Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This week in children's book news.

Five Children and ItJacqueline Wilson to update Five Children & It

Why is this necessary? It's been many years since I've read this book (and honestly I have a much better remembrance of the BBC adaptation), but there's no way you're going to convince me that remaking a book is going to make it any better. And does it need to be? But seriously, I get upset by all the movie remakes they continue to churn out, and the lack of originality that's plaguing Hollywood. Don't bring that over to children's literature.

Also, man, is Nesbit having a rough week or what? E. Nesbit's classic The Railway Children accused of 'plagiarism'

And in other unnecessary news: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flies again

Let's write a sequel to a book by Ian Fleming with a movie written by Roald Dahl. Man, this guy has balls. Also he puts himself in the same category as Russel T Davies and Steven Moffat. And he's so modest, too. No, thank you.

Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins talks Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss

Meh, okay. I was really pulling for Kaya Scodelario, who's best known for playing Effy Stonem on Skins and would have been a pretty bitchin' Katniss in my opinion. Also, the girl looks amazing with dirt on her face and sticks in her hair. And while they're both gorgeous, Jennifer Lawrence is a little too conventionally pretty for the Katniss in my mind. However, I have yet to see Winter's Bone and once they dye her hair and make her up, I'm sure she'll be more Katniss-friendly. She is a bit old, but that's nothing new in Hollywood. (However, my other pick? For them to wait four years and cast Kiernan Shipka. With the self-cut Sally Draper hair? Yeah.) Anyway, Suzanne Collins approves and that's what really matters, right? I'm withholding judgment.

Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated The WorldCuddly Catastrophe: Knut the Polar Bear dies

:( We have this book all over the store, and damn, was that bear super cute. It's really just super sad, cause he was still a little cuddly baby. I'm gonna go squish a stuffed polar bear next time I go into work. Also :(

Sex? Violence? An author tests the boundaries of YA fiction.

Aric Davis has written an interesting blog post on the difference content-wise between writing for adults and writing for teens. Just an interesting read, and I like that he understands the morbid side of kids. Think I'll have to pick up Nickel Plated.

The surprising story behind Elizabeth Berkley's new book, Ask Elizabeth

It's funny cause the first thing I thought when I saw that Elizabeth Berkley had a book for teens out was that I don't think teens nowadays would know who she is. And maybe they don't, maybe they've never seen reruns of Saved By the Bell or sneakily caught an late-night showing of Showgirls on VH1 where they're all covered by blatantly painted-on bras. But I forgot that Berkley has been doing this for years, keeping herself relevant long since Jessie Spano went off the air, talking with girls about their problems and worries. I'm really intrigued by this actually, I'll definitely have to look into it, see if it's worth the hype.

Paolini's final Inheritance Cycle title revealed

Oh my god, does anyone care? I know people really dug Eragon when it first came out (including my mom and my brother), but I never heard a positive word about the other two. The movie was a ridiculous flop and Brisingr straight up had a Doctor Who reference in it. (Really, it said so in his almost as poorly written author's note that the Doctor and Rose were chilling with them... around a fire? I don't recall the circumstances.) So anyway, if you were wondering, the final book in the Inheritance Cycle? It's called Inheritance. Couldn't have guessed that one.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011: New Releases

I have a couple of reviews forthcoming, I swear. In the meanwhile, I bring you the second installment in my Tuesday releases posts. (All synopses from the back of the book.)

Wither (Chemical Garden, #1)Wither (Chemical Garden Trilogy #1) by Lauren DeStefano
(Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 14+)

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider, #9)Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider #9) by Anthony Horowitz
(Philomel, 10+)

Scorpia has dogged Alex Rider for most of his life. They killed his parents, they did their best to con Alex into turning traitor, and they just keep coming back with more power. Now the world's most dangerous terrorist organization is playing with fire in the world's most combustible land: the Middle East. No one knows Scorpia like Alex. And no one knows how best to get to Alex like Scorpia. Until now.

The chases have never been more intense, the fights more treacherous, or the risks so perilous to mankind. And this time, Alex won't get away.

Best of the Best: A Baseball Great NovelBest of the Best: A Baseball Great Novel by Tim Green
(HarperCollins, 9-12)

Josh is still flying high from his team's tournament win at Coopers­town when his parents start talking about a divorce. Now his dad is challenging him to play the best of the best at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. But does he just want to get Josh out of the way? Two things are sure: His father's new girlfriend, Diane, is looking to change things, and Josh is determined to get her and her terrible son out of his life.

With the help of Benji and Jaden, Josh races to get the facts that can keep his family together—but it's ever harder to concentrate on the game and make the winning plays that will lead his team to victory.

In his compelling style, Tim Green delivers great sports action and more—a fast-paced adventure about friendship, the power of becoming a team, and finding a way to get what you need when you can't have what you want.

Ladybug Girl and the Bug SquadLadybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman & Jacky Davis
(Dial, 4-8)

Lulu is so excited for the Bug Squad to come over for a playdate, and she has all kinds of things planned for them to do-right down to eating cupcakes. The cupcakes are special because each one has a candle that Lulu thinks everyone should blow out at exactly the same time.

But when things don't go just the way Lulu planned, feelings are hurt and apologies are necessary. Sounds like a job for Ladybug Girl, who knows how to be brave and say she's sorry, even when it isn't easy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011: New Releases

So if you don't already know, Tuesday is new book day. Actually it's also new music and new DVDs day too, but for our purposes, new book day. So here are the new and notable children's books that have been released today (and their back-of-the-book synopses):

Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return, #3)Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3) by L.J. Smith
(HarperTeen, 14+)

The devil you know. . .

With the help of charming and devious Damon, Elena rescued her vampire love, Stefan, from the depths of the Dark Dimension. But neither brother returned unscathed.

Stefan is weak from his long imprisonment and needs more blood than Elena alone can give him, while a strange magic has turned Damon into a human. Savage and desperate, Damon will do anything to become a vampire again—even travel back to hell. But what will happen when he accidentally takes Bonnie with him?

Stefan and Elena hurry to rescue their innocent friend from the Dark Dimension, leaving Matt and Meredith to save their hometown from the dangerous spirits that have taken hold of Fell's Church. One by one, children are succumbing to demonic designs. But Matt and Meredith soon discover that the source of the evil is darker—and closer—than they ever could have imagined. . . .

SteelSteel by Carrie Vaughn
(HarperTeen, 12+)

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully FamousHow They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley
(Walker Books for Young Readers, 10-14)

Over the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess-especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost. For example:

It is believed that Henry VIII's remains exploded within his coffin while lying in state. Doctors "treated" George Washington by draining almost 80 ounces of blood before he finally kicked the bucket. Right before Beethoven wrote his last notes, doctors drilled a hole in his stomach without any pain medication. Readers will be interested well past the final curtain, and feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911.

A World Without Heroes (Beyonders, #1)A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1) by Brandon Mull
(Aladdin, 9-12)

Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.

Shimmer (Riley Bloom, #2)Shimmer (Riley Bloom #2) by Alyson Noel
(Square Fish, 9-12)

Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories?

Fancy Nancy: Marvelous Mother's Day BrunchFancy Nancy's Marvelous Mother's Day Brunch by Jane O'Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator)
(HarperFestival, 4-8)

Nancy plans the perfect Mother's Day in this fancy new lift-the-flap book!

Nancy pulls out all the stops to give her mom the best Mother's Day celebration of all time—but will everything go according to plan? This book includes thirteen flaps that open to reveal hidden surprises that will delight all Fancy Nancy fans!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pink Stories for Girls That You'll Want to Read.

Continuing on from my last post, I feel I best counter with some pink girly picture books that are actually worth the price of admission.

Fancy NancyFancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator)
(HarperCollins, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeah, that's right, I said Fancy Nancy. Say what you will about overexposure or commercialism or the buckets of money I'm sure Jane O'Connor is making, where books like Pinkalicious or Princess Penelope falter due to the sheer obnoxiousness of the main character, Nancy Clancy is sweet, genuine little girl with loving relationships and a penchant for the finer things in life. And the large fancy words she loves to use are always explained so the kids learn from the context. (Which also puts it over Princess Penelope where I feel kids probably don't know the word 'reveled', or my problematic reading of Tony Baloney.)

Nancy wishes her life and family were fancier, but instead of being obnoxious, petulant or bratty, she and her family dress up together for special dinners and tea.

I haven't read all of the Fancy Nancy books yet (and there are a lot), but my favorite part of the series is Nancy's relationship with her little sister, who is straight adorable. My particular favorite examples of this are Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas and Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fashion Boutique. In Splendiferous Christmas, we see Nancy trotting around in a pretty spectacular pair of leg warmers the entire book long, which she then gives to her little sister at the end. In Fabulous Fashion Boutique, the Clancys have a yard sale the week before Nancy's little sister JoJo's birthday. When Nancy sells a necklace that JoJo really wanted instead of giving it to her for her birthday, she realizes her mistake and buys it back instead of saving her money for the fancy fan she wanted. JoJo is thrilled and their parents reward Nancy by buying her the fan. Nancy and JoJo are just the sweetest and it's a nice message about doing good things and good things will come back to you.

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous ChristmasFancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator)
(HarperCollins, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fancy Nancy's Fabulous Fashion BoutiqueFancy Nancy's Fabulous Fashion Boutique by Jane O'Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator)
(HarperCollins, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shoe-La-La!Shoe-La-La! by Karen Beaumont & LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
(Scholastic, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is, straight up, a SUPER cute book. Four diverse little girls, Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn and Claire, go shoe shopping. Yeah, it's a pretty simple plot. But it has a lovely rhyming structure of all the different and wacky shoes they try on. And it's full of gorgeous drawings by LeUyen Pham, who also illustrated Julianne Moore's Freckleface Strawberry.

There's really not too much else to say. This one I wouldn't say even just relegates to girly girls, since they aren't just looking at fancy shoes, but all sorts of fun and wild shoes. A great read aloud with gorgeous pictures and four fabulous little girls.

Alice The FairyAlice the Fairy by David Shannon
(Blue Sky Press, 4-8)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll admit it, at first I was a little put off by David Shannon's illustrations, both in this and his No, David! series. They're kind of creepy, with lopsided arms and big spaces between the teeth and other adults I've spoken to have said the same. However, I've never heard a kid say anything of the sort, they just love his books. So I gave Shannon a chance.

Alice's story is telling you all about how she's a Temporary Fairy and all the things that means she can do (and some things that only Permanent Fairies can do). Frankly, Alice the Fairy is what Princess Penelope is trying to be. Alice is more precocious than bratty, even when she's trouble, there's some sense of remorse, or at least that she knows she's done something wrong, instead of Penelope's indignance. Plus frankly it's just cute (using her fairy magic, she turns her dad's cookies into hers). Alice is a little girl with flaws and humor and she's even a little self-effacing which really works for the story. Really cute and wonderful.

So those are my pink little girl stories I really like. Still need a princess story to replace that Penelope, though.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Pink Birthday Party Storytime, 3/12/11.

The first party we had this morning was a pink/princess-themed party for a sweet little three-year-old girl named Austen (PS how cute and literary is that?). Actually my favorite part of the party was at the end when I got her to help me hand out the goody bags to all her friends. She was so cute and shy, totally willing to discuss with me which friends hadn't gotten a bag yet, but then would go up at stand behind them, holding the bag out until they noticed her. If I said, "Austen, can you say 'excuse me, Olivia'?" she'd say it so quietly they couldn't possibly hear her. But then, "Austen, who still needs a goody bag?" and it's all, "Sienna didn't get one!"

Anyway, my second favorite part of the party was storytime, cause it was a good one today.

PinkaliciousPinkalicious by Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann
(HarperCollins, 5-8)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I won't lie, today was the first time I ever read Pinkalicious. And truthfully, I'm a little torn about it, I honestly would like to give it three and a half stars.

On the one hand, I'm not really sure what the message is here. Pinkalicious is kind of a horrible child who just wants cupcakes and only realizes the consequences of her actions when they turn her red instead of pink. Oh, spoiler alert. But being pink was just fine by her and in the end her brother ends up pink. Vegetables, and all green foods for that matter, are regarded as gross and she's demanding and kind of a brat.

On the other hand, it's a great read-aloud. And the kids were quick to pick up that her behavior is not the way to act. And the page about the green foods prompted a lively discussion about which green foods we like and isn't Pinkalicious silly for not liking them.

HarperCollins for whatever reason puts this in the 5-8 range, but it was great for reading to the threes. They called out, "Pink!" when prompted and were engaged and interested.

Princess PenelopePrincess Penelope by Todd Mack & Julia Gran (illustrator)
(Scholastic, 5-8)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Princess Penelope is one we've been reading at princess parties for a while now, and I think I'm gonna have to make a change. While the story has a good rhythm and some nice repetition, the kids aren't as engaged by it and not very interactive at all. I did eventually get them to fill in the word "princess", but it took a good long while. Also Penelope is a bit spoiled and bratty at times, although this does generally end in a time out (on her "throne").

Furthermore, Scholastic has labeled it ages 5-8 on the website, but it's DEFINITELY skewed younger than that. In fact, I would say that the oldest for this book would be the threes I read it to. Penelope is apparently a toddler, as evidenced by her car seat, potty and "chariot". But on the other hand, I'm not sure the kids get the nuances of the illustrations, half based in reality and half in Penelope's fantasy kingdom.

I do like the dog, cat and teddy bear doing her bidding, however. Also the dog reminds me of Boodle My Dog (a book which I can find no record of on the internet, oddly enough. It's a good one.) and I actually restrained myself from referring to it as Boodle at one point. Edited to add: thanks to the lovely people at Goodreads, I've realized it's Boodil, My Dog by Pija Lindenbaum.

I'll definitely read aloud Pinkalicious again. (Truthfully I like Fancy Nancy better, but especially for this age group, Pinkalicious was a real find.) Princess Penelope I think is going to be shelved in exchange for a new princess book. I'm taking suggestions.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I gotta get back to Hogwarts.

So we sell many a Lego set at Scholastic, but definitely the coolest (or maybe just my favorites for obvious reasons) have to be the Star Wars and Harry Potter stuff. But, um, I'm too old/poor to be spending my money on Legos, obviously. So when a Hogwarts Express box came up damaged and leaking pieces, I jumped on the idea that I should build it and we could use it as a display.

So last night, my roommate Robin and I sat down with Raiders of the Lost Ark on the television and built us a train (and a Ford Anglia). The results:

Close-up on HP and Ron driving the Ford Anglia. I love Ron's oh-no face.

Close-up: Ginny and Draco about to duke it out on the roof of the dining car,
epic wizarding duel style. Luna's chilling on the luggage car with Hedwig,
reading the latest issue of the Quibbler.

Close-up: HP in his invisibility cloak. Luna totally knows he's there.

My thoughts: The car is brilliant. The boot totally opens and you put luggage in it. It's got a stick shift and everything. Plus, I liked hanging them out the side like that. And I just threw their wands in the back. Ginny and Draco both have the snarkiest faces. It's supremely excellent, plus Ginny's hair wins. The dining car is fully furnished and comes along with the candy trolley, or whatever it's called, which advertises Bertie Botts' Every-Flavor Beans and, erm, something else I can't remember. Possibly chocolate frogs. Also there's an actual chocolate frog on top of it. We popped all the extra stuff in the luggage car, including boxed up wands, the Daily Prophet, two more owls, Scabbers and more. Luna has the option of her crazy awesome glasses or not (all the characters have two face options), although her hair was having a hard time staying on. The invisibility cloak is absolutely fabulous.

There's lots of extra tidbits like the fuel in the engine or parts of the car. It's well done, there were lots of things where I was thinking how intricate it was for parts you wouldn't even end up seeing. But it was fairly easy with the instructions, which take you no more than a couple of pieces at a time. Just a lot of things to do, I was thankful for Rob's help.

Overall I give it 5/5 stars. A good family project, and then lots of fun options of things to play with and do with the characters.

Now hopefully someone will mess up a box of the Hogwarts castle.

Bonus points for any use of the word magicool in your everyday life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tales from Bookselling, Part I

My friend Kristan commented on my last post asking if I'd intentionally left out the B in Waldenbooks. The answer is yes and here's why. (It's a particularly good story, considering where Borders Group Inc is now.)

My first bookselling job, beginning July 2004, was at a Waldenbooks in a mall in semi-upstate New York. (You may recall an incident in 2005 when we made CNN thanks to a man with an AK-47 who shot up the place. Yes, I was there.) It was a tiny little store in a pretty crappy mall, but the people I worked with were (for the most part) stellar. But Borders as a corporation is what it is (and was) and shut my store, as well as 90 other Waldenbooks stores across the country down in January of 2007.

Prior to that, around about when I started working there, the light in one of the B's in our sign went out. And so we called up a repair guy  or whoever and they came and fixed it, problem solved, right? After a while we start getting phone calls from the repair guys, who, it turns out, never got paid. So we keep referring them to the Home Office, because it's obviously not our jurisdiction. But they keep calling us and them, and getting no answer on either side. So what did they do?

They came back and repoed our B.

And until the day it died, our sign that looked out on the majority of the mall read, "Walden ooks". So that's what we called it. It still holds a very special place in my heart.

There's only so many vampire stories even I can do.

I love vampires, don't get me wrong, but they are rabidly over-played and most of my vampire patience gets taken up by my television watching: True Blood, The Vampire Diaries (neither of which I read the books to) and, of course, Buffy and Angel reruns. So in my young adult reading, I find it refreshing to find some really good (no Twilight here people) paranormal fiction. And we're going to try and stay away from the vampires here entirely.

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
(Scholastic, 13+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The most fitting into that Twilight sort of genre of anything I'm likely to recommend on this blog. It's a love story with werewolves. And the love story is slightly like something you've seen before: boy watches girl from afar before circumstances align for them to interact face to face. It's Edward Cullen, it's Angel, it's Stefan Salvatore, or Bill Compton or any of those vampire guys. But Sam's a werewolf, and not your average werewolf at that. Stiefvater's werewolves aren't ruled by the moon or able to change of their own volition, their physical state depends on the temperature out. When it's cold is when they turn into wolves, and they spend the entirety of the winter months in that state. Respectively they spend the summer as humans, however as time goes on they turn into wolves more and more easily until they spend all of their time that way. And moving to a warmer climate would only make it worse.

So Sam watches Grace from afar, aware that his situation would make being together impossible. Especially since we find out that Grace has been bitten by a werewolf but never changed, so her becoming a werewolf is equally impossible.

The writing is lovely, the story is interesting and although there is a sequel, Linger, and an upcoming conclusion to the trilogy, Forever, I actually really loved Shiver as a one-shot. I bought Linger, but it just continues to chill on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

Alternately we next come to two of my very favorite young adult trilogies ever.

The Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
(HarperCollins, 12+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first started reading Kelley Armstrong many years ago when my coworkers at Walden ooks convinced me to pick up Bitten, the first in her Women of the Otherworld series and as solid a piece of adult paranormal fiction as they come. But as these things usually do, her more recent entries in the series haven't been as good as her early efforts. The complete opposite is true of her young adult work. Not only is it better than her current adult novels, each book in the Darkest Powers Trilogy is better than the previous one.

It actually took me a minute before I picked up The Summoning because from reading the blurb it seemed to skew a little younger than I was feeling at the moment. (Although being twenty-five in the YA section, who knows where I'm going with that thought.) But Chloe is a realistic fifteen-year-old who does a lot of growing up during the series. Oh, and she's also a necromancer as we find out during the course of the books.

The series is populated with werewolves, ghosts, witches, a large conspiracy theory, many characters you don't know whether to trust or not and a really well-done teenage love triangle. I mean, I know who I was pulling for, but I had a real question as to which she'd go for.

The Awakening (Darkest Powers, #2)The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
(HarperCollins, 12+)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Reckoning (Darkest Powers, #3)The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
(HarperCollins, 12+)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second trilogy in the series starts this year with the upcoming The Gathering, and while I'm sad that Chloe's story is at an end, I appreciate Armstrong's willingness to take on another character so as not to wear the first one out, as she did with the Otherworld series (which, for the curious, takes place in the same universe).

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 13+)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Libba Bray's first novel introduces us to Gemma Doyle, the titular character of the trilogy. Gemma is in Mary Lennox-like circumstances when her mother dies and she's removed from her beloved India and replaced into Victorian England. This book encompasses the historical with the fantastical, a portal story as well as a paranormal one, and throws it into a Victorian boarding school where the girls are as much teenage, and often mean, girls as any contemporary YA story. Oh yeah, and there's a love interest too.

I'm going to have a problem genuinely reviewing this series, cause I just adore it so much. Let me just say, it has everything, is well-written and made me cry. And I cry very rarely. (Pretty much only at that one scene in Gone With the Wind with Mammy and Melanie talking on the stairs. And also Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But only the first time.)

Basically if you enjoy any of the sorts of stories I mentioned, you have to read this. Double if you are or ever have been a teenage girl.

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 13+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, #3)The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 13+)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars