s face it: Reggie can only be a superhero on the pages of his graphic novel, Night Man.

Then Reggie gets involved with a local homeless shelter, the Olive Branch. Haunted by two of the clients there -- George, a once proud man now living on the streets, and five-year-old Charlie, who becomes his official “Little Buddy” -- he begins to think about making a difference, both in the world and at school. Pukey for President? It can happen...if he starts believing.

Thank you, Olugbemisola!

From One Arc Tours:

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
(EgmontUSA / March 23, 2010)

Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.


  1. got some amazing books for review - I can only imagine how big your to be read pile is right now :-)

  2. Can't wait to see what you think of Brightly Woven!

  3. Wow Steph, what a month! :) I actually just ordered a copy of When You Reach Me. I've heard so many good things about it, I think it's time I read it.

    Welcome back, by the way!

  4. I really want to read When You Reach Me, I've heard sooooooo many great things about it! I loved 8th Grade SuperZero, Reggie rocks :) I really liked Gringolandia as well.
    All your books look great, happy reading!

  5. Oh my goodness you got Scarlett Fever? Lucky duck! Have fun with these!

  6. Excellent books. So many I want to read especially Scarlett Fever. Happy Reading!

  7. Wow, crazy amount of books! Enjoy your reading. :)

  8. Wow looks like you had a good month. Going Bovine looks so cool. Hope you enjoy reading all your books.

  9. That is an impressive lot of books you are reviewing. I do like your blog so just keep them coming.

  10. So many great books! I especially want to read Hearts at Stake!

  11. Wow so many great books. Which will you read first?

  12. You got so many good books!! I can't wait to hear what you think about them.

  13. Great books! Before I Fall looks awesome.

    Here's what I got this week:

    Have a great week!

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. Great books. Looking forward to your reviews : D

  16. Can't wait to see what you think of Brightly Woven!

    Work from home India

  17. Thank you ;-) look at that emo boy hair at this blog:


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