Sunday, December 30, 2012

X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless, art by Jamie McKelvie

Professor Charles Xavier has recruited five extraordinary teen mutants for his "high school" - a place where they will learn to fight together to protect the world from other, dangerous mutants.  Jean Gray has her doubts about Professor Xavier, and his seeming willingness to put she and her friends in harms way.  After all, they're just kids, trying to deal with major self revelations and crushes!

It's another X-Men reboot, but this time, the story is being told by Jean, which is cool.  Professor Xavier is not being portrayed as infallible, and the kids question him and struggle with his ideals, which they don't really share.  It's hard protecting people who hate you!

We have the five original X-Men - Jean, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Cyclops.  We get to see all their angsty teen interactions, which is lots of fun.  Jean at first has a crush on pretty-boy Warren (Angel), and it nothing but annoyed with Scott (Cyclops) who's super intense and does nothing but train.

Hank (Beast) and Bobby (Iceman) are best friends.  I enjoyed seeing how Beast is the smartest and most thoughtful of them all.  He's a science genius and an inventor and becomes incredibly frustrated that it's only his fighting skills that are looked for, not his intellect.  He actually leaves the X-Men for a time, much to Bobby's distress, and it's Jean who's able to bring him back.

By the end of this first volume, the X-Men are beginning to act more like a team, and they've also all emerged alive from their first serious encounter with Magneto.  They also have to struggle with the fact and Professor Xavier and Magneto are friends.  Who, like, play chess together sometimes.  That's a very difficult thing for the teenagers to accept.  Isn't Magneto evil?  Aren't they trying to defeat him?

I thought this was a great start to the series.  I love that we're seeing everything through Jean, and I really like the fact that the X-Men act like the teenagers they are, with all the usual teen problems on top of the fact that they're trying to save the world, and are clearly not ready for it.  It will be fun to see them learn to control their powers.  Especially Jean, who's already starting to see she's far more powerful than she though.

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez

Da Qin and her little sister are growing up in China during a time of change.  Chairman Mao has just died, leading to the country opening slightly to the Western world.  La Liu remembers moments that made an impact on her life.

This is a memoir, but it does not tell the story of Na Liu's entire life.  Rather it is a series of short stories, small moments from her childhood.  While we don't learn all about Na Liu's life, we are given a clear glimpse into the life of a child in China growing up after the death of Mao.

The first story Na Liu tells is going to the funeral of Chairman Mao, and recalling how incredibly sad her parents were.  Both of Na Liu's parent's were able to make advances for themselves because of the government - her mother had polio as a child and the government paid for her care, Na Liu's father came from a farming family, but was able to pursue an education because of a government sponsorship.  It was nice to hear these stories where Communism worked the way it was intended to work.

Another story is about Na Liu and her sister learning why they must eat all their food - the starving children in China.  Na Liu's family was not wanting for food, but later, when she visits her father's family she horrified to see how other people live.

I thought Little White Duck did a good job of illustrating what was going on in China during this time.  There were struggling peasants, and there were those who only wanted to be good citizens.  Na Liu and her sister try to make sense of it all through their child's understanding, and it's hard.

The art was beautiful.  It was done in very muted colors.  There were really nice bright spots, even the red was dark.  Lots of grays and blue-greens and browns.  It reflected the military like feeling of the world Na Liu is growing up in.  There is order and everyone does their part, no one steps out of line.  The panels were also orderly and regular.  At the beginning and end of the book, there were lovely double-paged spreads of Na Liu and her sister flying over China on a crane.

A great middle-grade book for explaining about children growing up in different parts of the world and during different time periods.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Tyker Oage

Megan Yamamura, anime lover, and writer of haiku, has just moved to Chicagoland and unfortunately for her, is now starting summer school at Stepford Preparatory Academy.  Megan knows something strange is going on on her first day: why are all the kids so...weird?  Will she be able to find out what's going on at Stepford Prep?  Or will she become one of them?

As the name of the school suggests, all the kids were being brainwashed by an evil scientist.  Megan is captured, but escapes with the help of Raf, her computer programmer friend.  The two manage to destroy the evil scientist's computer program and free all the kids.  They also find a super intelligent talking dog, which they free and take home.  The three then form the Chicagoland Detective Agency.

I've read a few graphic novels by Trina Robbins, and they're always fine.  Some better than others.  I love reading her histories of comics.  I think that is her strong point, rather than the fictional stories.

I read the first two Chicagoland stories: The Drained Brains Caper and The Maltese Mummy.  It looks like the bad guy is the same in each story.  She always escapes at the end, and will no doubt keep showing up to cause more mischief.

While neither plot nor dialogue is especially stunning, what I did like was that the fact that Megan's a girl and Raf's a boy played no part whatsoever.  Sometimes Megan needs saving, and sometimes Raf needs saving and they work together and help each other out.  They have different strengths and weakness.  So that was nice.

The art is black and white, and clearly manga influenced.  Mostly traditional panels, with a few full-paged spreads.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter.

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting--or stealing--whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. 

But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir--this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy.  (Summary from GoodReads)

What can I say? I loved the first one, and I haven't read the second yet but I know it's going to be delightful. Ally Carter does a rather superb job of making an engaging heist plot with intriguing and hilarious characters.

Perfect Scoundrels comes out Feb. 5th.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

The chance we've all been waiting for - the opportunity to learn about the elusive Lemony Snicket.  Snicket, who has had an unusual education, begins his first assignment with his chaperon.  Unfortunately, plans have changed causing Snicket to break his promise to a friend.  Now he and his chaperon are in the practically abandoned town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea trying to locate a statue, which may or may not be priceless, of the Bombinating Beast, which may or may not have been stolen from its owner.  Of course, there is much more going on than meets the eye.

Who Could That Be at This Hour didn't quite have the snap the A Series of Unfortunate Events books did.  It's very much written the same way.  Very tongue in cheek.  Use of sophisticated words which are then explained.  Adults aren't very smart and children are.  It didn't accomplish these things as well as in past books.  It felt a little forced and weighted down.

This is a beginning of a four-part "biography", so it was laying a lot of groundwork.  Many questions are left unanswered (of course), and knowing Lemony Snicket, it's entirely likely they will never be answered.  I think what made this difficult to get into is that we don't really know any of the characters.  Everyone is so shrouded in mystery, the reader doesn't really have any idea what's going on.  Sure, there's a mystery that's trying to be solved, but the mystery that's the focus of the book is clearly not "the right question."  So while this makes things mysterious and interesting, it also left me with a disconnected feeling.  I got into it more as it went along, I had a harder time at the beginning.

One thing I had a lot of fun with was the casual references that are made to books, I enjoy figuring out what ones they are.  For example, "I'm reminded of a book my father used to read me...A bunch of elves and things get into a huge war over a piece of jewelry that everybody wants but nobody can wear."  "I never liked that book...There's always a wizard who's very powerful but not very helpful."  Hehe.  The only one I wasn't familiar with is a book about a lawyer and a tap dancer.  Anyone know it?

Fans of Lemony Snicket's other books will be eager to get their hands on this one.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Hannah has a serious problem.  She is being haunted by the ghost of her dead best friend, Lillian.  She doesn't know why she's there, or what to do.  And then someone in Hannah's quite little town begins killing girls.  Lillian pushes Hannah to find out who is behind the murders, sending Hannah far outside her comfort zone.

This was a creepy murder mystery.  Hannah is the girl who always looks happy and sweet.  In her hand-made vintage dresses and her pasted on smile, Hannah tries to convince herself that everything is fine.  Of course, everything is not fine.  Even if Lillian weren't haunting her, things wouldn't be fine.  It's never come right out and said, but Hannah seems to feel guilty about Lillian's death.  Lillian was anorexic, and slowly starved to death.  Hannah knew.  It's never gone into detail, but it seems Lillian managed to avoid treatment essentially the entire time.  Hannah knew and could have gotten her help.

Now, Lillian never leaves Hannah alone.  But it isn't the real Lillian, and having her there is not comforting, only frightening and a burden.  It becomes harder and harder for Hannah to pretend.  Then young girls start being murdered, and there's no way to act like everything is going to be just fine.  Lillian encourages her, but Hannah herself feels herself drawn toward the dead girls and begins trying to find a connection between the girls that were murdered.

Hannah is also drawn to Finny Boone, a boy with a poor reputation, and certainly not the kind of boy a girl like Hannah would be seen with.  But Finny seems to be able to see Hannah's sadness and confusion under her smiles and pretty clothes, and seems willing to take the time to find the true her.  Even with all the terribly things happening around her, Hannah is able to begin finding herself, which includes shaking off the expectations of others.

It's never made clear why exactly Lillian was able to stay, or why Hannah was able to see and communicate with ghosts.  I guess it wasn't necessary to the story.  It's just something that happened.

This is a great pick for high school students looking for something more edgy than a supernatural romance or a realistic fiction book that deals with serious issues.  In terms of the mystery, there weren't really any clues to try and figure out who the murder was yourself, it wasn't that kind of mystery.  The focus was more on Hannah trying to find herself.
Paper Valentine will be available January 8, 2013.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Darkness Dwellers (Kiki Strike #3) by Kristen Miller

The Irregulars are back for a final mission.  Kiki Strike is determined to state her claim on Pokrovia, and then ending the monarchy forever, all before her evil aunt and cousin can claim the throne for themselves, and who will stop at nothing to get Kiki out of the way.  Meanwhile, the other Irregulars are dealing with another mystery of their own.  One which involves proper manners and the catacombs of France.

Well.  This was a bit of a disappointment.  I loved the other Kiki Strike books.  Loved.  They were smart and sassy and well thought out and engaging and really just all-around awesome middle school reads.  It's been so long (five years) since the last one came out, I'd despaired of there being any ending to the story.  So I was all excited when I saw there was going to finally be another one.  But this just felt like Kristen Miller said "All right!  I'll write an ending to the Kiki Strike story if you'll all just leave me alone!" and then she banged it out to be done with it.  The Darkness Dwellers was only OK.   It dragged terribly in some places, and then completely skipped over the part that seems like it should have been the most important.  There were all sorts of side plots going on that seemed unnecessary and then didn't really get resolved.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem by Melissa Lemon

 In this retelling of Snow White, we get the story from an unusual source: the magic mirror.  Not long after Princess Katiyana is born, her mother, the queen, does everything in her power to cause her death.  The king flees the kingdom with Katiyana, placing her into the safety of an uncle, before dying himself.  Katiyana grows up with no idea she is a princess, or that the queen still seeks her and wishes for her death.

The fact that in this story the evil queen in not Katiyana's stepmother, but her actual mother gives a darker feeling to everything.  The queen doesn't desire Katiyana's death because she's afraid that someone is more beautiful than she, but because she is really and truly evil.  She has a dictator-like control over her kingdom, having people killed at the least cause.  Because she is capable of magic, no one dares to oppose her.  And if someone does, the magic mirror has the ability to show exactly who is plotting.

The queen learned her magic from a wizard who she seduced, and who she then traps in the magic mirror.  The queen thought she was able to put a spell on the mirror so the wizard would never be able to escape and never be able to lie.  Only one part of that spell worked.  The wizard does not always show the queen exactly what she wants to see, and in his own time, constantly keeps an eye on Kat, and watches her grow up.

While I liked the premise of the story, I found Kat's story kind of forced.  Probably because Melissa Lemon felt like she need to make it fit into the Snow White parameters.  I think it could have been a more engaging story if it wasn't trying to be a retelling of Snow White.  Really, aside from the dwarfs, it wasn't all that much like it.  And the dwarfs were the part that felt forced, as did the spell that the wizard put on Kat that she became like ice whenever danger was near.

Kat really didn't have much of a role in the story.  She's at her uncle's, then she leaves after her uncle becomes a drunk and abusive.  She is in love with a boy who promises to come back for her, but then disappears.  She's taken in by the dwarfs and lives with them for a while, while the boy that the queen sent to kill her tries to get into her good races for his own personal gain.

There was a nice moment when Kat finally stops letting people make decisions for her and tells the boy she doesn't really like but has been tolerating because she's sad where he can shove it.

So while I liked the idea of this story a lot, I found it a little slow.  The political side of things and what was happening in the kingdoms was much more interesting, but there wasn't a lot of that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt.

 When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to "go vintage" and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn't cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma's list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out . . . no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy's cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she'll get it done. Somehow. (Summary by GoodReads)

In the age of the hipster, I think this sounds delightful. Especially as both Ari and I enjoy hosting tea parties, knitting, and sewing. 

Going Vintage  comes out Mar. 26, 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012


At last!  You can determine what was no doubt a burning question deep inside for most of your life: Which Wakefield twin are you?  From BuzzFeed

Some seriously awesome outfits inspired by books.  I must have the first dress.  I must.  From Flavorwire.

10 songs inspired by books.  From PW.

Why don't things like this happen to me?  Historian finds unpublished Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale at the bottom of a box.  From BBC News.

Celebrities who have modeled for book covers.  From The Huffington Post.

How publishers develop, exploit and deploy their own intellectual property.  From
Publishing Trends.

Ohhhh!  The Mr. Men and Little Miss series go digital!  From The Bookseller.

Awww, illustrator proposes to girlfriend in his children's book debut.  From PW.

Readers respond to the Times recent article on the lack of Latino characters in YA books.  From The New York Times.

Really cool best of 2012 list from The Atlantic Wire. 

Some popular YA books that might really be fan fic.  From BookRiot.

Good old fashioned e-readers.  From GalleyCat.

Hurray for The Hobbit!  From SLJ.

With the new Common Core standards, English teachers worry they will have to replace fiction books with non fiction.  From The Washington Post.

2013 Morris Award finalists.  From YALSA.

Three essays on Judy Blume.  From Los Angeles Review of Books.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Broxo by Zack Giallongo

Princess Zora has left the safety of her own clan, the Granitewings, to look for the Peryton Clan, who no one has seen in years. Upon her arrival, Peryton Peak seems to be abandon.  There's no one there at all...except for Broxo, who can't, or won't, tell Zora what happened to his people.

When we first see Zora, she seems like a pretty tough girl.  She's trekking alone through the mountains, and has just scaled a considerable cliff.  She's got a sword, and from the way she's drawn she looks like a warrior.  She has strong, muscular legs and a look of grim determination.  However, it turns out Zora is not much of a warrior.  If Broxo hadn't shown up to save her, she'd be dead several times over.  Despite having a sword, Zora doesn't actually seem to know much about defending herself, so I wonder what that's about.  Why does she have a sword if she doesn't know how to use it?

So Broxo ends up doing most of the physical fighting.  He has been living alone in the wilderness for a long time, and he knows how to take care of himself and defend himself from the many dangerous there are.  Especially from the walking dead.

Zora is determined to figure out what happened to the Peryton Clan, and she knows Broxo is the key, but Broxo is as stubborn as she is.  They also have to deal with Ulith, an outcast with great power she can hardly control.  Ulith also knows far more than she is willing to say.

Zora begins to come into her own a bit as she comes up with plans for freeing the walking dead.  Broxo also learns more about his past, and takes on a great burden.

I thought this was a great start to a series, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Broxo and Zora next.  They were headed back to Zora's clan, but I'm sure they'll have adventures along the way.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch

When we last saw Mirka, an 11-year old Orthodox Jewish girl, she had outsmarted a troll and won a sword.  When the troll sends a meteorite to destroy his enemy, the witch, Mirka runs to warn her, as the meteorite will destroy all of Hereville.  The witch stops the meteorite by transforming it into a girl.  Into someone who looks exactly like Mirka.  Metty (as the meteorite is called) is delighted to be part of Mirka's family, and at first Mirka thinks it's a great idea too.  Metty can go to school for her!  Do her chores!  But as Metty begins to take over more and more of Mirka's life, Mirka comes up with a plan to get rid of her.

As with How Mirka Got Her Sword, this was absolutely delightful and totally adorable as well as being smart, funny, and heartfelt.  If you read the first Hereville, you already knew that Mirka is not the most patient person.  In How Mirka Met a Meteorite, we see that even more.  She wants to be able to do thing.  Right now!  She doesn't want to have stop and think and practice.  She wants action and adventure!  Then she gets it, and not all goes as planned.  But even then, Mirka doesn't immediately learn the error of her ways.  It takes a while for her to figure out that leaping into things is not always the best way to go.

We also get to see more of the relationship between Mirka, her brother and her stepsister and stepmother.  Although Mirka and her brother Zindle still miss their mother very much, they seem to have a good relationship with Rochel, their stepsister and their stepmother who always has good advice to give (even if sometimes Mirka isn't interesting in listening).  Rochel is much calmer, logical, and patient than Mirka is, and even though she's often shaking her head over the foolish things Mirka has done, she is always has her sister's back.

I love Barry Deutsch's artistic style.  He can portray some much emotional of his character's faces, even though they're not incredibly detailed.  The art has a sense of fun.  Beutsch uses traditional comic strip format, but regularly breaks out of the panels with double paged spreads and layering.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Archived by Victoria Schwab.

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

The Archived comes out January 22, 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

In the sequel to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou has now taken Brimstone's place as the resurrectionist and is building an army for the Wolf, the war leader of the chimaera.  Karou feels she has to do whatever she can to avenge her people, even when she questions how the revenge is taking place.  Akiva is still a solider, whose job is to kill chimaera, but he resists, struggling with the idea that redemption might still be possible for them all.

Amazing.  Loved it.  I want more.  Right now.  So freaking good.  I admit I did a little skipping around to find out what happened.  It was one of those books that has multiple stories going on in alternating chapters and sometimes I JUST WANTED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AND COULDN'T WAIT.  So I was forced to skip ahead.  I had no choice.  Oh it was good.

It has been a while since I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and realized as I started reading this one I'd forgotten a lot of stuff.  Important stuff.  Like how things were left between Karou and Akiva, and how Brimstone died.  You know, things like that.  It mostly came back as I read, but I think I'd like to read the first one again.  I'm sure I'm still forgetting things.  So if it's been a while since you've read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, you might want to give yourself a refresher.  Laini Taylor does not waste time rehashing what happened last time.  We are moving forward full steam ahead.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Young Latino students don't have anyone to look up to in literature.  From The New York Times.

Amelia Bedelia turns 50!  From PW.

So freaking true.  It might be literary fiction because...

What makes a YA book a best seller?  From SLJ.

Why comics aren't dead.  From The Telegraph.

A closer look at book covers.  From The Horn Book.

St. John the Divine cathedral is named a literary landmark thanks to Madeleine L'Engle.  From SLJ.

Review of the movie adaptation of Fat Kids Rule the World.  From

7 writers who died young.  From PW.

The Hobbit world premier in pictures.  It comes out December 14.  So excited!  From The Guardian.

A choose-your-own-path version of Hamlet?  In comic form?  So there.  From SLJ.

What do teen guys enjoy reading?  From The Readventurer.

The 25 most powerful authors in Hollywood.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

'Tis the season for lists!

Goodreads best books of 2012.

Notable children's books of 2012.  From The New York Times.

Best books of 2012.  From SLJ.

Best adult books for teens 2012.  From SLJ.

The Top Ten Fiction Books from Time Magazine have some YA representatives.

25 of the most wonderful book covers of the year (according to one person).  From The Atlantic Wire.

Fourth annual awesome women in comics holiday gift list 2012.  From She Has No Head!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cat's Cradle Book 1: The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux

Suri, an orphan who tags along with a traveling caravan, longs to be a monster tamer.  Monster tamers protect Galatea from monsters slipping into the valley from the mountains.  Suri has never met a real monster, until a series of strange events cause Suri to be running from her life from a clan of caitsiths (cat-like monsters).

This was a promising beginning.  I liked Suri a lot.  She's spunky and determined, but also clearly lonely.  She doesn't really seem to know much about her family or where she came from.  Her desire to be a monster tamer seems to come from stories she knows about her birth, and how she came from the mountains where the monsters live.  Is this story true, or was she just making it up to impress the other kids?  It's unclear.

Suri has accidentally come into possession of a magical ball of golden twine the caitsiths use to make themselves appear human, and now they're after her.  Suri doesn't realize that the twine is what they want.

Suri makes some monster friends who aren't trying to kill her, and after finding that her caravan has left without her, she decides to travel on with them.  The first book ends with the caitsiths, in human disguise, put the prince on the trail of the monsters Suri is traveling with.

What will happen next!  I will be waiting to find out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Giveaway: Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan

Win an ARC of Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan!  Giveaway ends December 19.
When two beautiful teenage stage magicians in World War II England meet a pair of handsome men who can do real magic, sparks fly. But is it illusion, or delusion? Opening-night jitters are nothing new for Phil and Fee Albion, who come from a long line of stage illusionists. The girls love to dazzle London audiences, but in the aftermath of the Blitz they're bundled off to the countryside, where they're safe from bombs and Nazis--and bored to pieces. Phil, always the passionate one, discovers a hidden college of real magicians led by the devastatingly handsome Arden. If only Phil can persuade these unworldly magicians to help England win the war! Daredevil that she is, she'll risk anything to give her country a fighting chance, even if it means losing her heart . . . or her life.

Delusion comes out January 8, 2012.

This giveaway is now closed.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos

Lucian Sparks lives in a world ruled by the Establishment, a cruel, dictatorial government.  Wanting to protect his four-year-old brother Cole, Lucian seeks out his childhood friend Cassius, who is now in a position of power, for help.  But when Cassius thinks Lucian has chosen rebel Digory Tycho over him, he punishes Lucian by making both Digory and Lucian recruits, who are forced to compete against each other in a series of task.  If a recruit fails, he is punished by choosing an incentive - a loved one - to be killed.  For Lucian, it would be Cole.

It's The Hunger Games!  Now with more flesh eating!  Seriously, this didn't even try to pretend it wasn't completely ripping off The Hunger Games.  Person only trying to protect a much younger sibling?  Check. Person not interested in joining the rebellion, only trying to keep said younger sibling safe?  Check.  Young people forced to compete in Gladiator-type games at the hands of cruel dystopian government?  Check.  Young people forced to form alliances to survive, only to have to break those alliances and kill each other in order to protect their loved ones?  Check.

So yeah, it was The Hunger Games, only this time with a male protagonist and a male-male romance.  I did like that aspect of it, that falling in love with another man is not strange in this world.  It was completely accepted as the norm.  The Culling was also more graphically violent.  I know, I know, The Hunger Games are all about kids killing kids, but honestly, the first two books are not especially graphically violent.  The third one much more so.  This was like the third one.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.

 When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. 

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. 

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. 

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The Darkest Minds comes out December 18, 2012.
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