The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

starNatasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?*

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Q&A with Jim Hardison, author of FISH WIELDER

Happy almost Friday, everyone!

I’m very excited to share this Q&A with all of you, and even more excited to dive into this new YA fantasy! Keep an eye out for my review of the book early next week. In the meantime, read on to find out more about this accomplished writer and his latest project, FISH WIELDER!

jim-hardison-author-picJim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and director in entertainment and commercials since graduating from Columbia College of Chicago in 1988. He is the author of The Helm, which YALSA praised as one of 2010’s best graphic novels for young readers, and has directed animated commercial and entertainment projects, including spots for M&M’s, AT&T, and Kellogg’s. He co-founded Character LLC in 2000 and has given story advice to many of the world’s largest brands, such as Target, Verizon, Samsung, McDonalds and Walmart, and has even appeared on NBC’s “The Apprentice” as an expert adviser on brand characters. Jim lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two kids and two dogs. Fish Wielder is his first novel.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

peregrine.jpgA mysterious island.


 
An abandoned orphanage.


 
A strange collection of very curious photographs.


 
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.*

I went into this book not really knowing anything about it other than the fact that it has a cool cover and some of my friends enjoyed it, so the elements of historical fiction scattered throughout the novel were unexpected but really artfully employed. The parallel between the hollowgasts/wights and the Nazis was clear, and provided a convenient cover story for Grandpa Portman. Continue reading

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

game of thrones.jpgLong ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.*

…I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything here! I got into a bit of a reading rut and when I finally snapped out of it, I ended up choosing to read a book that took a little over two weeks to get through. It feels so good to be back to writing, even if it is just a review. I’m going to spend Thursday getting myself back into the routine of writing draft number three of my baby (the novel I started when I was 17) and just getting myself back to myself in general because I’ve been feeling really off kilter for the last week or so. It’s been a gradual process of reincorporating healthy eating, weight lifting and cardio, and yoga (nothing makes me feel as good as inversions and arm balances) into my daily routine; all that’s really left is reorganizing my room and making time for my art. I also have to give a lot of credit to my friends for snapping me out of the mental rut I was in without even knowing it. I couldn’t possibly ask to have better people in my life than the ones I’ve been blessed with. Continue reading

When We Collided by Emery Lord

when we collided.jpgSeventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.

Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?* Continue reading

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knifeFor the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?*

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time starting a review for a book I liked so much! This is a really powerful story and to be honest I wasn’t sure how well a book about PTSD could be written for teens. Laurie makes the point in the Q&A at the back of my edition of the book that plenty of teens are forced to deal with difficult situations like those presented in this story every day; they can handle reading about it. She did an excellent job of portraying these issues candidly, unafraid to hold anything back. Continue reading

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

serpent kingDill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
 
The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.
 
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.* Continue reading