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Four ‘Divergent’ Short Story Covers Released

While I pick up my jaw from the ground, check out the covers for the three remaining Divergent short stories that focus on Four’s earlier years!

Aren’t they just gorgeous? My favourite is the last one Four: The Traitor. The green emblazing ravens circling the the title of the book above the skyline of Chicago is so awesome. Four: A Divergent Collection will go on sale July 8 in hardcover and digitally. It includes The Transfer, the first eBook that you can already check out, The TraitorThe Son, and The Initiate. If you missed out on seeing the cover for the Transfer you can check it out below the new covers. You can buy it over at Amazon for only $1.99. The images debuted on EW this morning.

You may be confused, thinking that these short stories were supposed to be released singularly over a period of time. Well, author Veronica Roth did say she would do that but then realized back in December that she needed more time to work on them. They will now be released all together.

“The stories turned out much meatier and more substantial than I was originally anticipating when I started them,” Roth said, “There’s just so much going on — Tobias’s reunion with his mother, his growing disillusionment with the faction system, and some of his early moments with Tris, to name a few. So I just really, really need more time to get them right.”

As if we don’t have enough Divergent excitement already, the film is set for release on 21 March, less than a month away! And it stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Ansel Elgort.

Veronica Roth's Divergent companion series -- exclusive EW.com image

Veronica Roth's Divergent companion series -- exclusive EW.com image

Veronica Roth's Divergent companion series -- exclusive EW.com image

Veronica Roth's Divergent companion series -- exclusive EW.com image

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Quote of the Week: What is Your Miracle?

PaperTowns2009_6A

“The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightening, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the Queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.”
― John GreenPaper Towns

What is your miracle?

John Green Releases Limited Time Only Self Read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ Audiobook

the fault in our starsIf you want to listen to the audiobook version of The Fault in Our Stars, you have always been able to purchase it, but for a limited time, you can now order a copy read aloud by John Green himself.

John Green has always maintained that he thinks that if you’re going to a young adult book, it should be by somebody who is not only a person who does that sort of thing as a profession, but also somebody who is better able to capture the voice of a 16-year-old. But fans want more of their favorite author. John Green has remained a public author who has lots of contact with his fans through his numerous YouTube videos beginning with his and his brother Hank’s Vlogbrothers channel. So Green has decided to produce an audiobook version of The Fault in Our Stars that will only be available for a limited time due to the few copies that will be sold.

Being sold on DFTBA records, the Green read version of the The Fault in Our Stars audiobook will only have 3,000 copies produced, so if this is something you want, you’ll have to move fast. It’s being priced at $40.

There’s more to this set than just the audiobook, however. According to the DFTBA records listing page, all of this is included:

– Six CDs of me reading The Fault in Our Stars.
– One DVD including eight bonus videos in which I discuss themes from the book, visit settings, talk about different inspirations, and explore the ways the nerdfighter community shaped (and made possible) the story I ended up writing.
– A wristband for The Hectic Glow, a band so beautifully underground that they don’t even exist. (light blue, different from those received in 1st edition box sets)
– An awesome concert ticket for The Hectic Glow, a concert so epic that it never technically occurred.
– Four TFiOS-themed postcards designed by nerdfighters that you can send to your friend to brag that you own the John Green-narrated audiobook and they don’t.
– Also, all 3,000 copies are–get this–UNSIGNED.

If you love The Fault in Our Stars this is a collectors item you’ll want to get your hands on. With the other, Kate Rudd read version always available, you can’t be sure this will ever be for sale again. There will be no digital version so you’ll have to buy this hard copy if you want it.

Jay Kristoff’s ‘Kinslayer’ Cover Revealed

The covers for Kinslayer, the sequel to Jay Kristoff’s book, Stormdancer have been released! The book will be published on 17 September 2013.

Here is the U.S. version:

kinslayerUS

And here is the U.K. version:

britishkinslayer

Which do you prefer?

Here is a summary for Kinslayer:

“A SHATTERED EMPIRE
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously – by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
A DARK LEGACY
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.
A GATHERING STORM
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat.
The ghosts of a blood-stained past.”

[Review] The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

Published: 3 March 2009

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Edition: U.S. Hardback

Summary: “When Lucinda Chapdelaine was a small child, her parents left for the royal ball and never returned. Ever since, Lucinda has been stuck in perpetual servitude at her evil aunt’s jewelry store. Then, on the very same day, a mysterious visitor and an even more bizarre piece of jewelry both enter the shop, setting in motion a string of twists and turns that will forever alter Lucinda’s path. In this magical story filled with delightful surprises, Lucinda will dance at the royal ball, fall under the Amaranth Witch’s spell, avenge her parents’ death, and maybe—just maybe—capture the heart of a prince.”

 

This gorgeous little book was probably on the younger end of YA, but sometimes you just need simpler books to remind you why young adult literature is so fascinating. Lucinda, a child who has been left with her uncle by marriage’s wife, is eager to escape her jail and find something meaningful to do with her life. When she meets the Prince of the land everything changes. 

While it was obvious that this book was a retelling of Cinderella, it was an intriguing twist on what we normally see in fairytale retellings. The evil that we expect to always remain evil turns out to be the result of evil being done to them, thus perpetuating evil. I won’t get into the details, since the book is quite simple and giving away anything would ruin the entire experience of reading it, I shall say that the messages conveyed in this book would make great reading for preteens to start getting into the heavier, more emotionally charged YA fiction. 

This book was written as a standalone but I hope that the author considers writing a companion book so that we might learn more about the life of the witch, from her perspective. In fact, it seemed that the real story lay with her character rather than with Lucinda who was almost like a secondary character when we discover the witch’s secret. 

Just like a fairytale, romance plays a large part in this book, and I’ll admit to reading this with great rapture when the Prince and Lucinda get off on the wrong foot, and keep missing each other’s cues, as in any good heart-wrenching romance. This book probably won’t appeal to boys, and given the rather feminine cover photo/illustration it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the publisher’s intention. 

The Amaranth Enchantment was a delightful first novel that I greatly enjoyed, and hope that many young girls give it a chance so that they too can be swept away into a world of Princes and life changing events. 

four stars

Harry Potter 15th Anniversary Books Get U.S. Release Date

It’s been awhile since I posted on YABR. My travels between the U.S. and Australia get in the way a bit but I’m finally back to deliver fresh literary news from the YABR news desk! I’ll also be posting new reviews for some spectacular YA fiction. But enough about me, let’s get on with this Potter news story:

Amazon is listing the 15th anniversary re-releases of all seven Harry Potter books, with new illustrations from artist Kazu Kibuishi, for an August 27, 2012 release date in the United States. All of the books, including the 7 book box set edition, are available for pre-order now.

I’m a little confused as to why they’re releasing 15th anniversary editions for the books are are not even 15 years old (not even 10 for Deathly Hallows!) but I suppose a beautiful full set collection will look better on the bookshelf rather than getting one book every few years.

Check out the Sorcerer’s Stone cover image below courtesy of Snitch Seeker!

Sorcerer's Stone Cover

 

Will you be getting these new editions or sticking to your well worn original copies?

‘The Casual Vacancy’ Tops New York Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists

The controversial new book by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame has done what I think we all expected it to do – debut at No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. While the lists haven’t been updated online yet, thanks to Hypable, we know that Rowling’s adult novel, The Casual Vacancy has sold 375,000 copies across hardback and digital formats in the United States and 124,000 copies in the United Kingdom. To be honest I was expecting the numbers to be higher but it has only been a week since it’s release and these numbers do not count the one million pre-orders the book had before its release.

Rowling also made it to the top of the USA Today best seller list, a spot she has held  71 times before with the Harry Potter books.

I will be reviewing The Casual Vacancy very soon. Please be warned though, that The Casual Vacancy is neither a childrens or Young Adult novel. It is an adult novel in every sense of the definition ‘adult’. Think M15+ in Australia or NC17 in America. You get the picture. Don’t give this book to your favourite little 13 year old cousin who just read the Harry Potter books last year. I will cover the maturity levels and Rowling’s entry into adult territory in a G rated review.

 

 

This Month in Books: October 2012

October 1

Amber House by Kelly Moore

“Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.

But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds–and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.”

October 2

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant

“Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, EmmaRose, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible.

While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything… until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and Emma-Rose may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.”

Breathe (Breath #1) by Sarah Crossan

“Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe.
Breathe.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

Alina
has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.

Quinn
should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

Bea
wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?”

October 16

Beta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn 

“Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.
Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island’s workers–soulless clones like Elysia–are immune to.
At first, Elysia’s life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island’s flawless exterior, there is an under-current of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care–so why are overpowering sensations cloud-ing Elysia’s mind?
If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi-ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she’s always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.
The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, “Beta “is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a cor-rupted world.”

October 23

Finale (Hush, Hush #4) by Becca Fitzpatrick 

“Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend’s ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can’t conquer?”

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1) by Julie Kagawa 

“Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.”

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[Review] Seraphina by Rachel Hartman + Free Prequel!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Published: 10 July, 2012

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Edition: Kindle

Summary: “Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.”

***

I adore the fantasy fiction, whether it be written for children, young adults or adults, but it is hard to come across a fantasy book that breathes fresh air into this very worn genre. We’ve had vampires, werewolves, wizards, elves, hobbits, unicorns and even dragons, but we haven’t had dragons like the ones we are introduced to in Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. I was fortunate enough to read this book via Netgalley a few months ago and it is quite simply fantastic! Not to spoil anything but as soon as you read the opening lines you will want to keep reading. So Seraphina is an intelligent and musically talented woman who lives in the fantastical medieval land of Goredd, which is celebrating 40-year anniversary of its peace treaty with the nation of dragons. She has a dangerous secret, one which is treated and maintained almost like a mental illness, something I dwelled upon a lot even after I discovered this interesting part of her character.

The hard thing about fantasy books is that you really have to learn a lot about the world, while simultaneously following the plot development of the hero/ine. Books like Harry Potter simplify matters by starting with a character needing to learn about the world at the same pace as the reader. For example Harry learns he is a wizard, and through his eyes we become acquainted with Hogwarts and the rest of the wizarding world. But then there are books like Seraphina in which the character is already established in this fantasy world and we have to pick up clues about the world through snatches of the story. This is much harder for the reader and requires a skilled author to balance description and plot developement. Rachel Hartman wins for one of the best Young Adult authors this year. While I found it a bit difficult to fully grasp what was going on at the beginning of the story it didn’t take long to catch up on the history and events and get on board with Seraphina’s personal journey of self-discovery.

The beauty of this story lays with the readers slow discovery of who and what Seraphina is, so I won’t spoil it for those of you who have not read it, but what makes Seraphina such a captivating character is predominantly the vivid landscape of her mind. I thought to myself as I read Hartman’s descriptions of Seraphina’s mind gardening – what strange creatures are lurking in my own personal mind garden? Do I have ugly little beasts that need to be controlled? Are we all a little wild inside?

What else is there to love about this book? DRAGONS! But maybe not the kind of dragons you are expecting… These dragons are intelligent, and can transform into human form (but then need to be trained into civility like a baby does in becoming a mature adult). I found the whole idea very interesting. We’ve had dragons in many fantasy novels. Game of Thrones anyone? But not quite like this. If humans can turn into animals like the animagi of the Harry Potter world then why can’t animals turn into humans? It’s an interesting idea that is explored with the kind of political and racial upheaval that you would expect in a world where two different species are trying to co-exist.

All in all, Seraphina was a very well written, imaginative and interesting story that will be enjoyable to any reader that has a passion for fantasy.

Seraphina is the first of a trilogy, with the next book expected to be published in 2013. In the meantime Rachel Hartman has released a FREE prequel that you can enjoy right here!