Thursday, January 27, 2011

Author Top Ten + Contest: Cynthia Leitich Smith

Continuing her blog tour for Blessed is Cynthia Leitich Smith, here today to talk about her Top Ten YA Book Recommendations! And stick around after the recs for a chance to win a copy of the book or a fantastic themed prize pack!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt, 2008). Long after the accident, Jenna finally wakes from a coma with no memories. Who is she now, and how can she begin again? Does she have a right to? A compelling near-future story that will haunt readers long after the last page. Masterful.

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick, 2010). At age eleven, in 1850s London, orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn was rescued from the gallows by agents of Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. For the next six years, she studied all that was expected of a proper Victorian lady (and more). And now, at seventeen, she's invited to join The Agency, a secret organization of women investigators whose mandate is to assist Scotland Yard. Mary's first assignment is as paid companion to the spoiled daughter of a wealthy merchant who is suspected of insurance fraud and smuggling. But along the way, she encounters secret upon secret and that no one is what they appear... Exciting, full of verve, and with a hint of romance, The Agency: A Spy in the House offers a terrific protagonist and a fun mystery as it explores Victorian London and traditional and nontraditional roles of both men and women therein. Don’t miss the sequel, The Agency: The Body at the Tower (Candlewick, 2010).

Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky (Candlewick, 2010). Jesse thinks he's just a typical teenager, bored in class and trying to figure out his life. But then, ten seconds after the alien Sanginians arrive, most of mankind is dead. A handful of people, like Jesse, have latent telepathic abilities and survive as slaves with no hope of manumission for themselves or the earth. But then Jesse and his friends discover that the Sanginians just might not be as omnipotent as they appear... Wry, fierce, richly imagined—the total conquest of humanity has never been so entertaining.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
(Delacorte, 1997). A sensual exploration of Vivian's longing for a calm life beyond her wolf pack. She becomes infatuated with a human, what her people call a "meat boy," but she wonders whether he will accept her for what she really is. Though her wolf nature is explored in all its bloodiness, at times she could be any teenager unsure of where she fits in. One sexy werewolf story.

Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes
(Candlewick, 2004). Features stories by Joan Aiken, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Celia Rees, Janni Lee Simner, Vivian Vande Velde, and Barry Yourgrau. Worth the price of the book for the introduction, though the collection itself is wickedly outstanding.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial, 2008). Lucy Scarborough, like all women in her family, is cursed. Unless she can perform three seemingly impossible tasks by the time her daughter is born, she will go mad...Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has loving friends and foster parents. But will that be enough? Inspired by the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” Impossible is a thought-provoking read that offers engaging characters and suspense as it brings the eldritch atmosphere of Irish myth and legend to the suburbs (while exploring issues of love and friendship, with a hint of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme).

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (Flux, 2008). This star-crossed story of music, fey, and assassination is as fierce as it is romantic. Don’t miss the companion novel, Ballad (Flux, 2009).

Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos, 2004). Set in a rough New Mexico barrio in the latter 1960s, this story embraces a first true love and its loss, racism, homophobia, war, street violence, family, others words "life." The prose is at times breathtaking in its poetry and at others jarring in its truths. Sammy's voice lingers long after the book closes and leaves the reader more thoughtful than before. An absolute triumph!

Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson (Delacorte, 2010). Joshua Wynne is a preacher's son—a "good boy" in a small town in South Carolina where everyone knows him. But when his childhood friend and (apparently) bad girl, Madeline Smith, returns to town, his faith, intentions, and virginity are tested. Can he bring back the old Maddie while keeping faith with God and his parents, when he doesn't know who he is himself? An elegantly written, non-preachy novel of redemption, intercession, and the courage of faith.

Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Marshall Cavendish, 2009). The outcast daughter of a healer leaves home on a quest to find the father she has never known. A thoughtful high fantasy that touches on prejudice, duty, and loyalty.

Thank you, Cynthia, for those book recs. I'll definitely be checking out the ones I haven't yet read!

Now for your chance to win! I have up for grabs an ARC of Blessed for one lucky winner, and a themed prize pack for another.

The prize pack includes a stuffed plush toy bat, a series tie-in pin (either Sanguini's logo or I HEART My Guardian Angel), an angel wing charm, a Sanguini's logo magnet, and a Sanguini's menu wipe board. Please note, this pack does NOT include a book.

To enter, fill out THIS form. Contest is US Only and will end February 6. First place winner will have choice between ARC and prize pack.


  1. I liked Jenna Fox, and Lament was sooo awesome! (Maggie Stiefvater=genius) Never heard of some of those, may check them out!
    And thanks for the giveaway!

  2. So many I need to read and so many great ones I loved!!

  3. Thanks for the recommedations! I'll have to check some of these out.

  4. Thanks for the chance! I've wanted to read Blessed.


  5. yeah blood and chocolate. I was just thinking about that book the other day. it's a good one.