Author Event: Elizabeth Wein

Last night, I attended the author event for Elizabeth Wein at Once Upon a Time in Montrose. It is one of my favorite indie bookstores in the area and it has some awesome events. Alethea (@frootjoos), Thuy (@fishgirl182), and Kimberly (@thewindypages) joined me.

We were in the front row and felt like we were nearly on top of where Elizabeth was going to be sitting.

I had heard Elizabeth give her Printz acceptance speech in June and knew that she would be articulate, warm and funny. She began by sharing how her interest in learning to fly a plane was the impetus behind writing Code Name Verity and then Rose Under Fire.

She then pulled out a "personal gas protection bag" and several of the items that were part of her research.

Elizabeth explained that this was a replica of a manual that was considered so important back in the 1930's-1940's that it was considered a treasonable offense if you lost it. The funny story behind this book is that Elizabeth actually left it behind at a school visit and the librarian called her to let her know and reminded her that it was a treasonable offense.

This was an original map from World War II. Elizabeth is a self-professed map geek and uses them in every book she has ever written.

This escape and resistance map from 1940 is made from silk so that it would not make any sound or lose the image if it got wet. Of course, it can be turned into fashion wear if you get caught trying to cross an enemy line.

Elizabeth was rockin' some cool red shoes. I had to take a picture since I now want a pair.

In addition to cool shoes, Elizabeth explained about several pieces of her jewelry that either were made by friends or were given to her. Her necklace had a charm pendant of a Spitfire airplane. Though she didn't have this with her, she did mention that one of her friends had made Code Name Verity Barbie Dolls to represent Maddie and Julie.

I was so glad to meet Elizabeth and have a chance to hear her. Code Name Verity was one of my favorite books in 2012 and I am looking forward to reading Rose Under Fire.

Note: This was cross posted to Clever Bee

Book Review - Nobody

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont USA (January 22, 2013)
Form: Hardcover, E-Book
Source: ARC for review
Audience: Young Adult
Fiction * Action/Adventure * Science Fiction

Description from Egmont USA:
There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Nix is a killer. Claire is his target. But from the moment he sets eyes on her, everything changes, because only the two of them can truly see each other – and two Nobodies are more than twice as dangerous as one.

My thoughts on the book:
When I was asked to provide a review of this book, I agreed based on the premise.  The concept that there were these "Nobodies" who could be used as assassins just seemed intriguing.  Once I actually picked up the ARC of the book and started, I wondered if it was all going to make sense.

Barnes has created a world where there are four different kinds of people - Normals, Sensors, Nobodies, and Nulls.  There was initially a lot of explanation of who all these individuals were based on an energy theory.  I have to admit I found myself having to read and re-read some sections trying to understand the "science" behind it. However, once I simplified it and realized that Normals were every day individuals, Nobodies were individuals who basically were not seen by Normals, Nulls were able to be seen and influence others (very much the exact opposite of Nobodies) and Sensors were able to recognize Nobodies and Nulls, then I was able to move on and the book moved quickly despite being nearly 400 pages.

Nix is a 17 year old Nobody who has been raised and trained by the Institute.  Claire is 16 and has been raised in the world of Normals and is unaware of what she is.  When Nix is sent after Claire to terminate her, he believes her to be a Null.  For Claire, Nix is the first person who can really see her. Initially it was a bit difficult to connect with Nix and Claire which I felt was normal considering that for both teens, their lives lacked connections to others.  As the book proceeds and the relationship between Nix and Claire develops, the readers connection to the two main characters grows as well.

As I mentioned earlier, despite the length, the book actually reads quickly.  I found myself drawn into the story and wanting to know more about the Institute and Sensors and the conspiracy that surrounds/involves Nix and Claire.  I recognize that there are a lot of mixed reviews out there regarding Nobody and I wondered what I would think.  However, after the first couple of chapters, I found myself completely drawn into the story and not wanting to put it down.  I would encourage readers who are intrigued by the concept of the book to pick it up and give it a try.
Check out this video of Jennifer Lynn Barnes talking about her writing process:

More about the author:
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the author of the popular Raised by Wolves series. A former competitive cheerleader, teen model, and comic book geek, she wrote her first book at the age of nineteen. She just completed her PhD in developmental psychology at Yale University and has returned to her native Oklahoma to teach at the University of Oklahoma.

You can visit her online at or follow her on Twit­ter @jenlynnbarnes or on Tumblr.

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Thank you to Egmont for sponsoring a giveaway of Nobody and Every Other Day.  Please enter below:

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Favorite Young Adult Novels of 2012

As with my previous End of the Year posts, I have limited books to those released in 2012.  This created a bit of a dilemma for me.  I read probably more YA in 2012 than in 2011, but some of it was published in years prior to 2012 or were Advanced Reader copies for books coming out in 2013.  So, I have chosen to limit my list to my top 6 favorites, and one I wished I had read.

Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf Books) -In the hands of a lesser writer, the concept of this book would have failed.  "A" wakes each day in a different body and a different place.  As I read this one, I kept being amazed by the insight on life and relationships that Levithan artfully wove into this novel.

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (Henry Holt) - This is the sequel to Hold Me Closer Necromancer and I loved it.  Read my interview with Sam here.

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black (Margaret K. McElderry ) - I thought that Black Heart was one of the best final books in a trilogy.   If you haven't read the Curse Worker series, you can start with White Cat and read straight through.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion) - A smart, well-written story about two young women during WWII.  This one may take a bit to get into but hang in there.  You may want tissues at the end.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt and Co.) - High fantasy, magic, adventure, and more.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends) - Cyborg Cinderella? How can you not be drawn to a concept like that? A bit science fiction, a bit dystopian, and a definite fairy tale re-telling.

And the one book I wish I had read in 2012...

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Penguin)

So, what were your favorite YA books in 2012?

Book Review - Clockwork Prince

Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date:
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Copy borrowed from a friend

Description from GoodReads:
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Thoughts on the book:
I am not a reader who focuses on writing style, in particular. I do believe that anyone who can breakdown my mental block when it comes to poetry must have some skill. That being said, I really enjoy the way that Cassandra Clare writes. She is able to create a fully dimensional world without being stuck on her descriptions in general. She has a good feel for the world of Steampunk that her characters inhabit. I never feel like I am being taking miles from the story just to hear about it’s surroundings or atmosphere; that is a very big deal breaker for me. We can also see, as readers, how much she loves books. Her descriptions of them and the libraries they are found in just makes me all the more comfortable in her world allowing my imagination to soar faster and higher.

I mostly read for character and plot. Characters are a strong suit for Cassandra. They come across as human which is the first and most important element to catching the interest of readers, especially this one. The Clockwork Prince gives us a more in-depth look at the relationship between Jem and Will. The elements that I found most endearing were how as parabatai they found new strength in their connection as well as hidden strengths as individuals. The best surprise in this latest installment was the growth in Sophie. I was always intrigued by her origin in the story but in this book, we really get to see her character shine. Henry and Charlotte’s relationship adds an unexpected element of warmth to this book which I was delighted to experience and enjoy. We, also, get a bigger view of the Shadowhunters and their world past and present allowing for some interesting new characters, old enemies and friends (Magnus Bane is one of the best things in this book.) a chance to grow and add some mystery. The only character drawback I experienced was in Tessa. Even as she was going through the turmoil that the overall plot called for, I found myself wishing she could be a little less conflicted and indecisive. Her “will she, won’t she” dragged the action and my reading at times.

The plot is delivered as any second book in my opinion. Mortmain’s role is intriguing but not all that menacing. As a setup for a future confrontation, I do think it works. We are given a small bit of resolution and fuller insight to the mystery of Tessa and Will as individuals so I feel the job of continuing the action was done sufficiently. (Again, let me say that Magnus Bane is a great plot device and I can’t wait to see what he does next.)

Overall, I enjoyed the read and the few surprises it held. I am definitely awaiting the next installment with reserved anticipation.

Thanks Kate for this review of Clockwork Prince.  We are looking forward to more book reviews from you in the future.

Book Review: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: Harper Collins (November 15, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Purchased in store
Young Adult  * Dystopian * Apocalyptic

Description from Goodreads:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Shatter Me was one of the most hyped YA debuts of 2011. It was drawing comparisons to The Hunger Games and X-Men, and it was the latest in a lost of young adult novels being optioned for a film adaptation, so I was very excited to see if it lived up to the hype. Thankfully, for me, it did. The story is very original -- a girl who has a lethal touch who is forced to be a tool of war or part of a revolution -- and the world is very inventive. This is set in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian America. This seems to be a popular genre in recent years, but somehow Shatter Me manages to create some interesting things about the world that makes it stand out. This book gives us tastes of some of the aspects of this new America ruled by The Reestablishment, but there is so much to be answered in future books. Who are the other people trapped in the prison with Juliette in the beginning? How did she develop her abilities? And so many other questions that I can't ask without spoiling the book for you...

One of the most interesting things about this novel is the writing style. The prose is written in a kind of stream of consciousness from Juliette's point of view. Every thought that crosses her mind and every poetic comparison she makes are documented, so that reading the novel almost feels like sifting through her mind as things are happening. Also, many of her thoughts are striked out, which is an interesting technique I've hardly (if ever) seen in prose. In the world of the novel, Juliette is characterized as a monster for her deadly touch, so when her thoughts become morbid or self-deprecating, and she thinks I am a monster or I want to touch you but I can't, I like that the strikeouts provide a visual for her inner struggle with who she is. Personally, I really enjoyed how original and different this prose is, especially in a YA context. It might be disconcerting for some readers, but for me it was very refreshing and unique.

The characters in the novel are really what hooked me. Even though the end of the novel took the plot in a direction I wasn't expecting, I still loved the book because the characters were so great. As I said before, Juliette was a great protagonist because I felt like I had a perfect view into her thought process, which helped me understand why she might shy away from people or behave in strange ways. I love how her character went from timid and reserved at the beginning of the novel to assertive and strong as she became more comfortable with her 'ability'. I also love Adam in the novel. He is the other main character/love interest/person-we-root-for in the novel. He is supportive, strong, quite sexy, and an honorable guy. Very crush-worthy, so you can add him to your list of book boyfriends. All of the characters are interesting and complex in the novel, and character development is undeniably one of Shatter Me's strengths.

My favorite character, though -- and I know I am probably alone in this -- is Warner. For me, Warner is the most multi-dimensional, complicated, and human of the book's characters; however, I think he is supposed to be the villain/antagonist so I know I'm setting myself up for future heartache in the series. The thing about Warner is that he does horrible things: he is ruthless, aggressive, and even cruel. BUT, he's doing what he has to do in order to survive, so I can't fully hate him for trying not ot be a victim. Also, beneath his hard exterior, I think there's real emotion and sincerity in him. I really hope that future books explore his back story more, particularly his family history, because I have some theories about him and just find him so fascinating.

Honestly, I really loved Shatter Me. The plot began on Page One and the story moved quickly, with exciting twists and a great mix of action, romance, drama, and suspense. As I said before, the ending took the story in an unexpected direction, so I'm eager to see how that affects future books. I highly recommend this, particularly for fans of Wither (Lauren DeStefano), Divergent (Veronica Roth), and Incarceron (Catherine Fisher).

Tahereh Mafi is a girl. She’s 24. She writes books and reads books and drinks way too much coffee. SHATTER ME is her first novel, and the first of a trilogy, coming from Harper/HarperCollins on November 15, 2011. Film rights have been optioned by 20th Century Fox. Her work is represented by Jodi Reamer of Writers House, LLC. You can follow her on her blog: or on Twitter: @TaherehMafi

Her website is: