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Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Author: C.C. Hunter
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Series or Standalone: 1st in series
Genre: YA Paranormal
Reading Level: 14 yrs old+
Dominant Themes: Werewolves, Faeries, Ghosts, Vampires… erm, basically EVERYTHING
Release Date: March 29th, 2011

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever.  Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.”  Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either.  Or does she?  They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason.  As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas.  Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past.  Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart. 

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Born at Midnight is the type of book that you pick up, start reading, and don’t put down until you’ve read every single word. It will keep you hooked from the start. 

Kylie just got dumped by her boyfriend because she wouldn’t put out, her parents are going through a nasty divorce, and Kylie keeps seeing this weird Soldier Dude everywhere. I’ll admit, her life sucks. It can’t get any worse, right? WRONG. She goes to a party, gets arrested (even though she wasn’t doing anything), and is then shipped off to a camp for freaks by her Ice Queen mother.


Kylie, to me, was a fantastic main protagonist, because she’s stronger than she thinks she is. She goes through all this craziness and culture shock, and basically finding out that she is not what she thought she was, and yet she still manages to keep a sense of equilibrium. Even though she questions everything that’s happening every step of the way, she takes everything in stride and learns to adapt to her surroundings. I could relate to her in many ways, my parents having been divorced, and going through many of the same teenage girl problems as she was.

A part of what made this novel so enjoyable for me was not just Kylie, but the friends she made along the way. Della, who is a vampire, and Miranda, who is a dyslexic witch, almost instantly befriended Kylie, and I liked them from the start. They added humor, and I think they were one of the only things to keep Kylie sane. Good friends like them are absolutely vital when one goes through a life changing experience such as that. I can’t wait to read the short story, Turned at Dark, that tells about Della’s past.

C.C. Hunter is also a writer of adult romance novels… and it shows. My favorite scenes were (obviously) the romantic ones. There is a lot of chemistry and sexual tension between Kylie and Derek, and Kylie and Lucas. It added some angst to the story, and don’t we all just love teen angst? Honestly, the internal struggle within Kylie over both boys added realism. The only question is, who will she pick?

As with all great love triangles, there are always teams. Team Derek, those for the friendly boy with deep green eyes that wants to be more than 'friendly', and Team Lucas, those for the dangerous and mysteriously sexy boy that  actually has a sweet side. I am all for Team Lucas. He has this… sexy charisma about him. Derek is still extremely hot, but the chemistry is more tame with him, whereas with Lucas, it’s a little more primal. But Kylie’s connection to them both was a big part of the novel, and the parts I enjoyed the most. There are some moments in Born at Midnight that made me have to stop and take a deep breath… but not for too long.

There is such a large cast of creatures and characters that it’s sure to please all fans of paranormal and urban fantasy. The concept of a “paranormal camp/school” isn’t exactly new, but C.C. found a way to present it to us that made it unique. In the next book, things are expanding and becoming bigger and better, so we'll just have to see where it goes. 

Overall, I loved Born at Midnight. It’s a sizzling new novel that’s sure to make an impact on the YA scene. Sign me up for Shadow Falls camp!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Uniqueness\Creativity: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Born at Midnight on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (20): My Hamster Says "Hi" Edition

I got a LOT of books this week. I had some giftcards for my birthday, so I went on a giftcard spending spree at Barnes and and they came in on Saturday. Here they are!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top Ten: YA Authors

There are certain authors that I will just snap up their books, even if I don't know what they're about, just because their name is on the cover. These are my top ten YA authors.

10. Heather Brewer

Heather Brewer was not your typical teen growing up. She wore black, danced under full moons and devoured every book in sight.
She hasn’t changed much.
Today, Heather can be found writing in her funky, black Happy Bunny jammie pants, dancing under the full moon, devouring every book in sight, and attending renaissance faire in costume (and in character).

When Heather's not writing, dressing up, dancing and reading, she's answering email, which she LOVES to get. You can email Heather by using the contact form on the right. But before you do, make sure you check the FAQ to see if your question has been answered there. Unfortunately, Auntie Heather cannot respond to all emails, as doing so would take up valuable writing time (and we wouldn't want that, would we?), but you can always reach her by commenting on her blog or her MySpace, or by following her on Twitter. You can also contact her by snail-mail at Auntie Heather Brewer 12685 Dorsett Road #317 Maryland Heights, MO 63043.

I’ve always been a bit “outside the box” and when I started writing I didn’t deviate from that plan. Flaunting conventional wisdom, I self-published my first three books in an effort to learn how publishing actually works. I learned a lot, including such arcane skills as how to calculate a book’s spine size and typeset a manuscript.

After spending a couple years honing my skills, I sold my Time Rovers® Series to Dragon Moon Press in 2005. That series (SOJOURN, VIRTUAL EVIL and MADMAN’S DANCE) was nominated for fifteen awards and has won twelve to date. Which still amazes me. I’ve also sold short stories and non-fiction articles for various anthologies.

My ultimate goal was a contract with one of the major publishing houses and that came to fruition in April 2009 when I signed with St. Martin’s Press. The Demon Trappers Series, a Young Adult Urban Fantasy series set in Atlanta, will debut in January 2011 in the United Kingdom and February 2011 in the United States.

Though I’m an Iowan by birth, I live in Atlanta. I credit my crazy imagination for my success and honestly believe I have the best job in the world. And I love single malt scotch and expensive chocolate. Not a bad combination.

Libba Bray is the author of the acclaimed A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(Every single other bio for Libba was extremely long, and while they all made me pee my pants laughing, I didn't want this post to be too long. Plus, her utter AWESOMENESS speaks for itself.)

Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been busy writing for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the critically acclaimed Rankin/ Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days.

While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children’s author James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.

Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What you might find...? Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/ war series, The Underland Chronicles.

She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard.

I live in central California with my husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that I can be found without a book in my hand, and I adore stories that take me to new places, and then take me by surprise. Books that changed my world include JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Contemporary authors that I can't get enough of include Melissa Marr, Kristin Cashore, Jay Asher (write something else, Jay!), and Suzanne Collins.

I have a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and my day job is my full time PT practice. Growing up all over the United States has inspired wanderlust and I love travel, which works out well, because my weekend job is lecturing internationally on a variety of health care topics. But, one day not long ago, for no apparent reason, I decided I needed another job and started a night job—writing. Personal Demons is my first novel.

Lesley is a writer and actor living in Toronto, Canada.  Captivated at a young age by stories of mythology and folk lore, past civilizations, and legendary heroes, she developed into a full-fledged Celtic Mythology Geek, steeped in stories of the Otherworld, Faeries and King Arthur. Lesley went on to earn a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Toronto specializing in Shakespeare and Arthurian literature.

For almost three years, Lesley hosted weekly late-night movie marathons on the nationally broadcast television show, SPACEBAR, as the Waitron-9000, a sparkly holographic waitress with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure B-movie trivia. She is also a founding member and principal performer with Tempest Theatre Group.

Lesley is an unrepentant egghead – a character-trait that somehow doesn’t interfere with a love of shoes and shiny things. WONDROUS STRANGE is her debut novel, the first in a trilogy published by HarperCollins.

Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Minnesota, but she thinks of her homeland as the “Canadian Shield” rather than the Midwest.

Andrea has always loved writing and has never stopped writing, but she only recently plunged into the deep end of the pool that is professional writing. When she’s not writing, Andrea teaches history at a very nice liberal arts college in St. Paul.

In the little spare time she can find, Andrea stares up at trees, rescues infant rabbits from predatory cats, and invents names for pug puppies with her husband. She has an unfortunate tendency to spill things – white carpets beware!

I was born in Austin, Texas on August 18, 1986 and grew up in Michigan. In the first few years of my life, my family bounced around several states until we finally settled in mid-Michigan. I was a Girl Scout who dabbled in gymnastics and volleyball until I discovered horseback riding and it quickly consumed my heart and soul. When I discovered the Goosebumps books in the third grade, I decided I wanted to be RL Stine when I grew up.

I own a horse (a Swedish warmblood mare named Pia) and my passion is hunter/jumpers. My other passion is photography, and if you don't see me on a horse, you will probably see me with a camera in my face. I collect 1980's My Little Ponies and Breyer model horses, own over 400 movies, love playing Pokemon and MarioKart, and dream about sneaking into the polar bear exhibit at the zoo some day.

When I was sixteen, I wrote a one-act play about violent vampires for my creative writing class that became my first novel. For NaNoWriMo in November 2008, I wrote ANGELFIRE and signed with literary agent Elizabeth Jote of Objective Entertainment on February 4th, 2009. A few months later, we sold the trilogy to Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of more than 30 novels, including the immensely popular Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, and the Outcast Season series.

In 2011, Rachel will publish the first novel of her new series, The Revivalist, with the release of Working Stiff in August.

She has been honored with a Paranormal Pearl Award and an RT Booklovers Award, and was recently nominated for Best Urban Fantasy novel of 2010 as well as a Career Achievement Award, both from Romantic Times. Her first young adult novel, Glass Houses, was chosen for the Texas Tayshas List in 2009.

Rachel has appeared as a guest at over 100 science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance conventions and conferences over the past 20 years, including Dragon*Con, San Diego ComicCon, the World Fantasy Convention, and the World Science Fiction Convention. She has been featured in several national publications including People magazine and Vanity Fair, and on local and national television.

She was born at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, attended Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas, and earned a bachelors degree in business administration from Texas Tech University. She’s worked in many jobs, including accounting, graphic designer, insurance investigation, corporate communications, and web design, to name just a few. She became a full time writer in 2010.

Rachel is married to award-winning fantasy artist R. Cat Conrad, and has two iguanas as pets: Popeye and Darwin.

Cassandra Clare was born to American parents in Teheran, Iran and spent much of her childhood travelling the world with her family, including one trek through the Himalayas as a toddler where she spent a month living in her father’s backpack. She lived in France, England and Switzerland before she was ten years old. Since her family moved around so much she found familiarity in books and went everywhere with a book under her arm. She spent her high school years in Los Angeles where she used to write stories to amuse her classmates, including an epic novel called “The Beautiful Cassandra” based on a Jane Austen short story of the same name (and  which later inspired her current pen name).

After college, Cassie lived in Los Angeles and New York where she worked at various entertainment magazines and even some rather suspect tabloids where she reported on Brad and Angelina’s world travels and Britney Spears’ wardrobe malfunctions. She started working on her YA novel, City of Bones, in 2004, inspired by the urban landscape of Manhattan, her favourite city. She turned to writing fantasy fiction full time in 2006 and hopes never to have to write about Paris Hilton again.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Top 10: YA Couples

We all have those couples that, when we read about them, we can help but smile a bit goofy. Below is my list of the top ten couples in YA.

10. Jessica and Lucius from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Jessica is a logical, levelheaded girl, and Lucius is a suave European vampire prince. He's come over to America to woo Jessica, because guess what? She's a vampire princess too! So of course what follows is a romance story with rollercoaster ups and downs, and some complications. Reading the wedding short story that Beth posted on her website just made me love them together even more.
9. Hades and Persephone from Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman
I'm a major Greek mythology buff, and the myth of Hades and Persephone is my absolute favorite of all time. So of course, I love the pairing of Hades and Persephone in general. They came together well in this book, and I liked their portrayals. 
8. Raven and Alexander from Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber 
Vampire Kisses is my fluff series, I guess you could say. The books themselves aren't too serious, so I take them very lightly. Raven and Alexander's romance is cute and compatible, but they love each other a lot, so I thought they deserved to be on here. And they've already been through like 8 books together, so... They have history, y'know?
7. Grace and Sam from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Grace and Sam were so cute together! If I remember correctly, there was a part in Shiver where either Grace or Sam goes (I can't remember which) "Surprise attack." and kisses the other, and then the other goes "surprise attack back." *squee*
6. Kelley and Sonny from Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston 
Ah, my dearest Kelley and Sonny. This is one of those couples that I love to freaking death. They have an obvious chemistry, and they belong together. There's not really much else I can say about these two, they rock. :)
5. Jace and Clary from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare 
From the very beginning, I knew Jace and Clary were for each other. I never one believed they were in any way related, so all through the book series I was just rooting them on, and occasionally yelling "HE'S NOT YOUR BROTHER! JUMP HIS BONES!" Heh.
4. Ellie and Will from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
These two have one thing that none of the others have: Time. They have known each other for centuries, fighting side by side, and Will protecting Ellie. They know each other like no one else knows them, and that's a really important thing for a relationship. Ellie and Will have a lot of obstacles still to overcome, and I can't wait to see how they handle it together.
3. Luc and Frannie from Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers 
Forget Gabriel. I'm Team Luc all the way. Luc is sexy and seductive, and he sets Frannie on fire (figuratively of course). He sets me on too! 
2. Alec and Magnus from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I. Love. These. Two. Love them. I'm a major supporter of LGBT stories and characters in YA, and to have these two as a couple in a hugely popular series is awesome. They make a very cute couple, and are good foils for each other. Alec is more serious, whileI picture Magnus as an Asian version of Jareth the Goblin King. (Magnus is Asian, right? Because I'm having a massive brain block. Someone please clarify this. I've always pictured him Asian...)
1. Shane and Claire from Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Shane and Claire are my favorite YA couple right now. They need to get married and have babies. That is all.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Top 10: YA Standalones

Yesterday, I posted by Top Ten YA Series picks, but today, I'm sharing my Top Ten Standalones. Standalone novels are wonderful, in that they pack a mighty punch in only one book, which is a hard thing to do. Even though I don't read them as often as I would like, I do enjoy them. Here is my list.

10.  Chalice by Robin McKinley 

9. To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker

8. The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

6. Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

4. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

3. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

2. Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

1. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell


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