Tag Archives: Justine Larbalestier

New Releases: July 3rd

Finally after over a month off, I have a TWO new books to enjoy! July is loaded with five releases that I am eagerly anticipating.

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier, Sarah Rees Brennan

The Lowdown: This book is the first collaboration between YA authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan.

From Goodreads.com

Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn’t mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It’s up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity!

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Why you should check it out: Whenever I look at the the YA books that are featured on the Goodreads giveaways, I see a ton of vampire novels. All of these stories tell the same tale of the girl falling in love with the mysterious vampire. These plots–always told from the point of view of the girl–discuss how interesting and amazing this dangerous creature is. The protagonist’s friends are seen as the enemy for trying to get between her and the object of her affection.

Are you sick of these books? Are you tired of reading about a young woman who needs her supernatural boyfriend to survive? I have a feeling Team Human is the answer to this phenomenon, because this book focuses on the friendship between the girls more than the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I really feel that this perspective will make for a stronger and more interesting characters. I am really curious to see the authors’ take on a vampire story. I feel as if Larbalestier and Brennan can create a vampire story that I will enjoy.

The excerpt I read confirmed my high hopes for this story. The female characters seem smart and witty. The vampire is enough of a parody to be enjoyable without inducing eye rolls. When combined with author Maureen Johnson’s review of the story–“If you love vampire books, this is the book for you–if you hate vampire books this is also the book for you”–I realized I needed to buy this book ASAP. After all, if Maureen Johnson says you should read a book, you probably should.

Not sold yet? Check out the first chapter here and promo video here.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

The Lowdown: This story follows the life of Ruth Saunders; a character Weiner previously introduced in a short story Swim. That tale details Saunders’ life as a freelance writer who edits the college essays of prospective students. Weiner’s latest novel discusses Ruth’s life as she prepares to rejoin the television world after an extended absence.

From Goodreads.com

Blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood…

At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.

Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behavior backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

Why you should check it out: I checked out the prequel to this story–Swim–because it was free. After reading that small tidbit of Ruth’s life, I needed to know more. The first chapter only made me more excited about this book. I knew immediately that this story was a must-read.

I have previously discussed my love for the way in which Weiner depicts relationships in her novels. Whenever I finish one of her books, I can guarantee that I feel an emotional connection to the woman I just read about. Even though I may not have had the same life experiences as them, I still felt as if I understood where they were coming from and what they went through.

The stories are more than just tear-jerking tales of female bonding. Weiner takes the humor she constantly displays on her twitter feed and interjects it into her books. I am also hoping that Weiner’s experience as a showrunner for the short-lived TV show State of Georgia will be lead to interesting anecdotes of working in Hollywood.

After finishing this post, you must go and check out the short story Swim. It is free and can be read on your computer. I know that after reading it you will add The Next Best Thing to your to-read list.

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier

I loved Geektastic; a YA anthology containing stories from some of my favorite authors. I was excited to check out Zombies vs. Unicorns as it contained short stories by many of the same authors. I hoped that I would enjoy this book as much as Geektastic.

From goodreads.com

Zombies vs. Unicorns book coverIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I have found reading anthologies to bring mixed results. I generally like the stories by authors I know and struggle through the rest. Sometimes I’ll luck out and find a marvelous story by an author I’d not previously read. This often leads to the discovery of some great new books. When this does not happen, I just end up feeling like I bought a book to only enjoy 25% of it.

Short stories–unlike their longer counterparts–are often unable to focus on anything other than the main plot. Anthologies usually focus on one main plot. If it is a theme I am only slightly interested in, it can lead to the book feeling unnecessarily long. When this happens I find myself having to take a break in between stories in order to finish the book. This is another negative I sometimes find when reading anthologies.

This book suffers a bit from both of these negatives. The main issue I had was that I will never be “Team Zombie.” I realized right after I ordered this book that I dislike most things zombie. Why then did I decide to read a book where I hated the topic of 50% of the book? I hoped that some of my favorite YA authors would be able to change my mind. Some authors were able to write stories about zombies that I enjoyed. For the most part, though, I struggled to get through these pages. Eventually I also started to tire of the “Team Unicorn” stories. The theme of this book was not enough to hold my interest. I found myself taking long breaks between the stories. It took me so long to finish this book that my husband actually made a comment about it.

That being said, there were a few great stories in this book. I found the short story by Maureen Johnson to be fantastic. I thought it might even be her best work that I have read to date. I think the darker topic really allowed her to branch out in terms of story-telling. The result was something much more interesting than her usual “girl meets boy” story. I also enjoyed the tales by two of my favorite authors; Meg Cabot and Scott Westerfeld. A story by an author I had not previously read–Libba Bray–inspired me to add some of her books to my “to-read” shelf.

Review: I hesitate to give this book a rating. I did not find much of the book enjoyable due to the fact it was about a topic I don’t really like. This is not the book’s fault. It clearly states it is about zombies, and yet I still decided to read it. I do feel many of my fellow YA fans would read this book and rate it much higher than I have as they would like the topic subject matter. I do recommend this book as there are some great submissions from some of my favorite YA authors. I would suggest this book as a “borrow” instead of a buy.